Sculpting experiments

Sculpting is a art form which is done using the software Auotdesk Mudbox. Sculpting is the same as clay sculpting except using a computer to create details. There is a wide rage of tools in Mudbox which will need to be understood If I am to be able to use Mudbox effectively. There is many online tutorials which can help me to understand how to use Mudbox.

I will start of my experiments by trying to create a wall in Mudbox using what techniques are unique to this software. I will be approaching this as a complete novice with no prior experience using sculpting software so its important that I take it slow and lean as much as I can.


Brick Wall

Obejctive: To be able to use Mudbox to create a wall and then compare it to a wall modelled in Maya

As I will be having a huge amount of buildings, I thought that I should understand how to sculpt walls in Mudbox. Its not essential to know how to do this as making a wall can be achieved very simply in Maya.

In Maya creating a wall can  be achieved using a texture along side some bump mapping to create that 3D look. Mudbox will entail I a whole  different which involve sculpting in the brick details.  I have watched many videos online about sculpting walls in Mudbox although nobody has done a brick wall in Mudbox. I think this is down to the fact that a brick wall is relatively flat and would be a waste of time using sculpting methods to create one.

I watched this video from a teacher, who teaches the art of sculpting using Mudbox.

In the video you are shown how to create a very old style, stone wall. Although this stone wall is not brick based it does still start from a cube foundation, which would be the same base for a brick wall. I was able to follow his procedure and work out how to instead of create stones, create bricks.

Modelling a stone wall in Maya would be a tedious task, so using Mudbox is the better option in this case.

This is an image from the game Grand Theft Auto: V which shows a brick wall to the right of the image. You can see that the wall is clearly constructed from bricks based on the texture that has been applied to it. Its highly unlikely that the wall was sculpted as this would mean that the wall would of had to have a high poly-count. This would not be industry practice to waste so much disc space on a simple wall which could be created using a texture instead of sculpted geometry.

gta wall

To start of my sculpt I first created a cube using the object creation tool which allows you to create some basic shapes. Once I had created the cube I then had to make it the appropriate size which would resemble a wall.

Once I had a wall shape in place I used a a stencil and positioned it in place over my wall and with the stencil in place then began sculpting out the brick texture. This was achieved using the wax tool which uses the brightness values of the stencil as a reference to adding depth.

Once I had sculpted my wall I then imported it into Maya where I had previously modelled a wall for demonstration purposes.

Here is an image containing a textured model in Maya and a sculpted model in Mudbox:

Scuplt vs texture copy.jpg

I then decided to learn about projection painting within Mudbox which I learnt how to do using this video:

After learning how to use projection painting, I then decided to have a go at sculpting a wall again. This time I also used projection painting alongside my sculpt to create a very realistic looking wall.


Critical review

Although a wall is a very basic shape in terms of geometry, it is a very crucial part to having  realistic looking buildings.

I had to understand what approach would give me the best possible results with the upmost efficiency. The second attempt at sculpting a wall provided very professional results which would perfectly situated within a games environment.

So visually the sculpted wall would work just fine but the poly-count is so much higher than



Human sculpt

Understanding how to sculpt the entire human body from head to toe was, a challenging yet vital process which I had to understand. I looked at many references to understand the exact anatomy of a human body. Understanding this allowed me to know where to sculpt out muscles when sculpting my human body.

The book “Digital Sculpting with Mudbox” Essential Tools and Techniques for Artists” by Mike de la Flor, Bridgette Mongeon was a great book to allow me to understand the principles of sculpting. On page 5 there is a paragraph which explains “To be a figurative sculptor, a fundamental knowledge of anatomy is required”.  This suggested that understanding the human anatomy was a crucial part in being able to construct the human body effectively.

As well as understanding all of the muscles in the human body I decided to take it a step further and understand the human Skelton and also all the organs along with their functions.I found a great information on this website here about the human body :

This image was a great tool in allowing me to understand and develop my knowledge of human anatomy and transfer that to my model. As well as being able to sculpt out these muscle I was also able to know what they do and what they are called.

labels of Human Anatomy.jpg

Once I understood everything there was to know about the human body I had to then be able to understand of to express this in my sculpting. I then watch many tutorials on how to sculpt the human body.

I watched a tutorial by a man named Justin Marshall who is a industry professional with credits such as Monster’s House and Surfs up. In the tutorial he shows how to construct the human mouth and the process it takes to build a mouth up.

The mouth is a simple part pf the human anatomy yet plays a very important role in conveying emotion. Humans look at facial expressions to understand emotion and look primarily at the mouth and eyes to get this information. I have a link here which I looked at to understanding just how us as humans understand how human emotion is expressed:

This is the tutorial I watched on on sculpting a mouth by Justin Marshall:

James taylor is also another great person who I looked to for great lessons in the art of sculpting. He has over 8 years industry experience in the games industry so has a great understanding of sculpting for games for games.

I watched of his on how to sculpt the human head. He explains about how there is no right or wrong way to sculpt and that its all about personal preference. I would follow his preferences for now as he has a great understanding on how to build up models.

Here is the tutorial by him that I watched:


I looked at a filmed called ‘Mars needs Moms’ as I was really impressed by how good the models were sculpted in this specific film. Although it does have that uncanny look it still is very impressive as piece of 3D work.

Without looking at animation and other aspects of characters in the film which, do not include sculpting. It was then a task of breaking down what made the models successful.

I decided to take a shot from the films which shows the main character. Instantly from looking at the image you can see these massive eyes which stand out and become centre focus. This is importnat as its the point of a face which the audience will be looking at to understand character emotion.(refer back to for more information)

The wrinkles in his forehead have been formed due to the repercussion of his eyes brows which, have risen to express a certain emotion. As well as the deformity created by the brows you can also see how the cheeks have become risen and puffed due to his mouth movement.  These are realistic principles of the real way a human face would morph when expressing emotion which is what makes this character look visually pleasing.


Trailer for Mars needs Moms:

This is a model from the game Ark Survival:Evolved 2015. This is the detail of the main character so being able to at least this  of detail in my sculpting experiment would enable me to match a industry standard model.

ark surivavl
Ark Survival : Model

AS= Ark survival

In comparison to the quite unrealistic Ark survival model there is the ultra realistic UFC: 2015 Model. This model looks very well sculpted although this is not entirely true as the model looks this good due to other reason such as lighting, rendering and physics. The actual geometry of this model would be very similar to AS model but has just been rendered so much better creating a more realistic looking model. So being able to understand how to render well, is just as importnat as being able to sculpt well.



I used a 3D turn around to allow me to view every and any part of the human anatomy to give me the most precise reference when sculpting.

I started of my model by first sculpting the legs as these seemed like the most difficult part. I used the sculpt tool to create definition in accordance to muscle placement based from my reference model. The legs were quite tricky as the thighs were very chunky whilst the knee area and the ankle almost had no meat. These area were mainly made up from bone

Screen Shot 2016-01-09 at 14.18.51

The torso was a a very interesting yet simple area to work on as its a very distinctive part of a body. When a person is naturally athletic or a muscly person comes to mind, the most common thing associated with that, is a six pack. I however only modelled a 4 pack as a 6 pack looked quite abnormal so I decided to stick with what I had already done, rather than delete what I had done. I used bulge tools to add more size to the abdomen area so I could then cut into it using the knife tool to define the packs.

Screen Shot 2016-01-09 at 14.19.51

From my personal experience at the gym, the most common thing worked on is the chest. The chest adds size to the upper body which makes a man look a lot bigger. This meant that defining the chest well would make my model look a lot more masculine. Defining the chest was a matter of using the grab tool to pull out the chest then once a adequate size was established I then moved onto the wax tool, which I used to cut into the centre of the chest. This separated a single bulge into two individual bulges which I could then shape into a chest. Screen Shot 2016-01-09 at 14.20.04

Biceps on a masculine man have to well defined and existent, to express the hard work the arms have endured pumping iron. To do this I had to use the bulge tool to create enough mass which could then be sculpted to represent a well defined bicep. Not having enough mass would mean that there would not be enough room to create a well build bicep. As my reference was more of a athletic person I decided not to make a bicep too big as this would have caused issues with body proportions when my model was finished,

Screen Shot 2016-01-09 at 14.20.12

My Human Body sculpt

After both reading up lots about human anatomy and watching many tutorials by industry professionals I decide to then spend time and experiment in creating my own model.  I knew that I had to take everything I had learnt and then try apply it to my sculpt as this would lead to a successful sculpt. Abiding by industry principles would allow me to create a industry standard model.

During sculpting I continuously went back to my sources to keep reminding myself of all aspects of a human body to ensure that I was applying everything correctly.


Screen Shot 2016-01-06 at 09.54.35.png

I wanted to create a visually successful so I decided to not worry about  about Poly-count for this initial experiment.  Here is my final sculpted model:

I wanted to be able to show the detail of the sculpted out muscles so decided to use lighting to do this. Having a light slowly go past the human body was a great way to show the details which made up the muscles.

Critical review

I was overall very please with my final model as I think it shows how far my knowledge of human anatomy has developed. I was able to convey everything I have researched and then carried that over into the way in which I sculpted my model.

The biggest flaw in my model is the incredibly high poly-count. This drastically increased render time and also meant that the model not ideal to be ported into a game. This is a process which I will avoid when creating a model for a game.

I made sure that the body is not completely symmetrical, as the human body is not symmetrical. Although I did sculpt the body differently on both sides its quite hard to tell this in the renders. This would suggest that I needed to make more drastic differences that are more obvious. This can be achieved by something simple such as scars and other kind of deformities.

I feel that this sculpt successfully shows that human anatomy was considered and looked at prior to this sculpt which was my objective. I did not go down the uncanny route or spend far too much time adding unnecessary detail.

The final look of my model would more than be adequate to be used in games and films which would deem it an industry standard model. With this in mind it is by no means a hyper realistic or flawless model as there is lots of room for improvement but its a great first human anatomy model.

Plus size lady

Modelling a well build male model was one part of the spectrum so I then though it would be necessary to try and sculpt a female model. Not only just create a female but also make her a plus size women which would mean I would have to explore different approaches.

I first started looking at other artists who have approaches creating sculptures of plus sized women/men. I decided to not look at just women as it would narrow down what sources I could access to help me in understanding, how to sculpt a plus sized women.   Fat unique to a specific sex so therefore appears the same way in both men and women.

In this tutorial you can see how a head of a overweight person is constructed. The main thing I wanted to take away from this video was how and where fat is placed to build up the face. The face is a very important part of a sculpture so understanding this was a crucial lesson.

This is a video of a lady dancing around in her living room. Although this video was created for the purpose of laughter it served me a lesson in how fat looks and moves. The lady makes some rapid movements which shows me how the fat deforms and moves around her structure.


It was quite difficult to know where to add the extra body proportions and then bulge them out to make these areas fatter. Fat is a complex part of the body and appears different in people based on genetics. Some people suffer from extreme stretch marks when they gain weight which is primarily down to genetics. Stretch marks can be very evident and change not only the colour of skin but also the texture.

I decided that in the case of this experiment that I would not be taking into account stretch marks and trying to implement them into my sculpt.

Fat can appear smooth and solid and can also appear segmented into a rice pudding like texture under the skin. I looked at many images of fat and how it appears in the human body. Understanding how fat can vary from person to person gives me a general into the formation of fat.


Critical review

I was not satisfied with this model and feel that it needs a lot more improvement although it was still a learning curve. Although the final output of this model was not the best it allowed me to learn new skills in creating bulges and morphing geometry to look fattier.

I set out in creating a plus sized lady which is not as strongly evident as desired. This is mainly due to the fact that I did not sculpt prominent breast tissue. Looking at many references of plus sized women they all have prominent breasts which are more often than not largely sized. By me not including this in my sculpt it makes it a lot harder for people to see my model as a plus sized women.

I was able to bring the overall poly-count down to less than half of what my male sculpt was. This meant that I found it harder to add fine details but it was not that crucial to this model therefore no compromise was made.


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