Category: Practice 1 Media: 06 3D print

3D Print Project – The Model

So, time to move on to the model. Based on my structure sketches and concept studies I jumped into ZBrush and began sculpting away. Ultimately I realised that the 3D printer would not be able to replicate hair to an acceptable resolution, and it would look very strange/be too fragile to accurately print, so I opted for the bald version in the end! Likewise the facial tattoos would have had to be something that would have been painted on at the end anyway, so those designs do not feature as part of my model.

On my first attempt at doing this in ZBrush, I ended up creating some horrible monstrosity and I was not really getting anywhere with it. I suppose it could be worse.


Back to the drawing board, I pulled up my original concept for face structure and did a quick sketch over to indicate the forms that I wanted to really make nice and clear, so that I could bear it in mind when I came to re-sculpt.


I ended up watching some videos by Ahmad Merheb who has some really nice step by step sped up videos of him modelling things – in particular stylised characters. He had a great one on sculpting a base head structure. These aren’t beginner tutorials and rely on the viewer having a solid understanding of the tools he’s using, but there’s nothing super complex that a newcomer to ZBrush (like myself) wouldn’t be able to pick up on. The main fundamentals are how to get the block shapes down.

So from Ahmad’s video, and my notes on what I needed to emphasise in my model, I got the ball rolling:

Keeping the facial features nice and sharp:



And a turnaround of the model – I’m fairly happy with the end result, I think it translated nicely from my concept. Now I just have to get the actual thing printed!



3D Print Project – The Concept

Starting this one off – I absolutely love studying faces. I find it very interesting the way the head is so differently shaped across populations and I really like the way that certain bone structures differ across the world – faces in all shapes and sizes!

For this print project I’d like to do a character bust based on someone from Maori culture. I have realised that having perhaps studied the work of Andrew Loomis a little too much, there is an over-emphasis on a more European face. This is not a fault of Loomis, rather a product of his time. Loomis was active as an illustrator in the US from after serving in WWI to his death 1959. As he spent much of his early career in advertising, it is not surprising so see an over-representation of these white European (typical north american) faces in his work.

So, I think the best way to escape this would be to study the structure of faces from a culture outside my own. I picked the people who inhabit the islands from the Polynesian Triangle in the pacific, as they have a very interesting culture.

I am more than aware that Disney has recently come under fire for controversy surrounding their new film, Moana, so the importance of cultural sensitivity is paramount when producing an artefact for the general public, as by definition you are presenting them with a version of reality that they may accept or reject.

Anyway, on to the artwork! So it was important for me to understand the facial structure archetypes of the Polynesian islanders – I started by collecting reference images and doing some basic structure sketches of these:


I knew that the face tattoos (Tā moko) were an important part of the culture, and there were a lot of interesting stories surrounding the significance of these, as well as European fascination with them in the early 19th Century. Mokomokai, for example, were preserved tattooed heads that were traded with Europeans in exchange for firearms. [REFERENCE]


From here I have enough information to get the basic structure down:


And from a strong base facial structure, I can apply different hairstyles and experiment with the look of those:


Next was to come up with some face tattoo designs. From my research, the Tā moko on the face were always symmetrical, so it was a case of designing them on the right side graphically (bottom row), and mirroring the image across to the left, at which point I could use the transform tools in photoshop to apply them to the face structure and then paint in the lighting on them.


I also did some costume designs, but I feel these are unnecessary to take forwards as it’s only going to be a bust print. I did want to experiment with more tattoos on the body of the character, but for the application this would have been a bit pointless.


And now it’s time to move on to the 3D model!