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Why every character artist needs to focus on the fundumentals...

Hey everyone,

Lately I have spent a lot of my development time to just study the human anatomy. I have started with the skeleton, to learn the names of each major bone, how they connect, how they protrude and how they are shaped. The length and proportions when compared to each other and the angles at which certain bones connect and sit. on top of that, the major muscle groups as well, It has been a known fact that a knowledge of basic anatomy will enhance your designs. I must say that I highly recommend it. To anybody who wants to do character or even creature designs, it has been so helpful to me personally. Some things I have learned in my studies that have been helpful:
  1. If you look at the clavicle bone you will notice that it curves and it almost comes in as an S shape. This detail should be reflected in character designs for a touch of realism.
  2. If you look in between the rib cage where both sides meet, they form a 90 degree angle in men and 60 degree angle for women.
  3. You should note the number of ribs men and women have, 12. Not only the number of them but exactly how they change as they progress down.
    The bottom of the scapula lines up with the 5th rib. This will impact your design and muscle placement on the back of your character, because it will give you a better idea of where to put the appropriate muscle on the back. (muscle that connects to the scapula)
  4. The Femur bone (between hip and knee cap) is typically a quarter to a third of the size of the entire human body. This is helpful is know when establishing basic proportions.

There is a lot more where that came from! This study has been a treasure trove for me, as I like to do a lot of sculpting in Zbrush.

These are just a few things I have learned and noted in my study of anatomy lately. It is details like these however that will add life like results to your work. I think in most cases however, you won’t need to add this kind of detail to a character unless you were sculpting in Zbrush or Mudbox. It is good knowledge to have though if you want your work to stand out. I encourage anybody who wants to improve there character design to take time to get some basic anatomy under your belt. It will help immensely.

I have also heard it said that the knowledge of human anatomy is the rosetta stone to understanding animal anatomy. If you are interested in creature design, this is also a great reason to study anatomy. Whether you are interested in life like animal design, or even fantasy creatures. understanding the anatomy of animals can help you mash together animal deigns to create a new type of creature.

I guess my overall point is, that as 3D designers and artist, we shouldn’t completely focus on learning new software and development techniques. You also need to spend time reinforcing the fundamentals of design. I took a break from the usual grind of another software tutorial and focused more on the fundamentals of design. It isn’t some new tech or feature that is going to help you create great content, it is your skill as an artist. The technology and features packed into your design software of choice are important, just don’t forget to continue developing your art skills.

This is a fantastic book that is a human anatomy primer applied to ZBrush modelling. Attention is paid to skeletal and muscular landmarks and how they affect a character’s silhouette which is important no matter how many polys are in the model or how detailed the textures.

ZBrush Digital Sculpting Human Anatomy

https://www.amazon.com/ZBrush-Digital-Sculpting-Human-Anatomy/dp/0470450266

I’ve always said every 3D modeler/artist must be a very good penciler too.
Just plain old paper and pencil and have fun… Is weird to me that many nowadays focus only on 3D Softwares yep.

I agree entirely on paper/pencil. Once of the key points that we emphasize in the game design program (which I teach in) is that the students need to get over the fear of using paper/pencil, and as such we require a course on drawing. Software is only a tool, and tools change. Core skills are what are essential, and no matter what technology they’ll use down the line, without those core skills they’re going to not be able to achieve their best work.

I agree with BrUnO, even though I not good enough at drawing, but manual drawing is good to be learned,
sometime I really enjoying drawing at my sketchbook paper rather than 300dpi canvas lol

not only body, for me face anatomy/fundamental is important enough, we should know why this face we call cute/handsome/beauty, why that face we call frightening, or gloom. :slight_smile: