Sculptris: Man and ear. Workflow thoughts and tips

My biggest challenge is my most avoided areas when sculpting a head. Namely the ears (as you may have seen by other posts). They almost seem inaccessible so most times I'll hide that by adding hair or just doing a rough 'sketch' and hold the ears till later (if using zbrush insertears tool can be handy too!)

Just like anything else though it is only daunting due to not practising it enough. As the anatomy of the ear is uncommon most first tests go pretty wrong and can end up ruining some perfectly good front face modelling.

Above: This was my first wip shot after getting the initial face form. While I marked out the ear I really need to start the basic ear model at this part of the workflow as if you leave it till after you'll be working to a higher detailed model. This will put your own expectations on refining the ear higher instead of building up detail like you would with the rest of the face.

Below: A more detailed WIP shot, still no ears! Now as explained above creating a part of the anatomy on there from scratch will make the ear feel disconnected from the rest of the head (without a lot of work). The example I have at the top of this post is how I got on adding it after this point.

I'm currently trying to break this avoidance habit by learning how to do ears. Sculptris, while not ideal for this is a great place to start.

Here are some workflow tips I'm trying to follow myself now in future models/sculpting when it comes to ears:

  • Use reference! I'm usually terrible at this but I'm using it more now. Ears are all unique so try and get the same ear but multiple angles. Anatomical drawings are good as well or just get a mirror and use reference.
  • Start the ear as soon as possible. It doesn't have to be at full detail immediately but work with it along side the head as a whole. The heads will then feel more as 1 complete model rather than a head with stuck on ears. You also have the benefit of working in symmetry early on in a sculpt (in 3D software like sculptris) so it may save time. The top image shows the ear on 1 side of the face, as I'm not using symmetry I now have to try and replicate another ear in a similar style with no starting base.
  • Practice. Avoiding doing something because it is hard is something most of us do. We won't improve if we don't try. Remember you don't need to upload every image to the net if you're not happy with progress. Perhaps make a folder called 'ear tests' and save all your images as earwip_x then see how your own sculpting is improving.
  • The ear isn't drawn on the side of the head. What I mean by this is a bad technique I've done myself (and seen others do). Masking off an area on the side of a head (sometimes a C shape), pulling it out = 1 ear. This doesn't produce good results, using references as noted above can really help with this bad habit and will greatly improve your work (it will stop looking as if all your characters have clip on ears!)
The next sculptris post I make I think I'll just show Ear sculpting progress and see if I've learnt a standard approach to it in sculptris. If you have any tips or suggestions (or questions!) Let me know in the comments or on twitter! (@lgreatorex)

This entry was posted on Friday, 19 October 2012 and is filed under ,,,,,. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can leave a response.

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