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A 3D Adventure

Once a design was selected for development, I had to deliver what is called a ‘turnaround’ – as many views of a design as necessary for it to be sculpted effectively by someone approximately six thousand miles away. In many cases this would be five views; front; back; left; right and a plan, plus any breakouts – drawings to emphasise specific details.

Because of the ‘organic’ nature of a misbehaving teddy bear, there is no easy way, no simple CAD procedure, to provide a shortcut. A rear view was relatively easy. Tracing an outline from my initial drawing, flipping it and drawing in what I expected to see.

The side views are logically informed by the information in the first two, but once I need to think about the third dimension, issued of balance, centre of gravity and overall stability come into play.

Before tackling the side views, a loose, ‘top down’ sketch is made to establish where the major forms will be.

Layers of tracing paper do the job from here with the form slowly sketched in, like doing a crossword puzzle, clues provided by neighbouring information locate significant features and an overall concept of the three dimensional shape evolves.These drawings are individually worked into and any sporadic moments of inspiration echoed on the other elevations as I progress.

Eventually five clear drawings exist with enough detail to allow sculpting to begin. However, before the factory can provide accurate manufacturing costs, they have to see colour visuals. 

Eventually five clear drawings exist with enough detail to allow sculpting to begin. However, before the factory can provide accurate manufacturing costs, they have to see colour visuals. 

I scan my five pencil drawings and add colour digitally over the top. This is either carried out in Photoshop or on an iPad using Procreate and Apple Pencil. I favoured the latter because it allowed me to work anywhere, yet even with the flexibility of working anywhere, it could take the best part of a week to add colour to my drawings.
Remember, this is just for one figurine.

Coloured in!

Once all of the information is ready and everyone knows what the costs will be, the sculptors can start to sculpt.

This begins days or even weeks of bouncing around via email of photographs of the sculpting progress. I receive images, which require taking into Photoshop (the most effective method of saying “Make it look like this”), resulting in further photographs and more Photoshop. Half a day spent adjusting photographs to re-pose a figure isn’t unusual.

For someone deeply involved with the subtleties of his creations, it’s frustrating to relinquish control of the process into the hands of someone I have never met, like a chef directing a junior chef on how to prepare a fine dining experience by only talking down the phone.

You might be asking what all this has to do with my journey into becoming a digital sculptor. 

I’m trying to give some idea of what is required on my part to enable someone on the other side of the world to make my sketch into a real, standing up figure. Add the time it takes to achieve this and you can begin to see my motivation in grasping the bear by the horns. 

If I could streamline this procedure, not only would it take less time, it would be more rewarding and less stressful and frustrating for me and the result would be a better end product. QED
So, having seen what my acquaintances and the rest of the world can create with ZBrush, if I can’t sculpt a chubby little bear, then my name isn’t Pete Underhill. I installed ZBrush!

The journey begins – First  Futile Fumblings!

I wasn’t expecting to run before I could crawl and, like any previous new encounters with software, I did some tutorials. Then I did more tutorials before going on to do more tutorials and scowl at YouTube videos of ZBrush in action, then some tutorials. 

I very soon encountered the ‘INFORMATION OVERLOAD’ wall, which means it’s time to go and do something else.

If I were to say one thing that ZBrush is fantastic for is creating  monsters, big grotesque monsters. If there’s one thing that a chubby little teddy bear isn’t, it’s a big grotesque monster.

It was so tempting to go off and make monsters, but I started this journey for a reason, and resisted the sweet temptation. 

Since the face and head of a Bad Taste Bears figurine is often the focal point of a piece, I began by attempting to arrive at a basic bear head. Using drawings from the style guide that we produced for the factory, I nudged around some basic shapes and began to arrive at something in which I could see potential.

More soon!


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