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  #1  
Old 05-14-2005, 09:11 AM
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pogie111 pogie111 is offline
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Portrait Sculpture

Hi every one...Is there any one who could give some lessons or tips about portrait sculpture to a begginer like me. Share knowlegde and Things to learn in sculpting portrait.
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  #2  
Old 05-14-2005, 10:25 AM
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Re: Portrait Sculpture

pogie111,
Depending on your experience in drawing portraits, or faces in general, prior to trying to sculpt them, I would suggest you get a good book on the skeletal and muscular structure of the face and study the underlying structures and do some 2-d studies of these structures.

If you are familiar with the face from a drawing standpoint, a good starter book is Bruno Lucchesi's, Modeling the Head in Clay. It is a bit stylized, but it is good for breaking down the essential components of the face that one needs to know before tackling rendering actual likenesses. Also, one I often recommend is Edouard Lanteri's, Modeling the Human Figure. It is an academic approach to the whole form, but has an excellent section on the head. It may seem a bit esoteric and old, but it is worth the money if you dig through it.

Other than that, I'd say use the library to check out artists from the past who have excelled at portrait sculpture and STUDY THEIR TECHNIQUE. Many contemporary portrait sculptors I have noticed lack the nuanced touch of the past masters. (By that I mean they incise rather than model or they make facial structures look to hard and sharp. If you want to see an example of this go to: philippefaraut.com.) Augustus St. Gaudens is one of the best of those from the past that did excellent portraits in the round and relief.

This is one opinion and I'm sure that there are many others here that could give you more than I. Still, this is my two cents worth and I hope it helps you in some way. Good luck in getting started.

Jason
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Old 05-14-2005, 09:00 PM
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Re: Portrait Sculpture

Pogie111 - Welcome to this Forum, and good luck with your work. Jason has given good advice. I would only add that I found the face (the head) difficult at first, but eventually I think I even could put realistic expressions on a reasonably realistic head. I found the nose and lips, in particular, difficult, but also the ears.

The whole skull is an odd shape, and it differs from person to person, so you must look carefully even at that aspect, and the size of the head in comparison to the body. I took about three years of modeling (sculpting in clay) at a classical art academy before beginning my own work, and a good third of the time probably was spent on the head alone. Models, both female and male, would pull their hair back with a ribbon or rubber band so students could work directly from the solid form.

I think there is no substitute for practice with live models. If school classes are not an option, maybe friends would pose for you. If you do this, be sure to get them to open a blouse or shirt collar slightly, so you can see and practice how the head is attached to the shoulders and chest.
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Old 05-15-2005, 09:19 AM
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Re: Portrait Sculpture

Jason Gillespie and fritchie Thank you for the good advices, yes good books and other reading materials would really help...but i think those books are hard to find or its not available here in my country and maybe its to expesive for me to buy. Can you give pointers on how to sculpt my subject using only pictures. i plan to use pictures only of people , if live subjects will not be available for me, What are the things to do first, or how i would scale my subject using only pictures. I also intend to do relief portrait sculpture if the pictures i have lacks some other angle shots instead of doing 3D portrait sculpture. I tried doing my self as my subject, its the one in my avatar. Thanks again and hope to hear more from you guys.
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Old 05-15-2005, 09:24 PM
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Re: Portrait Sculpture; more on methods

When I was using models for most of my work, I would get most of the body finished to a high state, and sketch in the head and hands roughly, to establish the correct size and position. Then (with permission, of course, and with models wearing some clothing) I would take a full set of photographs of these features.

With the head, I generally used about 24 shots, every 45 degrees around the head (and with hair tied back, as I said earlier). One set of 8 shots would be level or straight on. One set would look down at about a 45 degree angle, and a third set would be taken from below head level, looking up at about 45 degrees. I took similar images of the hands, but not as many.

Obviously, this took cooperation from the models, but I already had paid them standard local modeling fees for quite a period, and I paid a set fee for these extra photo’s. Without the photo’s and the models’ cooperation, I would simply have had to “make do” on the head and hands, and I think my process gave me much more realistic work.

If you have to work from only one or a few images, most of the sculpture will be guesswork, but sometimes that’s all that is possible.
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Old 05-18-2005, 08:26 AM
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Re: Portrait Sculpture

Fritchie thanks for the good adviced, Is there a software for computers that we can use to scale or measure the parts of the head, face or even the whole body using the pictures available of our subjects. i plan to sculpt, known people here in my country using pictures or in picture magazines only...
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Old 05-18-2005, 09:51 PM
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Re: Portrait Sculpture; Digital methodology

There have been some posts here on constructing 3D, computer representations of existing buildings from multiple photographs, and I believe even a report from a group that scanned Michelangelo’s original David during its recent 500- year restoration “bath” and used the scans to product a small replica.

The digital reproduction of David was done in close cooperation with the Florence Accademia, of course, and I’m pretty sure the group has its own website with a discussion of methods and results. I believe it was a Stanford group, and you probably can locate this material with a web search.

All these examples use totally rigid original sources, and the digital requirements are substantial even then. With a living subject, reproduction from photographs would require more flexible computer methods. I’m sure someone is working on this and I’d like to hear about it myself, if so.

Anyone listening?

Actually, the face-recognition technology the U S FBI, CIA and other groups are developing as part of the anti-terror effort goes in this direction. Those groups have larger budgets that the average sculptor, but I’m sure we sculptors will benefit down the road a bit.

Let us know what you find, if you pursue this.
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  #8  
Old 05-19-2005, 05:38 AM
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Re: Portrait Sculpture

Are you talking about THIS ?

Step aside Degas...I think I'll get into a TuTu and do my own "Little Dancer."
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"Important artists are innovators whose work changes the practices of their successors; important works of art are those that embody these innovations."
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Last edited by oddist : 05-19-2005 at 09:32 AM.
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  #9  
Old 05-19-2005, 10:49 PM
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Re: Portrait Sculpture

Exactly! I’ve clipped a sample image from this Cyber F/X site and adjusted it a bit for our format, under the educational-use provision of the U. S. copyright code. If the owner objects, I’ll remove the image. The slightly visible horizontal bands are evidence of the figure’s origin in a laser scan. These would be removed by a smoothing algorithm in a production figure.

It’s not surprising Hollywood is leading in this. Leading edge technology of this sort is expensive and requires a solid market for support. Also, the company is being smart in letting its artists use the “goodies” for a bit of their own work. That keeps the imagination and motivation quotients high.
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  #10  
Old 05-20-2005, 12:51 AM
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Re: Portrait Sculpture

For those interested in furthering there knowledge of two of the 3D printing techniques, here is a link to the way the SLA (stereo lithography) process works.

There is also SLS (Selective Laser Sintering).

Although these are shown using computer generated images of mechanical components, the laser scanned image of a human or sculpture maquette can be used for the same results...ergo..the femal image in the last post...

So, almost literally, "out of a primordial goo" imerges the figure of a _________(fill in the blank)...
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"Important artists are innovators whose work changes the practices of their successors; important works of art are those that embody these innovations."
Galenson, David W. Old Masters and young geniuses, Princeton University Press, 2006
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  #11  
Old 05-04-2006, 05:21 AM
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Re: Portrait Sculpture

doesn't that defeat the point of being a sculptor ie using your hands?
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  #12  
Old 05-04-2006, 08:33 AM
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Re: Portrait Sculpture

ara
re:
doesn't that defeat the point of being a sculptor ie using your hands?

which brings us back to another thread--------------is bodycasting really art?

I suspect that the underlying question has always to do with a determination of inherent quality

if the determination is of a utilitarian nature-let us ask ...is a handcrafted automobile better than a machine made one?----
is a hand taylored suit better'n a machine made one?
is a handcrafted portrait better'n a machine made one?

it seems that many artist eschew the utilitarian
is this done because handcrafted simply cannot compete?

I suspect that all of these questions inevitably lead to a discussion of a philosophical nature

we could ask, wherein lies the ultimate good for us as artist, and the aesthetic of the species?

most folks here know where i stand on these subjects------slow hand and brain application creates a more pleasing aesthetic whether in woodworking, building, or art
handcrafted with its flaws, and the mark of the application of the perspective of the artist has a qualitative enhancement not found in the "machine made"
and, to my construct, is therefore and thereby ...better

I'll readily grant that many potential clients won't see it that way and would prefer the ease, speed, and accuracy of the machine made copy.

whither hence?

sculptor
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  #13  
Old 05-08-2006, 08:37 PM
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Re: Portrait Sculpture

Hi Pogie111-

A book that I found invaluable for learning to sculpt portraits is Heidi Maiers e-book. You can download the entire book online or just certain chapters that you're interested in.

Here's the link:

http://www.heidimaiers.com/book.htm

Take care,

Tamara
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  #14  
Old 05-09-2006, 10:29 PM
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pogie111 pogie111 is offline
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Re: Portrait Sculpture

Quote:
Originally Posted by HappySculpting
Hi Pogie111-

A book that I found invaluable for learning to sculpt portraits is Heidi Maiers e-book. You can download the entire book online or just certain chapters that you're interested in.

Here's the link:

http://www.heidimaiers.com/book.htm

Take care,

Tamara
Hi Tamara,

Thanks for the Link...
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  #15  
Old 12-19-2006, 11:40 PM
swilliamson swilliamson is offline
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Re: Portrait Sculpture

Interesting
I've just finished working on a major project with a forensic anthropologist who had access to computer techniques.
The forensic study of aging and 'youthifying' I found very interesting and helpful.
The computer side interesting, but not especially helpful. Much too generalised and although as one writer suggested the computer methods are getting better all the time, I don't believe it would or could ever lead one to where one wanted to be, accuracy being only a small part of the picture.

I hasten to add that I usually work in a very traditional manner and I would be happy to make suggestions about setting up and measuring and so on.

I also worked for Madame Tussauds for years and they tried so often to replace their sculptors with computers & machines with little success. The old Madame herself would have turned in her grave.
The results of course were accurate......... but dead.
Portrait sculpture is about something else.

Incidentally there were many fine sculptors at Tussauds of the old school.

There are many ancient techniques one can employ to help the budding portrait sculptor develop good an dependable skills which help to remove the 'happy accident' or 'recipe' route.

The Lanteri book, as Jason suggests is excellent, if a little dry and hard going, but is based on the old traditional european method and ultimately invaluable.

I think the computer comes with it's own art, but it has no place in portrait sculpting as I know it. I personally wouldn't advocate it for the purposes of scaling up and down either. In this particular area different decisions are neccessary and usually only become apparent in the sculpting.

Working from life as someone else suggested is essential. Use your family or a friend if you can't afford a model.

I teach the subject and I believe that a sound knowledge of structure, form and articulation are what to aim for and of course a certain amount of anatomical study will help. Build your head from the inside out to the surface, considering all the time the bone and muscle but not slavishly and don't rush to the surface. The form needs to be as rich as possible. Look at the sculpture of the masters of the past.

A sound knowledge of the basics helps to remove the frustration which generally leads to a more enjoyable route to one's artitic expression.

Stuart Williamson
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  #16  
Old 12-20-2006, 04:22 AM
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Re: Portrait Sculpture

Quote:
Originally Posted by swilliamson
I also worked for Madame Tussauds for years and they tried so often to replace their sculptors with computers & machines with little success. The old Madame herself would have turned in her grave.
The results of course were accurate......... but dead.

Portrait sculpture is about something else.

Incidentally there were many fine sculptors at Tussauds of the old school.
I wonder why M T does not start off with computers and machines, and let skilled portrait sculptors to come in after that to do the small changes and touch-ups?
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  #17  
Old 12-20-2006, 03:03 PM
BMBourgoyne BMBourgoyne is offline
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Re: Portrait Sculpture

"The computer side interesting, but not especially helpful. Much too generalised and although as one writer suggested the computer methods are getting better all the time, I don't believe it would or could ever lead one to where one wanted to be, accuracy being only a small part of the picture."

The computer is a tool, and as used by a technician, its product can be mechanical and lifeless. Accuracy is indeed only a small part of the picture. But accuracy is only one thing that a computer offers.

In the hands of an artist who understands it as a medium with its own unique strengths and weaknesses, its product can be as full of life and expression as that of any medium. The primary weakness of computers is its interface with the hand and the eye of the artist, but this is where the most dramatic improvements are beginning to take hold. Its ability to rival physical interactions with materials is still not yet there, but is only a few years away-- not decades, and certainly not "not ever". And its current strengths make it a valuable tool now, in the right hands.

The computer will never suplant the sculptor, because it will always require an artist to make art. But it will radically alter how scupture in general and portraits in particular can be made. Just think about how casting radically altered the process when it was invented so many thousand years ago.

Brad
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  #18  
Old 12-20-2006, 03:37 PM
swilliamson swilliamson is offline
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Re: Portrait Sculpture

Regarding having the computers start the process. It is precisely that I was trying to get to. It's the building process that makes for lively sculpture. merely scratching away on the surface of something will tend to produce a result which might have a likeness but no inner strength.
The computer is a great tool I agree, but it doesn't know what it's looking at and it doesn't respond pshychologically to the subject.
It copies........which in fact is what some human portraitists do.
The real stuff should shock as you approach it.
SW
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Old 12-27-2006, 09:55 AM
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Re: Portrait Sculpture

Portraiture vs. likeness, It is not always the primary driver of the sculpting (or painting) of a portrait to end up with a likeness of the subject. It is, very valuable to train ones hands to do the bidding of the mind and eyes but it may be the case that process and activity produce a much more exciting piece of art than a merely skillfull duplication of reality. One can approach the subject of a portrait much like one would approach the execution of a still-life, maybe a bowl of apples. reduce the subject to is rudimentary forms , thus objectifying, and respond with your hands accordingly. The likeness will be incidental and the result will be something different than the subject. A new thing altogether. For better or worse. Realism is only exciting at the "hyper-real" level, other than that we must use dynamics, gesture and physicalprocess to carry the sculpture. I dont think Van gogh was trying to say anything about his mailman, the person, I think he was in deperate need of something new to paint that day.
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Old 12-27-2006, 12:15 PM
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Re: Portrait Sculpture

Pogie111:

One thing that has helped me is to see forms as abstract shapes rather than as particular objects. This requires looking carefully at form and understanding what it is doing. If you look at a nose and respond to your mind's idea of what a nose is and should look like, the result may be different than if you llok at the shapes that form the nose and just see them as shapes with no other association than very interesting form that it is your job to replicate as accurately as possible.

GlennT
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  #21  
Old 03-22-2013, 08:28 AM
KidzMom3 KidzMom3 is offline
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Re: Portrait Sculpture

Get good instruction if you can. Unfortunately there are only a handful of places that still teach traditional figure sculpture and much of representational sculpture has regressed into folk art. Folk art is what you will create if you try to go this alone. Try to find someone who has studied at the NYAA, Lyme or LCAD as they have great programs and this would be your best hope.

If you do not have the resources to hire a student of one of these schools, try to find an older sculptor who may have studied back when you could find good instruction more readily available.

A couple of hints in discerning a good instructor (this might also help you in your own work) Look at their sculpture at the literal eye level from the side view of the face. If the front of the eyeball is not approx. 1/2 inch (life scale work) back from the front of the bridge of the nose, run! If it is, look at the sculpture's face from the front, do a deep knee bend so that you are looking up at the center of the face from a significantly lowered position. The widest point of the face at the cheeks should be located BEHIND the eyes. The transition from the cheeks to the nose should be like a gentle ramp, it should not dip (have a concavity) into the face between the cheeks and the nose and it should not be a sharp transition. Try it on yourself, put your finger on the bridge of your nose and run it across your face under your eye to your cheek bone, see gentle ramp, there is bone that makes it so and unless their model was in a very bad accident. . . . Also facing straight ahead, put your fingers, one from each hand on the widest point of your cheeks, now move them straight up toward the top of your head, see behind the eyes!

I give you these examples as these are things that are almost always incorrect in the self taught artist. These are not the only problems that will be present but major structural issues. It would be better to get occasional lessons from someone who knows what they are doing than to be fully trained in how to do things wrong, unless you like that folk art uninformed look and this is what you are after (then why hire an instructor?). It is much easier to learn things the correct way than to unlearn established habits.

If you must work from a book I would recommend Malvina Hoffman's book "Sculpture Inside and Out" or Edward Lanteri's Books, 3 volumes. I have yet to find a video or a contemporary book on this subject that is worth its price even if found at a garage sale!
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  #22  
Old 03-22-2013, 08:38 PM
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Re: Portrait Sculpture

That is a great post, Kidzmom. I do some human figures. I will make the test you proposed on some of my work.

I have used Lanteri's work to great advantage. He is ruthless; he takes no prisoners. I imagine being his student would have been rigorous, to say the least.

Richard
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