I’ve been teaching Intro to Digital Sculpting with ZBrush at the College level for some time, and it’s led me to really think about how I can be most effective in mentoring my students. What I hope for them to come away with is key foundational knowledge that is necessary so they can continue to build upon and grow.
The students that I’ve had join my class have a great passion for video games and animation and are highly enthusiastic about getting into the Industry. Some of them have not had any exposure to the craft, while others have tinkered with various industry softwares in some ways. More often than not, they are all eager to run before they have learned to crawl! But the main takeaway I teach is just how important it really is to establish solid footing so that they can eventually get to the point of springing off and running.
Software is highly technical, but there is still an artistry involved that goes beyond the technicality. I’m not sure how much conversation takes place about mentoring fledgling artists or teaching students the Artistry of the craft, but it’s important to demonstrate that there is a technical perspective (software) and an interpersonal perspective (working with people and communicating ideas) that should always be considered. There are many moving pieces in this industry, and I feel strongly about how these notions should be continually reiterated as I guide my students through the lesson plans. Having been in this industry for well over a decade and some years, I’ve seen and experienced first-hand how many variances there are from Studio to Studio in terms of their ways of working, art styles, managing styles, etc.
What I’ve set up for my class is an outline of a full-cycle through the production pipeline of varying projects that range and progress in complexity. Each project allows my students to build a solid foundation and muscle memory that they will re-apply as we progress in the lessons to the more complex assignments. To illustrate, I start with a Rock Project, then a Tree Stump, and then finally a Character Bust (Or, they can choose just to do a face cap). It allows them to go through the exercises of inorganic/hard surface sculpting (i.e. – rock), and more organic shapes (i.e. – tree), to full organic shapes (i.e. – character bust). These exercises include tools and processes that are constants that allow them to focus on the artistry of creating the pieces, rather than fighting with the technical aspects, of which ZBrush is quite a robust tool.
I’ll be sharing the process through a series of blog posts. Stay tuned, as I’ll be posting very soon just some of the things I communicate and share with my students as I walk them through their very First Project: The Rock Assignment.