Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Sending files off for enlargement.

The digital sculpture, that is within my computer is complete! I am now sending it off to be enlarged by a company called Synappsys Digital Services in Oklahoma they will be milling out Evelyn in Foam and sending her to me. Then I'll carve a bit in the foam, and put a layer of wax and clay on her carving the details.

File is ready to be sent for enlargement.
Here is a completed snapshot of the sculpture in the computer.  I have taken off her pearls because these will not be milled, she is also not wearing a watch, I'll create that in clay.  I have changed the stance a bit, bending the right knee some more and placing most of her weight on her left leg. The reference photographs of the sweater have helped me with the folds.

I have also created a turn table model video so that others can get a look at what the sculpture looks like from all sides.

Friday, January 13, 2012

Getting to know Evelyn Rubenstein

Using reference for folds. 
Yesterday, my client was kind enough to take time with me and allow me to thumb through old photo albums.  It is interesting... I'm looking for photographs of my subject, but it is seeing the family photographs, hearing the stories, this is what makes me feel bonded to my subject.

I'm trying to not only capture a likeness, I'm trying to find Evelyn. Watching her playful side in photographs, some that I have never even taken as reference, hearing about her parents, my clients and the relationship to them, even talking about death. All of these things add an element to a sculpture that you  can't get by just "doing the work."

I once heard an artist say, "posthumous sculpture is just another commission."  It is so much more to me.  This is a life lived. It is someone's mother and wife. It is a person whose life made a huge difference and will continue to make a difference.  How can I honor that?  Who are you Evelyn?

My client also took time for me, and posed in a similar sweater like Evelyn is wearing in the key photograph. I needed to see folds all around. Folds are so important.  In a recent sculpture of a young man playing ultimate frisbee I hired a young man of similar size to be my model. He spent an hour jumping up and down in the yard of my studio while I took video. Photographs were impossible as I could never catch the folds I needed when he was at the high point of his jump. So I filmed him, and then took stills to use as reference.

 I could have had a friend pose for me, in a sweater like Evelyn's, but even this little detail of having someone she knew and love pose, this makes a difference. We are cocreating. This is not just "my" artwork it becomes "our" artwork.
Folds are very important. To get reference
photographs for this sculpture a young man
 came to my studio and jumped up and down
 for an hour while I shot video. ( If you would like to see 
a larger version of this art just double click on the photograph) 

I'm becoming intimately familiar with the stature and physical nuances of Evelyn.  I study the photographs. There are photograph from many different ages. Some  are taken at 20- 50 even 70 year of age. This process is much easier at this age. Once I had to do a sculpture of a little boy who had passed away, the reference photographs I had spanned from ages 1-4 and 7. A child has huge changes  in facial and body structure at that age. This is not so much with a grown person.

Tracing the reference photographs helps me
to see elements without a lot of visual distraction.
I'm spending time today tracing some of these photographs.  I can set them over my digital sculpture image the way I would use them comparing them to shape and form traditionally in the studio. Again this process is giving me the general shape of Evelyn, so that I can have it enlarged for an armature to put on the clay.  Tracing these images helps me to see the basic shape without a lot of visual disturbance.

Length of Skirt
We shortened the skirt. Now I'm
working on details for my
armature and model. I  can't
wait to get my hands dirty. All
of the digital preparations are
nice, but I long to be with the
piece physically. 
My client helped to confirm the length of the skirt. We  changed the length and, as mentioned in a previous post,  the height of the figure.  Much more to do on this model before sending it off. My goal is to have it to the enlarger before I leave town at the end of the month. That way, if I am lucky, the armature will be waiting for me upon my return.

I'm looking at the pearls and wondering, where did she get them?  My husband gave me pearls. I don't wear jewelry, not even my wedding ring. It is hard to wear jewelry when you have your hands in goo most of the time. But pearls are all I wanted, a simple strand to wear when we go out.  So, I think about these intimate details as I work on the sculpture.

Some of my thoughts, broad back, slight overbite, questioning her earrings, thinking about how she brushed her hair, who did it for her?

Saturday, January 7, 2012

Detailed description of the process of Tra-digi art.

POSER, DAZ 3D and Zbrush- Creating of digital armatures
commissioned portrait sculpture a life-size bronze
Bridgette Mongeon has been commissioned
to sculpt Evelyn Rubenstein for the new
Evelyn Rubenstein Jewish Community Center.

This is a rather long and detailed explanation for a process that I use called tra-digi art. It is copied from my sculpture blog, and is intended to not only show the process, but help other individuals who are learning these processes. Tra-digi art is incorporating traditional processes with digital processes for artwork that is realized in a physical form.

In this project I'm trying to obtain an armature that I can use for the new life-size bronze sculpture of Evelyn Rubenstein. I know my pose, so I don't need a tradition sculpted maquette to show my client. The pose is from a photograph that my client has of Evelyn in a suit. I am, however, missing some information such as the position of her legs. And I need to create a 3d model of this pose because I intend on having it milled for me. In other words, Synappsys digital services will take my 3d model enlarge it and mill it out in foam, instead of me having to go through the tedious process of welding medal, using spray foam and making a life-size armature as I used to do before the tra-digi process. This process is very similar to what I did with the 11 foot panther project.

So. using the provided picture and a program called Poser along with Daz 3d models and 3d clothes I can expedite my process by creating a similar pose to the one in the photograph.
The Poser model is used to get a
"feel" for my subject and the pose.
It helps me to be able to see and
I can create the information that I
don't have in the photograph,
like her legs and feet  

I really like working in Poser, though Daz 3d does have a free modeling program that does the same thing, I wish I had the time to learn it. Poser, feels very intuitive for what I am trying to do, I can push and pull, repose, try different things- meanwhile seeing my figure from all sides and getting to "feel" the pose. I'm not using Poser to "create my art," instead it is just as one would use their clay, or how we used to use an old wooden maquette to get a feel for the pose and try out different elements. I have done this before and have a video of the Jenna project that shows this process in more detail.

In the picture of the Poser model on this page, it is showing the mesh, or underlying structure. I need to see this to be able to know how things will work as I continue on the sculpture. For example, this model has eyelashes. I would not want that "milled" out and so they must be taken out before I can bring it into zbrush.

a traditional sculptor sculpting in zbrush now must know about topology or the underlying mesh.
Pulling on the clay as you would do
 traditionally used to deform
the underlying mesh or geometry.
Then when you tried to sculpt
on the piece it would be deformed.

Zbrush by Pixologic, is one of the digital sculpting program that I use. It has quite a few new features. Dyanmesh being one of them. Usually Dyanmesh is used to sculpt from a blob, pull things out and then it remeshes the 3d model so there is no pulled or deformed geometry. This pulled gemoetry was one of the things I hated about digital sculpting, when I started years ago. Basically what this means is that behind every computer generated sculpture there is an underlying mesh.

If you double click on the elephant sculpture you will see a larger photograph that demonstrates the pulled mesh that I am speaking of. See how the squares are not uniform but some are bigger and further apart? Now, the digital tools are improving. It makes it more and more like traditional sculpture. For example, with Dyanmesh in Zbrush- just pull and push and add digital clay and then press a Dyanmesh button and the program magically creates your scupture into an overall good workable mesh.

sculpting with both traditional and digital means to create a portrait bronze life size sculpture.
I like the way the poser figure looks using 
 Dynamesh in Zbrush, but
but I realize my hands need
to be pulled away from the body
so that I can work on the entire body.
So far my workflow has been, Poser, and Zbrush, but I have had to do this in parts. When bringing the entire figure back into Poser I am using Dyanmesh to remesh the underlying structure so that I can revise it.

I had to experiment with a few different resolution settings. But I was able to get a pretty good mesh that I could work on. Problems with dynamesh with my process- holes. I found that I had some holes in the geometry in my piece when I remeshed using dynamesh in Zbrush. Just use the inflate tool and then remesh using dynamesh and this usually fixes the problem. Remember you are trying to get a basic geometry to work with. You can't do details when using dynamesh.

the digital model as it is today. Still needs some work.  I believe I will shorten her torso
The digital model as it is today.
Still needs some work.
I believe I will shorten her legs
a bit as well as her skirt.
I also will add her pearls.
The back of the sculpture
needs work, I'm off next
week to take some pictures
of her daughter-in-law
with a sweater on
so I can see the folds.
[caption id="attachment_2014" align="alignleft" width="191" caption="The digital model as it is today. Still needs some work. I believe I will shorten her legs a bit as well as her skirt. I also will add her pearls. The back of the sculpture needs work, I'm off next week to take some pictures of her daughter-in-law with a sweater on so I can see the folds. "][/caption]

Yes, I could have started from scratch and sculpted Evelyn in the computer from a ball of clay, but this way expedites my process. I can see what a mesh will look like coming from Poser and remeshed. I think this may work.

I worked on the head, which in this view still needs more hair and is not a true likeness of Evelyn, but has a good form to start with. Much of the final detail is done in real clay down in my sculpture studio. I also worked on her arms separately. Now that I have gotten her this far here are the problems I have to work out.

Height. I believe my original model used in Poser is too big, and after confirmation I find that the Victoria 4 base model is 5'10.5" tall. My subject evelyn is 5'6". This confirms some of the visual things I was noticing with this sculpture. The other thing is that I believe the skirt in this view is a bit too long. Call me a stickler but I'm going to shorten it a bit, or try different lengths to see what I like. Back to the drawing board. I'll update more later.


If you are new to 3d sculpting and want to learn about topology, a wonderful video is created by Guerilla CG Called Subdivision Topology: Artifacts. It is a good thing to realize what is going on behind the scene, but I am thankful that the sculpting programs are making it easier for artists to sculpt without having to deal with the mundane but necessary topology.

Sunday, January 1, 2012

Armature-Part 2

I have been using digital processes with my traditional sculpting processes for a while.  A process I call tra-digi art. I was thrilled to create a book on part of this topic called Digital Sculpting In Mudbox: Essential Tools and Techniques for Artists.

It still feels strange to do so much work on a sculpture and not getting my fingers dirty in clay. But here I sit in my office, above my studio, working out details of Evelyn.  The pose has been decided on, but there are some details of this pose that need to be worked out.

1. In what position are her feet? What is the missing information that I don't have in my reference photograph?

2. How will she stand within her placement at the Evelyn Rubenstein Jewish Community Center?  She is going in the lobby, but we need her to work well in the lobby design and, still be secure. That means she has to be secured to the floor and perhaps a third point.  I'm considering hiding that 3rd place of securing in her right elbow sweater folds.

I will not be creating this armature in the traditional process as mentioned in part one, instead I will be creating the basic armature of her within the computer and Synappsys Digital Service In Oklahoma will take my 3d file and then mill out an armature in foam.  Then, I will cover the foam with clay and add my details.   You can see this milling part of the process in the video showing Jenna in the previous post.  You can also see how we used a foam armature if you take a look at the Prairie View Panther Project Blog. The Prairie View Panther was  a large 11 foot panther that was created in bronze for Prairie View University in Prairie View Texas.

In the next post you will see my process of working up the digital sketch of Evelyn for her armature.

Creating an armature- Part 1

A maquette is compared
to the enlarged Newsboy sculpture
piece, point by point. This will
not be the process used to
create the armature of Evelyn.
Instead new digital process
will be used by the artist. 
Traditional sculpture has changed for some over the years.  When it comes to creating a sculpture for a client, many start with a small maquette, or small sculpture. This is usually done to try to obtain a pose and work out the movement of a piece.  An example of creating a maquette can be seen in my Newsboy blog, and is shown on this page.

In the case of the Evelyn sculpture we are not going to create a maquette. Instead, we are going right to a large sculpture. The reason for this is that we know the pose. It has been decided on, and there is little to figure out in this sculpture project.

The armature of the
life-size sculpture
of the newsboy. 
Going from a maquette to a large sculpture in the traditional process can be very, very time consuming, and up until adding digital technology to my process, it was one of my least favorite things to do.  There is some detail about this traditional process in my journal of creating the newsboy.  The process consists of measuring up the sculpture, point by point, creating an armature, made up of rebar, and or pipe, chicken wire, spray foam and then of course clay.  It is time consuming and not a very creative part of the process, but it is necessary.

New part of my creative process
Over the last few years I have been incorporating both traditional process of sculpting with digital technology. You will see this in the up and coming posts about the armature.   I call this tra-digi art.  I love it, it expedites my process, gives me more control over my tools, and when these tools are used to help to create a pose, as the example of Jenna in the video below, it helps my client to visualize the piece.

Here is a video that describes how I have used tra-digi art in the past.  Check back to see how we are using this with Evelyn.

The Pose

The pose of the sculpture to be created for the Evelyn Rubenstein Jewish Community Center- Houston has already been decided on.  It will be the exact pose that you see of her hands on hips, sweater, suite and pearls. This pose was already decided on by my client before I came into the picture, but I love it.  I think, it has a personal meaning to me as well.

 I didn't know Evelyn, I wish I had. I hope I can as I work on this project. Some tell me I develop a relationship with the deceased through my posthumous sculpture. I know it sounds a bit strange, but in hindsight, I guess that is what I do.  I learn so much about them. It is important to me to do this, as I want more than a likeness, I want their essence.

What this pose tells me....
Back in the 80's I was reprimanded for this pose.  Yes, a man once told me a woman never puts her hands on her hips.  I disagree. This pose says, I'm confident of myself, I'm friendly, but... don't cross me, I know what I am doing.  Perhaps, back in the 80's with the man who said it to me, it was threatening to him.  I'm overjoyed to see this pose that demonstrates not only strength but grace at the same time. Wow, how she does that is so impressive. I hope I can transfer that to the clay.

Often, when working on posthumous sculpture I get a "feel" for the person.  This is most likely drawn by the comments I hear from others.  That is why I count on the stories of others, and visiting with others about Evelyn.

What I feel about Evelyn today
Creating a legacy

I'm honored to work on this sculpture, and look forward to getting to know Evelyn a bit more.

A wonderful project for 2012- Finding Evelyn Rubenstein

I am very pleased to announce that I have been asked to create a life-size sculpture of a very influential woman of Houston. The Jewish Community Center has been renamed as the Evelyn Rubenstein Jewish Community Center. It is my job to capture not just the likeness of this woman, but the spirit and essence of someone I have never known. I'm up for the challenge, but unlike many of my other posthumous sculptures, it is difficult to find information on Evelyn. I count on family and friends to assist me with this process. For me posthumous sculpture is a cocreation between myself and those who know and love my subject. It is their stories that assist me with that etherial part of posthumous portrait sculpting. So if you knew Evelyn, please share your stories. You can do so through comments or by contacting me directly

The life-size sculpture will greet individuals as they enter and leave the ERJCC.

Here is an article in the Jewish Herald Voice describing the entire new renaming.