Rhythms Gestures, Module 02

Welcome to module_02! In this module we will begin to evaluate the rhythms and gestures of several different body archetypes. As you watch the videos look for the similarities between the different types of characters and think about how these same principles might be applied to your character sculpt. This information, in conjunction with how you “lead your character”, will be the foundation of what conveys his or her (or its) personality. Lets go straight to some videos!


Video: Rhythms & Gestures

  • Male Archetype


Video: Rhythms & Gestures

  • Female Archetype


Video: Rhythms & Gestures

  • Large male Archetype


Video: Rhythms & Gestures

  • Large female Archetype


Study, memorize, research- then forget all that and just create!

When it came to playing music, BB King had a saying “First you gotta know what kinda music you wanna play. Then you gotta know your instrument. Then you gotta forget all that and just jam.” In order to create truly great designs, you need to internalize all the necessary skills so that you can utilize them at will. From anatomy to cloth folds, to gestures that evoke certain feelings, the more information you can commit to your subconscious about each, the better. If you think that sounds like an incredibly big challenge, you are correct! But keep in mind- this is a life long endeavor.

This is why practicing, and failing, over, and over, and over again is so important. It is also why the research you started last week will pay off. The more you can delve into the world and background of your character, the more you will be able to capitalize on subtle things that accentuate the idea of who the character really is.


Blocking in the Form
When creating a character, I typically try to block in all the relevant forms at the very beginning. In other words, if there are accessories that will affect the silhouette or posture, I’ll represent them in the initial block in. Even if it is just a simple cube or low poly object that roughly matches the contour of the shape. In the Bogman design sculpt below, I created all of the clothing as low, single sided meshes, and simple versions of the accessories before I began to refine any parts of my sculpt. For this focused Master Class we will be concentrating on the forms of the body, saving the cloth and accessories for future classes. If you have the time to block in a very low resolution representation of your costume, great. If not, you do NOT need to do so for this class. What is important is that you understand how doing it on your future characters will help elevate the quality of your final sculpt. In a future Master Class, “Sculpting Cloth”, we will discuss how the design and forms of the cloth are a direct extension of the rhythms and gestures of the figure.


Video: Blocking in your mesh

  • The T-pose
  • The half pose
  • Sculpting begins
  • Why I use ZBrush instead of Mudbox


*Remember, if you don’t have time to block-in the costume and accessories,  it is NOT a requirement for this class.

I use Maya to create my low resolution mesh (low box mesh download is included in module_01) but feel free to start with ZShperes or Dynamesh. For me it comes down to the simple fact that I have access to Maya and it is the quickest way for me to generate a usable mesh. I have also grown to love having the ability to step down to a VERY low level mesh to make global edits. The only recommendation I would make, no matter how you start, is to make sure you setup your mesh in a way that will maintain the ability to step down to lower levels so you can make clean, global changes.

  • Starting with ZSpheres- I explored integrating ZSpheres into my workflow a few years back and ended up not finding a great fit for them- of course that does NOT mean they should not be used. If you like them, and have some great techniques to share, it would be great to showcase that in your forum posts.
  • Dynamesh- feel free to start with it. I’ve included a link to a great overview video to help get you started if that’s how you’d like to begin. If any of our advanced students already use a Dynamesh workflow we can examine the pros and cons of that workflow in the forum. We can also experiment with using it to create specific parts of our design sculpt, then find the most efficient ways to utilize those parts when we create our production mesh. At this time I do not use a Dynamesh workflow for my sculpts. I like the workflow results I get from utilizing my low resolution box mesh in conjunction with the transpose tool.  LINK http://www.pixologic.com/zclassroom/homeroom/lesson/dynamesh/  I would recommend “The Making of “Time for Art”.


Avoid Detail at All Costs
One of the biggest mistakes we ZBrush users make is getting too caught up in the finite details. During the beginning stages we need to stay global. Focus on the overall forms, gesture and rhythms of your sculpt. I’ll be taking a look at your progress throughout the week and when appropriate, giving specific thoughts and possibilities to improve your individual designs.


Assignment: Let the sculpting begin. It is time to block in your low resolution mesh for your character. Try to focus on the overall form (big shapes and silhouette), broad gesture, and basic rhythms. I’ll be checking in on your individual posts this week for feedback. Depending on how everyone’s sculpts are progressing, I might be contacting you to grab your .ZTL for a sculpt-over. In our next module we will be diving into and critiquing your specific design choices.


DK Eyewitness Books offer great picture reference on an endless number of topics. These and other topic specific “picture-encyclopedia” style books can be a great source of inspirationfor your character creations.

Figure Sculptor, David Simon: http://www.davidsimonart.com/ (His site might still be under construction but you can Google image search his name to see some great pieces. I wanted to include this link to show that you don’t need a dramatic pose to capture a sense of life.
Art of Books- from Prometheus to Kung Fu Panda 2, are also great reference for spawning new ideas

BOOKS THAT DEFINE NARRATIVE STRUCTURE AND CLASSIFICATIONS: gaining an understanding helps improve our character design choices
Save The Cat! The Last Book on Screenwriting You’ll Ever Need by Blake Snyder
The Hero’s Journey: Joseph Campbell on His Life and Work (The Collected Works of Joseph Campbell) by Joseph Campbell and Phil Cousineau
DVD Joseph Campbell and the Power of Myth Starring Joseph Campbell (III) and Bill Moyers (Oct 9, 2001)  Joseph Campbell was an amazing person and this DVD changed my outlook on the type of characters I want to create and my motivations for creating them.
Save the Cat! Goes to the Movies: The Screenwriter’s Guide to Every Story Ever Told by Blake Snyder (Oct 1, 2007)
The Writers Journey: Mythic Structure for Writers, 3rd Edition by Christopher Vogler and Michele Montez