Topology, Anatomy, Volume. Pick two! Errr... solo artist Q on improving all three

The short version:

I sit in my little back room and work on small projects, whether paid or not, and I’m the sole creator of the assets that I work with. I get some vague input at times, mostly on overall looks; no one I know (who’s got time) is really sharp on the big three, which, let’s face it, are what this whole thing is all about. The right volume/anatomy/topology that imparts the history and life of your character, lets others work with them, and that won’t give your audience the creeps (unless that’s what you’re after).

But again, it’s just me, I can’t really show meshes, and sitting and poring over dozens of reference images (no direct ref or planes to work off of) doesn’t always add up to understanding. I gotta keep pushing verts, but I screw up one of the three or more at a time and chase myself around in circles… FFFFFFFFF! I look at meshes as I can, not a lot out there on current topo trends it seems, and at times it’s tough to really suss out what’s good v what’s meh. At least for me it is.

So when you are the literal ‘it’, how do you improve? esp on occasion where you aren’t at liberty to show the work just yet… Unique features (or just different ethnicities), adding/removing weight/mass, a different sex, age… all these things… crazy and amazing, but also… GRRRRR. Like I said, I keep pushing verts, but damn it’d be nice to be more fluid, faster, more certain…

These three shouldn’t be separated, and I think you can say that: topo is technical more than anything (and the easiest to solve?), but I’d love good input on current thoughts on deformation. Anatomy need not be exact; you’re not after an anatomy study most time, you’re after a living, breathing, performing character in the end, often if you evoke just right… and volume, well… you have to work and live in the round, it’s crucial, maybe more than the others? …?

How does a solo improve? :slight_smile:


I’m not sure I understand everything you’re saying but i can try to answer your last question with what I do.

  1. Read on the subject.
  2. Look up reference.
  3. Work hard.

example : I’d like to improve sculpting hands

  1. Read about the anatomy of the hands; how does it work? Where are the muscles situated? Where are the bones ?
  2. Look up tons of reference
  3. Open up Zbrush and start sculpting

On the more technical side, it’s the same process.

example : I’d like to sculpt in something in Zbrush.

  1. Read some zbrush documentation
  2. Look up some videos (zbrush classroom, youtube, images that go in depth with the process)
  3. Open up Zbrush and start sculpting

Ask a question, search for the answer, apply the solution.

I Hope this helps.