Sculpting femme fatales.
Disclaimer:Before I leap headlong into the nitty-gritty, I'd like to make it very clear that these are a set of standards that I personally follow as they make sense to me. Other people will their own, this however is not an attack or criticism against them. Some people sculpt in a particular way because that's what they're good at and what they're PAID to do (if you're paid to do it, you enjoy it and you do it well, then you would be a fool to stop), other's however might well follow a different set of standards because they don't know any better...
What goes through my head when I sculpt female charactersWhen the hamster in my head gets tired of running on his wheel, I tend to think long and hard about the look I want to achieve, the character, the situations and scenarios you'd find them in and what they'd need.
More than anything else, I aim for realism, that's it, that's the limit of my own self imposed briefs when starting a sculpt.
What exactly do I mean by realism? Well, just that, something that's realistic, something that doesn't fall into the category to "Billy no-mate's, wet dream girlfriend". Some people roll their eyes (myself included) if a female character (in this instance let's say a fantasy barbarian like Red Sonja) is sculpted in a raunchy pose (not including pin-up or bombshell), it cheapens the piece and here's why.
Duckface and "Here are my boobs" poses.
It's unrealistic, on the battle field any self respecting fighter isn't going to pause in the melee to perform a bend and snap pose and/or duckface, doing so would provide your opponent a wonderful opportunity to put a sword or axe through your head.
I'll be going into greater detail and showing some examples of exactly what I'm getting at here, for the Banshee/Wych tutorial I'll be doing later on.
A blend of the subtle with the obvious.
This is not to say that you cannot use some form of provocation in your piece, if anything, I'd encourage it, it's a bugger to get right, but if you do, then it will look awesome. Something as simple as a beckoning gesture with a finger is both manipulative and a mocking challenge.
This figure is quite old but a wonderful example:
What is this "armour" you speak of?
So you have decided to go the Starwars Golden bikini route, just how well do you think that's going to work in a combat situation, especially if your enemy has shooting capabilities (arrows or otherwise)? This video and image sum up my thoughts rather well. This is one I've ironically seen more when sculpting the chaos sister of battle I did a while back; I had some people tell me they thought I'd given her "too much armour".
My response to the above is no, forever no, at best it cheapens the sculpt and what I'm trying to do, and at worst makes me look like pale skinned, clammy handed, attic crawler, who buys boxes of kleenex by the truck load. I'm not speaking out of frustration or anger here, but as far as I'm concerned, such an approach is just as offensive, shallow, unrealistic and misogynistic as boobs that are so large they would interfere with the character's hearing.
Don't do it....
Admittedly, if you're careful and good at what you do, you CAN do sculpts of combat characters with little or no clothing and armour, (especially if you're sculpting berserkers or war dancers) the key here is to avoid the other pit falls (especially as far as poses go).
Now that I have outlined my points about avoiding sexual stereotypes and pitfalls, I'm now going to backtrack on them...
There are differences in the skeletal structures between men and women, although there is always an element diversity and exceptions, as nothing is ever black and white, or written in stone. Below I've included a picture from Andrew Loomis's work, although it's obvious he has his own preferences with scales (definitely an 8 heads man) he was good at outlining standard proportions and differences between the two and it's from the skeletal structure up, that it's worth taking note of.
Immediately there are obvious differences, the pelvis size and shapes being the big one, areas like the clavicle, the rib cage shape and even the overall taper of the femur down to the knees, immediately stand out. On top of this I've marked out the upside down V shape from the sternum, which for sculpture purposes tends to be 90 Degrees on men and 60 on women.
"B" and "S" shapes
Something that helped me a huge amount came from Jes Goodwin at the last gamesday I went to; aside from long history of some awesome concept artwork, he's a very talented sculptor too and has tons of experience and advice that he's happy to share with anyone who asks him for it.
A big one he mentioned was the use of B and S shapes when sculpting female characters, something that becomes very important with miniatures as the proportions are scaled down to such an extent that some things need to be over-exaggerated to be noticeable. At the time, this was the current shape of a piece I'm still working on (much more of her to come later in her own tutorials and in a tutorial for putties too).
On the Left you have the Bs
On the right you have the Ss
I will be posting these photos again, but the next time it will be alongside the alterations I made, as I made quite a few in the end and I haven't even mentioned the changes I've made to her torso (which follow similar rules and guides).
If you look back at the skeletons above you'll notice these curves are more prominent on the female skeleton than they are on a male, combine this with the fact that a much higher testosterone level means that men store and build muscle with greater ease (which further blurs and alters these shapes, especially around areas like the knees, mid thigh and chest) and these shapes are much more readily associated with the female form.
- Again, this is not a sexist opinion, these are anatomical variations.
PART 2 coming soon
The reason I'm cutting this short here is two fold.
1. I'm still sculpting and taking photos for the next section, this includes the work I'm doing for the collaboration with
2. It's probably too much to throw out all at once as the whole thing would end up being very long.