Means & Aspects of Sculpting

Means & Aspects of Sculpting

Steve Lord gave a small talk on sculpting: digital and traditional sculpting, anatomy, face, hair.

Steve Lord gave a small talk on sculpting: digital and traditional sculpting, anatomy, face, hair.


Hello, my name is Steve Lord. I’m a traditionally trained sculptor and now sculpt digitally for most of my work. I studied with many people including Dennis Anderson and Martine Vaugel. I’ve worked as a professional sculptor since the age of 19. I’ve worked for collectible companies, special effects firms, Frank Frazetta among others and my own art. Currently, I work for Sideshow Collectables.

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Sculpting: Traditional vs. Digital

Traditional and digital sculpting both have their pros and cons. Traditional obviously has no symmetry function, we can’t spray on a texture. It takes a lot longer and more skill to get the same results with traditional medium. Digital is almost infinite in what you can achieve from rendering, hard surface, texture, animation, deformers etc. What it lacks is the tactile grounding that traditional sculpting gives you. After spending many years honing my traditional skills it’s hard not to crave the touch of real clay.


I believe anatomy is the starting point for anyone wishing to do representational art. The more anatomy you know the deeper your knowledge will be, it is quite simple. I started doing my own animal anatomy studies because none existed and I wanted deeper learning of how things worked.

Building proper anatomy starts with the origins and insertions of the muscles, understanding where the muscle attaches to bone is very important. The next step is the silhouette of the arm, leg, shoulder or whatever you are sculpting. Some artists forget this step and it can break the piece. After the silhouette, you refine the transitions of muscle groups. A good reference is great but good fundamentals are a must.

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Making a Portrait: Face & Hair

To do a portrait, you must get all the measurements you can and correlate them with one another, then look for the planes that make up the face. Once you have that blocked in then you do the transitions between the forms.

Hair is tricky. I use many methods depending on the look I want to achieve. I’ll do rough shapes and then punch out negative spaces. I’ll use insert mesh brushes in ZBrush. I find people who have different skill sets use different techniques. Some guys do hair completely procedural with no sculpting at all. To do nice hair I would start by what people have done before you. Look at the European portrait sculpture from between 1600 and 1900, that’s a good place to start. One name to get you started is Jean-Antoine Houdon.

Steve Lord, Artist

Interview conducted by Kirill Tokarev

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Comments 1

  • George Nagulov

    Good tips! Works even better if you read them in Steve's voice.


    George Nagulov

    ·a year ago·

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Means & Aspects of Sculpting