Craft Processes: Digital Manual Hybrids with Scientific Art Studio

Posted on Feb 16, 2016


I can’t get over these incredible lifelike sculptures made by combining traditional sculpture techniques with digital modeling and prototyping. Artist Rey Hernandez has published a fascinating expose on his techniques. Peek inside Scientific Art Studio and see how they created the Animal Learning Plaza for the San Francisco Zoo. Envisioned as tactile exhibits, photos give scant clues that the sculptures are not living and breathing.

It may be that not every home needs a 3D printer, but Rey aptly demonstrates the advantages conferred to artists by digital design. After designing in Zbrush, the models are either 3D printed, or cut from foam on CNC machinery, then cast in bronze, concrete, or resin. Note the intermediary clay model:

This alligator was large enough to sculpt in parts:

Rey describes how working in digital clay informs his traditional practice and vice versa:

Having a background in traditional sculpture and fabrication was extremely helpful for creating these.
The traditional background comes into play not only in the digital sculpting but also in
designing the animals in a way that can be molded, cast, and built strong enough to survive the public touching and climbing them.

Full of animal poise and nuanced detail

In the end, he says,

the most important thing Digital or Clay is “practice hours,” and learning how to “see”.

He recommends life drawing to improve skills as well.  Does drawing inform your sculpture process?  Do you digital sculpt? Let us know in the comments here or click through for more photos and to join the conversation with Rey at ZBrush Central.