I have been taking continuing education classes in SVA (School of Visual Arts) every year since I graduated in 1994 in all different facets of art, film, 3d, painting, and writing. In 2010 I decided to try sculpture out thinking how hard could it be? After taking a 13 week class sculpting in clay from a live nude model the answer is very difficult. I was shocked at how painful it was to mold the clay which I thought would respond like play-doh or something. Real clay is a bitch to handle and requires heaters to warm up and make pliable. The instructor, David Cortes (www.cortesstudio.com) was fantastic he blew me away with his talent and ability to sculpt something with his hands like a head from a ball of clay and have it look amazing in 10-15 minutes. Anyway, he got me through it with his words of wisdom and encouragement. Here are the results:
In 2014 I learned about a digital sculpting class with Luis Navarro (www.sva.edu/faculty/luis-rodrigo-navarro) also an excellent artist and instructor and I took his class 4 semesters in a row. He is still teaching it and I highly recommend you take it if you have the slightest bit of interest in this.
In this class you will learn multiple programs and processes but it is up to you to determine which path to follow because they are all very deep and can get very difficult. The good news is that there is a program called Sculptris that has a quick learning curve verses the many years it takes to truly under- stand and be proficient at Maya which I choose to pursue out of the multiple options Luis exposed me to.
After only 1 Class I spent 12 hours over the weekend at home and made a sculpt of my son. Luis printed it out as a test for me on SVA’s plaster printer Looking back I wished I had spent 10 additional hours on it but was too excited to see it printed to wait.
Next up I made a larger sculpture of a deer’s head with plywood and a CNC router which SVA owns as well. This was much more complicated because even though the modeling part was easier the physical nature of dealing with wood and glue and sanding all had their own challenges to contend with.
Shout outs to my brother in law Danny Mignone for shooting the deer and my sister in law Rosa and nephew Fred for pulling it out of their attic and taking iPhone pics so I could use as a reference.
I didn’t have to worry about creating the fur in the model because the plywood edges would render it useless in the final.
Since this was going to be printed on a 4’ x 8’ by 1 inch piece of plywood then assembled with glue I needed to bring it into CAD program called solid works where I was taught how to cut it up into proper segments then lay out flat in a language that the CNC printer could understand. This part took me about 12 hours because I had to get into a whole new program that was not intuitive in any way.
Now the fun begins and by fun I mean trimming, sanding and glueing all the parts together over 10-15 hour time period.
I continued this process and followed it up with a lifesize sculpture of my daughter. First I did a small plaster test then I went the CNC router path again although this time with 4” foam instead of plywood. The post work on this was much more time consuming, frustrating and arduous because of the nature of foam plus my inexperience.
From initial photos and measurements to completion took over a year (not straight worked on other projects in between probably spent about 150 total hours on it). She grew a few inches during this time.
My next goal was to make a sculpture in color. The Zprinter can do this in plaster. I chose my dad William Coppa as my subject.
I had my friend Michael Croog (Croog.com) combine my photos to make a UV map to wrap around the model.
In March 2017 I showed my pieces documented above at the 23rd street gallery at SVA here is the invite and some pics with my models:
In 2018 I took a Zbrush Class with the previously mentioned David Cortes at SVA. Zbrush is a substantially deeper program than Sculptris and it is also for organic modeling. I photographed my friend Gavin Christopher to use as my reference.
In 2020 during the Covid shutdown I watched a bunch of tutorials on the internet and started playing with Modo to try hard surface modeling which was a different approach to 3D for me. I made this: