The Art of Human Anatomy with Qisheng Luo

An exploration of sculpture, pose, texture and light

Hi everyone! My name is Qisheng Luo, I’m from Shanghai, China, and I’m currently working at Kaitian Studio, a company that specializes in figurines and various IP derivatives. I personally like to create and work on the development of sculpted figures, and I often use Substance Painter to assist in the creation process.

My major in college was international economics and trade. It may not have anything to do with art, but I’ve liked art since a young age, and I often painted Chinese paintings and took some introductory courses. This planted a seed in my heart. After I got to college, I used my spare time to slowly develop my hobby of art. Then I taught myself some 3D software, and after graduation, I did not work in economics-related jobs but worked directly as an artist.

Inspiration

I usually browse a lot on the internet to see the works of some great artists, and I am particularly fond of traditional Chinese art. I often visit museums and look through the art books left by ancient artists and draw inspiration from them. I use a more realistic approach based on Western traditional art. So, I try to make art that combines East and West. 

Ancient art and sculpture 

I have been nurtured by ancient art and sculpture since I was a child. First of all, my hometown is a place where Buddhist art is very developed, Jiuhua Mountain, one of the four Buddhist holy places. So, since I was young, I would follow my mother to go to the temple to burn incense and worship Buddha. Naturally, I was nurtured in this area from childhood. Later on, I would go to museums to learn more about it, so I always liked it. 

The Substance toolset

I learned about Substance when I was working at Virtuos, but I never used it much. Later, when I was working on my own, I was mainly in the stage of creating textures and materials, and I felt that it was still rather complicated to use the traditional method. So, I decided to try Substance Painter and found that it works super well and is very efficient. It integrates the material creation and rendering process very smoothly. This saves a lot of work time. Compared to the traditional way, I found that using Substance for material creation improves production efficiency by probably more than 50 percent. 

Pose and human anatomy

In this regard, I do life drawing training regularly, especially human life drawing, sketching, and then some basic sculpting training. I also look at a lot of classical Western sculpture to get a lot of tips to improve my skill. Because I believe some of the ancient Western sculptors have brought the art of sculpture to the extreme. For example, I particularly like Gian Lorenzo Bernini and Auguste Rodin, whose level of portrayal of body art I feel I have not yet reached. I have absorbed a lot of inspiration from their works. So much so that in my current work, in fact, there are many techniques and expressions that are borrowed from these classical masters of sculpture. 

Clothes and fabrics 

When I make these clothes and fabrics, I think more about the rhythm, the rhythm and the feeling of interlocking with the human body. I focus on the beauty of the human body and the delicate lines of the fabric. In this regard, I borrowed a lot from ancient Greek sculptures, which have a very beautiful sense of lines, such as the Statue of Victory and the Three Goddesses of Fate, which are my favorite sculptures in ancient Greece. 

Color and lighting 

In terms of art direction, first of all, you need to have a sense of beauty in your work, which is the first thing. Then give it rhythm and beauty, imagine the composition, and then create the specific content. In terms of color, I still prefer some traditional color schemes. For example, I would borrow colors from oil paintings, such as Rembrandt, Vermeer, and other masters who have a strong ability to shape light and shadow; their works have a great influence on me. The way they use light and color is something I’ve been studying for a long time. 

Workflow

I mainly use Photoshop to draw simple sketches of settings, and then I use ZBrush to sculpt all the objects, including the human body, fabrics, and decorations. Then I do some color settings in ZBrush to see the general color direction. The next step is still to auto-topologize in ZBrush, then auto-distribute the UVs, then sort the UVs in Maya, and then import them into Substance Painter for mapping textures and materials. After painting the effect, I export it to Maya for rendering using Arnold, where I repeatedly tweak the colors and details and repeat the corrections to get the desired effect. 

Substance Painter 

Substance Painter is fast and there are a lot of ready-made presets. Sometimes I think the effect is good enough when I drag the preset material on. Then adjust the size of the colors and textures and you’re already at 50 percent of the effect. Later I add some color changes, and then I will add some warm and cold or light and dark gradients and so on. So it basically does a big part of the work for me in the process. All I have to do is change some of the colors and details. It’s also very easy for me to work with Arnold, so I can just export the mapping and adjust the effects. 

Both art, technology and tools are important. I think the most important thing is the improvement of your sense of aesthetics. This can be done by often looking at the works of masters. I will insist on sketching every day, and then copying some famous paintings — I think these are the most helpful tips.  

Future Projects

I mainly use the materials that come with Substance Painter. I’m currently working on a series called Xiao Yaqi A Song Of Beauty, and the next one is from that series, Back To Cloud, which is the same series as Li Ren Xing. But it will be a little more modern. Also, I will work with Substance Painter for these projects.