Sculpture is a very old form of visual art. By using carving, casting or other shaping techniques different types of organic or inorganic figures can be created that is called sculpting. A large number of sculptures of human and other animals are found in both ancient and modern civilization.
Let us see what is sculpting in the world of 3D (in computer graphics). It is actually known as Digital Sculpting. The basic concept here is similar to real life sculpting except for the fact that software is used to get the end result.
In the early days of 3D software it was not possible to get very high detailed model because of the low poly count. With advancement, software for supporting higher poly count was developed. Now it is possible to give the model more detailing. There are different techniques to complete this job like push, pull and smooth, grab etc.
All 3D based software, like 3DS Max, Maya, Rhinoceros 3D, Softimages XSI support digital sculpting. They have various tools to manipulate a model for sculpting. However there are certain limitations. The tools found here are not sufficient to perform a high level sculpting. A problem faced here is that for high level detailing it is necessary to go for a large number of poly count, another problem that is encountered at this stage is to manipulate the model as the performance of the software slows down.
For solving this problem software has been introduced, designed for digital sculpting only, like Mudbox, Zbrush. The number of tools and effective uses of these create a real life sculpting experience in computer. By the help of these much higher polies count can be used than the traditional 3d software, using same hardware configuration.
With the help of these specialized tools any model can be created or sculptured from a very basic shape by using deforming, carving, depositing techniques. A basic shape or mesh can be created in 3D max or Maya and then imported and added for a very high level of detailing. The models can be posed; texture can be applied along with environment and lights. After completing it the output can be directly rendered from there or after sculpting, a normal or displace map can be generated and applied to the base low poly model for getting detailed output.
In movies, gaming industries this technique is now very common. This technology is a new one so the scope is much higher. Those who are interested in 3D modeling and wants to make a career in this industry must have knowledge of sculpting software as well as the traditional 3D software.