top of page

From Spheres to Sculptures: Mastering Anatomy Blockouts in 3D Modeling



Learn the process of creating a block out for human anatomy, starting with a 3D reference and then transitioning to a 2D reference or a character image.


The tutorial demonstrates the use of spheres and primitives to sculpt the basic silhouette and shape of the body, focusing on important areas like the torso, shoulders, arms, and chest.


Various sculpting techniques and tools are used to refine the block out, ensuring accuracy and proportionality.







- Workflow

  • For today’s class, we’ll be using a 3D model as a reference to make a block out of the male anatomy.

  • A Blockout is made out of many primitives that are sculpted in a way that grabs the shape of the character we are making.

  • Turn on the transparent view on the side and append a sphere into your workspace. Scale it down and place it in the middle of the model.

  • DynaMesh it to a lower resolution so it is easier to manipulate the shape and create the torso of the character.

  • Use the move brush to shape the sphere into the shape of the torso.

  • Don’t forget to check the sides of the character and fix up the form. The same thing goes for the back.

  • We can turn off the transparent mode and do some light sculpting by using the DamStandard brush to make lines around the waist of the character.

  • You can Dynamesh the shape on a slightly higher resolution during this phase.

  • Take the ClayBuild up a brush and lightly sculpt the top and bottom part of the torso.

  • We can do the same thing on the front, add in some clay where the ribcage would be.

  • And where the hip bones are.

  • For the shoulders, we’ll add in another sphere and place it where the shoulder muscle is using the gizmo tool.

  • Once the sphere is in place start to shape it using the move brush.

  • With the ClayBuild up we can remove any excess clay.

  • Turning back the transparent mode we can use the move brush to shape the entire shoulder muscle.

  • We can remove some clay from the bottom of the shoulder muscle using the ClayBuild up brush.

  • While the transparent mode is active we can also turn on Ghost mode so we can see through every part of our workspace.

  • Continue shaping the shoulder muscle so it fits the 3D reference.

  • Continue shaping the shoulder by adding and subtracting clay.

  • Adjust the shoulder from the back as well.

  • We’ll go back to the chest and remove some clay from the pecks and in between the hip bones and ribcage.

  • Using the IMM Brush add a sphere on the shoulder.

  • Be careful though because it will be on the same subtool as the shoulder.

  • We can split them by going into the Subtool tab and in the Split menu clicking the Split by Masked Points.

  • It will split the sphere from the shoulder.

  • Once it is in its own subtool you can start shaping it using the move brush and DynaMeshing it to a lower resolution.

  • We can see that the shoulder muscle is on top of the bicep and the bicep muscle is almost going inside of it.

  • We need to keep this in mind when we start doing some light sculpting on the bicep.

  • With the ClayBuild up and DamStandard brush on a higher DynaMesh resolution start to sculpt out the form of the bicep.

  • Keep in mind that the bicep is split into multiple parts that overlap each other.

  • Using the IMM Brush again add a sphere for the rest of the arm.

  • DynaMesh it on medium resolution and start shaping it using the move and ClayBuild up brush.

  • Just like with the bicep the forearm also has different parts that make up the muscle.

  • Use the DamStandard and ClayBuild up brush to make these parts.

  • In the back use the ClayBuild up and standard brush to sculpt out the bone of the arm.

  • Now we can mirror all the parts on the other side using Mirror and Weld inside the Modify Topology menu in the Geometry tab.

  • After you mirror all the parts they should be perfectly symmetrical.

  • Moving on to the back muscles we will make the trapezoid muscle that connects with the back and neck muscles.

  • Select the muscle by Ctrl + Shift click on it and mask it, once masked go into the subtool menu, and inside the Split options Split it by Masked Points.

  • Once split into its own subtool mirror and weld it to get the entire trapezoid muscle.

  • Remove some clay from the back so we can see the trapezoid muscle.

  • Add a sphere using the IMM Brush and split it into its own subtool.

  • With the move brush start shaping it.

  • Make sure you shape it from the front and the side.

  • The top of the muscle can be stretched a bit to the side while the bottom needs to stay a pointy tip.

  • With the DamStandard brush make a line in the middle of the muscle.

  • In the Brush Tab go to Auto Masking and enable Backface masking so that we can work on thin meshes with our brushes.

  • If we don’t have this enabled we’ll have weird deformities in our models when we try to sculpt on them.

  • Add some ClayBuild up on the sides and top of the muscle before we move onto the peck muscles.

  • Add a sphere on one side and start shaping the peck using the move brush.

  • Make sure you tuck the muscle underneath the shoulder muscle just like in the reference.

  • If there is too much clay sticking out you can use the ClayBuild up to subtract some of that clay.

  • The muscle isn’t completely curved all the way, it starts off as a direct slope before it reaches a bump and then it curves at the end and has way more muscle mass at the end as well.

  • When you’re done making the basic form of the peck you can mirror and weld it.

  • Use ClayBuild up to connect the muscles together, keeping a nice line in between to separate them, this line is made with DamStandard.

  • You can also add the multiple parts that make up the peck muscle using the ClayBuild up brush.

  • Just like we saw in the drawn-over example make sure to remove some of the clay on the top of the peck to keep it anatomically correct.

  • For the neck we’ll add a cylinder and scale it down to fit the shape of the main neck muscle, avoiding the two neck muscles on the side for now.

  • DynaMesh the cylinder on a medium resolution and start shaping the muscle using the move and ClayBuild up brush.

  • For the side neck muscles append a sphere and start shaping it using the move brush.

  • Once you’re done mirror and weld it to the other side.

  • Going back to the trapezoid muscle we need to make the carved parts where the collar bones and shoulder muscles are.

  • Carve out some of the clay using ClayBuild up and DynaMesh it to a higher resolution.

  • For the collar bones, we’ll add two spheres using the IMM Brush.

  • Use the move brush to shape them out and DynaMesh them.

  • Use the polish brush to flatten the surface of the bones.

  • Append a sphere for the head and start shaping it into the head of the 3D reference.

  • DynaMesh it to a medium resolution, smooth it out with the smooth brush, and if you want you can make the eye sockets and nose using the ClayBuild up brush.

  • We’ll continue making the legs. Append a sphere and start shaping it into the first muscle.

  • We can turn on the transparency with ghost to get a better view of the reference and the shapes we’re making.

  • Once you make the thigh muscle move on to the last muscle group of the leg.

  • Append a new sphere and start shaping it.