Digital: ZBrush, Facescan, Merge

by Beauchamp Art


3d head plus scan merge

3d head plus scan merge

This combines the Zbrush experiment with the imperfect facescan, which was superimposed onto the surface as an image. When I develop me my technological understanding of the software, it may be worth testing the combination of figurative and abstract elements within the sculpting software itself. This cross pollination of two disparate works was undertaken in an test to see the aesthetic outcomes deriving fro offsetting two different mediums’ means of representing three-dimensional forms, both having done so in an in inaccurate but not representationally deficient manner. The process resulting in the two images do not seek to create flesh incarnate in cyberspace, but to reflect the imperfections of the media and the distortion of the representation of the individual, resulting in an aesthetic rooted in figurativism, but devolving into a more visually abstract or non linear form. This was ccomplished by loading in the two images into Photoshop, applying a few moderate transparency adjustments, and some relatively inconsequential colour alterations, though the position and comompositinoing took slightly longer.

The two contrasting image were designed to primarily coalesce around the eyes of the face, given they are the often primary focus of the viewer’s gaze, so what stares back should meet their vision uncannily. This could be compared to wearing a mask deliberately off centre, or painting one’s make-up as if the head was being kept still whilst rotating the skull as if wing exorcised. There could be seen to be indications surrounding the discord in the dichotomy between modes of representation and the fallibility of mediums when repeating mediation hyperbolises the imperfections in each stage of filtration, thereby giving the ghost in the machine a face like a scrapyard, made out of the broken parts, unified by their faults, presenting one face en masse, the face of digital dereliction.

This work may therefore be considered a response to Zylinska’s notion surrounding the advent of the cyborg, that with “technologies such as television, film and the Internet, which impact on the human body, are also the vehicle for portraying that impact. The post-human body is therefore a body authored by its technologies, which is also retelling and reconfiguring what it means to be human” [Zylinska: 2002: 34].

When the technologies that form the post-human figure glitch, then that part of the body extended through a digital medium may as if it were composed of the interwoven electronic scar “tissue of a quotations”  [Barthes, 1967: 142] formed from fragmented remediation, the mediation of mediation reflecting the inseparability of mediation and reality” [Bolter; Grusin, 2000: 55-56]. So the cyborg is thrown through the layered, semi-transparent windows of media, taking with it broken shards, their artefacts as elements of their substance, reforming to form an imperfect whole, much as this image strives to show a single face, but the resulting image is inconclusive and horrifying.



Zbrush - Figure 4

Z Brush Figure

This is another example of a Zbrush experiment, attempting a 3D digital portrait, made without a reference, but primarily being informed by my own appearance. Like most of the previous experiments, this was created from one sphere, moulded into the rough shape of a human head and the features added in with increasing levels of detail, including some skin and hair textures, the eyes left as independent and unaltered spheres.

After working on the sculpture with the symmetry tool activated, so that all the features would appear equally distributed on both sides of the face, this was then deactivated, to create deliberate asymmetries and imperfections between the two halves of the face, to give it a more human, organic aesthetic. I believe this to be one of the more successful attempts at creating a model head with some level of character, so as to not simple resemble a featureless replicant, but some areas were still proving difficult to mange, particularly where there were creases or folds, that frequently caused issue wit the software.

As it involves a press-and-pull style modelling, where a single shape is built up into the desirable form, then this may produce an effect like working with clay. However, one cannot simple add or cut away whole sections, the have to be pressed out, or additional 3D shapes added in (as has been done with the eyes). Developing this technique will undoubtably be a product of mostly trail and error lead practice, although online learning tools may be of service, and a number of the processes are transferable from digital painting in Photoshop, both of which remediates many of the principals of working with physical.

As I have experience in using a broad range of mediums, in terms of an array of paints, brush techniques, clay moulding and model making, then I have a reasonable platform from which to develop. It is interesting to see how skills such as those associated with fairly traditional techniques, like using multiple layers and washes to build up  an effective and life-like texture can come into use.

The digital interface acts as a contact point between the processes of physical interactions and the processing of digital interaction. It may be considered like using the hands of a puppeteer to put on a shadow show in Plato’s cave, both the outcome and the tool is simulated, with material consequences. The image of a human face, however imperfect, may trigger a level of empathy. the decapitated bust will always seem more disgruntled when deprived of a body.

Facescan Rotatation

Facescan Rotatation

This image was created by rotating my face across a scanner, moving going from ear to ear. If this was done under more stable conditions, with possible with a larger scanner and more rehearsal, a fairly comprehensive 360 scan of the face could be accomplished, offering one flat image of the head to be produce, with al sides being viewed equally in fixed focus across a single plane. However, this particular example was accomplished by more rudimentary methods, by simply rolling my head over from one side to the other, taking the most successful of a number of attempts

As can be seen in the left-most section of the image, the face is more scrambled, as I did not calculate the time of the movement of the scanner perfectly to coincide with the movement of the he head, so this section features more random, arbitrary movements. This was only a brief experiment, and a return to using scanners in art, which I have neglected for a year or so. They offer an interesting potential for image production that reaffirms the connection between the stasis of the photographic image as a snapshot, and the time-dependent movement of film. The scanner  may be seen to potentially hybridise these forms.

Moreover, as the three colours of the image, RGB, are not captured simultaneously (the scanner is specialised for capturing images of things that are flat and fixed in place, so have no need to take in the three does of light simultaneously, the scanner is not an item of haste as compare to the photographic digital camera as the successor to the polaroid in its instantaneity), then around the edges of some forms the three colour bands are clearly visible, similar to chromatic abrasion in photography (caused by the compression of the different frequencies of light,  refracting through the camera lens, producing a coloured outline in areas of high contrast, such as a head silhouetted against a bright sky), however, this artefact (visible in the warped eye, to the left  of the centre of the image) is particularly unique to scanners.

Although in the earliest colour photography, where three images were taken separately in rapid succession with a different colour filter covering the lens each time, which were then combined together (comparable techniques are found in the colour photos of  Prokudin-Gorskii in pre-revolution Russia from around 1907-1915 [Uren, 2014]) which sometimes resulted in the edges of objects moving would feature the split tonality, similar to the frayed overlapping of unaligned printing rods.

The image required fairly minimal modification from the raw scanned image, and this mostly involved darkening the shadows, increasing the colour saturation and a few minor colour adjustments.



  • Barthes, Roland. (1967) Death of the Author. Aspen. USA
  • Bolter, Jay David and Grusin, Richard. (2000) Remediation: Understanding New Media. MIT Press. Paperback edition. London, England.
  • Uren, Amanda; Wild, Chris; Library of Congress. (2014) 1907-1915: Russia Before the Revolution, in Color. Mashable [Online] <; Accessed 22.5.2015