Charles Stevens - From Video Graphics to Jewelry Design


Charles Stevens is among the students of Tomas Wittelsbach in his online jewelry design courses. He has been in the jewelry business relatively very recent, which started just last year. He decided to specialize in sculptural forms.

Formal training

When it comes to jewelry design, his formal training in art school helped a lot. He had a formal training on sculpture. So, it’s really expected that his designs will reflect his training with particular focus on form.

Discovering ZBrush

He said this about discovering ZBrush:

“I honestly can't recall how I discovered Zbrush, it's almost like it's always been there, which is crazy because I've only been using it since version 4R4. I helped the audio/visual company I worked for develop it's design department bringing in computers and software to do the work that had been traditionally done by keyline paste-up artists and in the photographic darkroom in 1993.”

Stevens has used other design software programs before he discovered ZBrush. He still uses some of these programs. His first 3D program was Infini-D and he used it to create graphics for the video department where he was employed. It was then that he realized that it would be possible for him to make art and translate them to real objects using computers.

Through his work in the video department, he also discovered rapid prototyping. A corporate industrial client had helped him to be introduced to it. He had followed the technological trends in this sector. He became interested in 3D programs and continually investigated the latest programs that could potentially be used to design and “print” a piece of sculptural art work.

Looking back, Stevens realized that it was generally a long wait for him before he finally was able to have a software application that has the capability of doing what he envisioned. He is familiar with various standard software application in the design industry. These included Photoshop, Illustrator, QuarkXpress and InDesign. He is also familiar with video editing software applications such as AfterEffects, Premier, Electric Image and Lightwave 3D.

He became frustrated with the interface for Lightwave 3D that he again searched for other digital tools. He saw the capabilities of ZBrush version 4 and he decided to purchase a copy of the program. He experimented using ZBrush in creating his art.

Important lessons

When we asked what’s the most important lesson he learned from Tomas, he replied:

“The most important thing I learned from Tomas is to always be working on something. The only way to get good at this technology, is to keep doing it. Another important insight Tomas revealed is to over exaggerate the carving on a form. At jewelry scale, sculptural form needs greater definition in order to read properly and have the visual separation of elements be apparent.”

Design masterpiece

Every artist has an art work he is really proud of. It is something that can be considered as a masterpiece or signature art work of an artist. Stevens is particularly proud of his "Cascading Array Pendant." The jewelry was sold out at 3 Gallery Nights.

As the name implies, the jewelry design involves cascading and overlapping components that resemble a backbone. Stevens initially thought that the jewelry design would be easy to do but it took several hours over a course of a few days to finish.

The design is a showcase for the array mesh feature of ZBrush. It is particularly attractive in the matte bronze from Shapeways. Stevens has also added an “ice pick” pinch bail finding to the top hole. He replaced the handmade wire to improve the aesthetics of the art piece.

He originally intended it as an earring but when it was casted in bronze, it was too heavy that an earlobe could not support it. It then evolved into a pendant.