Wireframe view of 3D model of William Lamb's portrait of Hugh McDiarmid
About this resource
This resource explores the sculptures of Scottish artist William Lamb using 3D (three-dimensional) technology to view them from all angles, focus on details, and see the surface marks made by the artist's tools (and fingers!).
It includes activity suggestions for making a portrait sculpture inspired by Lamb and using digital tools to create 3D models of sculptures.
This resource supports students in:
finding out about the life and work of sculptor William Lamb
making a portrait sculpture focusing on details and textures
using digital tools to create 3D models
This art and design and technologies resource offers a series of activities that can be used together as a lesson plan or as individual components to integrate into your own scheme of work. It is designed for CfE Level 3 & 4/KS 3 students, but some of the activities could also suit CfE Level 2/KS2. Differentiation suggestions are included in the resource.
Art and design - Evaluate and analyse creative works - Actively engage in the creative process of art - Know about great artists and understand the historical and cultural development of their art forms - Produce creative work, explore ideas
Design and technology - Select from and use specialist tools, techniques, processes, equipment and machinery precisely, including computer-aided manufacture
Computing - Undertake creative projects that involve selecting, using, and combining multiple applications, preferably across a range of devices, to achieve challenging goals, including collecting and analysing data and meeting the needs of known users - Create, re-use, revise and re-purpose digital artefacts for a given audience, with attention to trustworthiness, design and usability
Art and design - Developing students' own personal and creative responses - Developing creative thinking skills through designing and making
Design and technology - Demonstrate practical skills in the safe use of a range of tools, machines and equipment - Research and manage information effectively to investigate design issues, using Mathematics and ICT where appropriate - Show deeper understanding by thinking critically and flexibly, solving problems and making informed decisions, using Mathematics and ICT where appropriate - Demonstrate creativity and initiative when developing ideas and following them through
Art and design - I have experimented with a range of media and technologies to create images and objects, using my understanding of their properties (EXA 3-02a) - Through observing and recording, I can create material that shows accuracy of representation (EXA 3-04a) - I can respond to the work of artists and designers by discussing my thoughts and feelings. I can give and accept constructive comment on my own and others' work (EXA 3-07a)
- I can explore and use the features of a range of digital technologies, integrated software and online resources to determine the most appropriate to solve problems. (THC 3-01a) - I can create solutions in 3D and 2D and can justify the construction/graphic methods and the design features. (TCH 3-09a) - I can apply a range of graphic techniques and standards when producing images using sketching, drawing and software. (TCH 3-11a) - I can apply my knowledge and understanding of engineering disciplines and can develop/build solutions to given tasks. (TCH 3-12a) - I can select appropriate development tools to design, build, evaluate and refine computing solutions based on requirements. (TCH 3-15a)
Art and design - Students use their knowledge about the work of other artists to enrich and inform their work through analysis and evaluation - Students use a variety of processes - Students evaluate their work through discussion - Students explore, experiment with and apply the visual, tactile and sensory language of art
Design and technology - Students explore, develop and communicate design ideas in a range of ways, including annotation, drawings and CAD, e.g. clip art libraries, internet resources, scanners, digital cameras
William Lamb (1893–1951) was born in Montrose in Angus, Scotland. While working as a stonemason he studied sculpture at Grays School of Art in Aberdeen, until the First World War interrupted his studies.
He fought in the war, suffering shrapnel wounds that caused him to lose the use of his right hand. But this didn't stop him! He learned how to carve and model with his left hand, completed his studies in Aberdeen and went on to study at Edinburgh College of Art and the École des Beaux-Arts in Paris.
Lamb set up his own stonemasonry business in Montrose, undertaking commissions and regularly exhibiting sculptures at the Royal Academy and Royal Scottish Academy.
What can we discover from his self-portrait?
Look at this self-portrait by William Lamb with your students. You could explain that a self-portrait is a bit like a selfie, in that artists present themselves as they want to be seen.
What does the self-portrait tell us about William Lamb?
As well as what he looks like, discuss the formal qualities of the sculpture (the surface, the texture, the finish): what do these tell us about the artist's approach and technique?
Look closer at the self-portrait using this 3D model of the sculpture.
You could task students with interacting with the 3D model on the whiteboard. (To view a larger version of the model on Sketchfab, click the cube logo.)
Look at the sculpture from all angles by rotating it and moving in closer to see details such as the artist's expression.
You can also see details that you may not see if you visited the sculpture in a gallery – such as the top of his head, underneath his chin and inside the sculpture!
William Lamb's sculptures
From the 1920s until his death, William Lamb produced many sculptures, often of the local people he saw around his hometown of Montrose.
Although best known for his powerful, expressive depictions of the local fisherfolk of Montrose, Lamb also made sculptures of artists and literary friends.
Here are two more sculptures by William Lamb. The sculptures are portraits of artist Edward Baird and poet and journalist Hugh McDiarmid. (This type of sculpture, which shows just the head, and sometimes the shoulders of a person, is called a bust.)
Ask your students to compare the sculptures.
What are your first impressions of each sculpture? (It might help to ask students to think of words to describe each sculpture.)
Do you feel you know something about what these people are like from looking at the sculptures?
Is the style of the sculptures similar – or very different?
What do you think the sculptures are made from?
The sculptures are both portraits, but they look very different.
The first is a portrait of a Scottish painter called Edward Baird. He, like Lamb, was from Montrose. We can see that his hair is short and neatly parted, he has a slight frown and seems calm and serious. The portrait looks more conventional. The surface of the sculpture is smoother.
The second sculpture is a portrait of Scottish poet Hugh McDiarmid. It is less conventional and more expressively sculpted with a heavily textured surface. The expressive marks and textures suggest the passionate and flamboyant character of McDiarmid.
Although very different in colour, both sculptures are made from bronze. Bronze is naturally a golden brown colour (as seen in the sculpture of Baird). Its colour can change over time and oxidises when exposed to air. But it is also sometimes treated with chemicals such as potash to darken it and make it look black.
Look more closely at the portrait of Hugh McDiarmid.
Explore the 3D model on the whiteboard and discuss it as a class.
What does the poet look like from the side?
What does the top of his head look like?
Can you find the artist's signature?
Is the head hollow or solid?
William Lamb's techniques
By looking more closely at his sculptures using the 3D models we can find out more about William Lamb's technique.
Modelling and casting
Lamb's bronze sculptures would have first been sculpted in clay, soft wax or plaster and then cast in bronze from the clay or plaster model.
Look closely again at the portrait of Hugh McDiarmid using the 3D model to see the surface details.
If you look at the right-hand side of the face and the neck, the skin looks as if it has been made from small lumps of clay or soft plaster.
On a section of the cheek, there seems to be some kind of rough fabric under the surface.
Sculptors often smooth the surface of their sculptures. But Lamb left the shapes of the lumps of clay or plaster that he used to build up his portrait visible. He also left the expressive marks made by his fingers and tools.
The woven texture on the cheek suggests that he used cloth or scrim on top of the armature before adding the clay or plaster.
Not all of William Lamb's sculptures were portraits. He also created sculptures that are allegorical and suggest the influence of Symbolism.
The Whisper shows two embracing figures wrapped in cloaks, their faces half-covered. Rather than being depictions of real people, Lamb has created the sculpture to symbolise or represent an idea. It suggests something mysterious or secretive. (Lamb didn't finish the sculpture so we don't know if he planned to add more detail.)
Look closely at the sculpture using the 3D model to explore its forms and surface.
Discuss with your students how they think the sculpture was made.
What do you think this sculpture is made from?
What does the surface of the sculpture look like?
What sort of marks can you see?
What tool do you think made these marks?
About the technique
The sculpture is carved from stone. The surface of the sculpture is marked with small lines or grooves. These grooves are made by a claw chisel. A claw chisel is a special type of chisel that has small teeth or prongs and is used by stone carvers to shape stone. The direction of the chisel marks makes us more aware of the curves of the sculpture and emphasise its undulating form.
Watch this video to see a stone carver at work, using chisels and a mallet.
Look at their model closely as they add the details.
Walk around their model so that they can see what their model's head looks like from all sides. (Look at the top of the head and crouch down to see underneath the chin!)
Explore the textures that their fingers and clay tools make. How can they suggest something about the character of their sitter using textures and marks?
Make a figure sculpture
William Lamb often made figure sculptures of people he knew or saw around his home town.
Task students with making a figure sculpture of someone they know or see day-to-day such as a teacher, a bus driver, a lollipop person or another student.
Students will need: pencil and paper (or sketchbook); modelling material or air drying clay; tools for working the clay.
They should start by thinking about who their sculpture is of: What do they look like? What clothes do they wear?
It might help to sketch some ideas and sketch what their subject looks like from all sides.
When they make their model they should start by making the basic shape of their figure, deciding what the pose will be. They can then add details – such as the clothes, the face and the hair.
As they work encourage them to think about how they can use their clay tools (and fingers!) to create the shapes and surface of their sculpture.
How can they express the character of the person as well as what they look like using marks and textures?
Find out more about 3D scanning and modelling
The 3D models in this resource were made using a process called 3D scanning.
As with digital photography or 2D picture scanning, this is a technology that collects data about a real-world object, such as its size and shape. But 3D scanning builds a digital 3D model from this information rather than a 2D image.
The 3D digital models can then be shared online through platforms such as Sketchfab, which you have been using in this resource. Sketchfab is a library of 3D models created by different people and organisations. Some of the models on Sketchfab have been made using 3D scanning techniques, others are sculpted from scratch using 3D modelling software such as Blender, Cinema 4D, or SketchUp.
There are now lots of different ways to create 3D scans but one of the most popular and more accessible methods is called photogrammetry.
Photogrammetry uses coordinates or points, also known as 'vertices', taken from across the surface of an object and measures the distance between these in order to accurately represent it in 3D model form.
These vertices are obtained from lots of photographs of the object taken from lots of different angles and are used to make thousands of small shapes or blocks which form the mesh-like wireframe of the model.
This image shows the wireframe view of the 3D model of William Lamb's portrait bust of Hugh McDiarmid, with tiny triangle blocks formed from the vertices.
You can see the wireframes of the models by selecting 'model inspector' from the 3D model screen and then 'wireframe' from the drop-down menu.
Activities: digital technology and 3D models
3D scanning and modelling require time and expertise to master. But other digital tools can be used to create 3D models.
Here are some ideas for your students to try...
Build a simple 3D digital sculpture using Minecraft or virtual 3D pixel art
Task your students with building a digital version of their head or figure sculpture using Minecraft or 3D pixel art app usecubes.
As we have seen, 3D scanning uses lots of small blocks (or triangles in the case of Hugh McDiarmid's digital portrait) to build a 3D model.
Building with small blocks is also the process used in Minecraft and usecubes to create 3D objects and environments.
Although students' 3D models won't be an exact version of their sculptures, using blocks to build their models will encourage them to understand the technology of virtual 3D modelling and to consider forms and objects from all angles.
Explore Minecraft and usecubes using the links below and decide which option might be most suitable for your students.
Minecraft is a video game that allows users to build virtual environments using blocks. It can be accessed on a computer, tablet or smartphone. (It's not free, but some of your students may already have it.)
This video tutorial provides some useful instructions for using Minecraft to create a sculpture.
Tip! If students are finding it tricky to make a head or a figure using Minecraft blocks, you could task them with making a 3D model of an abstract sculpture – such as Barbara Hepworth's Family of Man (1970).
Create a simple 3D GIF animation of your sculpture
Younger or less able students could create a rotating version of their head or figure sculpture using an online GIF maker.
Although creating a GIF won't provide the same insights into 3D modelling as the other activities, students will produce a short animation of their sculpture so that it can be seen from all angles.
To create a GIF animation of their sculpture in the round, students will need to photograph their sculpture from different angles (front, sides and back) and then upload their photographs to a GIF maker. (The GIF animation above was made from seven photographs of the sculpture.)
There are lots of free GIF makers available online: try EZGIF or Giphy.
Alternative / non-digital activity suggestion: modular sculptures
If you don't have access to digital equipment to build 3D virtual models, task your students with creating a modular sculpture using small units instead.
Sculptors David Mach and Antony Gormley often use lots of small objects to build up their sculptures. (They have used objects as unlikely as matchsticks, coat hangers and pieces of toast!)
Task students with building a head or figure sculpture using small units such as paper straws cut into sections, small wooden cubes (available from craft suppliers), or small bricks or balls made from tin foil. (Or you could use – and recycle – everyday found objects such as plastic bottle tops.)
Mondrian l 1993
Eduardo Luigi Paolozzi (1924–2005)
Valvo the Robot
Charles Byrd (1916–2018)
Antony Gormley (b.1950)
Black Wall 1959
Louise Nevelson (1899–1988)
Geodesic Dome (1982)
Buckminster Fuller (1895–1983)
Five Modular Structures (Sequential Permutations on the Number Five) 1972
Sol LeWitt (1928–2007)
Geodesic dome structures and sculptures
Explore geodesic domes and other structures. (This activity provides opportunities for cross-curricular learning with maths.)
Architect Buckminster Fuller famously developed a geodesic dome from triangular elements in the 1940s. The triangular elements distribute the structural stress throughout the structure, making geodesic domes able to withstand very heavy loads for their size.
This resource provides ideas for making models of geodesic domes with students.