Get Your Hands Dirty? A Comparative Study of Tool Usage and Perceptual Engagement in Physical and Digital Sculpting

Xinyu Ma1, Zhe Yan1, Hengyu Meng2, Zhihao Cao3, Yanan Jin3, Zeyu Wang1, 4
The Hong Kong University of Science and Technology (Guangzhou)1, South China University of Technology2, China Academy of Art3, The Hong Kong University of Science and Technology4


The creation of 3D content, crucial in various applications, is often challenging and time-intensive. While digital tools are prevalent for 3D content creation, traditional clay sculpting offers an embodied experience that fosters artists’ perceptual engagement with physical space, enhancing their interactive and cognitive connection with the creation process. We conducted an eight-day live sculpting session at an art academy, systematically comparing the creative workflows of eight professional artists in both physical and digital mediums. Our qualitative and quantitative analysis include artists’ differences in tool usage between physical and digital sculpting, variations in visual and tactile perceptual engagement, and the potential for future integration of the two modalities. Our study provides insights into the benefits of physical and digital sculpting and may inform future design of hybrid interfaces for 3D content creation.

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