Darcstaar

Digital

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Question for you professional sculptors...

 

Do people still sculpt in physical media to sell to companies?  Or is most work done digitally now with 3D printing?

 

Are the renders we see, for example, in the Bones 4 KS scans of an object or just digital sculpting?

 

If it is digital sculpting, is that easier/faster, and what programs are used for it?

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The snake-people and Agramon and the giant cobra are pretty clearly digital.

 

I am pretty aure the ghouls and ghast were physically sculpted.

 

I imagine it depends on the artist and the desired look.

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1 hour ago, Darcstaar said:

Question for you professional sculptors...

 

Do people still sculpt in physical media to sell to companies?  Or is most work done digitally now with 3D printing?

 

Are the renders we see, for example, in the Bones 4 KS scans of an object or just digital sculpting?

 

If it is digital sculpting, is that easier/faster, and what programs are used for it?

 

There are still sculptors working in putty, but per Gene van Horne ( @evhorne969 ), the trend is definitely toward digital. If it's a render rather than a photo, I would expect that would be from a digital master.

 

Digital seems to have its own idiosyncrasies, but once a sculptor gets it, also seems faster. For example, the ability to make copies of scales on a dragon as a starting point for the skin texture is much faster than creating each one separately.

 

And scaling is a useful thing, though not quite as straightforward as just resetting a scaling factor. ZBrush seems to be the preferred tool.

 

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From what I understand, in terms of speed there is something of a trade-off.  Uniform shapes like scales of chainmail are much easier in digital, but random patterns such as fur are much harder. 

 

One big advantage of digital though is that it is a much lower risk medium.  If the master gets lost in the mail or accidentally damaged or destroyed in the moldmaking process, you can just print up another one.  With a traditionally sculpted miniature, you're pretty much out of luck if something like that were to happen.

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I still sculpt in GS.  Other analog Reaper sculptors (as of last ReaperCon any way) are Julie Guthrie, Bob Ridolfi, Derek Schubert, Tre Manor (he does both), and Christine Van Patton.

 

Digital sculptors include Bobby Jackson, Gene Van Horne, Chris Lewis, Jason Wiebe (though I think he still picks up a tool now and then), Kevin Williams, and Tre Manor (I think there are a couple new ones, but I haven't met them yet). I believe that Chris is the only one in that group that started digitally.

 

Larger companies are starting to prefer digital, especially if it has to go to plastic as you need a digital render for the mold machining process.  I assume that they scan in the analog sculpts on a 3D scanner.

 

Smaller, metal only companies are the other way, they only want a physical sculpt.  If you are a digital sculptor, it is on you to have it printed for them.  I even have some clients who hire me because I am a physical sculptor.  They don't like the look of digital sculpting and won't hire one.  I contend that they don't like the look of digital sculpting done poorly (of which there is a lot of). I liken it to the days when MS Word came out, and suddenly everyone thought they were a writer.  A lot of really bad novels flooded the publishing industry.  Same with Z-Brush, a lot of bad sculpts are out there.  The good ones seem mostly to belong to those who put the time into learning sculpting. regardless of medium (putty or pixels).

 

As for programs, everyone I know of is using Z-Brush and some form of pen tablet or direct draw screen.

 

I have looked into it, but there is a steep learning curve and I already spend 40+ hours a week staring at a computer screen.  I sculpt to get AWAY from my PC.  I suppose though that someday I'll have to take that step.  Gene says that the skills are directly transferable.  Sculpting is sculpting, and a firm grounding in real sculpting if very helpful in virtual sculpting.

 

 

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5 hours ago, TaleSpinner said:

 Sculpting is sculpting, and a firm grounding in real sculpting if very helpful in virtual sculpting.

 

 It's the same way with photoshop work - all the fancy buttons and gizmos in the world won't make much difference if you don't have a firm grounding in real-world art and anatomy. Painting three-dimensional minis for most of my life has given me a much better understanding of what things should look like when rendered in two-dimensional images and a better ability to visualize two-dimensional images in 3D.

 

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I have also been switching over to ZBrush. I will still do the odd physical sculpt if I have to but I am not really pursuing that any more.

 

Realistically, the processes for making plastics is getting cheaper and the cost of high quality printers is getting cheaper- and will continue to do so for years to come. A solid foundation in actually pushing putty,  a knowledge of the odd proportions used in making miniatures, and a knowledge of how miniatures are physically molded and made are all invaluable- those are things that separate good digital miniatures sculptors from all of the other ZBrush users. 

 

I too encountered companies that only wanted physical sculpts because they didn't like the "bland" look of digital sculpts, but those opinions were often based in how digital sculpts were seen years ago when the idea was newer and people were still figuring it out. Now? Pretty much all of the larger companies around use it, and people often can't tell the difference. 

 

Digital is faster for certain things but also slower for others (especially if you want to keep some "life" in the sculpt). You can avoid scale creep, keep the look of standard weaponry and equipment consistent much easier, scale issues are easily handled, you can go direct to plastics, and consumers are starting to prefer the cleaner look of the finished models. The down side is the steep learning curve, the cost of the programs, and still needing to have that knowledge of using digital programs for miniatures making vs computer graphics or special effects. Traditional sculpting teaches you fundamentals, is easily accessible (you can practice it as you learn to convert your figures), and there is always going to be a small niche of people who only want to make physical models. You get bad sculptors and good sculptors in each medium, and you get good models and bad models in each medium.

 

The other perk of digital? I am getting older. After about 30 years of holding paintbrushes and sculpting tools I am noticing that my eyesight isn't getting better, arthritis is setting in, and bad posture for long periods while wearing an optivisor is starting to hurt more. Having to cut off mistakes or grind down/cut master castings that are being modified is getting to be more tedious. Digital sculpting is much more friendly for me physically. Also, because I don't have to work around set up times for putty or need to set aside larger blocks of time to work to make mixing up a batch of putty "worth it" I find that I am more productive- I can sculpt for 20 minutes, save, go have dinner with my wife, and return to my work right where I left off. 

 

One other thing that I have noted at the past few conventions that I have attended that makes me feel good about the switch to digital- a lot of companies have bought their own 3D printers and are now printing in house. The printing cost barrier is shrinking.

 

 

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I've done a good bit of digital sculpture myself -- spaceship miniatures, nothing organic or humanoid -- and I find it quite pleasant to work with, if you can get a tool that works well with your design paradigm. I like the precision it affords -- "draw a 1mm-radius cylinder 7mm long at a 45-degree angle from HERE, tip it with a hemisphere and then stretch the hemisphere's length out by 50% to make it a little conical, then bulge out a segment of the cylinder for one-quarter of its circumference by half a millimeter from the 3rd to the 5th millimeter of its length..." Stuff like that. Makes it easy to be symmetrical, which is useful, and to keep parts like gun turrets and engine mounts that should be identical from one position to the next to be exactly that.

 

 

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I received zbrush as a gift from my husband before we were both laid off and I've been really stressing about actually using the code. I feel like I'm not "ready" to learn digital and that maybe I should try to resell it. I'm also worried that if I did use the code and finally got to the point of learning zbrush, the industry would have shifted to another toy. :rolleyes:

 

On 9/3/2017 at 11:42 AM, GHarris said:

[snip]

A solid foundation in actually pushing putty,  a knowledge of the odd proportions used in making miniatures, and a knowledge of how miniatures are physically molded and made are all invaluable- those are things that separate good digital miniatures sculptors from all of the other ZBrush users. 

[snip]

The other perk of digital? I am getting older. After about 30 years of holding paintbrushes and sculpting tools I am noticing that my eyesight isn't getting better, arthritis is setting in, and bad posture for long periods while wearing an optivisor is starting to hurt more. Having to cut off mistakes or grind down/cut master castings that are being modified is getting to be more tedious. Digital sculpting is much more friendly for me physically.

[snip]

 

 

Speaking selfishly, both of these things are great news for me on a personal level. With some physical stuff I have going on, it's good to know that working digitally is generally less painful than working traditionally. I do love the way the FIMO and GS feel, though. My personal learning track has basically been: learn as much anatomy and traditional sculpting as possible before I fall apart. :lol: 

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couple of things regarding zbrush, one good, one bad...

 

The bad, they stopped allow license transfers in August 2015 - https://support.pixologic.com/Knowledgebase/Article/View/60/20/license-transfers

 

The good, zbrush is about industry standard as you can get. The industry will not have moved away to something else by the time you've learned it. Even if it did, it's the output of zbrush that's important, not the product itself. As long as you can output a format that can be printed or used by something else, you'll be fine. There's so much money invested in support for the current formats that you'll be fine for a long time.

 

There's a huge market out there for 3d things, not just on the figure side.  Have a look around places like daz and renderosity to see what people are producing and selling. There's still a place for traditional sculpting, but spending time learning digital is time well invested.

 

Watch some of the videos at zclassroom and youtube and then start playing with zbrush. There's an entire book on creating anatomy in zbrush - "Digital Sculpting - Human Anatomy", although it's a few years old now.

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