Jump to content

TaleSpinner

Digital Sculpting Journeys, Views, Discussion

Recommended Posts

I was going to start a topic about my new journey into digital sculpting, but I decided that I didn't want this topic to be just about me.  I'll still give my story, trials, tribulations, joys, and frustrations, but I hope others will too.  This thread is then a place to discuss anything about digital sculpting. 

 

If you are a sculptor, I want to hear your thoughts on it and your journey with it, or your reasons for avoiding it.  If you are a painter/collector, what are your thoughts?  What do you like about digital, what do you dislike.

 

I'll leave it here for now, and come back and post my story and where I'm at in another post.

 

(Do you guys think I should pin this, or are we getting too many pinned topics? Do we need a separate thread for 3D printing, or will this suffice?)

  • Like 7
  • Thanks 2

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I think 3D printing is a separate subject, at least for home printing. (Printing to make a master for commercial use seems more closely associated with sculpting, but could be yet a third subject, I suppose.)

 

As a painter:

  • I like the scalability. Being able to choose a version of the sculpt I like that matches what I want to do with it is useful. Unfortunately, detail doesn't scale very well in many cases.
  • I assume that digital sculpts can be sent to a CAM process of some sort to make injection molds more cheaply than can be done with a putty sculpt. In theory, this should result in lower prices over time. I like lower prices.
  • I'm very skeptical of a new company showing renders until I've seen physical products from the company that give me the same aesthetic vibe (and detail, and surface texture).
  • I'm curious whether digital sculpting (once past the steepest part of the learning curve) is faster, slower, or about the same speed as sculpting in putty.
  • I've seen new digital sculptors with a putty background really struggle with getting good cast results from their digital sculpts. This isn't so different from new sculptors using putty, but putty sculptors at that point in their sculpting journey seem not to sell their sculpts as often.
  • Digital sculpts often seem to have a stiffness to their poses and some odd quality to their faces (uncanny valley-esque, perhaps) that seems less common in classical sculpts. I suspect this to be a "feature" of unfamiliarity with the tool, since experienced digital sculptors don't seem to do this as much. (Many such sculpts rather remind me of a Second Life or Poser model, and not in a good way.)
  • Like 5
  • Thanks 2

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Excellent! Since I'll unfortunately be shifting to digital next year too, I'm happy to see this thread. I liked posting my progress along with a name of the study material I was using in my 2D art threads so folks could follow along. I was curious how a 3D one would work, so this is good timing. :)

 

I love making things with my hands, and while digital is no less art than analog, I fear sculpting digitally won't give me that tactile stimulation I need. I might hop back into cosplay and make props from my favorite video games or something to help that.

 

Digital sculpting is crazy fast, but I wanted to put a solid time amount into putty first. I wanted to be familiar with how all the parts interact with each other to avoid that stiffness. I haven't sculpted anything yet, but my husband has found some poor sculpts that did not print well on his printer because the sculptor didn't plan ahead for supports or made things too fiddly. My husband spent months researching plastic and resin printers, so feel free to text me to get in touch with him about it.

 

3D printing could fill several threads on its own, so I think Digital Sculpting Journeys alone is great for this thread.

  • Like 6

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

A few years ago, I really disliked digital sculpts.  They all seemed too perfect, sterile.  It really seemed that they just didn't have the detail we are used to getting from hand sculpts, or if the sculpt did have the detail, it wouldn't transfer to the printed version that we paint.

 

As time has gone on though, the printing technology has gotten better and better and the resolution is getting much finer.  Also, the good digital artists have really learned how to use the medium well and still maintain a lot of the hand crafted feel of a putty sculpt.  

 

Even as recent as last ReaperCon (2018), I was still on the fence, really on the putty side of that fence, but I was starting to see the possibilities.  Many of the new sculpts that people like Gene, Bobby, Jason, Kevin, Glenn, and Chris were turning out were no longer as sterile feeling; they were getting soul that I had felt was lacking before.  Further, it is obvious that this is where the industry is going, long term.  So it really started plaguing me that I would need to switch soon, but I really didn't want to.  Two things really stalled my adoption of this medium:

  1. I am an Information Architect by day and spend 8+ hours a day staring at a bank of computer monitors; did I really want my free time to be filled with the same?  I sculpt and paint to get away from the damn PC.
  2. Fur.  I have yet to see anyone really do fur well on a ZBrush miniature.  Furry critters are my bread and butter.  I have to be able to produce good looking fur.

My attitude really changed though as I watched Christine ( @Rainbow Sculptor) walk her own journey into ZBrush sculpting over the past year.  She really showed me that you could still have a lot of personality and flow in miniature quality sculpts.  I think it was her Queen of Hearts figure that really sold me on the technology.  Then it became a matter of saving enough money from sculpting to afford the program and a Cintiq, which I did a month ago.

 

So for the past month I have been watching tutorials, learning the interface, and trying to get it to work for me.  I also have developed a health issue which is making it very difficult for me to continue sculpting in putty.  I also really want ZBrush to create jewelry that I can cast in my lost wax foundry.  I currently plan on buying a 3D resin printer (Photon S) after I have realized my ReaperCon expenses.

 

So what have I created so far? Well not much.  I made a rough skull right away.  Then I had little time to work with it, as I had to get a Bones V and some Darksword minis done.  Then, last week, the motherboard on my PC fried as I was sculpting.  I have now replaced the PC with a much better one (which is a whole story in and of itself), and got back to sculpting last night.  Of course the PC frying incident caused me to lose the sculpt I was working on for Reaper, so I had to start it over last night.  I must be catching on though, since I got more done in an hour than I had in 4 the first time through.

 

Here is the skull I made:

 

Skull.jpg.14b93f86767361557d4c93bb171f25f0.jpg

 

 

I can't show you what I am working on now, since it is a Bones V mini (nothing like learning by throwing myself into the deep end).

 

I have lots of other thoughts I'll share later, but that is the extent of my story so far.

 

 

  • Like 15

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
5 hours ago, Doug Sundseth said:
  • I like the scalability. Being able to choose a version of the sculpt I like that matches what I want to do with it is useful. Unfortunately, detail doesn't scale very well in many cases.

 

I like the ability to make a base model and then use it to easily make lots of variations.  We are looking at doing just that with my Turtle Folk.

 

Quote
  • I assume that digital sculpts can be sent to a CAM process of some sort to make injection molds more cheaply than can be done with a putty sculpt. In theory, this should result in lower prices over time. I like lower prices.

 

Yes, it is my understanding that for the steel molds for Bones, China uses the stl files directly.  Actually, it was the need to scan my Portal that ended up in it being destroyed to the point that a ZBrush sculptor recreated it.  That still stings a bit, since that was my original concept and the person who copied it didn't quite get a few nuances right that were important to me.  I suppose this is how Izzy feels when we "adjust" her concepts.  This incident really also helped push me into ZBrush.  I mean, how long is Reaper really going to put up with the extra expense of scanning my stuff?

 

 

Quote
  • I'm curious whether digital sculpting (once past the steepest part of the learning curve) is faster, slower, or about the same speed as sculpting in putty.

 

Faster, much faster.  So far, even as new as I am, its about 4 times faster.  I suspect that will change though as I get into the detail levels, but the armaturing, blocking, and general anatomy phases have been about 4 times faster.

 

 

Quote
  • I've seen new digital sculptors with a putty background really struggle with getting good cast results from their digital sculpts. This isn't so different from new sculptors using putty, but putty sculptors at that point in their sculpting journey seem not to sell their sculpts as often.

 

Honestly, I think I've seen more struggles from those who started sculpting in ZBrush; they have less of a concept of what makes a good miniature.  All the skills of putty sculpting really do transfer.  I can't imagine how lost I'd be if I had to learn sculpting while learning this very complex program.

 

 

Quote
  • Digital sculpts often seem to have a stiffness to their poses and some odd quality to their faces (uncanny valley-esque, perhaps) that seems less common in classical sculpts. I suspect this to be a "feature" of unfamiliarity with the tool, since experienced digital sculptors don't seem to do this as much. (Many such sculpts rather remind me of a Second Life or Poser model, and not in a good way.)

 

I think a lot of sculptors also rely too much on the short-cut tools ZBrush gives you.  I have seen a lot of way too symmetrical sculpts, because symmetry was left on way too long, textures that are too perfect because of over use of alphas, etc.  We'll see how I manage to handle these things.  This is a key thing I learned from @Rainbow Sculptor since she doesn't use the shortcuts,her sculpts don't look off and look more real, even though she has a more anime style for much or what she makes.  That confinced me that you can do it.

  • Like 12
  • Thanks 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
54 minutes ago, TaleSpinner said:

Actually, it was the need to scan my Portal that ended up in it being destroyed to the point that a ZBrush sculptor recreated it.

Is it standard practice to scan a green instead of making a copy in another medium like metal or resin first?  I admit I'm perplexed how scanning a model could destroy it.  Or was it destroyed while being shipped or while being cut into smaller parts?

  • Like 3

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I'm excited to see what you do. I'm more on the "not" side of digital sculpts than otherwise. More companies are going more to digital, and it's telling in my purchase history. I think that any new tool is more a good thing than otherwise. I think things will only improve, and I'm really interested in the journey. 

  • Like 4

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
9 minutes ago, Serenity said:

Is it standard practice to scan a green instead of making a copy in another medium like metal or resin first?  I admit I'm perplexed how scanning a model could destroy it.  Or was it destroyed while being shipped or while being cut into smaller parts?

 

I honestly don't know.  Could have been a shipping incident between us and China.  I never got the full story. The original is gone.

  • Sad 5

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I would say that digital sculpting is faster if you don't mind the end result looking like a digital sculpt! 

 

One thing I do like about ZBrush is how much easier it is to send clients and update. Taking good pictures of hand sculpted models is just a pain. I am actually taking Doug Sundseth's photography class at Reapercon in the hopes that I can get a bit better!

 

I find that sculpting digitally usually ends up taking about as long as if I sculpted the model by hand. The advantage I see for digital is I can spend longer periods sculpting compared to sculpting by hand so I end up getting more done digitally.

  • Like 3
  • Thanks 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Oh and in regards to your fur question...fur is time consuming. On most of the fur I have done it has taken hours of passes with Move/Standard/Snakehook/Orb Cracks brushes to get them cut in deep enough. Lately I have been experimenting with making custom Layer brushes to do large patches a bit quicker, so far it seems promising. The set up is a bit tedious and you still have to go back in afterwards to "mess it up" a bit (aka not make it look too stiff) but it is good for laying down the basic pattern. If you'd like I can show you at Reapercon?

  • Like 6

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
14 hours ago, GHarris said:

I would say that digital sculpting is faster if you don't mind the end result looking like a digital sculpt! 

 

One thing I do like about ZBrush is how much easier it is to send clients and update. Taking good pictures of hand sculpted models is just a pain. I am actually taking Doug Sundseth's photography class at Reapercon in the hopes that I can get a bit better!

 

I find that sculpting digitally usually ends up taking about as long as if I sculpted the model by hand. The advantage I see for digital is I can spend longer periods sculpting compared to sculpting by hand so I end up getting more done digitally.

 

Yeah, it is seeming to me that the initial stages (armature and bulking out) are much, much faster, but as I work more and more detail in the piece, it's about the same.

 

One issue I am having is that I am used to planing my sessions around the cure time of GS.  That is gone now, and it is throwing my sense of timing out of whack.  I am enjoying the ability to instantly "cure" and "uncure" parts of a model using the Mask features.

 

 

4 hours ago, GHarris said:

Oh and in regards to your fur question...fur is time consuming. On most of the fur I have done it has taken hours of passes with Move/Standard/Snakehook/Orb Cracks brushes to get them cut in deep enough. Lately I have been experimenting with making custom Layer brushes to do large patches a bit quicker, so far it seems promising. The set up is a bit tedious and you still have to go back in afterwards to "mess it up" a bit (aka not make it look too stiff) but it is good for laying down the basic pattern. If you'd like I can show you at Reapercon?

 

Yes, please!

 

I suspect I will fill a notebook with notes from things you and the the others show me.

  • Like 6

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

On the issue of time I feel a little biased. A physical sculpt for a single model took me weeks or even months for more complicated pieces. I finish difficult digital sculpts in three days. Now, how much of that is putting in a lot of time and effort to streamlining my process and really pushing myself until I reached a good workflow and how much of that is just the advantages of digital sculpting well....I won't ever know. I will say that I couldn't imagine going back. 

As @GHarris aptly points out, presentation and revisions are much better and much easier. I do have to respectfully disagree about needing to accept the end result to look digital. I know digital sculptors you could swear are working in clay or porcelain. I think the amount of variety and possibilities of how to use digital tools rival all of the random improvised tools I've ever heard traditional sculptors tell stories about. "It's not about the tool, it's how you use it" or something like that haha There are certainly a number of sculpts that the digital component is too obvious and there are "easy" buttons that should be avoided for that very reason but I don't necessarily blame the limitations of the technology for that digital look as much as the people utilizing it. 

 

@Loim I believe your sentiments reflect a vast majority of buyers right now. They are buying less for now but are eager to see where it goes and how the industry and the professionals within it grow. Hopefully we won't disappoint ;)

 

My thoughts on moving to Z....

1. Massive learning curve. Strap yourself to a chair and prepare for a month or two of agonizing miserable failure, exciting successes, and a hefty amount of frustration. Learn it the right way the first time, don't try to get by for now and refine later. You don't know how much you don't know until you do and then it's overwhelming....just stick with it, chip away at the mountain and you'll come down the other side feeling on top of the world. 

 

2. Scale. In the monitor things look pristine, they're perfect, you've captured every subtle nuance and gentle curve and you're so excited to see it made real. Then you print it and cry over the sink at the blobby mess you spent so long on. Learning how thick, how deep, how disproportionate/exaggerated things need to be to read the way you want them to when printed is a process. I don't subscribe to the popular opinion that one should wait a year before investing in a printer. Get a cheap one and get it relatively quickly. This kinda goes back to learning it right the first time. You don't want to sculpt for a year only to discover you need to do it completely differently.

 

3. Skill. Digital sculpting takes no less skill or knowledge than any other form of art. The knowledge of anatomy, design, composition, etc. are all still there. For me Z gives me the ability to express those things quickly. Could I create the same sculptures in clay? Yes, but it would take me a million times longer and that time would be filled with baking/curing, smoothing, mixing putty or any number of countless other mundane tasks that don't relate to the actual problem solving of the art being made. I love that I can allocate my brain power to doing what it's good at ...designing...and so much less time get's wasted thinking about how to clean my tools or how to store sculpts so they don't get destroyed. 

 

4. Working in the round. A common statement I hear to new digital sculptors is "You need to work in clay first and then you can switch to digital". I've had several people tell me that they can see the difference in artists who have worked in both mediums and those who haven't. I think there's a major contributing factor to that phenomenon that doesn't get talked about so I'm gonna talk about it. Learning to work in the round, or getting into a habit of constantly rotating and reevaluating a model while working, is a skill that is easiest to learn traditionally. It is NOT intuitive when digital sculpting at all and even though I was used to working that way in clay I reverted back to former bad habits when first transitioning. SO, what you actually need is not to work in clay necessarily but to learn to work in the round. You don't need to be great in putty to be great in digiclay (I think I was mediocre in putty at best and that i'm thriving after the switch) what you do need is to establish a workflow of constant rotation and evaluation. 

  • Like 4
  • Thanks 3

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I'm quite intrigued by the possibilities of digital sculpting. I'm a Blender user, and I've found Blender's sculpting tools to be very usable (and free, which is not to be sneezed at). I'm certainly not a great sculptor, but it is a lot of fun.

 

This is a thing that started out as an experiment with the "Skin" modifier on a Bezier curve, and ended up as... this. Whatever this is.

 

2019-07-19-KingWorm01.jpg

 

One thing I will say about digital sculpting is that a decent pressure-sensitive graphics tablet is really a vital piece of equipment. You can do a lot with just a mouse, but almost everything is just so much easier and more intuitive with a stylus on a tablet.

Edited by MojoBob
  • Like 3

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
10 hours ago, MojoBob said:

This is a thing that started out as an experiment with the "Skin" modifier on a Bezier curve, and ended up as... this. Whatever this is.

 

One thing I will say about digital sculpting is that a decent pressure-sensitive graphics tablet is really a vital piece of equipment. You can do a lot with just a mouse, but almost everything is just so much easier and more intuitive with a stylus on a tablet.

 

It's horrifying. Cool, but horrifying haha

 

I do agree that a pressure sensitive tablet/stylus is an essential component. Everyone's tastes are different but I really like my Bamboo Ink stylus. I'm currently working on a Lenovo Yoga tablet laptop which is a relatively inexpensive and functional setup but I look forward to upgrading to a bigger Cintiq at some point.

  • Like 3

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
14 hours ago, Rainbow Sculptor said:


As @GHarris aptly points out, presentation and revisions are much better and much easier. I do have to respectfully disagree about needing to accept the end result to look digital. I know digital sculptors you could swear are working in clay or porcelain. I think the amount of variety and possibilities of how to use digital tools rival all of the random improvised tools I've ever heard traditional sculptors tell stories about. "It's not about the tool, it's how you use it" or something like that haha There are certainly a number of sculpts that the digital component is too obvious and there are "easy" buttons that should be avoided for that very reason but I don't necessarily blame the limitations of the technology for that digital look as much as the people utilizing it. 

 

 

I think we are of the same mind here! Even if you use a "shortcut" you still have to take the time to go back and adjust things so they don't look stiff and sterile when you are done.

 

I could get a traditional sculpt done in about three days with dedicated work. I can get a digital sculpt done in about three days with dedicated work. The number of raw hours being put in is probably about equal. The thing I find with digital is I can put more hours in on a daily basis, so while I could have a sculpt done in three days by hand it usually took closer to 5-7 days simply because I had to work around curing times and I had to take more breaks to let my back/neck/hands/eyes rest. I can also squeeze in a quick half hour of work before going to the store if I am working in ZBrush, that is much harder with hand sculpting when you are working around cure times.

 

I can appreciate your view on working in the round! That's something that I often mention to people when they hear that I am an artist so they assume I am good at drawing. I'm not. I am taking your class about composition at Reapercon, if drawing is involved you can see my lack of skill first hand! Basically I can fake it and put down a general idea, but I think of things in the round- I am used to turning pieces that I am working on! Basically I don't have to learn how to make faces in 3/4 view or how to do perspectives or foreshortening because I am making things that are viewed from multiple angles. That's not to say that learning to draw better wouldn't help me, it's just a skill that I haven't had to really sharpen.

 

Regarding Cintiqs, I am actually in the process of returning a brand new 24 inch Cintiq Pro Studio with the upgraded Pro Engine. I could totally see it being great for drawing on with its large surface area but it is totally not portable, and all the drawing area that I actually need is covered by a small Wacom stylus pad (I think it is an Intuos of some sort?). The bigger screen actually makes me work harder because I have to move my arm around more, and I can use better body ergonomics with a monitor and separate stylus pad. I literally have spent two weeks using a stylus pad with my Cintiq simply because it was more practical! Basically for what I am doing I can get a much more powerful desktop for far less money, and I am planning on using the extra money saved to go to New Orleans after Reapercon.

 

Quick caveat, I use a mouse and a keyboard while sculpting. A mouse is great for scaling as well as using ZModeler. I tried the Wacom remote but promptly ditched it. As you are probably aware you can end up juggling up to four keys at once in ZBrush- that is far easier to do on my Bluetooth keyboard than it is using the buttons on the remote, especially if you have carpal tunnel in your left hand. Also, typing is obviously easier with a keyboard vs tapping on a screen.

 

Basically YMMV when it comes to how "necessary" a Cintiq is.

  • Like 3
  • Thanks 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now

  • Recently Browsing   0 members

    No registered users viewing this page.

  • Similar Content

    • By rintintin
      HI, 
      Thought I would create my own topic so I can share the models I create. Crits and comments welcome.
      This is my latest mini. Created just for fun. I think it should be called " The summoning" though I am open to ideas :)



      Got a few pictures of the 3d print of this guy. Not the best photos but you get the idea.



    • By MojoBob
      I found this model somewhere on the internet, alone and uncredited, so I have no idea who made it or what it is or anything. People have suggested that it's a Kirby, whatever that is, with a human face pasted on.

      I like it, and I'll print about a dozen of them, and make up some stats to use them in my D&D campaign in some way. I'm leaning towards some kind of waddling tar-baby critter, but we shall see.

      The original model was only about 1.5mm tall, so I've rescaled it by 1500% to roughly 20mm.
    • By lexomatic
      Some friends are doing this, under their Infinite Dimensions Games, though I'm not involved. The Kickstarter will take place in March and is for digital files for 3D print. If I remember correctly there are no physical rewards. While people should hold off until the details of the crowdfund are released, my understanding is that the core set is done, any stretch goals will pay for the labour of doing the design/sculpting of those items only, so the core set would be ready as soon as funding period is over. 
      They have a Facebook and Instagram and more for lots of previews (but I'm not linking because I'm not sure what on those sites will break forum rules), and if anyone is attending BreakoutCon this year in Toronto, they will be there displaying.
       
       
       
    • By GreenBeams
      Hello all!

      I'm really trying to learn about sculpting for miniatures and here's my current project:

      It's a Golem from artist Chris Walton
       
      It's just at the Armature phase right now but i've started to block in my major shape masses. I'll post that when i get a bit further.

      Any help/suggestions/direction on how to make this more viable for print at around 30mm would be most appreciated!

      All the best, 
      Andrew Cothill

       

    • By Pingo
      http://www.bbc.com/autos/story/20160324-the-story-behind-chinas-minecraft-military-camo
       
      It sounds counterintuitive (and apparently was much second-guessed and delayed after its effectiveness was first discovered in the 1970s), but digital, square-based "Minecraft"-type camouflage is far more effective at visually disguising forms, both up close and at a distance, than traditional blobby-form camouflages.
       
      Last September China held a massive military parade to celebrate the 70th anniversary of the end of WWII, showing off for the first time many military vehicles decorated with digital patterns of squares in four colors.
       
      US Army Lieutenant Colonel Timothy R O'Neill, PhD, credited with the discovery almost forty years ago, shared his original test before-and-after photos with the BBC:
      http://ichef.bbci.co.uk/images/ic/raw/p03nxg80.jpg
       
      http://ichef.bbci.co.uk/images/ic/raw/p03nxg7f.jpg
  • Who's Online   36 Members, 1 Anonymous, 295 Guests (See full list)

×