Sculpting’s First Stage

Here’s a quick test I did earlier (roughly 5 minutes?), starting with the good old Cube. In total only three brushes were used: 1) Blob, 2) Snake Hook, 3) Smooth (that’s it!). From what I understand, the first stage of sculpting is the form and shape. In Blender, the Blob, Grab (does not add geometry) and the Snake Hook (add geometries) brushes are there to aid you in that process.

The difficult part of starting out is not knowing where to begin! What tool do I use? What’s the setting? With traditional sculpting you don’t have to worry about the settings, but with all things digital, there’s always a technical side to it. I was going to create a video demonstration of the tools but the screencast app I’m using is demo. I’ll do a lot of demonstrations later on once I purchased a license for it, so wait for it.

sculpt_brush_form

Note: This was a fluke! I didn’t know that I could block out the form with a Snake Hook on a Cube, but thank God I played with it because now I know something. I was thinking to myself, “How on earth am I going to block out the head? Ok let’s pull this one out, wait… oh! This is amazing.”

Free Model (CF_01)

http://www.codeberean.com/files/CF_01.zip (obj file only)preview_cf_01

In total there are 31 blend files for this model, starting with a form (file #1). A lot of tweaking but in the end I was not satisfied with the final result. Went through them and file #27 has the look that I’m pleased with, but not fully satisfied. I couldn’t get the look or result that I was after because I didn’t use any reference, which is a very bad practice. On top of this I don’t have much experience with creature modelling. There’s a purpose in this experiment and when there’s an opportunity I’ll talk more about it later on in the future.

Take Notes

takenotesGreat learners take notes and they take a lot of them. One of the great preachers, Martyn Lloyd-Jones [1899-1981], once said: “For many, many years I have never read my Bible without having a scribbling pad either on my table or in my pocket.” We not only see this in preachers but in artists as well and Leonardo Da Vinci comes to mind.

As a 3d modeller, I do take a lot of notes and keep them on my computer. I also skim through a lot of books and hold fast to that which is good to expand my horizon. When I do my own experiment and practicing, I pay careful attention to what I’m doing and record a lot of them down.

Don’t be afraid to sketch or scribble. After all, notes are personal and they’re for you to remind you of what you have learned or discovered. Sometimes going through my own notes inspire me to blog about it.

Can’t Match References Perfectly

headref

If you’re just starting out then there’s a chance that you’re using references (I hope so!). Not only that, but you’re trying to match what you see. Then to your surprise, things aren’t lining up no matter how hard you tried! If you get the front view correct then the right view (profile) will be out of proportion. If you fixed the right view then the front view will be screwed and it’s an endless cycle of going back and forth. That was my experience with blocking out the form of this head with a head references in the viewports. What I learned from this is that it’s best to approximate. Don’t aim to match your references 100% perfectly. Instead, see references as guides and don’t be afraid to exaggerate or even go outside of the reference(s).

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Mesh Cleanup in Blender

NOTE: Will fix the videos when I have a chance. Apparently it doesn’t work on iOS. I put together these videos using QuickTime player recording. Now I have a better screen recording app which will work on iOS. — March 04, 2016.

This is an example of how I approach it in Blender. In the picture and videos, what you’re looking at is the top of the nose flowing to the mouth area. There’s a thought process behind it which I’ll talk more later in the future (God willing).

meshcleanup

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N-Gons

Texture artists don’t like it. Rig artists don’t like it, and a lot of people just hate it. So the best thing to do is just avoid it! Modelling for yourself is different, but when you’re working with other artists it’s best to play by the rule that they all go by: No n-gons.

Since I am modelling for myself and experimenting, I can be flexible in this area. Sometimes I’m just lazy to clean up the mesh or haven’t decided on where things should go, so I end it with an N-gon to get back later. Cleaning up N-gons requires a bit of thinking, depending on your modelling experiences, but it’s very easy once you know what you’re doing.

A Note on Topologies

As of this writing and from what I know, I don’t think there’s such a thing as a “one topology to rule them all,” and you won’t know how good a topology is until you start to get into deformation of the mesh (animating it). Not to mention that all modellers are different in their approach and each mesh has a unique flow or structure to it. However, there is a general guidelines that all modellers follow, such as the mouth and eyes areas and so on. If we get the part for the mouth and eyes setup correctly then the rest will slowly fall into their proper places as you try to piece them together. How you go about piecing them together will be different from how others go about it.

One of the reasons why I’m currently experimenting with creature’s heads is because it’s uncommon to see people post topology overview for monster’s heads. So I want to train myself to see topology overview for a varieties of models (human, monsters, creatures etc…). Right now I’m just guessing and learning as I go.

Digital modelling is both creative and technical but don’t let that turn you off!

How True Art Points to God

The center of reality is a God who is Creator. And since we are made in His image (Genesis 1), we too are creators, able to harness the necessary and practical aspects to make something into something new. In creating good art, we are allowed to mimic the one who created all things—the One who built a universe and said “it is good.” So we create because we were created. As Madeleine L’Engle says, “All true art is incarnational, and therefore ‘religious.’” (Link to Article)

“Every artist dips his brush in his own soul, and paints his own nature into his pictures.” — Henry Ward Beecher [1813-87]

“So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them.” (Genesis 1:27)