Sculpting Hotkeys

Another Sphere head

Last night I took the time to mapped out the sculpting brushes so that I can easily get to it in future experiments. Blender sculpting is fun once you know the shortcuts to each individual brush. By logically organizing them, I’m able to experiment and try out more brushes on the fly.

Here’s another experiment earlier, and as you can tell, it’s based on a reference this time so it looks a bit more real, and not creaturely. In this test, I found myself using the “Clay” brush more, a lot more, because it’s a female head and things need to be round and smooth.

Clay Strips gives a rough look, and it’s a good brush to block in the form in the earlier stage of sculpting. It also gives you the clay effect. Yet at the same time, it can mess up the details that you have worked very hard on, if you’re not careful. When you already have a lot of details in place, use the Clay. If details don’t matter, use Clay Strips. If you want to be subtle, use Clay. I tend to use both the Clay/Clay Strips at 100% strength. At 100% strength, Clay Strips allow me to easily block in the form. I can still manage the strength via pressure sensitivity, but it’s at 100% strength that I use these two brushes. The SculptDraw brush on the other hand is very extreme. I would put both the Blob and SculptDraw in the same category.

Smooth and subtle. Brush’s strength is at 100%.

I use the Grab brush a lot throughout my sculpting session. Earlier stage to fix the overall shape / proportion. Mid stage to adjust / fix the proportion of the nose, mouth, etc… When the proportion or shape doesn’t look right, the Grab brush is your friend. A lot of time we tend to be so fixated on detailing our mesh that once we zoom out, things look off! This is normal by the way. That’s why the Grab brush will be used throughout. For subtle changes, we have the Thumb and Nudge brush. Thumb and Nudge works a bit differently, but both are there for minor and subtle changes that does not affect other area of the mesh. If the jawline is too high, you can bring it down with the Thumb brush.

More can be said about Scrape, Pinch, and the Crease brush. That’s for another post.

Blender needs Transpose

The hand is a challenge to draw, model and sculpt (digitally). Earlier I decided to give it a try, starting with a sphere. I didn’t bother to finish it because it’s way too much work to manually move and reposition the fingers. I enjoy sculpting things manually, and for those that do, Blender really need a way to quickly bend / rotate the mesh—something like the Transpose tool in ZBrush.

Here’s my tip if you want to sculpt the hand: Let the palm face you (front view, “1” on the numpad). That way, you can use your left hand as a reference.

Creatures and Re-topology

Modeling or sculpting creatures is a great way to learn the 3d app you’re using. Creatures allows you to make mistakes, and to be free and relaxed in your experimentation. With humanoid, you have to keep the anatomy in mind otherwise people can look at it and know that it’s off.

Sculpting this piece from a sphere was quick and easy. It’s also my first attempt at retopologizing. Blender by default has all the options and features that make this easy, but the actual process of retoplogizing (manually) can be long and tedious! I might have to look into RetopoFlow later on.

Another Speed Test (15 mins)

This time I slowed down and tried to be a lot more intentional with every stroke. I wanted to see if I could find a shortcut to block in a decent head form within 10 minutes from scratch (sphere). Apparently there is a shortcut. The shortcut is the “Grab” brush. After blocking in the basic planar of the head, take time and carefully reposition/adjust the shape of the head with the grab brush.

This looks like I won’t be going back to regular box modeling for organic/creature concept. Sculpt and Retoplogy is where I’m setting my eyes on. If I were to do this with regular box modeling, it would take a lot longer.

First attempt at Speed Sculpting

1 Hour Speed Sculpting in Blender 2.80 beta. Completed in 55 minutes. Started off with a Sphere.

Completed in 55 minutes. No reference. Forced myself to improvise. I was a bit nervous before I hit the clock and wasn’t sure if I could pull it off because 1) My knowledge of anatomy is still lacking (the neck gives it away, I think), 2) Still learning what each brush does. Would love to experiment with other brushes, but I stuck to what I know best: Clay Strips. My left hand was hitting a lot of hotkeys and I was going as fast as I could. There were a lot of hiccups in between as I reached the numpad keys with my right hand and that kind of slowed down a bit. I’m a keyboard cowboy and haven’t fully mapped Blender’s keys to my liking yet.

Anyway, I’m very surprised by the result. Let’s just say I got lucky!

Sphere Head

Another test piece. Done in Blender 2.80 beta.

I was going to abandon this test piece halfway, but persistence pays off. In case you’re wondering why:

It’s all about refinement, analyzing and correcting, from first to last. The mistake or mark we make becomes a point of reference. To have a nose that looks about right, it must begin by looking wrong. And that begins the refinement process.

Krita’s Line Tool

Testing out perspective theories

Krita gives you quick access to the Line Tool and it’s great for testing out perspective theories. However, I came across one limitation in Krita with the way the program handles straight line. Other softwares keep the line straight when you draw it while holding down the Shift key. I found out today that you can change Krita’s profile to function like Photoshop! Once you change the profile, the “Shift” will allow you to draw straight lines. But upon closer look, it’s actually a Line Tool. That’s where the limitation is.

On the left image, if you want to draw a perfectly straight line that covers both top and bottom, starting at the center, you can’t with a line tool. You would have to lift up your pen and repeat, and the problem is that it might not align with the first line perfectly. You can do it manually, image on the right, but without locking the initial angle/direction of the stroke, it will look off.

Thoughts on Blender Sculpting

Early 2016 Blender Sculpting Experimentation

I really like Blender 2.8’s Viewport. The wireframe, color and MatCap makes sculpting a joy. I was going through my old sculpting files back in early 2016 and imported them into 2.8’s beta just to see what they look like. And speaking of sculpting, here are a few thoughts:

At the time of doing these experiments or test back in 2016, I had no idea that I would end up with these results. I was just playing around with Blender’s GUI, exploring its features etc… and then sculpting came to mind. I had no experience whatsoever with digital sculpting or even traditional sculpting. Didn’t know what DYNTOPO was and how it could help with sculpting from scratch.

What most people usually do first before entering sculpt mode is this: They block out the form with proper subdivisions and everything. Wireframe looks clean and so on. If the resolution isn’t high enough, then you can’t sculpt in tiny details. You would have to increase the resolution of the mesh [throughout] the entire model. Things can slow down if you don’t have a fast computer, which is why a lot of hobbyists give up due to the lag/slowness.

That’s where “DYNTOPO” comes in. The entire mesh will be triangulated. In Dyntopo mode, Blender will add or remove local resolution as you sculpt (depending on your dyntopo setting). Overall, it’s a lot faster! And you don’t have to think about topology or subdivisions of your mesh. In my opinion, DYNTOPO is what makes digital sculpting fun!

You can take out a cube or any primitive object and start sculpting right away. Here was a cube I did yesterday. It was not planned. I scribbled around with the Clay Strips brush and really enjoyed the pixelated look of the mesh. Sculpting in dyntopo mode gives me the illusion that I’m working with clay. As you can see, it wasn’t that difficult to block in the face.

The first hurdle is software related. Technicality. The second hurdle is artistic. How do you go from a Cube to a finished piece of art? I’ll touch on that in my second post.

Blender 2.8 Sculpt Test

Blender has come a long way. I like its Sculpting mode/setup and this was a test to relearn the Sculpting brushes. Started off with a SPHERE.

The main sculpting brush I use is the “Clay Strips.” It’s what I used initially to block in the form/details (image: left) and it’s also what I use throughout the Sculpting process. I prefer this brush over the “Draw” brush. The “Pinch” / “Crease” brush also come in handy for refining/sharpen edges (image: right).

EDIT: Another test. I’ll probably do a lot more digital Sculpting in Blender later on.

Sculpted from a Cube as the base.

EDIT2: Another test. I can’t seem to resist the temptation to get into Sculpting at this moment, but I must resist and focus on my 2d studies! 🙂

Started with the standard Cube! No scaling or anything. That figure is actually pretty small!

Blender sculpting is extremely addictive once you get a hang of it! After the first test (Skull above) I thought I could take a break from it, but did two more tests. It’s that fun! Again, my primary brush is CLAY STRIPS, 95% of the time.

Vanishing Point

Randomly I decided to pull out the Vanishing Point assistant tool and scribbled a lot of random lines (with snap on). Then I removed all the assistant tool and I’m left with scribbling lines (image: left). Then I did the rest freehand, having the perspective guide as a layer below. This is the first time I have done anything like it, and I’m very pleased with the outcome. With the perspective guide below, I didn’t have to think about perspective, but instead focused more on blocking out my ideas, loosely and casually. This is a very quick way to thumbnail environments that will look a bit more realistic!

Snap to Assistants

The Vanishing Point in Krita is very helpful. I first saw its use in Autodesk SketchBook and was very impressed by it. I’m so glad that Krita has it! ArtRage has the perspective grid, but it’s not as flexible as the Vanishing Point. However, without a shortcut to turn on/off (in real-time) “snap to assistants” it can be a bit troublesome to use. Right now, I only use perspective theory casually. I have no intention of having it 100% accurate all the time, and therefore do not need to have “snap to assistants” on all the time. I find it extremely inconvenient to have to turn on the snap manually (and then off again) when I only need just a few lines in correct perspective.

Krita needs a shortcut for this. If there is, I can’t seem to find it.

Transform Tool

They looked a bit narrow. With the help of the Transform tool, I was able to widen them without having to reblock them manually.

I consider myself a purist, but I’m slowly breaking that mindset to take advantage of the tools that are available within the program that I use. When things don’t look right, I clear the canvas and start all over, and I believe there are times for that. But it’s not always wise, considering that we’re doing things digitally.

I don’t understand why Krita has two separate tools (Move, Transform) when they can be one. V for Move and Shift+V for Transform is my setup.

Notan Experiment

I took the default “Ink-7 Brush Rough” and modified to have a medium-thin straight square (vertical) brush’s tip. These were extremely quick sketches without giving much thought to the process. Just one value (black) and an eraser mode. This is a great way to focus on the overall composition/shapes. The mind has an interesting way of recognizing shape/pattern from chaos, so sometimes, it’s best to leave it unfinished and let the mind fill in the blank.

Practice, smartly…

Know your aim and what you’re practicing. There is no need to draw in all the details if you’re struggling with proportion, angles and correct measurement. By not focusing on the details, you’ll be able to go through many images in a short span of time, and that will speed up your training/progress. This is how I train: Open a search engine and look for a subject to practice. Training my eyes to capture the proportions, measurements and angles. I avoid drawing in the details and making a complete artwork out of it. Instead, I stay focused on the overall shapes.

Insert as Reference Image

Working in Fullscreen with all images in one place.

Bravo to the developer who coded this. Earlier I was practicing some landscapes and had a few images opened on my desktop, all lined up horizontally at the top of my screen. However, there’s a few problems with this: 1) It clogs up my space: can’t see what’s beneath these images such as Krita’s toolbar and so on. 2) When moving/zooming the Canvas, these reference images stay there the same. 3) I’m on Mac, and these images won’t show up when working in Fullscreen mode. In Fullscreen, Krita takes over. And that’s when I said to myself, “This can’t be good. I need these references! What do I do?”

That’s when I decided to drag and drop them into Krita and imported as “Reference Image.” And that solves all the problems. Insert as regular layer doesn’t work. In order to have these images outside of the Canvas, you must “Insert as Reference Image.” You can rotate, scale, flip, or even lower the opacity of the reference image. Another reason to love Krita!

Click to Expand

Krita has a great little feature that allows you to expand the size of your document that you’re currently working on. What this means is that you don’t have to worry about coming up with a document size. You can just start with any and get right into practicing your forms (or whatever you’re doing on the canvas). Once you reach the end of your document, by moving it (up | down | left | right), the expand will appear for you to click on

It started with a small document to practice drawing the eye. Then I got into form practicing and it quickly expanded
Constructive drawing: Practicing forms (Sphere, Cylinder, Cube etc…)

Brush: Pencil-5 Tilted

I’m using a tablet that does not have tilt support, with a brush that was made for tilted tablet (I’m assuming because the setting for this brush has tilt settings). I can’t imagine what it would be like, and I’ll have to get a better tablet to find out later in the future. In the meantime, this is what I use to practice gesture drawing. Default setting, but I set the brush size to 260.

Krita’s Blending Brush

I’m about to head off to bed, but before I go I decided to fire up Krita and do a quick scribbling. Had no idea where I was going with it. I grabbed the “Wet Paint” brush and played around, and to my surprise, this is something you can achieve in less than 15 minutes!

I’m not into painting at the moment. That’s something I’ll explore later on. For now, I’m exploring LINES, gestures, poses, etc…

EDIT: Another quick test early next morning. Trying out the blending brush (“Wet” Circle, Paint, Paint Details)

Strategies for Blocking In

These were copied from photos of sculptures/statues. My aim was to capture the overall proportions, loosely. I find the body more challenging than the head/shoulder.

There are a lot of things the mind processes and goes through when doing observational drawing. I find that my mind switches modes of thinking here and there throughout the whole drawing process. Take for example, in the second example, I didn’t have much difficulty just going with the contour, but I couldn’t do that same thing with the third example. In the third example, I focused on having the thigh right and then worked out from there. In the last example, i used the line of action to guide me through the whole process.

Blocking in (or Block-in) is the first phrase of drawing. There are many ways to go about it, and it’s even possible to switch between two or more strategies. There are Gestures, Angles, Envelope, Shapes/Forms (and a few more). This is a very important topic that I’ll surely talk more about in the future.

Noise…

I was trying out something new earlier just now. As of this writing, I haven’t studied or know much about lightning/shadow. Painting is something I’ll explore later on, but in the meantime I’m exploring lines (drawing). This piece was an experiment (around 30 minutes) without any aim. Just relaxing (not thinking much) and random scribbling, to see what I can make out of it, and I had no idea that it would end up this way. In so doing, I realize that this can become a style/look.

Line Theory

It’s good to have technical knowledge, and to dig deeper into things for greater understanding. A lot of us can’t do certain things unless some of our questions are unanswered, and so we are paralyzed by it. Let me use English grammar as an example to illustrate my point, and to encourage you to experiment and try out new things.

Continue reading

Alchemy in Krita?

The Shapes_Fill brush is a very strange tool at first sight! I have wondered why Krita even included it, but to my amazement this is an extremely helpful tool for brainstorming and quick thumbnailing. Check out Alchemy if you haven’t heard of it before. I haven’t used Alchemy before and this is my first attempt at it in Krita.

This experiment was carried out today. I had a lot of fun playing with this brush! What you see was done entirely with the Shapes_Fill brush alone.

EDIT: I went and tried it out on Affinity Designer, with “Frankentoon – SciFi Starter Pack” brush set. I wish Krita can do something like this, where the brush can stretch out the texture/brush tip as you draw it.

Low-Detail Painting

First attempt at low-detail painting done in Krita that was not planned. Just something I improvised while experimenting with different brush tip. Low-Detail painting is fun, in that you get to relax and don’t have to worry too much about details.