Ortho / Perspective switch

As of this writing, the one thing in Blender that throws me off is the Ortho / Perspective switch. I sculpt in both modes, and usually have the Perspective at 120mm Focal Length. If I’m up closed on the mesh in Ortho mode and rotate the viewport, the mesh will vanish out of sight. To bring it back to view, I would have to scroll the mouse wheel up. This is solved by turning off the perspective auto switch in the preferences. The problem is that you would have to manually switch to perspective mode, and when you do, the mesh will vanish out of sight again, and then you would have to try to bring it back to view. That’s a lot of hassle. I can’t seem to find a way around this so that I can work with perspective autoswitch on.

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.

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 Chimp

This test was to see how easy it is to block out forms with the “Snake Hook” brush. Started with a sphere.

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.

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.