The point of this blog is (hopefully) to help like minded people find resources and inspiration to perhaps try new things. I am still learning how to do digital sculpting myself and I have written a few things about that on the blog.
I started learning general 3D art skills in 2018 (perhaps I dabbled with it a few years on and off before that as well). I found it all quite daunting which is why I wrote a general overview of things to learn later on. In 2019 I wrote a summary introduction on digital sculpting to help me make sense of it more. I thought by sharing my process and thoughts on these things it might be useful to other people wondering similar things as well.
The first software I tried for digital sculpting was 3D Coat because it was affordable and easy for beginners to get into without worrying too much about mesh issues as it was voxel based. I had tried Blender a few times but my computer was not powerful enough at the time to do detailed sculpting with it.
Perhaps because I come from a 2D art traditional medium background (drawing with pencils and paper, sculpting with clay) I am biased toward using things which remind me of a more traditional art feeling rather than the technical side of things. I did discover that I really had to make an effort to learn 3D and I was up for the challenge but in the early days I was on a treasure hunt for programs and methods to make the process easier (and cheaper) for myself. This explains my slight obsession with the 2D to 3D process I have written about on the blog if anyone was wondering. As an aside I think learning 2D vector art before I learned 3D helped me understand some of the basics a little more than if I hadn’t and SVG files can be used in Blender. I had to learn some of the more technical side of 3D to complete some of my projects though and all I can say is it does get easier but it will take time and it helps to start with the basics and think of it as an iterative and obsessive process. You don’t have to know everything there is to know about 3D to make something with it and what you have to learn will vary depending on the type of work you want to do and the software you choose.
In 2020 I decided to get ZBrush because I found that I liked doing digital sculpting enough to justify it and my computer was a lot better than it had been so I could run it without issues. Another thing that swayed my decision to take the plunge was the readily available learning resources all over the internet (In the early days of doing digital art this was not the case). I have not regretted my decision, it is a lot of fun and I’m still learning more about the program.
I chose a beginners course on Udemy (they go on sale quite often) to get me started with ZBrush and I can recommend it, it helped me anyway. The other thing I do when learning something is to apply things I’ve learned to little personal projects to keep motivated (like my squirrel mascots) and I see what I can find with the program on my own from time to time, referring to online help or the program manual if I get confused.
I have not really documented my progress learning digital sculpting in much detail as I got very carried away with it and started doing it more and more to the point where I forgot to write about it so I thought I’d write a summary of my experience so far.
I started learning how to use ZBrush by doing a Udemy course and I have used courses to help with other aspects of digital sculpting and art such as learning more about human anatomy. In the beginning learning how to use the software and about fundamentals is a priority but as it gets easier focusing on more of the artistic things becomes easier.
I used mini personal projects over the years to learn and practice digital sculpting. Some of these projects turned out quite well but of course there have been many abandoned projects and strange experiments (read my blog for long enough and you will get the idea…).
Here is a process sheet I made for an Ankylosaurus model I sculpted and then painted. Drawing comes in very handy in the design stage and the digital sculpting phase. Digital painting skills are useful for the painting stage.
I generally use 3D Coat to do the UV mapping, baking and painting after I have sculpted a 3D model. There have been times I used 3D Coat to do some 3D sculpting but I have been more focused on using ZBrush for that as a rule. Not saying one is better than the other, actually 3D Coat has really improved in the years I’ve had it, but I cannot deny ZBrush is really good for sculpting. My only regret with ZBrush is that I had not been able to get it sooner as now it is owned by Maxon and I’m staying at the 2022 version unless I win the lottery.
Here are some of my squirrel mascot 3D Illustration projects where I used digital sculpting. I also had to know about more technical things such as rigging and creating scenes in Blender. All those tedious technical lessons really do help in the long run. I try to do a more complicated project every so often to push myself and learn more. I’m doing another one at the moment.
Thanks for reading.