Acquiring designer skills can greatly expand your skills, but getting started with 3D modeling to create a 3D configurator can be intimidating with the variety of tools and techniques available. In this article, we’ll teach you the basics of 3D sculpting using the Sculptris program, which you can download here for free.

individual creations Sculptris

3D Sculpting allows you to start modeling right away while learning additional tools and techniques. At the end of this tutorial you will have everything you need to create your own designs and a solid foundation to continue learning.

Step 1: Idea

The most important component of the design process is the idea. Without a sense of general form and feel of your design, the rest of the process becomes more difficult. In this tutorial we will design a dolphin because this animal has a simple shape that allows us to teach the basics of sculpting.

Creating a sketch of your design is always a good practice. For beginners, a pencil and paper is all you need to improve the main features of your design. Experienced users often create their sketches digitally for later use as reference images. For this introductory tutorial, we will stick to pencil and paper because Sculptris does not have the ability to import multiple reference images.

Step 2: Design the general shape.

All your designs in Sculptris begin as a simple sphere that is shaped and deformed to create the final object. Before we start modeling, we will go through the basic components of the Sculptris interface.

Main Toolsets.

This is where you will spend most of your time. These tools can be seen as brushes that change your object in different ways. You will want to experiment with each of them to get a feel for their functions and practice learning the hotkeys as they will help speed up your work considerably.

Free toolset.

These tools do not modify the mesh directly, but each serves a unique function that supports the design process. We will discuss some of these tools later in the tutorial, but right now just make sure you have the symmetry option enabled.

File Options.

This window allows you to add geometry and import and export files.

Toolset Modifiers.

This upper field changes the settings for the currently selected tool. Change the diameter of your brush, the thickness of your brush, and the number of polygons you add. We’ll discuss why it’s important to add polygons later in the tutorial.

Now that you’ve gained an overview of the Sculptris interface, we’ll go straight into modeling. Ideally, you will have taken some time to experiment with each of the different tools and have a feel for their functions.

To start creating our dolphin, we use the grab tool to shape our object. It’s good for this step to keep all toolset modifiers in the middle range. Take some time to shape the sphere into the general shape of your object. We uploaded reference images of a dolphin and used our previous paper sketch for this step. Once you have the general shape, use the Move and Flatten tools to smooth out uneven parts. In the end, you should have a shape that resembles the body of a dolphin.

Next, we design the fins and start shaping the head. We will continue to use the “Grab” tool for this, but we will reduce the size of our brush. Pull up more reference images and start forming the tail fin. Activating symmetry will greatly facilitate this process and allow us to visualize more quickly whether the lamellas are correctly formed.

Once you have designed the tail fin, go up to the dorsal fin. Use the “grip tool” to shape the general shape. By default it is much thicker than the dorsal fin of a real dolphin. To thin it out, switch to the top view and pull the dorsal fin in with the grab tool.

Next, we go to the flippers, where we introduce a new concept, masking. Keep your control button pressed and draw the base of the dorsal fin. You will see a drunk grey shadow that is your mask. Anything that is shaded dark gray will not be affected by changes to your mesh. In this case, we want to pull out the fins as if pressing Ctrl + i to reverse your mask. Now with the grab tool you can only pull out the section for your dorsal fin.

For the last jaw section of the dolphin we use a mask to shade the upper part of the head. Pull out the lower baking part with the “grab tool”. Clean up any uneven sections of your model with the “Flatten” and “Grip” tools. Now you are ready to add details.

Step 3: Add details.

If you had wireframe mode enabled (turn it on with the w key), you may have noticed that your model consists of a series of triangles and adding features or modifying the geometry adds triangles to your mesh. The number of triangles added to your mesh was controlled by the Detail slider in the Toolset Modifiers section.

Triangles are especially important when it comes to inserting complicated details into designs. Modeling is done by manipulating the position of the vertices of triangles so that more triangles allow a higher degree of detail. For each of these features, we should ensure that the detail slider is close to 75% of its maximum value to ensure that the features are resolved well.

For the mouth, we use a new tool called “Crease” to add a channel to your mesh. Pull up a reference image and draw a crease for the dolphin’s mouth. You can resize the fold with the Diameter slider in your Toolset modifier panel and the symmetry will reflect this for both sides. Use the Grasp tool to change the position of your crease if it is uneven at the beginning.

To create the eye sockets, we use the Folding tool with the Power Slider at max. In the File Options area, select New Ball and then Add Object. This creates a new sphere and reflects it on both sides of the object. Use the Scale tool of your Main Tool Set to scale the sphere to its size and move it to the pedestal.

Now our dolphin is ready for use and we can print it out.

Print it.

Sculpting is most often used to create complicated and highly detailed objects. A high-resolution printing process such as stereolithography is best suited to ensure that all details from your model are resolved. For our dolphin we use Form 2 and grey resin V3. Check out the following results and request a Form 2 sample to get a feel for the quality of SLA.

We hope we were able to give you a first brief insight into the subject. If you have any questions or suggestions, please feel free to contact our experts in our forum.

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