Course: Sculpting a Sci-Fi Weapon

Hard Surface Sculpting

Everyone knows how valuable digital sculpting is for things like characters, monsters, trees, animals…any kind of organic shape. But what about hard surface shapes? Is it possible to apply the artistic freedom and benefits of digital sculpting to rigid forms? Yes!

Join the Citizen ranks to learn how you can create your own sci-fi weaponry

In this Citizen series we’ll take a beautiful piece of sci-fi concept art by Tim Von Rueden and realize the weapon in 3D with Blender’s sculpting toolset. I’ll show you how to quickly generate a base mesh with the skin modifier and how to approach your sculpt with hard surface techniques. By the end you’ll be an expert with brushes like Polish, Crease, and Pinch!


Why Sculpting instead of Modeling?

If you’re like me, you welcome the more artistic approaches to digital art. Granted sculpting is not appropriate for every hard surface task. For example something like a wooden crate or coffee table makes more sense to model traditionally. However in the case of some complex hard-surface shapes, like this futuristic firearm, it can be easier for an artist to achieve the right forms with brushes instead point-pushing. The sweeping curves and angles make this object a prime candidate for hard surface sculpting.

Once your down with this course, head over to Learn How To Retopologize Complex, Hard-surface Forms in Blender

Credits and License Info

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18 Responses to “Sculpting a Sci-Fi Weapon”
  1. Posts: 25

    When I download lesson 1, its called part 2, lesson 2 is called part 3 and so on. I just wanna let you know because I guess it’s not supposed to be that way. :)

  2. Posts: 9

    Hi. I have been following this course until lesson 9. The problem is that when you reach a certain point mesh complexity starts to lag blender viewport performance.

    Can you give any advice to fix that. I´m running it on a late Imac i5 with a GTX680MX

    Thanks in adavance.

    • Posts: 2128

      Absolutely you have optimization options:

      You can add a “Decimate” modifier to reduce the face count of your mesh (see lesson 10 around 4:30). This is a good option for optimizing the mesh while still retaining the majority of your fine details, depending on the amount of reduction. Then apply the decimation and continue sculpting.

      And while you’re sculpting with dynamic topology, try paying extra attention to the detail size, only using smaller detail sizes for fine details. I know I can easily get lazy and stay on a smaller detail size when it would be more efficient to step up.

      • Posts: 633
        richard w says:

        You can also boost performance by turning off the Double Sided option in the Mesh Properties tab. Turning off double sided can double sculpting performance.

      • Posts: 9

        Thanks to all for your replies.

        By the way I posted a question on blender.stackexchange, there some other helpfull tips that you may find on this link.

        There is also one thing that I have noticed. After aplying all those advices(not the resmesh modifier one), the viewport tends to lag yet if the “Collapse short edges” option is enabled. After disabling it, the viewport runs incredibly smooth and fast. And in my Imac with GTX 680MX, runs incredible fast even with 1,5M tris.

        I don´t if this some kind of bug or something. But the fact is that on my machine is faster to work with that option disabled, even when you end up dealing with much more complex geometry.

      • Posts: 633
        richard w says:

        Someone had this problem with another sculpting course. The Decimate Modifier can cause some loose geometry, particularly when followed up with the ‘Symmetrize’ option in Dynamic Topology, so I think the solution was to search for and remove that geometry.

        You can find the option in the Select menu (by the Mode selection menu) > Loose Geometry. This option is context sensitive; if you’re in vertex select mode then it will select vertices, edge select -> edges, face select -> faces. I think you’ll be looking for loose vertices; check for edges as well, but you can probably ignore searching for faces.

      • Posts: 40
        marcus66 says:

        Hi there!
        I’d have had come across at this tutorial one instead of jumping right away at the Modeling Helmet.
        ‘Decimate modifier” has exhaustive explanation. It enlightened my mind.

        Thanks a lot, beautifull tuto

  3. Posts: 241

    How in the world is it that you can explain things so well, Kent, I’ll never know.

    Taking away the complexity by viewing things by section will surely prove to be the most helpful insight I’ve yet learned. So simple yet so true.


  4. Posts: 2
    dougie91 says:

    Thx for all the tutorials .I decided to become a citizen ,now I’m I did . I was wondering, what helps you decide what to use when sculpting? I mean whether to use the skin mod , multires or the subsurf .I didn’t expect to see you use the skin mod on the sci-fi weapon .After watching ,it made since .Thx again for the time all of you put in these tutorials .

    • Posts: 2128

      I suppose it depends on the subject matter. With this weapon I knew I wanted quick access to easily editable geometry to establish initial shape and volume. Also I knew this would need to be sculpted in multiple pieces, which made the skin modifier ideal.

      Anything with limbs or appendages is great for the skin modifier. Solid objects are good to start with a cube or sphere, like a human head, concrete barrier, boulder, etc.

      Hope that helps/makes sense. And thank you for supporting us as a Citizen!

  5. Posts: 72

    thank you very much for this great course. I really liked your insights as to what can/should be changed when interpreting a 2d concept, your design choices as well as the Blender technical hints. For me this was also a great overview of Blender features and limitations coming from a Zbrush perspective. Thank you!

  6. Posts: 5

    Hey Kent. I’m upto part 6 of this series. I started watching the Helmet Tutorial but then decided I should watch this series first instead since I already had it downloaded. Is there anything workflow or tool wise that I should be aware of between this version of Blender and 2.72b? Thanks in advance.

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