Apropos of 3D modeling

  • SVS OG

    I read Simona's 3D modeling and copyright post with interest. I'm not expert enough to weigh in on her question, but I had a related question, so I'll start a new thread.

    I'm doing a lot of character sketching out of my head these days. Just last week I drew the character I posted from two other angles to understand her in 3D. I'm using myself as a reference, but it's awkward, especially from unusual angles. So...how hard is it to learn 3D modeling? My daughter (who does a good bit of complex film and photo editing and has an agile young adult brain) claims she recently spent 6 hours on Blender and only got as far as making a donut.

    So my question is, has anyone learned to make 3D models to a degree that it is helpful with your work, or would I just be distracting myself with yet another technical endeavor? Is the learning curve prohibitive? Should I just make a maquette like the one shown in the SVS video? But if I make a physical maquette, what happens when you want to change the position of the body?

    And the other question, of course, is which software is most flexible and easy to use, or at least has good tutorials? I don't mind paying a reasonable flat fee if I think I would really use it, but don't want to add yet another subscription, because I'm starting to accumulate so many of those that it's like being nibbled to death!

    Thanks for any advice you can provide!

  • SVS OG

    I too have difficulty with 3D and have always been terrible at spatial relations tests. The advice “draw everything as boxes and cylinders” doesn’t help when my brain can’t turn things around in space. I found an app that helps some called Magic Poser - you pose a person and then can pivot the person and look at it from any angle bit it only works with people, not objects.

  • @lauraa Hi laura I am learning Zbrush at the minute it is not that difficult if you get a good paid tutorial I used the Madeline Scott Spence -Intro to Zbrush at Gnomon Wrkshop the main problem is learning the right keyboard shortcuts.You should be able to make a basic head sculpt in a couple of weeks, but the problem is will it look any good, mine are terrible looking!!
    The other problem is I am not sure how useful it is going to be for your illustration work I personally dont think it will help.I personally feel by the time I could sculpt a whole model or scene and then posed it I would be to old to care.I would say to you save your money I am sorry I bought Zbrush ,it was a big expensive mistake for me.
    Cheaper alternatives for you could be Zbrush core- $150 Mudbox $10 a month if you want to learn to sculpt. If you just want the references for your illustrations Daz Studio 3D is free with some free models but can get expensive when you buy models you can morph the models in the software which is very easy to learn, and very addictive.Hope this helps a bit .

  • @demotlj I have tried Magic poser and think it is very good.The 3D models in Clip Studio Paint look helpful although I have not used them.If you use 3D models after about a year your mind will adjust and you will be able to imagine it when drawing from imagination.

  • Pro SVS OG

    It really depends wether you want to learn to sculpt your own maquettes or wether you only need some 3D reference that you can pose and rotate easily. For the latter, there is a variety of cheap apps - I have used a lot of them along the years, the nicest ones are called "ArtPose" - there is a female and a male version. There is also a cute hand-posing tool called "Handy" which nowadays also has heads and feet. All of these work on the iOS devices (probably also on Android), have some quite sophisticated posing tool and positionable lights - a real boon! Stephen Silver also has a 3D posing app on the market with some cartoony characters -though you need to pay something for the most advanced model.

    If you want to sculpt yourself, I only have experience with ZBrush. ZBrush is relatively easy to learn - you'd probably be able to do a basic model within a couple of months, if you put in the hours (like 20-30 hours per week). It cost around 700 USD. Once you master it, you can sculpt a maquette in a couple of hours - it's very agile. I personally love it and find it exceedingly useful sometimes - especially when you have unusual perspective (which I love too). I had trouble turning things in my head for years, and I think learning ZBrush has helped me a lot with that.
    Posing characters in ZBrush is possible but it's not simple - every pose requires modification of the model and has its whole set of problems.
    Nowadays I don't do maquette of every character, like I used to do - but it's still very useful.
    Here one of my old sculpts for a book long since abandoned....


  • SVS OG

    @demotlj @DOTTYP @smceccarelli Thanks, guys, for the replies! I'm going to look into some of these. Of course I'd rather not have to learn Zbrush because I don't intend to actually go into 3D modeling and so I'd rather put that time into drawing, but it if turns out to be the only thing, perhaps it would be worth it.

    Mostly I want to use it as a learning tool to draw children or animals, changing their angles, positions and ages. I like a spontaneous hand-drawn look, but getting it just right depends on a good model. Right now I'm building them out of my head with a little examination in the mirror and sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn't! It just seems that it's very rare to find a photo reference by web search that really works, and then you have to worry about not copying it too much.

    If I find a solution that works for what I'm trying to do, I'll report back. It may take a while. In fact, Simona, your little Zbrush girl is not that far off from what I'm going for, age and style-wise (though I'm not working on a space theme). And all of the designs are very nice!

    P.S. I downloaded Magic Poser and tried to download a child model to pose. It said my choice required the Pro version. Is there a way to download a child on the free version, and if so, how? I can't even seem to figure out how to change the model to a female 😛 Thanks!

  • SVS OG

    @lauraa I bought the Pro version because it wasn’t too much and I hate ads in my apps. My memory though is that the free version only allows you to use the man model.

  • @lauraa I considered learning 3D as well a while ago. I can't afford any of the expensive programs so I decided to learn Blender. But I keep putting it off because I really want to draw rather than learn 3D and all the technical starter tutorials make me fall asleep (literally). I know that's probably not helpful, but I think you are on the right track with magic poser route for what you want to do. I've also got the Pose reference pdfs from http://www.posemuse.com/.
    I've recently decided to just focus on improving my drawing skills rather than try and learn 3D as well. You can also download free models on sites like Blend Swap and look at things in 3D on sites like https://sketchfab.com/ without even having to install 3D software. If you just want a model to pose and you learn a bit of Blender there are rigged models you can use on https://www.blendswap.com as well.

  • SVS OG

    @demotlj Well, so far I've managed to pose a fit adult man pouting as though he were a four-year-old girl! 😂

    However, @Christine-Garner, I too am having doubts about learning a new program. Every artist needs to know anatomy and how to visualize things in 3D. If an app helps to strengthen those skills, great. But since I get impatient even with looking at too many Google image photos, I have decided that a posing app is about as far as I should venture into 3D technology. Now if I can only learn not to make the feet disappear into that grid quicksand!

    Thanks, guys!

  • @lauraa I dont think there is a child model in the paid version of magic poser there is a chibi and an anime girl .if you press the + at the bottom of the screen it should give you the free library,but they seem to have changed things around.

  • SVS OG

    Hi! I got the paid version and downloaded a child with an enormous head (the chibi, I think). The model works quite well unless you want a top view. 🙂 I’ve been having a lot of fun with it! And it’s a good thing too, as my computer is in the shop but I’m good to go for the next few days with a phone and a sketch pad.

  • I don't have much experience with 3D programs, except sketchup for scene help, but I want to throw out some other options, if you don't go the 3D modeling rout.

    I don't know what you've studied, but learning basic perspective and the Loomis head construction method will help you a lot in visualizing in 3D. Another thing is to watch videos or movies, and sketch from those. You can sketch the same actor from different angles and expressions; of course this may not be helpful with a specific project, and is more of a study aid to start getting comfortable with drawing different angles.

    And another option is to hire a model, or ask friends if their kids want to model and take photos of them in different angles. If you do enough of these, you have a nice reference library built up. Here's an article about this:


    I know the illustrator James Gurney utilizes his neighbors to help with reference photos. He'll come up with composition and ask his friends/neighbors to recreate the comp.

    Anyway, just thought I'd throw that out there. They all come with their time commitments and draw backs, but might be more appealing options than learning 3d.

  • Hope you don't mind but I wanted to share a few thoughts I've been having here that go with this thread:
    I've been putting time into learning perspective drawing a lot lately because I think that's an essential skill even with knowing 3D visualization techniques. I think your advice @TessaW is really good.
    I've been reluctant to learn 3D modelling because it seems really complicated and I'm not sure if it will be useful, but I found a software called Rocket 3F and wondered if anyone has heard of it or used it?
    It's main features seem to be to make it easy to use. Its primarily described as a conceptual tool for concept artists and designers. I've been watching a few videos of the starter series the creator of the software made on YouTube and it looks a lot easier to use than Blender which looks like something NASA would use. I tried Sketchup a year ago or so and I didn't like it.
    I'm still not sure whether it's worth learning 3D modelling though for what I want to do. Basically I just want rough layouts to help a bit as an underlay guide for paint-overs to get perspective right and maybe test lighting arrangements. I managed to do some of this in blender last year by just using free models, adjusting the camera and trying lighting setups, but it required a lot of effort and I've since forgotten pretty much all I learned. Everything is hidden in the interface for Blender which I find really annoying.
    I also found a software called Room arranger which I'm trying as well. I was researching how to make floor plans because I wanted to try and learn the "revolved plan" technique to get different views from one room for a story project I'm working on. It seems pretty good although basic if you compare it to more expensive alternatives such as Home Designer (overkill for what I need). In Room Arranger you build floor plans and can see your rooms in 3D. Not much lighting info, but I can work that out in other ways I guess.
    Hope that's useful or interesting to anyone, and please let me know if you've heard of Rocket 3F and what you think.

  • Oh, something I forgot about- what about sculptris? I did use that a few years ago. It was free, and it felt very much like sculpting, except on the computer. It seems like the learning curve on that wouldn't be as steep. I remember making a decent looking skull on it on first attempt.

  • I forgot to mention a few easier to use and free 3D programs as well now we are on the subject 🙂 : Magica Voxel for 3d voxel art. This is easy to use and fun. @tessaw There is also an Open source software a bit like Sculptris I found called Dilay (digital clay). Don't know why, but that doesn't seem to be well known either.

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