Sculptris is a very easy, yet powerful artistic modeling application. Basically you start from a geometric form (e.g. a ball or whatever and then sculpt/deform with various tool "brushes". E.g. you can crease, grab, draw, flatten, smooth, etc.
Sculptris (alpha aka 1.02) was developed by Tomas Pettersson and will be further developed by Pixologic: “Sculptris has captured the hearts of artists with its fun, intuitive and user-friendly interface - indeed a perfectly sweet companion to our big monster ZBrush! Tomas will be moving to California, from Sweden, to join our team. It is our pleasure to welcome Tomas and we look forward to a fruitful collaboration on future Pixologic projects [...] Pixologic would also like to give you a little appetizer ‘goodie’, an Alpha version of Sculptris for Windows - a unique, very ‘cool’ artistic modeling application still in raw baby stage and now incubating at Pixologic HQ. The current version, formerly known as Sculptris 1.02, will be renamed under Pixologic banner as Sculptris Alpha 5.” (A Gift From Pixologic, 07-23-10, retrieved nov. 18 2010.
Sculptris is based on dynamic tessellation. The word tessellation initially referred splitting (or tiling) a plane into patterns that fill the plane with neither overlaps nor gaps. This concept also can be applied to 3D and tessellation refers to creating a 3D mesh structure made of triangles. See the tour 3D for some pictures.
Often, real-time 3D models by default have a low triangle count in order to gain performance. However, low-triangle count models look quite coarse. Some programs then can subdivide the model into a multiple of triangles in order to give these models a smoother look. The opposite is also true. Models can be made simpler in order to gain performance. Models that are defined by abstract mathematical functions are yet a different case. In order to be rendered by a 3D graphics program, these abstract models can be "triangulated".
Dynamically creating a mesh or adding/removing triangles to/from a mesh is called dynamic tessellation. Sculptris does dynamic localized tessellation, i.e. tessellates the wireframe mesh only where it is needed. Various tessellation algorithms are at work depending on the brush tool and its options.
Before you start
- Print out a good cheat sheet
- We recommend this Sculptris Cheat cheat. (author unknown)
- Basis are *.obj files
With Sculptris you start by working on a simple ball or a plane, but you could import any *.obj file. Make sure that the obj model is centered. You can import more than one model and reposition/rotate these.
Sculptris (as of 2010/early 2011) is alpha software. Therefore save frequently ! !!
By default all operations are symmetrical, i.e. if you pull out something to the "left" it will also pull out to the "right".
You can turn "Symmetry" off if you like. When you turn it on, the object will be symmetrical again.
When you import an *.obj file, symmetry may be off, therefore turn it on if you work on structures like a human.
- Brushes and tessellation
- You can set the "Brush/Tool" Size and Strength with the rules on top middle.
- However, these don't define how many new triangles will be created when you draw, inflate, grab. etc. This is done with the Detail [Q] slider. For starters keep in the middle. When it is to the left (0), Sculptris will not add any new triangles.
- mouse-middle to orbit around the object, i.e. rotate it to look at it from a different angle. (So this won't rotate the coordinates of the object, just your view).
- mouse wheel to zoom in/out and (if necessary)
- Shift-middle-mouse or ctrl-alt mouse to pan (move it left/right or up/down).
- Wireframe and triangles
- Click on wireframe to see the structure (at least when you feel that Sculptris has trouble or is getting slow). Reduce triangles with Reduced selected tool or the Reduce brush if the program starts being being slow (see also below).
Basic modeling procedure
(1) Define the very rough shape of the object
- Use the Grab [G] tool for the very rough work, set the brush size and pull out. Make sure to untick Global and Limit.
(2) Use the Grab tool with limit ticked in order to modify things that stick out.
(3) Use the other various sculpting tools to define the rough shape. E.g. for modelling the face, you mostly would use the draw tool.
Sculptris for Rapman/RepRap modeling
Sculptris is an interesting tool for modeling objects that then can be printer with low-cost fabbers like the RapMan. Sculptris imports/exports *.obj files. With Meshlab they can easily be translated to *.STL if needed. Skeinforge does import *.obj but I never tried.
Here is a rough outline of the workflow
- Start either the default globe or with an object that has more or less a flat bottom. If the object is very low poly, subdivide first using the subdivide all tool for example.
- If you want to speed up g-code generation, reduce the meshes after you are done sculpting.
- Translate to STL, e.g. with Meshlab
- Position and repair with Netfabb
- Translate to g-code and print
Presentation of the sculpt tools
General drawing options
Positive vs. negative effect
- Depending if you select a tool with the left or the right mouse button you either produce a default/positive effect or an inverse/negative effect. E.g. with the draw tool, you either either add volume or carve out volume.
Detail (number of polygons)
- With the detail slider you can control how many triangles the the brush will add. If you set it to zero, none will be added.
- You periodically you should reduce unneeded polygons. The easiest method to do so, is to press several times Reduce selected. Alternatively, the Reduce brush will optimize areas that you brush over. Drag it from rougher to complex areas !
- Always or sometimes put wireframe [W] on in order to control details
- Sets the size of the brush.
- Sets the strength of the effect. For rough modeling you probably want this at least at 50%.
The draw brush
The Draw brush is the most important brush once you have the very structure. Unlike other tools you can use it a few times over the same spot. This is not recommended for the inflate tool.
- Clay: Recommended to paint layers upon layers (like you would do with clay)
- Soft: Produces more rounded edges
Is quite opposite of draw, i.e. you can "dig" into the mesh.
This tool has several purposes:
- It is used to reduce areas. Use low to medium strength
- Is also can be used to make areas more regular.
- Lock plane will sample the orientation at first contact and then create a flat surface around that has the same orientation. This also means that with this option on, this brush can add materials
- Angle falloff: Tries to keep near-by planes more intact. I.e. when you flatten a plane, it will not flatten bumps nearby.
Will sharpen an existing corner, i.e. one that you created with a combination of draw and flatten
Allows to smooth surface and edges. In some ways, it can be considered as an alternative to flatten and an opposite of pinch
Inflate is somehow an alternative to the draw tool. Make sure to use it slowly. This tool can both be used on surfaces, edges, tentacles.
- Pull something out (creating new triangles)
- Create overhangs
Note: If you want to pull out a lot of volume, do not use this tool, use grab instead.
By default (options off), drag will drag the selected area (brush size) in a given direction. This is most radical tool for creating tentacles and similar shapes. Once you created a tentacle, the use inflate to make it thicker.
- Limit: Works like the default grab, but the result is much less radical. Allows to drag the selected area into a direction. E.g. you may pull up the corners of a mouth made with draw in order to have your character smile.
- Global: If global is on then you can move around separate objects in your scene. You can have separate objects when you load in *.obj models. If you want two balls, then turn symmetry off, move the ball to the right and then turn symmetry on again.
Can adjust proportions of selected areas (smaller or bigger)
- XYZ: changes sizes proportionally
- Global: can change the size of an entire object
Allows to rotate an area. First provides a starting point and an angle. Once you move out of the circle you then can rotate.
- Global: will rotate a whole object
You can identify an area that defines an untouchable area. Select the mask tool and press the control button.
To undo masking, select the mask, click on Invert and brush.
Use ctrl-F to fill the whole object and space to clear.
- Version 1.02 aka Alpha 5
- Pixologic announcement (link is at the end)
- direct link
- Download at Sculptris.com (this site will probably go away).
Tutorials and Manuals
- Sculptris Cheat cheat. Nice cheat sheet that includes all the shortcuts (nov. 2010).
- Propaganda videos
- Training videos
- Good training videos are not too easy to find.
- Sculptris sculpting primer Part 1 by 3dioot (the person who made the PDF cheat sheet]. (45 min)
- Sculptris sculpting primer Part 2 by 3dioot (the person who made the PDF cheat sheet]. (1h26 min)
- Others (but these are too fast for beginners)
- From Concept to creature a Sculptris tutorial, howto
- Sculpting me in Sculptris pt4, howto
- Head modeling in Sculptris
- tuto sculptris part 1
- tuto sculptris part 2
- ... lots of others
- Specialized stuff
- the hideous - character workflow
- retopo in blender 2.5
- Repairing Simple Non-manifold meshes with Blender (this is of general usefulness, Such happen a lot with CAD programs when you position two objects just next to each other instead of overlapping).
- Base models
- Three simple (not so good) models can be found in the models folder of Sculptris
- Default Model sharing Forum thread on ZBrush Central > Sculptris