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Uncategorized – daveleack.com

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Back into Sculpting

I’ve been away for some time. Daveleack.com went offline for a while. I just wasn’t doing enough interesting things to write about, which is a bit of a shame.

Recently, I picked up sculpting again though. The current quest is to sculpt people that I agree with, morally, politically etc. They may be people I admire, or I might just like the cut of their jib, but in any case if I ever sculpt someone I don’t agree with, I’ll be sure to mark it up as such.

Here’s the first one, from Friday night, my attempt at Yanis Varoufakis (https://yanisvaroufakis.eu). Yanis has a lot to say about the EU, and economics. I seem to agree with everything he says during his talks, which is a little unnerving, but probably understandable given where I’m coming from generally. It was a delight to sculpt, really enjoyed it.

View post on imgur.com

The second, and highly related (as they have been on the same platform a number of times) was former Channel 4 Economics Editor, now freelance journalist, and author, Paul Mason. I’m not 100% sure this came out as well as I’d hoped it would, but I’m pretty pleased with it nonetheless. The lighting is shocking though. I’m not great at lighting. Or hair for that matter. Or ears…

Oh well, here it is 😀

View post on imgur.com

On Saturday night, I watched The Internet’s Own Boy, a documentary about the life of Aaron Swartz. I couldn’t do justice to all the amazing things Aaron achieved in this text, so I won’t even try, but do go and watch that documentary, and read up on him, because he was one of the finest minds of our recent years and everyone should be aware of him.

On that note, here’s my attempt at Aaron Swartz (and holy hell, hair is hard, or did I say that already):

View post on imgur.com

There’s a fourth, from last night, but I’m not quite ready to post it. Needs some hair detail and other tweaks, but I’m reasonably happy with it. I’ll update this tonight.

Edit: Found a moment to finish the few details I *knew* were missing. I’m still not convinced it’s a good likeness, but it’ll do for now 😉

Cory Doctorow

View post on imgur.com

That’s all for now!


I’ve uploaded them all to Sketchfab.

by dazirius
on Sketchfab

Link to profile:https://sketchfab.com/dazirius

The 3D Printing Update

I’ve had some opportunities to tool around with an Ultimaker 2. Considering that I’ve been dreaming about seeing how my sculpts might look built from stuff instead of bits, this is pretty exciting for me.

So, without further ado and (I think) in chronological order:

1. Printing Bad

Love that expression :D Normal quality on the left, low on the right
Love that expression 😀
Normal quality on the left, low on the right

2. The Great Old One

When the supports fail, the Old Ones show themselves...
When the supports fail, the Old Ones show themselves…

3. Ain’t got no ABS

ABS print here. Nozzle popped a support off. Print aborted *sigh*
ABS print here. Nozzle popped a support off. Print aborted *sigh*

4. Who Needs Hands?

More PLA on this one. Wonky supports gave this poor guy some issues with his wrists.
More PLA on this one. Wonky supports gave this poor guy some issues with his wrists.

5. PLA Punk

Custom support structure under the chin left this one with a permanent beard, unfortunately.
Custom support structure under the chin left this one with a permanent beard, unfortunately.

6. Legen-Dairy! (Very tenuous PLA reference)

I think this was at normal layer height which is disappointing as it looks very rough indeed. May well be just too small for the model. Bigger NPH coming soon!
I think this was at normal layer height which is disappointing as it looks very rough indeed. May well be just too small for the model. Bigger NPH coming soon!

And finally, with a little help from blu-tac and the twisted imagination of my missus;

7. Menagerie

*le sigh*
*le sigh*


On Friday of last week, mostly drawn in by the lovely art style and one review that said it had a phenomenal soundtrack, I purchased a copy of SuperGiant Games’ Transistor.

I had no time to play it on Friday, but got up on Saturday morning and within a few minutes I was completely hooked. I took a few little breaks to fetch coffee and suchlike and on one of those occasions I posted on G+ about my new found favourite thing. In that post I stated that

“I reckon I’ll only stop [playing Transistor] when I get the overwhelming urge to attempt Blender made Transistor fan-art.”

Well. I stopped playing it eventually, because I’d completed it. I thoroughly enjoyed every minute of it, and true(ish) to my word I set about attempting Blender made Transistor fan-art, some instances of which you’ll find below.

Enjoy 😀

Ps. Go buy Transistor. It’s very, very good. (http://supergiantgames.com/index.php/transistor/)


Transistor - Cycles
Transistor – Cycles
Red - Cycles, Single Material
Red – Cycles, Single Material
Red - Cycles, Two Materials
Red – Cycles, Two Materials
Red - Decimated then rendered with BI and Freestyle
Red – Decimated then rendered with BI and Freestyle

This sculpture will be legen… wait for it…

Last night I decided I’d return to trying to do portrait sculpts.
This was partly in response to attending the SculptCookie hangout where Jonathan Williamson discussed sculpted portraiture while actually doing one, which yielded some great tips (Inverting the crease brush? Why would I… wait a second… HOLY SHIT!) and was very enjoyable indeed.

As I mentioned in the previous post, I’ve been off the sculpting for a while. Getting back into it, I found that I’d (at least temporarily) lost some of the instinct that I’m fairly sure I used to have with respect to form and tool selection. This scared the crap out of me because I’ve done some fairly decent work in the past and all of a sudden, I couldn’t actually do it.

After attending the aforementioned hangout, I tried again and persevered and I think it’s coming back to me, albeit slowly.

“Attending” for me meant that I had the video window open on the smaller of my two screens while I played with sculpting in the larger. The outcome of that process is shown below.

Done during the SculptCookie hangout
Done during the SculptCookie hangout

From there I had a couple more goes, improving each time I think.

Done in 20 minutes on Friday night
Done in 20 minutes on Friday night
Further work on the previous image
Further work on the previous model

So that takes me up to last night when I decided portraits of actual people are what I want to be doing.
I didn’t have to think very hard to come up with a subject.
Required characteristics:
male (easier than the alternative)
short hair (bloody hate doing hair)
recognisable face shape
generally awesome

The missus was watching Serenity at the time which got me thinking along Whedon lines and for the last couple of years Halloween has been easy to cope with thanks to my labcoat, welding goggles white leather gloves and abattoir boots… there can be only one choice.
So here it is, my Neil Patrick Harris sculpture (mostly done, but the hair does suck).

More Barney than Billy, mostly due to the reference image I used
More Barney than Billy, mostly due to the reference image I used

I’m looking into (with the help of some G+ pals) other materials to use for presentation, but this is literally just “dirty vertex colours” (Barney would approve…) actually shot in vert paint mode I think.

More to come I think as I get back into this pursuit.


The Equine Update

Long time no… post.
I’ve been off the old G+ for about three weeks now I guess.
Actually, I just checked and my last CG/Blender related post was April 13th so, yeah, about three weeks.

The primary reason is that circumstances conspired to make me get off my arse and actually finish a project.

Some time ago, the missus and I started working on an avatar for Second Life. We’d done dozens of different avatars before but this one was a bit special (not that the others weren’t special, but you know what I mean).

First, a bit of background. For those not in the know, I am the one they call Snow Cone in Second Life (henceforth SL). I’ve been pootling around in that particular cesspool environment for what seems like forever. It’s a lot of fun at times, and curiously useful for bashing out functional prototypes of actual real world systems which I find delightful.
There’s loads wrong with it. It’s constraining in ways that make no sense, the scripting language is hacky and held together with bits of string and rubber bands, it only recently(ish) started supporting arbitrary mesh upload, and it only *very* recently started supporting normal/bump maps.

Thinking back, aside from the odds and ends I’d used it for previously, I only really got serious about using Blender because of the implications of arbitrary mesh in SL.
Prior to mesh uploads, everything was either built from some variation on a primitive (sphere, cube, cone etc.) or used a seriously hacky (albeit quite elegant really when you think about it) method of making detailed convex hulls from a sphere and a displacement map (x,y,z mapped to r,g,b for those that care).
With the advent of mesh uploads, suddenly everything was new and shiny again. The giant cocks of old, knobbly and rudimentary with their cylinder/cut sphere construction, would become the normal mapped wang meshes of the future (SL is very much like that, not my particular region of it, but step outside your own known area and it’ll be roughly 3.28 seconds before you see a phallus of some persuasion).

Ahem. Anyway, my missus is a fantastically artistic lass, and she has a lot of talent when it comes to crafting, painting, making all sorts of pretty things. She’s also very much a horse fan. These things came together in the form of Hoof It Horses, our SL store for all sorts of things horse related. We have rideable horses, wearable horse avatars, rideable wearable horse avatars (thanks to SL’s vehicle system, another hack, but there it is) and a bunch of other stuff ranging from the deliciously fantastical centaur and hippocampus avatars and rideable eqwyrms (dragonhorses = awesome!), through to the more mundane but equally high quality clothing items, accessories and tools.

Advert over, and in case anyone’s keeping score, the hippocampus avatar was a mesh build using Blender, but was a little easier than the horse for various reasons I won’t go into here.

So SL introduces mesh uploads and after a while, we start looking at how to make a rigged mesh avatar, specifically a horse.
I’m effectively the tech support in this partnership, so the way it tends to work is that I learn the tools, then help the missus to use them. She applies her talent and I support with clever where required. In this case though, I think I went a bit overboard. I don’t know everything there is to know about Blender, but I know a hell of a lot more than I needed to to get this project done. Whoops 😉

Back to the past three weeks. With Fantasy Faire coming up, it seemed like a perfect time to get finished on this project if we could. There was a lot to do though. Lots and lots and lots. In fact, technically, we didn’t get everything we wanted done, but we got enough done to release a very fine product and the rest will be along very shortly for the official full release. If you haven’t guessed yet (are you even paying attention?) the last three weeks were spent in crush mode to hit the target of getting something out for Fantasy Faire.

It feels awesome to have achieved what we did. It’s a really cool product. I’m actually not particularly into horses but I haven’t put a humanoid avatar on in SL since we got close to finishing this one. It’s *that* good 😉

I’ve got these few loose ends to tie up, and a product to bring to full release, but thereafter I’ll be back to post more sculpting and general Blender related goodness.

In the mean time, TAKE A LOOK AT WHAT WE MADE!
































And Yet More Sculpting

Sculpting continues apace.
Actually, something happened the other night that altered my trajectory a little bit.
I was looking at a rather delightful painting which I thought looked like a still from Monkey Island, La Forge at Marly le Roi by Alfred Sisley (http://www.wikipaintings.org/en/alfred-sisley/forge-at-marly-le-roi-1875).
I can’t remember exactly which image I ended up looking at after that one, but I was on wikipedia admiring a painting, and noticed that in the data block near the bottom of the page there was the name of the gallery in which it is currently hanging.
Furthermore, there was a listing of the latitude and longitude of the gallery, and a google maps link. Following the google maps link, I attempted to streetview outside the gallery (it did look like a pretty impressive building, and I wanted a better look) but instead, the streetview opened up inside the gallery!

Well, I spent ages wandering about the Musee d’Orsay and had a bloody great time (aside from some minor annoyances built into the google maps PC interface) and viewed some phenomenal sculptures.

One in particular caught my eye due to the slightly peculiar pose of the subject. That piece was Alexandre Schoenewerk’s La Jeune Tarentine (http://fr.wikipedia.org/wiki/La_Jeune_Tarentine).

So I had a shot at recreating it. Well, I had a shot at doing a low detail version. The reason for the low detail was that I’d just snagged a recent build of Blender and found that it had the new “constant detail” dyntopo mode built in. This means that the size of faces created by dyntopo is decoupled from the zoom level you’re at and specified as a percentage of a Blender Unit instead. I love this, and it makes getting a uniform detail level across a whole model an absolute cinch.

The skin modifier model I started with and some initial renders:


tarentineFirstRough tarentineThirdRough tarantineSecondRough

After fiddling with the model a bit more I had a play with a translucent material and a cloth sim and composed the following scene:


I was quite pleased with that one, although it still needs a lot of detail adding to the figure (like a face for example).

Fast forward to last night when I had a bit of a bright idea. I was wondering what I could practice sculpting that felt like it had a dynamic quality to it, some movement to the pose (regardless of it being a still) and I thought of ballet dancers.

A quick google image search later and I was sketching out another model in the same sort of way.

Another skin modifier model and set of initial renders:

ballerinaskin ballerina ballerina2

And once I’d got that model looking the way I wanted it I started playing with high gloss materials and came up with this:


Which, again, I was pretty pleased with.

So all in all, I absolutely love the new constant detail mode, and I’m enjoying sculpting more than ever.

(Credit to the missus for saying “why don’t you do some full bodies rather than just heads?”)




Mr. Potato Head

A good few months ago I was struggling with the task of sculpting some of the more wiggly bits that people have; ears, fingers, toes, hair etc.
Each of these things are fairly easy to do in isolation, for example sculpting an ear without having the side of the head getting in the way wouldn’t be too tricky, but pulling those parts out of the main head or body object was proving to be an absolute nightmare.

At the time, lovely Mrs. Dave said something like “Can’t you sculpt them separately then stick them together?” and I thought about it briefly and said “Would be nice if you could, but stitching two sculpted objects together would be a pain in the ass.”

Fast forward to last night and I’d been thinking about it again. I sculpted two arbitrary forms and attempted to join them together. First I used circle select to select and delete a similar patch from each object. Next I attempted to alt-right click each edge loop, trying to select the vertices around the hole I’d made in each object. The trick to this was finding out which bits of broken topology halted the edge loop, healing those sections by removing edges, then trying again. Once I’d got them both selecting in a single loop, I tried using the bridge edge loops function to join them together.

This kind of worked OK, but I did have a bit of a job getting the edge counts the same to make it work nicely.

Then I had a bit of an epiphany. The only reason I’d warned myself off using boolean modifiers is that they tend to bugger up the topology of your model. But given that I’m using dyntopo, it hardly matters!

This is great! I can sculpt loads of different face/body parts and then piece them together, boolean union them, then clean up the seams in sculpt mode!


“To the face mines!”

First attempt at using the above technique (still WIP):


I can’t stop sculpting… I guess I don’t really want to…

I’m a bit cross with myself because there’s plenty of other stuff I *should* be doing, but I can’t stop sculpting.
I fire up Blender. I see the cube. I think about vert modeling a bike, or a robot, or a building.
Then I switch to sculpt mode, turn on dynamic, and grab my stylus (ooh er…).

It’s a bit of an odd feeling. I can remember that I’ve made some decent stuff without sculpting. I can remember that there was a point when I didn’t have a stylus and barely sculpted at all, but for the life of me I can’t get “back there” and force myself to do something else.

I did try. I went looking for inspiration, but I didn’t get very far. I actually ended up back on Doris Fiebig’s site, so while there was more than enough inspiration there, it was all very… sculpty 😉

I can’t help but feel that I’m not ready to stop sculpting yet. I’ve done very few retopologies since I started this recent sculpting session (about two months now I suspect), partly because it’s dull as ditchwater, and partly because I don’t seem to be able to work in multi-res with quite the same flexibility as I can in dyntopo. “But what about texturing?” I hear you cry. Simples. I don’t care 😀 All through this, I’ve been saying to myself “If I can eventually produce fine sculpture, with all the right bumps and grooves in all the right places, it won’t *need* a texture, and if I ever specifically want to texture it, I’ll retopo it at that point, but not now.”

So there it is. I’ve carried on regardless. I may be damned to sculpting for the foreseeable future, but it’s an enjoyable damnation indeed, the most recent results of which follow.

Ps. Dynamic topology is lovely. I hear there’s some work being done to add a “detail flood fill” option. I can’t wait. It’d be super great also if you could crank the detail up and down and have it show you (non-destructively) what the model looks like detail filled at each level.

Jammy that the displace map made a nice base for the diffuse
Jammy that the displace map made a nice base for the diffuse
Wrinkles and pores (although hard to see) added
Wrinkles and pores (although hard to see) added
Make it so-and-so...
Make it so-and-so…
I think green is his colour
I think green is his colour
Female reclining
Naff hairdo, and composed out the hands and feet, but otherwise happy with this I think.

The Second Sculpting Update

Since the last sculpting update I’ve been practicing quite a bit, at one point almost two hours a night, and I’m not sick of it yet! Hooray!
I feel that the bit of learning/work I did on skin shading was a little premature so I’m going to keep it NPR as much as possible for the time being, looking for merit in just the form or an appropriate stylistic shading technique other than photo-texture semi-realistic stuff.

Looking back on that last paragraph it sounds a bit pretentious. How about this: I can’t do skin yet, so I ain’t gonna 😉

So here we go, some of my more recent sculptitudes:

Old geezer - sad about his rubbish ears
Old geezer – sad about his rubbish ears
1992 was so long ago...
1992 was so long ago…
About as angry as it needed to be, and no more
About as angry as it needed to be, and no more
How many fingers am I holding up Smith?
How many fingers am I holding up Smith?
I suppose there's five
I suppose five, what does it matter?
Probably needs a hat
Probably needs a hat

Yaaaaaaaaaaawn :D

Taking what I remembered from the video I was watching last night, I tried to set up some tri-layer SSS on my yawning man model.

It may not look like it, but I did spend a while tweaking this. I like the shadows, but if I could muster the enthusiasm to go back and fix the backscatter so it wasn’t so strong, I probably would.

Yawning again while uploading this...
Yawning again while uploading this…