Skin and Wrinkles in Zbrush

General / 29 January 2020

On Black Friday I purchased the Creatures and the Skin kit on the Flipped Normals Marketplace. They had a great sale on and it looked very useful for speeding up some workflows in Zbrush.  Like allot purchases that sit idle on my Hard Drive I decided to make a quick sculpt and test out the kit while it was fresh in my memory.  I might have gone overboard with the wrinkles but this was my sandbox mess around time.

The skin kit is great for adding those high frequency details that help give the model some more realism and it's made pretty straight forward having these alphas loaded into Zbrush via Spotlight.

 The Creature kit on the other hand consists of meshes and insert brushes for ears and other important landmarks. They are pretty specific and wide ranging but I was able to use the ears and mouth and eye sockets as starters in this session. The kit also includes a bunch of Subtool base meshes in a single Ztool consisting of different animals humanoids and even eyeballs from a few different species.  I was able to use a  generic human bust in this case.  Overall I think if you were in a pinch these kits could do wonders for getting some meshes in front of clients eyes way faster than starting from scratch.  I will have to take some time to comb through these kits a few more times to see what I can use as a jumping off point in the future.  

Keyshot 9 render with Photoshop paint over. Maybe this is what I'd look like if I were born in another part of the universe.

Really like the turn table renders in Blender EEVEE Using Flipped Normals lighting Kit.  Just wish I finished the back side of the head more but this a blog post so its ment to be unfinished works.

Blender EEVEE render same as above.

Keyshot 9 RAW Renders kinda looks scary but reminds me of the Boglin toy I had when I was a kid.  Boglin's were cool back in the good ole days.  

Playing Around with Gravity Sketch VR

General / 05 January 2020

Built this Scene in VR using Gravity Sketch just to play around and see what I could come up with.  Latest SUB D modeling features are a really cool addition.  Exciting to see how these tools are evolving.

Zbrush Character WIP

Work In Progress / 05 January 2020

A work in progress Render of a ZBrush Character I have been working on.  Most parts are just Blocked in placeholders  for now.

I challenged myself to do the whole figure and not just the head and Torso.  I have so far avoided jumping to details which can be hard to resist in Zbrush.

 I used the Extract plug in allot to make some of the body panels in his suit. The plug is well worth the money  Saved me allot of time.  Some parts I had to model in Blender for a quick base while others I could extract from the first pass sculpt using the mentioned plug also  used Zmodeler brush as well.

Color concept I did last year. trying to go for a Judge dread meets Fifth Element Vibe. A combination of scary and goofy. Probably more scary if you saw these guys in a dark corridor with a few of there light parts and eyes glowing.

iPad Pro Plein air sketches 2019

General / 16 July 2019

Here are some more iPad Pro sketches done on a  recent camping trip.  

Painting Plein Air in Watercolor and Gouache

General / 14 July 2019

I Decided to make more of an effort this year on our annual camping trip to bust out the Water colors and Gouache paints and do some sketching out in the open. Killarney Park in Norther Ontario Canada is just the spot for that.  A park made famous by the Canadian group of seven Painters responsible in helping create the park to protect it from being destroyed by logging like much of the surrounding area.  The first sketch is actually done at A.Y Jackson lake. Named after the famous painter and member of the group of seven.  While the first painting is water color the rest are mostly Gouache which is a more opaque form of water based paint made popular by the classic illustrators in the  60`s and 70`s pre acrylics era.  I often shy away from Gouache and used it in the past just to touch up mistakes in my water colors or as a final pass to add details.  This year I decide to go all in and see what Gouache could do and I was delighted to discover that it has many great qualities. It is very easy to travel with and unlike water color It is very forgiving . Much like oils it is Opaque and blends well. Various textures can be built up since It dries almost instantly in the hot weather. I feel like I only scratched the surface so far and look forward to see what More I can learn about this  interesting travel friendly painting medium.

I took a photo of this scene and finished the figure back at the campsite.  I don`t think my partner could sit still through this whole session. 

With gouache you can just reactivate the paint with some water and refine the details a bit more right on the page. Very handy.




This is my Guerrilla painter Thumbox 6x8. My lovely partner bought me this one year for my birthday and she often commented that I never used it much. I think this box is great for what I am doing here and I am happy to be putting it good use at last.

 Check them out they are neat little boxes and this one can hold allot of what I need. I just use some extra palettes and rubber band to hold them In place. I am alway looking for ways to better organize the setup. With painting out doors you need to be prepared and organized. Ready to go at the drop of a hat. When It all clicks into place it's magic and when things go sideways it is really tuff hanging in there to finish the job.  Bad weather, hot sun, gusts of wind and rain you name it.  One day I actually tipped my chair and I fell off the ledge while I was painting. Lucky for me I landed on my feet several meters down with the box in my hand. Phew. It all adds to the character of the painting I guess.   Always fun to have stories to go along with each painting.  Then there was the time when my brand new painting umbrella caught a gust of wind and flow over the electric fence on a farm field full of approaching cows. Im sure I could go on and on.

This is my Painting setup when I am using  Water Color.  Gouache is much the same just minus my little blue Windsor & Newton field box.

 I later added some Gouache to this painting if I can remember correct. 

  This is my Gouache only session notice to the right a huge packable water basin. Gouache tend to dirty the water fast specially with white pigments so it helps to have a allot of water to clean the brush. We had this folding packable basin in our camping kit but for more urban setting maybe a large jar will do the trick or a collapsable watercolor style one.  Not an issue here though with all the water available on the shore.  refills are a plenty.

Kirby the Wizard- work in progress

General / 29 April 2019

Just Over a year ago I purchased a Tutorial by Eytan Zana called advanced Techniques

At the time I was new to 3D and super excited by the workflow he presented here.   However after much frustration with 3D in general  I decided to take what I could learn and move on while I study more about 3D.   Recently I came across the tutorial in my library and though it might be fun to revisit. These days I am using a combination of Blender,  Zbrush  and Octane render.  While Eytan used Modo if want you can use another 3D package instead.

I recently did a sketch of a wizard based on my dog Kirby. Thought it would be nice to explore this idea  some more so why not smash the two concepts together and see what happens?

As excited as I am to jump into 3D I force myself to do some quick studies first.  This being a personal project my thumbnails can be extra ruff and ugly.

I decide on one version enlarge it  and sketch in a little more detail. I try to follow these steps more often these days because 3D can often be distracting and it can be helpful to refer back to the  sketch as a snapshot of  your original intentions should you get lost in endless tweaking later on.

After this I take a break from drawing to  make a quick Maquette  of my wizard.  Like I mentioned in my previous post on VR sculpting I like using SculptrVR  for PS4 (it's all I have at the moment)  It`s not really cut out for detailed work but its super fun to use and fast.  In 25 minutes I came up with a blocked out face, hood and cloak.  ready to fire over to Zbrush.

After that I do some more work in Zbrush .  I sculpt Just enough detail  to help out with lighting and proportions. Nothing fancy here.

This is a quick render of the 3D assets setup in Blender ready to go over to Octane Standalone.  Materials are only placeholders at this point.

Here is my final render out of Octane ready for paintover after I have added all the textures and other Octane render goodies. Displacement maps and a few 3d rocks and trees and  some volumetrics.  A light source that casts foliage shadows as well .   Anything that helps the mood.

The final Photoshop Painting with some post processing.  

VR sculpting for Ship ideation using SculptrVR on PSVR.

General / 05 April 2019

SculptrVR is a PSVR app that is cheap to buy and simple to use. Although it can`t compete with some of the more complex pro level apps for PC based headsets I decided to give it a go and see what I could come up with. I also only have PSVR at the moment which lucky for me was given to me by a friend. So I am motivated to see what it can do.

Below are the ships exported from the PS4 via USB stick and rendered in Octane render with a simple material assigned to highlight some edges and add a bit of noise for texture . Unfortunately the exports from SculptrVR are pretty ruff and ugly but totally suitable to sketch over top of and create new ideas quickly. Each one took 15-20 miniutes to complete.

Once I had all my renders completed I moved into Photoshop converted them to grey scale and started drawing over top.  At first I went for a clean line approach and really failed hard.  In the end keeping it rough and sketchy got me where I wanted to be in around 20-40 mins each I felt that this was the smartest way to work.  In the end I went back and threw in some quick backdrops to make them more presentable. This was more of a test to see how many ships I could come up with quickly so they are pretty sketchy.


In the middle of doing these concepts I also developed one ship design into a final color concept. Perhaps this one might go on to become a 3D modelling project in Blender at a later date.

To conclude if you have a PSVR Headset and motion controllers I say check out SculptrVR it is amazing for the price.  It`s so simple and fun to use.   I am Very excited  that VR is becoming more affordable and mainstream.  Exciting times to be a creative person.

Troll sketches

General / 24 January 2019

Had the urge the other night to design some trolls heads. Wanted to See what variations I could come up with just as an exercise in itself.  I did these along with another piece I just created called Quiet place. I will link to it below.

The Last City work process

General / 18 January 2019

I like to start with some really loose sketches just to force myself to come up variations even if I know I am committed to the very first sketch.   Some times a better design comes along if you just sketch away.


From here I did two more studies just to mess around a bit. a little over the top with all the brush work  but It`s a personal project so I allowed myself all the sandbox time I need.   I think I was procrastinating a little to be honest. 


This is where the real fun starts for me.  I am still pretty new to Blender so I am trying to make each personal project  a chance to learn more about 3D workflows.  I built the tower  using  group instances to make the repeating tower sections very quickly and used some Mirror modifiers for the bottom parts. quick and dirty.

The foreground buildings are from the Free Kit Bash3D  Warzone sample pack.  The crowds gave me a chance to use Blender Particles for the first time. Amazing what you can do with particles really.

Here are my Render passes ready for Photoshop. The ID pass looks funky but comes in handy when making layers in Photoshop.


AO Pass

Shadow Pass

This is when I add in the environment  and atmosphere. It would have been fun to do that in 3D but for now its much faster for me to just paint it in 2D.  Overall I decided to go with a more natural palette to make the tower city look more wonderland like.  Maybe a scene like this would tend to be less colorful and more tonal but not this time.

iPAD Pro Plein air sketches 2018

General / 15 January 2019

Last summer  while on a camping trip I decided  to attempt  some paintings on my iPad Pro to see how close I could mimic sketching in Oils. Much to my surprise it was actually  really fun.  While it can never replace real oil painting there are allot of benefits to working in Digital. In this case I was using the Procreate App and the iPad Pro which I bring with me on most trips anyways regardless of wether I plan to draw or paint.  With no mess you are free to make adjustments with the changing light and save older versions in layers. I found not setting up in the direct sun helped allot with viewing the screen and for longer trips off grid a portable battery pack helped top up the battery after sessions. 

The Last Sketch was done over the Winter holidays while up north at a cabin we rent ( in doors of course do to the cold.) This one was about 15- 20  mins max since the light was changing very very fast.