Blender EEVEE Realtime Forest setup

General / 11 June 2020

I decided to build a Blender file using some forest assets I have kicking around on my hard drive.  In the future I can open this file as a quick way to copy paste these assets into a new project.  Some times I completely forget I have assets on my hard drive  that I have never assembled or used so by making some  Blender files to have at the ready with assets ready to go is a great way to save time and work smarter.  So far other Projects I have are Rocks and some procedural landscapes.  Also this way I can weed out bad or error prone assets that might mess things up when I just want to work fast and build a scene.  For example In the past I have used some trees in Blender and they made a mess and bogged down my project but I know these chosen assets are tested and good to go.  I even made an image plane with a bushes alpha texture which casts tree shadows on the ground.  I decided not to use any displacement to keep things lite on computer but the results look decent and I could plug those in later should I need that level of detail.

I had no plans to show this project but once I started messing around with the Blender Physical lighting plugin I was surprised that the results looked good and why not share a video.  If anyone is interested in that plug in there is a link in the description of the Video.  

3D characters practice and Clay shaders

General / 02 June 2020

Recently purchased Jama Jurabaev's Clay shaders pack.  

It's great to have these shaders for adding a bit of magic to your rough 3D ideas quickly.

 I made this character and k9 sidekick in VR using Gravity sketch. Rendered in Keyshot for Zbrush.

Here is a little VR action.  I was using mostly KitBash 3D "Drone pack" for parts to build with.  I find Kitbashing in VR to be a real area of interest. Vert easy to grab and position objects in a VR space.  really great for making quick 3D concepts.  I keep a few packs loaded into the program. They can causes crashes some times since they can be high poly counts so you have to be careful but boy is it ever fun.  VR and kit bashing are a match made in heaven.  More details can always be added later in Zbrush or Blender.

Here is another character work in progress Clay render.

Here is a clip of the live viewport in keyshot for zbrush.  Really impressive what this program can do.


Film studies and Digital Painting practice.

General / 06 May 2020

It goes without saying that these are stressful times so I decided to create a low stress exercises to keep me creating, focused and positive.   Finding inspiring film shots to study has never been easier.  Recently I came across a site called Shot Deck.  I could write on and on about just how amazing this site is but honestly go check it out for yourself.  Although many of these frames were taken from google or a streaming services like netflix I will now being using Shot deck to gather source material.  

This is an easy exercise to get started just pick a shot from a film you love and ask yourself what draws you to this compelling image?  Is it the strained look in the characters eyes? Or the cinematic atmosphere of the scene in general.  I know in Blade Runner the wet skin and the Neon lights were interesting effects to translate into brushwork as well as the heavy use  of rain and fog layers that add depth in the background.   In the Prestige the lighting both natural and stage lighting and the golden tones found in the set details.  It's a great chance to really look deep into these frames that often flash by eyeballs but were some carefully crafted.  Maybe even listen to the sound track of the film you are studying.   most important note of all just have fun and Enjoy!


The Prestige











Youtube Channel posts

General / 10 April 2020

Sharing some of my works in progress learning 3D on Youtube warts and all.

Check it out if your interested.

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.

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.