Author Archives: asladky

Chair Update: Textures Part 1

Was not looking forward to this. Had a busy week, but even without the legitimate excuses to not be texturing, I’m sure I wouldn’t have gotten much farther than this because I haven’t found that wonderful, magical point where texturing stops being a chore that I know I’m going to have to keep suffering through and starts being a fun time when the thing I’m making actually starts looking like the thing I’m referencing. Until I manage to get out of this valley of texturing inability and disgust, I know I’m going to keep finding all the games I can play highlighting things on my desktop more appealing than just getting to work.

Okay, self-deprecation done? Good. Here’s where I got this week:


chair_textures_20131019Okay, so the Static Mesh Editor remains a terrible venue for screenshotting your assets. Glad to see that hasn’t changed since the last time I was at this point on a project. Sometime when my calendar isn’t derisively asking me if I’ve written my week’s blog post yet, and my feet aren’t killing me from standing at my desk most of the day, I’ll probably cobble together a quick room so I can have some tiny modicum of control over camera and light placement.

I’m actually pretty happy with most of the actual chair portion. There’s some detail work I haven’t gotten to, some flecks of spilled paint, the stitches I couldn’t manage in Mudbox, and this handprint on the back that I don’t know where it came from, but the leather looks pretty close to leather, and I finally managed to push the wood, leather, and cloth, to look like they’re not the exact same value of brown. We’re coming along here!

Just don’t look at the base. I’ve barely touched any of the painted metal parts yet (or the unpainted ones), and spec and spec power are still things that I haven’t figured out how to implement visibly the majority of the time, much less getting them to do what I actually want. A long hunt for tutorials followed by implementation is still on the to-do list.

Hopefully Part 2 can get up prior to this time on Saturday, but, you know, texturing, un-anesthetized teeth pulling, same difference…


Chair Update: Reduce and UV

Did not get low-poly finished as soon as I’d hoped, but it’s here now.


And then I UV-ed and quickly baked to test them.

chair_1stBake_20131010Things seem to be on track so far. Hopefully we can avoid the usual issues of things going pear-shaped when I start texturing for real after a weekend off with family.

Incidentally, I can’t help feeling like I ought to take a stab at defending my decision to take such a glacial pace with this prop. On the one hand, I know before I’ll be willing to call myself a “professional” artist (and, if I had to guess about a pace that’ll be necessary before anyone will give me the paychecks that indicate they think I’m a professional…), going-on-3-weeks for a prop like this will not be acceptable. On the other hand, I think there’s something to be said for, when your confidence is as shaken as mine was before I started off on the chair, easing yourself back into it.

I lost count of how many times I got disheartened trying to hold myself to some sort of short deadline without having the underlying skills necessary to actually make something that looks good. A week for a prop or a month for an environment sounds like a great plan, but I don’t think I’m quite there yet, and I have a long list of unfinished projects to prove it. Given a week for what should be a simple sculpt, that friends of mine might knock out in a couple hours, and I happen upon one of the first times I’ve felt like Mudbox wasn’t working against me and that I’m *gasp* getting a hang of this. If the same holds true with making these textures work finally, I think I’ll be ready to turn up the speed and difficulty a setting or two soon.


Chair Update

Alright, been kinda-sorta making Mudbox work for me lately (I know, I’m surprised too!). I was at first pessimistic about having all my sculpting done in time to get an update posted this week on account of, well, of still not entirely liking sculpting and still being in the very early stages of breaking all those bad habits like waiting until 9:00 PM to start working when I have to be up early the next day. But then I took a good long look at everything that I hadn’t sculpted and realized, “The rest of this doesn’t need to be sculpted. Even a…n a-long-way-from-being-good-at-textures texture artist like myself could handle these dents and scrapes on the maps without needing to get into Mudbox!”


We’ll see, hopefully I’ll be able to get a low-poly finished up by the end of the night, and maybe some UV’s and preliminary bakes before too long. I’ll probably just jam it into this post if I get it done soon enough.




I know I just said that the plan was to not just keep getting frustrated attempting to make realistic props, but coming up on a week after I made that post (certainly a week after I started writing that post…) my brain just hadn’t flipped back over into big idea mode enough for anything else. The chair was here; I wasn’t using it since I had converted to a milk crate-based standing desk, and, not that any camera I own is going to show it, it’s taken a beating and has got some nice big spots of textural detail on it.

So, after approximately 6-ish hours back on the horse, the Maya portion of Hi-poly is mostly done. Will probably tinker on that for way longer than I need to before I bite the bullet and start sculpting.


Changes Around

Okay, this has been a long time coming, and because I kept planning for it to come with some new art content, it probably took a lot longer than it should have. In short, there’s been a lot about my approach to art since I graduated back in 2011 that has just plain not been working.

For starters (because— I think— it’s the easiest thing to address on my long list of bad habits that need to be broken), I’m going to fix my approach to blogging. When I reach into the distant past, back before this site became a ghost town, I find myself having written these stiff, formal blog posts that conjure up a mental image of a small child dressed up in his dad’s work clothes, gigantic on the little kid, and he’s trying to talk all serious and grown up; I don’t see someone having fun and trying to improve his craft. What’s worse, my old blogging voice doesn’t seem to be convinced he can improve at his craft. Old blogging me just knows this project is going to wither and die halfway through, and he’s barely trying to convince his reader he believes otherwise.

So, firstly, I’m going to try and drop that affectation. I don’t like putting it on, and I’m sure it does me a massive disservice. When I see my former classmates’ art blogs, or read the blogs of professional artists, there’s none of that. There’s artists having fun with what they’re doing, taking it seriously, but not being dull about it. About the only reason I might slide back into that stodgy old blogging voice of mine is that it’s an old habit which, I’ve been told, die hard.

I’m also going to try to fix my posting habits, specifically, the monolithic cover-the-whole-project-in-one-post posts that I used to do. Creating and editing them is just a massive pain in the butt. I’m sure it would be one thing if I was recapping something I’d already done, but when something is in progress, going back and adding to the post is a mess. It’s not easy to share when I’m stuck or looking for feedback, and it’s so easy to feel like I’m not making any progress when I can’t help seeing today’s texture pass right next to yesterday’s pass. So, every update is going to get its own unique post, and I’m also going to try to post more regularly. For now, we’ll say once a week, even if it’s just to share a few scans from my sketchbook and to promise that I’m not simply playing Baldur’s Gate II waiting for inspiration to strike (because, I know, better than most, how poorly that works…).

Of course, the bad blogging habits only matter as much as I can also surmount the bad art habits that I’ve built up over the years. There’s a long list of ones that are so obvious they’re not really worthy of getting long sophisticated discussion. I don’t think I need to break down why “Taking long hiatuses from 3D” or “Not tracking down tutorials when stuck” or “Inexplicably not being fed up enough with my current situation to start working on art prior to 9 PM any given day” are bad habits. They’re mostly here as part of my public commitment to recognize and fight these bad habits whenever I notice them.

The one majorly bad habit that I do want to discuss, though, is the lack of variety in my work. I think this one definitely contributes to the ease with which I find myself getting frustrated. I mean, I’m still way too new at this to have pigeonholed myself so thoroughly, especially into a category that, on the surface, I appear to have so much antipathy for. Sure, my major was heavily focused on environment art, but it still turned out animators, effects artists, tech artists, concept artists, level designers et cetera. There’s no rule out there saying that my first real job has to be based on the focus of my schooling. I’m far enough away from consistently making triple-A quality realistic sci-fi or modern props and environments, that the sunk cost fallacy shouldn’t kick in too badly, and I need to branch out. I want to take stabs at making characters, or creatures (they’re the majority of what fill my sketchbooks after all…), try some hand-painted textures, learn to paint, either or both digitally or traditionally, get back into writing, design levels, mod games, make board and card games from scratch, and try a billion other relevant, interesting activities.

Maybe in trying new things, I’ll find something I like more than the art that currently gets me so frustrated; maybe I’ll find solutions to issues I’m having with the main focus, or maybe I’ll just stave off insanity by giving my brain a different challenge. It probably can’t hurt, either, to explore a bit more within the wide variety of software (and ever-expanding selection of traditional media) at my disposal and see what sorts of unexpectedly cool stuff I can create.

I’m sure there were others that I wanted to discuss in greater detail, but I can’t remember what they were. Some of them probably got downgraded upon further reflection to the “so obvious no discussion is necessary category”, and others probably got lost in earlier sets of bullet points for this post in which I was planning to go off on a massive, unproductive rant about how I had really wanted to get into concept art as a young’un, but right around the time I was looking at colleges I somehow got it in my head that I needed the word “game” on my degree and thus found myself in the more 3D-focused Ringling program. Whatever, I’ve been dragging my feet on posting this and getting back to work for so long that I’d rather just kick it out incomplete and edit it later than suffer through one more day in this too-long string of un-productivity.

Battlestar Galactica: Blackbird Progress

“Oh, you’re much too modest. After what we’ve been through, it would be very easy to give up, to lose hope. But not here. Not today. This is more than a ship, Chief. This is an act of faith. It is proof that despite all we’ve lost, we keep trying. And we will get through this, all of us, together. I promise.” ~ President Laura Roslin, Battlestar Galactica, “Flight of the Phoenix”

I’ve been in a pretty bad funk for a while; I’ve been in funks off and on since graduating and moving home, but this one had been exceptional in both its length and severity. Hence, when I hit the point where I had to either do something or snap, cheesy as it may sound, I latched onto something symbolic of a similar arc for the characters of a show I love. I also figured, as long as way too long without touching 3D would be leaving me pretty close to square one, I might as well do something that I love —a sci-fi vehicle— to hopefully minimize the chances of getting frustrated and letting the project fall by the wayside as has happened way too many times. I figured grabbing something that was already designed, rather than my usual approach of modeling from my own thumbnails and designing it along the way, might also help mitigate that risk.


A fairly quick block-in model, just to get the shapes.

Hi-Poly model, probably like 85-90% done. All that’s left are the panels and blocky shapes at the aft, the cockpit, and a few details along the struts that support the engines. And the vent in the nosecone. Almost forgot that one…

It should be noted that, upon further examination, along with the liberties I’ve taken in a couple area —mainly the shape of the engines and some proportion bugs caused by image planes that refused to line up— there are a few significant differences between the version of the Blackbird that appeared in the show and the model kit that’s made up the majority of my reference. The fenders that sit lateral to the fuselage are very different between the two versions: The model kit has that crazy paneling, while they’re smooth in the show, and only the show version has what I think are guns at the very front of the fenders. Unfortunately, I’ve got way more reference of the model than of the version that was on TV, and the few shots reference I’ve found from the show don’t really give me a lot of detail on those differences, so those issues probably aren’t going to be fixed.

Finished Hi-Poly model. I may need to slow down on this a bit while I explore texturing solutions. I can’t afford Photoshop’s monthly payments right now, which means I have to either job-hunt faster, get comfortable with GIMP for texturing, or overcome my feelings of guilt over pirating software, none of which are particularly appealing prospects…

Low-Poly. Got it down to 8,807 Tris, and didn’t even have to completely kill all my greebles. It was time-consuming, but for the most-part, really, really, really easy since the big shapes are mostly hard-edged; it was a lot of just cutting out control edges and stitching stuff together without worrying too much about harm to the silhouette.

In UV-ing, I managed to find and get rid of about 500 Tris, mostly hidden faces that I didn’t know were there until I saw them in the UV editor and verts that somehow got missed by Delete Edges operations. Also, a couple of the greebles that are still there got crunched a little more. Down to ,8328 Tris.

First bake test. I’m way happier with this bake than I expected to be. Only a few glaring artifacts that need to be addressed, and I was not expecting the greebles to bake down so nicely (especially the ones in the exposed panels on the engine that go from mesh to texture… well enough with a little cleanup). Family responsibilities have slowed me down this weekend, and I’m still not sure what I’m going to do about not being able to afford Photoshop this month (leaning towards a 30-day trial of CS6…)

Photoshop trial acquired. Textures grudgingly started. UV’s frakked around with to try and eliminate (got ’em reduced!) some baking errors I was getting and a few shells I managed not to realize were packed more tightly than they should’ve been.

Ran into some interesting apparent inconsistencies in the material quality of the ship’s panels while looking for better (read: Higher-res) reference in “Flight of the Phoenix”. Mostly blogging it so that I can link to it in the Polycount thread I’m about to start, but it raises an interesting aesthetic question: Do I keep with the inconsistencies and chalk it up to the ship being made from scavenged parts, even down to the paneling, or do I try to even things out so that the top and bottom of the ship don’t have wildly varying levels of specularity?

As a side note, this reference gave me more than just a headache. I don’t know if that much of it is in this collage, but there’s a surprising amount of wear and tear on it for a ship that gets shot down on only its second mission. Whatever the choice regarding the specularity, the edges between panels are pretty roughed up and the black paint looks to not be very even, so I ought to be able to get some broad strokes of interesting detail. Although, I shudder to think that I might have to go back and paint in all those rivets that I didn’t model in because I was modeling from the model kit reference that didn’t include them…

Long hiatus from posting (but not from work [but procrastination always gets worse when I’m texturing. It’s a vicious cycle of not wanting to spend so much time on textures and not having developed the skills to texture quickly and well]), largely because what I’ve been doing hasn’t been very interesting to show, like the billion times I had to go back and fix UVs and rebake to accommodate. Somehow I forgot how much text this baby has on it. Luckily, it’s all on separate mesh chunks which made fixing the UV’s (for the umpteenth time…) tedious, but not difficult.

Decided to call the carbon wear-and-tear done (mostly some finesse of how contrast-y it is is probably still in order). Started working on the metal parts utilizing Racer445’s awesome metal-texturing tutorial. Will post screens when I’m closer to done with the metal parts. Mostly just updating to have the tutorial link already in the post rather than going hunting between browsers to find it.

I think I’m mostly going to call the textures done. Finished up the metal tutorial and set about getting spec and updated normal maps on the Blackbird. Still planning to knock out the Interior this weekend, making the glass, and spend a little time crafting a simple level to use for making a cube map and staging beauty shots. Goal is to be done by the time I leave for Chicago Monday night to fly to Germany on Tuesday.

Contrary to what my own paranoia tells me people might think, this project has not fallen by the wayside to become the most recent in a very long line of WIP projects. It just got lost in the shuffle between my trip to Europe and starting a new job when I returned.

Since getting back into the swing of things, I modeled out the cockpit, as well as addressing some minor issues with the exterior, specifically, the low resolution ugliness that resulted from having the greebles inside the engine simply as textures. Now, to resume making payments for Photoshop so I can get back to work on the textures.

Warhammer Process

I think it’s finally time to give this one its own blog post. I wasn’t sure if I was going to let this get in the way of the other stuff I felt was probably more important, but I was enjoying it too much to put it aside as a rainy day activity.

First, a recap: In preparation for Polycount’s Darksiders II Create A Weapon Contest, I grabbed a bunch of reference of warhammers. Unfortunately, by the time the deadline was close enough that I didn’t think I could reasonably expect to finish something that I was happy with, I hadn’t come up with a single feasible hammer that was stylistically consistent with the Darksiders style guides they had given.

However, I didn’t want to let this reference go to waste, so I grabbed the hammer I thought exuded the greatest air of “Don’t fuck with me” of my reference and started modeling.

I started getting some crit that the head was too small. I was resistant at first, but I gave it a shot, and the results spoke for themselves:

Polished up the model and started getting it ready to sculpt:

Calling the Sculpt “done”:

And now onto reducing. I’m going to attempt to use the constraints given within the Darksiders Contest rules even though the contest is long over. Approximately 1,500 Tris, 512’s for Diffuse, Normal, and Spec.

Test bake. Got the hammer down to 1,427 Tris. I’m starting to rethink my plan to just add the strings on the grips in the texture, as having the wood below baked onto the grip itself looks kinda wonky. May be too early to tell. I might not even notice it once I get diffuse detail and those strings in place.




Textures nearing completion. Haven’t done much with the wood yet. Could probably stand to touch up the leather and iron parts as well. Trying to figure out something to add to the big empty spaces on the side of the head.

I’m losing momentum on this project. I think I’m probably going to try and call it done by the time I go to work on Wednesday. I’ve procrastinated way too much on what should’ve been a quick, simple project, and I should probably get back to work on the stuff that’ll allow me to cast the broadest job-hunting net possible (i.e. environments).

On the subject of too much procrastination, after almost a month of ignoring 3D to try and get back into writing and drawing, I decided to attack this again with a whole new pile of reference and philosophy on how to go about texturing the metal. I’m a bit disappointed in how little the changes show up. Something’s not working, and it’s rather frustrating. Also, this is reminding me of a quote from the excellent Steal Like an Artist by Austin Kleon:

“Inertia is the death of creativity. You have to stay in the groove. When you get out of the groove, you start to dread the work, because you know it’s going to suck for a while. It’s going to suck until you get back in the flow.”

I’ve definitely gotten out of the flow in terms of figuring out a better approach to texturing and figuring out how to make this thing look good. I guess I’ve got a lot of work ahead of me if this is ever going to be something I can show, and not just another monument to my former aptitude for starting projects without finishing them…

The Mad Dash to GDC 2012

It’s no secret that the almost-a-year since graduation hasn’t exactly been one of the best times to be me. Depressing statuses about the 3D Art equivalent of Writer’s Block are all over my Facebook when it’s not deactivated to prevent me from writing more of them, and a quick survey of activity on this blog will show a steady drop-off and a whole lot of WIPs without anything new being finished since school. Now, though, I think I’ve hit a turning point, and I’m ready to get back in the saddle.

I’ve given myself the deadline of GDC to make the deli presentable and finally spend some time polishing the assets that are currently in my portfolio. I’ve still got some practical things to work out with actually getting to GDC and having a place to sleep while I’m there, but in the meantime, I can certainly get back to work on trying to prove that I can be and want to be a professional artist. Plus, a big, unmovable deadline should be good for me. I always work better under those than the nebulous, easily ignored deadlines that I set for myself.

This post will serve to document the progress of the Mad Dash to GDC so that all the things I’m actually working on are front and center of my blog rather than being hidden back in the annals.

Day 1-2 of the Mad Dash. I wanted to try and knock out a quick practice asset to shake out the cobwebs after so long away from 3D, and the old version of the Butcher’s Block from the deli had always bugged me, so I went back to attempt to do it right. I underestimated how obvious certain seams were going to be, so I’ll need to re-UV before pressing on with the textures.

Day 3-5 of the Mad Dash. Improved the UVs on the block. I’m not entirely happy with them, but at least the way it’s currently positioned, all the seams are hidden by the rest of the scene. Took a stab at improving the door to the back room. Someone said it was bright enough to be a colossal distraction, and, on another trip to Scordato’s, I noticed just how grimy and disgusting their flag-as-a-door had gotten. Took a stab at some folds as well. Also started some new packaging to hang out on the shelves. Other than the sardine can and some of the olive oil bottles, I wasn’t really happy with the packaging I made before (well, and the boxes. Those were almost spot-on!).

I’m planning to re-rearrange the deli in the near future, shrink it down to A) be closer to Scordato’s, the miniscule corner deli that’s become my inspiration more and more and B) shrink the list of assets that need to be created/fixed before I can call the deli finished.

Days 5-11 of the Mad Dash. Reduced and UV’ed the new food items. Re-UV’ed the old packaging. Now I’ve got all my bottles doing the Nuka Cola thing and having an outer model with the stand-in glass material and inner geometry with a transluscent material on it. Beginning textures on the packaging (it’s amazing how much of an improvement you get just by adding labels to these packages….). Shrank the deli as planned. It’s now down to a scale that should be manageable if I can just avoid getting conscripted to help any more newbies make character sheets in D&D (one of the few vices I’ve allowed myself during the Mad Dash).

I also spent, probably more time than I should’ve, letting myself get impressed (in the 17th-19th century British Navy sense of the word) into concept sketches for my best friend’s D&D game. As long as they got me drawing again and I’m not wholly unhappy with them, they’re over in the Digital Sketchbook. Hell, it’s what it’s there for, right?

Day 11-17 of the Mad Dash. Added a garbage can. Experimented with adding a fake tree (needs work, probably won’t make the final cut). Replaced the scale with a digital version. Added some images to the empty frames. Fixed up/replaced some architectural assets to better suit the new scale (replaced corner molding with big, fat pillars. Resized the storefront).

Day 18, 21 of the Mad Dash. Added material to back wall. Added decals (grunge on back wall, mud on floor). Added wood to hide transitional edge between wall and ceiling and remove need for rafter-decals. Computer is chugging for no good reason, so I may not get to light shafts tonight as intended…

Day 22-23 of the Mad Dash. Quick and dirty sign on the cooler, worked a bit on the textures. Worked a bit on the ticket machine as well, since it’s sharing UVs with the coolers. It cuts into my already-tight schedule, but ignoring the problem is only going to let the loss of productivity compound. I need to troubleshoot and try to figure out why I can’t run UDK and Photoshop without massive lag anymore. Neither booting up UDK every time I want to see if my textures look right nor leaving Unreal up and waiting a second after every brush stroke to see if it’s registered are options. Just a couple days ago, I wasn’t noticing any chugging, but now I am…

Day 24-27 of the Mad Dash. Was getting frustrated with the bake and UV’s of the cooler and the counter, so I went back and remodeled them from the Hi-Res, trying to avoid any serious re-UVing. Ended up not able to fit the ticket counter back on the same texture as the cooler like before, so I decided to go back and polish its Hi-Res as well. Much happier with the bakes that I’ve gotten off these new versions, though I’m still finding myself stymied by the textures…

Day 31-34 of the Mad Dash. Polished textures on the counters. Went back and polished the models, UV’s, and textures on the food in the counters. Finally started Shader R&D and replacing Unreal Glass with my own simple glass shader.

And now, as with every artistic endeavor, there comes a time where you just have to say “Well, I’m out of time. I guess it’s good enough.” Is there a lot I’d still like to do? Absolutely! Do I still have a bunch of stuff to do before GDC and only one more day to do it before I’m airborne? Yep. I may get to putting a tiny bit more polish on the deli, though I think if I have free time between putting together a 16:9 portfolio PDF and improving my resume, I’d rather spend it on anything else in my portfolio that I never got around to than this. We’ll see.

Polycount “Mutant League” Challenge.

I’ve decided I’m going to make an attempt to hop into the last just-over-two-weeks of’s Mutant League Challenge.

In trying to figure out a sport for my mutant stadium, I stumbled upon some very interesting diving platforms. I think one of those could be fun to reimagine. I’ve got a couple thematic ideas to experiment with. I’m leaning towards either toxic sewers, or ancient catacombs. (Here, especially is some cool reference that makes me lean towards sewers. Plus, the sewers are much more hard surface and less reliant on me simultaneously learning to sculpt from the ground up…)

I’ll try and knock out some sketches in the near future, breaks at work and whatnot.

Tried out a couple sketches. I think the rectangular space has potential for some more interesting set-dressing, but the shaft is probably the more interesting space as a whole, and it lends itself more to some cool exaggeration of scale, like these mutants are doing crazy dives from an extremely high platform.

WIP Casual Axe

After my shameful Skyrim binge, I needed to ease back into 3D and my eagerness to do so by working on any of my many unfinished projects was close to zero. So, I hopped on the bandwagon started by a couple of my friends from Ringling: Casual Axing, in which a cool fantasy axe is found and modeled, textured, etc. as quickly as possible.

I started with a concept I found on, made by Randy Cushman:

Then I started modeling for about 4 hours yesterday before being rudely reminded that 3D programs tend to crash and that working without saving is a bad idea. After a brief jaunt to join my cousins for a deer-hunting weekend, I decided to start again, and this time not be defeated by failure to save.

Hi-res process, about 1.5 hours into modeling. I’ve gotta fix up some stuff, like I think the leather straps should actually be connected, not just a collection of toruses, and I’d like to do that pattern on the head in Maya and save sculpting just for fine detail like the wood, metal, and leather textures. And I just noticed that it probably would’ve made more sense to do the part where the head attaches to the haft as a cube rather than a cylinder, so I may redo that when I do my “touch up the model” pass.

Hardened out the edges on the leather. Redid the base of the head and the decorative portions. Just discovered that I no longer have Zbrush access, so I guess I’m going to attack learning Sculptris after I get back from work.

Some slight model tweaks before going into Sculptris. Changed the shape a bit on the handle, repositioned the top bolts a bit, tightened up the straps and added some rotation along their Y and Z axes instead of just X.

Began putzing around in Sculptris. I’ve gotta say, although the fact that it’s triangle-based (I assume this is the cause) leads to some unusual subdividing, and it’s not quite as robust* as Zbrush or Mudbox, Sculptris is starting to really put some serious dents in my dislike of sculpting. I may yet finish this project as a person who no longer hates and fears digital sculpting.

Got some feedback about my wood looking more meaty than woody. Just wanted to try out a bit of a quick fix trying to better define the cracks and get a little bit more textural noise. I’m probably going to need to mess around a bit more. Brush textures aren’t behaving quite the way I’d like, but I’m trying to figure out the most efficient fix, and my approach to sculpting the cracks was not the best (in the future, it seems like building up is a bit easier than carving down, especially around the corners at the top and bottom). Hopefully I can salvage the work I’ve already done.

Well, the stamp problem seems figured out. Note to self: Before freaking out, try the exact opposite. Unlike Zbrush, who likes black borders on its alphas, Sculptris likes a white border on its brushes to prevent you from having a square brush. This doesn’t seem to be very well-documented, so I’m saying it here.

Working on sharpening up the edges and better defining the cracks. I’m having trouble finding good reference for what I want the ends of the handle to look like. I think I’m going to have to find a branch in the woods by my house and make that reference now that I’ve got a day off…

Further work on sharpening up the edges and defining the cracks better.

I’ve gotten to a point where Sculptris seems more interested in crashing than in further subdividing to allow me to sculpt in more detailed knotholes or any other really fine detail, and I’m at about the point where I’m ready to move onto one of the other parts that need sculpting, so I’m going to be calling the handle done at this point.

* In fact, that simplicity may actually be a bit of a boon for your newbie sculptor like myself. Zbrush has a whole lot of interface, and a brush for everything, but for the newbie, that can be a bit daunting, and without really knowing the basic sculpting workflow, it’s easy to see a brush that says it does one thing, seems to do another, and then get frustrated and say “To Hell with it, I’ll do that in Maya,” or, at least, that was my experience in my previous sculpting attempts.