Free-for carved stone - how would you approach the task?


I’ve searched the forum for carved stone, organic shapes, and the like, and while I’m finding helpful hints and useful points, I’m still a bit uncertain how to approach the problem of free-form, curved cuts in a mesh.

My self-appointed task is a set of Mayan glyphs (sample from wikimedia commons), and I particularly want to do this as mesh shaping, not bump mapping. High polygon count is not a problem, this is practice and static renderings of individual glyphs.

After the readings, I’m going to simply try a high poly block, bezier shapes into meshes, and boolean operations, but when I’ve done that before, it’s resulted in lots of tricky triangles and sometimes missing faces. Lots of hand work cleaning things up, and I’m not handy enough with Blender to cope with the rendering and texture artefacts that sharp triangles seem to produce.

How would you approach something like this? (Any ideas appreciated, even if it’s ‘Use another tool’.)


start with a high poly sculpted version, then use snapping ( retopo ) to build a new, optimized mesh, over the original.

Blender Guru has a pretty good technique for recreating logos and other symbols with a mesh. It would work well here, you could create the glyphs on the surface of another object and then extrude them into the object. You might even create the rocks and the glyphs seperately and then use a boolean modifier.

I personally would use the bezier curve to model the glyphs, but that takes some practice and might end up with way more vertices than you need.

EDIT: I see the real difficulty is going to be incorporating your glyphs in a way that will smoothly cut into your rock object. I wonder if the new knife tool (“K key”) would help you create a place for the glyph?

You could always subdivide the mesh several times, then boolean difference each glyph mesh into a separate face of the subdivided mesh. Time consuming sure but very good results for a render. Hardly any cleanup involved

Thanks all - I’ll explore each of your ideas, and post something for future generations if I figure it out. Fortunately, this is for curiosity and learning, not on schedule.
(I haven’t worried about putting multiple glyphs together. Individual glyphs are fairly rectangular, and I’d expect that part to be doable… although there will be some drudge work with high polygon counts, and maybe I should take care to subdivide into equally sized meshes. Hm.)

For what it’s worth, I tried modeling a rock, subdividing the mesh, grouping vertices where a glyph could be placed, and then using a Displace modifier with a glyph image. The results were not especially pretty. The mesh resolution had to be very high to provide adequate detail with this method.

If you want control, you need to mesh it by hand. Outline polygon string can be built fast with Blender. You can use organic extrude, of a quads or vertex for more complex intersection face creation.

Filling the rest of surface is made easy with B-mesh.

Arrange the faces so that some of the outline is extruded down to form the carving. Keep in mind that outer outline marks the recessed face and not a groove. That faces needs to be pulled down together. Here is my rough test:

I also would model it by hand!
Cheers and good luck on the project!

what precision or resolution is required ?

you could make the rough mesh then go with dynatopo to sculpt

begin making one then come back and show us what you got and describe problems you have
then you can begin adding details with dynatopo sculpt !