How to sculpt ornamental details onto a statue?

I have a sculpture that I want to add intricate ornamental details to But I keep hitting walls with my attempts. I already have the basic design planned for each part of the sculpture. More or less, I want the ornamental details to look like this reference photo. I have the basic shape of the sculpture—just need to add the ornamental details.

I tried making a shape with a surface and shrinkwrapping it to the part of the sculpture but it got skewed. I tried alphas but despite remeshing the sculpture to several millions of faces, the resolution of the alpha extrusion was shite. What am I doing wrong?

The curve with bevel thickness and profile did help me make some basic ornamental shapes, but I’m still not sure how to project the these shape onto to the surface contours of the sculpture?

So how do I do this? Model each element, array it along a curve, then project it to the surface? But then how to do that? And how to array it so that it conforms to the contours?

If anyone has a solution, please help me. I need to get this thing figured out.

Thank you.


1 Like

If you already have the general shape you could:

  • use/create alpha/height masks and use them
  • work directly on the UV instead and create/project details as height map details
  • paint curves directly on the surface and use the curve bevel function to generate shapes
  • the mask method the poster above mentioned
  • model/sculpt shapes as separate meshes and attach them to the surface as you mentioned:

All of these methods work, in order to get this done, you might have to combine several methods, as well as simple manual and direct sculpting.
I am not a pro sculptor myself, so I lack practical experience with these methods, but I am sure with all the knowledge derived from these tutorials you can get it done.

btw. bookmark this channel, its a goldmine


Thank you for your suggestions. I have been trying Alphas but for whatever reason the resolution always comes out crappy no matter how much I subdivide the mesh. And these are high-quality alphas so I don’t know what I’m doing wrong. As for brute forcing it and arraying along the curve, that brings us more complexity becsuse I’m not sure how to make the object twist along the normal of the mesh curvature. But that last video that you posted about projecting objects onto curved shapes using the surface deform modifier, that looks like it could be a solution. So I think my workflow would be the first unwrap the portion of the model that I want to work on, then create the shapes on that flat surface, and then do the surface deform onto that shape. I’ll give it a test and report back to see if it works.

This is a nice method for simple things but I have a lot of repeting and overlapping leaf type patterns so its not going to work. But it’s useful for some areas. Thank you.

Is it the mesh resolution that’s the issue, or some different kind of resolution associated w/the alpha?

I realized it was the mesh resolution in the end…I also had to add the multires modifier which I wasnt doing before.

i must be preparing my geometry incorrectly because it keeps crashing when I try to subd it more to get decent resolution :frowning:

That’s a classic symptom of RAM depletion. Perhaps someone w/more sculpting exp. can weigh in on RAM requirements.

You may be able to divide your mesh up into several pieces and attack it that way.

I have 64gb of ram and 40gb dedicated to the memory cache limit

Again, I’m not certain, but that seems like it should be adequate.

Are there a lot of other objects in the file? Perhaps you could isolate this one, work on it, and APPEND it back into the main file.

Turn on STATISTICS and see how many polygons your objects have.

Thanks Jeric. Ill try the append method and see if it helps.

Just did the test…append adds geometry to the scene, but link doesnt.

OK: can you edit your statue separately, and Link it to the main animation?