Imp Traveller

(elfnor) #1
Thumbnail - so far

I’ve been working my way through Zacharias Reinhardt’s Mastering Sculpting Course and I can highly recommend it. This character is my first piece of independent work where I’ll try to put into practice a lot of what I’ve learnt on the course. I’ve still got a heap to learn, so when I get stuck and follow another tutorial I’ll also link to that.

Here’s my concept art. It’s by my multi-talented partner over at

I started off by blocking the pose in with a posed model I made in MakeHuman. I got started with Makehuman via this BlenderforNoobs video

I’ve use skin modifiers for the base meshes for the head, tail and shoes. Grant Abbitt’s tutorial Quickly Create Base Meshes for Sculpting | Skin modifier | Blender 2.8 - YouTube was helpful here.

The clothes as they come across from MakeHuman are thin meshes which I found difficult to work with. I found it easier to select the corresponding area of the body mesh duplicate it, and fill it in top and bottom to make solid shape to sculpt on.You can see below I’ve done this for the trousers which are working well, but I’m struggling a bit with the shirt.

The hands I completed as a separate sculpt, which I’ll cover in my next update.

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(elfnor) #2


In between or alongside big projects, I find it great to do some smaller practice pieces. Bits of bodies are good, eyes, hands ears. They may come in useful (handy!) as meshes for other projects, but the main benefit is focused sculpting where I can relax as it’s only a practice piece. Speed sculpting is another way to practice, but I find at my skill level my results in a short time can be disappointing. Concentrating on small bits of a sculpt for a short time or setting a target for a session helps me make progress without getting bogged down in detail.

I watched a few videos on hands 3D hand timelapse - YouTube, Sculpting Hands In Blender - YouTube, How to Sculpt hands | Sculpt Jan 2019 | no. 17 - YouTube. It seems getting the proportions right is hard but also hands vary a lot.

I downloaded a scan of a real hand from Sketchfab ( and sculpted a very low resolution mesh over this. I did this by hand - not using snapping or shrink wrapping. At this stage the fingers and thumb were separate pieces.

I then booleaned the pieces together, and started sculpting in dynotopo mode.

hand_sculpt-21bd8024 hand_sculpt-78864a6c hand_sculpt-cdd0b099

I then went back to the base mesh, to sculpt some hands more suited to my Imp. I used images and drawings of Chimpanzee hands as reference. Consultation with my concept artist, suggested hands with long slender proportions, but with human thumbs not the short Chimpanzee thumb.


I’m never sure how much detail to put in here. In a render of the full body of the Imp, we’re not going to see pores or veins on the hands. I try to stop at a fit for purpose level of detail. I can always go back again. This is about learning, not modelling for production.

Next I’ll be working on the head.

(elfnor) #3


Starting on the head, I put the concept art on an image empty and sculpted the mesh trying to block in as much as possible at a low resolution.


I’m using dyntopo, but I’ve flooded the mesh with a constant detail. I’ve also got symmetry turned on. I’ll go into a couple of finer levels of detail but I’m still a bit unsure when to remesh and go to a multi-resolution modifier.

Here’s where I decided to stop sculpting in dyntopo. The mesh has ~67k faces.

Next, I exported the mesh as an obj and remeshed in Instant Meshes. The output mesh has ~4k faces. I’ve found that my machine (Intel© Core™ i7 CPU 860 @ 2.80GHz × 4 with 16 GB RAM) is more responsive when when sculpting high detail in multires mode if I keep the base mesh with fewer faces and do more subdivisions than if the base mesh has more faces and fewer subdivisions.


The mesh from Instant Meshes was a bit twisted around the nose so I made it symmetric, choosing the better side. I then applied a multires modifier with 3 subdivsions and a shrinkwrap modifier with the 67k mesh as the target. Once the shrinkwrap modifier was applied I kept sculpting. I’m trying to step up and down the different subdivison levels, so detail happens at the fine levels, but overall smoothing (for example) works better at less subdivisions. I haven’t really got the hang of this yet.

Here’s an intermediate step:


And where I’m at now:


I’m reasonably happy with this level of detail. I’m not going for a super realistic look with very fine detail. I’m now at about 534 k faces.

Next I’m going to look at the pack, although there’s still hair and eyes and better clothes…

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(elfnor) #4

The pack actually almost came before the Imp. I wanted to practice the luggage, ropes and belts parts of Zacharias Reinhardt’s Mastering Sculpting Course, and was hunting for reference images. My partner pulled out an old sketch book with a sketch of this little imp carrying a big pack with a lute strapped to the back. That inspired this project. The sketch showed the character from the front, so I kept image searching for a more detailed reference and came across photos of Japanese Imperial army packs from WWII. (image search "octopus japanese rucksack). I liked the concept of bows tying everything onto a pack. This Imp is only about 40 cm tall and would have difficulty finding lots of tiny buckles.

Here’s a series of images from blocked in to almost complete. As I narrowed in on the creature sculpt I dropped the spade in favour of the lute.

I enjoyed trying to get the wrinkles looking like the straps were pulling them tight.

blocking in

I’ll cover the lute in the next update.