Sculpting/Remesh/Hardware Question

This is kind of a broad and long question; sorry about that.

So I’m new to Blender and have been having a blast learning it. I really want to take it seriously and get better at it. I’ve been following tutorials and reading as much as I can. It’s a bit overwhelming.

My issue is I’m using a 2012 MacBook with 8gb ram (don’t have a GPU yet). Ram is soldered so I can’t upgrade. Obviously this is an issue when my sculpts get too detailed and the mesh is super dense. I’m working on a character sculpt now and I’ve only really done the head so far and my computer can’t handle it. I’ve tried remeshing in Blender (I’m about to try Instant Remesh), but my computer is just lagging so much to the point where its pretty much frozen. I know I need to get new equipment and that’s the second part of my question, but I thought I’d be able to at least sculpt complex characters with my MacBook even if I couldn’t rig and animate etc. Am I missing something? Any really good videos on remeshing?

Secondly, do you all have any suggestions for affordable equipment (laptop or desktop, gpu, ram, graphics tablet)? I’m currently furloughed and on a budget, but would like to invest in some decent equipment so I can progress. Like I said I’m trying to take this seriously. I’m at a point where I can’t even work on stuff, because my computer is so slow and it’s so frustrating, I don’t know what to do.

Lastly, any general advice for someone relatively new to 3D modeling? I’ve been following tutorials (Blender Guru, Grant Abbitt, and some of Blender’s official tutorials) Any other good resources or advice? Anything would be appreciated. I feel lost with all the information out there.

Also what do you all think the best work flow is for sculpting? Should I just do it in zBrush and import it into Blender. I’ve also heard you should sculpt, remesh, sculpt and repeat. Is this a good process.

And is the multires modifer a better solution for me than remesh? Thanks in adavance!!


You mention here a real number for your budget so that other users can better help you in your choice.

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Thanks for responding! Yeah listing a budget would probably be a good idea. I would say I could possibly spend up to $2500 - $3500 total for my rig. Maybe a little more if I sell some stuff. Looking forward to hearing your suggestions!

An option for desktop PC:
Intel Core i7-10700K or AMD Ryzen 7 3800XT

nvidia RTX 2070 (You keep in mind that new nvidia RTX 30xx series are about to come out)

32GB (If you choose AMD CPU it is important that you buy the RAM with the highest speed that you can buy)

700W PSU of a good brand

As I always say, keep in mind that Blender has its own limitations when it comes to Sculpt mode performance. That is, even with a high end PC you could still have performance problems in sculpt mode. Anyway developers are continually improving Sculpt mode performance, and surely that PC will perform better than your current MacBook.

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Thanks for the recommendations! I’m checking them out now. I really appreciate the help. There’s just so much info out there.

Hi there,
You might want to check out 2.91 (I believe it’s still in alpha so it might be unstable) as it supposedly has major performance improvements.You should also consider splitting your sculpts up into several objects as it will help with performance somewhat.
Avoid dynotopo as it’s very slow, I only use it in the beginning to block out shapes, remeshing is much faster and will give you a higher poly ceiling. Still you’re going to get the best performance if you manually retopologize your mesh and then use multires (thank god they fixed it finally).
So a good workflow might be to:

  1. Block out your sculpt with dynotopo
  2. Get it up to about 70% with remeshing
  3. Retopologize and use multires to get it to 100%.

Using ZBrush also isn’t a bad option if you can afford it and you can expect vastly better performance compared to Blender.
All in all you still have many options to optimize your workflow before you consider upgrading your system. The best thing you could probably do is to get into the habit of retopologizing your meshes and using multires as it’s going to drastically increase your poly ceiling compared to sculpting without it.

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Hi @LG_787! Thanks for replying. I’ll check out 2.91. I did see some of the sculpting videos and the performance seemed impressive. I think overusing dynotopo may have been one of my problems.

One, probably stupid, question: when you mention percentages (70% w/ remeshing, 100% after retop and multires) what are you referring to? Desired face count?

Lastly, do you know is ZBrush Core worth it or do you need the whole package to get the most out of it? Once again thanks for replying. I really appreciate the help!

I used percentages arbitrarily as in how complete your model and how much detail it has. Blocking out is main shapes and the general silhouette, 70% - mostly everything up until finer details and 100% - fully completed model ready for use. But these numbers are just general reference and you can move to different stages whenever you see fit (I like to generally retopo sooner as you lose some details in the process and it can be tedious getting them back).
Personally I haven’t used ZBrush so I can’t help you there, but you can download a free trial from their site and there’s a comparison of ZBrush core and regular.

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Thanks! That makes sense. I’m sculpting now and am going to try this workflow. Once again thanks for responding!