Texture painting and sculpting - workflows?

Hello Blenderers,

I’ve been working in Blender for the past 2 years (~10 years experience in Maya) and I’m looking to get more into Blender’s sculpting and texture painting. I have some experience with zBrush and I’m trying to convert my skills across.

Blender’s workflow is subtly different from zBrush. I was hoping the artists here could share their Blender workflows with me, so I’ve got a rough step by step guide on where to start and where to finish?

Let’s assume I want to sculpt a character (dynotopo), retopologise and texture paint it.

One thing that bugs me is Blenders lack of default alpha brushes. How do people go about getting new brushes into Blender without having to create a dozen brushes each time? I’m so used to zBrush just having it all sitting there for me.

I’m also interested in what addons people use. I’m currently looking at Advanced Sculpting and BPainter as potential addons. Has anyone had experience with these? Are there others you would recommend?
(I run a small studio, so I’m happy to spend a bit of money here).


And finally, I’m curious what problems people have run into with sculpting and/or texture painting. Are there any headaches I should prepare myself for?

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Hello there,

About the alpha i have my folder where i saved all the brushes, my own and free from Internet (mostly from Blend swap) and every time i have a project and i know what kind of brushes will be needed, i just append them. This is why Blender is light and loads fast.

About the addons, I m Blender/FLOSS guy, i usual use retopo addons: bsurface and F2 are the one that i use the most, they are free and shipped with Blender. Retopo is usual the most time consuming in this workflow :frowning: I have seen people being happy using BPainter.

Many times i read people complaining about Brush behaviors, some Blender sculpting brush don’t behavior like other sculpting App so have to get use to it :wink:

And always ask.

Good luck :slight_smile:

Hi Erick, thanks for the reply.

When you say you ‘append’ your brushes, do you mean you have a Blender file set up with all your brushes installed? Because you said you have a folder with all your brushes and I’m getting confused. Could you walk me through that? Could you for example install a set of 30 rock brushes for one project, but then install a set of 25 cloth brushes for another?

And by the sounds of it you’ve been able to collect enough brushes/alphas for free. You haven’t needed to buy packs or anything? Could you share one or two links?

I’ve heard of bSurface before. I didn’t realise it came packaged with Blender now. That’s awesome. I was considering getting RetopoFlow. Any thoughts on this addon? Is it superior to bSurface in any way?
https://blendermarket.com/products/retopoflow
I’ve also heard RetopoFlow is about to get a massive update.

Yes, I’ve noticed some subtle differences in Blenders brushes. Specifically the ‘grab’ tool is different to zBrushs ‘move’ tool. But I’ve found tweaking the curve falloff gives you something very similar.

Thanks for the feedback Erick. Happy Blending.

I would also recommend Dyntopo Plus addon for sculpting as it gives you more control over the brush settings in Dynamic Topology. For texture paint, I do recommend BPainter add-on for getting a familiar workflow compared to other 2d and 3d painter software.

I specialize in painting in Blender, and I use some add-ons mainly developed by Spirou4d like EZ Paint, EZ Draw and a stencil add-on called Stencil Widget by Kgeogeo and Spirou4d, but these don’t ship with Blender.

I do find that the 2d editor window has a different control with the Fill brush, so I use that tool for different purposes between the 2d and 3d view.

I love the way the brush controls work consistently across the paint systems like Weight Paint, Texture paint, Sculpt and Vertex Paint and though there is still a lot of love yet to be given to the texture paint side of 2.8, I am hopeful for some really cool things to come of it once it is out of alpha state. UDIM is on the way, and that will definitely be welcome for texture painting complex characters.

As for the work flow - I use a basic icosphere in dyntopo, push and pull it with the Snake Hook and press Shift to smooth while still sculpting, and then build it up with Clay brush and then work with the Crease brush and Scrape/Peaks brush. Press Ctrl and you get the opposite effect with the brush, so a crease can be used to add a lip or edge, etc.

I retopo with Retopoflow for the most part for organic forms and manually with hard surface stuff. Pitiwazou has a few addons that might be of use to you there like Speedflow, Speedsculpt, and SpeedRetopo.

Once I have my object retopologized, I then set up a simple UV map and then get to painting - but it all depends on how complicated the shaders are as to what I do from there. Cycles is really good with painting, with or without BPainter addon, and I tend to use procedural brush and brush mask textures with the brush controls for painting and developing my own brushes per project.

I failed to work with the import brushes addon very well, but discovered that I can import and image sequence as a brush or brush mask texture and then use the timeline to change which image I am using - and this works with playing the timeline as an animation, so that each dab changes image based on the timeline position. This was how I discovered I could emulate Alchemy directly in Blender.

Anyway, welcome to Blender and I do hope you sort out your work flow.

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So, i have a folder named brushes in there i have blend files, sculpts, textures. So when i start a project i know already what brushes i will need and i know where they are, what they do, then i do this:

  • File -> Append
  • I navigate to the brush folder and get my brushes.

This help me to no have many brushes that i will never use. One of my favorite brush is here https://www.blendswap.com/blends/view/86419

And i have some craig_Jones brushes that i use sometimes, btw thanks again @Craig_Jones

I have been here for so long, back in the day you didn’t have to buy anything, people were more generous back then, now people have to pay bills :joy:

I have been seeing those ads video too but i have never use it, if you some coins to spare why not buy it since retopo is the most time consuming in the character modeling workflow in Blender and the contribution goes to Blender development.

I still don’t understand what do mean by

Could you for example install a set of 30 rock brushes for one project, but then install a set of 25 cloth brushes for another?

I don’t install then i append and you can append as many as possible.

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Hey Erick,

Thanks for the extra detail. I had assumed that’s what you were doing, but wanted to be sure I wasn’t missing something simple. I had also heard about importing ‘bush sets’ and wanted to see which setup you were using.

Don’t worry about the “30 rock brushes” stuff. You’re explanation has cleared that up for me. You’d simply use two different Blender files (one with rock brushes, one with cloth brushes) and append them separately.

Yes, sadly the bills must be paid :frowning: Fortunately I run a small studio as my day job, so I can spare a little bit here and there for great addons.

Thanks for the blendswap link. I’ve immediately downloaded those brushes :smiley:

Thanks Craig,

That’s a huge amount of knowledge, thanks so much for taking the time. I’ve made a note of all the addons you’ve recommended and I’ll go through them today.

Good to hear you’re using Retopoflow. Watching the videos it looks like a very good addon, and I’m quite excited to see what version 2 will bring.

By the sounds of it, Blender isn’t too different from working in zBrush. I was concerned I might have to learn a bunch of new tools, but the basics seem the same. It also sounds like Blender has everything you’ll need already built in, but a couple of addons might be helpful.

I haven’t seen anything new coming for painting/sculpting in 2.8. Have you heard of anything cool?

As far as 2.8, they haven’t really touched that area directly except that they did reenable it so that we can use it - 2.8 is in the get rid of crashes stage so a lot of small bugs I have found aren’t ready for real reporting.

Big thing coming is UDIM for texture handling/paint, and that will be a big thing to have. I am hopefl that we will see some of the suggestions I made at rightclickselect.com get a look and either a yes/no reply later.

I did remember something that came in handy - Instant Meshes can get you a somewhat usable all quad mesh from a dyntopo mesh though I am not the best at using it.