Mini Specialisation Project – Post Mortem

For my mini specialisation I chose to do sculpting, and I am so glad I did. Even though I started incredibly late and didn’t delve into it nearly as much as  I should have, it has been a fun relaxing way to do something productive. I will briefly go over what I created before going on about the stuff I usually do such as what went well and what didn’t, etc.

Quick Rundown

I started my mini specialisation by following an introduction tutorial on digital tutors. This tutorial gave the rundown on how the user interface worked, and gave me the basic shortcuts I would need to have a fairly efficient workflow in Mudbox. Instead of following the tutorial creature I thought it would be better if I made my own mesh to import into Mudbox to use. I created a quick ball with horns and imported it in to begin sculpting. However I forgot the number one rule, which is reference and study. I had no clue what I was doing apart from how to use the tools, so I ended up with a fairly bad sculpt my first time around. Luckily I was able to get a little more familiar with the tools while doing this exercise, but the end result was really nothing that would be turning heads, which is to be somewhat expected when its my first sculpt.

First ever attempt at sculpting

Sadly from here I didn’t learn from my mistake, and made an even worse model that I was just kind of tearing away at without really thinking. This ended up frustrating me a lot as it was just looking bad (obviously, had no research) and not looking how I was vividly imagining it would. At this point I got some advice from my partner, who has a good idea for foundations, and while having only used Mudbox once before she is one of those people that are naturally good at everything (she does have years of experience in drawing which translated over nicely). She helped me form the foundations of my next sculpt which was the hulk.

Hulk upper body reference

Before making these foundations I did some research into the hulks anatomy, and found some really good reference for how I should model certain parts, and where crevices and wrinkles would lay. Even just a quick google search and a few images already helped me immensely and is something I need to consistently do every time I create something new. From here I followed the workflow from the tutorial I had done prior and went through the motions of sculpting the hulk bust.

Hulk head reference

What Went Well?

Learning the user interface of Mudbox went fairly well, as it has a similar layout to the other Autodesk applications such as Maya and 3DS Max. My initial research into digital sculpting helped me out tremendously and is probably the biggest positive of this project. I learnt quite a bit about the pros and cons of a few different software and also learnt when and why sculpting is used. This blog post helped lay the foundations for my sculpting and eased me into it a lot better. Instead of jumping into it and having no clue at all about sculpting I instead jumped into it knowing the core of what it is and why I’m learning it. While it is fun to just sculpt for the hell of it, it is also good to know for when you want to do a more serious sculpt.

Another thing that went well was the final sculpt I made, which was the hulk. The first two sculpts I made (one being so bad I don’t want to show it) were fairly bad with the second being god knows what. From there however I have learnt how to use tools such as wax to add better forms to the models and at the same time to subtract them with the invert option. Due to how much I kind of neglected this project there wasn’t a substantial amount of stuff that went well, and at the same time not a lot that went wrong either.

What Didn’t Go Well?

Apart from the usual things that didn’t go well, which you can read in my other blogs (TL:DR Time Management) there weren’t a whole lot of muck ups for this specialisation. A lot of this is because I didn’t have a super time intensive specialisation, however I also did a lot of research. One of the problems I had was that I didn’t practice and study anatomy enough. Practicing should have been one of my biggest priorities for this project, and I think by pumping out a lot of sculpts I would have definitely had a higher quality project overall. In this regard practicing went fairly terrible.

Getting the grasp of some tools too me quite a while, and even now I am not super confident with them. Things such as the grab tool (used to pull the mesh into its basic layout before sculpting in detail) I really struggle with, and I can’t seem to find a nice starting point without seemingly destroying the base mesh in the process. This can be fairly aggravating but at the same time I haven’t given sculpting enough of a go yet, and if I expect to be semi competent at it I need to put in a lot more effort.

What Would I Do Differently Next Time?

A lot of this stuff is pretty obvious and can be inferred from previous paragraphs but there are a few things I can do differently next time. Next time around I will practice and have a crack at experimenting a little bit more to try and push my knowledge of sculpting and Mudbox. I will also have a look at incorporating it into a normal map so I can use it in an effective way, rather than just a good looking bust. Learning the foundations more is definitely one of the big things on my to do list, as well as practicing with the user interface so I am one hundred percent confident with it. The only other thing I can think of is that I’ll make sure to always use reference, as it is insanely helpful and I am not yet at the stage where I can create something from the top of my head.

What Have I Learned During This Project?

I have learnt how to sculpt! Not really though, I have only really touched on the basics. I have learnt the absolute basics of digital sculpting through Mudbox and a lot of the things I learnt are from my research blog. From a theoretical standpoint I have studied quite a bit, and learnt a bit about the workflow for ZBrush, Blender and Mudbox, and I am aware of each programs pros and cons.


I’m going to try a lot harder so that I can enjoy what I do and be proud of it at the same time. This isn’t enough at the moment, and I am aware of that. I had fun doing the sculpts I did do and am planning to do more during my spare time before I head back to the course again next year.

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