Sculptember 2020

Oct 4, 2020 ~ 6 min read ~ thoughtsartsculptember

Sculptember 2020
Sculptember 2020 Prompts

Another September is now in the books. It was a notable month for so, so many reasons. Not the least of which is Sculptember! I participated last year, and it was so much fun I had to do it again.

The big-daddy of digital sculpting apps is ZBrush. I do own a copy of ZBrush but, frankly, it’s so unintuitive that I always forget the arcane keyboard and mouse gesture combinations required to be productive1. So once again, I used Blender instead. And it continues to impress. It’s still a bit laggy on big scenes with a lot of polys (on my MacBook Pro, anyway). But it’s possible that might be fixed soon.

While I can get up to speed much faster in Blender than ZBrush, it still takes a good week, or so, before I feel like I’m creating stuff that’s not horrible2. The primary way I can tell I’m getting back into the groove is my blockout phase goes much faster3. I find the base forms more quickly and can add a few more details before running out of time.

Usually, I gave myself two or three hours to complete a piece. Sometimes I went long. The Scrooge McDuck4 scene took the longest by far. But it was a Saturday, so I let myself have fun and experiment with particle systems for the coins.

Sculpts on Film

This time I recorded a few timelapse videos. You can see them all on YouTube… Where else?

For the lazy/impatient, here’s the entire playlist:

If you’re interested, I actually used Blender to edit these videos too. Blender is the Swiss Army Knife of digital content creation5.

I record my sessions using a bash script (see below) that captures a screenshot of my primary display once per second. From there, I import those files as an image sequence into Blender, add some royalty-free music, a post-reel image zoom animation, and voilà!

Listed below are all 30 sculpts from September, un-altered6. Some are originals; the majority are pop-culture references. 80s/90s cartoons, mostly. If you can’t place one, or have any questions, hit me up in the comments or on twitter.


Day Day 01 - Retro: Q*bert Day Day 02 - Heavy: Eleroo Day Day 03 - Jelly: Jelly Horse Day Day 04 - Flower: Bellossom Day Day 05 - Soft: Kitty Day Day 06 - Edgy: Aloe Day Day 07 - Love: Balloon Day Day 08 - Cute: Dillo Day Day 09 - Robot: Bob Day Day 10 - Broken: Bork Bork Day Day 11 - Power: Turtle Power Day Day 12 - Hero: Spider Gwen Day Day 13 - Anger: Donald Day Day 14 - Peace: Grim Gesture Day Day 15 - Myth: Last Unicorn Day Day 16 - Unite: Dillon! You son of a... Day Day 17 - Pet: Lockheed Day Day 18 - Funny: Wokka Wokka Day Day 19 - Rich: Head First Day Day 20 - Sharp: Simon Day Day 21 - Beauty: Swan Song Day Day 22 - Beast: Beast Boy Day Day 23 - Fire: Charmander Day Day 24 - Ice: Bergmite Day Day 25 - One: Thing One Day Day 26 - Fear: Scarecrow Day Day 27 - Villain: Skeletor Day Day 28 - Magic: Magic Broom Day Day 29 - Equal: Apple & Orange Day Day 30 - Mystery: Scooby

Nerd Stuff

Here’s the bash function that captures a screenshot every N seconds:

# For macOS only, AFAIK
# (unless your OS has a `screencapture` executable that accepts the same params)
function razzi(){
  local COUNTER=1

  if [ $# -eq 0 ]; then
    echo "Must provide delay value (in seconds)"

  if [ $# -eq 1 ]; then
    echo "Capturing screenshots every ${1} seconds to ~/Projects/Temp/ScreenCaptures"
    while :; do
      sleep $1;
      screencapture -x -tjpg -C ~/Projects/Temp/ScreenCaptures/$(date +%y%m%d%H%M%S).jpg;
      echo "Snap! ($COUNTER)";

And yes, I am that kind of nerd. Even when creating art, I code.

  1. I used to know 'em. But it’s amazing how quickly that kind of stuff exits your brain when you don’t use it. ↩︎

  2. I mean, you know… Art is subjective; you may still think it’s horrible – and that’s fine – I’m just saying, it takes a while to remember how forms work in space. ↩︎

  3. I explain my process and the phases of a 3D sculpt in my last Sculptember post. ↩︎

  4. Day 19: Rich ↩︎

  5. Except, you know, not Swiss. I guess, if anything, it’d be Dutch software, eh? ↩︎

  6. Technically, they are altered, I suppose. I added my watermark to the corner. But that’s all—no touch-ups to the renders after the fact. ↩︎