Meet Alexander V.! He works with instructor Ron as part of Game-U’s New Jersey Accelerate program. When Alexander’s not developing his dungeon crawler in the professional gaming engine, Unity, he’s designing digital art and 3D models. Check out his most recent model – a sea turtle!
Using the Sculptris modeling app, Alexander started with a lump of digital “clay,” or more precisely, a loosely-defined primitive sphere object that can be re-shaped using Sculptris’ modeling tools, including grab, smooth, pinch, mask, and draw. Just like artists, 3D modelers break down complex shapes into simple ones, so Alexander researched a sea turtle reference image to figure out what shapes he needed sculpt. He came up with an oval for the turtle’s shell, cylinders for its front flippers, a flattened sphere for its head, a combination of cylinders and triangles for its back flippers, and a cone for its tail.
With these shapes as his starting point, Alexander began modifying the default shape. By “grabbing” sections of clay and stretching them out, Alexander pulled new shapes from the original lump. For the front flippers, he turned on the “symmetry” setting to keep his sculpture symmetrical, and used grab to pull out a new cylinder. (Symmetry means that Sculptris automatically mirrors any changes on the opposite side of the clay.) Then he grabbed a section of the new cylinder and pulled that out, too, creating the joint, and extending it to shape the flipper itself. Alexander continued sculpting the turtle, smoothing curves, removing clay, and pinching shapes, until he produced the same figure seen in the video!
But Alexander wasn’t quite finished yet. Real sea turtles share geometric patterns on their shells and skins, so Alexander used one final tool – inverted draw – to carve patterns into his model. He added lines to the turtle’s neck to give it definition and to suggest folds in the skin. He drew more lines on the flippers and the neck to mark where the skin might be differently colored. Alexander even carved an underbelly pattern and sculpted a face! With these finishing touches, we get the result shown above – a beautiful sea turtle.
Great job, Alexander! Even though this was your first time using Sculptris, your sea turtle looks like he could take his place as a character in an undersea or fish tank game. Stay in touch as you continue to learn about 3D modeling in game design! We’re excited to see what other characters you create.