Archive for 3d sculpting

Thorn Wishes Talon!

Posted in 40k, Inq28, Inquisitor, Pointless ramblings, WIP with tags , , , , , , , , , , on April 25, 2020 by krautscientist

For today, I would like to delve deeper into something from my previous post, namely my attempt at sculpting a 3D CGI version of Inquisitor Gregor Eisenhorn’s face. I do of course realise that this moves somewhat beyond the usual content featured on this blog, but I hope that some of you, at least, will still find this interesting.

As I have already told you, I am having a blast playing around with DreamsMediaMolecule’s weird and wonderful game development engine on the PS4 – recently, and I can tell you that I am legitmately – if maybe irrationally – excited about this stuff, mostly because it feels like actually learning some completely new skills.

Anyway, here’s where we left off last time:

A reasonably complete sculpt of an old guy with some metal stuck to his face — hopefully well on his way to being recognisable as the Gregor Eisenhorn we all know and love 😉 Before we move on, however, I think I should maybe give you a bit more context. Remember how I said in my last post that this was only my second attempt at 3D/CGI modeling? Well, here’s the first attempt, created a few days before I started on the Eisenhorn project:

To be fair, this first attempt leaned into a rather more cartoony style from the get-go, but it’s still really weird, isn’t it? It was also only marginally improved by adding some hair…

Anyway, I think this should show you how it has been a bit of a steep learning curve for me 😉

While I was reasonably happy with my first attempt for a while, I quickly started feeling unsatisfied with it: The cartoony nature really just seemed like a bit of an excuse for coming up with a fairly hokey sculpt, the longer I thought about it. So I decided that my next project would go for a somewhat more realistic angle.

Why Eisenhorn, though? I think the idea appealed to me for several reasons: The sculpt would be quite a challenge, while also allowing me to explore several different elements (such as creating human features as well as augmetic, metallic implants) at the same time. I also really wanted to do something hobby related in this new medium, to be honest — and I had this half-formed plan of not stopping with the sculpt, but of creating something like a little vignette, a little slice of the 40k universe, so to speak.

Dreams is the first program I have ever used to create something in 3D, so I cannot tell you how it compares to other software. I would venture a guess that its main feature – the fact that everything is basically assembled by building up geometric shapes (mostly … ) and blending them together – is probably the same for most 3D modeling software. That being said, it does have its quirks and idiosyncrasies — such as the fact that you are doing it all holding a controller (and frantically so, in many cases). This sometimes seems to make things a bit harder than they need to be, and yet the challenge created by this also somewhat appeals to the lifelong gamer in me, to be honest 😉

One thing that really takes some getting used to is to get things placed in exactly the right spot — and while I made good use of Dreams’ options for displaying grids and mirroring working steps, the early phase of creating the sculpt was really slow, careful and deliberate going:

As you can see, I carefully built up the features by adding more shapes (mostly spheroids). If you have the blending effect turned up on your various shapes, this actually does feel a bit like actual sculpting, because of the way the piece starts to deform rather organically when you add new shapes. So I slowly worked my way towards something resembling an actual face:

“Digging out” the eye sockets was really a crucial moment, and I let out a really, really deep breath when I finally got that part just right:

With the basic assembly out of the way, my first milestone for the project was to create a first, “clean” version of the face before actually improving and detailing it further:

This is very much my baseline face sculpt that I could probably return to for other projects, if needed (I have a half-baked idea making a copy and tweaking it to have broader, more Astartes-like features, just as a proof of concept).

The next step was to add more details, such as wrinkels and scars, in order to make the face look more realistic. Which gave me this finished sculpt:

And here’s a detail look at the face, showing you the added detail I talked about. Due to the way sculpting works in Dreams, those wrinkles were actually “sculpted” onto the underlying face, using a tiny sphere as a brush, so to speak, then using it to create tiny depressions in the skin, instead of applying a “painted” texture map:

Now I do of course realise that this face isn’t photo-realistic in any sense of the word, and that it still has a somewhat stylised look. On top of that, there are also all kinds of minor anatomic problems (don’t get me started on those ears, for instance). But when all is said and done, I would argue that the face at least looks fairly believable, if nothing else.

I wasn’t even done, however, because I still wanted to legitimately turn this into Gregor Eisenhorn.

Throughout the whole project, my main point of reference was this classic piece of artwork, still pretty much my favourite depiction of the venerable Inquisitor:

The artwork originally appeared on the back of the Inquisitor rulebook, and I just love the amount of character in detail in it (so much so, in fact, that I also used it as a model for one of my, slightly dodgy, digital painting attempts earlier this year).

Anyway, the artwork really provided me with lots of extra detail to tweak my sculpt, especially when it comes to facial scarring and the way those implants are integrated into Eisenhorn’s skull.

Before we move on, I would be remiss not to mention that there actually already is a CGI version of old Eisenhorn, namely this interpretation from Pixel Hero Games’ “Eisenhorn: Xenos” videogame:

But while I like that interpretation well enough, it also seemed a bit too, I don’t know, beefy for me? I wanted some proper old man features on Gregor (hence the larger ears and somewhat wizened look on my own sculpt).

Which leads us right back to the beginning: Here’s Eisenhorn’s face again, now with the first augmetic additions. As you can see in the bottom left, I also modeled a couple of tubes and connection ports that I would copy and place all over the head in order to recreate Eisenhorn’s implants.

Once those augmetics were in place, I used more sculpted shapes to blend them into the rest of the head and make the skin around them look irritated and lumpy. Once again, everything you see basically consists of geometric shapes (more spheres, in this case) that have been blended together. The picture below also shows you Dreams’ UI and toolbar for the sculpting mode:

One reason why sculpting Eisenhorn’s head was such a useful learning experience was that the sculpt actually combines very different textures: Eisenhorn’s skin was going to be matte and soft-looking while I wanted his various implants to have a hard, metallic look. This was achieved by giving both areas different finishes. The blue-ish colour of the metal is actually the reflected background colour!

It was always clear to me that I would eventually use Eisenhorn’s head in some kind of staged scene, and once I had the finished face, I moved right on to that. In order for his head to seem even more believable, I quickly threw together a mockup for his iconic high collar (by simply using a cylinder shape and cutting a part out of it):

I then tried an early mockup of the intended scene, with Eisenhorn in a suitably (grim)dark locale, with a servo-skull hovering over his shoulder. Here’s an early impression of that test build:

As you can see, the lighting instantly changes the entire atmosphere. Here’s a picture from when I was zeroing in on the exact kind of lighting conditions I wanted. The servo-skull also looks more refined — although it was merely “jury-rigged” by adding some of my augmetic gubbinz to a readymade skull from MediaMolecule’s gallery of useable objects):

But while I liked the general look of the piece, the messy collar was really starting to bother me at this point, so back to the drawing board I went: I tried a slightly more involved attempt, and while the result still isn’t a perfect recreation of Eisenhorn’s look, I liked it much better:

I also used this opportunity to add a few additional flourishes, while I was at it, such as veins showing beneath the skin and a few tweaks to his augmetic implants, including some glowing lights:

And then it was back to assembling my little scene. Here you see the entire stage, so to speak, with all of the controls in view and the studio lighting turned on to make it easier to tweak the scene:

The little purple shapes surrounding the model are cameras that I placed by hand, because I wanted to end up with a short scene of the camera moving around Eisenhorn, in order to show off the fact that this was actually a fully realised 3D scene.

As for the surrounding scene, I have to point out that I only really created the character bust, while everything else came from fellow Dreamers’ assets — in fact, one really great thing about Dreams is that, while you can of course build everything by yourself, there’s always a huge library of wonderful building blocks at your fingertips.

Anyway, here’s the same scene with the lighting effects “turned on”, as it were:

Quite a difference, wouldn’t you agree?

And here, without further ado, is my little scene showing my interpretation of Inquisitor Gregor Eisenhorn:

I am actually crazy happy with this outcome, even if there’s still much room for improvement, to be sure! Oh, and there’s even a short video, to show you how this stuff is even properly 3D, and everything:

Many thanks must go to my fellow Dreamers magister95, ZIIQ, Lucki_Lady, PulsarFlux, shredderweats, oreo123456789109, thebiv, BonMotGuy_ and Lobselvith_Black for their excellent assets! :)for their fantastic assets — like I said, I only really created the head and shoulders, the rest of the scene came from the work of those very talented people. Oh, and by the same token, if you are on Dreams as well, feel free to peruse my head sculpts for your own projects! They are called “Lined patrician face version 1” and “Lined patrician face version 2” — in fact, as of this writing, one fellow user has already used dear old Gregor’s head as the villain in a recreated Power Ranger scene, of all things 😉

So anyway, that’s it for today’s – slightly different – update. While the subject might have been beyond my usual content today, I would nevertheless love to hear any thoughts you might have, so feel free to leave a comment!

As always, thanks for looking and stay tuned for more — and please stay safe and healthy during these challenging times!

INQ28: Kitbashing in the time of Corona, pt. 2

Posted in 40k, Conversions, Fluff, Inq28, Inquisitor, WIP with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on April 17, 2020 by krautscientist

Hey everyone, it’s time for another update — and yet, I’ve had virtually no hobby time, for reasons that shall become obvious further down in this post.

It’s a good thing, then, that I still have enough bits and bobs from my desktop to share with you, even if I’ve been sitting on some of this stuff for a while now — what better way to clean house, as it were, eh? So let’s take a look:

I’ll start with a small update on one of the projects from my previous post: Remember the beginnings of my Bloodbriar Cartel?

Looking at the models, I realised that I wanted another bodyguard for the retinue. Now building another sentinel would have been quite tempting, especially on the account of this awesome idea of fellow hobbyist euansmith:

The entire gaggle are looking sumptuous. Looking at the Guard with the shield, I was struck by the idea that, if you make a second one that was Left Handed, they could stand behind important people, with their two shields forming a pair of wings to make their VIP look even more important. The mask on the guard is really cool.

But then I quickly realised that my heavy case of hobby butterfly syndrome probably wouldn’t allow me to build – much less paint – another identical model. Plus I also felt that the bulky Sentinel should be balanced out by a very different, slim and lithe bodyguard. So I came up with this kitbash:

Maddeningly enough, the differently coloured plastic on the upper half of the head makes the whole thing look like a bad Photoshop job in those pictures — you’ll have to take my word that the whole head assembly works better in real life. But I didn’t want to “cheat” by showing a grayscale picture, electing to rather show you the initial kitbash, warts and all.

I also have to admit that I am not quite happy with the second bodyguard yet, and there are definitely quite a few kinks to deal with: To name just one issue, maybe that Bonereaper sword is too massive, but then again, I think I’ll be keeping it because I like the idea of an “exotic” weapon like that without any clear chaos or xenos influences — it looks like the kind of weapon you would see in a powerful crime syndicate (plus all the other swords in my collection are just as big).

One thing I think already works pretty well is the pose: I wanted the bodyguard to look self-assured and at rest, so I really had to go to town on those jumpy Wych legs. The slowly advancing stance looks like that of a ballet dancer, though, which is just what I wanted.


Next, more or less à propos of nowhere, came a conversion that felt like I simply had to get it out of my system. A bounty hunter, possibly with a bit of a Xenos influence:

The were several design influences at play here: The image of Japanese Ronin (very obviously), Princess Leia’s bounty hunter disguise in Return of the Jedi, as well as character designs you would see in Franco-Belgian graphic novels, such as “Valérien”. Plus the original idea was also lifted from a model I saw on Reddit 😉

The conversion itself was a pretty straightforward one, mostly based on a Necromunda Delaque:

  • indeed, the body, right arm and gun on the back are all from the new Necromunda Delaques
  • the left arm is from the Dark Eldar Kabalite Warriors (or Wyches)
  • the sword came from the AdMech Sicarian Ruststalkers
  • the head, hat and shoulder pad are all leftover Tau…erm “T’au” bitz from my bitzbox: The hat is either from the gun drones or from the Krisis suits – I’d say Krisis suits, though, as the discs that made up the drone bodies are even bigger in diameter. The shoulder pad is from the XV25 Stealth Suits, if I am not mistaken. And the head is just some small sensor array bit (probably from the Krisis suits as well, but I really don’t know) with a couple of extra gubbinz (including a new eye lens) added on to bulk it out just a little and make it look more tech-y. I just wanted a head that seemed very un-imperial and also not at all like a classic facemask.

Here’s another look at the model now with an extra grenade on the model’s belt (for improved visual balance):

Possibly my favourite part of this conversion is that it seems to turn the somewhat awkward pose of this particular Delaque body into an actual strenght: If you ask me, the model really does look like some kind of itinerant Dark SciFi Samurai leisurely strolling through the underhive 😉

In fact, this latest model seems like the perfect opportunity to also share another Delaque-based conversion that I have been sitting on for a while: A mysterious figure, inspired by a yet another conversion I saw online (on Pinterest, I think?!)

This conversion is even more straightforward, simply swapping in a blank Dark Eldar helmet and relying on Delaque bitz otherwise. When I saw this idea, I instantly loved it! It creates such a mysterious, sinister look! Just what I needed for a character codenamed “The Architect”, a mysterious agent of the Neo-Thorian radical splinter-faction known as “The Fragmentarians”, a recurring shadowy power within the Velsen sector…

I wanted the character to look like a secretive player from behind the curtain, so to speak, preferring to be subtle about their influence. Even so, the Architect is not above stepping in and doing some red work, hence the inclusion of the stiletto…

As an added bonus, this model was also the perfect excuse for finally realising a long-standing plan of mine and build a conversion resembling “The Alchemist”, the super-creepy villain of the 2001 film “Vidocq”:

In case you are not familiar with the film, it’s a bit zany and scatterbrained in that special way only French (fantasy) films are, but the production design is really awesome, and the villain is just incredibly creepy — fun fact, back in the day, scenes from the film were used in the music video for a song that appeared on the film’s OST, and I was mesmerised by the Alchemist’s appearance in the video, but didn’t have any idea that those scenes came from an actual film. Years later, I walked by a DVD bargain bin and saw the cover artwork (just the Alchemist’s “face”, as shown above), and basically bought the DVD based on that alone.

It also seems like I am getting quite a bit of mileage out of that Delaque kit, although I have yet to build an actual Delaque… 😉


Next up, a bit of a terrain – or basing – experiment: When my friend Annie recently placed a large order at Greenstuffworld, I took the opportunity to order one of Greenstuffworld’s textured rolling pins (the temple one) that can be used to create rather intricate designs on bases. So I decided to finally give that a try as well.

The tool is actually rolled through fresh GS, as though you were trying to make cookies. It took a couple of tries to get it reasonably right, but here’s the blank base with the freshly created design on top:

Here’s what it looked like with the undercoat in place:

And here’s the finished base:

Regarding the paintjob, it would have been easy enough to pick up some of the details in a different colour (gold, for example), but for my initial attempt, I didn’t want to draw too much attention away from the model that was to be placed on top of that base.Anyway, while there’s still quite a bit of room for improvement, I’d say it’s a solid first attempt.

My main reason for going with this design in the first place was that I was looking for a less underhive-y look — instead I wanted something to suggest the courts and halls of power, so to speak, of the Velsen sector. Which is why the first finished base in this style was given to my conversion for Lord Sebastianus Danver Balzepho Vlachen, nephew to the Lord Sector:

Funnily enough, the “temple” design might just as well be called the “INQ28” design — there’s a smattering of quasi-40k-esque symbols present in the design, including a small “28” plaque, for crying out loud 😉


And that’s about it for today’s collection of odds and ends — oh, wait! I have one more thing to share with you all:

You see, the reason why I haven’t managed to get any hobbying done lately is that I have been sinking virtually all of my free time into MediaMolecule’s “Dreams”, basically a game/machinima/3D sculpting/… toolkit for the Playstation 4. I don’t want to gush, especially since I am helplessly in love with the game/program right now, but it’s definitely one of the most remarkable pieces of software I have seen in a long time (fun fact, I bought this and the Final Fantasy VII Remake for the Easter holiday. I have yet to touch the Final Fantasy game…). Plus it’s a blast to play around in!

And I do actually have something hobby related to show for myself, because – in an attempt to get more familiar with Dreams’ 3D sculpting tools – I set out to create a model of Inquisitor Gregor Eisenhorn’s head:

This project is still very much work in progress, but it’s also only my second attempt at digitally sculpting a head in 3D — and without a lick of prior modeling experience, to boot. Anyway, if you’ll excuse me: I think I may have to add a few more tubes and augmetic gubbinz to dear old Gregor’s mug 😉

In any case, I would love to hear any thoughts you might have on my current projects! Please leave a comment!

As always, thanks for looking and stay tuned for more — and please stay safe and healthy during these challenging times!