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Hand sculpted or computer designed - what's better?

Hand sculpted
64 (91.4%)
Computer designed
6 (8.6%)

Total Members Voted: 70

Author Topic: Hand sculpted or computer designed - what's better?  (Read 3694 times)

Offline Belligerentparrot

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Re: Hand sculpted or computer designed - what's better?
« Reply #15 on: December 04, 2023, 11:40:53 AM »
I don't want to offend any digital sculptor, but after all it is in fact pressing the right button.

I think that is a bit unfair, though I'm sure you weren't trying to be. Anyone who is a really good digital sculptor is good because they know all the stuff that makes for a good trad sculpt: proportion, anatomy, how to convey movement, etc. etc. I think there is some pushback against digital sculpting because some people who couldn't sculpt properly, but could push buttons, saw the kickstarter explosion as a way to get rich quick by showing pics of renders.

If you want an analogy, here's an admittedly niche one. A big proportion of what you hear on those early Nine Inch Nails albums (no idea about anything post Spiral) is created by Reznor pushing buttons. But a lot of musical knowledge and songwriting craft went into that button-pushing - he's as much of a musician as Dylan or Coltrane or anyone else. (Not a NIN fan myself, just saying he couldn't have realised his artistic vision by button-pushing if he didn't have the musical nous and chops).

Offline Michi

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Re: Hand sculpted or computer designed - what's better?
« Reply #16 on: December 04, 2023, 12:00:11 PM »
I think that is a bit unfair, though I'm sure you weren't trying to be.

Admitted! I didn't want to be unfair and I see your and Glitzer's point.
I simply wanted to explain my admiration to traditional sculptors capable of hand-eye coordination to an extent I even don't dare to imagine to master myself. Your comparison with music is a good one to highlight that: Although I can play a few tunes on a few instruments doesn't make me equal to somebody who has a reputation of being a good musician - whatever my abilities as a composer are.

Technical gadgets that help a visionary to overcome the lack of physical skills are just fair (in fact these are just another sort of skill) and don't lower the value of the artist. That's what I wanted to say.
By the way: I am absolutely not good at pressing buttons and admire those who are!  :D

Offline Cait Sidhe

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Re: Hand sculpted or computer designed - what's better?
« Reply #17 on: December 04, 2023, 12:51:10 PM »
I don't want to offend any digital sculptor, but after all it is in fact pressing the right button. As a painter, I think I can dare to compare the process of sculpting by hand with painting on canvas or a miniature. It's making your vision come to reality and doesn't allow any mistake, other than you have to accept the flaws or go back to the start.

I'm not entirely sure what you think digital sculpting is, but it's really not about pushing buttons... You still need to sculpt the models using "hand eye coordination" as you put it and for figures a solid knowledge of anatomy and all the other stuff any artist needs to know. Also lots of traditional sculptors use oven baked clays instead of epoxies so you can absolutely keep reworking stuff to get it right. Sculpting software has a lot of aids that traditional sculpting doesn't like mirroring or the ability to easily repeat detail and I think how those tools are used are what lead to the "lifeless" feeling folk are describing.

It's honestly entirely down to the sculptors, having the models blown up on screen makes it very easy to add fiddly unecessary details or realistic proportions which look great till they're printed as a tiny miniature. If you look at something like Warp/Warploque minis his digital stuff has the exact same style as the old traditional sculpts. It probably helps that he's coming from miniature sculpting rather than say making models for videogames


Offline Glitzer

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Re: Hand sculpted or computer designed - what's better?
« Reply #18 on: December 04, 2023, 02:43:41 PM »
One other thing one has to consider: there are myriads of ways to arrive at a digital model. Some actually digitaly sculpt very similar to putty sculpting. In contrast to posed rigs I'd go as far and say those are "hand sculpted" too. Digitaly hand sculpted though. Those also tend to show what Michi called a "handwriting". Just like I instantly identify minis by Mark Copplestone, Kev White or Werner Klocke, certrain studios like BIte the Bullet. Artisan Guild, or Moonlight Minis have their unique styles which I slowly begin to be able to spot.

And of course there are digital sculpts from creators that started as putty pushers. Victoria Miniatures and Bombshell Miniatures come to my mind there.
« Last Edit: December 04, 2023, 02:56:34 PM by Glitzer »
Far less active than I used to...

Offline Tactalvanic

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Re: Hand sculpted or computer designed - what's better?
« Reply #19 on: December 04, 2023, 04:38:26 PM »
I chose Hand sculpted but the presentation of the question to me is wrong.

digital sculpting is in effect a set of tools, same as the toothpick etc. you then move into the skills, knowledge, talent and styles of the the person using the tools.

If you were to wait a bit longer and ask AI/bot/thing to "3d sculpt me a dwarf with this software" and then ask which is better - a human sculpted or this AI one. that would be to me a valid comparison.

Lets not get into " do it in the style of "insert sculptor's name" and make it a dwarf miner" etc.

In short - why blame the tools for sculpts lacking soul or being too busy?

I like some, I don't like others in regards to miniatures, and that's more due to me, my preferences/bias and the style of them rather than the tools used to make them?

Offline Elk101

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Re: Hand sculpted or computer designed - what's better?
« Reply #20 on: December 04, 2023, 04:44:25 PM »
I did initially consider that this might be better served on the General Board, but there were quite a few references specifically to fantasy figures, so I left it. Coming back to it a few pages in, I do wonder if it might generate a broader discussion on the General Board.

Online YPU

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Re: Hand sculpted or computer designed - what's better?
« Reply #21 on: December 04, 2023, 10:12:56 PM »
I cannot agree with that. Resin printers can produce very crisp chainmail. However a lot of 3D files are a bit shallow on surface texturing.

Aye I think this is a thing many (starting) sculptors struggle with. What looks stupidly over-accentuated on the screen looks just right on the table. That's definitely an advantage of physical sculpting, what you see is what you get. (to a point) For example, the Zimmerit on the 6mm tanks I did for 2d6 wargaming looks like hedgehogs in CAD, but in real life that rough texture only barely shows after a layer of primer and paint.

3d designer, sculptor and printer, at your service!



3d files! (here)

Offline Ultravanillasmurf

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Re: Hand sculpted or computer designed - what's better?
« Reply #22 on: December 05, 2023, 09:11:06 AM »
Aye I think this is a thing many (starting) sculptors struggle with. What looks stupidly over-accentuated on the screen looks just right on the table. That's definitely an advantage of physical sculpting, what you see is what you get. (to a point) For example, the Zimmerit on the 6mm tanks I did for 2d6 wargaming looks like hedgehogs in CAD, but in real life that rough texture only barely shows after a layer of primer and paint.
I agree, I had issues with the screen rendering of some of the early Crooked Dice CAD figures, this would appear to be due to the virtual camera distorting the proportions slightly (in the same way a perfectly accurate 3D box looks odd on the screen without the effect of perspective).

Offline Glitzer

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Re: Hand sculpted or computer designed - what's better?
« Reply #23 on: December 05, 2023, 09:49:18 AM »
I think many creators are caught in the scale modeling mindset. We gamers are a bit different. I do not care that rivets are not really visible at that scale, I do not care that my miniatures have way too big hands, feet and heads.

Our models are not scale models - they are not intended to study dimensions. Our models are intended to bring other things across, like character features or the idea of dynamic motions. Just look at all those cool miniatures hair - they look more like anime drawings than the real thing. Any real person with such a mane would look ridiculous. Besides that I prefer sturdy models over accurate ones - even more so as I now start to get old with all the included maladies.

Offline zemjw

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Re: Hand sculpted or computer designed - what's better?
« Reply #24 on: December 05, 2023, 10:07:38 AM »
Aye I think this is a thing many (starting) sculptors struggle with. What looks stupidly over-accentuated on the screen looks just right on the table. That's definitely an advantage of physical sculpting, what you see is what you get. (to a point) For example, the Zimmerit on the 6mm tanks I did for 2d6 wargaming looks like hedgehogs in CAD, but in real life that rough texture only barely shows after a layer of primer and paint.


My first digital sculpt used a base mesh from MakeHuman, to which I added clothes etc. This meant its proportions were correct, 7.5 heads tall etc. The plan was that he was a ground controller at a spaceport (I was doing spaceport staff at the time), so I gave him a couple of batons as well.

I got it printed on Shapeways (no resin printer), and got back a skinny figure with virtually no surface detail and with batons that were barely visible. He would just about have passed for a model railway figure, but no use whatever for the gaming table :(

I still struggle with judging how chunky a component has to be on screen to look okay when printed, having to force myself to make it look comically huge, knowing even that is probably not enough.

As to the original question, I think I'm in the "it depends" category, probably leaning towards hand sculpted. However, with my eyes not getting any younger, I much prefer a large monitor to crouching over a wire armature trying to get putty to stick to it, and trying to not get fingerprints on it. However, if they made a Ctrl-Z for greenstuff, I could be tempted back ;D

Offline Glitzer

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Re: Hand sculpted or computer designed - what's better?
« Reply #25 on: December 05, 2023, 10:23:58 AM »
My first digital sculpt used a base mesh from MakeHuman, to which I added clothes etc. This meant its proportions were correct, 7.5 heads tall etc. The plan was that he was a ground controller at a spaceport (I was doing spaceport staff at the time), so I gave him a couple of batons as well.
Try a preset somewhere between a toddler and a child then increase hand and feet size. if it looks like an 8 year old on your screen the mini will usually look fine. Also overdo the eyes size, especially in the Z dimension.

Offline Daeothar

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Re: Hand sculpted or computer designed - what's better?
« Reply #26 on: December 05, 2023, 10:33:48 AM »
As the owner of a 3D-printer, it's inevitable that I have an ever growing amount of 3D sculpts in my collection. And I must admit that the stuff I print is mostly excellent.

But that's also me, picking and choosing what I like!

And here's the thing; I'v learned over the years that just because you can, doesn't mean you should. And with digital sculpting, it's really easy to go over the top, just because you can.

It appears that Horror Vacui is still a thing with some artists, regardless of their medium. So there are 3D-sculptors out there who will absolutely cover their minis in detail. Just because they can and don't know when to stop. The limitations of physical sculpting usually prevented such behaviour when sculpting by hand though.

And as a painter, this is something I used to like, but not anymore. These days I prefer a plain, simple miniature over one covered in tiny details. Not because of my reducing eye sight (I still have enough miles to go before that will be a bother), but because my taste in miniatures has changed.

So I happily print 3D miniatures that fit within my aesthetic taste, and they usually match well with my traditional miniatures, because my taste standards extend across mediums of course.

There is a large part of nostalgia/grognardery involved here as well, I readily admit. I've really grown to love the over the top heroic nineties aesthetic, preferably in metal too, as this was the period I got into the hobby.

So this means that I'm not a big fan of the more current, very busy miniatures that (for instance) GW releases these days, and by extention also not of over the top detailed 3D-sculpts, be they produced in Siocast, resin or offered as an STL.

Is there a difference for me between hand-sculpted and 3D-sculpted miniatures? Not really, bar the above stated criterium of not being overly busy. But as I've let myself be forced into this binairy choice, I'll have to go with hand sculpted, simply because of the aforementioned wave of nostalgia that has hit me a couple of years ago and does not seem to go anywhere...
« Last Edit: December 05, 2023, 10:35:31 AM by Daeothar »
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Offline clibinarium

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Re: Hand sculpted or computer designed - what's better?
« Reply #27 on: December 07, 2023, 02:04:48 PM »
Very interesting topic, especially as I've done both. As others have said the difference is that they are two sets of tools to accomplish the same end. Sort of like writing by hand vs using a typewriter vs using a word processing program. Different ways of doing the same thing, each with certain flaws and advantages, but in each approach you are applying your skill to what is actually written (unless you are lazy enough to get ChatGPT to write for you, but that's a whole other can of worms).

That said there are aspects of the chosen method that can impose limits or open traps for the designer. Working by hand for instance, you are limited by the size of your tools, your eyesight, your steadiness of hand. This has downsides; try making a machine like a tank by hand- very difficult. But it also has the upside of making organic stuff more convincing by introducing small flaws and irregularities. The physical dimensions limit the amount of detail you can add, so you are less likely to overcomplicate things.
 Working digitally, regular objects, like the tank, are much easier to do. You can be sure of dimensions eg if you add a cylinder you can be sure it is a perfect cylinder. On the other hand, you can keep adding detail ad nauseam, as you can zoom up and down almost infinitely. I've seen people add the weave of cloth into the model, as this is a thing you can do in zBrush for instance relatively easily, without thinking that you couldn't perceive such a detail at a distance and its therefore redundant on a model. That or just cramming the model with stuff (often skullz), which is just not thinking about the design carefully, and as Daeothar says "just because you can".

People love detail for some reason. I am sure we've all had non-gamers look at our stuff and say "look how small it is! Look at the detail!" I guess there is a technical delight is seeing something small and intricate, but I always tell people that adding detail is easy, its the big stuff like proportion and gesture that are difficult. My own epiphany with this was hearing (from a field unrelated to miniatures) the idea "The soul of good design is deciding what to omit".

Actually there's a lot miniature designers can learn from the fundamentals of art, like the idea of visual rest; that something should have detailed regions and empty regions, so that the eye can navigate it more easily and it can be more easily "read".

http://www.neilblevins.com/art_lessons/composition_areas_of_visual_rest/composition_areas_of_visual_rest.htm

Offline Robosmith

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Re: Hand sculpted or computer designed - what's better?
« Reply #28 on: December 07, 2023, 03:03:28 PM »
And here's the thing; I'v learned over the years that just because you can, doesn't mean you should. And with digital sculpting, it's really easy to go over the top, just because you can.

Wasn't it Mantic that released an air ship recently that came in more or less one whole piece and there was detail your brush couldn't physically reach to paint beyond applying the base coat? This is another issue with 3D modeling. You can get your tool any where you want and the painter cannot do the same. So you can put amazing detail inside a bird cage and that birds never getting a brush to reach it despite printing fine.

Traditional sculpting is already a cottage industry and as the current guard retire (or kick the bucket for the already retired ones doing it to keep busy) the medium will almost entirely fade away. Which is a shame because there are things physical media does better. Things like fur are very hard to make look right digitally (most 3d stuff doesn't model the fur but apply it on top as it's own thing, which obviously doesn't work for a static model). Oathmark's wolf riders look hideous because the wolves are weird chunky anime looking things with barely any texture. While almost any fool with a tool (like me) can sculpt some basic fur onto minis.

I personally like 3D printing for display pieces but not rank and file. I think the technology lends it's self well to large detailed things like dragons, dinosaurs or large robots. Something with some real meat on the bone and not individual thumbs the size of a paper clip. There you want the extra detail, it's large enough to be able to get at it and it's a central display piece. For rank and file I want something much simpler to paint and I want it plastic, which leans into traditional over CAD, even though a lot of plastic kits in that style are now CAD (although you often get wonky poses from CAD box sets like the oathmark light elf arms. Some are just bad and need surgery to get any sort of good looking pose).

Ultimately, everything will go CAD and 95% if not more of it will be utter garbage. 4% will be acceptable and 1% will be good. Once you enable Joe Blogs to produce media and sell it, you should expect the quality to plummet and the problem becomes less about finding quality items than it does wading through the swamp of bad ones. Every digital media ends up at this same place as soon as consumer grade technology makes it viable to produce and sell things at home. Movies, Computer games and now 3D sculpting will all become the same slog to find quality. Then it becomes "Why do I bother at all?" and the premium media degrades until it's even worse than the swamp around it because the inlets are clogged with it and schools are being run by the swamp dwellers pumping out generic swamp people lacking the skills and life experience to rise above it... What a bleak picture that paints, unless you play goblins then you might get loads of new recruits!
« Last Edit: December 07, 2023, 06:44:08 PM by Robosmith »

Offline Luigi

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Re: Hand sculpted or computer designed - what's better?
« Reply #29 on: December 07, 2023, 03:17:37 PM »
I think many creators are caught in the scale modeling mindset. We gamers are a bit different. I do not care that rivets are not really visible at that scale, I do not care that my miniatures have way too big hands, feet and heads.

Our models are not scale models - they are not intended to study dimensions. Our models are intended to bring other things across, like character features or the idea of dynamic motions. Just look at all those cool miniatures hair - they look more like anime drawings than the real thing. Any real person with such a mane would look ridiculous. Besides that I prefer sturdy models over accurate ones - even more so as I now start to get old with all the included maladies.

I think that's a good point actually.

I much rather prefer miniatures that are designed as game pieces first (easy to assemble and put together; easy to paint without lots of hard to reach recesses; easy to rank up and that take up no more space than the base they're meant for etc...) rather than a model that might look great in theory but is fiddly and risks coming apart if I were to actually use it in a game.

 

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