There are a lot of free resources out there for artists, but they often require a lot of time to sit down and grasp the learning curve… and time is something I don’t have a lot of.  Sculptris is a 3D modeling program that has been around for a while (it’s essentially the free starter version of ZBrush, an insanely expensive professional modeling program).  While I suspect that most serious 3D artists don’t bother with such an entry-level software, it turns out that Sculptris is absolutely awesome for quickly creating three-dimensional critters and organic shapes that defy description.  It’s also one of the most immediately intuitive 3D user interfaces I’ve ever had the pleasure of fooling around with, and its quick learning curve makes it ideal for 2D artists who are in constant need of unusual reference material.

Here is a horrible fish-thing. Isn’t it lovely? It took 5 minutes to make.


Unlike most 3D modeling programs, Sculptris presents you with a featureless ball that you can mold into whatever shape you like using a small number of tools.  You can draw features on, pinch, smooth, indent and extrude (“erasing” your mistakes as necessary), either symmetrically or not.  There are a lot of good basic textures included with the software as well.  Unlike most 3D modeling programs I’ve used, Sculptris isn’t filled with intimidating control panels and sluggish navigation.  You don’t need to have a superfast computer for this program to run properly.  (And did I mention it’s free?)

This video shows how it works:

Now, some master sculptors have used Sculptris to create things like human heads and actual monsters, but for the 2D artist, Sculptris is mainly an interesting toy that may occasionally have some very useful applications.  So if Walter is inventing porcupine/cold-virus hybrids and you really need an exact reference for that, consider creating your own.  It’s a fun and addicting program to use.

You can download Sculptris here (free registration required), and you can find a few pre-made Sculptris-compatible models at ShareCG.