Sculpt mode is similar to Edit mode in that it is used to alter the shape of a model, but Sculpt mode uses a very different workflow: instead of dealing with individual elements (vertices, edges, and faces), an area of the model is altered using a brush. In other words, instead of selecting a group of vertices, Sculpt mode automatically selects vertices based on where the brush is, and modifies them accordingly. As if you were sculpting clay…
Activating Sculpt Mode
Sculpt mode is selected from the mode menu of the 3D View header.
Once Sculpt mode is activated a Sculpt menu will appear in the 3D view header, and three tabs for Sculpt, Brush and Texture panels will appear in the Multires panel, in Editing context (F9). Also the cursor will change to a circle with a cross hair in the center.
Hiding and Revealing Mesh
To hide a part of a mesh, Ctrl⇧ ShiftLMB -drag around the part you want to keep - everything else will be hidden. Or Ctrl⇧ ShiftRMB -drag to hide only the selected rectangle. To reveal all hidden parts, just hit AltH or click and release Ctrl⇧ ShiftLMB .
Sculpt Properties Panel
This panel is opened with N or through the 3D view menu: Sculpt » Sculpt Properties. It is the exact equivalent of the Sculpt tab in the Editing context (F9).
Sculpt mode has seven brushes that each operate on the model in a unique way:
- Draw (D)
- Draws a smooth curve on the model following the brush; vertices are displaced in the direction of the average normal of the vertices contained within the brush.
- Smooth (S)
- As the name suggests, eliminates irregularities in the area of the mesh within the brush’s influence.
- Pinch (P)
- Pinch pulls vertices towards the center of the brush. If Sub is active instead of Add, vertices are pushed away from the center of the brush.
- Inflate (I)
- Similar to Draw, except that vertices in Inflate mode are displaced in the direction of their own normals.
- Grab (G)
- Grab is used to drag a group of points around. Unlike the other brushes, Grab does not modify different points as the brush is dragged across the model. Instead, Grab selects a group of vertices on LMB -click, and pulls them to follow the mouse. The effect is similar to moving a group of vertices in Edit mode with proportional-editing enabled, except that Grab can make use of other Sculpt mode options (like textures and symmetry.)
- Layer (L)
- This brush is similar to Draw, except that the height of the displacement layer is capped. This creates the appearance of a solid layer being drawn. This brush does not draw on top of itself; brush stroke intersects itself. Releasing the mouse button and starting a new stroke will reset the depth and paint on top of the previous stroke.
- Flatten (T)
- The Flatten will lower the height of the part of the mesh being worked on. Simply put, the direction of the flattening depends on the way the surface normals in the mesh are facing.
- The parent object’s name.
- Add and Sub
- Add causes the brush to pull an area of the model in the positive direction, Sub in the negative direction. This applies to following brushes: Draw, Inflate and Layer – you have already seen the Pinch brush case (Add pulls vertices inward and Sub pushes vertices outward). Smooth, Grab and Flatten do not use these settings. Interactive toggling of brush direction is with holding down ⇧ Shift. Or V can be used to toggle it until it is toggled again.
- Airbrush (A)
- When enabled, this option causes the brush to continuously modify the model after mouse down, even if the mouse does not move. If disabled, the brush only modifies the model when the brush changes its location. This option is not available for the Grab brush.
- This option controls the radius of the brush, measured in pixels. F in the 3D view allows you to change the brush size interactively by dragging the mouse and then left clicking (the texture of the brush should be visible inside the circle). Typing a number then enter while in F sizing allows you to enter the size numerically.
- Strength controls how much each application of the brush affects the model. For example, higher values cause the Draw brush to add depth to the model more quickly, and cause the Smooth brush to smooth the model more quickly. This setting is not available for Grab.If the range of strengths doesn’t seem to fit the model (for example, if even the lowest strength setting still makes too large of a change on the model) then you can scale the model (in Edit mode, not Object mode). Larger sizes will make the brush’s effect smaller, and vice versa. As for Size, you can change the brush strength interactively by pressing ⇧ ShiftF in the 3D view and then moving the brush and then left clicking. You can enter the size numerically also while in ⇧ ShiftF sizing.
- Mirror the brush across the selected local axes. Note that if you want to alter the directions the axes point in, you must rotate the model in Edit mode, not Object mode. Can be toggled via X, Y, and Z respectively.
- These three buttons allow you to block any modification/deformation of your model along selected local axes, while you are sculpting it.
Brush and Texture Panels
Sculpt mode can take full advantage of the range of options offered by Blender’s texture system. Brush textures are accessed using a similar interface to that used by the Material or World context: there are nine texture slots in the Sculpt mode Texture panel, plus a Default slot that acts simply as a flat texture.
The Brush panel gives you some options applied whatever is the texture you chose:
- Curve and Reset
- The Curve button allows you to use the curve control to the right to modify the intensity of the brush from its center (left part of the curve) towards its borders (right part of the curve). The default curve, which can always be Reset with that button, gives you a smooth brush. When Curve is disabled, you will get the same result as if the curve was constant 1 (a horizontal line at the top).
- Setting this to a non-zero value adds extra space between each application of the brush. The value is measured in pixels (on screen); setting Space to 100 will require the mouse to move 100 pixels between each “dot” applied to the mesh. Note that this is the total distance the brush has traveled, not the current linear distance from the last time the brush was applied.
- By default, we saw that vertices are moved along their normals. This option allows you to move them more or less towards the view (0 has no effect, 5 is half effect, 10 is full effect). Only available with the Draw brush.
- Anchored (⇧ ShiftA)
- This toggle option modifies how the brush behaves. When enabled, the center of the brush is anchored to its initial location (where it was when you clicked). Moving the mouse just enlarges/reduces the brush size, and rotates it. For example, this allows you to apply uniformly a 3D pattern (via the texture) to a whole area of your model.
Any texture type can be loaded into one of the Sculpt mode texture slots. Once a texture is associated with a slot, additional options will appear that affect how the texture controls the brush.
- Drag, Tile and 3D
- These three options control how the texture is mapped onto the brush. If Drag is enabled, the texture follows the mouse, so it appears that the texture is being dragged across the model. The Tile option tiles the texture across the screen, so moving the brush appears to move separately from the texture. The Tile option is most useful with tileable images, rather than procedural textures. Lastly, the 3D allows the brush to take full advantage of procedural textures. This mode uses vertex coordinates rather than the brush location to determine what area of the texture to use.
- This is the rotation angle of the texture brush. It can be changed interactively via CtrlF in the 3D view. While in the interactive rotation you can enter a value numerically as well.
- When enabled, the brush will be automatically rotated to follow the movement of the tool. Not available with 3D textures.
- This setting allows you to modify the scaling factor of the texture. Not available for Drag textures.
The Sculpt menu offers several new controls in addition to the tools already discussed.
- Pivot Last
- Sets the rotation center for rotating the scene to the last location the brush was used.
- Partial Redraw
- This uses a special graphics optimization that only redraws where the mouse has been – it can speed up drawing on some graphics cards but slows it down on others. Primarily is only useful needed for dense mesh (greater than 100,000 polys).
- Display Brush
- Controls whether the brush circle is drawn.
- Input Devices
- Here you can select the behavior of the used input devices.
- Averaging – This option uses an average direction of movement for the number of pixels specified and then interpolates the stroke along a linear path of that number of pixels. This can be useful for dense meshes but the speed hit can be such that it may be faster to leave it at 1 (the default).
- The following tow settings are specific to graphic tablets:
- Tablet Size Adjust – Sets to what extent tablet pressure affects brush size.
- Tablet Strength Adjust – Sets to what extent tablet pressure affects brush strength.