Between the Lines – Episode 7

I’ve been told that I should pay more attention to issues important for painters, as Chest of Colors is the site for painters.


OK, if that’s what you ask for…

The first ever Between the Lines tutorial. I’ll deal with one very important issue. Beware though, it may turn upside down everything you knew about painting so far.

Colour Theory

Between the Lines: Colour Theory

Many thanks to Camelson, superb painter and friendly chap who let me use one of his minis as an example for my tutorial.

Between the Lines – Episode 6

We all have problems sometimes, more or less serious. We usually try to deal with them in many different ways.

One of the most popular methods is a prayer, mainly because it’s so easy. It doesn’t require much effort, does it? You just kneel, or light some candles, or draw a pentagram, or sacrifice some live beings… preferably all of these… and ask your mighty God, or Sigmar, or Cthulhu… preferably all of them, just in case…

Why would you want to waste your energy on attempts to overcome your problems if you can pray? Beware though, paths of gods are beyond our understanding, you might end with something you have not asked for.

God’s Gift

Between the lines - miniature painting cartoon: Chaos Gift by Iacton

This episode is sponsored by Iacton, a very talented painter whose works can be checked in his gallery.

5th Chest of Colors Miniature Exchange Summary

The 5th edition of Chest of Colors Miniature Exchange is finished now. The miniatures were painted, sent and received…

That was fun!

5th Miniature Exchange

Miniature exchange in numbers

2 months of secrets, anticipation, surprises, gifts, minis travelling all around the world… That’s what Chest of Colors Mini Exchanges are all about and this one was no exception. 38 participants from 10 countries did their best to paint a miniature for a fellow member of our forum.

Looking back at the 5th Miniature Exchange

It was really cool to follow ME threads (in English and Polish) on the forum. As the organiser I also have the additional knowledge, i.e. heap of e-mails and private messages with questions, requests etc. Man, let me tell you – these people really got into the exchange! It wasn’t just “I sent. I received” event. Oh, no, far from that. They paid a lot of attention to every detail, thought hard about a mini selection, tried to paint to their maximum level, been worried about the recipient’s reaction, shared their thoughts and feelings throughout the event.

For that I want to thank them. I’ve only e-mailed few addresses and replied to several questions. They have made the Mini Exchange another unforgettable experience.

6th Miniature Exchange?

Another Mini Exchange, you ask? Hell yeah!

Just be an active member of Chest of Colors forum and sooner or later you will have a chance to join and find all of this by yourself. See you next time!

Collected works

In the meantime, you can check the gallery of the 5th Chest of Colors Mini Exchange. It’s the best summary of what we did.

Now what do you think about such exchanges? Aren’t they fun? Share your opinion with us, send your suggestions. Maybe we can make the event even better!

— Nameless

Between the Lines – Episode 5

Some people say that we prefer things that we are familiar with – movies that we’ve seen in the past, songs that we’ve already heard – hence the popularity of sequels and covers.

Now, you could say this episode is a cover. Well, it’s not.

Cover of the video clip? No, not strictly…
Cover of the intro to the video clip? Yeah, that could be true.

Love In An Elevator On The Rocks

Between the Lines #5 - Miniature painting cartoon: Mrs. Tyler

This lovely Arwen Miss Tyler was painted by Chameleon, who was kind enough to give me permission to use the picture.

Digital sculpting vs. traditional sculpting

There’s a saying, which is often said to be a Chinese curse: “May you live in interesting times”. Whether it’s a true Chinese curse or not, it doesn’t matter. But one thing is sure – we’re living in interesting times, indeed. Many new technologies made it to our lives and hobbies. Digital sculpting is one of them…

Many people are sceptical to innovations and refuse to treat them on par with the old methods.

Just like with most new technologies, there are as many people fascinated with the new possibilities as others – criticizing it. Not only being critical and sceptical about it, but also refusing to treat it on par with traditional sculpting. And we’ve had an interesting discussion about digitally sculpted miniatures on our miniature painting forum, but let’s start from the very basics.

What is digital sculpting?

You surely know what traditional sculpting is: The sculptor takes a lump of putty or clay and shapes it with his hands and/or sculpting tools. You know the kind of tools used for sculpting, right? You surely do.

Photo: Digital sculpting vs. traditional sculpting
Traditional sculpting tools

Now with digital sculpting, the artist forgoes his “physical” sculpting and tools to use a computer and create a “virtual model” with it. You must have heard about 3d modeling – you can see digital 3d models everywhere: in movies, in computer games, on digital artwork, on posters, in advertisements… Often it’s difficult to tell if the object or person was a real one or is it only a virtual creation.

Now one can create such a 3-dimensional model and then “print” it, using one of many 3-d printing services. Or maybe create a mold and produce copies of it. It doesn’t really matter – the clue is that a virtual creation is turned into a physical, tangible object. In our case: a miniature. That’s what digital sculpting of miniatures is all about.

Photo: Digital sculpting vs. traditional sculpting
ZBrush – One of digital sculpting tools

I bet you see the difference: “Traditional sculpting” creates a physical object from the beginning, and “digital sculpting” creates a virtual model first, which is given a physical form in the next step(s). And what are the consequences of this difference?

Traditional vs digital sculpting

Digital sculpting can use many benefits of working on a virtual object, many that we know from inage editing software – like “undo”, “copy-paste”, easy texturing, etc. When a sculptor makes a mistake, he can press “undo” and correct his mistake easily. When he wants to create another arm, sword, head, etc. – he can use “copy/paste” and modify the newly created copy. He can also “stamp” textures onto surfaces of his models. There are many many other options in popular 3-d modeling software, but I only wanted to give you a quick insight into the choice of tools the sculptor may use in his digital sculpting.

Photo: Digital sculpting vs. traditional sculpting
Copy – Paste: the digital way and the traditional way

On the other hand, traditional sculptors have similar options, but they’re not as easy to use as in digital sculpting. Sure, he can “undo” his mistakes – by cutting off, sanding off, or scratching off the parts he’s not satisfied with. It takes more work than pressing a button, but can be done. Of course, he can “copy and paste” an element he sculpted: he can create a mold and cast a few copies, or maybe create a quick print in greenstuff… But it’s more difficult and time consuming than pressing Control+C Control+V. And yes, he can also stamp textures: create a small textured “stamp” and press it against surfaces before they’re cured. But it’s not as easy and convenient as doing it the digital way.

So what? Does it make a traditional sculptor a better artist (or craftsman) than a digital sculptor?

Text processor vs pen

Is a miniature good because of its creative concept or the tools chosen by the sculptor?

Let’s think about a poet who writes a poem, or a novellist writing a book. Many of them moved on to using computers and text processing tools now. But doesn’t it make their art less impressive? They can use copy-paste, undo, and spellcheckers now. Their friends using pens or pencils do the same, but do it the harder way. Does it make their art better because they had to put more effort into it.

Or is it more about creativity than the choice of tools?

Wait, there’s another example, because the first one was a bit too controversial. Let’s take a painter with oil paints and canvas, another one with a photo camera and traditional darkroom plus a choice of retouching tools (traditional, not digital), and another one with photoshop and computer. They all create images, visual art. They all can create pictures of landscapes.

Photo: Digital sculpting vs. traditional sculpting
Was H.R. Giger a worse kind of artist because he used an airbrush?

But is the painter more of an artist than the photographer? And the digital artist less of an artist than the painter?
Or do they create different kinds of art? Although they are all kinds of visual art, they’re all pictures, they’re difficult to compare at all…

Errare humanum est

Or: “To err is human”. Errors and mistakes are a part of our lives and also of our creations. Some say, that imperfections make works of art even more impressive and admirable. You must have read many comments that digital sculpting creates sculpts which are too perfect, too clean, too artificial. That they lack the human touch, the personal touch of the sculptor, which is given by traditional sculptors to their works. Do you agree with this opinion?

Photo: Digital sculpting vs. traditional sculpting
Digital model vs. actual casting – Ivanka Kurganova from Raging Heroes

When you take a look at traditionally sculpted miniatures, many of them bear marks of some sculpting imperfections. Sometimes surfaces are not perfectly smooth, details not perfectly symmetrical, and shapes not perfectly modeled. And that makes them special, that makes them unique and gives them the magic touch of the sculptor.

Is it the same with digital sculpting? If people complain it lacks the imperfections of traditional sculpting by the sculptor’s hands, maybe it is the case? Or maybe it’s simply the lack of mastery of digital sculptors? Maybe there are many great traditional sculptors already, because this art (or craft) has many years of tradition already, but digital sculpting is fairly new and people use it not because of the possibilities of creating great sculpts it offers but because of the benefit of saving time and thus increasing productivity? And when time is your priority, it’s difficult to pay more attention to quality.

It’s just a tool

So is digital sculpting a completely different kind of art/craft, or is it only a different tool for sculptors to use. If it wasn’t for progress and innovations we might be still sculpting our miniatures in clay or chiselling them from stone. But now we have many kinds of putties, all with different properties. We have modern casting facilities, we have precise sculpting tools. So maybe digital sculpting is the next step on the same path? Some will move on, some will stay with the techniques they’re more familiar with.

Photo: Digital sculpting vs. traditional sculpting
Progress is unavoidable

Just think about painters. Some are still painting their paintings with brushes, some moved on to airbrushing. I bet it was simiar when somebody invented a brush. Some traditionalists must have complained that painting with brushes is not real art, because it’s taking a shortcut, and they kept painting with their fingers or wooden sticks. 😉

Just like every tool, digital sculpting has its disadvantages, too.

And just like with every tool – digital sculpting has its disadvantages, too. You only get to see the physical object when it’s printed. Until then you only see a virtual image of your sculpt. And you see it on a 2-dimensional screen. Now recall all the complaints that there’s no way of depicting a 3-dimensional painted miniature on a computer screen and a flat image. Translate it to sculpting and you know what I am talking about.

Then there’s the frequent complaint about lack of sharpness of digitally sculpted miniatures. Is it a matter of the sculpting or the printing process? I don’t know, but it seems many companies fail to get it done properly for any reason. So as you can see digital sculpting is not the perfect solution to every sculptor’s woes.

Next generation or degeneration?

Will the transition to digital sculpting result in decrease of sculpting skills?

If we think about digital sculpting along the lines of “next generation of sculpting tools”, we may start to worry if it won’t start a process of degeneration of sculpting skills of sculptors who move on to the new tool. Just like many airbrush painters wouldn’t be able to achieve smooth blending on their canvas using only traditional brushes. And just like many photographers would be unable to create a realistic portrait in the way artists of old did it – drawing or painting it. But do they have to?

Do photographers really have to prove they’re skilled painters? Do people who create great art using airbrushes really have to prove their skills with brushes? And do digital sculptors really have to prove their skills with traditional tools and putties?

Photo: Digital sculpting vs. traditional sculpting
Does he really have to prove his acting skills? Or better not…

I say: no, they don’t have to, but their art shouldn’t really be compared with traditional art as far as technical perfection goes. When you compare creativity – feel free to do so, but technical aspects are hardly comparable…

Clash of the titans

I am yet to see a digitally sculpted miniature which will impress me more than some traditional miniatures did.

Now there’s a good question: If we compared a great digital sculptor with a great traditional sculptor, would they be able to create comparable works? I mean: equally impressive and appealing to us, miniature painters? I must say I am yet to see a digitally sculpted miniature which will impress me more than the best miniatures sculpted in the traditional way.

There are many great sculptors, who work in the traditional way. Many that I really admire. Kev White with his characterful models and realistic proportions, Tom Meier with his unbelievable skills at detailing his sculpts, Raul Garcia Latorre with his recognizable style, and many more…

Photo: Digital sculpting vs. traditional sculpting
Tom Meier – master of detailing. Just look at the decorative patterns he sculpted on a 30mm scale model! No digital sculpting here…

I have seen many great digital 3-d models (many were really awesome!), but I don’t know of any digitally sculpted miniature which would make me go “wow” as much as many traditional sculpts did. But maybe you have seen such miniatures?

Time will tell…

Now we don’t know which way it’s going to go in future. But we can be sure we’re witnessing and experiencing beginnings of a new trend in our hobby. Digital sculpting made achieving many results so much easier, that it’s going to be pursued for many years to come. But will it completely take the place of traditional sculpting in our hobby?

It is quite natural to look for more optimal tools, ones which will allow you to improve your creations and which suit your needs and style better. It’s a natural process, and it can’t be avoided. But let’s think: should it?

Photo: Digital sculpting vs. traditional sculpting
It’s natural to look for more optimal tools

I am really curious what you think about the “digital sculpting vs traditional sculpting” subject. Why don’t you share your comments with us. I am sure they will add many new facts to the topic. Thanks in advance!

— Mahon