You know I’m making a spider. You don’t know exactly why. Incidentally, my patrons know, because I revealed that on Patreon. I share most everything publicly, but sometimes there’s just something I don’t necessarily want anyone and everyone to know about before I’ve finished it. You good people can guess, though I think it would be the rare individual who would nail it, and it is possible. If he looks a bit charred, he is. And there’s a clue. If it’s alive, it’s barely.

Just a few things about the spider, and about working in Blender.

You might remember the early stage where it looked like this:

Good stuff. Y’know, a lot of 3D artists wouldn’t bother making their own spider when it is for a large and more complex scene (Beeple and his ilk). They’d just download one already modeled, rigged, retopologized, unwrapped, and ready to go. But some of these processes are fascinating, and they really get into the nitty-gritty of visual representation, and how it works. Above, I had a lot of fun just figuring out how to construct a spider using the basic building blocks of shapes in Blender.

You really get to study your model from all directions.

Below, you can see the armature I created in those blue boxes and sticks. You can move those around to pose the spider. Incidentally, his pose (not 100% finished] will make a lot more sense in the final image.

Below, you can see the spider has a mottled black and brown coloration, and some roughness in the skin texture. I did this using “procedural materials” rather than painting it.

I guess that’s interesting. If you don’t know, you create “procedural materials” using node structures. Below you can see my “node tree”, which is an adaptation of one for mud that I learned by doing a tutorial:

But the spider doesn’t really look convincing until one adds hair using “particle systems”. You can control how much hair, how long, how sparse it is, and so on. I’m in the process of figuring that out now, but it’s looking pretty cool with the hair I’ve already created.

Click on the image to see a larger version, and how the hair is combed.

You COMB the damned hair with your mouse or stylus! That’s some really cool shit to be able to do. Not every day you comb a spider’s hair. And I may do a second set of hairs that are the longer, spiky variety on the legs. When I was a kid, I kept pet spiders, and come to think of it, I’ve had a handful as an adult as well. This one’s based on a fisher spider or a wolf spider. I adlibbed a bit. I have zero fear of them, by the way. The point is that I don’t really need to look up references when it comes to spiders. I’ve studied them for countless hours directly.

All this stuff gets so damned elaborate it’s very imposing on the front side. But after a while one slowly gets it all under one’s belt, and then it starts to make sense and one can get creative and have fun with it.

That said, if anyone knows why my hair particle system gets destroyed when I apply my multi-res modifier, for the more elaborate sculpt, inquiring minds want to know.

Op, never mind. It’s just a matter of where you stack your modifiers. Multi-res has to go under the particle system. I see. Here’s the spider with somewhat more refined anatomical details [and the stack of modifiers in the menu on the right].

Part of the process is looking stuff up. There’s a revolution of digital artists out there working in 3D, asking and answering questions.

How to learn

I think I mentioned before that I have two approaches for learning Blender. One is to do tutorials to hone basic skills. The other is to come up with a project, and then search out tutorials and such to figure out the specifics of how to do it. In this second case, I don’t do the whole tutorials, but merely watch for the necessary information I need to apply to my project. It’s not a matter of choosing one or the other, because both approaches are beneficial. In the first variety, where you follow along and replicate every move of the tutor/artist, well, you get to really get in their heads and absorb their workflow. And then, in order to do the second approach, you need to have done at least one comprehensive set of tutorials so you know the lay of the land, what is possible, and have a general inkling about how to go about it.

There’s a lot of other complex stuff I have to get into using aspects of Blender I studied, but have not really implemented yet. But I think the hardest part is done, and so I will finish the whole project within the month, and hopefully sooner than later.

Addendum

I ran into a few problems I just can’t ignore which are probably due to me doing things out of the correct order in order to make some changes. So, I had to go back a bunch of stages and start reworking through it to resolve those issues. It’s going to cost me maybe 5-6 hours or more, but it’s good to retrace my steps and get the procedure down. The result will also be better. I have some perfectionist tendencies.

Until next time, don’t touch that dial.


And if you like my art or criticism, please consider chipping in so I can keep working until I drop. Through Patreon, you can give $1 (or more) per month to help keep me going (y’know, so I don’t have to put art on the back-burner while I slog away at a full-time job). See how it works here.

Or go directly to my account.

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Or you can make a one time donation to help me keep on making art and blogging (and restore my faith in humanity simultaneously).

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One thought on “The Evolution of the Spider

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