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[Quick tip] Big but precise deformation of sculpt mesh without breaking surface


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Hello, here's a little tip. It might be something that's plainly obvious to a lot but this only recently occurred to me after years of using the software.

This is an approach to getting an effect in the vein of "Elastic Deform" from Blender sculpt tools; big deformations, and doesn't break the surface even though the resolution is big. It's helpful if you need to make significant changes on the object's silhouette, or otherwise.

The summary is: Use a separate mesh as a guide for the strokes, irrespective of the mesh you are sculpting on, and simply using the Move tool.

The steps are as follows:
1. Create a mesh to be the "guide" for the brush. I use a cube, since it is convenient for constraining strokes to the multiple axes on the cube's surface sides.
2. Change the "guide" mesh's shader to be see-through with the opacity slider, so you can see what's going on around it. Freeze the surface of the cube to prevent it from being deformed as well.
3. Pick the Move tool. Make sure "Through all volumes" setting is on (top bar check box)
4. To reposition or rotate the cube, use the screen space gizmo control hotkeys. The "Navigation Control" (default hotkey: N) can also be handy to reposition or rotate it.
5. Unghost; unfreeze; unhide only the sculpt meshes you want to work on.
6. Stay on the "guide" mesh you created. Stroke with the move tool. Observe the move tool now works outside the bounds of the sculpt and is locked to "guide" surface, facilitates big but precise deformation of the sculpt mesh, without breaking surface too much.

Bonus step: Can of course also mask parts of the sculpt mesh, the move tool then allows you to have great control over an extrusion like effect.

Video demo:

Hope this can be of help to somebody. Even though it is such a trivial little method, it has made a significant difference in my workflow. I'm the type to much prefer to move the points into place and then fix, instead of applying a lot of compounding sculpt strokes to get to where I need to be.

Edited by poeboi
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I am trying to understand the idea because this sounds similar to something that I am after, but I am having a hard time because of my lack of familiarity with some of the 3DC options, and the video doesn't help much.

Could you clarify what this is doing in practice ? Is this just a visual guide, or rather some actual conforming of the strokes and/or masking to a volume?

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Hello !

I see what you mean now - so indeed this isn't really either just a visual guide but not really a change of behavior either, this is more like something inbetween - essentially tricking the app to consider brush events started outside of the shape of the currently edited part. Some notes :

- I personally 100% agree that this behavior is extremely useful, and that it is *much* more natural than the default behavior of having to pick a point from the surface and drag from there. I am one of those people who finds it very annoying to have to ever so slightly rotate the viewport just to permorm an operation that is supposed to affect the silhouette. In other words : if I want to do something that affects the side view of an object, I want to do it from the side indeed.

- All that said, the workaround discussed here is very convoluted and doesn't always work as intended, as Freeze in general seems completely broken or at best unpredictatble (at least in the version I use), and there doesn't seem to be any way to fluidly navigate the sculpt layers. So even though the concept is great, in practive I find it unusable mostly because of the very poor 3DCoat UX - which is a shame really.

If anything, this alternate brush behavior (allowing the Move to grab from "empty space" around the object) would be something well worth bringing up directly to the developper IMHO.

Edited by pior
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