Google SketchUp

There are programs that can be very helpful for constructing a picture, like for example Google SketchUp. With Google SketchUp you can build things - items, rooms, booths, furniture, even whole buildings. It is quite simple to use (after some practise), and there is also a free version of it.

I have used SketchUp for creating concepts for a scene (like a room) or for getting the correct perspectives of a scene. As you can freely move/rotate/zoom the viewing point, it's great for finding a nice perspective of your scene. Some examples:

In 2010 I got a quite complicated commission, so I first created a concept of the room, inventory and characters in Google SketchUp. This was also nice because I could offer the commissioner several viewing points and he could choose the one he liked best. The character constructions were just quick and dirty (as it was too much work).
For my "Friday Night" picture, I also used SketchUp for constructing the bar: shelves, table, picture on the wall, etc.
The people in there were templates by SketchUp (to get the correct sizes of foreground and background characters), in this case I drew my characters later without constructing them first.
Just an example of a scenery I created with SketchUp for a possible picture idea.

At some point I wanted to build a better model again for such scenes.
And another random idea created with SketchUp for a possible picture.

Creating sceneries like that in SketchUp does help me a lot to get the perspective right and to learn more about it.


First thing to say - I have no experience with 3D at all. I was always interested in learning more about it, but I simply don't find the time. However, there is a nice artistic program (freeware) named "Sculptris", created by Pixologic (creator of ZBrush, a professional 3D/animation software). Sculptris offers you the possibility to model with virtual clay, coming with a fun, intuitive and user-friendly interface (it does not require 3D or animation knowledge). More information and the download file you find on their website:

I personally think it's a nice tool to play with, to get a feeling for a 3-dimensional character, to design a character, or to find a nice perspective of a character/model. Below you find some of my first attempts.

First attempts with Sculptris

One of my first tries, making a Schnolf head. I put some more details in it (teeth, tongue), however it's still done pretty quick and dirty. Parts like the teeth, tongue, eyeballs, etc. are made of seperate sphere (which allows you to move and seperatly color it later too).
A horse - also known as the spaghetti hair monster. The mane is just done quick and dirty, hair still gives me quite a hard time.

However, this is a good example for different perspectives. This can be handy if you want to draw a 2-dimensional picture of that scene.
"Jiao Chan"

We needed a character design for Jiao Chan, the evil white tigress of the Eurofurence Pawpet Show, so I made a quick model with Sculptris. I later painted it, you can see the result below.

It was just a quick model, however it helped a lot getting a feeling for the character personality.
"Wan Yun"

And another character model for Wan Yun, the brown tigress (daughter of Jiao Chan). Also here - just a quick model, but it helped a lot getting a feeling for the character personality (young, friendly, attractive).
My first try on a dragon - Modelled and roughly painted (including the skin structure) in Sculptris, finalized in Photoshop (background, more colors, shadows).
The (very) roughly colored version of Jiao Chan's model. Painted in Sculptris (the painting tool is included, you can switch to it after modelling).

Now it makes sense again to have seperate spheres (like eyeballs, nose, teeth, etc.), because you can select and deselect them, and so paint them seperatly without painting the other parts around it.

The whiskers were added in Photoshop afterwards.
And the roughly colored head of Wan Yun. The eye colors were not the final ones in that design, we used different ones for the puppets.

Same here, whiskers were added in Photoshop later.

Useful little helpers

No matter if you need help with how to draw a pose, get the perpective or lighting right, or look for inspiration and ideas how to draw a character, these guys can be a nice help.

The posable figures are made by S.H. Figuarts. There is a male and a female version, both coming with a selection of hands (different poses) and accessories (sword, weapon, laptop, phone, pen...), as well as a nice box to store the little items in. There are a lot of more figures (different versions and colors) too. Not all have the same accessories though.

The box (where you can store the hands and items in) is, at the same time, the stand base for the triple jointed arm, which you can use for holding up your figurine for different poses (flying, jumping, etc.). Playing around with these models has been a lot of fun and practice, I can definitely recommend them.