Prepare your model for 3D printing with Sculptris

This tutorial was made for users of Sculptris interested in 3D printing. It contains the essential information to make a printable model with this 3D modeling software.

In this tutorial you will learn best practices for shaping and exporting a model for 3D printing. At the end of this tutorial, you will understand:


Sculptris is a software free artistic modeling, downloadable on the Pixologic website. Unlike traditional 3D modeling software, Sculptris begins with a predefined shape to which forms can be added, removed and (you guessed it) sculpted.

Sculptris is less complex and elaborate than its counterpart, Zbrush. This particular software is focused on artistic creation combines the advantage of being both extremely simple and accessible, but also offers realistic renderings.

Unlike traditional 3D modeling software, Sculptris is really effective in creating individual models, such as characters from movies or video games. However, it is difficult to make architectural models with this particular software.

You do not need to be an expert or know the software in detail to understand this tutorial. However it is important to master the basic elements and main functions of the software first. We will focus on good modeling practices for 3D printing, as presented in the video below . So we will not have the opportunity to explain the modeling basics in detail.

To learn more about modeling with Sculptris, please visit the Pixologic . You can also find tutorials dedicated to Sculptris on Youtube.



Modeling for 3D Printing with Sculptris

We be using a T-Rex head as an example of texture and modeling techniques for this tutorial.

Modeling your object


As mentioned previously, with Sculptris, each modeling starts with a predefined shape that can be molded to your liking.

We start with a spherical shape to shape the jaw at first, and then we will add details. The key is to always define the overall shape first. In the case of the creation of a human body, for example, it is much better to start with a model of the bust and limbs before addressing more minute details.


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Keyboard shortcuts allow you to move faster and more efficiently, allowing you to view the picture from different angles, to go back and to change the characteristics of tools, etc.

  • Shifting tool: G
  • Wireframe View: W
  • Camera Rotation: Left Click + Alt
  • Zoom: Mouse Roller OR +/- on the numpad
  • Lateral Camera Displacement: Left Click + Shift + Alt
  • Undo: Ctrl + Z
  • Scale tool: T
  • Rotation Tool: R
  • Smooth Tool: Touch B / Hold Shift while using another tool
  • Save As: Ctrl + Shift + S
  • Increase / decrease the thickness of the brush: Ctrl + Mousewheel (or +/- on the numpad)

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Once the overall shape is created, you can begin to carve. This may involve digging (the skin of the T-REX) or making protrusions (such as teeth).

  • Draw Tool: D
  • Enlarge Tool: C
  • Carve Tool: E
  • Flatten Tool: F
  • Pinch Tool: V

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It is possible to reduce the size of the brush for more precision. To do this, hold Shift and the mouse wheel (or the +/- keys on the numpad)


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To create the eyes, we should start by making with the eye sockets. They don't need to be perfect, the actual eye will mask the flaws.

Then create a new sphere and select the tools "Scale & grab" to give it the desired size. Finally, place it in the socket.


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The number of triangles may rise considerably as you model, you can keep track of this in the bottom left of the screen. The more triangles, the larger the file - larger files will increase exporting and transfering processes.

For highly detailed models (like figurines), 300 000 à 400 000 triangles are amply sufficient to obtain good quality 3D print. Beyond that, your file will be extremely heavy and there will not be a noticable difference in the print.

For more information on print resolutions and constraints to be considered based on the printing material, we invite you to visit our Material Pages .

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Once the sphere placed in its socket, it is possible to continue working on the rest of the model.

Below is the final shape of the head.

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Adding Texture and Color to your 3D model


Once the form is shaped, it's possible to create a texture from an image to add reliefs and make a more realistic form.

To create reliefs, open a texture image in the "Bump" menu and spread it on the selected surface.

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Then you can paint the 3D model by selecting "Paint" mode. Once you've chosen a color, cover areas you choose. In the same way as the rest, the brush can be shrunk or expanded depending on the area.

Caution! Activating "Paint" mode is irreversible. It will not be possible to change the model geometry after activating the texture change mode. We recommend that you make a backup beforehand and create a new file containing color.


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Be sure to paint the entire surface of the model and that no portion is left textureless. For this, we advice to first paint the entire surface a single, solid color, then surperimposer other colors. Once your painted model, it is ready to be exported.


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Once your model is painted, it's ready to be exported.

Analyse and export your 3D file

Analyse and measure your 3D model

Sculptris wants to be a hinge and minimalist program, but it can be sufficient in itself in many cases. It lacks features that are available in more advanced programs, such as its counterpart ZBrush. This software is unable to analyzing, measuring or resizing your model.

To perform these actions, you can use Blender. Just export your file as an .obj and import it into Blender. For more information on using Blender for 3D printing, please see our tutorial Prepare your file for 3D printing with Blender.

Export your model for a 3D Print


  • Exporting the Texture

To export the texture (not a 3D model of the component but a separate entity, or "parent"), activate the "Show Advanced Tools" button and then export the texture with "Save Texmap."

Export this texture in the format "PNG" in a specific folder. In our case, we will save the texture as "dino.png."

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  • Exporting the Model

Then we'll save the "model" which is simply the 3D shape. To do this, click on the "Export" button. Then save it in the same folder with the same name.


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Now, on to the creation of the .mlt file. This file will serve as a connection between the texture and your 3D model. In other words, in the absence of this file, the computer will not know where to apply the texure (.png) on the 3D model (in .obj).

First, go to the folder that contains the dino.png and dino.obj. Open the document "dino.obj" in a text editor like this:

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Then add on top of the text the following two lines of code:
mtllib./MON_MODEL.mtl
usemtl material_0


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Then delete the line “usemtl (null)”

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That will give you this:

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Then replace the first line "MA_MODEL" with the name that you used to name your file. In our case, we therefore "dino". Once this is done, close the file.


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Create new text document will maintain the same name throughout the process. For us it will be "dino.txt." This will serve as our .mlt file, eventually.


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Open the text file and then copy the following lines: newmtl material_0 map Kd MY TEXTURE.png Then in the same principle, replace "MY TEXTURE" with the name you use. So in our case, substitute "dino".

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Last step, change the extension from txt file to ".mlt." After setting up your operating system to display the extensions, simply change the endings .txt .mlt like this:

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Your MLT file is ready.

To transfer your model on our site for a print, we need to upload all 3 of these files at the same time. For this you need to compress them into a single .zip (or compressed) file.

Once your .zip created, you just have to upload it to Sculpteo! We'll print it for you.

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Correcting possible problems during the modeling process

Sculptris not a pure modeling software but rather a scuplting software, it is very rare to create geometric inconsistencies or anomalies that could prevent 3D printing (holes, surfaces, edges or singular points / non-manifold, self- intersections, bad directions, etc.).

Possible issues could be that your model is too heavy (over 50MB / 400000 triangles), the scale is off (mm or cm), you'd like to hollow your model, or that it has a few structural errors.

In such cases, you can use Blender to make these changes to your model. Just export your.obj file as described above and import it into Blender. For more information on using Blender to correct your file for 3D printing, please see our tutorial Prepare your file for 3D printing with Blender.



For more information about mistakes to avoid and repair tools from Sculpteo, visit the page dedicated to the repairing files for 3D printing .


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