Crouching Spider, Hidden Butterfly: Or how to make and rig a spider in 3D -Part One

Originally I was going to post something on how to rig a spider or a collection of Spider rigging and animation tutorials.  And yes, you'll still get that but I wanted to show you how to incorporate lessons, tutorials etc into your workflow - even if the tutorial is on anther piece of software.

First off, let me begin by saying that I have been obsessed with rigging a spider for sometime.  One of my portfolio pieces was a spider jumping on a "weboline".  Unfortunately because the file is older and on a CD "somewhere" I don't have a copy available to post - I'll do that once I've gone through all of my piles of plastic media to locate it.  I'm so glad most of my stuff is on a cloud drive now - but alas stuff from the 90's may fall victim to my procrastination paradigm.

Obviously this was in the early days of 3DS Max and the version I used was R1 - the first iteration of 3DS Max.  3DS Max has come a long way since then - but it is still basically the same program.  I've been using it almost as long as I have Photoshop and I doubt that I'll stop any time soon.  Anyway...  For this article I created a simple spider via ZBrush.  Why ZBrush?  Well because I wanted to and because I wanted the flexibility of being able to use the model later on with a more complex normal map but since I wanted to test out the rigging a low-poly version would be used from ZBrush to rig.  Basically I just wanted to see if I could do it.

Here's the rudimentary model I created from ZBrush (you are welcome to use this in your projects for personal or commercial use - but no redistribution):

Here are some links if you are curious as to how this was done:

Once it has been brought into 3DS Max with bones etc applied (I'm using R7 here same copyright as the ZTool version - free for personal or commercial use; do not redistribute):

Ok so I have a spider - now what?  

Well I went on a hunt for a spider rigging tutorial.  To my surprise there weren't as many out there as I would have thought but still quite a few and more than enough to gain some knowledge about rigging spiders.  My favorite was "Spider Walk" by lotsofrobots.

Although he doesn't get into the step by step of rigging he does provide the files and scripts for you to use in your animation.  I think a lot of people would have loved a more thorough explanation of the process but if you open the file and take a look a lot can be gained.

The next tutorials I took a look at were located on YouTube called Spider 8 Rigging Animation low res:



Pretty decent tutorials and they give a guide as to how to rig your spider up for animation.  The thing I found lacking was an explanation of how the spider is supposed to move.  Do the legs move first or the body?  Both move at the same time?  Several experiments later I ended up with a really weird walking spider.  But I won't give up and I'm not ripping the script from lots of robots (not yet anyway).

Here's another rigging tutorial on YouTube:

This tutorial I liked.  I could use and most of all it gave me the information I needed.  However I really liked the script provided by Lots of Robots.  Hmmm what to use it for?  Oh! I know - a bunch of spiders coming out of a jack-o-lantern and then covering up the screen.  Totally creepy!  Or another idea that wouldn't use the script - a spider that is spinning it's web and then catches a butterfly.  Both are really complex ideas.  Perhaps more than I can chew.  I don't care.  I'm gonna try them.  We'll see how well I'm able to implement the actual functionality and execute the idea.

Here's a better explanation of the spider walk movement (this tutorial is for Maya but you get the gist of it):

Here's a project overview on a mech-tech or steampunk spider on 3D Total: 

Steampunk AND spider, you can't go wrong with that!

Here's an interesting tutorial/overview on spider/modeling/rigging in Modo:

Feel free to comment and add to this repository of Spider goodness.  Also please do tweet or like this blogpost.

Please come back for updates and part two of this series...

Photoshop Brush Showdown: Stamp vs. Dynamic

While perusing my reader and looking at Photoshop Brush sites I thought about the types of brushes out there.  Generally speaking the types of brushes available are probably 90% photo-stamp brushes.

Think about that.  Photo-stamp - an image or drawing that has been placed into the brush library and is now black and white (pretty much what you would get by copying the image on a copier).  There is no flexibility - the person who created the brush just selected that image and never added variety.  You can edit the brush and create a dynamic brush out of the image - but that would take more time on your end and without knowing how large the image is, whether or not the image is copyrighted etc.

Also there's no reason to even open the brushes palette other than to rename the brush.  I honestly do not think a majority of these type of brushes are useful.  Granted there are some that really do help with design or can be considered valuable.  But at the same time I find that I can do the same exact thing with an image (open image in Photoshop, select all, edit, create new brush).

As for the line drawings - if it ain't vector it ain't helping me.  Don't be smitten by the The scroll-work, pretty frames, shapes and other "vector" like brushes that are out there.  These really are not helpful if you want to use it for Print (300 dpi), Motion Graphics (1080p) or enlarge it later.  The actual brush size limits the size of the object and you can only have it as large as the brush was made which just makes for more work in the end.  I don't know about you but I hate having to rip apart a design because the asset I used was lower resolution than what I needed.

So here's a few tips (for those of you who download brushes with abandon):

  • Only download dynamic, hard to find or unusual brushes.  (There's no reason to have thousands of grunge brushes - if you really only use 3 of them). 
  • Really take a look at the brush content - you need to analyze whether or not the brush is actually a rip-off of a dingbat, or vector drawing. 
  • How useful will the brush be in your design(s)?  If you design websites that are clean and have sleek lines - then why in the world would you download a brush that is hand drawn flowers?  I've made this mistake and had to go through my library - test each brush-set out one by one and ask these questions.  If I can't say that I'd use it for work or for personal projects then I should just delete it out of my library. 

Sometimes using a stamp brush and converting it into a dynamic brush helps create a whole new workflow, so do keep that in mind.  But don't forget to experiment and above all don't forget what your objective is - an improved workflow or a very unique design/piece of work.

Dynamic Brushes are a different story.  These are meant for uniqueness and no two strokes are ever the same (look up the word dynamic - it means ever changing and not the same twice).  They create texture based on the color, brush mode, layer mode and artist movement.  It isn't a stamp - it isn't meant to be.  These brushes will help retain the artists vision without borrowing or outright stealing another artists work.  Don't get me wrong - that type of design work is done all of the time and it is acceptable, but if you want to the work to be entirely yours then actually creating the image from the ground up will make you feel tons better.

Taking those brushes and making something unique and having to work-over the drawing - well then we're talking artistry.  It's even more impressive if you actually create the entire scene and scape using your imagination.

If you are just "Designing" then Photo-stamp brushes are probably the way to go, however the brush has to be unique and something that is useful in your designs.  If you are painting and creating then dynamic brushes are what you need - either make them, purchase them or find them via artists.

Here's a list of some of my favorite spots to get brushes:

Photostamp Brushes:

Obsidian Dawn

Dynamic Brushes:


Skin Brushes:  
Skin Texture Photoshop Brushes and Tutorials from Best Design Options

Deviant Art


Chris Wahl

Mark S. Johnson Photograhy: watercolor brushes

Brush Tutorials:

3D Total


Ah Design



Paul Lasaine

3d Total


Zbrush alphas make awesome Photoshop brushes - of course with some manipulation:
(you will need to register to download)

I think that those links should keep you busy for quite some time - if not, remember the internet is a vast cornucopia of tutorials, how-tos and downloads.

All you need to do is ask the all knowing Genie:  Google

Don't forget to try out some of the samples and freebies I have on my site for all sorts of Photoshop brush goodness:


Arctic Gale:

Freebie Sample: 


Freebie Sample:  

Artists Tools:

Freebie Sample:     


Get the Firespawn medieval armor Photoshop layer styles PACK for free by tweeting about the triple set.

In this pack you get 7 different metallic medieval inspired layer styles to use on shapes, text and more!

Click here to get your free set of Firespawn Medieval Armor: FireSpawn

If you like Firespawn...

Purchase the entire pack of Medieval Armor Photoshop Styles FOR ONLY $10 here:  Buy Now

The entire set includes all of the packs - so you get over 20 different styles to use.

20+ Derby Inspired Resources

Since the Kentucky Derby is such a hot topic today I thought that doing a round up of Horse graphics and other horse related content would be something everyone could saddle up to.  Ok yeah - that was a little corny - but hey, gotta keep it light.  Most of the resources I found are free but obviously in some cases you get what you pay for.  Hopefully you'll find the resources useful and perhaps it will introduce you to some much needed resource hubs so that you can become a resource maven as well.

Hi-Resolution Horse Photos - Free

Vector Horse Images - Free

Horse Video - Free

Horse Videos - Premium

3D Models - Free

Premium 3D models


10 Super Moon Resource Round-Up

Today is Super-Moon day!  In that vein I'm posting some great Moon texture image and video resources that you can use to create Moon designs and other such constelletory things.

1. PlanetPixelEmporium

This site rocks - you can get lunar textures of our beloved satellite for free in different sizes as well as the bump maps.  This is a great resource for 3D, Photoshop and general CG use.


Another great site not only for moon textures but other planetary textures.  Several different types of textures are available for download.  This resource is a fabulous find for all things lunar.


Of course the government has image maps of all the different planets.  The moon is no different.  This texture is pretty good - however not the highest resolution.  But still useful if you just need a texture map for your moon and don't need the high resolution detail.


This site is a royalty free texture site for planets and other space worthy image texture files. These textures are free to try out and free for personal or non-commercial use; but for commercial use there are license fees.  That being said, I feel that it is one of the most comprehensive resources for this type of resource.  They have really taken the time and effort in creating Hi-definition texture maps that when used properly should give the correct amount of detail even when creating a close flyby scene.

5. ApolloImageArchive:  

I cannot say how great these images are - if you are creating your own textures and need assets, this is such a great resource. You can click on any of the images and zoom in to such detail.  I can imagine ALL sorts of uses for these images and I'm not even trying.  You could make your own tiling texture, styles, use the images for composite work, create your own lunar texture for a planetary system elsewhere.  The possibilities are quite numerous.  Arizona State Apollo Image Archive


I love  It is probably the one site I go to to find general images for use in creating texture or background.  The amount of photos on the site is astounding and the fact that you can use the imagery for free for commercial projects makes it that much better.

7. GraphicRiver:

Yeah I know it's not free, but the texture that this person created is pretty sweet and if you're in a pinch for time, $2 is better than creating a texture and having to eat up valuable design time.  Trust me I know - just purchase the cheap texture and move forward with your project you'll be much better off in the long run.  Here's another one I found that is a little different but still quite useful: Going to the moon

8. Deviant Art

I think that if anything a lot of artists owe their livelihood, knowledge and love of art to DeviantArt.  This site is the absolute bomb when it comes to content and resources.  Just look at the available resources listed under "moon".  Great find - however, please do pay attention to the type of rights listed for each listing.  Some deviants are more charitable than others and it is important that you respect their rights as artists.

9. Photoshop Brushes:  

There are so many sites devoted to Photoshop brushes out there that I felt just listing the top 5 that I liked would be the best way to give you what you needed:

10. Moon Videos

There really isn't that much out there for free but feel free to peruse the files or some of the NASA files.  If anything they are quite interesting.  Of course in Photoshop you could always just create your own animation.  Or better yet - get that phone, camera or video camera out this evening and take some really great video yourself.

Apollo Moonwalk

Super Secret 11th resource:

I wouldn't be giving myself enough credit if I didn't at least call out my own work and freebie asset: