About the course

This course deals with the full hard surface sculpting workflow in Blender, starting with drawing thumbnails all the way to a finished 3D sculpt. Along the way, we'll learn basic and advanced sculpting tools and brushes. Then we also dive deep into making awesome assets, like alpha textures, tiling displacement maps and hard surface VDM brushes.

Price including VAT:

The price is 59.95 USD plus VAT, depending on your location.

Included in this course

  • 6 hours of video tutorials, narrated in english
  • 100+ Alpha texture brushes (with preview thumbnails) to append into your project
  • Tiling Displacement maps
  • Hard surface VDM brush (more to be added in future updates)
  • Thumbnail sketches and final design sketch
  • All videos are downloadable for optional offline viewing
  • Procedural pipe models
  • Node groups for baking alphas and tiling displacement maps
  • Mech bust to experiment with
  • 2 hours 23 minutes of narrated, edited sculpting videos.
  • The unedited sculpting process is also available, should you want it.
  •  Free updates

Course content

Below you can see the curriculum, including some public previews like the first Sculpting video. Note, that the time displayed next to the Sculpting videos is incorrect - it displays the length of the unedited videos, but most of the edited sculpting videos are around 5 to 10 minutes long.

  Welcome to this course!
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  Setting up Blender
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  Creating custom sculpt brushes
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  Tiling Displacement maps
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  Cables and pipes
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  Coming up with a design
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  Sculpting a robot design
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Alpha textures

Alpha textures are height maps that quickly add intricate details to your model in Sculpt Mode.

In this course, we dive into the theory of what makes a nice Alpha texture, how best to model them and then bake them.

The course comes with 100+ Alpha textures, so you don't need to buy anything extra.

Alpha render
Making alpha textures

Learn how to:

Model alphas using various techniques, such as booleans and non-destructive modifier-based workflows. This will help you quickly generate a lot of variations.

We also dive into the theory of what makes a good alpha, and how to bake them perfectly.

Using nodes, we set up a baking system that adds nice bevels to the edges, so we can keep the modeling of these parts nice and simple and still have a great result.

Tiling Displacement Maps

Let's take advantage of the fact that we're sculpting in Blender, which means that we can use tools not normally found in sculpting apps.

One of these tools is the tiling displacement map. This quickly adds displacement that you can play and experiment with, in order to rapidly get many ideas for shapes.

It only takes minutes to get several iterations, that you can choose the best one from. You can even erase from the displacement parts you don't like, or mix different displacement maps.

It's a really creative tool that's bound to make your sculpting workflow more exciting.

Tiling Displacement Map

You'll learn about:

  • Designing tiling displacement maps in Blender
  • Modeling techniques for tiling maps
  • The best way to bake and export these maps
  • Using them in your Sculpting workflow
  • Erasing parts non-destructively
  • Mixing different ones together
  • Creating interesting concepts quickly

TIling Displacement examples
Hard Surface Vector Displacement Map

Hard Surface VDMs

(Vector Displacement Maps)

Vector Displacement maps are a great new way of adding big details in Sculpt Mode.

But they're more suited to organic things, because you can only create them by sculpting on a Plane, right?

Nope - I'll show you how to turn any model into a VDM. Now you can add complex geometry super fast in Sculpt Mode.

Pipes and Cables

We explore modeling techniques and modifiers that allow us to create flexible set-ups for cables.

By using modifiers we can make them as long or short as we want, and use Start and End caps.

We can then place them anywhere on our model for additional hard surface coolness.

About your teacher

Hi, my name is Jan van den Hemel. If you've been learning Blender for a while, you may have encountered my "Blender Secrets" 1-minute tutorials at some point.

I've been 3D sculpting since around 2006 (in ZBrush at first, and then later with Blender). Since 2017 I worked as a freelance motion graphics and 3D artist, but nowadays I work full-time teaching Blender online.

I've always been passionate about designing robots and mechs, and want to share everything I've learnt on this topic so far with you.

Price including VAT:

The price is 59.95 USD plus VAT, depending on your location.

What do you need for this course?

  • Blender :-) I used version 3.6 LTS.
  • No paid add-ons needed, all done with vanilla Blender. In the course l use some add-ons that come with Blender by default.
  • You will need a computer that has enough memory for sculpting. Most current computers are more than capable of this. The workflow I use splits the robot up into several objects with Multires modifiers, the displayed viewport subdivisions of which can be turned low or off while you work on other objects, to keep the memory requirements as low as possible for sculpting.
  • I recommend a graphic tablet such as a Wacom tablet (or any other brand, they are all fine). You could use a mouse (I sometimes do, when I feel too lazy to use the pen) but honestly it's better to use a pen. I use a 20-year old Wacom Intuos 2 myself.
  • Some basic Blender experience would definitely be a good idea. But no prior sculpting experience is required. We start simple and slowly ramp up the difficulty.
  • For the refining of the thumbnail sketch, I used Krita which is also an open-source app. So you can also install that for free if you want.

Length of the course:

  • The total length of the edited and narrated videos is 5 hours and 54 minutes. The 10 hour sculpting sessions is edited down to 2 hours and 23 minutes of narrated content.
  • The other 3 hours and 31 minutes cover many tricks and techniques for producing assets that greatly speed up and improve your sculpts, like alpha textures, tiling displacement maps and VDM brushes, as well as procedural cables.
  • The full sculpting recording is also included, and a small timecode in the right bottom corner allows you to find the same spot from the edited version in the longer video, if you need it. But I highly recommend just watching the edited, narrated version.


Besides the hand-written English subtitles, there are translated version available for the following languages (so far):

  • German
  • Spanish
  • French
  • Japanese
  • Korean
  • Chinese (traditional)

If you want to see your language added to the subs, please let me know! Keep in mind, these are translated using Google translate based on the handwritten English subs. So there might be some mistakes in them. But definitely better than auto-translated based on automatic subtitles like you would see on YouTube.

Reviews of the course

"This course is amazing! It contains all sorts of tips and tricks to improve your workflow as well as engaging ways to spark creativity and techniques to take your thoughts from concept to production. I highly recommend it."

- Jeremiah

"Following the lectures, gave me a great understanding of how to utilize the tools Blender offers for hard surface sculpting efficiently. Especially for someone who is a beginner in 3D modeling or sculpting, I can highly recommend this course as Blender Secrets always offers elegant solutions/ways to use Blender features for almost anything you might want to create. Before enrolling for the Hard Surface sculpting course, I was a bit hesitant to try out sculpting in Blender, because it seemed quite intricate and demanding to me. Through following the lessons, I feel more confident now and surprised with the potential the sculpting tools offer."

- Lukas Seelmann

"Fan of concise and to-the-point content, I greatly appreciate Blender Secrets short tutorials. It's always been my go-to for Jan's straightforward and efficient approach (compared to other contents often saturated with unnecessary waffle).

In this longer format, he managed to maintain the same relevance, precision and richness that define his educational signature. And while this course is focused on a specific topic, there are still lots of gems to learn about more general points.

Truly a masterclass and I'm looking forward to next courses ;)"

- Sébastien B

"Not yet finished to watch all the videos but the course is great and I learn a lot."

- Fabrice Laffont

"I purchased Jan's book "Blender Secrets" two years ago. From the book, I know that Jan can explain concepts well and simplify complicated topics. Therefore, it was clear to me that he would also excel in videos. The structure of the course is well-divided and very comprehensive. You can easily follow the individual steps and replicate them with ease. 

I didn't buy the course because I want to build robots; rather, it's about learning how to implement things, and I believe the approach is particularly crucial in Blender, in my humble opinion. The course doesn't only focus on sculpting; it also covers topics like dealing with alphas, VDMs, and much more. 

Despite English not being my native language, I was able to follow the explanations excellently. For those who prefer not to replicate everything, all created objects are available for download."

- Bernhard Fischer