- “Le Rabbit” can not be described as the result of an extremelly well organized and planned process. In most of my personal work I give priority to the “fun factor” and try to keep the whole process really enjoyable. So, I try not to plan everything in detail at the start and tend to leave a lot of decisions to be made along the way in order to keep all the phases creative.
During the creation of this image I have bumped into several problems, especially regarding the fur. I am not a digital hair expert and I had to face some questions for the first time. These problems may sound basic to a part of the readers but I have decided to talk about them and the way I have solved them because some of you might consider these tips valuable.
Regarding the motivation to create this piece, I had been wanting to make a more cartoonish character for ages, because this is a type of language at which I feel really comfortable. An image about a humanized rabbit with lots of attitude started forming in my mind... and what was supposed to be a modeling exercise of a few days ended up being a finished piece that took me about 2 months!
- From the beginning I had the intention to sculpt the model in ZBrush.
At the time I was not so familiar with Zspheres and I wanted to make sure that the character had enough detail in certain important areas like the snout, so I have decided to go old school and create a low poly version of the rabbit with a good topology for further detailing in 3DS Max.
I have created a box with a few subdivisions and applied the “Symmetry Modifier” on top in order to create a mirror axis at the center of the body. Then I have applied an “Edit Poly Modifier” below the “Symmetry Modifier” and started editing the polygons with “Show end result” turned on so that I could see all my editing being mirrored to have a clear idea of the full silhouette.
The usual “Edit Poly” tools like Extrude, Chamfer, Connect, etc. were used to create a T-Pose version of the character. I have created some extra edge loops around the joints (elbows, neck, wrists, knees, shoulders) so that I could pose him later and have enough polygons to work with at the deforming areas. Also, I have decided to model the fingers individually rather than a full volume for the hand, so that later I could position the fingers accuratelly.
One thing that I have learned from previous projects is that it is very important to have the eyeballs' geometry present while we model a face. It is very easy to model incorrectly the area around the eyes, especially the eye socket area and the way the eye lids contact with the eyeballs. So, I have created 2 Spheres in the place of the eyes to guide me. In this particular case the eyes have different sizes. I have made this to emphasize the rabbit's expression and really exagerate the lift of the eyebrow. It also contributes to the wacky feeling of the character. The basic shape of the front teeth and the gums were also created at this stage to help me with the modelling of the snout and to make sure they fitted well.
- Usually, at this stage, I take care of the UV mapping.
It is a good time to do it because the geometry is still quite simple and easily identifiable on the UV layout. If you leave it for later you will have to deal with thousands of polygons and the process might not be so simple. I have tried to minimize the distortion of the mapping as well as keeping as much continuous skin as possible. The advantage of keeping the geometry mapping continuous is the fact that you can paint over large areas without worrying about the continuity of the texture between different parts of the model.
Also, I have kept all the different parts on the UV Layout at the same scale. I could have used some more texture space for the head, for example, but then I would have the problem of different pixel scale on different parts of the model. Fortunatelly, to deal with the continuity problems on the edges of the different parts I could count on ZappLink, but we will talk about that later.
For the UVs unwrapping I have used the Unfold3D application.
- After setting the UVs I have attached the gums, teeth and eyes to the body mesh and exported it in OBJ format, which was effortlessly imported into ZBrush.
With the mesh inside ZBrush, I have used the Tools > Polygroups > Auto Groups option to easily separate all the elements into different polygroups. Then in the Subtools menu I have chosen GroupSplit to automatically place each polygroup into a separate subtool. This way, the eyes, gums and teeth were stored as individual subtools.