Lil’ Fox

A fox that captures my adoration for all things tiny, cuddly, and cute

A low-poly/fur study of a stylistic creature

This has been one of my favorite projects to work on to date because working on this has provided me with the opportunity to branch out into a type of territory that I hadn’t encountered very often in my studies. Normally in school, we focus on realistic, structured projects; however, since working on BOMBFEST I wanted to learn more about low-poly modeling with regards to creatures since I spent so much time researching for environment pieces. Ultimately, the project proved to be an engaging puzzle just to see how low I really could afford to go while still retaining the vertices and edge-loops I required for smooth joint orientation.

Like all of my projects, one of my key goals in my works is to discover new pipelines and software; this piece is no different. I was ecstatic to be able to try Neofur, a plugin for Unreal Engine that generates fur based off of texture maps created for the asset. In order to make the process most efficient, I directly painted the textures in Zbrush so that I could quickly make gradients and smooth transitions between each area. Below (left), is an example of this with both the color map and the fur density map. After I finish painting and exporting the model out, I simply bake it down to another version of itself in Topogun so that it can become a texture map from the vertex coloring which can be seen on the bottom (right) for the fur density map.

Using Neofur was a blast to play with all of the different sliders. I’d say that was the longest step in the process simply to see and understand how each of them affected the model. Nothing is as satisfying as seeing a bare model and then ‘Poof!’ all of the fur pops out.

When it comes to rigging and skinning, creating a low-poly model was a roller coaster of difficulty. Creating a rig is incredibly easy and straightforward; this creature in particular would work like most other four-legged critters. However, skinning could be difficult due to improper modeling due to the low number of vertices which is why it’s so imperative for the rigger to test the skinning each step of the way so disappointment and frustration doesn’t surface later. I recommend skinning from the outside of the body to the inside so that the weights won’t accidentally interfere as much with one another or in case you forget to lock any of your joints.

Fox Rig
Posing a character always makes me excited to see the final results of my labor. It truly brings a static object into an actual being with life. In this case, I wanted the viewer to be able to clearly see the fox, the centerpiece of the work. Although, I also wanted to capture more ‘cute,’ so I made sure to tilt his head to the side with a slightly flopping ear. Just enough so that it didn’t break the flow of the composition I had in mind from the beginning.

Upon completion, I realized how much I enjoy creating adorable and cute creatures. I have never had an art project I completed so quickly or that made me feel so absorbed into my work. I simply fell in love with the lil’ guy. Soon, he became my icon for my work and can be seen on my business cards!

Business Card Front
I’m on a business card!

Software used:

  • Maya
  • Zbrush
  • Topogun
  • Unreal Engine
    • Neofur

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