Bee Project: Part One – Conception & Preparation

Hey guys,

Just a quick preface:

Its funny how many people are reaching this site via search engines with the terms “fur 3d” or “render fur tutor Renderman”. So i think its pretty obvious that most of the people reaching this site are looking to read some stuff on Renderman or Houdini.

When looking at the stats of yesterday and today please refrain from laughing at the number of views. hehe 🙂 (most of the hits i get on the site are mostly referred links rather than via a search….. but its still pathetic :))

So onto the real topic here, I hate to disappoint you guys for another post, but i want to document this thing properly. (I want to be proud of the way I post this material).

Originally i was going to write 3 posts on making of the Honey Bee. But I want this to be accessible to everyone and also show as much as i can about my process.I cant really say how many posts this will take but this first entry will revolve around the conception/preparation and research but also my motives, reasons and some early choices. This is the introduction to the Honey Bee project but it also shows the same setup I would use for any other project.


Ok, so you know I am a character person. There are few (technical) elements that make up a character in my world, polygons (shape & form), shaders (skin & misc object) and Fur (hair or just plain fur). These are the things I want to master. You can understand now, why i want to learn shader writing (and lighting). Eventually, should I master them (doubtful), or the only thing left for me to do before I become a master is to practice practice practice, then I want to move into rigging and animation. Yeah its a lot of stuff but i love Cg, not just modelling, EVERYTHING. I also understand that i need to master one thing first before moving on and the chances are, no matter how good i get in the other areas i wont be as good as i am in modelling. But its still possible to become a Jack of all trades and master of 2 or 3 (the restriction doesnt have to be narrowed to just 1).

So for a while now, Fur has been the one quest i have yet to have ANY success in. Houdini (which is my primary app) has had Fur since 9.0 but it still hasn’t quite got the control i want (another reason to learn VEX is all the control shaders are written in CVEX).

But recently on the odForce forum’s Mark Visser created Fuzzy Toolkit (btw he was the principal architect of the custom software used to groom and render all of those wonderful furry and feathered critters on C.O.R.E’s movie, “The Wild”). He really understands both the artists needs and pipeline requirements.

The thing is there is a problem with the software / my setup, he is trying to find out which one it is.

But my hunger for Fur wont go away.
Like I said earlier Houdini does offer a solution, albeit limited in the grooming department but it is the only option right now.

To be honest though, if it wasn’t for a hot sunny Sunday I probably wouldn’t be doing this project. I was watching Tv and the biggest bee flew in through a window and I freaked out. I closed all the door and grabbed a cloth and whipped it (just like Indy). It fell to the ground (almost with a thud, it was that big).

I did feel a little bad but I’ve always wanted a bee to study so that one day I could model it, because in the past when I’ve tried to model such creatures and I cant find enough reference of the same bee or insect.
So I put it on a sheet of paper and put a glass on top. Took about a day and a half to die (which was a little bit cruel) but now I have a bee to examine. 🙂

So i went into project mode. I thought of certain technical/aestetic elements of this bee.

Here they are.

  • Predominately fur covered (at least 70%)
  • Interesting/appealing creature/character (doesn’t mean it has to be liked, just something that sits well with the viewer)
  • Challenging modelling-wise
  • Wouldn’t be to hard to rig (possible first rigging project )
  • The possibility to create some new and interesting shaders
  • In terms of fur grooming, it would have to be pretty basic

Even though the fur grooming will be pretty limited, I can still learn a lot in terms of Fur rendering.


So really I started this thing backwards, but when I intentionally create something, i have a list like the one above of what characteristics the subject should possess.

The chosen creature is, a Honey Bee! (like you didn’t know judging from the title of this post).

Since I am taking this project seriously, I bought a Notepad so could jot down any ideas, sketches and well…. notes. Without sounding geeky (I writing a blog, how geeky can I get :)), this is an awesome Notepad.

ok I think I’m gonna call it there. Time of post 11:42pm

Hope this helps.

Next post, Modelling.

Should be out in the next few days.

Really! 🙂


Bee Project: Part One – Conception & Preparation

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