Bee Project: Part Two – Modelling

Hello there,

So here comes the obligatory apology. Sorry. I’ve been away for a while over the summer.

But you guys better be grateful for this post. Ive spent allot of time gathering up the media that went into this post so i hope you enjoy it all.

In part one I started by talking about how people got to this site, so with this post i have to say the thing on this blog that gets the most hits has to be the Fur network setup pic.

Since then, Houdini has matured into version 9.5, so the next part of this series will no doubt have some different methodologies. I have played a tiny bit with fur in the current version and it is different. More on that next post

Final mode

Lets begin with some stats then. It was modeled entirely in Wings3d. It currently weighs in at around 20k polys, there arent any UV’s. This might be covered in the next post (im not sure because UV’s are a pretty boring process, i dont know if anyone cares to read about it).

Im gald i got to finish this thing but there is a lot of research behind it so sit back and enjoy.

Notes & Research

Before i started i knew this was going to be difficult just for the fact that its hard to see whats going on under all that fur. So i gather a few diagrams and basic reference images and drew what i felt was a good shape for the body, wings, mouth etc.

I didnt do this so i could provide myself with image planes or something definitive to work from. This was basically to understand as much as i could and also point out ideas and issues long in advance.

These drawings/sketches was a good push off point to know what references i needed more of and other research that would be useful later in the project.

ie biological Iridescence for the wings.

If you are going to do this, always remember these images are for you and not for anyone else. These dont have to be perfect or presented in a nice way. It is just an outlet for getting your ideas and thoughts down on paper.

Here my pages from this project.


So from the notes and sketches i created i knew what i needed. One thing the interest provides is a wealth of choices. I probably have 200 images of bee’s in my reference folders and came across 1000 images in total via google image search. The main difficulty is continuity. There are so many types of bee’s in the world, so when you enter “honey bee”, you will come across 50 variations. Even if they are the same species, there is a lot of differences.

So the approach i decided to take was to gather groups of photos. If i found an image of a bee, i would try to find out if they are part of a collection.

The best place is to find these types of collections is on forums. There are forums for just about anything and the best place i found were photography and specialist bee forums. But When looking for stuff on forums via google always put “showthread” with whatever you need to find in the search box. This will always point to a thread on a forum and if its a good lead, then you can browse that site.

Then when I had found as many collections as I could take then I would gather specific body parts. Body, Abdomen, mouth, wings, eyes.

Here is a sample of the references I used.

This was in fact was the easy part. But the overall shape of the bee was still a bit of enigma since its covered by so much “fur”. But i have found that the hardest object/people to model isn’t because they are hard surfaces to mimic, its just you don’t have enough reference. And when i did gather the reference for this project i made sure everything was organized so i knew where to get certain images from.

One thing that threw me off was what type of bee am i creating. Was it a drone, a worker or the queen?

See if you can notice the differences between them (especially between the drone and worker).

makin’ of

Before I talk about the method of modelling this new found monster, i have to say get into the habit of making incremental saves. This project alone. Which was modelled in entirely in wings, has just under 100 saves. Not only is it easier to find the most current file, especially when using other applications but also if the original file becomes corrupted, you always have a place to fall back on.

It would be very awkward for me to describe how i model the actual bee, without getting very lengthly. So i have provided a video of the various files with a look at the final model.

Vodpod videos no longer available.
Vimeo Link for Google Reader Users

Vimeo, is crap, i know. I am trying to make it host it on veoh like the Angry Boy video, but their servers are slow or something. But you can download the file now (when you host with Vimeo).

What’s Next

The next part of this saga will probably be the last part for a while.

It will be the creation and experimentation process of applying fur to the model. I will explain it in as much detail as possible. The good parts, the bad parts.

And basic rendering, because in part 3 will cover the rendering and shader process. I have not yet decided to write the shaders in VEX or make it in VOP’s.

I will try to make some sort of iridescence shader for the wings, a procedural shader for the body and a geometry/displacement shader for the compound eye.

In part 4, i will again try to cover the rigging process of the honey bee. I chose this project for a particular reason, it incorporates many areas of CG whilst remaining relatively simple. The rigging process should be pretty simple but i have an idea for multiple rigs.

In part 5 I will animate it in a scene. The scene will contain a two characters, a Bee and a person and an enviroment. This will take quite a while.

So by this time next year part 5 should be coming out. 🙂

… hopefully hehe

by now you should be satisfied with this post.

I will say that this post was delayed a little more by this weeks events. What am i talking about…

Siggraph 2008

So every year, one week in August is an opportunity for almost every major and minor cg software company to show whats coming up in the future months. Its like E3 or GDC. More like GDC because people also come to show off their technology and how they did it.

Autodesk’s Users Group will probably be the talking point along with Zbrush (which at the time of writing this has yet to publicly discuss Zbrush 3.5 ). But autodesk has made a major effort for those who cannot attend to put the entire week long event online (live streaming) and the User’s Group Presentation was about 4 hours long (I watched 90%, just before the sun came up 🙂 ).

There were no crashes unfortunately hehe, but there was on Tuesday on the live stream. I just caught a guy showing of the rendering capabilities (which were amazing) and the program died. All he kept saying was “this is bad, this is bad”.

Hehe poor fella

I gotta say though I agree with many that the next version of Mudbox looks like it could have the edge on Zbrush, but i cant rule anything out until Pixologic say anything.


Hope you enjoyed the read, images and videos. The next post might be a comp of speed sculpts or a shader i want to write/create. These project post take a lot of time so im sure you will appreciate if i have to put in one or two posts about other stuff im working on.

Until then.

Take care.


Bee Project: Part Two – Modelling

6 thoughts on “Bee Project: Part Two – Modelling

  1. Awesome post Andy, this is very kind of you to share and I know it’s going to be a great resource for anyone interested in modeling and later with fur, rendering and rigging.

  2. […] articles in the draft that are coming, but in the interim I had to pass this along. My good friend Andy (Phrenzy84) is blogging the progress of modeling and simulating a bee (fur and all, and I suspect it will be done in Houdini). Check this out, and be sure to hit up his […]

  3. Hi Andrew, I noticed that I’ve been getting some hits on my site through yours, so I thought I’d stop in and see what your site is all about. Looks cool! Nice work on the Bee (I also like the mouse that you’d posted on 3DBuzz a while back). Anywhoo, I’ve added a link to your blog on mine.

    Keep up the good work!

  4. dancer says:

    please, do not publish your movies on VEOH! its crappy and unavailable for people outside US..
    vhats wrong with vimeo? great video quality, not so fast servers as youtube but not bad at all..
    and.. well.. maybe you dont want users outside US to see your videos…
    ok i sound as vimeo marketing manager, but.. veoh realy sucks!

  5. chuckleberry3d says:

    Hey Andy,

    Great information really appreciated the demonstration of the bee project. Do you have any plans to update the progress of the project with texturing for example.

    Many Thanks

    C berry

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