New Wip & Tumblr


First off, if you want frequent-ish updates with no thought’s just images I have a tumblr account. Again it’s all images and no words if you are into that thing (I kinda like it).

So I have finally gotten around to working on that Dwarf character. I remember blocking it out in 2010. I have a habit of bringing old models back. Maybe I can’t stand folders of unfinished projects.

Here is what i have done so far. Mainly finish the design sculpt, retopology and UV’s. (Yes i will be doing a detailed breakdown later). I’m loving the new Hair shader that SideFX have not mentioned in their press release.

Next up is fine pore detailing, textures, clothes, eye’s, teeth and then onto rigging. I’m looking to take advantage of Houdini 14’s lovely speedy viewport.

I’m currently working on a custom blendshape deformer and a procedural eye asset.

Also I will be reorganizing a few things (mainly old posts/categorizing etc), I have changed much of the aesthetic of the blog and hope it is fast to load on all devices and easy to read.

Take care

New Wip & Tumblr

Weekly Update 10

So it’ been awhile. Almost a month.

My last post had a treat enclosed, this one however has a more of a sour note for those who follow this blog. Although that isn’t many, everyone counts. I have decided to cut down on the amount of posts I make as you can already tell. It was a good experiment to do weekly updates (3 months was a good run) but I either became a slave to them and I was going to be reaching that point of quantity over quality. So from here on in, no more weekly updates. Just updates when it feels right with the right amount of content. At the very least Iwill try to keep it at one post a month but even I feel that might be a bit low so we will see how it goes from here on in, no more set deadlines for sure.

Final (Low Rez) Renders


The difference with this beard from the old one is it is control via custom sculpted guide curves (around 500). Not only is it easier to sculpt but also when it dealing with to penetrations. The curves were sculpted in Blender.

Render times kept to a minimum with the shadow volume technique that i described in my tutorial. The body hair, is pure PBR with no volume based shadows.


These pics are low rez but i am currently rendering HD turntables and camera moves, posing. Also i have been uploading all work-in-progress pictures of this character to my Google account so if you would like to view those images in the future you can do so from one place soon. It includes all images featured in the blog along with some others that have not been published.


Tutorials Response with Q/A

After the tutorial i posted i was very surprised at the response. I hope everyone who watched it gained something from it. I have decided to respond to the questions in this post, continue if you would like to see the questions and answers.

Continue reading “Weekly Update 10”

Weekly Update 10

Weekly Update 03

Hello readers, it’s that time again.




Eyes are a toughie, don’t think anyone is about to say otherwise. However you can’t make a character without them. Making eye’s combine both artistic and technical knowledge and when you are using tools that aren’t necessarily standard for this type of work it makes it all the more difficult but also rewarding when you discover/learn new things. So what is it that is so difficult? Well, for many people eyes are the first thing that people focus on when looking at a character. This puts a lot of expectation and it’s up to the artist to convey age/intelligence/personality. Right now working on closeups.

Continue reading “Weekly Update 03”

Weekly Update 03

Anatomy study 01 – The back

Hey guys, when i created this blog i had tried to make it all about my 3d progression as possible. And while there have been a few instances where i have deviated from this path, some to test out features of wordpress, others just because i took my eye off the ball. AKA plugs (which i still feel are kind of warranted since the number of places for modellers/techies can never be enough).

But every once and awhile a piece of news will float around the internet and shock the world, to the point where i cannot turn away.

Tara Reid has cellulite!!!!!!

(im not sure if its actually cellulite rather than she has had too much liposuction so there is no more fat on here stomach, but it makes for amazing reference for old people with lopsided breast implants, poor girl)

Oh yeah and Autodesk has now bought Softimage.


Can lighting strike twice in the same place twice. Well of course it can. And it has (well not at the same place but at another big company). The guided bolt came down from the gates of Autodesk and struck its competitor between the eyes. I imagine it has been hard to keep this from spilling onto the forums and i must say they have done a pretty good job of it. (And i have recently heard that Softimage staff found out pretty much the same time we did, so we can see why it was so easy to contain).

A lot of people are saying it was expected that Softimage was gonna get bought, but from Autodesk was another thing.

Im not gonna harp on about this since I dont really want to say something stupid…… too late.

One thing i found awesome though, was i said over on odForce “I just want Kim Davidson to say ‘This will never happen to SideFX’ ” , which is a pretty naive and selfish comment, since i understand that sometimes its necessary to sell in order to keep the product and the staff alive.

But 7 hours later after a good nights sleep i woke up to find i had a message from none other than the president of SideFX software. I wont say exactly what he said, but suffice it to say he reassured me of SideFX and Houdini’s future (at least for the time being). I know you can never say never, but along with the fact that SESI is a privately held company, Kim’s passion for Houdini and the craft of CG, i think SESI is pretty safe.

The main thing people really worry about with acquisitions is, possible price increase, lack of innovation, job security (if you work for the target) and possible discontinuation of the product. And although Kim never said it in so many words, i felt the message he was putting out was SESI are in control of their products, their creative path and want to serve their customers to the best of their abilities.

back to business

So anyone notice the title of this blog post. This thing is meant to be about anatomy. I just thought i would take the opportunity to inform people of current affairs (yeah like you dont already know, but it will be cool to look back on this in the future)

Regular readers will probably know i have dabbled a little in anatomy over the year. Little attempts that i spend way to much time on and eventually looks horrible/wrong. Well the main reason it looks so bad is my knowledge on anatomy.

So last week i ordered a book, recommended by Scott Eaton (recent addition to the Artists/Modellers links). “Atlas of Human Anatomy for the Artist”. If there is anyone looking to further their knowledge for artistic purposes GET THIS BOOK. Its a cheap, informative and exhaustive look into anatomy for the artist. (ok thats the plug of the post). Get it now.

In the interim i decided to try learn as much as i could. One area where my skills have always failed me is when i model the back. I just never turns out right.

So i took a few anatomical images and decided to do an ecorche study (which i have never done before). (above right)

Also I wanted to sculpt the image on the left to completion but i knew i didnt have the knowledge or the reference to do it justice, so it will sit quitely on my hard drive untill i feel im upto it.

But eventualy the book. Ive spent the last two days just crawling over the images and text with no discernible order but this morning i decide to put this thing to use.

I did my first sculpture of a back in a very very long time.

It took a little over an hour from a base mesh.

I almost exclusively used the clay tubes brush, and built up the forms and boney structures and i must say it was a joy to watch my model come to life. Its not perfect, in fact i can already see areas that need a lot more work but i think its some of the best work ive done since its rooted in actual anatomy.

I dont expect to create models with the same quality i usually do using this technique and knowledge.

It will take a little time and patience, but already i have cranked something out in an hour of what might take me well over 3, and thats because i knew what i was looking for and not just trying to replicate an image pixel for pixel. So it’s a lot of practice really, its probably the biggest factor that will make you / me faster.

Andrew Loomis: Figure Drawing for all its worth

Along with these images the first thing i did when i decided to get back into anatomy was to look at the resources i already had. A few years ago i remember a few of Andrew Loomis’s books. One in particular that sparked my interest was “Figure Drawing for all its worth”. Alot of useful stuff and is a very good read. Its pretty hard for me to read book on the computer, dont know why but the books were out of print at the time. but i have heard his family are to re-release them (so i will stay tuned for that).

One of the early exercises in the book is on proportion. Many tips in the this section but here is my first attempt of the idyllic man.

I wish i could talk more about this but this post is already getting a bit long in the tooth.

I cant wait to see where this book takes me, im having a lot of fun and learning stuff along the way.

So over the next 50 years you will probably see some more images of my learning process. (since i hear it takes a long time to learn this stuff). I still havent come to that crossroads when modelling figures, should i model that penis or vagina? 😛

Hope to post more frequently in the next few months considering it didnt take that long to make these images and i know thats what a lot of you guys like to see.

And yes, the bee project is still alive. It needs some adjustments but i will be furring it up :).

Take care, bee safe.


Anatomy study 01 – The back

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

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

Starting from the Source!

Me again,

Got a long read for y’all.

Hope you guys haven’t been waiting for me to surface again with another post. If so, speak up. Under a little pressure it will more than likely provoke me to update this thing more than once a month. (in case you didn’t realize that was another, probably failed attempt to generate some interaction).

Anyway, if you think this will be the last time you see me for another 30 days, don’t fret, there will be another post tomorrow.

But this is the here and now so lets get on with it.

So since the start of this blog I’ve tried to cover one main topic, Modelling. I don’t think that i haven’t done a terrible job in documenting and provide a little insight to how i am creating models, however i do admit that i need to provide a few more tip and tricks in some posts and…. a few more models (don’t worry one is coming tomorrow).

Not that I need anything more to keep you reading, but i want to document another process that i have been getting into, Houdini (not really a big surprise).

To be more specific, VEX, and to be even more specific, Shader development.

yeah i know, stupid right because I’m a modeller i.e. Artist.

But for a while now, I’ve been trying to find another avenue of Cg to walk down so i am a more well rounded artist. Year’s ago a made a half hearted attempt to get into MEL, and Delphi etc, but it never seemed like a good idea, in terms of what i wanted to do.

But in the past year ½ i have found myself learning more and more about Houdini.

Now everyone knows that Houdini is tough for “dumb” artists to learn. Its like kryptonite.

However if the enthusiasm is there then it a lot easier i believe, there is a lot of documentation out there and two communities that are always there to help.

You might think, “yeah, OK, learn Houdini, but why learn VEX and not only Vex but shader development. Why, out of all the other applications of Houdini do you want to try the one thing that is probably the hardest thing of all.”

Well there are a number of reasons:

  • I need to gain some programming skills. I have felt programming is a gateway to another way of thinking, working, achieving.
  • Learning VEX, i feel will help me understand Houdini with a higher level of clarity and probably faster.
  • More control (who doesn’t want that).
  • I want to be smarter.

Now I would expect some people to laugh at that last point, but you know what, its true. To be a good programmer especially dealing with graphics you need to have a very solid maths background. So a while ago i purchased a set of Maths training that would not only provide a refresher but in many cases a total reveal to a lot of topics that crop up in the world of graphics programming, like Trigonometry, Vector Algebra, E, i and a shit load more.

I always enjoyed maths at school but never spent enough time with it to develop a passion for it, i was too busy painting and sculpting.

So I’m not going into this thing lightly.

Plus I’ve been looking into how i am actually going to learn this thing. What steps i am going to take, how am i going to progress? Well i noticed that there aren’t a lot of tutorials on VEX, except for the documentation which provides all the functions, syntax, variables.

Wanna know why….

VEX is very similar to Renderman. And there is a bunch of material on Renderman, free and commercial. So i don’t think there will be a problem there.

Infact here is my very first VEX shader, basic yes i know, but it feels good to create a shader from complete scratch.

Some of you may be thinking well, what is sparking this epiphany.

As i said earlier the main reason for this was finding a road to learn Houdini but that road for some seems to be very easy to walk down. The reason is these guys have a technical background that almost prepares them for Houdini.

Have a look at this thread:

“Lack of Tutorials!” Thread @ SideFX

But you know what, to be in Computer graphics, the decision to learn a scripting language, or try to be a little more technical, shouldn’t be such a big deal. I think more artists should be more technical. If not to be smarter and more commercially viable but just to know more about the technology your using.

The timing of this decision is somewhat weird.

I just received the latest issue of 3D World and guess what, Craig Zerouni is talking about the exact same thing in his Letter from Hollywood column. Check it out, issue 104.

So artists out there, do yourself a favour. Try something technical, if you do your research it wont be as painful as you might think.

hope you enjoyed that read.

Stay tuned for the next few days for a model update. Or subscribe, it’s easier.


Starting from the Source!