Wednesday, 7 May 2014

Monge tout?

So I came across the work of a brilliant artist by the name of Jean-Baptiste Monge. A few of us in work are admiring his work, some of us for some time now. One particular image speaks to me, and I just HAVE to model it. This is going to be one of those rare occasions (I hope!), when I actually push something through to completion. I'm hoping to go the whole hog on this one, exporting everything from ZBrush into maya, doing real fur on the raccoon, proper shaders, decent textures, proper lighting, basically going all out on this one. As such, and in order to encourage myself to actually do it, I'm going to post the progress as I make it in this blog post. This is one post I hope to keep regularly updated.

So, the original image is here, taken from his website (
...and I think you'll agree it's pretty damn amazing!

So, eh... yeah...let's hope I do it some justice... <gulp!>

As this is going to be a "how I did it" kinda blog, I'm going to share my progress, techniques and failings with you as I go along. I decided early on I'm going to model this entirely in ZBrush as an exercise, and also to prove to myself that it can be done (with the mixture of hard surface and organic objects). So the first step was blocking this all out in ZBrush so I have a start point. I'm one of those guys that gets bored really quickly (no shit - honestly!), so I MAY have started doing some rough texturing before even finishing the modelling blocking, but hey, that's just done to keep my interest alive. At some stage all of these blocked out models are going to have to be fixed up, retopologised, unwrapped, painted and exported into maya along with any necessary displacement and/or normal maps. That's all really tedious and boring work, so I need this - a little sugar from time to time keeps the something... something.... away...

Anyway, this is my progress so far, after about 2 days work:

As you can see, it's still fairly rough in places, but most of the main elements are there. I'll probably play around with proportions a little when I go back and fix up each of the objects in the scene. So yeah, next up is finishing up some more of the modelling, tweaks and whatnot, and starting to get into some proper details. Once that's done, it's on to the boring job of retopologising (somebody shoot me now).

As I said, I'll post progress as I get it done, so do check back.


So, as promised, I did actually get some more work done on this guy and am posting the progress now. I was unfortunately sick for 2 days, and on the second day decided that rather than waste it sitting at home scratching my balls, I'd work on this a little more. Glad I did. Got a lot of the mind-numbingly boring unwrapping done and also got a start on a lot of the texturing. Some of I might go back and redo, but at least now it's unwrapped and ready to go. There are exactly 50 subtools to this scene (with more to come - such as that feather I have no idea how to model just yet!), and I'm up on 14.5million polys at the moment (also with more to come - such as that damn feather I have ... well, you know where I'm going with this), so it's been great to get a lot of the tedium out of the way. Won't be too long now before I can bring it into maya for a start on the fur. That's where it's really going to start taking shape.

So, yeah, as I said, some of the textures are placeholders, and some I'm reasonably happy with, others, like the racoon himself, I know I'll be updating once the fur goes on, as it's easier to see how much detail to put into the texture on him once I start grooming and seeing some renders. One thing is for certain, it'll definitely change! Past experience has taught me to not bother with too much detail on stuff like that at this early stage, much better to wait and see the early results before wasting time redoing work.
So here he is:

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