View Full Version : HMC#10 : Australian Native tarantula

07 July 2007, 11:24 PM
I will be modelling an Australian native Tarantula of the species Selenocosmia Crassipes.
Beautiful little critters aren't they? I have one as a pet at home! This will be very challenging for me as I will be attempting to do at least 90% of the scene in Zbrush after making a mesh in MAX first. I'd do the whole thing in MAX if I could but I don't have much luck with the hair / fur modifier. Expect to see some work within the next day. As i'm also participating in the strange behaviour challenge as well.

07 July 2007, 11:34 PM
hey good luck with the spider, this could be a very cool model, yikes those things give me the willies though..

07 July 2007, 05:54 AM
I have so far spent about 2 hours on the modelling of the tarantula. I was going to use box-modelling but have instead opted to use NURBS as I have never used them before. And the whole objext of these challenges is to push yourself to the limit. Once I have the basic shaped made out I will convert it to a poly then into Zbrush.
A render of what I have so far.

07 July 2007, 10:38 AM
OMG thats the most evil looking creature I have ever seen in my life! Get it away!

Nah, you're off to a flying start mate. Good luck:thumbsup:

07 July 2007, 10:47 PM
To be honest, I've never been too fond of NURBS, especially in MAX. If I'm modelling a complex object, I always make the mesh cage with connected spline curves, which I then convert to a low-res model. From then on it's just a matter of subdividing the mesh, where needed and tweaking as desired, whilst constantly checking the end-result with the mesh smooth modifier. As far as the hair/fur problem, XSI has an AMAZING hair feature, which is very easy to use. I've got a 60 minute tutorial, which I can send you, if you decide to render from XSI...though come to think of it, I don't know if it works with anything but Mental Ray. V-ray has a cool fur feature, but I don't think I've seen any renders made with it yet. In any case, I think having fur on your spider is very important, otherwise the model itself would look too plain without it. Good luck anyway :)

07 July 2007, 12:03 AM
Boone : they're not that evil though I wouldn't let my spider walk on me as she has fangs the same size as most australian snakes. but luckily the venom is non-lethal!

Yav: You're right about NURBS mate. they were annoying me so I went back to modelling them in the method i'm most comfortable with. I have read a few debates on here about NURBS modelling being dead or rarely used. Below is what I have come up with using box-modelling with a mesh-smooth modifier.
This looks a lot better than my attempt at NURBS. Next I will be doing the legs.

07 July 2007, 01:11 AM
a tarantula is a great choice if this was a animal/insect challenge. to be frank i think you might want to re-think the subject.
i dont see how the fundamental shape of the tarantula can change from "idle" to "in motion" state. they have pretty much rigid structure compared to a horse or a bull. i would go for something that has a pronounced muscle structure. it your choice finally but i just thought i would mention it. good luck anyways:thumbsup:

07 July 2007, 01:22 AM
Come to think of it....I agree with Mashru. If you don't feel confident with sculpting muscles, don't worry. It's all about practice and we'll be all here to help as much as we can, so go on Jason...model that unicorn you have always dreamed of ;)

07 July 2007, 02:55 AM
Thanks for the advice guys, but this is my first foray into organic modelling I normally only do hard surface modelling or some architectural stuff. I have tried doing the human figure and that was a disaster to say the least. The thought of doing something with muscle structure while I am still in the newbie stage of Zbrush use gives me cold shivers. I know I have to improve my skills so that I can model anything that I am asked to by potential employers (I wish) but frankly doing something hard like a horse for instance well maybe when I get a lot better. I hope to do at least 2 entries for this challenege so I can improve my skills. I was thinking of doing a blue marlin breaching the surface of the water but who knows I may take heed and try something with muscles!
BTW this spider will be showing extreme aggresion because I will be modelling it rearing up getting ready to strike and believe me it's damn scary when your pet does that when you cheese it off.

07 July 2007, 11:11 AM
Here's another update on my spider, have added the palps which are almost like another pair of legs that the spider uses for feeding and cleaning. Once I have all the legs done it will go into Zbrush for sculpting and to keep everyone here happy I will be modelling a mouse as the spider's victim, as fully grown tarantulas love mice.

07 July 2007, 01:13 PM
Hey, octopus7! Looking good so far! I think you'll have a challenge in getting the motion of the spider to come across, but I think it's possible. You'll just have to really exaggerate parts of the pose a bit to pull it off. Looking forward to seeing how you accomplish this! The mouse will probably be easier to capture movement.

07 July 2007, 06:20 PM
From your first post, I get the impression you might be rendering this in ZBrush. If so, here's a setup I use for hair/fur items. It would only be good for hair that sticks almost straight out as you cannot control direction too precisely in ZB. If your interested, you can play around with it to get different colors/lengths, densities, lighting, etc to get something you could use. The object texture color drives the hair color. It might come in handy.

This is what it looks like in ZB... It helps to slightly blur the hair a bit as well. ZBrush has a hell of a renderer for a 2.5D renderer!

edit: I guess a link might be nice, huh?!
Here you go (

07 July 2007, 07:21 PM
Watching a nature show this weekend where the host basically spent the whole program being attacked by different creepy crawlies. Something I'd never seen before, the Austrailian Tarantula when threatened by a larger animal that poison won't effect will run its legs down its butt and fling a cloud of "hairs" into the face of the other animal. The hairs are similar to fiberglass in texture so it can cause blindness if they get in your eye. He spent a good 10min in the bathroom trying to wash this gunk off his face to which he said he was itching for a week after.

This is a motion you could portray as they move very fast when they do this motion and the cloud can be a foot across. Plus I wanted to mention it because it was freakin cool. :thumbsup:

07 July 2007, 10:02 PM
Kraken: you are a champ mate!:thumbsup: that material is going to be very handy for both the hair on the spider and the fur on the mouse (thinking just what have I gotten myself into?) thanks a lot for it as I wasn't aware you could do hair in Zbrush, only thought you could sculpt it.

Wyatt: The species that spray out urticulating hairs are the American or New World Tarantulas such as the Mexican Redknee, Pinktoe, Goliath (the world's largest spider) and the beautiful but aggressive Cobalt tarantula among many others.
The Australian Tarantulas of the species Selenocosmia & Selenotypus are also called "whistling" or "barking" spiders because of the loud noise they make when threatened. Unlike some American breeds Aussie tarantulas cannot be handled and will readily bite when threatened.

Some links to sites about Aussie tarantulas:

07 July 2007, 08:00 PM
Nice looking good cant wait to see more (Y)

07 July 2007, 09:06 PM
glad you stick with the tarantula...

ever saw the beast jumping... man they give me the creeps

08 August 2007, 01:33 AM
Here's an update as I have now started doing the rest of legs, I hope to have the basic mesh for the spider finished in the next day or so. Then it's onto the mouse which i'm kind of dreading but I guess I will learn from doing it.
I just need to rescale the thickness of the palps as they now seem to skinny compared to the legs. I will use Transpose in Zbrush to put this into it's final pose. Looking forward to sculpting this spider as my tiny 40gb hard drive is now a thing of the past, and I know Zbrush makes HUGE files. Thanks to my parents they gave me a 500gb drive for my b'day So i will not be holding back on any details.

08 August 2007, 10:19 AM
Coming along nicely mate.:thumbsup:

08 August 2007, 02:49 PM
I've got a tiny little mouse, ocassionally visiting my room, so if you want, I can kill and disect it for you...would that help your modelling?

08 August 2007, 12:44 AM
Yav: nah you better spare the poor little blighter's life, besides I can't stand blood and guts. I thought I was gonna chunder watching Saw 3! That was the grossest movie I ever saw.
I should be able to find a lot of reference material on the net or at the library. The trickiest bit will be capturing the look of fear that the mouse will have, knowing it's going to be spidey's next meal.

The tarantula base model is finished so it's off to Zbrush with it now. Or i guess I better start the mouse base mesh next:cry:

08 August 2007, 05:35 AM
Dang, that is a cool pose and camera angle. Reminds me of a monster movie shot.

08 August 2007, 04:46 AM
I second that! Nice clean mesh, great pose and shot angle.

08 August 2007, 05:51 PM
Looks very nice so far. Are you gonna give him fur?

08 August 2007, 10:06 PM
Wyatt & Vertexbum : thanks for the positive comments and i've decided that this will definetly be the camera angle an pose I will be using. As it show's the spider getting ready to strike.

Yav : I might do something incredibly insane and actually sculpt all the fur in Zbrush, I will use an alpha to scult the velvety fur on the abdomen and might try to actually scuplt all the coarse bristles on the legs. Once I get this model in to Zbrush it won't be going back into MAX mainly because:

A - My Uv unwrapping positively sucks and I wouldn't have a clue how to even start to make a uv map for spidey, buildings and stuff are easy to unwrap but an organic model, well I wouldn't have a clue:sad:
B - I'm still learning Zbrush, SO i'm not sure on how to work in layers or create displacement maps etc. I swear doing 3D art is like being back at school, but instead of the useless crap they teach you at school i'm actually learning stuff that's worthwhile.
C - I'm opting to make this model untextured. I was impressed with theerapsol's render with the last challenge (geonoisian) and how an untextured render brought out all the detail.

08 August 2007, 02:49 AM
Hey Octopus, thats looking pretty nice so far, I agree with everyone, I really like the pose you chose for this thing. Looking forward to a Zbrush update, I bet you could get some great details worked into it :scream:

08 August 2007, 11:10 AM
Well I've started what i've feared the most, the mouse!
Had a lot of trouble trying to find any decent refs though yav's electrocuted mouse pics have helped me a bit. So far I only have the rear end, tail and the start of a back leg. But i'm quite happy with what I have so far.
This scene will comprise of 3 models (or tools as they are referred to in Zbrush) the spider, mouse and the baseplate that they will occupy. Once all 3 are modelled i'll chuck the whole lot into Zbrush and go sick detailing everything.

nmcelmury : thanks for your kind words, as you guessed i'm looking forward to detailing the spider a lot!

08 August 2007, 03:13 PM
Haha...I still have the corpse, so if you want, I can take some more pictures for you :)

08 August 2007, 01:30 PM
Good work. This tarantula is so repugnant and terrorific as the original one!


08 August 2007, 05:56 PM
Looks, cool, though I agree with fx81, your take on the mouse will really be the fulcrum, if you can have it in flight, or freezing, all tensed.
Will be keeping an eye on this.

08 August 2007, 11:24 PM
The mouse is slowly getting there and the head is so far proving to be the hardest part with more detail to go on it. Before it gets the Zbrush treatment. The head still needs, eyes, ears, whiskers and the mouth slightly opened. I quickly put the scene together just to see how it's looking.
As I said the mouse still needs a lot of work!

08 August 2007, 05:40 AM
Some more updates. After fixing up the head on the mouse.
This will now be going into Zbrush for detail work. And below a wireframe of the base meshes.

08 August 2007, 08:11 AM
Good work and a solid effort.:thumbsup:

08 August 2007, 11:11 AM
As I keep saying, these challenges are a real learning curve as I have only ever mucked about with Zbrush before and haven't really taken the time to learn it. Well that's all changing as I have taken my scene in Zbrush and started detailing spidey, this is what I have so far.
I'm not sure if i'll be able to do the hairs on the legs. I may have to give that hair material that Kraken gave me a go!

08 August 2007, 12:45 AM
Ok i'd like to post another update but Zbrush has gone and done something really weird so i'm hoping somebody can help me out. The problem is this:
When I select the mouse in the subtool palette and then go into the geometry palette and try subdividing the mesh to level 2. This is what I end up with, 2 lines extending from the mouse's eye....can anyone help? If not I will be forced to just submit the tarantula which will be a bit dull.

08 August 2007, 04:01 AM
Well I got the problem fixed and i'm stuffed if I know how I managed to fix it. oh well here's some work on the mouse so far.
As i'm still in the beginner stages of Zbrush i'm hoping I can make the mouse look better than it does.

08 August 2007, 12:00 PM
The lines were two vertices moved out away from the model. I've had that problem before as well. Don't ask me how this happens in ZB3. In ZB2 it had to do with Projection Master, but no clue why it happens in ZB3. Sometimes you can smooth it out. Other times you need to physically move the points back (sometimes you can't even do that.) If it happens when your model is symmetrical, you can use smart resym and it works great. But, you've already fixed it and are coming along quite well.

The spider is looking really nice! The mouse's head could use a bit more attention, but I can start to feel what the spider will do next. Looking forward to more updates!

08 August 2007, 05:05 PM
Yes. You can use smoth brush in order to avoid this problem or move the vertex points at the first subdivision level. Use store target is good also, or use mask when you move.
This being very realistic. Perhaps the mouse would have to show a little surprise or reactionů

08 August 2007, 08:19 PM
I like the idea.
And nice progress so far.

08 August 2007, 11:33 AM
Conclusion I have come to! I am definetly a hard-surface modeller! I thought i'd give this organic modelling stuff a go but geez I didn't realise how hard it is to make something that looks awesome in Zbrush (Like Kraken's greyhounds for example) I'v
e got the lines from the eyes back again as I had to take the model up to another subdivison level for me to be able to put any detail on it. No amount of smoothing etc will get rid of it and I think the problem may lie in my base mesh. The eyes were sphere primitives that I attached to the mesh and I didn't lower the face count on them...bad move! Guess I know better for next time! Anyway here is a bit of work I have done on the mouse today and some more detail added to spidey.
I'm a bit sad today as my pet Tarantula "Molly" died, i'd had her for about 3 years.

08 August 2007, 03:47 PM
Sorry to hear about your pet, funny how we get attached to animals like that :sad:

Nice work for a beginner mate :thumbsup:
I struggle a bit with curvy, soft things as well. give me a nice bit of steel plate anytime ...

08 August 2007, 09:57 PM
Thanks for the kind words SimJoy, it's appreciated mate:thumbsup:

Yeah I must do more work on my strange behaviour entry which is hard-surface stuff as i've been neglecting it lately and I also have to a combination minigun / anti tank missile weapons system for a competition over at deviant art. I actually got first place in the last weapons comp! check my page there if interested:

08 August 2007, 10:39 PM
Yeah i saw your entry. looks good. I put up a thread for the Strange behaviour Comp, and then promptly couldnt think of anything to do for it ...:shrug:
I also opened an account at Deviant Art a couple of months ago, and then never used it ...

I think its old age ..:D

Anyway, id better get my arse in gear and do something useful, instead of just joining forums ..:rolleyes:

08 August 2007, 11:07 AM
Well I haven't given up on it yet:D I went back to my base mesh in Max and got rid of the spheres i used for eyes. I then saved and imported back into Zbrush. Sure I have had to do all the scuplting again but at least I haven't got the problem with the eyes that I had before.
Progress so far:
At least it looks better than before.

08 August 2007, 10:30 AM
your base meshes seem to have quite a few triangles in, which won't help when subdividing. I've had that issue in Z3 as well, i would imagine, if its only happening at level 2, that deleteing level 2 would fix it. however, i beleieve i went to an older save when it happened to me. Edit: You could have tried making the eyes a seperate subtool as well, and reimporting them?

You've made a nice start, but i think you've jumped into detailing too soon. You're painting the fur and such, without getting the form of the mouse first (i've no idea how a tarantula actually looks, as they freak me out :D). If you look at the hind legs of the mouse, they seem completely flat, whereas there should be some thigh muscles there, his torso seems perfecly spherical, which it shouldn't be. If you can get that form down first, it will look more like what I believe you are aiming for. I hope that helps. good luck :)

08 August 2007, 06:22 AM
Well I've been a bit lazy as of late as I was building a model for a competition on another site (deviantart) but now I can focus on getting this finished. I have decided to use Zbrush's paint straight onto the model feature. Quite impressed with what I acheived in just 10 minutes.
I will experiment with different alpha's etc to get some shape to the colouring but his gives me a rough idea of how it works.

08 August 2007, 02:13 PM
Looking good octo. I'm guessing you have spent more time on the spider texture than the mouse at this point. ;) Question, since I've never really observed a tarantula from this angle, are they that thin. I always had the impression the thorax would be thicker than that.

09 September 2007, 10:56 PM
WyattHarris: the thorax size depends on a lot of factors. Mainly if the spider is well fed it will have a large plump thorax (usually those in captivity) whereas those in the wild will be skinnier. As they have to hunt harder for their food also the Aussie T's are usually a lot thinner than their American counterparts such as the Mexican Redknee or Chilean Rose.
I have given up on texturing for now as I really have to learn to use Zbrush properly and that takes time. So unless I can master texturing quickly this will be as good as my spider gets.
This is the final pose I have decided on, looks like poor ol mousie is doomed!

09 September 2007, 12:10 PM
thats pretty cool mate ..

I reckon you've done a pretty good job for your first attempt with ZB :thumbsup:

09 September 2007, 03:27 PM
WyattHarris: the thorax size depends on a lot of factors. Mainly if the spider is well fed it will have a large plump thorax

That makes sense.

Great work on the spider, it really came out well.

09 September 2007, 10:59 PM
HCR MINI-Challenge #10: Animals in Motion:Post the Final (

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