View Full Version : HCM #10 AIM - The cat at play

07 July 2007, 03:36 AM
I will be doing a house cat leaping after some flying creature. At this point it's a butterfly as they seem to draw the most attention from my cats and are slow enough to be entertaining I guess. Who can understand cats? Might as well try to understand women. :D (ducks flying objects)

07 July 2007, 03:53 AM
To start things off, how bout a mini challenge before the challenge. I have 3 cats so whose it gonna be.

We have...

playful but vicious. She can leave nasty scratches up your arm in fun. I don't mind though since I taught her to do that. Great hunter and very cooperative for this shot.

powerful but shy. He's the best hunter and kills most varments that turn up in the yard. A shy fellow, he is easily scared by loud noises. He wouldn't hold still, took 10 shots to finally get a good one.

regal but soft. Probably the friendliest and always looking for someone to scratch his back. Doesn't hunt much but is very protective of the yard and will chase most larger animals away (except those pesky racoons). He took even longer than Opie to get a picture of.

Of course this is one sure fire way to get them to hold still.

All 3 wonderful cats with great personalities. So whose it gonna be? Vote........ NOW!

07 July 2007, 03:02 PM
Opie ftw


07 July 2007, 09:12 PM
1 for Opie!

Anybody else?

07 July 2007, 09:17 PM
I'll have to give another one to Opie...although that Master Betty looks pretty frisky.

07 July 2007, 09:54 PM
Opie it is! hahaa reminds me of our little mutt! her name's Baby, she looks kinda mean in this first one but she usually never opens her eyes for pictures! Are you going to model the fur?

07 July 2007, 10:08 PM
I pick Opie, reminds me of my big baby of a furball I have at home. LOL

08 August 2007, 08:21 PM
Opie it is. He and I had a nasty altercation when he was a kitten and I've been trying to get good with him ever since, sweet but skittish, not that this will convince HIM either way. :D

I plan to model some form of fur. Gonna start with something like Fox's fur from SSBM.

Texture only and if time permits and I figure something out maybe I'll try real fur.

08 August 2007, 10:04 PM
oh coool I love kitties! And well as for me it simply has to be MRS Norris :scream:

08 August 2007, 05:44 AM
Yeah, cats are so much fun, I just love them! My vote is on Opie as well. He looks just like a little fellow I once had the pleasure of having in my home when I lived in Hawaii. The little rascal would get every single fly in the house and one night I observed him tackling 3 or 4 cockroaches and he got them... all at once. One in the mouth, two under paws and one cornered against a wall. The poor guy got run over by some car during one night. Man, I hate when that happens.

Anyways, cant wait to see your first wip. Your cats look like some real characters btw, great!:)

08 August 2007, 03:05 PM
Laying out the diminsions. Opie is about 35" nose to tail, and his tail is 12" long. LW converted to metric for me so don't have that number.

08 August 2007, 03:24 PM
Starting on the face. I'm going to have to get some standard references of just a cat that or more orthographic. Tried getting some of Op yesterday but it was like trying to get my 3-year old to hold still, not going to happen. I think his eyes are too far apart due to the slightly angled reference shot, IDK.

After modeling people for such a long time this feels really foreign to me. Not sure where to start, how to proceed etc. This just looks wrong to me right now, I'll try again tonight with some better reference.

08 August 2007, 05:48 AM
Wanted to share this. In my searching for reference I found this guy Bento. Just a magnificient looking cat. Reminds me of Baghera.

Update, scrapped the old model and started fresh with new reference. Think its going better already.

08 August 2007, 08:14 PM
Hi guys. I've not given up on the project. Just had 2 weeks worth of troubleshooting someone else's busted email server (I hate having to reverse engineer other peoples shoddy work). Anyway it pretty much consumed every scrap of functional brain activity at the time.

But got it fixed, its been functional for a few days now, so back to work on the kitty.
I've not been able to keep up with the competition, I hope everyone is plugging along fine.

08 August 2007, 05:56 AM
Rapid fire posting!

Beginnings of the face structure.

08 August 2007, 05:57 AM
Attempting to follow the steps I use to model a human head.

Cat nose, man thats odd the closer you look.

08 August 2007, 06:01 AM
Completed face mask, mirrored temporarily to snap a photo.

The snout is very different than the human mouth. While making it I lost track of the fact that its really a mouth and had to add a divot to serve as one.

Next is the bottom jaw and completing to the neck.

08 August 2007, 10:35 AM
looking good, should the nose bit not curve in a bit more to the brow tho?

08 August 2007, 02:02 PM
looking good, should the nose bit not curve in a bit more to the brow tho?

Yes it should. The reference cat has a wide nose like that, Opie doesn't. I tweaked the model toward the end of the night to match him better. 1 sec...

08 August 2007, 02:04 PM
Extruded the jaw from polys under the chin. Knifed twice and shaped into position.

08 August 2007, 02:12 PM
Bottom jaw completed. There is some polygonal mess around the nose area. Gonna let it stand at this point because I'm not really sure on a better way and it works out pretty good at higher rez.

08 August 2007, 02:18 PM
Lemme tell you, the ears were pretty cool to figure out. Mapped 3 quads into the head polys in the shape of the base. Extruded it to the full height, knifed and adjusted to fit the shape. I had originally made 4 base polys but using 3 created a quad in the inner ear which works out better.

I'm a little concered with the way I connected the ear to the head. At this smoothing level you can really see the screwed up polygons it creates. I'll have to test it at higher levels.

08 August 2007, 02:24 PM
Adjusted to look like Opie.

Thinned the "cheeks". Some cats have fat ones, he doesn't. Narrowed the bridge of the nose, lengthened the snout, added more weight under the jaw and gave him some fat rolls he has under the neck (not visible). Its amazing when you look with a detailed eye how many differences there are between cats. I never really noticed how many till I needed to.

Okay, the ear/head joining polys look awful here but...

08 August 2007, 02:29 PM
They smooth pretty well. This was a quick 4 divides, 45000 polys. When I tweak it as I increase it'll look dandy good.

Now heres my next question. What the heck did ZBrush do to my model, he looks about 10lbs fatter than in LW. I adjusted the perspective settings but that didn't seem to do much.

Even with that problem seeing this result encourages me. Wasn't sure about those ears but I use a pretty low smoothing setting in LW for speed. C&Cs are welcome, please let me know what I should take a second look at.

08 August 2007, 04:27 PM
Looking good. From experience on my otter, that pince at the corner of the nose might be a bit of an arse to deal with, but should be alright.
Do they perhaps use different subdivision algorithms? would that cause the bloating? tried turning perspective off in zbrush?
Perhaps put a loop round the forehead, those polys seem quite long in comparison to everything else.

08 August 2007, 10:32 AM
It could be the difference in the camera settings between Zbrush and your 3d package.

I would try exporting the high poly (bloated) mesh out into your 3d app and see if it changes back to looking thinner??

The models looking good man, just one thing that I can see that might be a problem is modeling the fold that cats (well both of mine have it! ) have on the bottom left of the ear (looking at the left ear straight on) as it looks like there should be a bit more geo to accomodate it in the lower mesh.

Be looking forward to updates.

08 August 2007, 06:57 PM
It may just be the way ZB handled the subd without modifications. It imports pretty good so tweaking on the way up may be the difference. This is the first model I've had do this.

NoirQ - I think you are right, and if nothing else I can play it off as part of the nose like its supposed to be there. Oops, too late! ;)

gster123 - You are correct. That will be added in ZBrush along with many other details. I try to avoid modeling that level of detail in the modeling phase now. Leave it to the sculpting.

Thanks guys.

08 August 2007, 04:46 PM
For todays exercise, I've modeled a cat with rigor mortis. :D

Got the basic shape down and enough geometry to rig and pose him. I'm going to pose him before exporting to ZB as I had trouble with that last time.

I'm thinking the front paws together grabbing at something. The back legs arched after the jump and the tail tensed in some random direction. I've found no reference for jumping leaping bounding etc. cats so if anyone knows where I could find some that would be very helpful.

Fun fun fun.

Edit: Crap, looking at this fresh today, the front legs are way too long. I'll fix it tonight.

08 August 2007, 04:59 PM
i'd have had the legs extrude out from the body, to get the shape a bit better. atm your arms and legs flow with the body, which i don't think they should do. it also looks like he's going to have huge shoulders, which should prolly be a bit lower down from his head. drop the entire body down a bit, so the head is above it some. i can't find a good shot of a cat, so i'm guessing with these, but i think they'd help

08 August 2007, 06:05 PM
Your progress on the head is looking really nice! :thumbsup:

I agree with adding a bit more geo on the base-mesh for the ears though. That should make scultping them in detail a bit easier in ZB later on. If you upload some more shots from different angles I can make a more detailed critique.

I am having a similar issue with ZB perspective. I can switch between Maya, XSI and Mudbox, no problem, but in ZB the model always looks very different and I cant quite get the right look for sculpting.

Has anyone found a good approximation of the settings to match the perspective cam in XSI, Maya, LW? (What the heck are those numbers for anyways? 55 doesnt look at all like a 55mm focal length, so are they just completely arbitrary?)

NoirQ might be correct on the legs. On my tiger, I extruded out once to the side for the shoulders and hips and then down on a pair of faces for the legs. That gave me some good room and flow to work with at the higher poly state that I am at now.

Atm the head looks a bit small and the neck a bit short for the size of the body.

Anyways, I love cats and am watching this one with great anticipation, so keep up the good work!

Naz dorovje!:arteest:

08 August 2007, 03:02 PM
Maybe it is my approach. I notice that most everyone here is modeling the muscles and what looks like the "skin" of their animal. I'm trying to model what is visible which is the fur. I have pictures of Opie doing different things and in all those shots there is nothing showing muscle wise. I tried extruding shoulders out but it really didn't look right. His head is about the widest part of his body. I will add more in ZB to show the shoulders better but thats about it. One thing most domestic cats/dogs have is layers of loose skin. I can grab my cats around any joint (not on the head) and pull out about 5" of loose skin. Think about the skin around the neck that momma cats grab babies by.

I'll post one of my ref shots to give you an idea. I'm still not sure, easier to play with these things in ZB.

As for the perspective, maybe ZB 3.1 will give better results. Haven't had a chance to tinker with it yet. I'll do that tonight.

08 August 2007, 05:58 PM
Although modeling flexing and relaxed muscles can help get across a creature's movements, it definitely isn't required. It's how it's weight is distributed across it's body during the posed action which is probably the most important. A fat cat which has hardly no muscle definition can have great visual movement, if while it's lunging or pouncing, the cat's weight is distributed to it's proper place.

I've seen quick 30 second sketches have more visual movement than any sculpt.

08 August 2007, 08:38 PM
Although modeling flexing and relaxed muscles can help get across a creature's movements, it definitely isn't required. It's how it's weight is distributed across it's body during the posed action which is probably the most important. A fat cat which has hardly no muscle definition can have great visual movement, if while it's lunging or pouncing, the cat's weight is distributed to it's proper place.

I've seen quick 30 second sketches have more visual movement than any sculpt.

Good thoughts, in the case of this animal I think modeling the absense of muscle would show the form better. By that I mean the concave areas where there is skin but no muscle at all such as between the body and front legs.

09 September 2007, 10:55 PM
HCR MINI-Challenge #10: Animals in Motion:Post the Final (

09 September 2007, 09:27 PM
Rapid fire picture post.

This is over about 3 days trying to finish before the final.

09 September 2007, 09:27 PM
The butterfly. This will be a giant swallowtail which I have in my yard. This is the most amazing metamorphasis.

From the orange dog catepillar (

To the giant swallowtail (

09 September 2007, 09:34 PM
Left the antenna off. Having trouble finding tools and replacements on the new ZB 3.1 interface and didn't want to spend too much time on the butterfly.

09 September 2007, 09:38 PM
Slowly stepped up the resolution and modified as I went. The usual ZB procedure. I had fits with this as I switched from 3.0 to 3.1 in the middle and had to hunt all over for new tool locations. I know, never switch in the middle of a project. The lesson gets learned again.

I wanted to add more details and texture but work limited my time again. But this time I did finish!

09 September 2007, 07:15 PM
Ok guys time to talk
LESSONS LEARNED (Animals in Motion): Lets TalK! (

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