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  05 May 2013
It's been a few days, and the last pic I posted looks like crap in comparison, so I guess it's time for another update:

Feeling pretty good about his expression now. It feels "wolf-like" now, or at least a little bit. I still feel like the fur and textures aren't 100% there. I think the blend between light/dark fur needs to start farther up on the sides, and maybe more salt-and-pepper to the fur color on his back. (the strands shift between several different textures along their length)

I ended up throwing out the sculpt layer (for the second time...or was it third?) and spending a good bit of time just working on the basic subdiv mesh. Trying to line things up to reference pics is sadly a lot harder than it sounds. (did you know the wolf in that photo I posted above is not perfectly squared up to the camera? His left side is angled slightly away, making him subtly asymmetrical. Fun times). After awhile I settled on a combination of adjusting transparency on the image plane really fast to watch the apparent "movement" of the model and photo, and marking off some lines with the grease pencil tool.

I also completely redid his eyes, getting rid of the lazy "textured globes" he had before. I modeled a proper iris+lens, which it turns out is the trick to getting the eye reflections to look right.

Tonight I finally felt good enough with the result to sculpt on some extra details again. Here's the untextured base mesh, along with the partially finished rig (it's not skinned on yet)

I also took a bit of time make some plants. Here's one that's at least semi-complete (although the leaf textures still need some work, and I need to figure out a way of tapering off sizes of the leaves at the end of the stem). It's an oregon grape:

I'm still not 100% sure I'm going to use that, as I've been a little back and forth on the final concept for this guy. My original idea was something based on the old norse legend of Fimbulwinter, but I suspect most people would miss that meaning and think immediately of Game of Thrones. While I'm not going to even try to deny getting inspiration from that show, I don't want to turn this into GoT fanart, so I'm debating skipping the snow entirely and going for a more springtime feel. (that, and CG snow is hard to get right, especially in a photorealistic closeup like this).

(feel free to ignore this brain dump and give feedback on the images)
  05 May 2013
Originally Posted by jtheninja: Ok, an exasperated update:

I. Cannot. Get. His. Expression. Right.

This is what his face looks like in a closeup:

I think the problems you are having with his expression are due to the shape of your head. the muzzle is conical/cylindrical rather than a tapered rectangle. I like the placement of the eyes but they need maybe a little tweaking (I saw a post later in the thread that looks about rite) but overall the strangeness in the face is due to the transition from skull to muzzle.
  05 May 2013
That face is getting better. The eyes in particular are reading wolf and the expression is more appealing. However the underling facial structure still isn't there. The bones of the face need to be more prominent along the ridge of the nose. I feel it's lacking fullness in the jaw and there is narrowness in the muzzle. Remeber the jaw is covered by powerful muscles. This is an animal that can tear apart an elk. A Google image search of "wolf skulls" brings up a lot of good pics from all angles. Understanding how the skull is put together will really help you capture the look of the wolf.

Also take another look at the way the hair grows. There is some medium length hair below the eyes and along the upper jaw and much more fluffiness to cheek and neck hair. Right now you just have two hair lengths on the face. I think you are going to need three.

The nose and lips are getting better. The hair growth around them still needs work. Think of black skin with sparse, fine, hairs scattered across it allowing the skin to show through. Study picture of that area a little closer to see how it reads.
  05 May 2013
Progress report: happy wolf is happy:

(note: eyes are slightly narrowed in this pic, which makes them look smaller than they are)

I'm pretty much done making any major changes to the mesh at this point. I spent a good bit of time tweaking it over the weekend, ended up messing up my symmetry with no way out, reverted the mesh to a version from an older file, and realized I liked that one better. I made a few minor tweaks that (and applied all my fur changes, of course), and what resulted is what's above there. Since it seems that I've reached the point where further edits aren't reliably improving the model, and I'm fairly happy with the current look, I've decided to call it good and skin the (now mostly complete) rig onto it.

Which means he can now strike more wolf-like poses. Like howling:

I also taught him to shake:

Technically I can still make minor changes to tweak muscles and the like, as long as they aren't drastic enough to mess up the rig weights, but I'm not sure I'm going to. I think the textures are what needs most of the remaining work, and maybe some fur changes as well. Since the last update, I significantly changed the clumping and scraggling settings on the fur, which give it the more curly look ("scraggle noise" is much smaller/more high-frequency now).

Also going to be doing a lot more environment work on this now, so hopefully the next update will have him posing in the final scene.

Thanks to everyone who's helped out so far, what you see on page 1 is what I would've come up with left to my own devices. I hope you all enjoy what comes out at the end.
  05 May 2013
Hey man,

I would continue to hammer away at the base mesh before you go too far with the hair. Tibbi has been pretty spot on with his/her crits, and you should really follow his/hers advice.

Just from having a look at some wolf pictures, I can see that your nose and eyes are too small, your snout is too long, and the paws are too small. The nose should almost touch the top lip, and there isn't any hair in between them on a real wolf. Your wolf doesn't have much expression because you haven't taken the time to get the skull shape and underlying muscles correct. Your head looks to flat, and its not reflecting any light. The area behind the lower jaw is also too thick, and your eye brow appears too recessed. Your teeth are also way to small.

Sorry to be harsh. I'm just trying to get you to not settle and say "good enough". If you be patient and get the base mesh right before moving on, you can really save some time later on in the process.

I'm not sure if you've seen this or not, but this guy is pretty good at making animals. Maybe if you sent him a polite email, he could be willing to offer you a few lines of advice.



Last edited by AJ1 : 05 May 2013 at 06:23 AM.
  05 May 2013
My problem is, I feel like I've gotten the point where I can't clearly see what changes I need to make. The upper lip, I'll admit is too fat, same with the teeth being too small. But the length of the snout and the size of the nose, to me it seems to be either too long OR too short, depending on what angle I'm looking at it from and what reference pic I'm looking at. Case in point: the pic I posted of him shaking a paw, the snout looks too long to me. In the shot of him howling, it looks about right or maybe even too short. I don't know how I should be changing it, and worry if I do try and change it, the result will be worse (which has happened to me already with the eyes).

I think I can tweak the nose/lip a bit, fix some topo problems with the teeth, scale them up...and maybe lift up the top of the head slightly, but other than that? I feel like I don't know where else to tweak it. To be honest, organic modeling isn't somewhere I venture all that much, so a lot of working on this guy has been a new experience for me. I think maybe I should give working on this guy a rest for a few days to see if something makes more sense then.

EDIT: also, could you clarify what you meant by "Your head looks to flat, and its not reflecting any light." I should add (because I keep forgetting to) that I turned off reflections/spec on the fur when doing these test renders, just so I don't have to wait as long. Is that what you referring to, or something else?

Last edited by jtheninja : 05 May 2013 at 05:38 PM.
  05 May 2013
Putting him aside for a while isn't a bad idea. While you're not working on him, you can casually study photos and videos of wolves and even watch domestic dogs. Let your mind soak up the visual details without the stress of trying to apply them to your sculpt. When you do go back to work you will have a stronger visual library to draw from.

Learning how organic things are put together and how the bio-mechanics work is an ongoing process. There is a lot to a living creature and most of it is very subtle. It takes a lot of patient study to put it all together and I'd say you almost have to be passionate about it to really succeed.
  06 June 2013
Progress report!

(note: image is undersampled for time reasons, excuse the grain for now)

While trying to re-work things on the face, I realized I'd made a bit of a mistake on the head shape:

I think the face is mostly looking better now with that addressed. Although I might add some extra facial rigging to scrunch the eyebrows up a bit. I also need to scoot the camera over so the tail is in the frame (i had the fur turned off in the viewport when I was aligning this...oops). I still think the pose needs a bit more tweaking. Maybe lowering the head, or dropping the ears downward more, like this: http://www.wolvesgonewild.com/image...-ScaryWolf2.jpg

Also playing around with an alternate "mountain" shot (needs a lot of texturing/background work still):
  06 June 2013
Quick update:

Better pose, made a few fixes to the lip, and a lot of lighting and comp work later...

Feeling like it's getting near done now!
  06 June 2013
Took another pass on a lot of the plants and environment stuff, plus a few extra face and material tweaks on the wolf:

  06 June 2013
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