Disney's Elsa from Frozen


Finished importing everything into Maya and hooking up what needs to be hooked up. The first render of the improved model looks fine, so I can start working on the materials for the clothes now.

Here are the current and the last state compared. Click the images to view bigger versions.


this is some serious good work. she looks identical to the real one.
really well done. i cant really give any constructive criticism as i cant find any, other than saying Amazing work!


Thanks =)
Really looking forward to the rigging and animation part at this point.

Happy New Year everyone!

A crash corrupted my diffuse skin-texture, so instead of starting over from a previous version, I decided to fix some topology issues, redo the UVs and learn and try both Substance Painter and Mari, both of which are on sale on Steam right now. Decided to go with Mari, redid all skin-textures and shaders, changed a lot of stuff around and finally started with shading the clothes a couple of days ago.

The hair looks a bit stringy (easy fix), the shirt could need some more variations (already have an idea), bodice and cape are still untouched, but other than that, I’m very happy with where I am right now.

Click to view 4k version


She is lovely!!! I like her Hands in the last Pic.
Awesome work!


Thanks 2xbo. Though credit regarding loveliness goes to Disney =)

Fixed the things, I mentioned above and a few other things as well. Click to view this in 4k:

Moving on to the bodice now. Not quite sure how to do it though, so I’ll have tinker around. I’m thinking Xgen archives is the way to go, but we’ll see.


Finished the bodice (go xgen!) and changed some stuff around. I’m not 100% happy with the skirt, but I’m not quite sure yet of how to improve it, so I’m going to leave it for now and move on to the shoes and then the cape.


I decided to thoroughly check and tweak everything I had so far before moving on to the cape. Remodeled the skirt, replaced almost all of its maps, tweaked most shaders under different lighting conditions and finally rendered this simply turntable shot:


Everything came together nicely, I think. The hair-profile looks wonky from one angle, so I’ll have to take care of that, but except for that and the missing cape, I’d call this finished.
Here’s an album with the individual frames, if you want to inspect them more closely.


Hi there. I’m new to this site, so I’m not sure if it works this way, but do you think it would be possible to share this. I’m new to animation and modeling, but I’d love to experiment (mess around) with your Elsa model. Is that a thing that can happen?



Sorry, but I don’t plan to share this :expressionless:

There’s a truckload of free and more complete characters, like the morpheus rig for example, out there if playing around is your intention.


This is amazing!It’s the best model of Elsa I’ve ever seen.It really identifies with the actual model. :applause:
By the way,could you upload this model to sketchfab when the cape is done?It would be marvelous to see such an amazing model and I’m pretty sure the community will like it :slight_smile:


Thank you for responding! The only reason I asked is because I’m kind of obsessed with Elsa (and Frozen in general) and wanted to use it as a jumping off point. ¯_(ツ)_/¯ Eh, whatever. I am of course sad that I can’t use it in anyway, but I suppose I can use this thread as guidance? idk. :frowning: But it’s okay. It’s totally your prerogative, and I understand.

I’ll take your advice I guess. And as a bit of flattery that totally isn’t here to try and suck up to you etc, your Elsa is really fantastic. Certainly the best I’ve seen around sans the actual one from the movie.



Finished the model!

Rigging is next. The idea of building a proper rig for that face really intimidates me though.
Sooo much new stuff to learn!


Damn, spot on gratz!

If you would like some tips for rigging don’t hesitate to send me a PM :slight_smile:


Thanks! Already got a question for you =)

How exactly should I go about rigging the upper torso? If the shoulders move forward, the chest needs to make way … especially on a female character. The effect gets exaggerated when the arms are lowered while doing that. If the shoulders move back, there’s quite a bit of displacement of skin on the back.
Should I go about that with corrective blendshapes? A joint setup? Muscles? I’m not really sure what the best approach would be for a stylized character.
I’m leaning towards blendshapes, since I don’t expect to do any crazy poses.

I’d like to have a controller to animate some breathing as well. A breathing animation would include at least the diaphragm, chest and shoulder areas. I’d like to have a global slider with ‘breathing out’ on one end and ‘breathing in’ on the other and then three additional sliders which control its influence on diaphragm, chest and shoulders. Would this be hard to do? Sounds simple enough to me, but I don’t know the first thing about rigging in Maya yet.
Also, I’d like the breathing-slider to actually drive the shoulder-controllers, layered on top of any animations that may already exist on them. Is this doable without any crazy rigging-voodoo?


I would suggest starting off with a joint rig. Correctional blendshapes are kind of a last resort (at least in my eyes). As you start stacking blendshapes you may run into unexpected behavior.

As long as you place & skin the clavicle joint properly you should be able to get the deformations that you were talking about.

The breathing could be done with joints, but blendshapes would be easier.

In order to have a breathe slider control the clavicle as well I would suggest setting up all of your controls with driver and offset groups. See pic.

Just make sure you only move the offset group. That way it’s children inherit its orientation.

Once you have a driver group set up, you can use driven keys or nodes to connect the slider to it. Since it is a parent of the controller it will drive it.


I actually understood that! Thanks a bunch, sounds like a reasonably easy thing to do then.

Played around some more with Advanced Skeleton today. I think I’m going to stick with that, since it has pretty much all the features I could need. With the face I’m going to go with a custom rig though.
Rigging is something I’m not particularly interested in, so as long as I cover at least the basics, I’m happy.

Any thoughts on the joint placement so far? The animation below ships with Advanced Skeleton, it’s not by me.

I think the clavicle may need to move a bit towards the back.
Not quite sure about the upper arm joint’s location either.


Good progress man,

Here are some of my thoughts regarding rigging:

I dont really like that animation but well, but hey, we cant expect the world from a free tool.
You should not use this motion to actually test your rig deformation… it just doesnt have a wide enough range to reliably tell if stuff works or not.

As far as joint placement goes, it doesnt look too bad, quite hard to see it that well with the animation going. But I think the ankle joint is a bit too far forward, have it more central. The clavicle base needs to come a little more forward, it should be placed anatomically so right at the actual bone you can see. The shoulder joint should come up and in a little more, take some looks at actual shoulder references to clearly see where the joint’s at. You could use one more joint in the chest, or redistrubute the existing spine chain. Just to be able to get a little bend going on in the upper torso as it shouldnt be completely rigid - especially on a stylized character like this, otherwise itd be a little hard to get certain bowing poses.
Hip joint looks fine from the front, cant quite tell about the side, a still orthographic view would come in handy here.

Regarding your deformation concerns… I dont think muscle is an option on a character like this, also considering your experience level in rigging it would probably be quite a process you wouldnt be willing to go through as you said rigging isnt actually your focus of interest.

Corrective blendshapes might do, but I find them quite unflexible and as Nick said, they should be only a final step if you havent got the time to solve stuff properly. The issue with correctives is when you use them to correct big chunks of foul deformaiton like arm/shoulder up and rotated forward (i.e. reaching to the back with the hands from above). Or even just elbow and knee fixes when the limbs bend sharply. If that deformation is too messed up from the start then a corrective might solve it in that exact pose, but in the blending process youll get huge mesh shifts and bloats in unexpected directions. In my opinion corrective blendshapes should be used more to add an extra layer of detail to the character by adding muscular action and volume shifts with them and not really to solve bad deformation.
So in short: corrective shapes (unlike the name states) should be more for improving stable deformation, not to correct sh*tty deformation.

About the upper torso, and back deformations on shoulder movements, I would add in some extra slidy stretchy joints to fake pectoral muscle range on the chest and scapula sliding on the back.
You can use a setup like that on a lot of places to introduce “nonlinear” deformaiton and volume preservative features.
Also having joints that move out as limbs bend can help you get a nice shape without the need to use correctives (even tho the stup might be slower, in the end it pays off as the deformation is way more stable when blending in)

Extra thouht: see what you can do on elbow and knees, maybe dual quaternion can help get the shape preserve volume, however I would not recommend it since DQ doesnt work very well when scaling joints non-uniformly (stretchy limbs and whatnot) also it will probably mess it up if you actually do decide to use correctives later too (unless you are doing correctives directly manually in deformed mesh space (thats messy) or there is a mesh delta extractor algorithm around that also accounts for quaternion weights - never tried it… anybody knows that?)

On the breathing you could get away using just animated keys on control offsets as Nick suggested, using some fancy pre-multiplication setup and maybe a simple expression, animCurveUU or remapValue node rig to tweak per area intensity and rate of the breath anim, also maybe a little blendshape for volume shift from chest to belly and vice versa…

As facial is concerned, I guess youd be best to go with a blendshape driven rig for most parts… maybe save the jaw opening as thats better off using a rotating jaw joint. Then maybe a small corrective on top to have some skin slide on the sides whilst the jaw opens (just throwing in some crazy thoughts there). However youve always got the option to have more of the broader facial stuff be deformed by joints, and use correctives to get the deformations to a nicer level - I prefer this way…
The problem with blendShape-only rigs is that its quite difficult to have the shapes be compatible with each other while still have a large range of effect to not have the feel of the facial sections being detached from each other… the whole face should feel connected as its one big network of muscles acting together and one big flap of skin lying on top of it.

Can also discuss dynamics as you progress the rig…
Anyay dude, youre doing good work already, good model and textures, and the renders look solid.




Thanks a lot for that very detailed answer! Really helped me out a lot.

I’ll work through the things you mentioned and post a more detailed reply.


Wow, amazing job, well done!


@MrMartulen: Thanks!

Yeah, I don’t think I’ll use that animation for anything else other than maybe to test cloth dynamics or something. But there is something about seeing your model move for the first time =)

I’ve followed your advice on the joint-placement and moved the clavicle- and shoulder-joints and added more joints to the spine.

I also experimented with slider joints to help with the shoulder-deformations. I’m going to redo it properly, but here are the results of that first test:

It’s all joints and no blendshapes. I think with proper skinning, a couple more joints and some manual controls this’ll work out nicely.

I’m wondering about my spine joints though. I’ve placed them in a perfectly straight line to get clean FK rotations. I know the spine is S-shaped and the joints should be more towards the character’s back, but is that really that big of a deal in this case?
This way I also get some very even deformations on the front and back when the spine bends. To me, the bend doesn’t look too unnatural so this seems like a reasonable tradeoff. I’m very interested to hear what you guys have to say to that.

I ran into an issue with skinning the neck:

I fail at weighting the joints in a way that the mesh deforms nice and uniformly without any artifacts. Smoothing gets me only so far, so what’s the proper workflow here?
Don’t have any issues with the twist-joints in the arms at least, since the geometry is much less dense there.

So far this seems to work out pretty fine without any blendshapes. I see how they are not an ideal solution to fix bad deformations. I’m not completely dismissing them as an option though.
I’ve been using DQ on the neck, arms and legs to help out with the twisting. Avoided using them for pretty much anything else, including the shoulders.

Yeah, I’m thinking about using blendshapes for the face as well. There’s some very specific creasing and bulging going on, especially on the eyebrows. For the eyelids and possibly jaw I’m leaning towards joints though.
I bought Jason Osipa’s Stop Staring book and although I don’t think I’ll go with that specific interface he describes, I find his idea of tapering very interesting. Basically you sculpt one big shape and then extract smaller shapes from it so that the sum of all these individual shapes result in that big shape. This way you avoid a lot of bad shape-combinations. Sounds like a solid starting point, I think.

Another thing I’m not clear about is how to get rid of bad skin collision. Because I will be using cloth dynamics, I can’t have the lowered arms clip into the side of torso and mess up the cape in the process. Stumbled across this neat little plugin which may just do what I need, but I’d be interested to hear about other possible solutions. I don’t think blendshapes are an option here.