We asked Seonghyeon Park, a student at SF Film School in Seoul, Korea, and aspiring grooming artist, to share with us how to create fur for a 3D character.

β€œLittle friend in the forest” is a story of a chipmunk. Artist and student Seonghyeon Park created this imagery to show the calm and soothing atmosphere of the forest, and most importantly, the cute chipmunk!


To create this character, I used Zbrush, 3D Coat, Mari, Maya, Advanced Skeleton, Nuke, and Megascans.

Checking Your Reference

To express the chipmunk’s fur, I chose Xgen of Maya. This is a breakdown of some things I have learned, creating fur in Xgen for the first time.

Since all animals have fur of various lengths, textures, and shapes, I think It is essential to check the references first. When I study a reference for the first time, I like to mark the direction of the fur on the photo with basic lines.

Guide Work

Xgen has two ways you can operate in: primitive and interactive. I chose the primitive attributes. Before making the guide, I thought about the shape of the fur, the density, and the clump, and started with two descriptions of body and tail (I modified it later and added more).

Next, I started working on the guide work in the direction of the fur while checking the references. I think the guide work is one of the most important things you can do when creating fur because the shape and feel of the fur mostly depends on the guide’s direction. It is also important to ensure you create fur to scale on the character.

In the case of Xgen, errors occur very often. When checking after adjusting the values, I recommend you to work with a lower percentage in the preview because the high density of fur can cause errors.

Fur Density Mask

While working on the guide, I also created and applied a fur density mask. And I found a density value similar to the reference. If the fur comes out even although the masks are painted in black, you can raise the gamma value and check whether it is properly painted in black.


Clumping

You can creating a clumping map in Maya with two different methods: generate or guide, and I used the generate method. By adjusting the values, I found the appropriate values for clumping. Then, I created a clumping map mask to divide the size of the clumping by region.

Clumping maps mask (First Clump)

Clumping modifier mask

The clumping modifier mask was created to control the range of the clump. Depending on the shape of the masks, the fur changed a lot. So, I worked carefully. And when the mask layer didn't appear, I applied the material of the object as a lambert.

I paid attention to graph shapes because clump shapes are dependant on the graph of the clump scale. Iused β€œrandom values” and β€œ$cLength” to apply relative values as needed.

Second Clump

When working on the second clump, the density value of the setup was given about three times the first clump, so that the second clump could be applied to the inside of the first clump. This allowed for a more natural shape of fur.

Noise

Like clumping, the noise was applied to the mask and adjusted by controlling the graph. Also, I tried to make the noise irregular by using the noise smooth step in the Xgen expression editor.

Noise Mask

Width

At the end of the body fur work, I applied random values to the width of the fur to make it look more natural.


Tail Fur

Tail fur was the most difficult part of chipmunk fur. In particular, the colour appearance was different depending on the angle of view.

First attempt - cylindrical guide

First, I tried to create the tail fur by making the cylindrical guide. However, it didn’t get along with body fur. I had to find another way because I could not see the colour of the tail changing.

Second attempt - Different guide lengths in one description
complete

And finally, after several trial and error, two descriptions of β€œ+, x” shapes were applied to express the tail fur .

I applied the mask to ramp using layered textures for each description. I learned a lot in Xgen by experimenting with many methods to express the tail of chipmunk.

When applying the ramp colour to the tail fur, I used rainbow colour to check the application range.

After completing the basic body and tail fur, I added fur to the deficient areas such as fuzz, the fur around the mouth, etc. while checking through the render.


So far, these are the methods I used when working with chipmunk fur. It is important to study theoretically, but I think it is more important to gain your experience through trial and error.

If you are looking to create fur for your first 3D character, I hope this has helped!

Thanks to Rookie Awards for giving me the opportunity to share my work with everyone.

You can find me here on the Rookies and on Artstation, and Instagram.

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