Favourite Animals Brought to Life in 3D

Favourite Animals Brought to Life in 3D

Current ESMA student, Alisson Colombe, reveals her passion project: crafting a 3D Cavalier King Charles Spaniel from inception to completion.

Alisson Colombe is a current a student at ESMA. When not reading books or watching tutorials, Alisson lead the exciting life of an animal keeper. In this article, she shares details of a project close to her heart - the creation of a Cavalier King Charles Spaniel in 3D from start to finish.

The inspiration

The idea of embarking on this creative adventure grew out of my deep love for animals. Their loyalty, charm and ever-happy characters amaze me. But I've also been captivated by the world of 3D art, where the possibilities seem endless. I thought about how I could blend these two passions, and that's when the idea of sculpting a Cavalier King Charles Spaniel materialised.


All work begins with in-depth research and a thorough understanding of the subject. For my project, I immersed myself in a world of references, including photographs of Cavalier King Charles Spaniel and countless other dogs.

However, my references went beyond the images. As an animal keeper, I had the privilege of looking after a variety of dogs, which gave me an appreciation of their coats, from the way they were bunched up to the direction in which they moved. I was then able to make a look board from the references, as well as a coat study.

Learning new software

As I immersed myself in this project, I was faced with a monumental challenge: sculpting the spaniel in ZBrush. It was a first for me, and the excitement of breaking new ground was undeniable. The process of translating my vision into digital sculpture was both exciting and demanding.

First I made a 3d block out in ZBrush to get more and more into the details. Every stroke in ZBrush brought me closer to the Cavalier King Charles Spaniel through the muscles. Once the sculpt was finished, I used Zremesher and projected my high poly into my low poly, so that I could export my low poly to Maya and assign my vector normal map.


The next step was to add character to my creation through the use of textures. From the Maya process, we move to the creative potential of Substance 3D Painter by projecting and painting the colour of the coat onto the dog's skin. The use of PxrMarschenHair nodes and Pxrhaircolor adds a visual richness that makes every hair texture different, reflecting the unique texture of the spaniel's coat. The result was astonishingly realistic with MarschenHair adjustments made.

RenderMan: Putting the icing on the cake

The final result was brought together using RenderMan. RenderMan transformed my creation, highlighting every intricate detail, from the meticulously designed textures to the fascinating realism of hairs through light of the domelight. And a little finishing touch with Nuke grading was done, to really deepen the detail.

This project reinforced my belief that 3d knows no boundaries, and that when you're motivated by passion, the results can be exactly what you were looking for!

Check out more of Alisson's work on her Rookies profile here.