Making Of "Magic Fluff"


'Magic Fluff' won 3rd place in the CGSociety challenge 'The Journey Begins', & I'm going to attempt to explain the making of this scene in as much detail as possible.


The most important part of any project is the concept, so after receiving the challenge subject l created a scene & added some characters. I then drew some sketches, after which l started modeling each of the characters. While l was creating the character models l tried to keep them similar in style as they're all meant to belong to the same world. However they also had to be very different to each other. I tried to make them as believable as possible, even though the world is fictional. Here is the story of 'The Magic Fluff'...

In the land of 'Dabunlesia' there exists a legend of a bird, a magical bird. It's magical because it has 'magical fluff'. If someone finds only a small bit of fluff then they will have the ability to fly, just like the bird itself which I have named 'Simurg'. True to the legend, Simurg has thirty different bird features & is supposed to bring good luck. Inspired by the legend, two more characters 'Nosey' and 'Freckle' begin a journey with their little monster friend 'Greg' & the lazy 'Fire Fly'. Using his plunger arrow, Nosey collects fluff from every bird that they come across on their journey & puts it on the carriage to later test whether they work or not. Whenever they come across a bird, even they don't feel like it's the magical one, they get the fluff anyway. One day they come across a bird with a bemused fluffy baby nearby in it's nest. The bird is a 'Puhu'. Nosey and Freckle don't know anything about the Puhu which meanwhile is getting angry with them being so close to the nest. But they are sure that the bird is the one they're looking for. Suddenly, feeling as if under a spell, they look spellbound at the Puhu. Nosey gets his pump arrow ready to get the magical fluff and Freckle tries to reach the Puhu by swinging on a vine as he has lost his mind. What a big mistake that was! Thinking that Puhu is the bird they were looking for. However, behind the tree, the Simurg watches them with a funny, inquisitive expression...


I tried to make all of them childish and try to keep their cute styles.

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The next step was beginning the modelling of these characters.

During the modelling period l had to change some details.

Modelling & Texturing

All characters and materials were modelled in Maya and then detail was added in ZBrush. A low poly modelling technique was used.

Nosey: Modelling 'Nosey' was the first fun for me. As well as being the most intelligent and creative, he acts as the beacon for the group.

Freckle: He is the crazy one so in the scene he's trying to fly with a vine, he has no clothes on, his hair style is crazy and he has a nitwit expression on his face.



Textures of 'Freckle & Nosey'

All textures were created in Photoshop.

Facial Expressions for Nosey

For these l prepared a blend shape. Here is an example:

Fire Fly: It's a very chatty fire fly, also very fat and lazy. Because of his laziness and fat belly he spends his time in a cage which is shaped as an oil-lamp.

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Greg: Greg is the powerful tiny giant. He is modelled in Maya, detailed and coloured in ZBrush. Greg's expression in the scene suggests he is angry towards the mother bird Puhu and is trying to protect his friends Nosey and Freckle from her.

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Texture for Greg: You can see the texture for Greg in.

Puhu: Puhu is a funny and cute looking bird but beware as it could be very dangerous while protecting its baby. This is the baby Puhu and it was difficult to texture as I used a feather on a plane and then duplicated them one by one. This was the most time consuming part of the image.

The Nest: The Nest is made with lots of different sized cylinders (paint effects) and there is ramp texture on them so with a correct light it seems good.

Claw: Mother bird Puhu's claw. The bird is angry towards the characters that are close to the nest where the baby bird is sitting. The claw shows how angry the mother is. In the scene the mother bird is out of the scene, only her claw can be seen.

Simurg: My fiance and I both graduated from The Marmara University Fine Art Faculty. We had an education on Traditional Turkish Arts and myths so Simurg came out of those myths. Simurg, called Anka or Zumrud-i Anka by Ottomans, is supposed to bring ''good luck''. This bird, believed to be living behind Kaf mountain (a mythical mountain), is pictured as having a large body, multicoloured magnificent tail and strong claws. It is supposed to be strong and rapacious so that it can struggle with ''Ejder''. Simurg is a Persian word composed of two words 'Si' and 'Murg' meaning respectively thirty and bird which probably indicates that it carries the features of thirty different birds. It is also believed that Simurg is created from fire and the sun and it can also speak like a human. Although Simurg was supposed to be a multi-coloured bird, it was also imagined to be green, hence the name Zumrud-i Anka (emerald-Anka). Utilizing this myth, l therefore created this funny stylized Simurg. This is the untextured type.

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The settings for Simurg's fur.

This is the textured Simurg. For the texture, Maya fur was used.



The Tree, Mushrooms, Rocks, Stones and Plants were all modelled in Maya and detailed in ZBrush. The scene was very important to show the proportions of the characters. At first l researched the trees and barks, then in Photoshop l made bark brushes and with them the texture's done more quickly. In ZBrush, The tree's detail comes from the displacement map. Textures of mushrooms were prepared manually in Photoshop.

Paint effects / GrassWindWide brush was used for the Grass, although I changed the colours. The Rocks and Stones are modelled in low poly then detailed in ZBrush.

The Carriage: The carriage and the sack were Modelled in Maya. The Sack has no texture.

The texture for the accessories which are on 'Greg' were created in Photoshop.

Lighting & Composition

Then I added the lighting effects and composited the models in the scene. Because of the high polygon count, l had to render the models in smaller groups from the same camera angle, and then composite them into the scene afterwards.

  • Group One: The tree with mushrooms on it and the grass'.
  • Group Two: The characters; Nosey, Freckle, Greg with the carriage, sack and the Fire Fly in the lamp.
  • Group Three: The rock, stones and plants on the left side of the foreground.
  • Group Four: The baby Puhu in its nest and the mother Puhu's claw on top of the left sight.
  • Group Five: Simurg.

I lit the groups with 2 spot lights with a light fog effect, 1 area light and a HDRl map.

The image below shows a general look to the composition.

Here is a test render.

Another test with the characters and the effects turned on.

Lighting & Composition

The foreground is very important to give a depth of the field to the image. In the front of the scene is a blur effect like if photography techniques had been used.

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The background image had to be well contrasted & as well-adjusted to the scene as possible. This is the scene with background.

The Simurg also now in the scene. Freckle on the vine was supposed to have a motion blur added but I unfortunately ran out of time as was unable to complete it. I also would have liked more time to work on the foreground on the right side of the scene and also the ground needs to be worked much more.

Now everything is finished. Here is the final image.

Hope you enjoy the making of. Welcome to all questions and opinions. Thanks

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