Model & paint a stylized Viking Cat

Introduction

In this tutorial I will show you how I created the Viking Cat image; this includes the modeling, texturing, grooming in Yeti, rendering, and compositing, I came up with this idea because I really liked Zootopia and Kung Fu Panda, so thought it would be cool if they made a movie about Nordic mythology in that style.

Building the model

I started by building a basic 3D sketch with the proportions of the character by using cylinders and modified spheres. In this way I could correct and modify the character before I made more details. For this character I also sculpted some hair on the cheeks and beard so I could be more accurate when I placed the guides when grooming. After I was happy with the proportions I used the Dynamesh tool and integrated all the model parts. Then I continued to sculpt with more detail across the model.

Making cloths and accessories

After I had the shape of the body I used the Decimate tool and used that decimated model in Maya. I like to use the body shape within Maya and model the kit to make the character clothes – this gives me more control on the topology from the beginning. The Quad Draw tool is very useful for this.

Remember that the better the UVs, the easier it will be to apply detail to your models in ZBrush and Substance Painter, especially if you plan to make tiled textures like fabric or patterns

Sculpting the detail and texturing

After I had all the clothes and body parts for the character, I made the UVs and then returned to ZBrush for the cloth details. In this case I also used Substance Painter for some textures; remember that the better the UVs, the easier it will be to apply detail to your models in ZBrush and Substance Painter, especially if you plan to make tiled textures like fabric or patterns. After I was happy with all the details I could finally export all the textures and displacement maps to make the lookdev in Maya.

Grooming the hair with Yeti

I used Yeti for the grooming. I like to handle the groom by layers: the first layer was the base hair for the character, then I used a second layer and tried to randomize the hair clumps by using the Scraggle node. The third layer were the fly away hairs, and I used a fourth layer for the whiskers.

Props and environment

I wanted to give a little story for the image so I decided to make it look as though he found a treasure chest. I made the chest model in Maya and textured it in Substance Painter. The floor was made in Zbrush. I made the base model in Maya and then sculpted the details in Zbrush, then used some procedural noises for the rock look-a-like.

Rendering and compositing

For the final render I rendered the cat and floor with an alpha channel. I made the background in Photoshop. I wanted to suggest a light source from the top of a cave. Then I used some levels and color corrections on the image, so it looked a bit better.