Yuriy Dulich’s Great Horned Owl

Yuriy Dulich kindly shared details about how he crafted his beautiful Great Horned Owl over the course of 4 months using Yeti, Maya, Arnold and Mari.


 

“I chose my typical approach with this type of character – to make it as realistic and anatomically correct as possible. The research process for this project included reading scientific literature, speaking with amateur keepers and meeting professional ornithologists including a live owl to study.”

“It all started with the collection of detailed references. There were no problems with photo-references as there are a lot of them from different angles and once I started gathering these the scale of the work became clear. But it was necessary to dig into more detail and problems started with the owl’s anatomy, the location of the feathers on the body and how their length and structure depend on their location and how the texture of the feathers varies themselves.”

“I decided to visit the zoo to talk with ornithologists and thanks to my friend Simon Andrew, who is a scientist fond of ornithology, I managed to study the living Ural owl very closely. This made it possible to better understand the volume of feathers in relation to the volume of the body itself, the location of the pterilium, the anatomy of the body, the structure of the feathers, and much more. The book “The Unfeathered Bird” by Katrina van Grouw helped me a lot with anatomy and additional feather textures were obtained from the online database of ornithologists: https://www.fws.gov/lab/featheratlas/ and https://www.featherbase.info/ru/home. The rest of the textures I hand-painting according to the reference with the whole process taking place in parallel with the sculpting and grooming.”

“Before sculpting I managed to find a scan of the skull of the desired owl and assembled the skeleton according to the reference while basing it on a modified skeleton of a parrot.”

“The next challenge was building the skin up to the intended volume, making a guess based on all of the reference as there are no photos of this specific owl without feathers. When the base model was built, the grooming and feather creation began. This is a very delicate and long work that requires attention and a large number of references.”

“I have implemented an iterative grooming method in my pipeline and with this method, literally in 2-3 passes, I get close to the desired shape of the strands. In Yeti, I used a new feature with a shader node which allowed me to visualize where the right layer of feathers is on the body by procedurally setting different colors for each layer. An expression based on the length and layer was used to automatically selected the necessary set of feathers with the required density.”

“To generate the feathers, I used both the Yeti built-in feather primitive along with the jcFeather plugin and divided the whole owl into zones.”

“Each region has from 3 to 9 variations of feathers. In total, there are 3,913 feathers on the body and 2362 feathers covering of the wings. The wing and tail feathers were based on photo references I took from the ornithological researchers – although their resolution wasn’t great their shape was clearly visible and creation was not difficult.”

“I want to note that I did not use polygonal planes in general, all of the the feathers based on fibres where the total number of feathers was 6327 which consisted of 2188922 fibres.”

“I tried to keep the Grooming as anatomically correct as possible following the so-called pterilium and the length of feathers while measuring and adjusting to my subjects proportions.”

“This is quite a laborious business as there is very little information or scientific articles on this topic. But the analysis of other birds and familiarity with the Ural owl allowed me to solve this problem.”

“I iterated on the grooming by repeatedly fitting to the body model, adjust wing positions and small tests with body deformation – once I was happy I finalized the basic shape of the owl. In ZBrush, I performed a highly detailed sculpt and together with the vector textures I finalized the body model.”

“Next was the final fit of the grooming, the angles of rotation of the feathers, the number of fibres in the feathers and their thickness with repeated test renders to try and match the feeling and look of the reference.”

“Having good success with my previous work I decided to perform the final visualization in the studio as well. By lighting nothing complicated, I used from 2-4 AreaLigth to simulate a soft box of light sources and one sky dome at a low exposure.”

“In the end the average render time on 2*Xeon E5-2695v3 (2*14core @ 2,8GHz) for 8k images was approximately 30h, and 4k images for the head was 14h.”


 

And here is a fantastic breakdown of how it came together – thank you Yuriy.

 

Yeti Tutorials by Antepost Studio

We are pleased to share a series of four Yeti tutorials by Antepost Studio who specializes in asset development and grooming and frequently uses our software.

We asked Francesco and Sofia, freelance artists who together form Antepost, to tell us about their experience using Yeti and why they created the tutorials. Here’s what they had to say:

“Our service is focused in character development for VFX and games, and our main expertise is grooming. We use Yeti as a plugin and it’s our first choice when dealing with groom projects. Its nodes system give us creative freedom and a higher control with a procedural and flexible workflow. By working with Yeti we can offer our clients a fast and high quality result and fulfil their needs.”

“We decided to record this first series of tutorials because apart from some great advanced tutorials, we felt the web was missing a proper introduction to basics of Yeti and grooming. Grooming is a complex subject, due to its technical and artistic aspects, we think a beginner could be easily scared to start if the fundamental topics are not provided and explained.  We hope this new resource can be helpful to students and experienced VFX artists that want to venture in the grooming world.”

Below is the first tutorial and the rest are available on Antepost’s YouTube channel.

Antepost used Yeti with Incredibly Realistic Results

When grooming artist duo Francesco Di Luisi and Sofia Oliveira, of Antepost, were called upon by Spellwork to groom a CG rabbit for a commercial they used Yeti with incredibly realistic results.

Francesco and Sofia were kind enough to share their work with us and told us a bit about how and why they use Yeti.

“We were contacted by Sermed Darah from Spellwork Pictures to groom the rabbit for a REWE commercial, a supermarket chain in Germany. The story is based on a funny rabbit playing tricks on his owner who is eating the rabbit’s carrots. We agreed with Spellwork to use Yeti as the grooming tool as it is our first choice when dealing with groom projects and also provides an efficient and fast solution for fur work.”

“Yeti gave us all the tools we needed to achieve a realistic rabbit with a very flexible workflow to fulfil the specifications and requests from the client. In the lookdev stage, we used the power of the attributes and expression based on the requests of the lookdev artist Sebastian Greese, to have full control on colour variation in the fur.”

“We have been using Yeti for our professional and personal projects for several years and we will continue to groom with it!”

Take a look at this video with great shots of the rabbit in action.

Thank you for speaking with us, Antepost!