A Horse thread, from concept to ingame ready model!

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Nuclear Angel polycounter lvl 5

Hello polycount, I am a long long lurker of the shadows here on Polycount, browsing a-lot, but not making to much appearance of myself. But with this project I started for about a week ago I will change that.

I am planning to do a "Fantasy forest horse" that draws loads of inspiration from the horse ruin in the Darksiders game. I will do this horse from scratch, reference, concept, basemesh, Zbrush, retopo, textures and lastly get it rigged and setup in UDK. So my goals with this project are as following.

1 - Learn to work by doing research, Properly understand what I am doing and giving it time. I plan to do this project over a longer time, so that I will get it in to me that quality comes through time and patience.

2 - Get better at Zbrush. This is a huge part of this project, I have used the software before, and I absolutely love it. So I want to get good at it. And I know this project breaks many of my comfort zones. So Lets give it a go and try hard to learn stuff!

3 - Learn UDK, I have barely ever before touched UDK, I've always used Unity. So I especially want to learn how too use the node material editor. And in the end use UDK as my final render engine.

4 - Get a nice portfolio piece and to get critiqued. Thats why I am making this thread. It will be a huge learning experience, and I want to share it with you guys and gals. I hope this will be loads of fun. I might even record my progress so that I can make some videos to share what I learned to others in the end. :poly142: So enough talking lets show you the concept.

Current progress. (FINALLY DONE, late update).



So after visiting some local stables and gathered loads of information about horses and great pics for modeling later. I started by doing a sort off blueprint of a horse and its proportions.

Blueprint (in grey):

With this I started painting horses, loads of them. I got some nice concepts out of it, so here are some of my progress shots.




The last one i felt were more of what I wanted, so with that one and some other sketches and thoughts, I rendered out this one yesterday:


So this is sort of what I will do in 3d and render out in UDK. Sort of is because some things will most likely change over the progress of this project. I will make a major update around each second week from now on, to get myself some sort off schedule. Will be healthy ^^.

So now throw at me your criticism!

Best regards, Nuke.


  • tierzilla
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    tierzilla polycounter lvl 4
    Niceee i like it already subbbb :D
  • Nuclear Angel
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    Nuclear Angel polycounter lvl 5
    @tierzilla, Thanks appreciate it ^^.

    So now after 2 weeks I have completed a basemesh that I will import in to zbrush and let the fun begin. Any feedback on how I might change the topology or if you want more pictures just let me know =)

    Not so much more to say other than that it was a pain to figure out how to make this basemesh. Ohh also, If anyone would be interested i can put up the obj on Dropbox and share it too you guys.


  • RobeOmega
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    RobeOmega polycounter lvl 4

    1) There is lots of edge rings around the eye but not here which when subdivided a lot this would be very uneven area of the eye which would have less polygons

    2) Firstly to support 1 and you have a line there which would could extend for extra geo in that area of the back which needs it
  • Nuclear Angel
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    Nuclear Angel polycounter lvl 5
    @Robeomega Thanks for the crits, I added some loops on this update. I added two loops around its stomach and added the one you suggested. I hope this will suffice, it looks good when I subdivide it. Thanks =)


  • Nuclear Angel
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    Nuclear Angel polycounter lvl 5
    2 Weeks have gone and I am digging through the mines of Zbrush taking my time to do this as good as possible. Pretty much all of this is heavily WIP, but the basic musculature is on place so id call the HP about 30% complete.




    Whats to be done now. Details details and details.
    I'm still on a fairly low subdivision so i'm going to move up and get the material definition in place for the roots. The tail is a placeholder currently, because I got no clue of how to make hair properly in ZBR. Also I do not know which style the end result will be in, so I might have to get that nailed down before I move on. Anywhom, critics are more than welcome and now to everyone, have a merry Christmas and a Happy new year!
  • Nuclear Angel
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    Nuclear Angel polycounter lvl 5
    New year, Christmas and moved to a new place, lots of stuff happening but finally an update!
    I have worked more on the high-poly, especially the head and made some sweet progress. Looking forward to spend some time on this beast over the coming days.

    Pic - z97e.jpg

    Critique welcome
  • Nuclear Angel
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    Nuclear Angel polycounter lvl 5
    So I have pretty much wrapped up the head and called it done for now, I am no working on the neck and will soon after that jump over to the beasts legs. Those roots will be a pain.

    So here is my progress right now on head and neck. Also trying out new ways to present my wip, cant get happy with anything yet, will have to look around at how others do it.

  • Mossbros
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    Mossbros polycounter lvl 4
    Looks good so far but that nose looks like its skin is rotting or something, it should be rounder and have more of the nostril detail Fig#1
    The mouth muscles are a lot more defined on an actual horse Fig#2
    The silhouette of the mouth is a bit wrong and should follow more like this (The bottom lip in particular). Fig#3

    As well as that you've curved the eye to follow the surface when it does the opposite Fig#4

    On a real horse the eye from the side view should look as if you were looking at a human eye but much rounder Fig#5

    and from the front view the eye the eye should protrude as its the way the skull shapes the socket. Fig#6


    Hope that helps
  • Nuclear Angel
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    Nuclear Angel polycounter lvl 5
    That helps a lot, thanks Mossbros ^^

    I will look in to the feedback you gave me, but the nostrils. I might keep them as they are. Considering that the nostrils aren't going to be realistic so I designed them like that on purpose. I were thinking of the same with the eyes too keep them unrealistic. But I will see how it looks with normal more correct horse eyes. and then decide from that which looks the best. I will post pics of the different eyes when I am done with them to get a second opinion as well. Thanks again =)
  • Nuclear Angel
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    Nuclear Angel polycounter lvl 5
    Hello there my beautiful thread. I am now back, from well just pure laziness. No excuses. this thread needs to get banged up again. I did not keep my own promise of posting an update each second week, shame on me =(. But first things first, were am I now and what has happened?

    Most importantly, I am done with the Highpoly. I finished it for about a week ago in Zbrush. Since then I have been tinkering with the lowpoly which I created above my Highpoly in Zbrush. And fixed up some issues within 3ds max afterwards. Here are the pictures from my High and my finished low.



    This project have been dragging on for way to long time, so I will put an deadline on my own shoulders so that this shall be done within 2 weeks, and I will have to post an update for each major step that is done. That is what awaits and I will try my best to keep this promise.

    In a more pressing matter though, I got a HUGE problem right now. It is my normal bakes. As you can see above, the AO and cavity came out lovely (baked in xnormal with a cage). But my normalmap, well just look at it.




    And here is the baked normal map and UV layout



    I have no clue to what can make this problem occur. I have tried rendering without a cage and also tried another uv Layout. Smoothing groups are all the same. The lowpoly follows the Highpolys shapes and forms really well. So Polycount, please help me, you are my only hope <3!

    If you guys can see any problems with my lowpoly or my uv layout just tell me here and I will try to make it another way if possible. Also, critiques are more than welcome, or rather appreciated. If requested I can post more screeenshots, but I figure this post is already quite image heavy.

    And thats the wrapup of my current progress. Thanks for reading.
  • Nuclear Angel
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    Nuclear Angel polycounter lvl 5
    I am done with the bakes for the Lowpoly, so its time to work on the textures. Going slowly forward but I believe that I can get it done until the end of the weekend. Also I fixed my normal map problem so no need to help me on that.

    Here are some pics of my current wip:



  • Joao Sapiro
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    Joao Sapiro polycounter lvl 11
    the horse barely has any volumes or forms at all , id recomend going back to zbrush stage and study horse anatomy. dont go farther than subd level 1 for the main forms and shapes of the horsy !
  • Nuclear Angel
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    Nuclear Angel polycounter lvl 5
    @Joao Sapiro I do agree with you that I dont see any interesting forms or curves at all on this model. But as this is a learning experience and I do want to get a finished product, so I would rather finish it than to start sculpting again. Even though the horse is quite generic I would rather take what I learned and apply it to something new in the future and get the Highpoly model tighter on the next project. Just so that I actually get this done and don't put it down like so many other newbie projects i've done. But thanks you for your tips, if it weren't that I am so tired of this model I would have done it. But not this time =)

    So I have rendered my horsey further, its getting closer and closer to what I want so i can soon start rigging it and pose it so I can create this little scene around it. Whats left are the legs andmane, and also were the legs connect to the body needs a lot more work. Plus make a specularity and gloss map.


    And here is the flat texture

  • silkroadgame
    Proportions of this horse are not very correct,but the concept is very nice!
  • RobeOmega
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    RobeOmega polycounter lvl 4
    I would do more relaxing on the UV's and scale up some of your UV's got a lot of empty space over there
  • Nuclear Angel
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    Nuclear Angel polycounter lvl 5
    @Silkroad Glad that you like the concept and I do have to agree with you. proportions are definitively something to improve on for my next project.

    @Robeomega Thanks for the tip. I thought I would need more room for the edge-padding, but well, I made the spacing too big so your right thanks =).

    So I am trying to wrap this up so that I can move on to something new. Working on some ground for the horse to stand on and I also posed it. Worth mentioning is that I have not tweaked the FOV properly so it looks quite out of proportions on this shot.


    Whats left to do:

    Tweak the textures for the horse.

    Get its tail some hair.

    Create foliage and moss for the ground to give the piece some more color variation.

    Import it too UDK to learn the ways of UDK.
  • Nuclear Angel
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    Nuclear Angel polycounter lvl 5
    Heres an update on the horse. I worked on the tail and created some foliage for the ground. I have barely touched the grounds texture or the horses textures. But when I got all in place I will start to polish this piece and make a proper presentation.


  • Nuclear Angel
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    Nuclear Angel polycounter lvl 5
    Finally finished this. I did not use UDK but I do not really regret it as I might pick up UE4 instead. I regret that I missed that learning possibility, but this project have sucked the will out of me for some time. Also I could have optimized this mesh so it wasn't 75k tris, but I cant be bothered. It looks good and will work for portfolio so I can apply to Highschools in Sweden. But that doesnt mean I am completely happy, but next time will be better as said =).

    What to take home to the next project. Get a better and clearer concept. Do more stuff in Zbrush so I get better. Keep working on the project, if I drop it, it is going to be really hard to get back on again. Unwrap better and work more on the LowPoly. And lastly, do not work from home. I really do not have a choice, but I can say it is really freaking hard to work only from the home pc.

    Some final shots:




    There is so much that I will be able to take from this project to my next one. And I really look forward to work more in 2d and 3d to improve to my next big project.

    Also I will next week upload an 360 shot of this mesh after rendering is complete and I get home from some stuff over this weekend.

    If anyone wants a more complete breakdown just write something here and thanks to everyone who wrote a comment here. Till next time ^^ Have fun.
  • jamiemurphy
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    jamiemurphy polycounter lvl 4
    i really like the concept and think the final result is nice to look at, good work.
  • Nuclear Angel
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    Nuclear Angel polycounter lvl 5
    Thanks Jamiemurphy! =)
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