Sketchbook: Alex Javor

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  • BIGTIMEMASTER
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    Final textures. I'm going to switch out the eye models though. 

    Now, before I figure out how to get this all compiled in UE4, I'm going to start blocking out the next character, which will be an enemy soldier with a bit more equipment. 


    Changed my miind. Will switch gears a little bit and try my hand at making a machine gun for the enemy soldier first. 

    This will be based on an FN Minimi, but I'm not striving for an exact replica. Just the general shapes. I'll make the whole thing in Maya and texture with Substance Painter.


    A bit more. Really enjoying this. I won't do a high poly version. This will be used in a third person game, so from a distance I think some of the sharp edges will be fine. At the end once I've got it all blocked out, I'll go through and clean up extra resolution.
  • BIGTIMEMASTER
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    About 70% blocked out. 



    Added bipod and cleaned up some extra geometry on the receiver Still to go: Bolt charging handle and grooves on right side, a few bolts and the safety, detail on the handguard, details on buttstock end, and then the little bits inside the feed tray and feed tray cover



    Almost there. Just need to add the drum, ammo belt, and feed tray components. Then I'll clean up all unnecessary geometry and be done with the modeling.



    Inside is taking a bit of time. I'm not going for a replica, but I want it to look like a real gun to the average person playing the game. I'm using several different versions of the Minimi/M249 for reference, so my model is a little bit of all of them, though most of the influence comes from the older models before it was adopted by the US military. 

    These little pieces that need to connect to one another, they are the real challenge. Well, not super challenging but it takes time. Now I need to put in the bolt and a few pieces that go on the slide rails, and then all the little feeder paws on the top of the feed tray cover. That will probably need a day by itself. 



  • BIGTIMEMASTER
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    model


    Modeling complete! This is my first hard surface model. I don't know why I thought all this time that I wouldn't enjoy hard surface modeling, but I really did.

    34k tri's -- I don't know if that's good or not. I'm not doing any normal mapping for this so I added a bit of resolution to a few prominent areas, like the carrying handle and barrel. 


    I won't be unwrapping and texturing it right away. Have some more pertinent task. 

    As stated before, this is not meant to be a precise replica of an FN Minimi, just an approximation close enough that it will look realistic to a casual observer playing a game. I mostly used the older models of that gun as reference, as I think they look a lot sleeker than the chunky US army version with the extendable stock and picatinny rails.



    And with some materials on it in Zbrush.

  • BIGTIMEMASTER
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    Took a day to make a quick environment for the programmer to use as he works out our player controller. 

    Even though this is a quickly thrown together environment made with Gaia and Vegetation Studio inside of Unity, nonetheless seeing the beginnings of our game world has motivated myself and the team as if we just won a great battle. 

    Also, unrelated to the art, but our programmer already got us running around together over a network. Fantastic!


    What I learned from my brief foray into environment stuff is that there is a ton of stuff I don't know about lighting, rendering, instancing, draw calls, etc. A lot of strange words I don't know the meaning of. 

    No matter. I'll learn as I go, just like I've been. For now, its back to the weapon and character modeling, then I'll dive into the environment side of things completely.

  • BIGTIMEMASTER
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    Working on UV unwrapping. Just thought this was a cool scene. Looks almost like a real machine gun that's be completely stripped down.

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    Recent stuff. Rifle is still in progress.
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    Starting work on the first model designed specifically for portfolio. 

    This is a bit risky, but this is to be Otzi the Iceman. I feel a shiver of fear as I type the name, but hopefully the great distance between me and his mummified remains will mitigate any curse. 

    Think I'm joking? This dude is seriously cursed. Look it up!

    So far I've modified my base mesh to his proportions (160cm tall, about 110 lbs), and am working on getting in most of the major muscle detail on the upper body. The lower body will be clothed with layers of fur and leather, so I'm not going to waste time sculpting down there -- just enough for the clothes to fit right in MD.

    My artistic goals for this are:
    *Get a realistic, weather toughened, leathery skin really nailed down
    *Find some way to do hair that looks good but is also real-time render appropriate -- this is something I really need to research
    *Get a really hard, lean look to his body, with the untextured mesh selling this as much as possible. 
    *For texturing, I want very detailed skin that will sell the look of a harsh life in prehistoric europe.
  • BIGTIMEMASTER
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    Originally I thought I'd do the leggings in MD, but my license expired so I decided to do it in Zbrush. They actually don't need much time put into them, as they will be entirely covered in fur. 

    So this is the big uncertainty, but it's something I must learn how to do. I will cover the leggings in short fur, and I have to plan because there will be some splotches of different color. My thought right now is to populate the leggings with cards made from fibermesh, then apply a texture for transparency, and as for the splotches, I will separate some parts of the leggings via polygroups beforehand. But this is all new to me, so I have to spend some time studying how to best take on this new challenge.

    As for the facial hair and body hair, I will probably do something similar. 

    The loin cloth involves lots of thin leather thongs, so I need to also plan a way to construct those in the various knots and jumbles they will be in. I think I will start with a simple tube, make an insert curve brush, and do the bulk of them that way, and as for the knots, I make just build those manually in Maya and then smooth out in zbrush. Although this guy is only for portfolio, I still want to make him in a way that would work for a game engine.

  • BIGTIMEMASTER
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    About to do a lot of baking, but with Toolbag 3 it's so easy I'd almost call it fun.
  • BIGTIMEMASTER
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    Game res with normal and AO maps applied. 

    Woo-hoo! Got to redo a few pieces that I baked without having smoothing groups -- no biggie. Overall, map baking is nothing now that I've started using Toolbag 3. 100% easier and less daunting. Felt like I was shooting in the dark before.



  • BIGTIMEMASTER
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    Getting there... a half day to finish the last hide bits, and then probably as long to do some bead designs on the moccasins, satchel, and loin cloth.


  • BIGTIMEMASTER
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    I underestimated how long the beads would take. Almost there though. Just some more on the satchel, and the only thing left I don't already have a base for is the daggers bone handle. One more day, then I'll make a few touch ups and be done. 

    Note: Shouldn't have bothered spending all that time in Zbrush making beads. Much easier to do here in Substance Painter, and results are better as I can control roughness, AO, color, whatever. Ah well, that's how you learn.
  • BIGTIMEMASTER
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    I've started my next model, a raven, but it involves a lot of experimentation and learning and before too much time passed, I wanted to revisit Little Leaf here and do a better job with the skin and hair textures. 

    So I've split the skin, hair, and eyes into three groups, rather than coupling the eyes with the hair. I've given each a 4k map as well, though they may go down to 2k if necessary. 

    Nothing revolutionary with the new textures, just put some more time and thought into it. Also, received a few insightful tips from the forum. Overall I think this is a big improvement from the original. 

    I don't like rules, but I think as a general guideline I should spend as much time texturing my models as I do blocking out/sculpting them. Maybe more, sometimes. 
  • BIGTIMEMASTER
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    New do. 

    The hairs not as awesome as I'd like, but I definitely am a lot more comfortable with working with hair cards and should be making better do's faster with subsequent models.

  • BIGTIMEMASTER
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    Got this guy mostly blocked out. Has involved a pretty unusual workflow. I came up with lots of plans, but everything changed once I started working. 

    Anyway, I'll be sculpting the body portion just a bit, but then moving pretty quickly into texturing as 99% of the model is going to be covered in feather cards. I went ahead and did the main feathers as they help guide my proportions for the body as I sculpt. But there is going to be a lot added to the head and torso as well.

    The foot is actually what I am going to be doing most of the sculpting on. Raven's feet have these overlapping plates of armor along the front side -- so cool. I'm just duplicating face's and then extruding them elongating them enough to overlap. I tried to do this with sculpting brushes in Zbrush, but it's easier this way for me in Maya. Then I can subdivide the armor plates separately and not use so much memory, and I'll  keep the nice hard edges.
  • BIGTIMEMASTER
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    Got sidetracked. I wanted to learn more about presentation in UE4 to showcase my LittleLeaf model, but then I got sucked into materials and next thing I know I've got a ton of quixel megascan assets and I am going to make a small environment scene to display the model within. 

    Here I am taking inventory and also getting familiar with how to set up modular materials in UE4. The plan right now is to make only one or two custom tree models and otherwise use stuff I bought. 

    I suppose I've dabbled in rigging, animation, and hard surface modeling, so I might as well learn a little about environment art as well. 

    So besides getting familiar with Unreal Engine material nodes -- which I'm having a ton of fun with -- I've started working on this "fluffy" moss material that I learned from a thread here called "Ryse moss material" or something like that. Pretty simple to do, but tomorrow I'll take this basic material and make it modular so that once I get it all implemented in the final scene, I can easily adjust things like brightness, hue, normal strength, etc until things look right.
  • BIGTIMEMASTER
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    Moss has been made into a modular asset. Here it is integrated with some purchased assets. I used a hi-res photo of some moss to build it from, so it fits right in with the scanned models. 

    So glad I finally took some time to get into photoshop. This has been a lot of fun but I am already thinking of a lot of new possibilities in the future.

    Well, now that I've got that done, it's time to start building a scene.
  • BIGTIMEMASTER
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    A brief look into lighting in UE4 has led me into a full-blown forray into environment art. This is just about the only side of game art I haven't looked into at all yet, so I am going to take some time to try this out -- I am enjoying it so much I think I may become solely focused on this. 

    So far I've : 
    Compiled a handful of meshes and materials to be used in the scene (this took a long time but now I'm pretty fast at moving around in UE4 and setting things up)
    Made a few tileable textures 
    Made a few custom meshes (rock wall, moss lumps, pine saplings)


    Still to go : 
    Learn how to vertex paint and material blend
    Make better "moss cap" modular pieces to tie in the border of my rock wall meshes with the UE terrain
    Learn how to do water
    Make a few more custom trees (some droopy pines to learn from the edges)
    Continue placing things to finish the scene
    Learn more about lighting, rendering, post process, etc.


    Timeline expectation -- about a month as I need to watch and read lots of instruction to get this scene to the quality I want.

    Here is the reference (mine won't have man-made walkways)
  • BIGTIMEMASTER
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    It's all about organization... had a stressful time remaking materials I accidentally deleted, fixing anomalies, overall doing a ton of work but having nothing to show for it.

    Did get some modular "moss caps" made to cap off the tops of my rocky cliffs, but they look like turds. So I need to fix up the overhanging parts, which will require a lot more resolution but I think it will be worth the look. I want lots of roots and clumped dirt. This will give a chance to play with Zbrush's new tesselation scultping update as well.


    My modular "fluffy" moss works for some things, but I think I will need to make more customized instances of it as I can really only fit it to one boulder by scaling. One boulders, assuming I'd want to smother them in moss, will need to be taken into maya and quad draw a mesh on for that. But the main purpose of the moss is for a little portion of ground that will be right in front of the camera. For that, I may need to make an entire custom piece, as scaling and putting a bunch of these together doesn't always look so great lighting-wise. 


    Lastly, optimize cliff wall UV's as they have a lot of distortion (I just sculpted my one scanned Quixel wall and didn't change UV's), and then I'll use vertex painting to mix in a second material to blend things out.
  • BIGTIMEMASTER
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    Learning enviroment art enough to get to a similar level of skill/knowledge as I am with character/prop stuff could easily be another 6 months or more of learning, and I want to get a portfolio together before that long and start feeling around for jobs. 

    Back to my characters then. The Raven is going to be tedious as fuck, so I'll save him for later. Starting cougar with a sculpt in Zbrush. I began using the sculptris pro mode, which seems a faster method than dynameshing to get the basic forms down, but beyond that I don't really see a need to use it. 

    Got the general shape of the face finished, moving onto body and legs. I think I may exaggerate this cougars length a bit, to make him seem very slender and lithe. Was having trouble understanding the volumes of fur which are kind of hard to read from pictures, so I found some videos on youtube (people keeping cougars as pets!) and that helped alot to see them in 3d. Also, looking at the skull helps somewhat, but these cats have a ton of puffiness that really shapes their face more than anything.


  • BIGTIMEMASTER
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    end of Monday. Tomorrow I'll continue on the body and move down to the lower legs and paws. 
  • BIGTIMEMASTER
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    A bit more progress. The silhouette is mostly looking good to me for the body, head, and upper legs. Lots of clean up to do and still the front paws and legs to do as well before I get into finer details.
  • BIGTIMEMASTER
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    Getting eager to retopo and UV this, but I think I should spend one more day going over the sculpt to get things just perfect. 

    Had some convoluted workflow due to using the Sculptris mode without careful planning, and ended up with some pretty bad topology that made getting details where I wanted troublesome without going to ridiculous amounts of subdividing (~17 mil). 

    So lesson learned is to just stick to my low-to-high method as usual. I thought it might be quicker to do a fast sculpt with Sculptris mode, but in the end I don't think it will be any faster and some things like the paws and face would have been easier to sculpt if I had started from good, custom topology. Ah well, you don't know until you try. 

    Not sculpting any fur detail as that should all come from texturing. For the eyes I am going to make a custom texture to insert into the Unreal photorealistic eye shader, and for the fur I am going to try out a custom fur material I found on gumroad, but I also want to try out an idea to get a very soft, poofy looking fur. Basically, the theory is the same as the layered moss with dithering. Hopefully it will work out how I want, but aside from the aesthetics I need to make sure that this would work with animations as well. I think it should be fine, but it's an experiment for me so we will find out.

    Additional: I haven't inserted teeth/mouth. I think the best way to do this will be to open up the mouth after the game version is ready and rigged, and then make a separate mesh that will fit into place, and maybe I can tie it into the body mesh as well. 


  • BIGTIMEMASTER
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    Retopo. Took ~ 4 hours but seems like an entire day. I'll need to go over some areas and do some cleanup. The paws, the hams, and the inside of the mouth. 

    UV's should be fast and easy since I constructed this from lots of concentric loops. 

    Some kind of craziness with the sculpts shading.
  • BIGTIMEMASTER
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    New topology for game res model. Mostly I've copied zbrushes "dog" model as it looks like great topology for running animations and facial expressions. I simplified some areas and rebuilt others entirely, like the crotch area and the ears. 

    Now this can serve as a base model for cats and similar critters. 


  • BIGTIMEMASTER
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    Game model is ready with normal and AO maps.

    Now for the fun part to start. First I will texture this base model, then start experimenting with some different ways to try and get puffy looking fur.
  • BIGTIMEMASTER
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    Change of gears. Over the next several months I'll be helping a friend by taking over almost all of the art in a Mount and Blade inspired game. Here is some modular pieces for the strategy map. The goal here is maximum speed (in production) and modularity. Each set like this exist in a single 2k material with only an albedo texture. 

    Will be doing little settlement set pieces like this for a week or two then beginning on modular medieval characters.

  • BIGTIMEMASTER
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    Fishing Hamlet. This one will butt up against water on the strategy map.
  • BIGTIMEMASTER
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    "yer munee er yer life!"

    This is the base model for a modular enemy NPC. Medieval peasant/bandit. A little more work to do on the hands and touching up. I made some small wrinkles, but the character doesn't warrant that much detail and so I'm not going to go any deeper than this as far as that goes.




  • BIGTIMEMASTER
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    Completed. Start to finish about 12 hours. Now to rig, and then start working on modular hair and clothing pieces. 




    A slightly more weathered/aged version

  • BIGTIMEMASTER
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    So excited. This is the first time a character I've made has been brought to life. And with some stellar animations. Have some rigging issues to clean up then I'll start work on a modular hair library and then start getting some clothes for this starving bastard.
  • BIGTIMEMASTER
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    Bandit rags outfit 01 and beard 01 for starving bandit base mesh. Textures take up 1/4 of a 2k map, so that's about 512? 
    Beard is in separate material that will hold all of the hair/beard variations.
  • BIGTIMEMASTER
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    Color and beard variation. After rigging this one, time to start another base model and face.
  • Taylor Brown
    Just went through your whole sketchbook. You're definitely improving, keep it going! :)
  • BIGTIMEMASTER
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    crawl said:
    Just went through your whole sketchbook. You're definitely improving, keep it going! :)
    So you're saying those rocks on the first page aren't awesome?!?

    Thanks for the encouraging words
  • Taylor Brown
    So you're saying those rocks on the first page aren't awesome?!?
    It's all part of the journey
  • BIGTIMEMASTER
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    standard male body. Next comes a hairstyle and new outfit (standard farmers/shepherds outfit), then a third and final base body type. 



  • BIGTIMEMASTER
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    Padded cloth armor. Not entirely happy with this result -- it's too messy-- but there will be many outfits like this so that's plenty of practice to come. I wasn't sure what the fastest way to do the quilted parts would be, so I kind of halfway did them in zbrush and halfway by texturing. I think next time I will do them entirely in Zbrush, but plan it out better from the beginning. I sort of made this up as I went along, but spending a few extra hours to visualize an end result and plan for it would have helped get a tighter looking final model. 

    I've got to complete an entire outfit -- textured, rigged, setup in engine -- every couple of days to stay ahead of schedule, and hopefully by getting done early that will give me time to come back and make changes, make more variations, etc. 

    Tomorrow I'll make a few color variations on this and some final touchups, then test out swapping the modular mesh parts in Unity and making sure they still animate fine. After that, another one! Probably will do another face as well.
  • BIGTIMEMASTER
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    Rigging is pretty ugly.... but it works! 


  • BIGTIMEMASTER
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    Okay, so the prototyping for the modular character system is done, and now the plan is set. So today I began setting out the three base archetypes : from left to right, the Pawn, the Wolf, and the Legend. In engine the Legend will be scaled up a bit, but right now these all have to rig to the same skeleton.

    A couple hours of work pushing and pulling to get basic shapes, and some refinement of the Wolf. I plan to have the rigged game models of these three finsihed by next Friday (one week from now).

  • BIGTIMEMASTER
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    Couple notes as I get close to finished with this one.... I am making the shoulders a bit larger than I actually would want them to appear, and the reason is that so many of the animations the model will be using involve extreme overhead reaching and twisting of the arms, and I'm not good enough of a rigger to keep some major volume loss from happening. My prototype characters I made skinny because that's how I wanted them, but in motion their arms became ridiculous looking due to volume loss. I know pro-riggers use things like blendshapes to counteract that, but I just don't have the time to look into that. I've got an entire games worth of characters to make in 6 months. Also, these base meshes are just that -- base meshes that, unless the player just wants to run around in their underwear, would only be viewed in an inventory screen-- and so they don't warrant that kind of attention. The armor/outfits are a bit more forgiving to rig and animate than the naked bodies. 


    Sculpting hands is a pain in the dick. Very tedious. I did one, now I will see if there isn't a way to mirror that detail over to the other without mirroring the entire mesh, though I could do if necessary as I am still working with symmetry. 

  • BIGTIMEMASTER
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    Game model with nrml and AO. Eyes and everything else still to come.

    Lost momentum in a major way by fucking up the symmetry in zbrush. Had to do some painful workarounds. Lesson learned, just work at the origin, you can move things around later. Anyway, that's that and now I'm working on his pants, hence the lack of work on the nether regions. Also going to experiment and see if i can do full haircards for a beard and hair quickly and satisfactorily, or if its better to stick with sculpted hair mesh. I'm guessing the latter, as I don't have time to manually place haircards, but I'm going to see what I can do with fibermesh.
  • BIGTIMEMASTER
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    This one went over schedule but not too much. These pants were too ambitious and required me digging into MD a bit deeper and also doing waaay too much clean up and UV's was a chore. I think they look pretty cool, more interesting and medievally than "boxer shorts" like the prototypes had, but I definitely will be avoiding doing overlapping fabric for the rest of the outfits. 

    Just a few texture variations right now. I have to rig this and get on with the next two base meshes. This is all game textures, though in Substance Painter, not in engine yet. Body is 2k, eyes 256, teeth 256, pants 1k. Split into different materials for the sake of modularity.
  • BIGTIMEMASTER
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    Still pretty swamped with game project, but I'm using nights and weekends to get started on what I hope will be my first work to start hitting that AAA quality mark. I'm going to give myself as much time as necessary to finish this -- hopefully it won't take more than a month, but I'm not going to rush through any issues that come up. It's still all about learning. I'm also not going to work with any limits regarding the polycount or texture resolution. Most likely it will be a 4k map for all skin, another for the sari, another for jewelry, another for the tiger, and probably 2k maps for the individual props. Being a game model, however, I'll reuse what things I can and not be totally wasteful.

    The project is to recreate the following scene more or less. I'll be sticking to a realism style, though because we are dealing with a goddess I am going to accentuate some things and try to really focus in on pleasing lines, colors, and composition more than anything else. 


    To begin, I've done a quick zbrush sculpt to get the basic shape for the tiger, then I built new topology in maya. I'm building this as if it would be a game boss character, so I've separated the toes so that they can splay out, and made sure the facial topology will support a wide open, growling mouth. I plan to use the Skull fur shader in unreal combined with alpha cards for the tiger.

  • BIGTIMEMASTER
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    Reworked the topology a few times, especially around the mouth. Trying to design it so that if the tiger roared, it's lips and inner mouth will stretch in a realistic way. 

    Got the shapes to a pretty satisfactory level, so I'm putting some quick projection colors on and looking in marmoset to better visualize the end. This is helping me a lot, because with the stripes it's hard to tell how far I need to go with some stuff for it to really be readable. 

    Got another day to work with this before going back to game project...

    Still lacks refinement, but I think I like the general look. I'm going for an idealized tiger, straying just a touch from realism. This is a tiger that a goddess rides, after all. It should be a symbol of majesty and perfection.



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