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[WIP] Pine Marten

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MilkyKoe polycounter lvl 4
Hi all, welcome to my making a realistic Pine Marten adventure.

This is the first realistic animal that I'm trying to make, and I'll try to document as much as I can here.
I did start this project last year, but I wasn't happy with how it was going, so I benched the project for awhile. Because of that, there may be a few things that I skip, or already have a head start on, but I think I'll be starting over with most things.
My biggest mistake last time around was not putting enough research into anatomy, so this time I'm going to start off by trying to make a Pine Marten ecorche.

Feel free to let me know what you think and offer critique at any point!

So, here's my reference board: 

And to start off the ecorche, here's the skull that I've made.
It's a little rough, I'll come back an polish it up later. It probably won't get much more detail than this though, as it's detailed enough to serve it's purpose. I will have to come back to add more detail to the teeth, as I would like them to be in a close up of my final renders.


  • MilkyKoe
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    MilkyKoe polycounter lvl 4
    So it's taken awhile, but I finally have a full skeleton. It turns out that it's pretty hard to find good reference for Pine Marten skeletons. I gathered as many high-res images I could find, but for the smaller more intricate parts like the individual parts of the spine or the carpals, I had to look at other skeletons from more common animals like dogs and cats to just create my best guess.
    So here it is, my accurate-ish Pine Marten skeleton.
    I won't be adding any more detail than this, but if you have any suggestions to improve it, feel free to comment below.

    Next I'll be adding the muscles.
  • sharsein
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    sharsein polycounter lvl 9
    Based on this reference, it seems like you might be either missing a back tooth on the upper jaw or its shape isn't clear: http://skullbase.info/skulls/mammals/european_pine_marten_-_male.php

    I recommend doing a blockout of the full pine marten (no ecorche) to get the proportions right. It's really hard to catch proportion issues with just the skeleton model, especially on animals, because it's not something our eyes are trained to notice subtle differences in. Photo reference of bones is tricky because you're dealing with specimens of different ages, camera lenses, subspecies or even straight up mislabeled.
    Once you start putting in muscles, things won't fit or look off and you won't know why. 

    Reference for mink muscles should be cloer than a lion: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=p6LJCbgSBH4
  • MilkyKoe
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    MilkyKoe polycounter lvl 4
    @sharsein Thanks for the feedback and tips!
    There is a tooth back there, it's just not very visible in the screen shots and needs some reworking. I do plan on using the teeth in the final renders, so I'll be going back later and improving them. Thanks for the skull reference! That's an awesome website, I can't believe I didn't find it sooner, I'll definitely be using that in the future!

    I do have a sculpt that I made earlier on to compare with, I just haven't show it here. My main reference for creating the individual bones has been these:
    where the bones are relatively flat, and I've been doing paint overs to get measurements, so I think the proportions of the bones should be good, but I'll keep in mind that the bones could be an issue if I can't figure out what's going wrong later on.

    I'll mostly use feline/canine reference because there's a lot more of it available and it's 80% the same, but once it's all blocked in I'll make it more Pine-Marteny. Thanks for the Mink reference, that'll be really useful!

  • Alex_J
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    Alex_J grand marshal polycounter
    Great work!  

    I have no critique but I pass on a lesson learned from when I first made realistic animals:

    Watch lots of video and study from real life if at all possible. In beginning I only used photo reference and it just wasn't working. Seeing a thing in motion just gets it all in your head in a natural, intuitive way.

    One other point: I tried to be very realistic and skin, fat, and fur. In many animals, the fur alone largely hide all but the most major forms. In 3d sculpting, though, I think to really impress you must exaggerate a good deal, especially with the anatomy. 
  • MilkyKoe
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    MilkyKoe polycounter lvl 4
    @Alex Javor Thanks!

    I followed your advice and watched lots of videos. I'm not sure how much it helped inform me of the anatomy because they have quite thick fur so it's hard to pick out detail, but I can confirm that they are very cute!

    I think once I get the fur in there most of what I've done so far will be hidden. I'm doing this for the sake of learning though, so I still think it's worth the time, and I'd like to try and include skeleton/muscle renders in the final version.
  • MilkyKoe
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    MilkyKoe polycounter lvl 4
    It was quite tricky to find reference for Pine Marten anatomy, so most of the muscles are based on Feline/dog anatomy.
    From there I used videos of Mink (thanks sharsein) and Fisher dissection videos to adjust the proportions of the muscles.
    I also managed to find one picture of the front leg of a dissected Pine Marten (it was on page 2 of Google), so at least I know one part of this ecorche is correct.

    Now on to the skin!
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