The main idea of this work was to redesign a classic cartoon character. In this case I chose one of my favorite Hanna-Barbera cartoons, Secret Squirrel and decided to recreate the squirrel's side-kick, Morocco Mole (Fig.01).
With respect to the art the idea was to give a more realistic style to the cartoon by taking a real mole out of his den, putting a coat and glasses on him, and sending him to hunt criminals.
In a purely technical sense, I wanted to make use of some of the new tools in ZBrush, like Transpose Master, UV Master and Polypaint. I am still a novice with this program and I think that creating models in 3D as a challenge and trying to solve the problems that arise is one of the best ways to learn.
Normally when I make a 3D model, I start by doing a very basic sketch on paper and then shape the parts in ZBrush, but in this case I did not yet know what result I wanted, so I started looking for references of moles instead. I looked at real moles, caricatures, 3D moles and also other 3D models by other artists that could serve as inspiration (Fig.02).
After analyzing the original character, I came up with the following description: Morocco Topo is an agent, a sky, an assistant, a detective, slow, fat, sleek and peaceful.
Developing a concept like this helps to keep your mind clear and allows you to identify with the character, resulting in a more faithful model and this is what I wanted to achieve. If, like me, you're not so good with 3D, I think working up a concept first is a good way to avoid a lot of mistakes.
After gathering my references, I made a very basic sketch by hand to guide me when it came to the pose and details I was going to be modeling. With this idea in mind, I opened ZBrush and made a base model with some ZSpheres (Fig.03).
I worked on the base a little more, adding detail and using retopology (Fig.04).
Next I started to model the specific parts of the mole. Here I know other people shape their characters, clothes and accessories separately and in full. I try to "cut” the model and leave only the objects that can be seen – for example, if a character has a jacket on then I won't model the character's torso or arms, I'll just model the hands. In this way I save computer resources and time by not mapping things no one is going to see.For an animated character this is probably not the best solution, but it works for me. Once all the modeling was done, I finished editing some triangles that had appeared on the model in 3ds Max and added some details that I find easier to model in Max than ZBrush (Fig.05).