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The Making of 'Why is a Raven like a Writing desk'

By Nicolas Brunet
Web: Open Site
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Date Added: 1st September 2014

Nicolas Brunet explains the process he used to create his artwork Why is a Raven like a Writing Desk and shows we can survive after creating a hair and fur scene...


This artwork was initially created for a 2010 CG contest made by the website 3DVF about the theme: ‘Alice in your Wonderland'. The contest ran for several months, and I worked on the project in my spare time. It's on that particular project that I really tamed the hair and fur process.

The idea

Lewis Carroll and the real Alice are sailing in a boat, their reflections representing the Mad Hatter and Alice respectively. Water also acts as a mirror in which the elements appears from the universe created by Lewis Carroll.

Due to the visual constraints created from the swirling of the water I was afraid that the reflection was not sufficiently visible and difficult to read. So my second idea was that Alice and the Mad Hatter are lying in a boat, along with the Cheshire Cat, and sailing in the moat of the Queen of Heart castle among the decapitated heads.

The original sketches of the idea for the scene

Character design

Initially I thought of using a realistic style for the characters but I quickly abandoned the idea because it didn't suit the mood of the project.

Cloth research for the characters

Head research for the two characters


The process was the same for almost all the elements of the scene; an Editable Poly object modified using visual references, and for some models, a jump into ZBrush to add details.

Cloth simulators were used to give good shapes to the clothes, which were then refined in sculpt mode. In order to put the characters in place, I created a quick rig and skinned the bodies. The easiest character to work on was the cat, his body was modeled in the final position and skinned along a spline. The decapitated heads are from the Mad Hatter model with a few variations.

Sculpting the boots

Working on clothing for the Mad Hatter

Working on clothing for Alice

Sculpting the Cheshire Cat

The decapitated heads were modified versions of the Mad Hatter's model

continued on next page >

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