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Making Of 'Le Rabbit'

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Date Added: 23rd May 2011
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"Le Rabbit" cannot be described as the result of an extremely well organized and planned process. In most of my personal work I give priority to the "fun factor" and try to keep the whole process really enjoyable. So, I try not to plan everything in detail at the start, and tend to leave a lot of decisions to be made along the way in order to keep all the phases creative.

During the creation of this image I bumped into several problems, especially regarding the fur. I am not a digital hair expert and I had to face some questions for the first time. These problems may sound basic to some readers, but I have decided to talk about them and the way I solved them, because some of you might consider these tips valuable.

Regarding the motivation to create this piece I had wanted to make a more cartoonish character for ages, because this is a type of language with which I feel really comfortable. An image about a humanized rabbit with lots of attitude started forming in my mind ... and what was supposed to be a modeling exercise of just a few days ended up being a finished piece that took me about two months.


From the beginning I had the intention to sculpt the model in ZBrush. At the time I was not so familiar with ZSpheres and I wanted to make sure that the character had enough detail in certain important areas, like the snout, so I decided to go old school and  create a low-poly version of the rabbit with good topology for further detailing in 3ds Max.

I created a box with a few subdivisions and applied the Symmetry Modifier on top, in order to create a mirror axis at the center of the body. I then applied the Edit Poly Modifier below the Symmetry Modifier, and started editing the polygons with "Show end result" turned on so that I could see all my editing being mirrored, to have a clear idea of the full silhouette.

The usual Edit Poly tools, like Extrude, Chamfer, Connect, etc. were used to create a T-pose version of the character. I created some extra edgeloops around the joints (elbows, neck, wrists, knees, shoulders) so that I could pose him later and have enough polygons to work with in those areas. I also decided to model the fingers individually, rather than just give volume for the hand, so that later I could position the fingers more accurately (Fig.01a - b).


One thing that I have learned from previous projects is that it is very important to have the eyeballs' geometry present while we model a face. It is very easy to incorrectly model the area around the eyes, especially the eye socket area and the way the eyelids make contact with the eyeballs. So, I created two spheres in the place of the eyes to guide me. With this particular character, the eyes have different sizes. I did this to emphasize the rabbit's expression and really exaggerate the lift of the eyebrow. It also contributes to the wacky feeling of the character.

The basic shape of the front teeth and the gums were also created at this stage to help me with the modeling of the snout, and to make sure they fitted well.

UV Mapping

Usually it's at this stage that I take care of the UV mapping (Fig.02). It is a good time to do it because the geometry is still quite simple and easily identifiable on the UV layout. If you leave it till later you will have to deal with thousands of polygons and the process might not be so simple.

I tried to minimize the distortion of the mapping, as well as keeping as much continuous skin as possible. The advantage of keeping the geometry mapping continuous is the fact that you can paint over large areas without worrying about the continuity of the texture between different parts of the model.

I also kept all the different parts on the UV layout at the same scale. I could have used some more texture space for the head, for example, but then I would have the problem of different pixel scale on different parts of the model. Fortunately, to deal with the continuity problems on the edges of the different parts, I could count on ZAppLink, but we will talk about that later.

For the UV unwrapping I used the Unfold3D application.

Fig. 02

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Readers Comments (Newest on Top)
Wenda Watch on Thu, 10 May 2012 10:13pm
I have adored this picture for years now and have an upper body cropped version which rotates as my computer wall paper pretty often. I keep being called back to this image and just staring and wondering and feeling and imagining everything that lead up to that moment because you have captured such an incredibly specific emotional state on this dang rabbit and I cycle through so many thoughts and feelings while looking at it. I wanted to share it on Pinterest and realize besides the small "Jose" 2009 at the bottom (which I always thought said "Tori" LOL) I didn't know who had created this incredibly sublime, incredibly specific, and hilariously heartbreaking work. I love it (if I may) because it does create a humorous reaction at first glance but stay with him (?) a while and the viewer will find comfort in it as well. Comfort in knowing someone else, well someTHING else, has experienced the very specific type of betrayal that is happening here. If the viewer stays with the image long enough they begin rooting for him in the confrontation to come because its clear the one doing the betraying has all the friends while our little under-bunny has nothing but his cigarettes, hurt and disgust that his once (had to have been to cause this deep of a reaction) best friend is now part of whatever group they had both once abhorred and swore never to be part of. I didn't know the official title until now-"Le Rabbit" I guess it is but I call it "The Recognition of Hypocrisy" because I had been staring at his face for so long trying to put my finger on just what he was feeling, cause I knew feeling that way too but just didn't have the words then one day it hit me. That look is "The Recognition of Hypocrisy." I thought that fitting but then tried to get clever and suggested "The Recognition of HOP-ocrisy" which was the only time Mr. Rabbit spoke to me. I said it aloud "The Recognition of HOP-ocrisy" to which he just slightly turned to me with equal disdain and disgust, exhaled a cloud of purple smoke and simply said, "Don't." (looks me up and down with his blood shot judgmental gaze)"don't. . . . . .don't do that." and slipped right back into his contempt of "them." More than likely his old art school room mate and best friend who had chosen to share the same dorm room for all four years with our hero has recently become the new darling of the art world gaining huge success with his latest offering: meticulously reproduced Masterpiece Art Works featuring all the great "personalities" of the classics-The Mona Lisa, Venus de Milo, Blue Boy, The Scream etc all incomparably repainted down to the finest detail but with one tiny difference: The addition of a cigarette. All the greats have lit up and the statement that made crossed so many boundaries and borders it was inconceivable the many layered statements it made. It explained why Mona is smiling. With just the addition of a cigarette the ageless mystery woman now seems to be sitting on the edge of her bed enjoying a post coitus smoke while she's talking to the John getting dressed in the bathroom. Venus looks no longer so much the Goddess as a frightened teenage Texas beauty with all of her Angels having lit up like a bunch of winged hairdressers in some Southern Salon frantically working on her for this years Miss Teen USA pageant. The Scream, of course, is coming from someone just diagnosed with cancer and has been caught for all eternity with a cigarette slapped up against his head in utter disbelief of the diagnosis. "Cancer??!! How could THAT be??!!" The Girl With the Pearl Ear Ring now appears to be turning her head to avoid exhaling in the face of another and the most controversial of them all is the Michelangelo knock off. There, hanging from the ceiling is an exact replica of a large portion of the Sistine Chapel where now, rather than man reaching for God in his eternal struggle for Divinity he is instead just bumming a light from the Lord who has, of course, produced a small orange flame from his fingertip. That once cigarette took man's greatest quest, to be more like God, and turned it into a moment outside the stage doors of a Def Leopard concert where two dudes are just hangin out, kickin the dirt and hopin to get to meet someone from the GREATEST ROCK BAND EVER! Yeah. One cigarette did all that. By stealing the most reproduced art pieces of all time and reproducing them again and just sticking a simple cigarette here in there his old roomie had shot to the top of the World Art Scene leaving our friend here, who came to this opening thinking this was the moment they had dreamed of to crash their own Gallery Opening and expose the fact The Emperor had no clothes then after the snoots had left they would be as they always had been; in the corner by the ashtray smoking, laughing, and butchering the crowd of Ladies Art League Wanna Be's. Well here he was, by the ashtray all right but that was it. His friend had quickly waved to him across the room and given him the "thumbs up" before going back to talk to "them." The thumbs up? The thumbs up? It was like some type of really nerdy alien had taken over his friends body and had abandoned him here with nothing but his Pall Malls and contempt to keep him warm. And it was doing just that --actually getting him pretty damn hot as he thought about it more. You see he hadn't said anything because he thought it was all part of the joke. The "Master Plan" they had gone over a million times over a million beers and a million coffees. Simply put they were going to get famous making crap art and then expose it as crap and show that all the snooty art dealers and professors and critics didn't know shit and then they were gonna laugh their asses off while all those arrogant bastards slunk away in shame. But now he is realizing that not only had his best buddy sold out, but he had done so using an idea Peter Rottentail here had come up with one incredibly long, laugh filled, acid-fueled spring break ago. That year with neither of them having any place to go, they had decided to just stay together in the dorms and have the campus and dorms to themselves. They had spent the time tripping, watching "Eraserhead" over and over and in a flash of inspiration, which would eventually get them suspended, our hero had convinced his friend that they should break into the school Art library and make a statement against this bourgeois dump with its bourgeois art teachers and bourgeois education and go and freakin draw cigarettes in the hands of all the subjects of the famous world works they had been studying so far. Poor fella. This whole thing has been a heartbreaking, HARE-raising event. Wait a minute. Scratch that last part. I've been told not to do that. Anyway, it was at this moment, the spring break memory, the realization his friend had sold out and had sold out with HIS idea and even more aggravating was realizing this whole time he believed in their master plan and had wasted years being a tragic coffee swilling artist while everyone else had grown up and moved on. "Well thanks for telling ME guys!" He thought. "Assholes." The always wascally and now hurt, abandoned and betwayed wabbit turned to someone only seconds before had been his life long best friend and started watching him. He knew his every move and every gesture and he could not believe what he was witnessing. He quickly decided to hell with being the victim and running off he would instead get comfortable and play the role of judge, jury and executioner all in one. He kicked out one leg and rested back on the other one giving him one of the many attributes that left people certain he was gay, draped a paw over his pot belly, the newest addition to his rapidly aging body, lit a cigarette, inhaled, locked his gaze across the room on his now EX-best friend and this time began the butchering alone. "God. Looook at him. Just loooook at him. Mincing about hugging all of "them" and laughing. He's really into this. He's really having a good time. He's really laughing. Laughing. God that annoying high pitched ridiculous laugh that only I could get out of him till he's beg me to stop, twice I got him to actually pee his pants laughing that laugh. (wells up) that�s my laugh. How could he laugh my laugh with "them?" *snap* No!I refuse to be hurt by him. Him. God. Loook at him. I oughta go over there and let everyone know I came up with the cigarette idea. I should be surrounded by idiots all calling me gold. Not him. Him. God! Just loooook at him." CLICK! That's the moment your mind snapped that picture. To me. I know that was a bit much but your work has been such a source of joy, laughter, empowerment and obviously inspiration I would be remiss if I finally tracked you down and didn't share some of the madness your work has sparked. Thank you and I would LOVE to see more of it. Please email me if there is a link to a site of your stuff. Again, thank you and I am off to share him with the Pinterest world whom I'm certain are going to love him, well maybe not LOVE him. Fear him. That's probably more true and appropriate. I'm certain they will fear him. LOL XOXO-Wenda "Peter Rottentail" That's pretty good!
Rodney Pike on Wed, 25 May 2011 1:12am
Awesome work!!
Abhijeet Sinha on Tue, 24 May 2011 6:34pm
its great to read this make many things clear and its knowledgeable too.i like your character from starting to the finishing.its very funny and 101% humorous. thanks for sharing it with us. regards abhijeet
David Ferreira on Tue, 24 May 2011 11:09am
Great breakdown and excellent focus on some difficult issues. Obrigado por partilhares.
Hendrik Van Heek on Mon, 23 May 2011 12:52pm
Thanks for sharing your workflow!
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