Making Gabby The Papillon Fluffy in Blender

The journey into Gabby’s hair dynamics has just begun!

Brawni 3D

So this is where we left off with Gabby, a sculpt from ZBrush that I am happy with:

ZBrush Sculpt of Gabby

Her poly count at this stage was 2.7 million. In layman’s terms the little squares that make up her 3D mesh were so so small that she just looked completely black when you viewed her wireframe in Blender. Also Blender hated me. So I had to retopologise her. Which means you build her completely again using modelling tools.

Why wouldn’t you just build her in Blender and skip the sculpting you say? Ah, well because we can assign some really cool texture maps to the low poly model from the sculpt to make the low poly model *look* like the high poly sculpt. With the added benefit of my computer won’t burst into flames if I tried to just rig the sculpt straight away and animate her…

It also means that not only can you build this low poly model to look like the sculpt, you have control over how many polys it has AND you can engineer the new model to bend in pretty ways for animation.

Here’s my progress:

I had to also UV unwrap the model by adding seams (the red lines), so that I could add the colours/textures, so that they would look nice and uniform like a tidily wrapped Christmas present and not stretch in a horrible way like melted cheese over the model. I added a chequered texture to help see where the stretching was.

Painting her colours was really fun. There is this texture paint function on Blender where you can just get a paint brush like in photoshop/procreate and just paint colours all over the model. Like painting a miniature… I used the same process to paint a black and white layer to use as my roughness map (black is super shiny and white is super rough).

After a few attempts at creating fur on spheres and testing them to see if the fur moves in a desirable way, I got to making her fluffy. I used Blender’s particle system and added the hair in different particle groups to have more control over what length of hair I wanted where. I am hoping later on to add in hair dynamics to some of the fur groups to make them sway with her movement but we will see how happy by computer is when it comes to it!

Awesomely I realised that you can use the texture paint material as her fur colour, so the fluff matched her “skin” underneath. I actually used two, one for her skin that has the custom mostly rough, roughness map and another for her fur that had a second roughness map that was shiny on the red spots.

After a lot of brushing her fluff, tweaking hair settings and doing a final render, I feel that Gabby is almost better that what I envisioned her to be.

I love her ears and I can’t wait to see them moving and I am hoping that I got the retopology right for her rig so that she deforms properly during animation.

Stay tuned to see her go through the rigging process!


All works shown here were designed, sculpted, modelled, textured and rendered in ZBrush and Blender by Sarah Brawn. The design and sculpt of Gabby was inspired by real life photographs of Papillons.

Images owned and copyrighted by Brawni3D and you must request permission prior to use.


Contribute to Gabby’s acting career by buying her a biscuit!

A$5.00

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