Project Guppy
Project Guppy is an internal project of Twisted Mountain Animation. Starting as a small test sequence to help build out the company's Unreal Engine pipeline, it has grown over the years in scale and ambition to encompass a whole city's worth of assets and diverse cast of characters.
Assets for Project Guppy are modeled and textured for animation and rendering in Unreal Engine. As such, they are not subdivided on render and need to have enough topo in place to support a smooth appearance and clean transformations.
The cat is Guppy's first quadruped, and I was responsible for all aspects of the model from design, to sculpt, to retopology, to texturing. I even had a hand in the posing seen above, doing the final sculpt pass.
Software Used: Autodesk Maya, Zbrush, Substance Painter and Photoshop
Lighting and rendering done in Unreal Engine 4
Moomoo looking handsome
Moomoo looking handsome
Style and reference
Assets in Project Guppy lean towards semi-stylization. Proportions are mostly naturalistic with some exaggeration (ie. eyes are larger, heads can be larger, limbs longer, etc.). My goal with the design of the cat was to maintain proportions so it would undeniably be a cat, while using exaggeration to up the cute factor. 
I largely based the model off my own kitty, Moomoo. Taking special inspiration from him for the surfacing.
Sculpt and model
I began the modeling process in Autodesk Maya, stacking up polygon primitives into rough proportions, then I moved into Zbrush. Using Dynamesh I merge the primitive shapes and do a "potato sculpt" to refine proportions, connections, and start the detailing process.
Once I was happy with the potato sculpt, I took the model back into Maya to retopologize (from scratch), refining details and making sure I have everything in place that I need for Rigging, like armpits, mouthbag, etc.
Final steps are to bring the cat back into Zbrush to make final adjustments, sculpt high-res detail for baking, perform final topo clean up and lay out UVs. 
Final grey
Final grey
Final topology
Final topology
Potato Sculpt before retopo
Potato Sculpt before retopo

Image taken from Substance Painter

Surfacing for Project Guppy, like the look of the models, leans pretty stylized. It involves a lot of hand painting, layering of brush strokes with half-tones, and really leans away from the PBR realness that Substance Painter is really good at achieving. I definitely prefer working in this style as someone with a traditional art background. The cat was the first character I've surfaced in a professional setting. 

Turn around images from Substance Painter

Body textures exported from Substance Painter

Turntable from UE4

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