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On a regular base I work on non-commissioned projects. These projects help me to get better in what I do, they sharpen my skills both technically and content-wise.

A week ago I had the idea to make a Grevy’s zebra. It just popped into my head for no apparent reason, but I thought it would make a great end-of-year card. Reason: zebra’s are actually not completely black and white and this year, for all its crazy stuff, isn’t either.

Here a description of the process of the work to give an idea on the time it takes to makes something like this. This is actually how I work most of the time, especially on highly realistic models.



First I sculpted the model in Zbrush. That took me about 6 hours.


The painting of the model I also did in ZBrush and took me the better part of a day.


Then I went over to Blender and started working on the materials. This to ensure the skin and the fur looked realistic when rendered. This actually goes rather fast since I got a library of materials. The only thing I need to do is add the textures I painted in Zbrush. One hour.

Hair and fur

In blender I added several "particle systems", which allow me to put fur and hairs on the model. The manes, tail, eyelashes, nose, dorsal stripe and body each have a separate particle system. This is trail and error in the beginning, especially when it’s a long time ago I did this. Took me about a day


After I made the fur and hairs and was satisfied with them, I added a natural posture to the model, so it looked as if it could walk of the screen. I worked on that both in Blender and Zbrush. This one can be quick if done right. About half a day.


The most important part of a great model actually is lighting. In Blender Cycles it's a matter of a great environment map and spot lights in the right position, size and strength. Experimenting with this to really get it right can take up to a day.


The proof of the pudding is rendering the image. Even if I did everything right, still I had to wait until now to know if what I aimed for indeed happened. This actually took the longest time with going back and forward to make small adjustments and see how it worked out. Two days. But in the end I’m really pleased with the result.
Again I got a little bit better in what I do.
Mieke Roth

Author Mieke Roth

Animal scientist/scientific visualizer, @Sketchfab certified partner #VaccinesWork I make animal anatomy look so cool, you can't wait to know more!

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