By P Web Design Company

Butterfly WIP


After looking at many reference photographs of swallowtail butterflies I started to create a basic 3D model of a butterfly using Autodesk Maya. The images below show the modeling of the butterfly in various perspectives.


Once I finished with the basic geometery of the butterfly model in Maya I then brought it into Mudbox to paint the body texture and add some sculpting detail to make it look more realistic. I know in advance that I will not have to add too much detail to the body texture because most of it will be replaced with fur later on. Therefore, I just painted a basic color map that will guide the color of the fur later on.

Swallowtail ColorMap

The texture for the wings I exported out the UVs and brought then into Photoshop to paint the colormap. The image below shows the wings rendered in maya with a bump shader. The veins of the wings were modeled to create more depth so that the wings wouldn't look so flat and adds more believeabilty ot the overall look.

Wing Texture


I used Maya Fur to create the fur for the Swallowtail Butterfly, many adjustments were made to get the fur to act the way I wanted. The base map was baked in to determine the color of the fur, then I had to paint a bald map to determine which areas would or wouldn't have fur. Lastly, I also had to paint the direction in which the fur would fall. Below is a test render of the fur with a basic key light to get a sense of how light and shadow would interact with the butterfly. Also, I used a bump map in order to get the eyes of the butterfly to look like it had multiple facets.

Swallowtail Fur Test


In the image below is a screenshot of some basic lighting tests using basic maya spotlights and HDRI lighting to gain more realism in the butterfly. Some more lights will be added to areas of the butterfly with fur, with the current lighting situation it is difficult to see all the detail in the body of the fur.

Swallowtail Lighting

Close up


I created a basic rig for the butterfly, the most important joints and controls were for the legs and the head because those are the areas that are most effected when a butterfly moves around. Created joints and controls for the legs, antenna, labial palp, thorax, and spiracle, which was then bound to the body geometry. The ikSpringSolver was used for the legs, anteanna, and spiracle, in order to attain the proper movement for the joints of a insect character. A combination of point, orient, parent, and pole vector constraints were used to affect the interaction between the controls and the joints.

Swallowtail Rig

Render Layers

The final step in the pipeline was to render various render layers for the butterfly and the orchid, which would them be composited together in Nuke to attain the final image. By compositing the butterfly and orchid separately I was able to gain more control over the depth of field for each object as well as adjusting the color and shadowing to achieve the look that I wanted.

Swallowtail - Render Layers

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