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Requesting a Proportion check on a 3D Model


Did I say "back on the easy parts"? I think I might have to revise that.

The nose and upper lip are proving far more difficult that I thought. It doesn't help that this cycle was filled with unrelated issues arresting development. Ah well, maybe I'll get it next time. I wouldn't select any of the permutations I produced this time. None of the deform well and they're all kind of bad.

Short post partly due to lack of time, but mostly because I really have no idea how to move this one forward. Maybe I need a tutorial on how to draw noses, or something, to help get some direction on the shape like I had on the paw.


No tutorial identified, but I think I've reached a decent compromise on the nose/front of the muzzle. The big gap present in the previous scrap is gone again. It was causing issues with the snarling facial expression. It required too much movement to make a noticeable difference and would cause creasing around the nose or even collapse the nose. Plus, after reviewing a lot of reference images, I felt it wasn't all the prominent after all.

So... facial expressions testing! Yay!

Getting the changes to right took a lot longer than I want, so I didn't get to get a whole lot of different faces, but I think I hit most of the key ones. Certainly had fun with the silly face stretching the cheeks! The new nose shape is an improvement, but I can't help but feel exhausted by the whole process. In the end, it was another compromise between shape and deformation.

Oh, yeah! I created a new design for my little personal sigil, to go along with the paw redesign. Yes, that little thing below the 3 arcs was supposed to be an elongated, angular paw and not a... erm *ahem*. Anyways, I think its much better this way.

Unless I get some suggestions otherwise, I think I've just got the eyes left and maybe a quick touch up around the ears and shape of the head.

Seriously though, the thread has gone an entire page without any critique. I guess that means I'm on the right track? I've played around with lighting a lot recently. Any suggestions on how I could light this better? Are there too many different colors? How about my compositions; are they too distracting in their arrangement?
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So, as you may have guessed from my little April Fools Day post, I had some fun with hair! The third and final (if you don't count the older "classic hair") implementation of hair/fur/fibers in Maya: nHair. Compared with XGen (which really more of a generalized solution to instance geometry or fibers) and fur, I actually think I like it the most. It's easy and fun. The results aren't quite as nice looking as the fur (although I understand I can get pretty close to the look) and you have even less control over it, but it manages to be good because it relies on physics. nHair works off Maya's nucleus Dynamics, or nDynamics, system which means right from its creation it has a physics simulation setup and configured. In the image above, the Before picture was kind of a default after fooling around with some parameters (it starts of huge like an afro) and the After image was after running the simulation with some very basic wind and gravity physics.

While I think nHair will make for wonderful head hair, it isn't quite suitable for fur. Maybe if I played around with it, I might get it to look ok, but it is difficult and taxing to simulate. The results when applied to a tail wagging setup were less than stellar:

The tail fur is just to short and nHair is designed around clumps which don't work as well for this bit. If I made the tail thin to allow for longer nHair, that might help a lot, but it would still be very taxing to simulate. This image took 3 hours (albeit with my usual high quality sampling settings, bumping that down to the lowest anti-alias value would drop it to about 30 minutes, plus I was doing other stuff with the computer while I was rendering) for 300 frames. I had to do 300 instead of the usual 150 because the transition between frame 150 is way more jarring than between 300 and 151 when looping around. Starting at 151 doesn't calculate the simulation any different than if I started at 1, so I have to run through a ton of frames to prime it first. There's probably a better way to do that.

But, nHair was only a small portion of this last cycle. The major focus was on the face. There wasn't much in the way of actual changes to the model, but a lot more setting up tools and trying techniques for identifying changes.

The face has problems. It has to be a problem with proportions. It just feels "off." So, I've setup some things to help me identify where those issues are:

Face Y.A.M. Chart:

Like the full body Y.A.M. Charts, I have constructed Yet Another Measurement Chart specifically for the face. It is coupled with a new camera view, like the 3 body fit2Spec cameras, I've setup it up to frame the face so I don't have to resize it to fit the chart's proportional measurement. The proportions are inspired by a diagram I found in a book on anatomy for the artist. The purple and magenta lines divide the face into sections in a specific ratio, which places 3 sections of purple to 5 sections of magenta.

The chart above also displays the one change I actually made to the model: I raised the eye sockets up a bit, making the slope of the cheeks and forehead slightly less steep in the process. A comparison, is presented in this scrap:
(descriptions of this one and the one above have more details on the proportions measured.)

Frankenstein-style cut-n-paste:

The other technique I tried involved cutting up the model into distinct pieces. I could then duplicate, deform, and switch out pieces in place, to get a rough idea of what real proportion changes would look like without sinking a ton of time into making them. The results are very rough, and I probably won't do any more scraps with it, but it seems like it might be a useful approach for a quick and dirty way to see how changes might look. I used it to try to make some changes that would fit the model closer to the proportions diagram. Going too close to the diagram (left) didn't work out so well: it has a massive lower jaw. The diagram is for a human face's proportions, so it's not perfect. The right-side image puffs up the top of the muzzle with the nose. It looks a fair bit better, but I can't decide if I actually want to make the model look that way. I feel like a fox is supposed to have the small nose and sloped muzzle that the model currently has, instead of a muzzle that's top is straight horizontal with a big nose necessary to do that without reposition the mouth.

I haven't found any good tutorials on furry face proportions yet, so it looks like I'm stuck with just trying things until it looks right, for now.
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Never did find any tutorials for furry face proportions. No matter. I did, however, find the means to improve deformation of the muzzle while snarling.

A slight tweak to the nose topology yielded improvements in the shape, but it wasn't until I took a new approach to how I was painting the wire deformer weights that I figured out how to knock off the clipping and excess creasing. I can now pull the upper lips up enough to show off the gums. In fact, I can pull up enough to show where the gums stop, without really wrecking the top of the muzzle!

Aside from the nose, the only real shape change this cycle was the far corners of the eyes. I pulled them back and made them more angular. Still no solution to the eyelid shapes.

However, I did develop a tool that should encourage more radical experimentation with the eyes. One of the biggest concerns I've had with changing the eyelids is just how well they work now, mechanically. It's extremely easy to setup, no painting necessary. If I want to close the eyelids, I just rotate them; I don't even need to mess with the wire control points. It's so easy, in fact, that I've been reluctant to adopt any changes that would make it more complicated for me to use. But now, I have a script that makes complicated cv work with wires much less of a concern! I have a MEL script that writes MEL scripts that set the control point positions and other attributes for the wires you select! Now, I can pose elements of the face like the eyelids or lips, click the script, and save them in such a way that I can perfectly recreate them later! Well, I mean, I can recreate them later as long as I don't make a major changes to the wires in the mean time. Like I did just before I wrote the script. No none of my previous facial expressions can carry over to the new one. I can change the wire shapes, but big changes to their position or number of CVs will make the results of the saved scripts look wonky.

(Lacking any real way to show off the script, I just did a handful more facial expressions tests.)

So, with the new save-script, it doesn't really matter how complicated the eyelids end up being wired, once I set up some positions, it's just as easy as clicking a script. Theoretically, I could even come up with a way to blend saved face expression scripts!

So next on the agenda, I think, is a more in-depth consideration of how to do the eyes. Now, I just need to figure out how the eye's should be shaped...


New Eyelids, new eye shape!

It's... er, actually kind of creepy at first. At least, that was the first impression I got once I finally rendered a plain portrait view of the head with all the temp shaders and everything. I'm mostly over it and I really do like the new eye changes, but I can't help but feel like it could make a bad first impression.

I'd be really interested what people first think when they see full view of the face of the upper left corner of the scrap above.

There are two things that seem to help reduce the initial creep factor: lighting and "eyeliner". The eyeliner is really more of a dark outline around edges of the eyelids. It seems to be nearly omnipresent among images I referenced in determining what I wanted to do with the eyes.

As for lighting, I think it just helps take the edge off the model and reduce the hard shadows default lighting gets from the model's surface features.

(also, this description contains a bit of discussion on the topological changes specific to the new eyes.)

Measurements are largely the same, however the changes to the eyelids have revealed more of the underlying eyeball, effectively enlarging the eyes.

(scrap description also lightly details the wire deformer changes)

Maybe it is creepy, or maybe my mind is just so used to seeing the old eye shape that is was a shock to see it. Either way, I happier with the new eye shape than the old.

And, hey, I can always work with creepy...



So, um... I kinda ran out of ideas.

I thought about just moving on to UV work, but I can't help but feel like there's more that needs to be done. I tried shrinking the mouth again, but one more I failed to find a good topology. It just doesn't appear doable. I thought I'd do some tests to try and come up with other changes. Initially, I was just going to do some more poses and see what jumped out to me. My real life provided me exceptional inspiration for what to do.

(this animated turntable was actually a secondary side-project off from the actual test pose which itself had ballooned into an experiment with Mental Ray's fancier features.)

I actually rather liked the how the faces turned out for these two. Dealing with posing the body wasn't hard, either (despite the fact that everything is still based on forward kinematics, with no real control rigging.) Unfortunately, they didn't inspire new ideas for more improvements. So, I tried some more radical experiments. None more so than what amounted to a crude mockup of the Blythe character.

(Mildly NSFW, I think. Let me know if I should provide a censored thumbnail. Rederick is provided, as well, for comparison.)

The Blythe Experiment is detailed a bit further in the description above, but the basic thought was it might reveal some of the short comings of my topology and rigging.

Finally, I had an idea to do one more pose: Hands clasp behind the back. It's more complicated that it might seem, because it requires quite a bit of flexibility in the arm rigging and the right proportions in the arms to get the position of the hands right. I knew this because I had experienced how difficult it can be, before. Back in 2013, before I even brought this model to the forums for critique, I had tried my hand at a scene that used such a pose. In fact, you can see a couple frames of the old model in this pose in this old .gif detailing progress made in 2013! Making up the old pose gave me an idea: Perhaps a change of color scheme would help shake up my perceptions. So, naturally, I had some fun and brought Dr. Gravitas' scheme up to date!

That face... has come a long way since the last time it was in color. But, there still something wrong. I don't know what it is. Eyebrows, maybe? The brow shape in general? Ears? Blythe's test reminded me of a couple of stickier points, but nothing that really needed to be done in both male and female variants. I don't know. Maybe I'll just take another shot at the corners of the mouth.


I don't follow CGI industry news much, being more of a hobbyist, so it was to my great surprise and disappointment that I learned this week that Autodesk (and with it, Maya) was discontinuing perpetual licensed offerings by the end of the year in favor of a subscription model. Yes, pay them forever or lose all access to the software; another Adobe-style approach. They didn't even have the guts to make it cheaper than the price of upgrading to the next version they used to do. Sure, you'd no longer pay the exorbitant upfront cost, but honestly was it so wrong to want to keep access to the software if I didn't want to upgrade? The thought of losing access to the key enabler of my favorite (and lets face it, only) hobby just because I lose my job or retire and can no longer afford yearly payments disturbs me. I understand that they target businesses and I'm a hobbyist, but it's depressing none the less. :(

What's worse is they didn't even have the decency to offer one last upgrade, for old times sake, to the last version that will be available under perpetual license: Maya 2016. The 2016 version is only available via subscription or the same old full price for the perpetual license. It's a pity really, I made the huge leap from 2009 to 2015 by buying the whole thing and when I finally feel confident in my finances enough to actually want to upgrade yearly (probably) they change the deal and sour my whole outlook on it. Looks like, as with Photoshop CS2, Maya 2015 will be the end of the road for me. Of course, given that I'm still stubbornly using CS2, Maya 2015 has a long life left in it!

A real shame. Maya 2016 finally introduces multi-core+GPU support of rig evaluation, which would be a tremendous boost to speed an responsiveness. I really wanted to upgrade to that.

But enough of that! There's plenty enough disappointment this week already, in the form of my work on the model!

I succeeded in coming up with a way to make the corners of the mouth more shallow. It was a "think outside the box" kind of moment when I realized that, rather than try to merge the corners forward and change the topology behind the corners, I could pull the corners forward and make (far simpler) changes to the topology that lay ahead of the corners! By all accounts, this idea worked, but it did not yield the "that's perfect!" moment I was hoping for. In fact, the face feels no better than before really. Maybe a little better, I guess, but something's still missing. The majority of this week's work was spent evaluating whether this mouth change (and subsequent alterations) could actually improve the face, across a vast number of expressions.

Here is a small fraction of them, with the 3 major variations of some 21+ experimental shape and topology changed faces:

(Most of the descriptions have more details on specifics.)

(I suppose I could say I had success this week with certain facial expressions and great utility of my new scripts.)

(The 3rd row of this 3rd set is probably best for discerning the difference between the variations, outside the wireframes themselves.)

Of course, if you haven't been staring at them for countless hours like I have, it's probably very difficult to tell the differences between the 3 columns (the wireframe ones are a bit easier). So, I've also compiled them into two .gif files. The motion makes it easier to see changes, I think. The thumbnails are present in the forum, but as always they link to the full-sizes.

There are really two components to my dislike for the current face. First, something feels "off", but more concretely, I spend a lot of time working on posing the lips to get them a way I feel is acceptable (especially when working on a smile.) I'm thinking I need even more radical topology experiments if I'm going to figure out what it is I don't like about the face's looks and maybe that'll solve the other problem too. Such changes should, as like the 3rd variation this week, expand to include changes to the way the cheeks and flews (yes, I finally learned what the fleshy bulges at the end of the snout are called :-D) are wired to the face.
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I kinda feel like I need to tone it down with the colors.

Anyways, this cycle's focus was once more on the mouth. I think I am content with the mouth now. Not happy, but content I suppose. I've debated moving on. I had set a goal for myself: I want to be working on the UVs before the end of this month. But today, during one of my more grueling meetings, I had an idea. It kind of builds off some of the thoughts that came about during this cycle's work. I'm going to give it two days and if I can't see significant value in that time, I abandon it and stick with the mouth as is. But before I describe that, it'd be better to describe the current state of the model.

In short, I went with pulling the corners forward, some (far less drastic) topological changes, and some lip wire-curve changes that I briefly tinkered with in the cycle before this one (I think I gave it a passing mention in one of those scraps.) Key improvements include a balance between the shallower mouth corners and the sharply defined shapes of the deeper mouth corners. I've found that the position of the default corners of the mouth relative to where I deform them to be impacts the deformation of the surrounding areas. That is, if I start shallow and make the corners deep, the cheeks will be more deformed than if I started relatively deep, and vice versa. The new changes to the curves driving the lip's wire deformers help reduce problems in the deformation of surrounding areas while retaining good definition in the shapes of the corners of the mouth. The result is that the deformed shape of surround areas (and shapes of the corners) when deforming shallow or deforming deep are not quite as good as they are when I start with the corners in the respective depth, but are significantly better than they would be when I start with the opposing depth of where I deform to. That is, it helps build a compromise: I can do alright with either deep or shallow mouth corners, to a point:

(This is not a good start for the "tone it down" initiative...)

The topology change plays a part in the flexibility by removing a nagging issue with the upper lips having two tris where they end. Those were introduced in March at the beginning of this round of face-focus and have slowly grown to be a torn in my side. That setup has been replace with an additional edgeloop that also helps improve definition of the area between the cheeks and back end of the flews. I kind of torn between whether I like it or not. Certainly, in many forms I enjoy this new little valley and the clearer shape definition for that area. It reads a lot better and the shadow it creates help keep the muzzle from looking like a same-y blob behind the flews. But, certain cases of extreme deformation on the cheeks and lips can pinch it into excess and create some truly awful appearances. This is most noticeable in the upper left image of the first scrap.

That second image, aside from being something I had a lot of fun making and being a decent means of showing off shallower mouth corners, served double duty in an additional little experiment. There's more details in the scrap, but I ran some test on different focal lengths for the render camera.

I really should spend a bit more time practicing and experimenting with the camera!

As for today's new idea?

Well, up until now I've treated the snout as a single solid block. But what if, instead of having the boundary edges of the flew be flush with the surface of the muzzle, I were to treat them as an extruded shape? I imagine instead the upper lips as coming around the corners and diving behind the flews, emerging briefly in that triangular shape at between the flews at the front. Of course, the lips won't actually be present behind the flews, but rather they simply give the impressing of being a continuous line over which the flews droop. Neither would the front triangle be painted with the upper lips. In a way, this change to the interface between the lips and the flew would be kind of the same as the changes I made for the point where the upper and lower eyelids connect.

More importantly, this thought led me to consider controlling the snout features in a similar manner. Rather than control the flew and the upper lips through a single wire curve, there would be 5 separate wire deformers and curves: 2 for the flews, 2 for the upper lips from the corners to the point from which the flews are extruded, and 1 (if any at all) for controlling the lip space at the front between the flews. This would be more complicated, but separating them out could allow me to alter their influence range independently which could actually simplify the process of weight painting the upper lips (currently the most complicated wire deformer weight painting I have to do because it's the only one that requires smoothing.) Moreover, the flews' wire curves could diverge from the the edge of the mouth and follow its contours up towards the nose in the front and along the new valley in the back.

EDIT: This might help explain it:

This, coupled with the 5-edge intersection shapes that accompany the extrusion-geared topology, could result in significantly finer control over deformation and (hopefully) better shape results.

OK, after some initial (very familiar feeling) Quad Draw exploration, I remembered that I've actually had that lips-flew-snout idea about 2 times already. It was a failure each time and never seemed significant enough to write about. So, lo and behold, I didn't write it down and thus forgot about it. XP

But! The wire curve idea is definitely a new one. So, I'm still going to try that. Maybe third times a charm.
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It didn't work. Neither the topology experiment, nor the alternate wires.

(details saved for posterity in the scrap description. Don't think I'll be forgetting this time...)

So, after that fell through, I took on the ears and neck. This also failed to materialize. I didn't come up with anything major, although I made some changes to the back of the head and the inner part of the ears. They were very minor, almost imperceptible unless you're doing headshots of the back of the head or inside the ears, but they had been bothering me for quite some time.

So, I made a turntable of the wireframes for what is the final topology before moving on to UVs!

Of course, there could still be changes I discover are needed as I work out the UVs and eventually deal with proper textures (or at least shader maps.)

Speaking of UVs, I did have a chance to get a look at what I'm up against in the next big challege:

As you can see, there's quite a long road ahead! Time to really buckle down and...

Oh, wait. No, the UVs are done:


Well, maybe it's a bit premature to call the UVs done-done. Once I start into texturing (which, actually, I've already started today XD ) I'm sure I'll find some tweaks and improvements for necessary for the UVs and maybe even the topology. But, yes, principle work on the UVs that I've been pumping up for all of 2015 is done.

I can see being finished with the modeling portion of Rederick before the June anniversary date. After that there's perfecting skinning, shading/texturing, and advanced rigging/controls (which I'll probably keep experimenting with along the way.)

2015 might just be the year I finish this turkey!

Right on schedule! :cool:


Texturing is always fun! Well, no it isn't, really it's the results that are fun, but it has been a wonderful change of pace! I'm quite happy with the results, too. They may not be perfect, but they are a huge leap over the previous route of applying shaders directly to textures. Both in looks and in practical terms. It was a joy to be able to simply apply the custom shader network without having to go through the trouble of selecting polygons I want to be this color or that. The problems encountered were minimal and most were easily surmounted. There are a handful of sticklers that carry over from choices made in the UV-making process, but even those wrinkles should be easy to smooth. There is only one real issue that sticks out in my mind and frankly, I could probably let it slide if I wanted to (but I have some experiments I want to run against it!)

I don't want this thread to be a second gallery. Normally all of my stuff is goes straight to scraps, but this time I posted most of my work in my main gallery. So, I decided to keep this post down to the 4 scraps, 1 main gallery post detailing the technical aspects of custom shader network, and just the 2 main gallery posts I'm most interested in seeing critiques on. Of course, you're free to critique or make comments or suggestions about anything in my gallery on this thread!

First, the YAM Chart:

The custom shader network:

The custom shader network is back and bigger than ever! I go into more detail in the description, but the key points are an increase in the number of texture maps, more shaders, and it uses the increasingly-not-so-temporary ambient occlusion shaders. I found I've grown rather fond of them and actually think I prefer them over the old MISS Shaders I used the last time I used the network. I also dropped the fur pattern textures. They feel kind of silly now, although they don't look too terrible under the old MISS shaders (which I also gave an example of applied to the modern model) they just feel very cheap.

One of the concerns generated this cycle was the network itself. It's rather cumbersome and newer capabilities are present in Maya 2015 make the approach largely obsolete, or so it will seem. I want to experiment with replacing it or reworking it completely. It did, however, prove exactly as portable as predicted. All I had to do was load the new texture maps into the appropriate slots and voila! Modifications for additional texture maps all plugged right in with no fuss, just like I intended for them to, way back when I designed it!

Technical hurdles:

The texture maps themselves are titans: a total of 8, 8129x8129 .png files tell the network where to apply the shaders. But, the choice of black marks on white turned out to be something of an issue as ZBrush invariably generates black spaces on the areas of the UV space that have no polygons. This lead to, when viewed from a distance, fairly noticeable seams. I found a work around, in basically pasting a white cover over the space, but I want to try some alternate approaches. The seams also can cause my sharp lines to blur and dither, which is nearly intolerably to me! One possible solution is to make the texture maps even bigger but it's already big enough to impact the performance of Maya's viewport and hypershader. Technically, I can support texture sizes up to 16,384x16,384 but ZBrush is already throwing a fit, too. Speaking of which, I'm really disappointed that ZBrush's 64-bit version is still not using more than 4 GB of my 32 GBs of RAM before retreating to its scratch disk! There's no excuse for that! All that cached crap is eating up my disk space and probably lowering the lifetime of my SSD!

The last scrap image there details the dithering and juddering around seams present in texutres, but also a bit of the UV-specific issues: compression and stretching. Although the stretching/compression is more noticeable on the chest, where it introduces very straight lines or very angular sharp turns, instead of soft curves (in shape lines). This is caused by those remaining few spaces where the UVs could use a little more work. Mostly on the shoulders and neck, but especially the pawpads. Probably not going to be challenging. They're essentially like a wrinkle in a shirt; smooth out the polygon placement in the UV and you'll iron out the problem!

Finally, some results!

These two are ones I'm most interested in seeing critiques of (a very tough choice, too.) I'm also open for any questions you have, too!

Feel free to critique anything about them that you wish to, even the shape, background and questions, or other details. I'm especially interested in hearing thoughts on the colors, lighting, mood, poses, expressions, and most of all: the body markings I've drawn. Also, does anyone know of how to make eyebrows look right? They still feel very painted on.


Broke my recent string of highly successful cycles with a mediocre one. All intended UV/shader/texture improvements failed to materialize, although a couple of useful discoveries were made in the process. Namely, I figured a much easier way to deal with those seams that show up at a distance (but not the juddery jaggies). I also learned a bit more about the limitations of ZBrush; it doesn't produce textures any larger than 8192x8192. I also realized I made a couple tiny mistakes on my texture maps. First, the white and black body marks (the two largest texture maps) used FEFEFE for white fill instead of FFFFFF. Maya's Blend utility (looking for pure white) takes this as a signal to ever so slightly mix the shader into the whole space. Visually, it's indistinguishable, but correcting it shaved about 3 minutes off render times in face closeups, and an indeterminate amount from other renders. Also, I realized that I created my textures as 8129x8129 instead of 8192x8192 :mad: That's a little more irritating to fix (OK, not really, I'm just being lazy about it) but making them the proper multiple of 2 might help render times.

I tried to improve shaders to come up with a better look, but my heart just wasn't in it. I also tried recreating the custom shader network using Mental Ray MILA and associated nodes, but they proved once again to be baffling and difficult to use. Given how everything else can be automated with scripts, I wonder if I could write a script to read through the custom shader network and recreate the equivalent with mental ray layer nodes...

Oh, there was also an experiment with pants, but that's not really important. What is important is a return to modeling work!

I'm not giving up on Rederick, but clearly principle work is complete there is little reason to continue spending entire dev cycles on it. So, during this and the last cycle, I began working on Blythe!

(Red is unaltered from the Rederick baseline, blue is Blythe-specific alterations. Except for the eyes. The red eyes are Blythe's :) )

Rederick experiments and tweaks will continue in parallel, along with a long planned test of a more customized Dr. Gravitas offshoot on the Rederick baseline.

I can already tell that female anatomy will quite the challenge to implement, not because it's harder in any particular way, but because I want to retain a degree of compatibility between the Blythe and Rederick models. I hope to make it such that alterations to Blythe's skeleton are accomplished in such a way that posing scripts can be shared between the two models, with a minimum amount of adaption in the posing. I have long since given up the belief that they could be topologically identical (which would've allowed for identical UVs and therefore reusable texture maps.) Separate UVs and texture maps no longer seem that time consuming to me anyways, but I hope compatibility can still be retained in the skeletons. I did some limited tests with inverse kinetics for speeding up pose creation and have some ideas bubbling in the background on how I want to integrate them into the rig proper while maintaining a degree of separation that will allow for greater customization of control. But, those are quite a ways off and visually difficult to show off.

(I'm also still not sure if this should be mature or general. Do the nipples on the outlines make it mature category? Is that nsfw? I marked it mature just in case.)

Finding appropriate examples and outlines to measure against is also proving challenging. A bit more on that in the scrap above. Already, significant topological changes are underway on the shoulders/chest and have been accomplished for the breasts. The torso is one of the most complicated areas regarding deformation and Rederick's shoulders are particularly fragile when confronted with change. Given that many of the most significant defining characteristics and topological changes are located here, I figured I'd start with it rather than the head. I'm still trying to think up how to make a more feminine face, anyhow.

It's a long road ahead...


The first few steps down the long road impress upon me a pleasant path for a casual jaunt among gently rolling hills. No stone walls to breakthrough by repeatedly slam my face into them just yet, but we may very well still be in the shire!

That is to say, I'm pleased with the ease at which improvements to the chest and shoulder have come. Improvements focused mostly on topological changes necessary to support good deformation with the shape changes necessary to make the shoulders more ladylike. The shoulders should be smaller than the hips and not so broad. The arm was slimmed down a bit, while keeping most of the dips and bumps intact and to prevent clipping on the sides of the model with the new, more narrow shoulders. The neck has been scaled down and I've cleaned up the chest which was poking out further than the rest of the torso. Some breast reshaping also occurred, but I think they may be too big now.

Topology changes:

The shoulder and upper chest topology is vastly superior to that used in Rederick. The old topology worked quite well, once I found the sweet spot (which thankfully fit within acceptable body proportions, albeit a bit more muscular than I'd like) but was fragile; it wasn't going to do well with significant shape changes like were required by narrower shoulders. The new topology should be much more robust and provide much nicer shape in deformation. I determined that it even fixes that last remaining bit of ugly deformation, with when the arm points forward from the chest. I had previously declared that within tolerance on Rederick, but it was largely thanks to his broad shoulders.

With narrow shoulders, the ugliness becomes intolerable in that pose by introducing clipping. I also moved the arm joint of the skeleton slightly medially, but I'm starting to reconsider. I want to try the new topology with the old joint positions and see if it still brings the arms to the sides without a gap around the arm pits (one of the major issues with the narrow shoulders in the old topology.) I really should save images of these issues I'm correcting, as I'm going along, so I can show you what I mean instead of just describing it...

Shape and shading:

Another round of shape changes, focused on the upper torso and its connections rather than the lower torso! This won't be the last round, either. By now I've pretty much settled into a basic cycle of "shape change, then topology change, then skeleton changes, and back again" iterating over the area multiple times to kind of walk my way to a good compromise.

I also completed the first iteration of a proper Ambient Occlusion shader setup for Blythe's blue base coat color! There's still some tinkering to do, as I go along like I did with Rederick. After completing this scrap, I decided leaving it without any lighting at all doesn't give the right impression (after all, it's real use will always be with lighting) so I did a very quick rehash of the pose done under the mockup, with lighting.

Suggestions, critiques, or questions are always welcome!


Hit 'em right between the eyes
Nice improvement on anatomy and body modelling. But I have to say, your heads still look like a human head with a snout pasted on top. It's especially obvious if you look at the side view.

Look at this:

And then look at this:

And compare it to your model. The brow of your character slopes down way too sharply to look like a fox/wolf, these animals usually have a gentler slope on the forehead.


Nice improvement on anatomy and body modelling. But I have to say, your heads still look like a human head with a snout pasted on top. It's especially obvious if you look at the side view.

Look at this:


And then look at this:


And compare it to your model. The brow of your character slopes down way too sharply to look like a fox/wolf, these animals usually have a gentler slope on the forehead.

Thanks for the comment!

Yeah, the forehead has really crept forward over time to the point of being pretty much parallel with the eyebrows while I was trying to make the head bigger. For whatever reason it never really felt *right* to me. Even now, with a little test in ZBrush...

(also, I used Rederick since he already was in ZBrush)

... it still feels off. Maybe it's the other features around it that make it feel weird? The eye sockets perhaps? It's kind of the same thing as the sunk-in nose bridge that SPYWolf mentioned to me in some comments outside this thread. I can't quite figure out how to make it work.


Now that I've given myself some time to get a bit more used to it, I think you're really on to something here Taralack!

I think it feels a lot better for me when I put it all together, and it rather helps keep the more prominent nose-bridge from feeling out of place. I still have a bit of tweaking to do on it and the nose bridge. When I look at the eyebrows now, they don't have quite that weird feeling they had; I'm thinking this might be just the change I was looking for. Thanks for the suggestion!

Aside from this forehead thing, a handful of minor tweaks, and a major distraction, I took time to try to learn some more advanced rigging techniques to speed up my ability to create poses. But, I have little to show for it. Integrating IK into my skeleton is going to be difficult to pull off.

I think I forgot to mention, but as long as it doesn't require a topology change, I can integrate most shape changes right into the Rederick model without redoing the UVs, textures maps, or rigging. If it's a very significant change to the face (the nose bridge is just shy of such a change) I might have to redo the face wire deformers, but the rest would be intact, so it wouldn't be that much work.


4 years! June 20th 2015 is the 4 year anniversary of my work on this project! And what a year this last one has been! As before I did a couple retrospectives as well tried some challenging experiments. Nothing as radical as practically restarting the model, but it was a lot of fun. My hands are kind of cramping up from all the typing in the descriptions I did, so I'll be brief here.

(This ones the rolling update progress image .gif)
(same, but specific to the face rolling update.)

The self-imposed challenge was to create a scene-based turntable that incorporated some advanced concepts. I ended up cramming a ton of them into the beach turntable, albeit not all completely successfully. It made for an excellent lesson in not just throwing technology at stuff. The fur was a huge pain, but I finally got to test whether my approach to my shaders using greyscale texture maps really did carry over to the fur. It was mostly successful. Only the light chest/face markings' texture maps were used directly as the maps for painting the same color fur presence (reversing it to make it a baldness map, which is the parameter the fur uses.) The dark socks 'n gloves required refinement to paint it so it didn't cover over all of the fingers and paw digits (that looked quite ugly) so I had to create a separate map. The red fur didn't have a map because it's just what's left over when the other maps in the custom shader network blend in their shaders. However, both the black marks and the red fur maps were easy to make and were not made from scratch, so they still saved quite a bit of time. The black marks obviously were made via simple edits to a copy of the black marks custom shader network texture map. The red fur map was quickly created by combining the black and white texture maps using simple photoshop layer blends, and then (unlike the other to maps) NOT reversing it for baldness.

I also figured out how to correctly export polypaint as textures in ZBrush, eliminating the juttery looking things ruining my clean curvy texture maps. In fact, I learn a whole lot of stuff from all this! I got a ton of extra scraps out of the process, too, but I'll skip posting them here.

I had a lot of fun taking a break to work on this little distraction! But, I'm kind of looking forward to getting back to the Blythe model soon.
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This never was going to be a major modelling-improvement post for Blythe. The longer cycle for the anniversary cut into it and then I found I simply couldn't let the Beach Turntable stand as it was.

I did solve the exploding pants problem, though!

The improved, physically simulated swimsuit - complete with swishing tail interaction that was even better than settled with in my initial experiments - has updated the existing turntable. Turns out I forgot to carry over a parameter from the experiment. :p But, once that was fixed, I found a new problem cropped up. One whose fix is ultimately more important than virtually everything else I learned in making that turntable!

I now have the ability to control what objects are included or excluded in the ray calculations performed by the Ambient Occlusion shaders! This is huge because anytime I fully enclose the figure it a scene, the AO shaders end up choosing to go 100% dark color. Even partially enclosing the figure, as I did in this turntable and the "Crushed" gallery post, can severely influence the AO shaders. Now, rather than having to carefully tweak the AO colors and percentages to work around those scene components' influences, I can simply exclude them from the AO shaders! Not only does this vastly extend my control over the AO shaders, giving me more freedom to tweak coloration to set mood and theme, it should allow for fully enclosed scenes for faster renders as well as grant me the freedom to design and detail the scene surrounds as I please. I should be able to do much more interesting scenes with props and stuff! Stuff!

I did do a bit of modelling on Blythe as well. I've migrated towards working on the pelvis and deformation of the interfacing limbs there, again. Rederick freed me from the worst of the deformation issues I had here, but issues remain under extreme flexing positions and hidden away in certain places, especially when viewed from beneath. I feel like I'm so close to something big! But, so far there are only partial implementations of two particularities.

The sitting position for Rederick works as long as you don't look from the point of view of the chair being sat in. Of course, that's not useful, but it is the same problem present in crouching, bending over and so forth, where it might be more reasonable to snag a view of the crotch. In Blythe, the lack of a bulge already requires shape differences and keeping the same topology has proven to exacerbate the deformation problems in these shapes. I am experimenting with improved topology in this area. As before, it requires a lot of back and forth between topological, shape, and weight painting changes. I know I'm close to something, but how much of an improvement is the question.

Once I clear up the last of these deformation issues and maybe do some more shape work on the body, it'll be on to the ultimate challenge: A pleasant, female furry face! I fully intend to integrate the sloped forehead into Blythe as I did with Rederick (Side note: I had started the turntable before getting the suggestion, which is why he still has the full forehead in it and the associated scraps.) Other than that, umm... personally, I kinda don't have a lot of ideas what to do for her face. :( Of course, body shape and figure suggestions/comments are also very appreciated!



As expected, I managed to eke out improvements in deformation of the crotch. This was accomplished, also as expected, through a combination of topology, shape, and skin weight painting through an iterative process encompassing about 30 or so trials. Fairly standard at this point. Kinda boring.

That's not to say it's perfect. There is at least a small handful of scenarios where this approach still has some problems, mostly with when the legs are standing together, but offset from one another. I didn't bother to dedicate a scrap to it because I expect it will be taken care of if I reduce the thigh circumference a bit. They kind of feel out of proportion to the rest of the body, anyhow. The only other problematic little is a thin crease that sometimes appears when the leg is stretch to stand very wide out. This is definitely a result of the chosen topology, but I was unable to alter the mesh in a way that would remove it without causing other, more significant, problems.

(if you like pseudo-medical jargon, especially anatomical directions, then you'll love this scrap's massive description!)

It would be nice if I could accomplish this without skin weight painting, but at least by this point I've systematized my approach and are lot better at judging what needs to be painted for a specific test and what doesn't. It makes it faster, but still quite tedious. I'm still quite loathed to do it too often, though.

Aside from that, I took some time to develop a handful more poses and run the first iterations of the socks/gloves and chest/mouth/tail shaders, which I'm now calling the dark marks and light marks shaders. Both are meant to be crude and simple placeholders for how I will eventually draw up the fur markings texture maps (and do not represent clothing articles.) Although I'm quite happy with the coloring of the dark marks, I am not so happy with the light marks. I originally wanted the light marks to be an orange-y hue, kind of like the lower two squares of this hideous old post. I am also still none too fond of the placement, either.



Details, details, details! I am all about the details! Maybe to the point of sometimes keeping me from making more progress on other things. Perhaps that is why output was so anemic this time.

I have problems with distractions, which generally leads to half-finished work. As this project has proceeded, I've gotten into the habit of combating this tendency by isolating my focus to particular areas of the model, such as arms, legs, or torso. It took a bit of tinkering to figure out where to cut off things. Really, there's no perfect cut-off; it's all connected, but the concept has been effective to a point. That point is determining when move on. Getting a feel for when I'm running up against diminishing returns has been a problem.

That point was probably last week.

That's not to say I'm not happy with the changes made this week. I really am glad I finally came up with something that made the knees feel "right." I took a shot at some changes to the thigh shape, and they did look more realistic, but the didn't deform quite right in certain poses and it was a bit more bland. I undid the changes, but did make some very minor adjustments. All in all, very little actual improvement.

Aside from that, I did a bit more experimentation with shading and color. The scrap above displays the only real difference on the application of the shader. The scrap below details the color alternates. Ultimately, I concluded the current coloring is the best choice for now. But, I rather like the alternates, so I'm keeping them in mind for future consideration.

As much as I'd like to come up with differentiating changes for the paws and hands, I think that ugly mug needs attention more. So, time to go back to the face!

A bit of research indicates the more common distinguishing marks of female furries may be eyelashes, thinner eyebrows, almond-shaped eyes, and long hair. Most of these aren't particularly applicable to mesh modelling, though...

So, first up, bringing Blythe in line with the late Rederick face improvements: nose ridge and forehead. I'm still very open to suggestions!



:neutral: Well... it's a start.

Change Log:
  • Forehead more sloped
  • Nose-bridge raised up a tad
  • Pulled up and out eye corners
  • Raised and shrank the protruding bit where the eyebrow are
  • Changed topology where the cheeks meet the eyesockets to make them stick out less
  • Made the cheeks a tad less bulge-y to help smooth features and give the face a slimmer look


And the poll results are... a 2-2 tie between Choice B and Choice C! Hmm, didn't see that one coming. Personally, I was rootin' for choice A. Would've saved me a lot of work :razz:

A big "Thank You!" to everybody who participated, and a special thanks to biozz and Maugryph for their comments!

As for which I'm actually going to go forward with, hmm I don't know. I actually like B the most, but C has some things going for it too. Now that I don't have to worry about introducing bias into the results, I can cover what the changes actually were:

(details covered in this scrap's description.)

A number of changes that were present in A, B, and C. The neck joints were moved to be parallel, bringing the head back. The back of the head was moved forward and edge loops ahead of the ears were combined, in effect shrinking the overall depth of the head. Most importantly, the eyebrows and cheeks were separated out from the temples and the ears which allows for greater flexibility in reshaping and positioning them. This also allowed me more space to pull back the far corners of the eyes and help keep the temples from bulging out the side of the eyes.

Differences between A, B, and C focused pretty much exclusively on the snout with C being the most different.

With the time set aside waiting for the poll to resolve, I developed a new teeth that would work for B or C. The biggest advancement in the downtime, however, was a Python script. I've mentioned it before, but Maya has MEL commands as well as Python-based PyMel. I decided to brush-up on my Python programming a bit and ended up creating a very important script. As you can see in the scrap above, all 3 have the same expressions. Now, because of the significant differences between them, simply applying the MEL scripts I used to save the facial expressions wasn't going to work. So, I came up with this Python script to read in the commands and transform their values based on a series of offsets created by comparing the default position values of the two face wire setups. There's more details in the scrap's description, but it basically lets me reuse my scripts to some degree, even with significant changes to the shape and topology!

It'll be a massive timesaver, make for better comparisons that will allow a greater range of experimentation, and I already am thinking of a number of other extended uses based around this concept! Stuff I've wanted to do for months, but haven't because of script compatibility are suddenly very doable!

As for the choice itself...

It's a tough choice. On the one hand, The higher-set muzzle of C is extremely common among many really well-made furry images. I had thought that this, admittedly crude, parallel would dominate the poll, but it only tied. On the other hand, there were only 4 votes and the curve-based implementation was clearly not a good idea.

I actually prefer B, not because it would be easier (it actually presents the same challenges as C, which are now basically nil because of my new Python script) but because all of my fox references seem to suggest the lower, smaller muzzle is the right direction.

...and I have a whole lot of references at this point :mrgreen:

For my tastes the flatter higher muzzle feels too much like a dog, rather than a fox, but it's clearly the more popular design, hence the conundrum. Had I done things more like Maugryph's comment described, I think it may have beaten B.

But, on the back-paw, the thing I really dislike the most about C is not the muzzle, but the way the positioning of the muzzle affects the rest of the face. It makes the neck look really big, the head a bit too small, and the jaw ends up angling upwards when closing. The only way I've found to alleviate these problems has been to make the snout massive, which I just don't like at all. Also, I really don't like the new nose I did on C.

On the other back-paw (how many appendages am I up to, now?) choice C can, under the right circumstances, look superior to choice B even in my eyes. A lot of that has to do with camera settings and positioning, as described in this scrap:

I think the proper response to the tie is to experiment with both a bit further. With my delightful new script, that should be much easier. I want to give the higher-muzzle C a fair shake because I feel like it is so close to something that even I would like 100% of the time. Maybe somewhere in between B and C, or even a rethinking of how I reach the muzzle positioning, will click with me. Regardless of which one won the poll, I knew there was plenty more work to do on the snout. The tie doesn't make things easier in that respect, but I do feel a sense of relief knowing that I don't have to feel obligated towards one design or the other.
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New Member
Your design is your design. That's the way I see it. It's pretty cool to have read through your progress with the model. (I work in Zbrush almost exclusively when I'm working with 3D.) So, my take on when I start a new model is to get a front view of the real animal I am trying to create and a side view. I begin sculpting based on those proportions and work it up until I have something that resembles what I want. (I barely post my 3D work just because there's seems to be a bit of a stigma towards it.) For the body I draw a front body and a side body and use zspheres to make my basic shape. Working up from that until I am able to transpose it the way I'd like it.

But I think it's all about style. Once you find a style you work well and quickly in you'll be great. If you want more humanish features on your model it's up to you. If you want to go completely toony that's up to you. I think it is all about how and what you feel comfortable with and what looks best in your eyes.

Keep going with it, because it looks great so far.


Your design is your design. That's the way I see it. It's pretty cool to have read through your progress with the model. (I work in Zbrush almost exclusively when I'm working with 3D.) So, my take on when I start a new model is to get a front view of the real animal I am trying to create and a side view. I begin sculpting based on those proportions and work it up until I have something that resembles what I want. (I barely post my 3D work just because there's seems to be a bit of a stigma towards it.) For the body I draw a front body and a side body and use zspheres to make my basic shape. Working up from that until I am able to transpose it the way I'd like it.

But I think it's all about style. Once you find a style you work well and quickly in you'll be great. If you want more humanish features on your model it's up to you. If you want to go completely toony that's up to you. I think it is all about how and what you feel comfortable with and what looks best in your eyes.

Keep going with it, because it looks great so far.

Thanks for the kind words and encouragement! :mrgreen:

Over the time I spent this week, I came to realize I actually like both of them, but under different circumstances. In portrait view, I prefer Choice B. In profile view, I like Choice C (or at least it's intent.) I think I've found a decent middleground that I like the most. It's not perfect in every situation, and it'll probably see more work.

Staring at the sloping snout for so long, I started to see just how low it looks, so I brought it up higher like choice C. Tinkering with that and looking over the straight-out snout highlighted how I had expanded the nose and flews to get that horizontal muzzle, so I ultimately didn't go for the flatter shape. The angle has been reduced a bit which pushed back in the slope of the nose-bridge some.

The result is fairly satisfactory. The only thing that still kind of bugs is that the head feels a bit too small, but only in certain views. Views like the big one of the bunch below. I think that might be solved by adding hair, though.

Aside from the face, I also did some work on the cheek topology to improve its deformation and make dealing with the corners of the mouth a bit better. As a side effect, the cheeks are puffy again. I also created a new script to copy over joint rotations from one hierarchy of joints to another, which helps speed up posing a bit. I'm probably going to spend at least another week tinkering with the face and neck, before moving back to the body. Those arm/shoulder areas are starting to bug me again and the breasts need a lot of work.


More face work! Further refinement of the topology around the connection between the flews and cheeks to make the edge flows curve up rather than continue straight. It's something I tried before, but I'm happier with it this time, largely because of improvements in the overall wire-deformer weight-painting for the cheeks and upper lips. The more gradual transition between the two improves deformation and, coupled with this and last weeks topology changes, removes a pretty much all of the remaining harsh angular shapes they could create (while retaining strong control over shape definition) for virtually all but unreasonable and ludicrous deformation.

Couldn't really come up with a good way to show off the difference, though. Even these images are difficult to differentiate in the cheek/flews connection area.

Thinking back, another thing I wanted to try was better expressiveness with the lips. In particular, I was intrigued by the idea of fuller lips for females. Although research indicated it was a good way to differentiate females in cartoons/drawings, I've noticed it's actually quite uncommon in furry works and especially rare in certain styles. It's interesting also that (outside of very human-like anthropomorphs) generally only the lower lip is puffed out and even then, only the front part roughly corresponding to where a human's lower lip would be, even if the mouth stretches back along the muzzle instead of being limited as a hole at the front of it.

In the past, I clung to the upper lip (especially in the front below the nose) for Rederick for a very long time. I no longer like the idea of that feature, but the lower lip continues to exist (greatly diminished), so I decided to try full lower lips but only at the front. And lipstick too, why not.

I'm actually rather pleased with the results. The lip doesn't clip (noticeably) and it actually does a good job of reducing the enlarged gap between the upper and lower lips that had grown during the snout revisions. The scrap above contains images of last week's revision, this week without the lip, and this week with lip. I like the lipstick applied only to the pout-y front lip, I think it helps emphasize the area is quite pleasant although it could use more of a lip-like texture. Still doesn't do a great job of selling that "kiss-y face", really only marginally better than Rederick's lips did. Maybe there's a way I could set up the upper lip of the front to situationally expand just for these sorts of poses. Or maybe I could devise a prosthetic upper lip for it :p

Aside from that (and another crack at the eye shadow color) there was quite a bit of work on the neck! Finally! Although deformation is still finicky, at least the shape has jumped in quality. Also did a few shader experiments after a gallery post of a happy accident with the shaders proved surprisingly popular. But, those experiments weren't particularly interesting or all revolutionary.


I didn't notice until earlier this week, but I actually started making these changes to the model version that doesn't have the lower lip. Oops. I guess I'll have to do that one again.

I made a minor tweak to remove the depression between the eyes, so that the wrinkle between the eyebrows doesn't extend down as far and make it look like the ridge defining the brow almost touches the nose. Hardly noticeable, but it was bugging me and went well along side experiments with alternate topology and shape for that area. I also tried creating a horizontal crease which defined the connection between the nose bridge and the forehead differently. But, none of those sorts of changes really looked any good for that area.

So, it's back to body work, staring with the breasts and general upper torso!

The breasts so the most dramatic changes both in shape and topology. Gone are the under-inflated-balloon-like shapes, in favor of something a bit more natural. They are roughly the same size, still. I tried them being smaller, based on a demo model I used for initial shape references. However, the smaller breasts didn't feel proportionate to the rest of Blythe's body, and looked especially weird when paired with the wide hips. The reference model also gave me ideas for topological improvements, but the reference was far too detailed and contained triangles and other topological features I'm working to avoid. All in all, the reference model provided an excellent means of making sense of the breast's volume in a way that my ample photo references just weren't able to convey.

I have produced two versions of the primary scrap:

(<-link is uncensored nsfw version) (clean version ->)

It turned out that nipples were the best way to avoid the awkward three-edge vertices that the older breasts had. Those tris (I think those are called tris, I forget again) have a tendency to make things look sharp and edge-like, which could cause problems with defining the smooth curvy shape of the breasts. But, the nature of the breasts and the edgeloops necessary to define them make the existence of a significant number of these tris unavoidable. Unlike the nipple-less version, the nipple-ed version can remove them from influencing the breast shape by incorporating them into the nipple itself. This works in our favor because the tris' influence on the smooth function actually serves to preserve the relatively hard-edged shape of the nipple and prevent it from looking more like a simple bump on the breasts. I included an edgeloop on the breast specifically for delineating the areola and retain shape during deformation, but I think I might still need one more edgeloop around the nipple.

Since I already was including nipples, I figured I'd give them a proper shader, too. This one is a simple MISSS fast skin shader with color values chosen based from analysis of photo references, especially those with bright rim lighting that draw out the sub-surface scattering colors of their subject's skin. The shader itself is quite basic and I will eventually explore a means of giving it a more natural or appealing look with texturing or something. Moving from nipple to non-nipple breasts is a very simple operation, so while future work will all occur on the nipple version, I will likely produce most or all the scrap images with the nipple-free look.

(technically nsfw)

The breasts also lead to a number of tweaks to skeleton's chest but more work is needed to get deformation right. I think more complex rigging is necessary to consistently move and deform the breasts properly. The breasts also led to changes in the clavicle area, its joints, as well as some topological shifts in the armpit/shoulder area. While I'm happy with the former's deformation, I am much less so with the latter. The arm connection is going to require much more work and likely more complex rigging too. It is losing volume when it twists certain ways. It will likely be the focus for a while as I work my way through various solutions I've researched so far.

I suspect this part will be what kills direct compatibility between Rederick and Blythe's skeletons, at least for these parts. That might not be a problem as it becoming increasingly likely that I'll be reworking Rederick again after Blythe to incorporate a lot of her underlying improvements. That said, I also have a number of ideas bubbling in the back of my head for a new python script to greatly expand upon the compatibility script I build for translating between the face wires. This new script would be for operating on the saved mel scripts, doing things like extracting out only parts of the model I want to affect (for example, taking a fully body script and only running the parts that deal with the legs.) Other uses could be to better atomize these mass script operations and move away from storing as mel to something more flexible and easily scripted. It'd be the perfect candidate for getting some experience building custom Maya UI elements!

So many ideas! Things to try, experiments to run, tools and techniques to learn! Ah, if only I had more time...