Fire : Learning to Burn

In the plan for our short, the wolf was originally going to be comprised entirely of smoke and electricity, however after looking into how to do that, we quickly decided to simply have it emit some smoke and flame.

It took several attempts before we realized that this was an unfeasible goal to add in the time we had, especially as a team of two with a wide spread of work to do.

The tests initially started simple, adding some smoke and flame to the eyes of the characters to make them appear more threatening.

After a lengthy series of tests and practices, I eventually figured out how to graft the smoke to the geometry of the characters so that it moved with them.

This however, created a different problem.


In shots where the wolf moved, the smoke effect came off blocky and thick, rather than the whispy aesthetic I was going for. When static, it worked fine, aside from a few glitches.

Rendering the successful ones also sometimes created this problem.

This mainly occured with Zync, and was supposedly due to issues with caching the particle effect history, however no matter what tutorials I followed and attempts I made to correct this, I could not get Zync to render the particles properly and without issue.


This was what the above images looked like when static, and as you can see, despite all 3 having identical sky-boxes and light set ups, the results could not be more different when rendered through Zync or a different computer.

This inconsistency then drove me towards Paint Effects, and attempting to create the fire and smoke using that.

Needless to say, it had mixed results.


Generally, the paint effects looked good, but didn’t necessarily fit the aesthetic of the film – and as they rendered fully 2D, without existing transparency – it was hard to get a visualisation pre-composition of how it might look.

Image converted using ifftoany

As it stood, it’s impossible to tell how this would look in the scene – however the results were more shocking when comped together.


Whilst certain terrifying, and very close to the aesthetic we wanted – the wolf seemed to lose all definition as to what it was when we covered it in flame.

Additionally, the sheer amount of compositing that would need done for this, the hawk and the snake proved to be quite excessive.

Given these factors, we decided to keep the smoke and flame effects to a minimum, using them sparsely to accentuate danger through after effects.

This tutorial was interesting, and in an ideal world, we’d have liked our film to feature effects like this on the characters. – However, as you can see, even creating a simple static effect took time – and replicating this through dozens of shots on a moving creature proved… troublesome at best.

This was the idea of how we could go about doing the shot in which the wolf disintegrates into smoke, using a combination of render layers and effects to have it disappear.

As can be seen here, most of the smoke effects we ended up using were simple ambient pieces, with the occasional piece of particle effects around the eyes and mouth, like shown at the beginning of this post.

Rigging Revised : Wolf Corrections

This will be the shortest of these Rigging Revised Posts, as the Wolf didn’t require much revision beyond the addition of more controls, and improved paintweights, as can be seen in the film.

Like the Rabbit, the Wolf suffered some stretching issues that were fixed with an additional two ‘anchor’ joints, which were driven by controls in the legs to help fix unsavory deformation.




Retop & Rigging : The Wolf.

To take some of the load off Anna and I, Kerry McCormick offered to sculpt the wolf for us, so that I only had to Re-Top and rig it at the end. After a short back and forth, I got the final version of her Sculpt.

Screenshot 2018-01-21 17.56.22

I then retopologised this into a version that could be unwrapped and rigged.

Screenshot 2018-01-21 17.56.45.png

Having retopologised it, I then had to move on and rig the wolf, following a similar pattern as to how I rigged the rabbit, the convenience of them both being quadrupeds.

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Snarling Wolves

Initially our colourboard would have used real wolves, but real wolves lacked the nightmarish colourscheme we wanted, and so we switched to concept art and abstract-ism.

Fortunately, we not had lots of wolf images to draw from, a handful of which included nice clear images of snarling wolves. As this would be the primary expression for the wolf in our animation, I figured it would serve well to post them.

The first thing that is apparent is that the nose and the teeth become the most prominent parts, with a large mane of rough and the eyes becoming more like small beacons against the furrowed brow. A good thing to keep in mind when it comes to designing and modelling the creature.

Colourboard : Wolf


Finding images of wolves comprised of either intense shadow, ash or light was pretty difficult – not due to the lack of content, but the wading through excessive amounts of poor renderings and depictions in the form of DeviantArt ‘OCs’. Fortunately, the excess of those meant that the good references were indeed very good.

I assembled the images into a spread of varying colours, and then created my colourboard from that, trying to create a fragmented set of tones that would reflect the fragmentation of the antagonist.


We ended up with a nice range of colours, mostly deep greys and reds, with some blue and green tints to act as highlights against the skyline. Hopefully, this palette works well for us. Time will tell.