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Meet Mat 3001: A Space Red Panda
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Meet Mat 3001: A Space Red Panda

In the distant future, a red panda named Dave flies through the vastness of space with his state-of-the-art spacesuit, navigating strange planets and galaxies with unmatched agility.

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Update - 12 Jan 2024

Final Renders (Iray)

Here are the final Iray renders rendered straight out of Substance Painter. In the final stage, I made some changes to the helmet and added more details to the overall model.

I am glad that I decided to participate in this contest. I learnt, practised a lot with Substance Painter and had fun during the process. It is interesting to look back at the early stage to see how the initial concept has transformed into a fully textured character. I also challenged myself in a lot of ways and tried out new workflows that I had never used before.

Additional Renders (Arnold)

I exported the textures and brought them into Maya to render additional shots with Arnold.


All the channels. I screen captured these through the viewport in Substance Painter.


From start to finish.

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Update - 8 Jan 2024

Details update

I added the first layer of surface imperfections to the model except the shoes and base. I will continue to work on those areas. Once I finish the first layer, I will start to build more layers of details to the areas that are needed.

A few test shots for the additional renders. All rendered with Arnold.

Update - 6 Jan 2024

Progress update

Now the deadline is extended, I can spend more time working on the details of this character. The height map detailing is basically done and I will start working on the micro details from now on. I believe I will finish it in a couple of days.

Channel-based layering

I also want to share the workflow that I am using in this project. Since the project is highly based on masking, most of the height details are driven by the masks I created. Therefore the layer stack begins with the masks and then the height channel. After that, I can generate the normal channel from height with the "Height To Normal" filter. Both of these channels will be used later in the generators for micro details. After building a set of channels for the base material, another set of channels for the micro details/imperfections is created. That way I can separate the base material and the surface imperfection, and stay organised during the painting process.

Update - 3 Jan 2024

Daily update

The base is finished. I will now focus on the fabrics and then the surface imperfections.

Update - 2 Jan 2024

First update in 2024

I am working on the foundation of the fabrics and the base. Later I will start adding interesting details, such as dirt, dust, and scratches.

Update - 1 Jan 2024

Last update in 2023

I added more details to the hard surface area, fixed some masking issues and drafted the areas for fabrics. I will work on the fabrics and the base starting next year.

Below are all the masks on this red panda. (It reminds me of cryptomatte.)

Update - 29 Dec 2023

Spacesuit update

I returned to my project after taking a few days off over the Christmas period and felt refreshed. I spent some time adding more details to the hard surface parts of the spacesuit. I aim to finish all the hard surface areas of the spacesuit within one to two days, after which I will begin working on the fabric part of the spacesuit.

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Update - 22 Dec 2023

Colour & height maps update

I made several updates to the spacesuit including adding new details, fixing some areas in the old version, and adding colours as a guide. The next step would be creating the clean material (without the smudges and scratches) of the model.

Update - 20 Dec 2023

Colour & height maps update to the face

I added colour and height details to the face. Initially, I tried to look for copyright-free fur textures online for the height map, but I couldn't find one that suited my character. Fortunately, I discovered that the pattern I needed was on a kitchen towel. I converted the image to black and white and imported it into Substance Painter to do the painting. For the base colour, I used the built-in fur brush and drew details by referencing the images collected before. Finally, I created the micro details on the nose using Voronoi noise.

Update - 19 Dec 2023

Height map update

Just a small update on "sculpting" the model inside Substance Painter.

Update - 17 Dec 2023

Height map update

I have added more details to the displacement and determined the basic shape of various props on the spacesuit. During the process, I used the new 3D path tool extensively to create masks. This tool is amazing and makes the entire process non-destructive. In the coming days, I will continue to add more details and aim to start adding colours soon.

Update - 13 Dec 2023

Height map update to the face

I have completed the initial stage of the red panda's face by sculpting the high poly model using ZBrush and have it baked to the original model in a separate file. The generated height map was imported back to the main project file and applied to the model. The next step is to create the basic shapes of the details on the spacesuit that the red panda wears. I can't wait to add some fur details to his face! But first, I need to finalize all the basic shapes. It's going to look amazing once it's all done!

Update - 11 Dec 2023

Initial Idea

I am interested in challenging myself by creating an animal character, and I think this contest is the perfect opportunity to do so. I also want to create something related to space, so an animal character in a spacesuit is the idea. As you may already discover, the classic sci-fi movie 2001: A Space Odyssey is the initial inspiration. However I do not want to replicate it completely, so I decided to make the spacesuit more "futuristic" and modern.


Dave is one of the selected animals for space exploration, an intelligent-enhanced red panda. He enjoys exploring extreme environments and fighting space creatures. The multi-purpose spacesuit he wears offers him a range of capabilities including life support, communication, weapons, food and enhanced mobility.