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Chocobo - the Final Fantasy bird

Chocobo - the Final Fantasy bird

Marta Cavalleri
by martacavalleri on 31 May 2024 for Rookie Awards 2024

Hello there, I'm Marta Cavalleri, and for this the rookies award I'm submitting my latest personal project, done at Side Academy, in Verona. In this post, I'll walk you through the breakdown of how I made the wonderful Chocobo, the well-known flightless bird from the Final Fantasy saga.

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Chocobo - the Final Fantasy bird

Hello everyone, welcome to my 2nd-year-project I made the last four months in Side Academy. It was a pretty troubled journey, but in the end I think I've made a reasonable piece of work. Please keep in mind that this is my very first full project, from modeling simple spheres into a simil hen to the final renders of everything put together.  Hope you enjoy it as much as I did! 


I started the project by collecting a multitude of references online, obviously about flighless birds.

As you can see I found some pictures of the chocobo and his many designs, but also I had to study real birds, such as eagles and hawks, their peculiarities and of course the gear. The chocobo is, in fact, a flighless and rideable bird in the Final Fantasy saga.


First and foremost, I started with the modeling part in Zbrush. By it being my very first creature, nay, my very first bird, it wasn’t as easy as I thought to sculpt it. After all, I ended up with a pretty good blocking, that was immediately followed by the refine part. 

Uv - Retopology

This part was the ugliest. I’m not the biggest retopology fan honestly, and with a lot of help by my wonderful tutor Alyssa Rossiano, I found the right way to make the loops match each other, and I made sure to not end up with Ngones anywhere. The only sure thing about this is that I need to practise a lot more on how to make a good retopology fast and easy.

Nothing bad to say about the uv’s because I actually like to cut them open, that’s all :)

All of this on Maya


The details were probably my favourite thing to sculpt. As everything I did in this project, It wasn’t easy, of course, but I’ve had a lot of fun adding details and even more details each day. The body part that I’m most proud of are the feet, which became even a lot better in the next step.


The texturing slice was the most entertaining. You should try it to understand it, but adding even more details to your sculpt is extremely satisfying. It’s not only about colors, It’s about shades and variations of roughness, and to make realistic textures, there’s the mandatory need to research and analyze a lot of different references. Only by doing that I was able to reach, in my opinion, a huge level of truthfulness in my textures, especially for the feet. For this part I used Substance Painter.

As a reference for the feet, I took as an example the greatest HeeDo Park on artstation.


Leaving the texture behind us, we’re approaching the grooming hutch of this project. This was the most thought of part, because the feathers are no joke. A few of them, the biggest, are meshes while the others all round the body are made on Houdini, which I really like as a software. For this process we, me and my tutors, decided to use the normal grooming workflow, and to add different kinds of clumps to give the idea of little feathers.

It became really easy for me to groom on said program, It felt almost way too easy, that I’ve made them and re-made them a huge amount of time :)

After Houdini, for the renders I’ve imported everything on Maya and used Arnold to obtain beautiful images of my work. 



Here we are at the end of my project. It was mentally challenging, but in the end, I’ve made it, and I’m tremendously proud of what I got from these four months of hard work.

I would love to thank all of my classmates that helped me along this journey and everybody else at Side Academy.

Hope you enjoyed it as much as I did :)

Side Academy Valeria Niculita Alyssa Rossiano Riccardo Meneghello

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