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Tikus the Swift
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Tikus the Swift

Rui Rou Teo
by ruirou on 23 May 2020

An overall breakdown on Tikus the Swift, a jerboa mount for the Blizzard Student Art Contest 2020.

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This is for the Blizzard Student Art Contest, it took about 2 months on and off. Super honored for Tikus to be chosen as the winner for the character category amongst so many great entries!

"Introducing Tikus the Swift! It lives in the deserts of Vol'dun in Zandalar alongside the Vulpera. Tikus's long hind legs make traversing the harsh deserts fast and easy, therefore making it a popular mount for scavengers. Tikus is a herbivore but its favorite food is cheese."

This was the original submission for the contest. I rendered Tikus in Maya with the ambient color dialed up, I didn't do any lighting. 

This is an updated version of Tikus after feedback. This is rendered in Marmoset toolbag with the standard 3 point lighting setup. 

A few friends and I got together to rig Tikus and animate him for the Spring Show at AAU. We didn't get in but it was a really fun experience! 

Breakdown process behind Tikus! 

Here are some sketches of Tikus. I hadn't played WOW before but I really liked the variety of mounts that they have in the game. I didn't want to make a full character because I didn't want to bite off more than what I can chew, so I decided to make a mount. After looking through the mounts in the game, I decided on a jerboa because there weren't a lot of rat-looking mounts in the game and because the animal itself already looks like it came out of a fantasy world. 

I envisioned Tikus as a scavenger-type mount used by bandits and scavengers because of how fast it is and how it can maneuver through harsh environments. I referenced Chocobos and Tauntauns for the type of equipment they will carry, and also the hyena mounts from WOW for the patterns and color combos.

These sketches weren't meant to be the final concept for Tikus, but as a guideline for a base. 

After some feedback, I decided to add the rod with dangling cheese to add a story / comedic element to it. While jerboas don't eat cheese, I like to think that Tikus dug through a bag of cheese that the Vulperans stole and it got hooked.

After this, I baked the AO, curvature, and world space normal map in Substance Painter and used that as a base before I started hand-painting the textures. I mainly used Photoshop to texture mainly because I wanted to use some of the texture brushes in PS that I was familiar with, and I felt like I have more control in Photoshop over Substance in terms of hand-painting. I used Substance Painter to cover up the UV seams and also to use the world space normal map to apply an overall gradient to the model. 

These are some draw-overs of different clasps. Halfway through texturing, I realized that I didn't like how the triangle clasp holding the ropes together looked from far, it created a lot of visual clutter in the inner silhouette.  In the end, I went with the diamond-shaped one because it looked cleaner. 

I also added a hook to the rod for a better read. Initially I had the rope tied around the cheese but it covered up the cheese too much and it didn't look good. 

The end result after this step is the one in the original submission sheet. 

Here are the updated textures as seen in Maya's viewport. Some changes I made: 

- Less contrast: In my original entry, the highlight values on the model were almost white and it made the overall model look overexposed. The shadows were too dark also. 

- Better fur: I brushed out the outlines of the fur to blend some of the fur clumps together and added some shadows to the individual fur clump for volume. I also changed the direction of the fur flow on the arms to make it look cleaner and more readable. 

- I went a little too heavy-handed on the details so I brushed out some of them, like the bedrolls and saddle.  

The grass and rocks were from another project that I reused. 


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