Urraca Bird


This is the Urraca Bird I worked on for the short film production Accidents, Blunders and Calamities.

It’s actually a Eurasian Magpie that was named a Urraca bird for the sake of alphabetical order. I used Maya to create the base model and Zbrush to create maps for finer details on the legs. A lot of research was then done to understand how a birds wing folds and how the feathers interact when this folding action takes place. I then had to lay out the base primary flight and tail feathers which were made from geometry that would be used to get a base positioning. Then an auto rigger was used to create the wing feather geo that I had to use to create the texture maps for the feathers that contained an alpha channel so the feather geo could be kept extremely basic. I worked closely with the rigger of the model to ensure the wing folding system would work correctly with the feathers that I would be creating.

I then had to create a reflective property for the surface shader of the feathers that would fake the iridescence of the Magpies feathers. I found a research paper which gave me the exact wave lengths of the types of colours that became more reflective for the different feathers. This resulted in the tail feathers reflecting more green and the wing feathers reflecting more blue.

Then a method to cover the body with finer feathers had to be devised. The other furry creatures on ABC were using Yeti fur using quite a standard method to create the groomed fur look. Originally I devised a system using Yeti that would allow for controllable placement for individual geometry planes that would then be textured to look like feathers. This was similar to the idea behind the bigger flight feathers however it was not providing us with a fine enough result to the real life counterpart. Instead we decided to go with plain Yeti fur much like the other furry animals which provided a much finer result. The larger feathers were still used on the wings to create the covert covers for the wing feathers.



Lighting | Conrad Crooks
Rig | David Ayling
Animation | Luke Prior
Comp | Peter Jansen