I've thought a lot about how to go over my particular way of "painting" wolves with Sasquatch's Fur Simulation. And as much as I'd love to have a kind of lead-you-by-the-hand, "Bob Ross," "Happy Little Wolf" kind of session, I'm afraid that there's no way for me to explain all the reasons behind the decisions, without ending up with the tutorial being more than one-hundred pages.
So, this exploration assumes that you already know the Tools that Sasquatch has to offer, that you've read and understood my previous tutorial, (The Discerning Wolf,) on how animal fur is created by Layers of different kinds of Fur, that you understand UV Mapping and that you have a model of your own, ready for Furring.
What follows is simply the method that works for this one Artist, at the time of this writing. With you as a fellow, educated Artist who has already learned the basics of Draftsmanship, Anatomy, Color Theory and etc., I offer these ways of working the manner of "Steel Sharpening Steel." You must take what you see here and extract what will work for You, (bearing fully in mind that this will be in a constant state of change and evolution.)
After the basics are learned, (outside of a Production Environment,) it is simply not possible to have a "Right" or a "Wrong" about anything Artistic. The more we educate ourselves as Artists, the more our own personal visions become subjective. As capable Artists, our Subconscious becomes more and more a part of our completed works, imbuing subtle emotional commentaries into the pieces that are, in the end, the real Magic speaks to the Souls of the Viewers.
There is no such thing as a work that is "Perfect for all time." There is only the work that is the "perfect" expression of where the Artist is at the moment. Once this is understood and accepted, then real progress can be made.
I find there's two things that "battle it out," in any Artistic endeavor: what's "Right" and What Works. Artists are always having to "create commentaries" about what they see in "the real world," in order that they make an Emotional Connection with their Audience! Even such a Direct Representation as a Photograph tells a story about the point-of-view of the Artist who took the photo, (what did s/he choose to have in the picture, what was left out, etc.)
What you see in figure 1 is what is under my current generation of wolves. It is a blending of a knowledge of anatomy, first-hand experience with the wolves that I am honored to know, my own personal stylistic choices drawn from a lifetime of cartooning, and my experience of "manhandling" things LightWavian to get the desired result from the software.
What you won't see in figure 1 is the exact representation of what the skin and musculature system of a wolf actually looks like "in real life." I've pushed-things-around to get the results I want in a Final Render of Sasquatch Fur grown from a Lightwave "Skin."
I've found that I get the results I want in the Final Render by making some changes to what is "real." For instance, I've found I get the best Sasquatch results with the flexible, expressive neck of a wolf by making the LightWave Skin take up more volume than it does in "real life," leaving the Fur shorter in this area. This gives me results that are more to my liking when bending the wolf's neck around in an Animation.
So in the neck of the wolf in figure 1, you'll find a lot of the volume that would be the wolf's Ruff actually taken up by the skinned model itself!
Another thing I've played with is the way the shoulder and upper-arm "attach" to the torso. This is a tricky area because of how much a real wolf's skin almost floats over the bone-and-muscle structures that move so fluidly beneath it. Without getting into Rotation-Driven Morph-Targets, (which I admire, but do not enjoy creating,) I have the best looking results by replacing a lot of the mass of the "Barrel" of the Chest with long Fur that blends the forms of the arms and torso. This results in a much easier process of Point Weighting for the extreme Poses wolves move through so naturally.
Something that should also be clear by looking at Figure 2 is that while the wolf is Realistic, she is not "locked" into Realism. There are many, subtle areas in which I have used "Artistic License" to comment about a wolf, rather than exactly re-create a Wolf. Even in this rigid, "root" Pose, you can see the subtle exaggerations of Iconic Elements that predominate my work.
These subtle deviations from "reality" are my personal choices. They encompass and define my Artistic Point of View. You must explore, (both within and without,) and find where your own Artistic Statements lay.
The Weight Map that controls the Fur Length for my wolf.
The first thing I do when actually Furring, is to work on the Fur's Length. (Once I have a Silhouette that begins to feel successful, I find I can get the shading correct much more quickly.)
Now, some people prefer to paint UV Texture Maps to control things like Fur Length, I find I work best with a Weight Map. (It's just personal preference, and using the techniques discussed in the "Map Exchange" tutorial you can easily switch back-and-forth between UV and Weight Maps for controlling Fur Length, Clumping and the like.)
Getting the fur's length to be what you'd like is an iterative process; noodling values in both Sasquatch and Modeler until the result satisfies you. It is a great help to surround yourself with photographs of the kind of animal you're Furring, seen from as many different angles and poses as possible!
Remember to use multiple Instances of Sasquatch controlled by different Weight Maps to sculpt the different kinds of Fur that exists on a wolf! (Long, stiff, Guard Hairs don't "Clump" the same as the softer, shorter Undercoat.)
In figure 4, you also see that there is an Instance of Sasquatch applied only to Polygons with the Surface name, Whiskers. These are small, transparent Polys that lay along the "Whisker-Lines" of the muzzle and brow-ridges. With a high Coarseness and a low Density on this Surface-Specific Instance, Sasquatch grows the opaque, distinctive "sensor-hairs."
Here you can see the two UV Maps I use for the Wolf's Fur Coloring. (Yes, I know, were this for a video game, Designers would throw a fit; there's so much "empty space!" But with desktop-system RAM being now as inexpensive as it is, Texture space is a luxury I let myself indulge in when I can.)
The Grayscale Image (from figure 5, seen here as well) is what I use to control the distribution of Salt (White) and Pepper (Black-Tipped) Guard Hairs. Using a low number in the Skew Color to Tip setting makes just the Tips of the Guard Hairs receive the color assigned to the Tip color-swatch above. (See "The Discerning Wolf" tutorial for a more detailed exploration of Wolf Fur construction and settings.)
Looking at the larger version of the Image in figure 5, you'll see some fairly defined spots, banding and stripes. This may seem extreme, but when the Fur itself is "grown," these markings becomes much more diffused, giving the suggestion of patterning, (see the "Splash Image" and figures 2 and 8). Don't be afraid to experiment with intense patterning in your "Salt-and-Pepper Control Image," the more Tangle, you have in your Fur's settings, (under the Styling Tab,) the more the "sharpness" of this Texture Map will "soften" in the actual, Rendered Fur. (I use a Tangle setting of 12% for my wolves.)
The Color Image, is used with Sasquatch's standard Color Image Mapping to add color, both to the Undercoat, and to the lighter Guard Hairs. (Sasquatch's Mapping Tab seems to work like a Photoshop "Multiply," darkening the Color assigned by the "Salt and Pepper" settings with Color Image Map and/or Vertex RGBA Color Map.)
And the rest is just the age-old process of "stepping back" from your work, evaluating, and adjusting. (Here, using Digital Fusion to add some atmospheric and lens-based softness to the Final Render.)
Having good, ample reference material is part of the Key to success, but just as important is the ability to "turn things on-end," and try things you might not "normally" try, (this is the distillation of Creativity, plain and simple). Where you persist, you will succeed!
Sasquatch's true power is the power of Mathematics itself! Remember always, you can not control every single fibre!
With Sasquatch, exactly as with the most moving paintings, the most powerful Magic happens when you let the Mathematics do what it does best, like the pools of water and pigment that create far more complexity than a single, human focus can ever hope to contain!
Hold strongly but lightly to the feeling you wish to evoke within your audience, and let the rest fall into place!