African Elephant

by RabbitMacht in Models


The African Elephant is a 3D model made in Blender 2.79 that forms part of a series of African Savannah inhabitants. This product has a wide variety of applications as it includes realtime and high resolution models. The model is both rigged and animated using Deer Rigger, which is a modified version of Rigify for Quadrupeds.

The product consists of,

  • 4k Color Texture, with Masks
  • Non-overlapping UV's
  • Realtime Model made-up of 2144 Faces
  • High Resolution Sculpt model
  • Rig
  • Active Modifier stack
  • Animated walk cycle
  • Cycles Material Node Network


The African Elephant product consists of several files,

  • elephant_realTime.blend : A realtime, low poly version of the elephant consisting of approximately 2k polys and non-overlapping UV's.
  • elephantSculpt.blend : High resolution sculpted elephant consisting of approximately 400k polys.
  • elephant_walk.blend : Rigged and animated elephant, with an active modifier stack that's ready to render for Cycles.
  • elephant_walk_sim.blend : Rigged and animated elephant, with an active modifier stack including Soft Body for a dynamics simulation.
  • elephants4kColor.png : Color channel texture map in 4K.
  • elephants4kEarMask.png : SSS channel Mask in 4K.
  • elephants4kTuskMask.png : Oren-Nayar channel Mask in 4K.
  • elephants4kNormal.png : Normal map baked from sculpt in 4K.
  • elephant_realtime.obj : 3D mesh for compatibility with other software.
  • elephant_realtime.mtl : Material file for OBJ.


The African Elephant product now consists of several new updates,

    Consisting of a better Node Network for rendering with Cycles and updated animation for a better walk-cycle all within a new Blend file. The zip also consists of improved 4K texture maps and a new setup that makes working with variable Levels Of Detail (LOD), simpler than ever!

Technical Details

The realtime model is lite enough to be used in games and apps. Whereas the high resolution model can be used for cinematic close-up to wide shots.
The scene is setup such that all animation is performed on the realtime model, this information is then propagated to the high resolution model. No further setup is required by the user. 

Visualization of high resolution data within the 3D viewport is made possible through the Subdivision Surface and Shrinkwrap Modifiers. This technique does not compromise on system performance during animation. Systems matching Blender's minimal specs, will be able to utilize the realtime model but could struggle with the high resolution version. All other recommended spec (and higher) systems for Blender are fully compatible with the product.

Animation Setup

The animation file (elephant_walk.blend) consists of a particular setup with both realtime and high resolution meshes within the same scene. Regardless of the final output be that, realtime applications to high quality cinema, interaction, editing, animation and rendering is always performed on the realtime model. 

It's subsequently best to leave the high resolution model on a hidden layer during animation and use the setup detailed below to control LOD. This will also improve system performance.

  1. The realtime model is setup to subdivide (through the Subdivision surface Modifier) at rendertime. Increasing subdivisions here will allow the realtime model to more closely match the look of the sculpted model.
  2. Vertices generated through subdivision will match surface points of the high resolution, sculpted model through the Shrinkwrap Modifier. 
  3. Deformation is then performed on the model through the Armature modifier. 
  4. Dynamic, secondary animation can be baked into the model with the Soft Body modifier. Visualization of this modifier within the 3D viewport is by default, disabled.

The African Elephant comes equipped with this configuration and no further setup is required to render the elephant in a walk-cycle. Just open the file set your render destination and render the animation. 

Four layers are in use within the scene, 

  • Layer [0] has the high resolution sculpt mesh, 
  • Layer [10] has the realtime mesh, 
  • Layer [14] has the armature, 
  • Layer [19] has widgets required by the armature. 

Of these layers 10 and 14 (consisting of the realtime model and armature) are most significant for animation, editing and rendering. Other layers are more closely related to scene setup.

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