As requested, here is some behind the scenes of my realistic wolf. I’m thinking I might do a fur tutorial on my Youtube channel as people seem very interested in how I achieved it.
Right, time for some explaining. Please note the viewport fur doesn’t display all the children.
The model is a sculpt I made that I then retopologized. I tweaked it a lot, in particular the face as I wasn’t too sure if I should try to get the shape with the model or if I should do it with different lengths of fur. In the end I decided it would be more realistic to do it with the fur, which is why the model looks rather thin and weird.
There are 8 particle systems all together as fur is not the same over the body. It has different thicknesses and density’s. It also helped me to break it down into sections instead of tackling all the fur at once. I have a folder on my computer full of photos of wolves that I’ve collected from the internet which was my reference.
Above is an early test render. I thought I would include it so you can see how the fur is without any textures. The key to the realism was perfecting the blend between the particle systems and making it feel like one mass body of fur. That was the most time consuming bit.
Video reference was also very helpful. I watched a few wolf documentaries to get a feel for how these animals move as it helped me see things that the photos did not.
Density was a big thing. I wanted many fine hairs to help it to look like soft fur and not like thick hair or wire. There are 300’000 hairs on the muzzle alone. I optimized my scene a lot to help with the render times by disabling unnecessary settings and lowering many others. I also kept the shaders simple which always helps.
I would recommend that anyone doing realistic fur spends 90% of the time looking at photos and 10% actually making the CGI version. The photos tell you what you need to do, how thick it needs to be, what length, what color. Because once you understand how the real thing works, recreating it is much easier.
EDIT Here’s a video of me explaining it -> https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bcCuUBIiI1I