Category Archives: Praying Mantis

I do Wah Lum Tam Tui Northern Praying Mantis Kung Fu so creating a mantis was a natural choice. The mantis should provide some interesting rigging and modeling as well as texturing. With the multiple multi-jointed arms and legs, detailed spikes it should be a interesting build.


Mantis 2014

I finally got back around to working on the mantis again. This time with a more specific use in mind which helped to keep things moving along.

I switched from zbrush to mudbox and so I lost some of the more detailed sculpting I had done on it.

Here are a bunch of pictures of various points through out the process.

Here is an early paint test to see if the UV layout would work.


Here is the painting pose in mudbox. This pose made it easier to get at all of her body to paint.


Mudbox is pretty is a great tool, besides sculpting it lets you paint on the model as well. Here is an example of using a stencil to paint on the model.


Here are some early test renders of the initial paint job. The lighting is pretty simple but gives it a good look.

mantisMantis1 Mantis2

The following pictures are from inside of maya.


This one is the very start of the animation when she is still off camera getting ready to jump in.maya_1 maya_2

Here is the mantis’s skeleton. Her rear legs use Inverse Kinematics and her antenna are rigged as soft bodies to respond to the animation automatically. So they wiggle and wobble naturally as she moves about.


This shows the wireframe of the mesh. She is pretty low resolution. I do add some subdivision surfaces before rendering but right now there are no displacement maps. Eventually I would like to sculpt her more adding a lot more detail to the mesh.


I rendered her out to several layers and I was able to render her new antenna out in a later pass and then composite them back in. This saved a lot of time.  The mantis and logo took around 4 hours to render for 200 frames or about 8 seconds of video. The antenna rendered in about 20 min.

Here is the final render and composite with some basic color correction.


You can check out some earlier versions of the animations here as well.

First animation pass

Second animation pass

Third animation pass

And the final animation render after a new paint job


Mantis Test Animation

I finished his leg and decided to do a little test animation.


(whoops noticed his arm goes through his head at one point, its just a test, still needs a real animation rig)

6 Million dollar man-tis

So I set about to rebuild my mantis, better, stronger, faster. I was happy with my initial model so I just needed to break it up into separate pieces.

This made since, most insects use some kind of articulated arms and having a single mesh doesn’t work well. Way to much work when skinning, the joints don’t flex and stretch like skin in most cases.

Plus this would actually make animating much easier since each piece is basically rigid and doesn’t really need to be skinned (hopefully).

Here are some images of me dissecting the contiguous model and reworking it to be segmented. I have colored the different segments to make it more obvious where the joints are.


One more leg to go then it will be ready to send to ZBrush for a initial sculpting pass.




Initial Model

So I started the mantis model in a similar fashion to JB by building a polygon cage for him. Having more experience I did have better placement of my edge loops and basic topology.


But I ended up keeping the model all together as a single mesh which I later learned from our modeler at work is a general no no for insects.



Modified his pose now to make getting to areas easier in ZBrush. And gave him some green coloring.


Mirrored and ready for ZBrush.


The next post will talk about dissecting him in to a segmented version.

Praying Mantis

I started doing Wah Lum Tam Tui Northern Praying Mantis Kung Fu in 2008. I have really enjoyed all that it has to offer from the look into the Chinese culture to the body and mind draining workouts. (Kung Fu – basically means hard work)
So after getting back to modeling again and working on JB and Buddy the manatees, I wanted to create a mantis character that I could animate doing some Kung Fu.
Plus the school has produced a movie on the life of Grandmaster Pui Chan  which has helped motivate me to get back to work on my portfolio.