Epic Games has released the project files for its new ‘Meerkat’ demo, along with two nice breakdowns showing how VFX studio Weta Digital used Unreal Engine 4.26’s hair and fur tools to create the characters.
The free download includes rigged and animated versions of the two characters – a meerkat and an eagle – plus the original Maya files, textures and materials.
A charming photorealistic CG short created to test Unreal Engine’s new fur tools
Created to test the new hair and fur tools in Unreal Engine 4.26, ‘Meerkat’ shows a young meerkat surviving a brush with death at the claws of a hungry eagle.
Weta Digital modelled the two CG creatures in Maya and created their fur and feathers in Peregrine Labs’ Yeti plugin, importing the grooms to Unreal Engine as Alembic files.
The photorealistic 90-second short was then shaded, lit and rendered in Unreal Engine.
You can see Weta’s art staff explaining how they tackled the project in the video above, and read Epic Games’ own fairly detailed making-of article on its blog.
Download the rigged and groomed CG creatures as Unreal Engine and Maya files
The project files, which are available to download for free, includes the two rigged and groomed CG creatures: both inside Unreal Engine, and the original Maya files and textures.
Both should hold up well for offline use: Molly the meerkat herself was groomed with 400,000 hair strands, while the eagle ended up with over 3.7 million strands for its feathers.
The Unreal Engine project also includes the environment for the short, which was created using Megascans assets, plus the cameras, effects and audio.
System requirements and licence conditions
The Meerkat Demo project file is compatible with Unreal Engine 4.26. It’s licensed for commercial use, although only in Unreal Engine-based projects.
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