Gotta go fast! My Sonic voxel model

TL;DR: A model of everyone’s favorite hedgehog, and this time with a peek at my creative process.

It’s been two weeks since I last made my first 3D model. I loved it, and I am back for more.

This time around I want to focus more on the creative part of my model and less on the technical part.

Since I am still doing my first models, I am basing myself in 2D sprites of characters that I love. It so happens that a few days ago I had the chance to reminisce about my favorite childhood characters with a colleague. For those who don’t know there are two kind of people in the world. Those who love Sonic and those who prefer Mario. The former are clearly better people.

Due to that, I have decided to make a Sonic, the Hedgehog in voxels. For me, the first thing to do when doing such a model is to search for good sprites to base the model upon. While looking for sprites you want to find frames where the character is in natural stances, and as close as possible to orthogonal views.

Here are some examples of good and bad sprites:

Front view is better than diagonal view

It might not be obvious at first while a front view is better than a diagonal, but to put it simply, in the first one you can see that the model is about 20 pixels wide and 40 pixels tall. In the diagonal you can infer the height, but due to the nature of the view, the width represents neither the width nor the depth. This is even worst for the typical RPG sprites, where characters are in isometric views. For this reason I base my models on front and side views.

idle stance vs Movement

It’s no doubt that the movement stance if way cooler than the idle one. You might be tempted to start doing your model in that pose, but that will only make it harder to get the right dimensions (remember you need to think 3D). To avoid that pitfall, we start by making a model in a idle stance for which we can get good measures, and from there we can work our way to the moving stance (Spoiler alert: Not happening for this model, maybe my next one).

Now that we have some pointers for the sprites, here are the ones I used for my idle model.

3 nice normal views

Now that I have picked the sprites, I usually start by creating an anchor for my model. In Sonic I decided to use the feat. Doing the following shape took me more than one hour.

Sole of the shoes

This was particularly challenging, because in the side views the feet is perpendicular, but in the front view it is slightly to the side. Getting the good dimensions for this angle took me longer than expected.

With this anchor, the rest of the model went much faster, and in no time I had made the shoes, the body and started the head.

Some details are not obvious in 3D, so I usually start by drawing it as though it was a 2D sprite in two normal views. Once that’s done, given the 3D context around it I feel the details. Here is the example of the eye.

After this my computer crashed and I lost one hour of work… Yey!

Luckily I wrote parts of the article at the same time I do the model, so I had the screen shots to guide me. Let’s see… Where was I? That’s right, the eye. After finishing the eyes I did the center line of the main spike, that lead me to making the whole head. It’s really cool how 3D modeling makes you look into things with new ideas. I had never considered how sonic would look like without spikes, and in case you are wondering, here is a preview:

Doing the spikes has started out has a rather challenging, because they are not only somewhat complex, but also because we lack information in the sprites. On top of that, the dimensions in the front view contradict the back view (and the side view adds more chaos to the whole thing.)

In order to do them, I started by defining reference points, and from there add more and more layers of detail. Once the shape was somewhat finished, I changed the dimensions deviating from the original sprite, but giving it a more natural 3D look.

The gloves didn’t represent much of the challenge: The ears were also not that hard, except for the fact that I almost forgot about them. Following the advice from theStoff, I decided to add a bit of terrain. This was way harder than I anticipated, but in the end, I am quite happy with the final results.

With no further ado, here’s Sonic, the Hedgehog.

Once again, feel free to comment and give me some feedback/advice on my work. You can follow me on twitter or sketchfab.

Dev at Sketchfab