When a cat turns into a lion!

Before I want to create a lion’s statue, I was going to make the shape of a cat in Rhino.

The story is this:

I made a cat in Blender earlier, but then I decided to make a cat’s shape in Rhino with Sub-D. In both Blender and Rhino, I didn’t use any picture or pattern, but I imagined the figure of a cat (or lion later) was in my mind.

I always see cats, but I saw lions in the zoo (a few times) or in documentary movies frequently.

As my purpose was to create a cat in Rhino, I noticed it gradually got the shape of a lion, so I decided to ignore making a cat and complete the shape of the lion.

Therefore, I tried to remember all details, dimensions, and scales of a lion’s body and make the shape similar to a real lion, and I think I was successful in this way.

Rhino is on the top

1 Like

Keep up the good work, but you need to study anatomy and proportions to capture the elegance of a lioness. They are built for speed, power and agility so understanding the skeleton and how the shoulder blades and the hips moves underneath the skin will make it so much easier for you to model the actual skin.

Just keep on tweaking the controlpoints and add details. And remember to never trust your memory on these kind of shapes, what you remember will always be limited to what you understand at the moment, so never stop studying :slight_smile:

Shout out if you get stuck and need some advice on how to move on with the model.


Hello, senior Holo

Sub-D is an excellent base for such modelings in Rhino ( although Rhino is an engineering software and is not originated for such purposes), but I think using Sub-D is not sufficient to apply details of the muscles of a lioness. I think; for this purpose, the model should be converted into NURBS or Mesh or exported to software like Zbrush or Blender for sculpting.

Nevertheless, as you see, I could model a total shape of a lioness with the same scales and figure that is similar to the lioness in the video clip.
However, I have worked with sculpting in Blender a little but can’t use it like an expert to create all details of a lion’s anatomy yet.

You are right. Studying and using the experience and knowledge of experts is the path to success.

Many thanks for your advice :slight_smile:

Detailing and main shape is basically just two sides of the same modelling IMO :slight_smile:
It’s all just about zooming in. I did a quick start on a lion to inspire you:

I’ll try to find time to model more soon.


Did you made the model just with sun-D?

This is subD in Rhino7 yes.
Started off with a simple box as the foot, then pulled out two toes and then the other two and then the heel. Point edited and pulled up the leg, point edit, pull, point edit etc. I only model half, the other is just a mirror for visual purpose. I often model after images, but here to save time I used a 3D model of a lion as background. Saves tons of time for studies like this.

Then I used a metal material, gold color with rough reflections and the “AC gava bath” environment. This shows the shape well.

This is the reference model I use, my goal here isn’t making art, just modelling, so why not use a model as reference, we live in a 3D printing model overload world after all :wink: It’s a reduced mesh, smoothed and cut in half. (all done in five minutes):

In my experience recreating stuff as a means to study is a great way to learn, and once we have learned to model a lion we can use that knowledge to model other stuff down the line.

Here is the file so you can take a look:
Lion SubD.3dm (5.6 MB)

Edit: Here part of the shoulder is taking shape. Logging off for tonight, updated the file.

Please continue modelling on it :slight_smile: Hope it inspires and have fun!


Roarrrr…! :wink:


Dear master

I am curious to know, how did you create all these details in sub-D

There are some questions for me:

1- How did you create the sharp edges between the toes (did you use crease, or did you extrude each one of the toes separately)?

2- How do I model the holes of the nose, ears, and also the grooves around the eyes. Creating such concave edges seems to be difficult in sub-D?

3- How did you match your model with the prepared 3D model of the lion ( visually or adaptively)?

4- I usually use the minimum number of wires in sub-D. Is it necessary, or can I use many lines in sub-D ( for showing more details on an object)?

5- Why the prepared 3D model seems like Mesh, while it is in the sub-D format?

I don’t have much time now unfortunately, but I’ll answer quickly :slight_smile:

The complete lion model was downloaded from here: FREE 3D Lion Model

1 - No creases were used
This is the prinsiple I use for a quick start:

I use subselection (Shift-Ctrl LMB (Left Mouse Button)) and then start dragging with the GUMBALL and WHILE dragging I hit CTRL. That makes new extruded faces from the selection.

2 - The nose and the ears I have not modelled yet, just the front leg and upper torso. But they are possible to model, if you like I can keep on modelling and pasting here if that is OK for you.

3- Visually, I use both Rendered and Ghosted mode for this, and swap between smooth and rough model.

4- You can use many lines

5- The complete lion IS a mesh, see link above. I reduced that in the file I gave you :slight_smile:

Have to run!

1 Like

Thank you very much, Holo

What you pointed out was useful for me. Sadly, I don’t have access to the website because of a network limitation.

The lion model you converted into mesh had some defects around its eyes and mouth (a disorder of the surfaces in the borders)

Although, I used the remesh command, noting got better.

Hi, to be clear, the complete lion is just for reference, not to be modified. I just reducemeshed it to make the file light and small. You don’t need the lion in the link, the reduced version is in the file I made :slight_smile:

Here I have modeled the head and the rest of the body. The back leg is a modified copy of the front leg.

Edit: Note that I use strict quad modelling here, that is not necessary, Rhino accepts both triangles and ngons with in it’s SubD, I just like the quad modelling for visual reasons and since it makes a predictable, smooth model.

Also note that this is the first version of the complete shape. If I was to make this as a sculpture for production I would spend many more hours on fine tuning the shape, adding details, remodeling parts etc. I tried to use an even flow of subd faces here too, to maintain an even level of detail through out the model.


I think the cat is cute! :smiling_face_with_three_hearts:

1 Like

It is nice modeling, senior.

Especially since you modeled it in a short time; nevertheless, it is not simple work and needs a high knowledge and experience in modeling.

You spent your valuable time teaching me how to use systematic techniques to model a correct organic shape with sub-D. The lesson was fruitful and taught me new things; how to model the eyes, ears, mouth and other details of a big cat in sun-D.

Thank you so much, sir :slight_smile:

Of course, before your last post I tried to create a detailed head of a lioness in Rhino, but as I couldn’t do that correctly I had to use (as an exercise) blender’s sculpting and modeled this one that is a little acceptable. Like my first work (in Rhino) I didn’t use a model either, and created the object mentally (in this case, I only looked at a picture of a lion a few times)

1 Like

That’s beautiful! And using the best tool at hand is a good approach. I find Rhino’s subd tools slow to work with, but practice helps. IMO one of the most important things to get used to is laying out the patches and going from 2 to 4 etc.

1 Like