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I've been scouting the whole Internet in search of a tutorial or some guide, but either I'm the only artist on the Earth that doesn't know how to model tufts, or nobody models them anymore (which is unlikely), so as a desperate last resort, I'm asking here: how can I box model toony fur tufts? Whenever I attempt, they look like spikes!

I'm box modeling my whole character and I'd like to preserve this good topology, so I don't have to retopo later on, before rigging, that's why I wanna learn how to box model tufts of fur (which I'll then rig with dynamic joints, using a little trick I learned some weeks ago).

As you can see, this is how they look like when I extrude them: enter image description here

they literally look like horns or spikes, rather than soft tufts of fur...

Here’s a good example of the kind of tufts I’m looking for: enter image description here How do I get them to blend and look like this???

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    $\begingroup$ In my limited experience, it's hard to get decent-looking "tufts" without relying on sneaky tris or single vertices pulled outwards. Those work great for some toony styles and game engines, but if you're not careful it can lead to awful topology, and it falls apart with Subsurf modifier. --- One technique (sans subsurf) is to stagger the extrusions to make "clumps" of fur that start at a shared base, but come to a point. This model's wireframe is a good example: sketchfab.com/3d-models/fidget-de348c9971d741abbbb1230139325b54 $\endgroup$ – jackiejake Jul 28 '20 at 9:46
  • $\begingroup$ Interesting... rather than being extruded from the model, they look like they’re separate meshes... but I still can’t figure out how they gave them that shape! $\endgroup$ – Elìa1995 Jul 29 '20 at 5:38
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    $\begingroup$ Are you using the Subdivision Surface modifier? You could possibly separate the fur into it's own Object, without subsurf. $\endgroup$ – jackiejake Jul 29 '20 at 15:38
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    $\begingroup$ Yeah, subdivision surface alone won't work with tufts. This answer might provide some solutions to try, like creasing with an edge split modifier: blender.stackexchange.com/questions/6425/… $\endgroup$ – jackiejake Jul 29 '20 at 16:04
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    $\begingroup$ One more thing, I realized you mentioned the tufts didn't look "extruded" from the model in the sketchfab example. One technique I've seen for similar effect: Select a single edge or face in edit mode, duplicate and separate the selection. The new object has a separate copy of the modifiers, so you can disable or apply subsurf and further box-model from there. $\endgroup$ – jackiejake Jul 29 '20 at 21:35
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I think you need to approach this in two ways:

1. Box-model tufts for subdivision:

  • Make sure to turn on "Adjust edit cage to modifier result" in your Subdivision Surface modifier so you can model the final result directly, instead of having to guess how it's going to look like.

  • Start with a box, subdivided once. You'll have a single center vertex to define your tip, as well as an edge loop with 3-corner vertices around that vertex to sharpen that tip:
    Extruded subdivided box as base for the tuft of fur

  • With that single vertex (that you can Shrink/Fatten) and that ending edge loop (that you can Edge Slide), you can create a sharp tip, and then add and manipulate other edge loops along the length of that blob so you can shape the body of the tuft of fur by using all tools available (grab brush, smoothing vertices, scaling & rotating, anything):
    Shape the blob to create the sharp-tipped tuft of fur

2. Make an appealing mesh fur for your character:

  • Don't model "blind". That is, always have a piece of concept art or design for the character you're trying to model. Always work from these images, otherwise you're just gonna waste your time and fail.
  • Model the tufts clumping together. Have bigger tufts, with smaller tufts "growing out" of them -- this is done as simply as extruding those blob shapes of step #1 out of the bigger tufts, then working on them so they look good: Variation with bigger tufts and smaller tufts merged together
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