enter image description here enter image description here

I want to make a feather more like the feather on the far left or like the feather on the far right of the second image. It can't just be a texture because I want it to look good up close.

Note: I am not making a whole bird. I do not need a fast rendering feather (although that would be nice as long as it doesn't sacrifice photorealism).


3 Answers 3


Creating the stalk thing:

To make the the stalk of the feather (or whatever it is called), create a UV sphere. Then, switch to wireframe view, go into edit mode, select the entire sphere and scale it down a bit. Next select the upper half of the sphere and move it upwards and make it smaller. Modeling my shaft;)

Setting up the actual feathery bits:

First, subdivide the middle bit by pressing ctrl + r and then scroll downwards a lot to get about 200 or 250 divisions. To set up for feather creation, use alt + RMB on one of inner edges . Then select the same face on the other side with shift + alt + RMB. Once you have the faces selected, create a new vertex group, and click the assign button. You can rename your vertex group if you wish by double clicking it.

enter image description here

I decided to remodel the tip of the feather to make it a bit longer and less spherical with proportional editing. This step is optional:

enter image description here

Particle system settings:

Now for the exciting bit.

  • Create a new particle system
  • Switch the particle type from emitter to hair
  • Enable advanced settings
  • Switch to vertex mode
  • Uncheck the box marked "random"
  • Set the density group to the vertex group we made earlier
  • adjust the length to something that you like



Now for the super exciting part.

  1. Switch to "particle edit" mode

  2. Change the brush to "cut"

  3. Cut away excess hair

  4. Switch the brush to "comb"

  5. Comb to satisfaction

mind... BLOWN

And now you are done!

The only thing left to do is to change the hair render settings to whatever you want!

Here are the cycles thickness settings that I used:

enter image description here

And here are some renders:

enter image description here enter image description here In the macro render, you will notice that the feathers aren't quite attached to the stalk. You can fix this by adding a solidify modifier to the shaft and making it a bit thicker.


If it's just one feather, I would go with a hair simulation. You should have two hair sims. One for the stiffer part of the feather, and one for the downy part, because it's more curly and fluffy. This is not that easy. You probably will need to have some weight maps controlling the length.

The other option is to just model them out, using an array modifier, or clone to points.

This is just for one feather. If you want to do a whole bird like that, you should probably forget about it. That would require some tremendous computing power.

  • $\begingroup$ I only want one feather. No need for the whole bird. $\endgroup$
    – 10 Replies
    Jan 5, 2017 at 17:02

Turns out, (some) dinosuars had feathers, the little bas**rds.

enter image description here

There is no great single answer I am aware of to this issue. Here are approaches to consider depending upon your specific need:

** Individually modeled feathers with quills can be made with high fidelity. As noted by @IIBit, hair systems, and/or a particle system of particle systems -- How can particles be emitted from particles? -- require some patience but look great. They are a bugger to render and adding flight motion further complicates the deal.

** Using a combination of hair particles and meshes allows for some realism while using comparatively lighter meshes rather than purely particle-based approaches. See https://blenderartists.org/forum/showthread.php?232361-Quest-for-Photo-Real-Feathers for details. So you are using a feather texture -- either a photo or an image you create -- with alpha and a mesh.

** Using Blender's hair shapes can give satisfactory results at some distances. See https://blenderartists.org/forum/archive/index.php/t-282959.html for examples and https://wiki.blender.org/index.php/Doc:UK/2.6/Manual/Render/Cycles/Hair_Rendering for shape information. That Golden Eagle is one of my all time favorite blender creations and whoever Ricardo 3D is, he gets a gold star for that model... I am envious.

The deinocherious above uses some of all of the approaches noted: the 'primary' feathers on the front arms are detail models with associated armature/bones, and a few others are true feathers; much of the remained are based on emu curly primitive feathers using Blender hair shapes.

You can also create a "heavy" particle system on your animal and then create color, normal and bump maps to create the appearance of feathers, as here:

) EDIT Had to remove this image until the museum opens...

When distance allows, this gives you the chance to add feathers for animated critters when used a "safe" distance from the camera.

Dinosaur Island, http://www.imdb.com/title/tt3261302/, while not a blockbuster, gets props for their feathered dinos. I believe some of the CG was done in Blender....

Maya's dynamic paint feature has some options that help with feathers, but I am not aware of a 5-star solution anywhere other than through combinations of approaches... and I would welcome info on your results!


You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .