"Mouse" King from The Nutcracker

My name is Ragnar and I am an aspiring character artist despite having no formal education. I have a lot of passion for this work and I hope to show that in this challenge.
This is my first month of Zbrush, my first ever 3D character, and my first Flipped Normals Challenge. I am overjoyed as well as completely terrified to be participating, but couldn’t pass this opportunity to get my name and art out in the world, even if only a little. I started Digital art around September of 2020 and have found my calling in life. I have been Watching Flipped Normals Content on YouTube on repeat every day since. A lot of my knowledge and inspiration comes from your page and I greatly appreciate the work you all do.
In regards to my work, I have an unassailable appreciation for the rights and responsibilities of the individual. I believe that each of us has within us the potential to do either an enormous amount of good or boundless levels of evil. Those that are evil often masquerade as saviors, divine or otherwise, and in the name of the “greater good” use this as an excuse to commit the greatest of atrocities.
I have been searching boundless multitudes of folklore, fairy tales, and legends to find a character that best exemplifies my view of this, and have found no character better to symbolize this than the Mouse King, from ETA Hoffman’s book ‘The Nutcracker and the Mouse King.’
The insidious nature of the character and his propensity to take advantage of the weak and innocent struck a chord within me, The spin I would like to place upon the character is inspired by two main points: figures of power hiding behind the guise of righteousness and mythological exaggerations humans have made in the past, In example, a man kills a bull. Fifty years later, his story changes to him killing a giant bull for the sake of his family’s safety. A hundred years later, and the giant bull then is exaggerated to be a minotaur that had been slain to save the world. I wanted to reverse the exaggeration of the mouse king and make him not a mouse, but a rat. A rat that has taken on the title of a mouse after slaying the kings of mice. His seven heads the story portrays him with are now no longer his, but rather the heads of those he has slain, on display to remind his subjects of his ‘superiority’. The other mouse kings’ diadems (crowns) also on display, are a symbol of his vanity and his desire to be viewed as something he will never be: a “mouse” king (mouse being a metaphor for righteousness and rat for evil).

This is a passage describing the Mouse King’s first appearance before the books protagonist, Marie:
“….This Maria thought was very droll, and as she had not that aversion to mice which most children have, her terror was gradually leaving her, when all at once there arose a piercing shriek that sent shivers down her spine, believe me dear reader I know you are brave but if you had seen what Marie saw then, you’d have run away. I even think you would have jumped into bed and pulled the covers higher above your ears. Poor Marie couldn’t do that because right in front of her feet sand, lime and crushed stone came gushing out of the floor as though driven by some underground force and seven mouse heads with seven sparkling crowns rose up, squeaking and squealing hideously. Soon the mouse’s body to which the seven heads were attached worked itself up through the floor and this enormous mouse crowned with seven diadems was hailed by the entire army cheering…” ‘The Nutcracker and the Mouse King’ ETA Hoffman 1892
WIP photos and progress updates will follow shortly.


Reference Board in PureRef


Sculpting of the Bony Landmarks and basic anatomy from a subdivided and DynaMeshed sphere


Refining the anatomy and adding rough conceptual garments
as well as Isolated and duplicated Head to test Trophy garment concept


Rearranged and rescaled heads refining concept


Designed main Diadem rough concepts


Constructed clothing rough concept


Checking silhouette


First Turnaround


First pass head shape language refinement


Turnaround with corrected head shape
Rough Concept completed I still have quite a bit of refining to do and I believe some major anatomical changes.
More progress updates in the near future.

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Hello Everyone, I’ve been hard at work with this challenge. Here are some of my latest changes to the “Mouse” King


I have corrected the head, incorporating wolf and bat anatomy into the characters rat and human mix to make a stronger and more villainous, character with a stronger conformity to a sharpened shape language.

Before and after view of character face at mid distance to evaluate change. Reworked vest to resemble 19th Century Russian Empire Tzar Regallia using a dynamesh sphere edited with the trim dynamic brush and move brush to quickly and heavily reshape the characters body, making him slender and sharp.

Corrected anatomy of the arms, removing fat and loose skin using the trim dynamic brush. I made more refined mid frequency detail to fit new more slimmed character as well as giving a strong stylized shape language to the character.

Added detail to face BPR with Polyskin and masks to get fresh perspective and evaluate concept.

** Full turnaround detailed Vest and Cape, adding surface detail to cape inspired by 19th century Russian curtains as well as Russian Ermine.**


Before and after mouth bag and front bottom incisor adjustment to be more anatomically accurate Rat teeth


Detailing Teeth, adding tongue.


Close Up Mouth post Correction and detailing.


Fixed mouth shape to allow lips to conform properly to the shape of teeth


Adding higher frequency Detail to mouth and nose , checking profile
Stronger Concept with low level detail

Resculpted Eyes to add expression as well as making character more anatomically correct. more updates to follow soon, any feedback at all is greatly appreciated. I am currently working on resculpting the crowns as well as refining the skulls and cape.

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Dayum, that head looks amazing! When the challenge is over I’ll definitely go over my rat mesh and look at yours for reference! :smiley: I love the level of detail and the punchiness of his expression

![UD5|689x335] (upload://j8wwKsF56z5hxaAKWbVzyR0fedi.png)

Final Stages of sculpting Major fixes to Character Anatomy in the arms, and Face adding asymmetry and detail. Skulls reshaped, vest resculpted adding laces and fine detail work. chain fabricated for necklace all 3 crowns given more personality and realism.

Bespoke retopology done in blender.

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