I decided to create a dragon for my biggest project and team up with some of my colleagues and friends at PIXL VISN in order to have more time to focus on my specific parts:
Anthony Kersten (Rigging)
Nina Fischer (Animation)
Alexander Bollgoehn (LookDev/Lighting)
I was responsible for modeling, sculpting and texturing.
I started with searching for a concept and ended up with the great concept of javier franco santacreu.
I gathered a lot of references for the sculpting part.
Lizards, komodo dragons and dragons from movies and TV series like Smaug and Game of Thrones helped me to get a better understanding of how a dragon could move and about the anatomy.
After gathering the references I started in Zbrush with Zspheres, blocking out the main shapes. After that I moved on to the secondary forms.
I decided to vary a bit from the concept because I wanted the Nocturnal Dragon to appear bigger and stronger then in the concept. I worked more on the anatomy which is more bat like.
After finishing the sculpt I exported a decimated version and set the Zbrush export to the desired real world scale. The dragon is about 15 meter tall.
Then I went into maya for the retopology and UV unwrapping, I knew I would get close so I splitted the model in multiple udims.
The biggest problem where the wings, wings take a lot of UV space but since I didn't wanted to do close ups of the wing skin I decided to have a different texel density on this part.
All patches are 4k size.
I used Mari for the texturing part to have the possibility for a higher resolution for the displacement.
First I had to figure out how the scales should flow and which parts needed to have bigger or smaller scales.
In Mari I used texture xyz maps to layout the displacement map.
After that I took the mesh into Zbrush to sculpt beneath the scales to give them real depth.
Then I exported a mid res version for the texturing in Mari and some utility maps like cavity from Zbrush.
For the texturing I gathered some more references.
The utility maps from Zbrush and displacement from Mari where a big help to drive my base color.
After finishing the texturing I did a test render with all maps and a quick lookdev. Combining the displacment maps from Zbrush and Mari.
I provided all the utility maps and isolation masks to Alex for the lookDev.
Here is the final result!
To improve my anatomy skills I did another team project with my colleagues and friends. This way I could focus more on the anatomy part.
Franziska Niebuhr (grooming)
Joschua Schmidt (Posing and animation later on)
Anthony Kersten (Rigging)
Elia Göttlicher (Lighting)
I was responsible for modeling, sculpting and texturing the skeleton, eyes and feet.
As always the first step was to gather references.
I spent a bit of time searching for good refernces, especially for the skeleton and muscles because the striped hyena is quite diffrent then the better known spotted hyena.
Building the skeleton is a great advantage, you already build the bony landmarks and get a great base for building up muscles, fat and the general shape.
For building up the muscles I used dogs as reference because most animals has a very similar anatomy, so I could translate this to the anatomy of the striped hyena. The skeleton helped me a lot to put the muscles in the right place.
Retopo / UV
To have the model rigged and animated later on I retopologized the mesh.
In order to have a higher detailed displacement map and still be able to groom with xGen I created two UV sets.
I really learned a lot with all these projects and wanted to thank all my team mates!
- Stones / Rocks models and textures are from quixel megascans
- Soundesign of the dragon turntable made by myself with various animal sounds and my own voice.
Other sound effects from freesounds.org
What I learned:
- Working with displacements, what limitations they have and proper workflows
- Working in a pipeline and keeping your scenes and files ALWAYS tidy
- Communication with the other departments and providing the files they need in time
- Improved my anatomy knowledge