Nocturnal Dragon
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Nocturnal Dragon

Dennis Petzinna
by petz on 1 Jun 2020 for Rookie Awards 2020

I was always very passionate about animals and creatures, whether in real life, film or games. My goal is it to be a professional creature artist and I want to reflect this in my demo reel.

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NOCTURNAL DRAGON

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. 

Reference

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.

Wireframes

UV mapping

All patches are 4k size.

Texturing

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. 


Texturing

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!

STRIPED HYENA

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.

Reference

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.

Skeleton

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.

Muscles

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.

Final 

SUMMARY

I really learned a lot with all these projects and wanted to thank all my team mates!

General

- 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 


Comments (2)

 Collaborators: anthonyjk and n0odle