The first step was modeling the subject. I chose a cynops pyrrhogaster as I discovered this species in my boyfriend's aquarium and kept it in my mind. I learnt a lot of things about those animals thanks to him and it definitly helped me a lot for this project. I was also able to take live reference pictures of those animals which was obviously a big bonus. The rig was very basic as it was only for posing purposes, it's also for that reason that I modeled it already half in pose.
Here are some pictures I was able to take (it was quite hard as the window of the tank would reflect any light coming on it). The particularity of this spieces of newt is it's bright orange belly, contrasting with it's dark / grey skin. It is to display that the animal is poisonous. We can see a female cynops pyrrhogaster sasayama (a sub-spieces with bigger black parts on the belly and small white dots over it, but also a more present grain on the skin). Here is also it's baby (we can recognize it with the orange under the tail) which has inherited more of the root pyrrhogaster traits in term of colour and skin texture.
Observing those animals under real lighting, seeing them move, breathe and live really helped me in the process of modeling, texturing and shading.
The next step was lighting the subject, sculpting details and do the shading. The environment didn't need to be fancy here as the subject was the insect / amphibian.
The raw render wasn't really great but still worked a bit. I obviously had a lot of work for the compositing part. I re-did the moss as it was the most terrible part.
After some work in Nuke (and some extra renders to have the right AOVs) we had to create two different moods. One would be our improved render and the other should be a different ambiance (could be night, or another season, time of the day, ect).
Finally, here is the animated version of each mood, with a camera move and a movement of the newt. I tried to create something realistic, as if the newt was scared of the person taking a picture of it. The throat movement is something they do when they are stressed and see a potential predator.
I really enjoyed this exercise, it lead me through all the aspects of 3D animation (even though I didn't do much animation and rigging, but it'll come later). I really enjoy the compositing part, where we get creative to solve issues and create new effects and improvements. Later on, I will try to create a good rigging for that newt so that I would be able to animate it a bit and dive more into their movements.