Viper Wing Dragon - WIP 1

Dear Journal,
Unfortunately, I haven't had time to do any writing in the past month...there has been much to do and no time to do it in.  Thankfully, EVERYTHING seems to be done feels really strange.  I don't know if I like it, and my mind is already buzzing with new ideas for future projects.
On the other hand, having a few days of peace has given me time to get my stuff together and get back into documenting my work.
So, here is my Viper Wing Dragon, the concept I designed and modeled during the month of February.
So, as with all of my ideas, I started with an inspiration.

This concept is called a Gwiber and it was created by the artist gorrem on .
With this initial idea, I then did a lot of research on animals so that I could come up with my own concept:

What really caught my attention was the strange, double-jaw feature of the Viper Fish.

This unique quality become sort of the hinge for the rest of my research, and even thought the concept really evolved and morphed into something completely different, the double jaw remained.
So, with this under my belt, I started with some initial sketches:

After a review with several of my classmates and teachers, the main point that wasn't convincing was the center of gravity for the creature.  It seemed largely off balanced.  To correct this, I decided to add weight to the tail and move the feet forward, crunching the torso into a leaner, arched back that collapsed on his haunches.  Needless to say, I went back to the drawing board.

I also did a lot of motion exploratory sketches, because I wanted this strange creature to actually be able to move.  :)

Then came muscle studies and head studies:

And then, the final detail studies and turn-around sheets:

Ok, so now that this was settled, the Maya work started.  With a lot of my other models, I did a lot of the initial proportions and sculpting in zbrush, because it is faster and easier for me to get the weight and bulk and "feel" of a character in zbrush.  For this concept however, the base mesh was completely done in Maya because I was already very familiar with the build and had good turn around sheets to go by.  The only large changes I did were in the length of the wings and the direction of the tail claws.

The fun part came when I brought it into zbrush and started sculpting.  I separated the wings and layed out my uvs so that I could conveniently use polygroups to isolate selections, which actually ended up saving my life later.  I ended up cutting up the Viper Wing based on these uvs in zbrush because I was reaching the limit for subdividing polys.  After I did this, making sure all the uvs matched when I brought it back into maya, I was able to keep adding detail to my hearts content.
I will post screencaps from zbrush as soon as I can get onto one of the school computers, since my little laptop is cannot handle the ZTL anymore.  :(
After all the detail was done, I started posing with Transpose Master and Generating Texture Maps.  I used both Photoshop, Xnormal, Crazybump, Mudbox, and Zbrush to get my bump, diffuse, and spec passes done.
Here are some of my still renders towards the end of February:

I decided to do the glow and accents in post, so I brought a few simple ID mattes into Nuke and comped them into the shots.

After I got to this point, I decided it would be best to render out a turntable to make sure I wasn't getting any weird issues, which frequently happens.  Surprisingly, it turned out pretty well, even with just the modified, gray material assigned to the Viper Wing.

The finished Dragon will be in my Demo Reel, which will be posted soon.


  1. I like those piranha images! I like the video as well!...Daniel


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