When starting this image I wanted to create a monster that was integrated with its environment.Â I began sketching various monsters and ended up with this image which was a type of swamp monster built of wood, mud, grass and moss.Â After I came up with a decent sketch I browsed the Internet for tonnes of references.Â I usually make one large Photoshop image with a collage of my sketches and pictures that I find on the Internet to refer to while I build my art.
I modelled the base of the monster quickly in Max, only laying out the basic overall shape. Â I brought my base mesh into ZBrush and used various stencils to add mud clumps and cracks to the model. Â After modelling the rest of my monster in ZBrush the mesh became too dense to work with in Max, so I broke the mesh into chunks: head, arms and torso. Â I further reduced system load by processing a normal map to contain the very sharp details so that my working mesh would not be too dense. Once my mesh was UV mapped I brought the lower density mesh back into ZBrush and used Transpose to pose my mesh quickly.
Most additional details like the vines, slime and trees were simple primitives. Â The vines and trees were splines with displacement maps, while the hanging slime and lily pads were planes with a FFD modifier applied to easily deform the shapes.
When texturing this piece I mostly used the Total Textures Trees and Plants pack. Â Since the monster was broken into a few chunks I tried to used tiling textures with masks in my Photoshop files so that I could duplicate my .psd files and simply repaint the layer masks for each individual body part. Â In Fig03 you can see that I start with a base mud layer. Â I then process my normal map in Crazy Bump to extract various height maps. Â I lay these over my texture as Multiply, Screen or Overlay depending on what type of detail I'm trying to emphasise. After emphasising the shapes I then layer various grasses and ground textures.
To create the textures for the bark on the trees and the vines wrapping around the monster I layered various barks and wood grain and created tiling textures that could be repeated on a spline. Â I then copied the diffuse maps to be greyscale, adjusted them with curves and painted additional depth details on them to create their displacement maps. This helped cut down on a lot of modelling work, although it did increase my rendering times.
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