I wanted to make some unusual fish to better place the viewer in an alien planet so after some browsing I found a very cool thread of sea creatures photos at a concept art forum. I selected some that grabbed my attention and that I thought would suit the image well; specially since I wasn't looking to replicate them but rather make them my own. Let's begin with the spinney looking fish.
First for all 3 fish I created an image background to use as a template in Modeler. I placed those images in the corresponding view port. Since these are just reference images and I'm not looking for a perfect match I didn't need top and front images, I just used the side views, besides, finding those images would have been near impossible. I started by once again plotting flat polygons and tracing the features of the fish. I didn't worry about the twisted tail too much, this will get fixed after the UV's are laid out (fig 9). After I was happy with the flat mesh I extruded it and began the sculpting process. There is nothing special in particular in the sculpting of this fish, I just moved cv's to achieve the shape I was after, I used different tools like "Taper" for the tail "Magnet" for pushing and pulling groups of cv's with different falloff settings and the "Move" tool to move single cv's; basically use whatever tools you have at your disposal to sculpt the mesh. (fig 10)
Sometimes I like to isolate part of the mesh I'm working on in a different layer and then merge it with the rest of the mesh. In this case I selected the top row of polys and the bottom row of polys, the ones that make the fins, and shaped those in separate layers, (fig 11) that way if I didn't like what I had done I would just start that particular shape over without reverting or opening an older version of the mesh, btw, always save incrementally in case something happens, I usually save a new increment version when I think a "big" change has been done. When I was happy with the dorsal fins I created the mouth by making a series of extrusions with "supershift" but if you have LW 8.5 it was replaced with "multishift" which is essentially the same with some added features like being able to save a multishift session and apply it later on to some other geometry. Figure 12 shows the finished mesh.
With the black fish on the bottom of the image I started using the box modeling technique, the shape of the fish lend itself for this type of modeling. Figure 13-19 shows the sculpting process of this fish.
For the creature seen outside of the viewport I approached it in a similar fashion but the reference image on this one is in a 3/4 perspective view, so I kinda sculpted it as I went along without worrying about accuracy. I created a box with a few divisions (fig 20) and then converted it to a subdiv surface by simply hitting the "Tab" key"
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