I sculpted this simple box until I had the general shape of the creature and it was no longer a cube (fig 21), at this point I could start adding details and keep shaping the mesh. It is a good idea to take advantage of the symmetry mode in Modeler so we can just worry about shaping one side. I selected a poly on the side of the mesh and beveled it a couple of times (fig 22), I did the same with a poly located lower and towards the front than the previous one; I then selected the ends and did a Bridge command to connect these two appendages (fig 23). I sculpted the mesh further and when I was happy with the result I subdivided the mesh once using a LW tool called metaform, this added more resolution to my SubD surface so I could add more details (fig 24). I kept shaping the mesh and adding more detail using a tool called "Cut" and re-arranged poly flow using "Spinquad" this tool is one of my favorites, it will spin a set or even groups of quads to quickly change the flow of the polygons, a tedious task without it (fig 25). I selected a small group of polys in the front of the mesh to create the eyes from; I once again I used "supershift" (multishift) to create the shape (fig 26). This surface will be semi-transparent so I created an inside shape to give the creature inside volume.
I made the shape using the existing eyes which I copied to a new layer and shrank down a little, I then connected the eyes to a subd box and sculpted it to some interesting shape (fig 27). I thought that I could make the creature more interesting by giving it an obvious method to swim so I made a few long subd boxes to create some unusual flippers. The mouth tentacles are simple tapered subd boxes with every odd/even poly on the bottom beveled. I didn't need and extraordinary amount of detail there since it will be a small part of the picture. Then using mostly "Twist" "Rotate" and "Move" I created a morph target for the tentacles (fig 28). I knew exactly the look I wanted for the tentacles and since it is for a still image a morph target was perfect for this, otherwise I would have rigged each tentacles with bones (Joints in Maya). Talking about rigging... I wasn't exactly sure the shape I wanted to have for the long flippers; I had an idea but didn't know if it would work in the scene so I rigged the rest of the creature to be able to pose it in the scene. Figure 29 shows the skeletal structure, quite simple really. That's it for modeling! Let's move on to texturing.
Here is some food for thought: "Good texturing makes your model and good lighting makes your scene" Meaning that if you have a fantastic model but a lousy texturing job your model will look lousy, no matter how many thousands of polys worth of tiny details you have in there, on the other hand, you can have a beautiful textured model but if your lighting rig is not up to par your scene won't be as great as it should be. This might be common sense to most of you but I say it as a reminder because I have seen this happen time and time again, it happened to me when I started 3d more often than not, trying to rush and get to the next step, at the end I ended up redoing a texture and thus wasting time or my model flat out stank, just spend the time you need to get it done right the first time and you will save time and have a nicely textured model from the get go. With that said lets get some UV maps layed out, shall we?
These models are actually quite simple to UV mostly due to the general shape they have. For the spinney fish I just made a planar UV on the Z axis, this gave me almost a perfect layout, I fine tuned it by massaging some vertices on place and since the fish is relatively flat I didn't have to worry too much about the top and bottom. After the UV's were finished I took the time to straighten the tail. Then I placed a grid image as a texture to test for distortions. New in LW 8.2 and above is the UV texture interpolation that you can use for subd meshes, this will get rid of those nasty distortions made by the nature of subd surfaces (fig 30). When the UV layout is done it is time to take a screen grab to use as a template or you could save an eps template to open in Photoshop. I usually just take a screen grab as large as I possibly can. Now that you have your template to paint on is time to move to photoshop.
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