Setting up the topology
This is probably the most important part and it comes before we actually begin to model the details. The topology is the base on which the details are modeled upon. This is when we plan out the flow of the details that we will be modeling. As I mentioned above, you should make sure you don't. have too many polygons where you don't. need them, and the hardest part - you should keep everything in quads (as I am about to demonstrate again).
1. Start out with a simple quad surface.
2. First thing to do is to roughly change the flow of the polygons however you wish using the "cut tool".
3. Use target-weld to get rid of vertexes you don't. need. move the vertexes to form the flow you want.
4. Those steps resulted in many triangles, now its time to get rid of them. remember that 2 triangles can cancel each other.
5-6. Now that we have the topology ready, we can model the details in.
The next parts deal with how to actually model the details.
Modeling spikes and horns
Lets start with the actual modeling now.
We begin with modeling a basic spike.
As you could see later, this technique will serve us when we work on other types of details (such as the fins and the wing).
1. We start out with a simple quad surface. in this case, a single polygon should be enough to start from.
2. First make an extrusion upwards to make the skin around the spike itself.
3. Now extrude inwards to create the hole.
4. Make another extrusion and give the polygon ID2 so that it would appear differently and could be easily selected later.
5. Make an extrusion upwards.
6. Make another extrusion upwards and scale it down to make the spike sharper.
7-8. Move the top polygon to any side to give it an angle. Now you have a basic spike. you can always tweak it easily by selecting and moving edge loops, and you can always select edge rings, hit connect and add more complexity to it.
Tip - if you prepare your topology right, you don't. always have to make the spikes one by one. I've made the ones on the back of the neck of the dragon at once.
Moving on to a more complex shape, now I'm going to go through the main steps of modeling the fins. Some steps here are pretty similar to the steps of the wing modeling
1. We start out with simple quad surface. This step starts after you prepared the topology on your model.
2. Select and extrude every few faces (minimal distance of 2 polygons between each extrusion) in the edge ring.
3. Make a few more extrusions and move them if you wish to give the fins a certain direction.
4. It is optional to use the top polygon to create a spike (as shown above).
5. Select the polygons between the extrusions (it is advised not to select the top parts).
6-7. Make one or more extrusions with a very low value and use Scale to narrow the distance.
You have 2 options for closing the fin8. Option one - Adjust the upper edges to form a smooth line. This way you keep everything quads but if you are making allot of fins it would mean going through each one and doing it by hand.
9-10. Option Two - This way is more automatic but results in some tri's: first convert your polygon selection to vertex holding control and switching to vertex mode through the icons (not the shortcut), get back to your polygon selection and delete them. get back to the vertexes and weld them.