Making of Moment before "Extinction" by Damir G Martin
It has been long since we covered a good tutorial. After the popularity of Damir's work on the Giant Octopus and him sharing how he worked it out on CGTantra, we have him tell us about the "Moment Before Extinction"
We asked Damir, what was absorbing up his time currently, and here is what he had to say; there are a lot many challenges he has set for him.
"Currently I'm freelancing as a computer graphic generalist, mostly in the advertisement industry.
Trying to profile myself as a character and concept artist, but that is something that takes time; for one to become specialized in a single thing.
Alongwith freelancing, I'm writing and working on my DinoMonsters project. That is something that is bound to happen, but it has slowed down significantly due to the freelance duties. Whenever I can get some spare time, I plunge into creation of a new piece. I was always into storytelling, that's why I love making images with back stories. I prefer images that convey something more than just modeling and rendering skills.
I have started a Modeling Marathon on February 1st. Goal is to model 55 dragon designs till the end of February.I needed a challenge for myself, both physical and mental, just like a real Marathon should be :)
Going back to the Tutorial, to The Moment of Extinction
Damir speaks on the skeleton / Fossil
For this image I chose Diplodocus, one of the best known giant Sauropods to date. Based on many fossilized bones and some foot print discoveries, scientist were able to understand much of how this animal might have looked and lived way back in the Jurassic period. These findings enable us, people of art and imagination to flesh out this exciting, astounding world of Dinosaurs.
It all started in Zbrush. Modeling Diplodocus low poly body using Zspheres was my first step. Getting the base rough shape and being satisfied with the way zsphere construction turned out I began adding more detail into the Diplodocus, things like underlying pieces such as muscle and prominent bone structure around hips and shoulder blades, or my best guesses where something like that should be. Once I was satisfied with the shapes bumpy skin texture was next on the list.
Note: Diplodocus model was created in 2010 when I was hired by E-on software's Cornucopia 3D, website dedicated to 3D content sales to produce about dozen prethistoric animals.
I used my own customized alpha brushes that I created specifically for my dinosaur ventures.
This is where I use both standard Zbrush brushes and my own customized ones to get overall result quickly, and am doing some of the parts manually to make it all look as seamless as possible.
Research says Color diplos brownish/grey
Next step is color. I chose the brownish/grey, dull, earth color tones for these large animals. It is believed that they probably had such coloration because of their size, just like a modern elephant, hypo or rhino does. They were bigger then the rest, and no other animals posed any real threat to them, thus they didn't need any camouflage or live colors to look threatening.
Anyways, for the proper render, you need color map or diffuse, same thing named differently depending on the app. You need displacement and normal map rendered with tangent space coordinate method, Tangent normal mapping is ideal for character modeling, unlike object-space Nm that is considered to better suit riggid and hard surface modeling.
Other 3d component for this image was the Dactyloids, small prehistoric flying reptiles, in this case I was not trying to model any specific species I know of, just needed some birdlike creatures of the past. I love the possibility of Diplodocus herd being accompanied with hundreds of these flying Dactyloids, hanging on Diplodocus bodies and necks, coexisting in a magic symbiotic relationship . Just as with Diplodocus, I constructed it using Zspheres, then did some retopo for the wings and modeled the rough shape.
After I came up with the shape I was satisfied with, I continued by applying bump to it's skin, coloring it and exporting Dactyle in multiple poses together with color map. I havent used bump or displacement map for this creature as it was way to small for giving it that much attention.
3ds Max role
Having all the major elements modeled, Diplodocus and dactyle flyers I proceeded to 3ds max to arrange the animals, lighting, position camera, establish the look of the piece.
Fun working particles...scattering Dactyles
I had fun playing with particle emmiters which I used to scatter dactyles across the sky and backs of Diplodocus dinosaurs, it would be too hard and time consuming if I had to manually scatter and position Dactyles over the entire scene, cos I think this scene counts over 500 hundred Dactyles in it.
Scene was rendered with Mental ray using standard settings, nothing fancy. Some Global Illumination to get bit more real feel, some reflectiveness and matte shadow ground, as I used photography for the ground that was composited at a later stage in photoshop.
This scene has quit a lot layers and alpha channels in it, and it only grew when I started tweaking it in photoshop.
I never count my layers in photoshop but I think I went well over 50 layers with this image.
Snapshot shows about 30 layers, which were merged with other sublayers on couple occasions as to keep the file size managable. Imagine having 100-200 layers on a file at 13-15k in width, I know my machine wouldn't like it at all.
As you can see, I wasn't clear about the background till the very finish. I was having second thoughts between monumental cloud chain or misty white background. I chose later one cos it better fitted the story and the mysterious feel I was after. In my vision, artificialy created black hole was planted in the middle of a big lake, when activated, it started sucking in surrounding living environment causing the lake to evaporate, thus, misty white background suits this image better imho.
Photographs used for compositing are my pics I've taken over last couple of years while on cross country during summer times. These pics are panoramic shots stiched to a sizes of 15-25k in width.
I love photography and I do it whenever I can or have some time, especially since I managed to upgrade to Canon 7D recently, I became even more drawn to it.
Also, had load of work with Diplodocus foot prints, and additionally painting water puddles inside most of the foot prints left around the bigger water streams..
This piece was joy to work on, and I'm really looking forward to make more of dinosaurs themed images.
Dont stop dreaming!
We would like to thank Damir Martin for sharing this Moment and his Vision on CGTantra...and love the fact that his work leaves a lot of click prints :)