Nov 28, 2009

Way TOO much on the go!!!

Man what a week...

This was officially the busiest week I've had in months!!! Between work (2 days at regular and two late days at the daycare), trying to get rid of the old car, arrange the borrowed car, taking the last of Germ-man Traum photos, a farewell dinner for said German as he and his wife leave for good in 3 days *tear*, and finally a pretty full on migraine my week has completely disappeared!

There was next to no time for blogging, 3Ding, or anything else overly productive (other then principle Traum photography... which I guess is a big deal. I just haven't been doing a lot of them this year, and so they feel out of place).

Last weekend during my Peter phone call, I did get to starting the prey for my Mosasaur. This Kiwi fossil here, the Aristonectidae Kaiwhekea. It is a fairly specialized and unique form of Plesiosaur. I'll be going into my detail on this once I get to the serious work on the model.

Here's where I have gotten too. The big "breakthrough" (more like smart use of a simple process... 90% of art is use of common sense I'm finding) is the display of my references in 3D space. It is simplistic, it isn't really interact able, but it is handy when tweaking proportions and limb placements to have my references floating there.
I will do a proper post on how to do this later. Hopefully this weekend I can reclaim some of my time... but I have to start packing soon, and have a farewell a week till we depart (resulting in our own big farewell) so I'm not expecting any earth shattering artistic developments.

Nov 20, 2009

I think we're onto a winner here...

As all Mark 5 models must now include a skeletal rig for posing (why I'd do the hard, long, and inaccurate old fashion posing anymore is beyond me!) I added a skeleton to the Tylosaur today.

This is one of 3 models I've ever built that I do not hate (though looking back on one of them today might have that revised to just this model now...). In fact I'm so proud of this model, that after a few more tweaks I'm considering firing off a few shots to Mike Everhart (Mosasaur guru extrodinare) for his opinion!

Nov 15, 2009

Was I complaining about Mark: 5's before?

Okay, so officially I've blown myself away. When the Tylosaur only had its body shader it looked like any of my other models. By the time I'd textured up the head and lower jaw it was becoming clear this wasn't one of my typical models...

I seriously can not believe I built this. Of course the kicker is, we've all seen this model throughout the week, but with the new Mark: 5 shading, it looks like a something completely different!

That and I think I managed to capture the Monitor Lizard feel I was aiming for!

I also feel I'm closing the gap between myself and Dinoraul, a 3D modeller on Renderosity whom I respect, and frankly envy the models of... Though I have to say apart from his more detailed modelling and shading, I have actually outdone him a Prehistoric critter. This is more due to his lack of correctness on the anatomy, everything from the skull back on this guy is dead wrong!
Though I would like to be able to match his modelling detail and shading. At least I've outdone him on something :P

Next step with the Tylosaur is to skeletonize him, and add my own details... once I learn to Vertex.

Now We're Talking

Good progress on the Tylosaur today.
Sadly I had to replace the blue undercoat. It just wasn't looking real, or Monitor Lizard. Replace it with a brown of the same style and...

I think I've nailed it pretty much on the head!

Here is the original Julius Csotonyi that inspired me to take it this way... I think I'm nailing the idea in my own way!

Still just a Mark 5

Slugging away on Tylosaur bits and pieces. The good thing about being sick is that it means I can happily zombie my way through tedious tasks. The bad thing is I can't think about them as I do them.

Fortunately I've gotten my thinking in Photoshop (well Paintshop) layers to such a level that it is second nature even in zombie mode for me to create a new layer for everything... Whether it needs one or not :P

I started to test out the Monitor Lizard component of the shader. This was the first go, and though it is promising in premise, the scales were just way way too big!

If your confused as to what I'm aiming for, it is a pattern similar to this fellow here. I'm wondering if I need to lighten up my Tylosaurs under coats so that the black will be as contrasting as it is on this lizard?

Mucking with scale size I'm closer to the effect now. I just have to apply patience to creating the black pattern, and I should achieve the results I'm looking for.

A bit more conversing with David, and I follow what he meant by Newt-like now (he was very kind to elaborate). Specifically how my tail flaring causes it to be way taller then the back and belly of the beast. I can see what he means, but I'm wanting my Mosasaur to feel a little primitive and awkward, so I'm okay with this feeling. Though David is correct in it causing some sense of scale issues, so I will have to meditate on these at some point.

Some sea snakes, in particular the Yellow-Bellied (Pelamis platurus), have a very flared fin that runs above and below their tail.

Granted it is not as dramatic or exaggerated as my Mosasaurs, but I just mention it as I want every feature of my Mosasaur to denote something Varniod in nature.

Most artists don't make their Mosasaurs have the distinctly lizard like profile I'm going for. The belly sticks out, the sides stick out in the midriff area, and my tail tapers before the fin flares out. These are all none hydrodynamic features, granted, but modern Monitor Lizards are incredibly good swimmers. In my mind all you'd have to do is stick a bit of a fin like mine on them here, and they'd be super good swimmers.

Don't believe me, I've TRIED to include this video of a Nile Monitor going after a swimming snake (aka swimming Varniod vs. swimming Varniod!!!). Notice how with a similar profile to my Tylosaur the Monitor has no trouble at all swimming through the water. Add a fin to him and I think he won't get out of the lake!

Nov 14, 2009


Like always I didn't get as much done this afternoon as I'd have liked, but at least I did get in a bit.

Sadly this cold I'm currently afflicted with has dulled my mental capacity to a point where Vertex modelling is just too demanding. I will be giving it a go though as soon as possible.

The big accomplishment of the day are the flippers which I have reconstructed as webbed toes. I have never understood why most Mosasaur restorations have the flippers as nice solid proper flippers like on Pleiosaurs and Ichthyosaurs.

The fingers of these two animals are nice and packed together clearly forming a nice flipper. Mosasaur fingers are not nicely packed together, and curve away from each other slightly. This strikes me as much more in common with lots of other aquatic creatures with splaided digits. The gaps aren't filled with solid tissue. They have skin stretch across and for webbing.

I am also playing with the beginning of the colour scheme. There is a lot of work that will be going into the texture of this guy, as again I want him to look like a Monitor Lizard in patterning. However with the colour I wanted a more ocean colour scheme. Hence the blue. Does it look semi believable at this stage? Keeping in mind it is an undercoat.

Tail End

After some fusing and tinkering the Tylosaur has gone through various forms of its tail...

David pointed out my first version looked something like a Newt. Doing some quick research i can justify this look as many sea snakes have a fin setup quite simialr to a Newt's. Meaning despite being a little simplistic, it is still a very Varanoid trait, and as my piece is trying to be an ubber Varanoid Mosasaur that's cool.

Though I never did get around to posting a Mosasaur question on Ask a Biologist, I did have a conversation with my former roommate Will. The same Will who at moment is doing his Masters on fossil lizards (though not Varanoids mind you, but still he knows his stuff)!

He has informed me there is no definitive consensus about Mosasaur tail soft tissue construction. The two theories that are favoured/debated at moment are either roughly equal symmetrical fins running on the top and bottom OR that like most Ichthyosaurs the back end of the tail tapered downward and a large fleshy fin would be supported above it (not as extreme as an Ichthy though)... Meaning my then current Mosa, seen here is WRONG. As I only have a fleshy fin underneath...

Will personally likes the symmetrical theory, and at moment so do I. In my case it is purely aesthetically, and to me it looks more primitive to have fins on the top and bottom compared to a single upper fin. So here are some of the test versions I've cranked out.





D is the current version, but I can change it back to any of the earlier ones with ease. Which do people like or dislike.

I've finally come down with my first illness of the year (a record 9 months working with kids straight, and only finally now just catching something!) so am pretty slow today. I am trying to get myself to Vertex modelling, but have been finding myself easily distracted by everything and anything... Keep you posted once I get to Vertexing...

I'm also starting to think about shading and how to go about it. The tail potential presents me with some crazy challenges.

So onward and upward.

Nov 12, 2009

A double sided day

Today has been the backdrop for a lot of things.

First and foremost, at least to my family back home (I'm not as involved as I could be), there has been a potential tragic development with an extended family member. There is still a chance of an optimistic outcome, but yet there is a lot of potential for a very somber ending too. So that has sapped the fun out of my day off.

At the same time this event itself wasn't what ruined my day, mind you, it is my complete detach from the situation emotionally that has me worried. I've been told many times in situations where death and loss are involved, I'm eerily apathetic and clinical about such affairs. As I'm doing it once again, I worry, and thus feel unhappy, that I'm a broken person or something?

I just accept death easily. It is the only certainty of life. Getting upset about its occurrence seems as silly to me as getting upset that gravity keeps drawing your foot to the ground with each step while walking... Yet I worry that somehow this makes me an inferior person, as most around me seem to think I should be more sad or moved by these situations...

Instead I've been (trying anyway) to use this gift of spare time usefully for creative things. I've been somewhat successful as you'll see. At the same time I've been dealt almost too much potential for artistic growth today.

This morning I made a key stop at the Uni print shop and got the Vertex modelling chapter from Carrara's help manual printed. It was proving next to impossible to use the program while referencing the PDF help file at the same time. So I broke down today and splurged the $10 to print the hefty chapter so I could seriously tackle it.

Yet at the same time I got a very intriguing and tempting email from DAZ (the company that maintains Carrara) about a sale on Blacksmith Paint 3D. This is a 3D painting program of the variety I've been wanting to track down and learn for months now, so I can kick my texturing up to pro levels, and it at a price NEARLY within my price range!!!

So I have been dealt a conundrum today. Whether to jump into the Vertex or play with a demo version of the new painting program simply to see if it interests me?

So far I've been testing the painting program, as the sale is a limited time offer. I'm not 100% certain yet, but it is looking very promising. My key complaint at moment is there is no user manual or comprehensive help section for me to reference whether I can do what I want with the program. Superficially it seems to do what I want, but the finer details are hard to check as I don't know my way around the program!
I've also made some more changes and improvements to the Tylosaur.

In there you can just make out the extra "second jaw" of teeth on the palate. One of my favourite features of Mosasaurs and their relatives is this extra set of teeth at the back of the throat that keep prey from escaping once in the mouth.

I've also started to rework the fins into something a little more leggy. Afterall Mosasaurs were lizards that reentered the water, and as they swam like a snake by undulating their body the fins weren't that important.

Did some more work after this post originally went up.
Still no updates on the family issue... which has become very time sensitive (for a good outcome).
The 3D paint program while appearing to be ideal for my purposes, is probably not a wise purchase at this point. It has been pointed out by many to be an unwise time (moving in 5.5 weeks) to make such a purchase, and that I'm probably making the purchase to try and ease my current emotional state (aka filling the void).
I did do some more work on the Tylosaur though...

After some research I have found that Mosasaur tails and Mosasaur flippers/fins are essentially up to the artist, as there is no standard. I also couldn't find any official academic answers, though like the lips I've posed them to ask a Biologist.

So I've gone with a sea snake tail, as it is common practise by cutting edge Mosasaur artists, and still connects it to its ancestry... as that is my aim with this critter.

So with the Painting program a bust (for now), I'm moving onto Vertexing with a vengeance this weekend...

Nov 11, 2009

The Monitoring goes on

Managed to sneak in some more work on the Mosasaur... or should I say Tylosaurus as of today. As he is starting to look like what I want him too. Due to time constraints of a few end of NZ projects this post will be nothing more then pictures.

Let me know what you think...

Nov 10, 2009

Monitoring the Mosasaur

Righto, not a lot of time for a coherent or detailed post.
In a nutshell, this Mosasaur by Julius Csotonyi has become my be all and end all inspiration for how I want my Mosasaur to look...

The key to its success is how much he has brought the Monitor Lizard ancestry out in the Mosasaur.
Now without going into too much detail (as I'm compiling an ART Evolved article on my method and process here) here is my effort so far tonight to try and Monitor Lizardify my Tylosaur.

Here is how much I have progressed so far. The top being where I started with the Mark: 2 Mosa, and below is the begin of the Mark: 6 (though it is still a Mark: 2 in its composition... watch for Mark: 6 updates once I dive into this form of modelling)

Just a teaser of my upcoming ART Evolved article on using extant and extinct references... So watch there too.

A shot to give you an idea of how I've changed this guy into a more Komodoish look critter.

Here he is fully lite. Helps to have both lighting forms for contrasts.

Open mouth shot, that hopefully looks as much like a Monitor to you as I believe it does to me.

Though this is still very much a work in progress! If anything it is a work only just beginning!!!