Making Of 'Comatules'


The scene "Comatules" was inspired from real comatules living between Africa and Australia.

It used Lightwave 9 and Photoshop. I also used F-Prime to get realtime feedback while lighting and texturing which was a great help.

I first started with the ground. I created a plane, subdivided it (Shift+D), turned it into a sub-patch (TAB key), then modified it by moving a few points and using smooth shift (shift+F) (image1).


The main tentacles was next created from just boxes joined together using the bridge tool (Construct\Combine\Bridge), all in sub-patch (image2).


After working more on those 2 parts, I put them together and modified them in order to have the tentacles rest on the floor. I also added some medium-sized rocks which were made of some smooth deformed boxes (image3).


When finished with that, I started working on one of the comatule. I created some points, made a polygon of them (P), extruded it. Then using the Knife tool (Shift+K) I added more faces where I needed it (image4).


After moving around some points, I selected the points of the bottom part of the comatule, then applied a "Jitter" deformation (Modify\Transform\Jitter) to add some randomness (image5).


Once the comatule was done, I added the bones using the simple 'skeletons' (just draw the bones). I added around 20 of them inside the comatule (image6).


In layout, I added 2 nulls (the orange crosses in that image) and set them as IK Goals. To do that, in "controller and Limits" in the motion panel (shortcut M) make sure the Heading, Pitch and Bank are set to Inverse Kinematics. Then select 2 bones and target them to the 2 nulls. (in the same motion panel) 1 IK goal would have been fine but I added 2 to have more control (image7).


I opened the main scene file, and started placing the comatules on the main 'tubes', Adjusting the IK goals every time, to make each comatule a different shape (image8).


More comatules...


They are all there. At this point, there were a total of 903 bones for 39 comatules (image10).


I started lighting the scene by putting a large area light pointing down (Light quality 3 with shading noise reduction On). I also added a background image (image11).


After that, I applied a linear fog which is using the background colours and then adjusted the lighting intensity (image12).


To add textures I did not use UV map for the object. I only used regular projections. Having all those layers separated in LW allowed me to change them quickly and see in real-time with F-Prime exactly how the comatule would look.

Colour attributes
(image 13).


Bump attributes
(image 14).


Luminosity attributes
(image 15).


Comatule renders
(image16, 17 and 18).




Then I textured the ground with another texture from's Total Textures (image19).


Another render of the scene


After that, I created another kind of underwater 'plant', quickly made a subpatch from a simple box


Then I added particles. These were made from regular points, which I created using the tool "spray points". I made a big block of them, then copied them 4 or 5 times in the scene (image22).


The last organism was this thing sticking to the rock, also made of sub-patch (image23).


I added all those elements into the scene and added depth of field. Depth of field was quick to set up. Just remember to press shift+F9 which will show you a DOF preview in openGL. (image24).


Render (image25).


To finish the image in Photoshop, I adjusted the overall colouring by changing from a perfect blue water to a more green and dirty water colour. After, I made a copy of the image, applied find edge filter, inverted it and mixed the rendering with linear dodge. A slight blur was also added around the yellow (Most of those post effects were done later directly in LW to render an animation).


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