Making of 'Compsognathus'
My name is Hugo Costa, I'm from Portugal and with this mini tutorial I'll show you briefly how I created this little guy. I've always liked dinosaurs and Compsognathus in particular and I created this one using Cinema 4D, Corel Photo-Paint and xNormal for the Normal Map generation. The Cinema 4D layout can be seen in Fig.01.
I started by making the dino's base mesh in a neutral position from a cube. I quickly tried to work out some major volumes and then made a basic rig to sketch out some poses using PoseMixer. Every pose was stored on a layer so I could easily jump from one to another, or neutralize him again, without losing anything. This allowed me to explore various possibilities for his final pose. Before I finished the model I placed him in his final position. The posed dino helped me to find the right camera angle and set the proportions of the environment. Working with posed models through the final camera helps you to see which details will have the focus in the scene, which then allows you to avoid wasting time by making or detailing unnecessary elements. With the dinosaur modeled, I was then able to focus on the environment (Fig.02).
All of the texturing was done in BodyPaint and Photo-Paint (2500 x 2500px for the dino). I used Normal Maps generated with xNormal and tweaked them with Corel to push up some fine details. The UV mapping was quite easy. I used regular unwrapping tools and for the rest of the scene, I used simple UV mapping coordinates like UV cylinder. I spent some time doing research to find some good reference material and to get an idea about camera angles and the kind of feeling I wanted to recreate in my piece. I gathered pictures of lizards (mostly the Komodo dragon; I really liked the pattern of the scales), wood, dirt, rock and other textures and then laid out some basic colors in BodyPaint to use as guide. I then used the Freeze 3D view to freeze the viewport on the desired angle and started adding details and mixing textures in Photo-Paint (which supports PSD layers). I then merged the modified image back into BodyPaint and isolated the counter of the scales based on the references to be used as mask. Next I overlaid it over the basic comp and started adding more textures over it. I also created some custom brushes to help me speed up the process. The background is a simple photo that I blurred to match the macro type seen from a real camera. (Fig.03 - Fig.05).
The lighting setup was pretty simple. I used one infinite light (Sun) no shadows, two infinite area lights to push up some details and two omni lights (soft shadows 85%) to fill. I also used a skylight with HDRI and an environment object with 10% strength (R: 208 G: 218 B: 221). The image was rendered using Cinema 4D's Advanced Render, with GI (standard settings), AO and multi-pass rendering. I finally imported all the passes into Corel Photo- Paint for further refinement. Here I was able to calibrate the light and provide the mood that I was looking for. It is much easier to control the entire composition using separate passes (Fig.06).
And here's the final image (Fig.07).
I had a good time and learned a lot throughout the making of this image. I would like to thank 3DTotal for the opportunity and also thanks to all the readers!