Though the bulk of SpecEvo fiction was created before the digital age, there was a brief boom in the early 2000's where Discovery Channel funded SpecEvo special like The Future is Wild and Dragons. I have extremely fond memories of The Future is Wild, I had to beg my parents to let me stay up to watch it in its midnight timeslot, which speaks to the confidence the network CEO's had in the project. Nevertheless, CG projects such as these made it imperative that I manage to present some of my creatures as 3D models.
In its current iteration, the Amphiterra Project contains four creatures rendered as 3D models. One, the catastrophic fraggon, is a Zbrush sculpt rendered in Zbrush. We begin by translating its orthographic view into an isometric concept for what the final piece could look like. This also involved doing some motion studies on what the fraggon could move like, in order to produce a more naturalistic pose.
By exporting a turntable within its native system, the sculpt can have a super-high polycount without the need for mapping a normal map over a lower poly model for rendering. (More on this method later.) In terms of process, the creation of the fraggon is fairly straight forward; we take Zbrush's clay-like modeling system and refine the model in more and more detail with further iterations incorporating color and surface details with the polypaint system.
Once I got the sculpt up to an acceptable level of detail, I sculpted a cross section of the creature's environment.
With this set-up, I can then export out the turntable and compile it in Aftereffects.
This process gives us the finished piece for the fraggon, but the other three CG models expand upon this process in order to give a model that can be interacted with in a directly embeddable fashion.
The temperate freeple model began as a box-modeled object, since the creature's tightly posed geometry would be difficult in Zbrush's native modeler.
In Zbrush, the model is then refiined into a high-poly sculpt.
Instead, using Zbrush's decimation master plug-in, a low-poly sculpt is made, then unwrapped in Zbrush's UV master.
The now-unwrapped model is then loaded into Substance Painter 2, where a combination of handpainted and procedurally generated layers of effects are used to create a skin surface, including depth and height to simulate three-dimensional skin details without the need for additional geometry.
Maps can then be exported out of Substance and into Marmoset, where I can fine-tune lighting to interact with the generated maps. Not only can this be used for high quality 2D renders, but I can export the object to be hosted on Artstation and embed code into the Amphiterra site.
This page details the 3D process for Amphiterra, and if you haven't checked it out yet, please read the page on ILLUSTRATION. Or, if you're all caught up, it's finally time to to check out the CONCLUSION!