Monday, March 21, 2011

Zbrush - Nazi Dinosaurs are a huge thumbs-up

So this week I began the process of quad modeling the base mesh for my next ZBrush sculpt in my digital sculpture class. We were supposed to create concept art for a quadruped creature, preferably with a mix of hard and soft surfaces. Immediately, my mind went to "awesome dinosaur with huge ol' guns on it", because... well, because it is awesome. I found lots of great stuff from the old Dino-Riders cartoon for inspiration, and then came across this beauty.

It was created for an upcoming game, Dino D-Day, for release on Steam for PCs April 8th. Man, I fell in love. It is fantastic concept art, wonderfully tied down and realized (I do wish it had a better front view with the whole anatomy, but who am I to complain?). I know I'm not skilled enough to create the concept art to this level, so I spoke with my instructor who said that if I can contact the developer for the game, he'd give me permission to use the art for the project.

I did some research, found the contact email for the developer and sent off an inquiry. The next morning, this email was waiting for me:

Hi Matt,

You have my permission to use our concept art for your project. Thanks for the high praise.

The only request I have is that you don’t show us up! This model’s already built and will soon be unveiled when the game hits Steam at the end of the month.

Best of luck. Send me some pictures when you get it finished!


So awesome.

I began the research process, looking up as much reference as I could, gathering images and articles from across the web. I gathered images of Styracosaurus, Triceratops and similar dinosaurs, focusing on anatomical reference, scale and color patterns and images to help inform me of their shape - in particular, how the back of the neck connects with the back of the crest, and how their legs are shaped from the front view, as well as general shape were it not wearing a giant mobile gun platform. Also, I looked up similar animals, such as the rhino, and gathered information about how to go about building out the topology, especially around the shoulders, as it would need to deform well, and I've never built a 3d model of a quadruped.

Additionally, in my research, I found that the original piece was created by an artist named Ben Mauro, a former student of DigiPen. All the more reason to really try to nail this project.

With all the research in place, I started the modeling process, using the side view to patch model out the basic topography of the first bit of the dinosaur, then pulling the geometry into place to begin forming the contours.

At this point, my friend Mario Toon gave me some tips on modifying the topology around the shoulder, ensuring the edge loops run concentrically around them to help deformation, should I end up animating the model. Taking his advice, I removed a copy of the front leg and got to work fixing the problem.

I then finished out the basic shape of the front leg - it is going to need a lot of revisiting soon, to get the musculature and shape correct, but at least the topology is all there.

I'll post more as I get the model further along, but I've got other projects due soon that need my attention.


  1. Sweet stuff! There's only one thing worse that a nazi dinosaur, and I have no idea what it is...