Tuesday, 19 August 2014

Making Myths: Benstravaig

Not so long ago I did a very quick thumbnail sketch in Mischief as part of a monster challenge. Unbelievably, my name was picked out of a hat and as a result I will soon be the lucky recipient of a Wacom Intuos Pro. Thank you so much Mischief makers, my venerable Intuos 3 can now be retired.

Thumbnail sketch made in Mischief
It wasn't a very well executed thumbnail, but I liked the idea enough to develop further. I live in Scotland and had originally planned to choose one of its many mythical beasts, but in the end decided to make one up. Often while standing agog at the beautiful environmental effects dancing round Arthur's Seat, I see a giant sleeping beast and imagine what it would be like if, after all these millions of years, Arthur's Seat suddenly stood up, shook itself down and walked off.
I'm sure this idea is not unique but don't want to be visually influenced, so no research is done in that area. My beast should have a local name which, in the highlands would be Gael inspired, so (hopefully) I stitched the most obvious Gaelic words together; Benstravaig - roaming mountain.

Pick-axe snout
Benstravaig has no predators, so it lumbers across the landscape in its own time on its own path regardless. Its pick-axe snout and tail gouges a deep crater-like nest in the ground. Once settled in the nest, nature soon hides the seams and it becomes indistinguishable from any other mountain. Benstravaig then happily absorbs water and nutrients for as long as the environment remains stable. Eventually though, over millions of years, lands shift and weather changes. The roaming mountain is deprived of sustenance, so it stands up, shakes itself down and strolls off to new pastures. Where do roaming mountains come from? No one knows, though some say they are born as small islands in the lochs of Scotland.

Over the last few versions, Pixologic's ZBrush has made it so easy to create anything from a virtual lump of clay that it is often quicker and more intuitive to sketch designs in 3D. With tools like DynaMesh, ZRemesher, a plethora of sculpting brushes and Spotlight for texture painting, I soon had me a new myth. Snout and tail designed for digging, strong thickset legs and the mountain top back, which is where water and nutrients are absorbed. Its mouth is not for eating, but grinding stubborn rocks while nest making.
Below is a turntable movie also made in ZBrush.

(or view bigger 20mb movie here)

I then exported the model to Cinema 4D and set up a basic scene with trees, rocks and smoke effects.

(or view bigger 3.5mb movie here)

And here's a side view of the legendary Benstravaig, rendered in Cinema 4D and as ever finished in Photoshop.