Anatomy Of A Dragon WIP for later DVD Training

Hey all, I’ve been working on and off on this for the past two weeks. It will possibly be used for one of my next DVD Training.

I wanted to make something challenging in terms of Anatomy and animation with realistic deformations. Well, thats why I chose a Dragon. Dragon can walk on 2 and 4 legs, plus they have long tails and Huge wings. Now thats a lot of muscle anatomy to figure out, which is the actual fun part.

I will be using Maya for modeling, CMusclesSystem for rigging, ZBrush and Photoshop for texturing, Syflex for the wings membranes and Magic Unflod for UVs.

Quick explaination of my process.

  1. I start with a concept
  2. I make research for anatomy purpose, in this case, I chose to go with dinosaurs anatomy and Bat wings, since its the closest to dragons.
  3. I model the entire Skeleton in polygons.
  4. I then rig the poly skeleton by parenting the poly bones to the maya joints.
  5. I attache all the visible muscles that will be use for deformations and do test animations to see how realisticaly it moves and giggle.
  6. I then make the membrane of the wings with Syflex cloths and simulate it with the test animations for tweeking.
  7. I then polypatch model the dragons using the muscles and bones has a edgeloop flow guides.
  8. I then Do the UVs using Magic Unfold.
  9. I then completly Rig the Dragon Mesh to the poly bones and muscles with CMuscleSystem.
  10. I then add a lot of details to the mesh In ZBrush, creating bump maps, displacement maps and color maps.
  11. I then bring those in Photoshop to tweek those a bit and creat extra specular maps and SSS maps.
  12. I bring all that back in Maya, Using Mental Ray for the shaders and render.
  13. I do the final animation.
  14. I render and thats it.

Sounds crazy doesnt IT? But it work for me (my minotaur for exemple was created the same way)

Here Is what I got so far, hope everyones like it. Oh and the DVD Training will not be out for another 3 to 4 months, because I’m working on other Projects and DVD training as well!

Any comments and crits are welcome.:wink:





That’s pretty cool so far.

Awesome concept! HOpefully their will be more muscles? The face needs love too.

If it’s going to be on four legs the arms should probably be bigger.

awsome, I cnat wait to get buy this, so you said 3-4 days right?:slight_smile: hehe boo months:(

or u just blocking in anatomy or prepping your influence obj or ?

very interesting / just wondered what you are working on first!

I’ll try to answer everyone right now:

The Polygon Skeleton is already rigged and ready for deformaing a mesh using CMuscleSystem as you can use polygons as bones. Now the Muscles are generated from SurfaceAttached locators from poly faces, vertices or even edges, and the muscles are simply attached at those specific locations that you of course predetermines. After that, the only thing left to do is to add giggles to each muscles, set thier intensity.
Once I’m happy with the result, and that I find it beleivable enought, I start making other parts like the wings Membranes using cloths or syflex in this case. Once that is done, I then Start polypatching around the actual muslces and bones and wings membranes, so I can get something more anatomicaly correct in therms of polyflow, for good deformations and also to keep all quads.

I dont do muscles in the face cause I will use a facial rig with some bones for more realistic animation and more control, but also for the ability to motion capture some facial expression, if required! In this case, probably not, I just find it usefull for better control!

Now for the arms behing to short, if you look at certain dinosaurs, well some are both able to walk with the back legs, but also with the front legs as well, in this case, those dinosaures have shorter arms, cause they crouche down, its all in the ballance of the pelvis. Did my study on that one :stuck_out_tongue: But all and all, its because I want him moslty to be able to walk on 2 foots. Easyer to animate with some objects in its hands or something…

Thanks all for the nice comments, I will be updating as I go along. I cannot really give and exact date for the Training DVD, but I will in a little while!


excuse me if i d’ont read all posts (i have some difficulties with the language) but i should point out some details…
your wing’s muscles are too big, and for this problem you should precise the rib cage: it is the shoulder of the wing wich is most important, on your model it’s not set out (???) well: there is a bone we call “bréchet” I think the translation is wishbone on wich muscles of the wing must be attached, here is a quick drawing

next, of course your dragon need muscles but more you are away from the shoulder, more you have to put resistance and not strenght so there is more tendons and ligaments…

of corse everybody have it’s own point of view…

for the remain, it is cool, exept the missing fibula but if you succed to continue without it is not important…
it miss jaws muscles wich can be visible.

nice york, your dragon is very awsome!:wink:anayc0.jpg

Very nice indeed!! :+1:

Looking forward to more of this.

you got your work cut for you , that s for sure

however looking at your previous minotaur , I’m sure you will do a good job
as for the training DVD… I’m looking at all these excternal applications that u r using
Not everyone can affor all these applications , unless they r a big studio
in any case…looking forward to see the final result
PS what is magin unfold…never heard of that one before ?

Thanks all for those nice comments, its very motivating!

Sorry If I dont update as much as I should, just that I’m struggling trough so many projects right now, since Christmas is comming, trying to get rid of some of my contracts. So I can have some time off!

ashaiad: You are absolutly right. I know most of those softwares are very expencive. Maya is expencive, Syflex is expencive and Photoshop and all the adobe products are expencive. However, CMuscleSystem isnt that expencive. Neither ZBrush, neither Magic Unfold (magic unfold sais it all, it magicaly ufold for you with minimum work require, and it does a hell of a job! Google it for more info)

Now, other plugins out there that are less expencive that do similar things are not expencive either. For exemple MuscleTK isnt expencive at all, and does a hell of a good job too. The process is rather very similar.

You can always use Maya Cloth for your wings membranes. The process again is very similar. The reason why I use syflex is because its really fast and very easy to use. Simply.

Another thing to keep in mind is that, you dont need to buy a licence for every computer in the shop, only those that will actualy use and render with the plugin.

Another thing also is that, small sacrifices like this can give a better result, therefore giving more contract, and possibly more money. Which is always good. Its just that you need to enhence your workflow to arrive to a disered result.

Small sacrifices can meen big emproovment in most cases…


cant waitto see the final result

i tried looking for Magic Unfold , with no luck…if you can post the link it will be great
or are you refering to the pelting tool ?

pretty sweat!! looking forward to your updates :slight_smile:

Really awesome! I have to get around to trying it for myself, though my results won’t be half as amazing. :smiley:

Also check out customs courses