Creative Elements 1

The Railroad Worm

So recently I’ve taken to the habit of keeping my notebook beside me if I’m watching ‘Planet Earth II’ because the amount of inspiration for creature designs and behaviours is crazy! But there was one creature in particular that caught my eye; the Railroad Worm.

Now don’t let the name deceive you, because the Railroad Worm actually looks like a caterpillar and yet again in a double twist, it is technically classified as a Beetle Larva. It gets its name from the distinct lights on the side and front of it’s long coach-like body giving it the appearance of a small train. The worm is nocturnal, and uses the brightly coloured lights to warn predators not to eat it. It’s sides feature yellow-green tinted lights where as the head features a red light. On a tangent, when I was researching its bio luminescence I found out it is caused by an enzyme known as ‘lucirferases’ which comes from the name ‘Lucifer’ meaning ‘Light-Bearer’. This has influenced my idea for the character I’m curating in a large way which I will explain momentarily.

So the reason it has these two different coloured lights is because when it is hunting for millipedes, it has both sets on. However when it picks of the trail of a nearby prey it will enter ‘stealth-mode’ by turning off the side lights leaving only the red lights on. The reasoning for this, is that it has evolved to know that millipedes can’t see red light! They are unable to absorb that area of the spectrum and I found that insanely fascinating.

My sketches began in my Granny’s house in Carnlough up the coast where I started with a typical centipede-looking shape with a mean face that was partially inspired by the Ice Wraiths from ‘The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim’ however I moved toward a bulkier appearance with a signature feature becoming a gelatinous orb atop the beast’s head. The colour scheme I had in mind at the time was blue, similar to that of the caterpillar from Tim Burton’s ‘Alice in Wonderland’ films.


After deciding the direction I wanted to take the design, I decided to do a few studies to understand how to paint a creature like this. I began with looking up an image of a railroad worm and painting on to a dark canvas. Then to add a sense of scale and some further lighting I added a knight with a torch stumbling upon his demise. I don’t paint very often but recently I’ve taken a fondness to it and this study certainly sparked something in me.

Railworm Study - 21-12-16.png

As a follow up to this I wanted to try another creature, and so I chose a crab so as to understand the texture of the carapace I wanted my beast to have. This “study” turned out to be my most successful digital painting to date, and I had a lot of fun with it! It was my first time painting all on one layer and it’s inspired me to do a lot more like it.


At this stage I’ve moved on to starting to sketch some of the possible looks for the worm. Now, before when I mentioned about the origin of the enzyme it obviously reminded me of the devil in Christianity who governs hell. Hell lead me to fire, which again in turn made me think of the idea that this gelatinous sac on its head that I thought looked cool could now serve a purpose. So based on this logic, I want this behemoth of a beetle to burrow in to the side of volcanoes and suck molten magma to sustain itself. It would then store it in this sac which gives purpose to my design, which I always consider a good thing to have when creating a creature. Things don’t evolve a certain way for no reason.

The fiery habitat it would now be placed in had me thinking of the ‘Burrowing Rockworm’ from ‘Dark Souls’, and also shares a similar anatomy to my beast.


Burrowing Rockworm from ‘Dark Souls’

Worm_Sketch.png Wormhead.png

Above are some Photoshop sketches I made to get a better idea of the kind of feeling I wanted my creature to have.

I was looking at Michael’s blog and saw that he had taken my suggestion on painting over a 3D model in Maya and his turned out amazingly. I decided to have a go at it myself but didn’t waste too much time on it. This was the result as it currently is:


Semester Reflection

First semester done. There’s half of first year gone in a blink of an eye (Hey, a build a world idea…?). Before I started the course, I already knew this is what I wanted to do for a living; creating the entertainment I grew up consuming. I wasn’t very keen on the idea of teamwork, and usually preferred to work alone but this Al-qaeda based terrorist cell of a classroom has me loving every Osama in the room; this course is ‘the bomb’. Before I joined this course if you’d asked me to do coursework from 1pm to 2am the following morning I’d have pointed you towards the nearest cliff, but now I’m doing work that I love doing and I welcome all-nighters with a warm embrace.

The build a world project has been a great experience, allowing me to work with people I might not have talked to otherwise. The projects are all amazing to develop idea generation and really get you to explore every nook and cranny of an idea. My only regret is that I didn’t do more! More creatures, more paintings, more studies, more everything! I got so lost in the whimsy of the course and making new friends that I got distracted from the amazing opportunity of coursework we were presented. I feel like I’ve really developed as an artist in my short time on the course thus far and learned so much. Even the lecturers are such great fun to talk with about anything, whether it be an idea for a project or just a thought in your head. It’s great to have such qualified people to steer you in the right direction, and it’s so much more enriching when you take a dander in that direction.

One recurring thought I keep having as I go further in to the course is how lucky I’ve been to have all the circumstances fall in to place the way they have. I’m not one to believe in fate or any of that ‘destiny’ shit but there has been a very particular chain of events in my life that have allowed me to be doing this course and I don’t think I could have asked for a more perfect place to have fallen in to. My interest in nature and physics has made this build a world project a dream come true, and I regret not going ‘full ham’ on quite a few ideas. My most recent project (The Railroad Worm) is the way I should have been approaching every project from the beginning but instead of stewing in regret I’m throwing it in to a New Years resolution.

The lone criticism I have is that I know there are some people out there at the same level as me that were just pipped at getting on to the course, and it frustrates me when people don’t use the opportunity they were blessed with to be on this course; show up for classes and do their work. But I guess that’s unavoidable in most cases.

Thank you so much for this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity; I intend on seizing it.


Alolan Exeggutor

So for our third Maya experiment we were allowed to model anything of our choosing. If you read my last Maya post you might remember me saying that if I wanna make something fun I’ll usually try to incorporate Pokemon in it somehow. I was going to try something a little more complicated but I went for the guy above because of his simple shape and that I want to attempt to rig him. I feel like rigging him won’t be as hard as something with a few limbs so I’ll see how that goes when I’m finished modelling him.

I started by downloading the official art of him from Bulbapedia and taking it to Photoshop to create an orthographic turnaround. From there I took each individual plane and created image planes in Maya. This allowed me to get an accurate representation of scale and shape. Previously when attempting this model, I was going about it by creating a flat cylinder and removing the centre vertex…horrible idea. Instead, Becca Blair pointed me in the right direction and whipped up a quick step by step to get from a cube to his body shape.


Becca Blair’s Quick Step-By-Step

At this point I was ready to attempt my own, so this was my Exeggutor Body:


Soon after I modelled the tail and made a start on his leafy afro. I made one of the leaves (Seen on far right) and duplicated it with a few transformations to create a variations.


Today I finished the Exeggutor model and set up some lighting to render a few stills. I kept one model in it’s default ‘T-Pose’ for later re-use and duplicated it so I could pose the second one for a more interesting image. I’m fairly happy with the result but will inevitably find more and more wrong with it as I learn Maya; but for now I consider it a success.