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July 3, 2005

Elder Things evolve again

by sven at 10:30 pm

I'm back at work on "Let Sleeping Gods Lie". I want to get a final sculpt of the Elder Things soon...

The model I finished today is the fourth major revision. I built it from scratch, attempting to learn from the mistakes of the previous versions. Let's review.

June 2003

Part of what I like about Lovecraft's critters is how they seem to be built out of geometrical bits. The trouble is, if you take the author's descriptions too literally, then you wind up with something that looks like this. The measurements are pretty literal -- but it looks all wrong.

June/July 2004

This one is much more organic; it looks plausible. I'm very pleased with the overall shape of the body and eyestalks here. However, at this point I hadn't figured out what to do about the arms. There are also problems with the geometry of the leg-tentacles -- they crinkle instead of bending smoothly.

October 2004

In some ways this one is a step backwards. The organic models are built out of five "snakes"; each "snake" includes a leg-tentacle, a torso lobe, and an eyestalk. The basis of the "snake" in June/July '04 was two cones attached end-to-end. For the model in October, I started with two cones connected by a cylinder. I didn't realize until just the past few days that that decision is what led to the lumpier torso. ...I also sized the texture incorrectly, so the skin here is smoother than intended.

However, I wasn't trying to be perfect with this one. The point here was that I figured out how to attach arms. I also got better at posing the leg-tentacle in LightWave, then saving the transformations back into Modeler.

July 2005

Here's today's new model. The arms turned out too long -- although they're awful creepy this way. There are forked "hands" at the ends of the arms, but you can't see them... I fretted over the arms on these things soooo long. I held onto the hope of having 125 writhing tendrils, as "At the Mountains of Madness" describes, til the bitter end. I tried endomorphs, I tried parenting, I tried writing equations. It was just too crazy of a task.

The leg-tentacles are better here, too. The bottoms are flat, and the tops are slightly peaked -- like a slug. You don't want tentacles that are just plain cones; they look all sausagey.

...It's amazing how every single step in creating this model has been a puzzle to solve. It's like making a series of sketches, over and over again, until you really understand how to draw a thing. I'm hopeful that the next model may be the final draft.

posted by sven | July 3, 2005 10:30 PM | categories: let sleeping gods lie, movies