Dragon Design Project
From concept, model, digital sculpt, texture, CG render to plastic rapid prototype here is my design and development process.
Design illustration:

Part of my design process is to try and be as original as possible, however with hundreds of thousands of amazingly talented artists out there its almost impossible. So I try and find inspiration that makes me different from others. In this case I draw from my polynesian background and asian influence, adding scale-like tatoos, each line has a meaning, each shape and curve represents a deep history which gives strength to the character.
After the concept stage I begin modeling and continue designing in Maya, not everything in illustration translates well in 3D so I keep it loose and free.
I go back and fourth from Maya to ZBrush modeling and sculpting in both, but careful not to be tempted into doing a final sculpt.
Yes I fell into tempation and did a ZBrush digital sclupt.
ZBrush sclupt, Maya, Mental Ray render test with added texture bump.
ZBrush sclupt, Maya, Mental Ray render test.
ZBrush sclupt, Maya, Mental Ray render test.
As part of the visual development stage I create samples of what a digital painting may look like.
3D renders themselves are not acceptable in tems of graphic novel culture. 3D is often seen as lazy or inferior to traditional graphic novel art and in many cases this is true.
Like many transmedia artists I mix it up and give my 3D renders a touch of hand painted blending. This gives the viewer an appreciation that is not just a computer doing all the work but a person was actually behind it slaving away for their entertainment.
Now the body, again its very hard to be original so I'm just going for what I feel like, powerful legs, strong neck and arms. I'm thinking towards a lion/bull dog anatomy, it's only a sketch as I know I'll develop more in ZBrush.
I went through quite a few stages of modelling and design before I ended up with this look. My initial bull dog like body didn't work and ended up lookling like a fat dragon so I've gone for a more traditional shape with a nice big mace at the end of his tail.
Wings on most dragons have really annoyed me, many times they just seem too small to hold a massive frame. Here I've given him wings that act more like a second pair of arms, strong and muscular, they could be used to fly, fight, shield or climb.
I've always thought dragons should have massive and strong shoulders like swimmers since they are constantly flying.
I've given him more human like arms and a strong armoured neck.
Here you can see his underbelly armour which is needed to defend from ground to air attacks. Also you can see the wing arms which are like massive webbed fingers.
One of the hard things about dragon anatomy are the wing connections to the body. Here I tried to make it look like a second pair of shoulders.
Rapid prototype created at www.moddler.com from a ZBrush file. Unfortunately it has sustained a few injuries from sitting on my desk such as being dropped and receiving coffee stains. There is definately something very exciting about bringing a CG object into the real world kind of like the reverse of TRON.
Nose horn detail.
Lower jaw, teeth and scale pattern detail.