How to Make a Dragon prt 1 - Mesh

Mindwatering Incorporated

Author: Abigail Black

Created: 11/03/2015 at 10:25 AM





This is the opening default project. The gray block is your mesh. The black sphere in the back is the source of light "Lamp", and the black object in the foreground is your camera.

We will not require the camera or lamp as of yet. Right click both objects. When they are yellow/orange, hit "X". You will be left with the mesh.

If you look in the upper left hand corner of the image above, you will see "User Persp". This means "User Perspective", which is real-world depth perception.
Switch the "User Persp" to "Ortho Persp" by going into View -> View Persp/Ortho.
To view the mesh straight on from the front side; View -> Front.

We will need to create a mirror effect on the left side of the mesh cube so that our dragon will be symmetrical:
Right click the mesh.
On the tool bar at the bottom of the screen, you will see Object Mode. Switch to Edit Mode.
Hit Control+R. This will make a pink line down the center of the mesh, either vertical or horizontal. Move the mouse cursor to make the line vertical, then Left Click. This will keep the pink line vertical, but it will still move from side to side. Right Click will finalize the pink line front and center, like so:

We need to delete the left-hand side of the mesh.
A will deselect the yellow line.
Z will make the entire cube see-through.
B will create a drag box. Select the left side of the cube.
X will trigger the delete suggestion box. Select Delete Vertices.
Z will make the entire cube solid again.
Go back to Object Mode. On the right-hand side of the screen, there should be a large bar. Click the wrench symbol:

Click Add Modifier -> Mirror (in the Generate column)
When this is selected, you should see that your cube appears whole again. That is not true. The right-hand side of the mesh exists; the left is only a mirror image of the right.
Click Clipping so that it is checked. It is very important that you do this. There will be times when I require you to turn it off; I will notify you of those times.

Go back into Edit Mode. On the same bar as the mode switcher, you will see a trio of small images:

The one on the left symbolizes Vertices. The one in the middle (highlighted in blue) symbolizes Lines. The one on the right symbolizes Faces. We will be switching between the three of these throughout our dragon creation. For the moment, select the Faces.

Right Click the mesh.
Go to View -> Right
Hit E; this will extend the face straight out from the angle of the original face. G will allow you to move the face up and down.
Right Click to finalize the extension.
Hit S and drag the mouse cursor to scale. Your end product of this should look like this:

Extend again. This time, you will learn a new trick; how to rotate.
Hit R, and move the mouse cursor to rotate the face.
Extend, rotate, and scale until you have something like this:

Congratulations, you've just make the upper torso and the neck! Onward to the head.

Use the roll bar on your mouse to zoom in. Clicking and holding the roll bar while holding Shift will move you without moving around the cube itself. Position so that you can see the end of the neck clearly. Leave enough room so you can create the head.

Use the extend, rotate, and scale until you have something like this:

We're going to need more vertices to add more detail.
Hit Control+R. Make sure that the pink line is running horizontal.
Left Click to keep it horizontal, and drag down till the line is around a quarter of the way down the head. Left Click again to keep it there.
Hit Control+R again to make a vertical pink line, but, without moving the mouse, move the roll bar to create more pink lines, all equal distance from each other. Create 4 pink lines; Left Click to keep them vertical, immediately Right Click to keep them centered. It should now look like this:

Create 2 vertical lines following the steps I just supplied above at the back of the head.

Remember those three images of a cube? I need you to select the Vertices one now.

One at a time, select the corners (vertices) of the faces and drag them until the lines across the head look like this:

That's the jawline! Now to shape it so it's not as blocky;

Go to View -> Front.
Select your vertices one by one and drag them so that they make the shape of the jaw. Make the jaw narrow in the front and wider toward the back. It should end up looking a little like this:

Doesn't that make it look a little more natural?
Go back to View -> Right

Back to the mouth. However, we're going to have to get it open, so what needs to be done next is to separate the vertices and drag the lower jaw down. Here's how that's done;
Shift+Right Click the vertices of the jaw, all but that last one on the far right.
To split the vertices, Mesh -> Vertices -> Rip. Drag up a little so you have a small gap, like so:
Now to drag the lower jaw down so we can work the interior of the mouth. We're learning another trick.
Hit Z.
Hit C. Your mouse cursor should now be a circle. Hold down Left Click and select all of the vertices of the jaw (Right Click to escape circle select) until it looks like this:

Hit Z to go back to solid.
Hit G to grab and drag the jaw down a little.
Hit R to rotate the jaw so the mouth is wide open. Feel free to tweak a few vertices so that the jawline looks a bit more natural.
Now your head should look like this:

Now to line the mouth. If you move around, you can see that the mouth is basically hollow. We definitely need to fix that.
View -> Front
Select all of the vertices of the lower jaw, from the front to the very back. Only the lower jaw. We'll do the upper part of the mouth in a minute. Hold the roll bar if you need to move around.
To get a more controllable point of view, go back to View -> Front
Hit E and drag into the mouth horizontally.
Keep extending and dragging. Make sure that you go down and in, like a real mouth.
WATCH OUT FOR DUPLICATE VERTICES. This is a very common occurrence! Before you extend your vertices, CHECK AND SEE if a vertex has come into contact with its mirrored duplicate! Be sure and DESELECT any vertices that have made contact with the mirror before continuing extending the line.
DO NOT EXTEND AND "RIGHT CLICK". That does not mean that you've cancelled your extension. It means that you have an extension immediately on top of the former line. This WILL cause issues further on down the line. If you think that you've done this before, you might want to start over from the beginning.
Your bottom jaw result should look something like this:

Do the same with the upper jaw. You should be left with a hole at the throat area:

Now, you have two options; To make a tongue or to not make a tongue? If you don't want to make a tongue;
Shift+Right Click all of the vertices around the gap.
Hit F to make a face. The gap should be completely covered, now.

If you want to make a tongue, then follow these instructions;
Recall the three cube selection options. Select the Faces one.
View -> Right; Z so you can see what you're doing past the lips.
Right Click the face in the middle at the very back of the mouth and the two faces directly in front of it.
Hit E. Drag to this point:

Right Click that one face in the front.
Hit E to extend. Rotate, scale; Continue until you end up with this:

Now, there's that one bit at the end that doesn't look quite right. Yes, it keeps the tongue from looking dagger-sharp, but it needs to be flush with the bottom of the tongue. Easy fix!
Switch to that cube selection option for Vertices.
Select a vertex at the end of the face, then the next one at the corner, so they're both selected.
Alt+M -> At Last
You might notice that now that one part of the face is flush with the rest of the bottom of the tongue.
Do the same for the other side of the face. Your end product will look like this:

Congrats, you have a tongue!
Now, do the steps for the throat as if you had decided not to make a tongue in the steps above. By the time you're done, the throat should no longer has a gaping hole.

We'll go on to the rest of the head. Don't worry, this dragon won't remain toothless for long.

Control+R, make the pink lines horizontal above the mouth. Roll mouse bar until you have three. Left Click to lock horizontal, Right Click to keep them centered.
Switch selections to Faces. Putting your mouse cursor at the right or left edge of a face in the middle of the head, Alt+Right Click. This will highlight every single face on that line all the way down the body.
See this weird multicolored thing?

You might not have learned how to use it yet. The blue arrow is the Z axis; Up and Down. The green is Y axis; Front and Back. The red is X axis; Right and Left. If you right click any of the three arrows and pull, whatever you've selected with be dragged in that plane of direction only.
Left Click+Red Arrow to drag the selected faces out to the right a little. This will round out the face and body a little. Don't pull out too much.
Hit A to deselect.
At the top of the head, where the eyes will be, highlight three faces like so:

Left Click+Blue Arrow to drag up, creating an eye-ridge.
Left Click+Red Arrow to pull out a little.
R+Y to rotate on the Y axis. This will smooth out the ridge a little to make it a bit sharper.
Now, select the six squares below the three you've been tweaking, these:

We're going to make the eye cavity now.
Hit E+Right Click. This will extend the area, but it won't go anywhere.
Hit S and scale inward.
Left Click+Red Arrow to move the smaller faces a little into the head.
Repeat a few times until you end up with this result:

To make the head a bit more bone-looking, do the same in the middle of the side of the snout, and a little behind the eye. Don't make these cavities too deep.
For the nostrils, we'll just be making the initial holes. We'll get to the finer details later.
Select the faces illustrated here:

Turn off Clipping.
Hit E+Right Click
Hit S and scale inward.
Hit E+Right Click
Hit Left Click+Green Arrow to move the area into the head. Make sure that it's not coming through the roof of the mouth.
Hit S and make the area really small.
Now we're going to make some horns.
At that wide area behind the last cavity by the eyes, Control+R and drag the pink line closer to the front of the head. Make the faces around the same size as the other faces.
Select the face seen in the picture here:

Hit S and scale a little bigger.
R+Z to rotate on the Z axis. Rotate the face so that it's more flush with the eye ridge.
R+Y so that it's facing up and out.
E to extend.
You can have fun with the horn. You can make it curly, straight... I'm going with a wavy ribbed look. My end product looks like this:

And the basics of the head are done!

We're going to leave the head for a while and work on the rest of the body.
Hit View+Right
Zoom out and pan so you can see the current end of the body.
Select the faces at the end and hit S to scale out a little.
Hit E, drag the next body part to the wanted position. Scale, rotate, etc if needed. Feel free to move around to make sure that the mesh is rounded.
Repeat several times, until you've made the rest of the body and tail, like this:

I think that the neck needs to be extended so that the body looks more balanced. Now it will look like this:

Now, we're going to start on the legs.
For the front legs, select the six faces highlighted here:

Use the mouse roll bar to rotate your view.
Hit E and drag a ways.
Hit S to make the area smaller.
Hit A to clear your selection.
What you have now should look like this:

Rotate your view again with the roll bar so that you're looking at the mesh from a lower angle.
Select the faces on the underside of the extended section.
Hit E and drag a little bit down.
S > Z > 0 > Left Click
Hitting W will bring up a Specials pop-up. Loop Tools -> Circle. Turn off Clipping, just in case.
Scale the resulting circular area, narrow by using S+X if needed.
The result should look like this:

Drag and rescale by using S+Y to position the beginning of the leg. Have it look like this:

Hit E to extend.
R to rotate.
Repeat until you've reached the start of the elbow. Round the leg so that it has a bit of vague muscle definition.
Make the elbow by extending and rotating in small and large increments, respectively.
Once the elbow is done, continue extending and rotating to create the rest of the leg.
The end result should look something like this:

Now, for the foot.
Select the faces at the end.
Hit E to extend a short distance.
Hit S+X to widen.
Now, with the faces still selected, hit S > Z > 0.
Hit S+Y to lengthen along the Y axis. Continue until you have a hoof-looking pad, like so:

The tricky part is going to make the claws. I'm going to have two fingers and a thumb on this foot.
Put a pink line in each face around the foot (Control+R > Left/Right Click). The end result should be this:

On the interior side of the pad, select the two faces where a thumb would go.
Hit E to extend.
Drag the faces down so they're level with the rest of the foot.
S > X > 0
Hit S to scale smaller.
Hit W, then Loop Tools -> Circle.
Scale and rotate until you have this result:

Hit Z
E to make the knuckle joints. Taper as you go.
At the end, make small extensions and rotate, scaling smaller. This will make the claw.
It should end up looking like this:

Hit Z
Hit B to box select the entire thumb.
Rotate yourself so you're looking down from a higher angle
Hit R+Z to rotate the thumb on the Z axis.
Position the thumb in a natural position. Use the red and green arrows to slide the thumb around.
The end product should be something like this:

View+Front to make sure that you're still level
Hit Z
Now, using the same technique as for the thumb, create the other fingers. My foot looks like this when I'm done that:

Let's go to the back legs now.
It's basically the same technique that we used for the front leg. Can you do it? Just imagine the back leg structure of a dog, and shape the back leg like that. Just make sure that you leave enough room so that we can make a foot level with the front leg's.
Here's what I ended up with:

Now, we're making a slightly different foot than the first. It follows the same structure as the first, only the back foot will be standing on its "toes," so to speak.
We'll make the ankle joint:

The toes will be practically exactly the same, only much closer together, and no thumb. Just three toes. Remember how to do the toes following the procedure from the finger construction?
Before we start, do Control+R to make a pink vertical line along the angle joint. Use the roll bar until you have two pink lines.
Right Click to lock them in place.
Here's what I ended up with:

We need to backtrack a little. Up at the body, where the legs meet the rest of the body, you can see how blocky it it. Switch to cube selection option for Edges.
Select the corner edge lines and drag upward. Do the same with all of the corner edges, rounding out all of the sharp corners. If there's any left after this, don't worry, we'll soften those soon enough.
The finished result should resemble this:

What kind of dragon would we have if we didn't give it wings?
Select the highlighted faces shown here:

Turn off Clipping
Hit E; drag a short ways
S > Z >0
W > Loop Tools > Cicle
S > X > 0
G and drag out.
You should end up with something looking like this:

Using the same techniques as in the legs, we'll make the rest of the wing arm joints. Since the wing is like a bat's remember to keep the base finger joint large, so we have room to create the fingers of the wing. Our finished product should be this:

You don't have to have many fingers. You can have one; making this dragon's wing like a pterosaur's. You can create as many fingers as you want, since you have the knowledge and tricks I've been telling you over the course of this tutorial. You should originate your wing fingers from that large joint.
I want my dragon to have three fingers and a wing spike, with each finger having three joints and tipped with a claw. Here's what I came up with:

Now, we'll add the webbing later. We still need to see the rest of the body.

We're back to the head! Time for our dragon to gain some teeth.
Zoom in real close to the lips.
Use Control+R to add some pink lines. Two per, like this:

Repeat this on the entire bottom and upper jaw. NOTE: Some parts will require up to four pink lines. The end product should be this:

Zoom in reaaaal close.
Use Control+R to add a single pink line to right here:

Use the blue arrow to drag up on the Z axis. Don't do it too much; just enough to make it a little rounded.
Do the same to the upper jaw.
Switch to cube selection Faces.
Highlight the backmost face on the jaw. You can start on the upper or the lower, but I'm starting on the lower.
This face:

Hit E+Right Click
S, then scale smaller.
E and drag a little up.
S again, scale down to an almost point.
You should end up with this basic tooth:

Repeat this all along that line of faces, until you result in a full mouth of teeth. Like this:

Congratulations! We have now completed our basic dragon mesh!

For further tutorials on the making of a dragon, see "Sculpting a Dragon Mesh."

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