The murky process of recreating a fish from fossils has it’s challenges. This fish, in process of being modeled for a presentation at the Bow Valley Habitat Station, existed some 240 million years ago off the coast of Pangaea. Pangaea being a large super-continent that was composed of all the existing land masses throughout the world that eventually drifted apart. So overall, fossils that are found throughout the world tend to exhibit similar characteristics. You can say, all the fossils come from the same pool of fish.
My process of building a model usually begins with much research, where I gather a mass of examples from the internet so that I have enough variation of fossils to make assessments of overall shape and form of the fish. As well, I collected images of currently existing species of fish that are of similar shape or form. What is unique to the Triassic fish is the heavy scale and bone structure. It was tough times for being a fish, so they needed a tougher outer shell.
Everything begins with sketches, drawing out a base template that will be loaded into the 3D application as a guide for modeling the fish. As well, through the drawing process, I become familiar with the various parts of the fish, which allows me to assess shape, form and function. Certain details can be difficult to determine because overall, a dead fish doesn’t directly extrapolate out to a live fish. Fins tend to shrivel and get skewed through the process of decomposition and fossilization.
For modeling, I use lightwave because it’s light, has multiple layers that allows be to store backup elements, and I’m extensively familiar with it’s tools. The process of modeling is organic, as polygons slowly get extended over the shape of the form while being cognitive of how the polygons will react after rigging and animation. The quad polygons have to flow along bends where the body or fins may flex. I build the model in base grey before bringing it into Bodypaint for colour.