nowadays most 3d apps have a free version ,ofc with some limitations, such as resolution output (world machine..etc) , savings (maya student edition, ..etc) , watermarks (image and video editors).Some are completely free ,open source, such as blender .Feel to try anything you like if you can.
I see orbital and the savage 64 did a great job on modeling in Bryce but there are things which bryce cant do them with the modeling options.Personaly i thing those models could be done much faster with the same modeling expertise in blender or 3ds max, or maya, lightwave,..etc
However, like orbital said for organic sculpting you will need a sculpting program for ,lets say aging/burning some wood planks, rocks ,cracks,scales for a dragon,tiled rock walls,etc.This can be Sculptris,modo,zbrush,mudbox,rhyno maybe, etc..etc
1.Get inspired . See CG artists websites, tutorials, doesnt matter if are for another programs, you might find out some interesting tricks from artists.Examples:
2. Create your sketches/blueprints.Any modeling project starts with a sketch if it is a serious/advanced project and you need image references.You might find some cool free blueprints inspiration at blueprints.com
3.Chose the textures.I think chosing the texture first is more important than starting to modeling because you will know texture’s limitatons and on this way you can modify the sculpting object while you work on it.There are websites which can host free textures ,ofc with download limitation per ip/day or have custom rules but you can find royalty free textures. Example for rock textures pack here : http://designinstruct.com/free-resources/textures/stones-texture-pack/ . Or http://www.cgtextures.com/ but with 5mb or so limitation per ip/account. Or even on Sharecg,for example, spacebones,HoboBo,...etc have some awesome textures posted.
Then you can start sculpting,texturing or lower poly count if needed.Layers in sculpting/texturing gives (me too) headaches lol as a beginner.See tutorials on digital tutors , http://www.digitaltutors.com/11/index.php some courses are completetly free,specialy about modeling basics or workflows.Feel free to explore any app tutorial when/if you have the time.
Bellow are 2 images , first with a rock (with lichens) almost finished sculpting from the http://www.digitaltutors.com/11/training.php?pid=740&autoplay=1 tutorial and a terrain concept for a valley with a river in mudbox and to be used later on bryce.I already created and tested a mountain for the starship troopers posted in “Post your Bryce renders” and seems the heighfield maps (tiff 16 bit) are importing/applying well in bryce.
The second is just about sorting a texture to apply to the rock.
One of my next projects is to release a free pack with few stones for bryce and some terrains.
p.s your dragon is very nice ,try to put it on a small pillar or rock or stone block,apply a statue texture, duplicate the pillars and tadaa you’ve got your maya/inka/precolumbian statues for a temple .Also you may try to create a ring for his mouth to hold a torch or something if you hang it on the walls.
Beginners in 3D Modeling/sculpting should start to create a simple rock,stones,blood cells, japanese zen stones
Even if you use sculptris , feel free to create your first rock using the hints from here http://www.digitaltutors.com/11/training.php?vid=16474&autoplay=1
or Tutorial: Model blood cells in a vein : http://www.3dworldmag.com/2012/12/06/discover-medical-computer-graphics/
or Tutorial: How to model and create a Japanese 3d Zen Stones scene : http://www.polygonblog.com/japanese-3d-zen-stones/
free objects/meshes to play with : http://www.3dcadbrowser.com/default.aspx
turn on the arabic/indian/chinese/zen/chillout/techno/trance..etc music background from youtube page or your fav. dvd music,get a coffe/milk/capuccino/tea/etc and start modeling :XD .
happy modeling .
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