Art Spotlight: Liopleurodon Ferox

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In Art Spotlight, we invite Sketchfab artists to talk about one of their designs.

Hello everyone ! I’m Cédric (Kyan0s) from Belfort, a little town in the east of France, and I’m an hobbyist 3D artist, even if I hate to define myself as an artist.

I like metal, comics, manga, sci-fi, fantasy, antiquity, mythology, etc. In fact, a lot of things. But what I really love is to create.I have always loved to create many differents things thanks to the drawings, the writing, the development, the sculpture occasionally, short with all the means at my disposal. One day I discovered 3D and its many possibilities. I kept trying, reading tutorials, magazines, etc. And step by step I taught myself in this domain, mainly with Blender. From then on I did not cease to create my worlds and my characters in my free time. I consider first of all 3D as a way to escape from the everyday life. What I especially like with 3D is being able to create characters or creatures long gone or not and give them life through the movement.

Sketchfab is a cool tool that enables us to share many awesome things and especially to give 3D learning content in many domains (science, cultural, paleontology, etc.), so recently I decided to participate as I can and I’ve started to create on Sketchfab a small collection of creatures from the Mesozoic Era (Dinosaurs and their walk cycle or marine reptiles and their swim cycle, in diorama or in size comparison), another of my great passions, with the idea to make something playful to show how these incredibles creatures could have been, how could they have moved, etc.

Having been invited by the Sketchfab team, it’s with great pleasure that I will share the creative process of one of them, that of my Liopleurodon Ferox, a carnivorous marine creature that lived during the Jurassic period.

Concept and Modeling

I wanted to do something different from that I usually do, and work a marine creature. Flipping through a magazine, with an article that dealt with the oldest fossils of reptiles discovered from the Plesiosaurs, I decided to make a Liopleurodon Ferox whose form interested me. Its imposing body and its four fins seemed interesting to animate. I was immediately tempted to move such a creature in the water. It seemed to be a cool challenge. But before animating it, I had to create the model! It started with some quick sketches that – something I rarely do. I usually model directly without done first research on paper.

First of all, therefore, I started to put the concept on paper. I’ve made many quick sketches of the beast regarding to photographs of the animal’s fossil, especially for its head which is more complex than the rest of its body. I tried to deduce the shape of the head of the creature from its skull.


After it, when I’ve finally found a good design, I’ve realized a more detailed lineart that enable me to realize a vector colored version of the future model with Inkscape. At the beginning my creature was rounder but later I’ve decided to refine it.


I was inspired by actual marines animals, like the sharks, the whales or the orcas for the colors of the Liopleurodon. I decided to make a dark color on the top side of the creature and a clear color on its bottom side. The reason is that I thought the camouflage of certain animals could be the same of the actual creatures. The dark side in order to be invisible from the outside of the water, and the clear side to not be seen from the seabed.


From there, thank to my vector version, I’ve modeled my creature with Blender.


To realized the textures of the Liopleurodon, I’ve used two pieces of software: Blender and Gimp. First, Gimp in order to paint the base colors.


Next, Blender to draw the skin’s wrinkles that I’ve painted directly on the model and to generate the dirty vertex color, and again Gimp to merge the different layers of the texture.

The skin wrinkles were painted thanks to one of my photographs. A photo of an elephant, that I used like a stencil. A technique very useful that I usually used to realize the skins of my others creatures.


Rigging and Animation

I made a very basic rig for my Liopleurodon. For example, for its fins, I haven’t made all the bones. Just three bones per fin were sufficient to be able to make a good movement. I’ve also decided, contrarily to my others terrestrial creatures, to make an armature without constraints like inverse kinematics, although it’s very convenient to assist in the animation, in the case of my Liopleurodon, the animation, for me anyway, was easier to achieved without them. Generally I use constraints to help me keep the foot against the ground for example, or to help me to animate the head perched on a long neck, but in this case I did not need all that.


For the animation of my Liopleurodon, I tried to made an animation of a slow and ample swimming to show that the creature is large and which moves a large volume of water. But although I wanted it to seem heavy, I performed a fluid and graceful movement. I’ve tried to realized a smoothed swim cycle which gives us the impression that this creature is flying. The most difficult for me was to create the ripple effect that starts with its head, which spreads along its body before finished with its tail.

Et voilà ! Thanks for reading !

If you like my work don’t hesitate to follow me on Sketchfab or twitter: @Kyan0s, and also on my blog.

Thanks Cédric!

About the author


Bart Veldhuizen

Head of Community at Sketchfab. 3D Scanning enthusiast and Blenderhead. Running BlenderNation in my spare time.

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