Tuesday, June 4, 2013

You're Doing It Wrong: CGI Feathered Dinosaurs

Promotional still from When Dinosaur Roamed America,
Discovery Channel 2001
CGI dinosaurs have come a long way since Jurassic Park. Unfortunately, due to the discovery that these animals were far more bird-like than reptile-like, that direction is straight down a seemingly bottomless pit. For many CGI artists and animators, the key concept that is presenting a very steep learning curve is the idea that these animals need to be restored as feathered dinosaurs, not "dinosaurs with feathers." It looks like many people modeling feathered dinosaurs start out by rendering a featherless dinosaur and then using various modeling or rendering tricks to add the feathers. As you'll see below, this never, ever works.