Yeah, so, I was modifying my desktop slideshow and adding a few new images to it, mainly of some dragons in the most awesome poses you’ll ever see. As I was editing these images to match my screen resolution so they wouldn’t look crap, I remembered a search I did a while back. It was a few weeks after finding those images, when I kept seeing more of the exact same style of dragon in random places on the internet… like when I remember on an ad, there was a head of that same dragon poking out of a monitor that I’d found while searching for something to replace my own (crap) monitor.
So… because it was all over the place, and the dragon was definitely a 3D model and not painted or photoshopped or whatever, I assumed this model was freely available, and searched the ass off Google for about an hour, trying to find it. Unfortunately, no luck, all I could find were models that looked nothing like the one I was looking for (they looked MUCH worse), and they cost $400 or something ridiculous. So, I forgot all about it.
UNTIL TODAY! Ya, today, after upgrading my desktop, I decided to search the internets again, to see if I could find this model. And… I did!
Ohhh yes, after years (well… years since I first started ) of searching, I’ve finally found the model! It’s called the Millenium Dragon, or MilDragon. Which is kinda fecking annoying, because one of the images that I have is called "MilDragon"… so… the answer’s been staring me in the face for years. But what the heck.
The version that I found first was the LE, the Limited Edition… which doesn’t mean it’s rare… it means it’s limited, to um… basic matte white textures. A matte white dragon for $9.95… okay, basic, but functional. However, if you want the Millenium Dragon 2 package, which includes the textures, a LOT of poses and two extra models, that’s $100… and it can’t really be used outside anything other than a program called DAZ Studio… which is hands down the best animating package I have ever used. And the program’s freeware too… just the models cost a lot. Then again, it is a lot of stuff compared to what you’d usually get for spending $100 on a different 3D model package.
I would have gotten the MilDragon2 package, because I have a few plans for it… but I honestly don’t want to spend THAT much money on some 3D objects. I have other stuff to pay for, like university, and I’m not all that into art, anyway. I instead got the package through… "other"… means. I’m merely "trying it out before I consider buying".
And it’s the coolest thing since… since… um… <insert something big that’s happened in the past that’s really cool here>! Yeah, seriously, it is ULTRA-cool!
DAZ Studio is so… fecking… easy to use, I couldn’t believe it. Usually modelling or animation packages require something like a 793-step process just to understand them… but not DAZ Studio. Simply go into the Explorer, find the model you want, double-click, BAM. Fully boned, fully rigged, fully posable dragon in a default pose in the scene instantly. Textures? Go into the explorer, find the texture you want, drag it onto the dragon, BAM, dragon looks awesome. Want to pose him? You can either do it yourself by using the translation and rotate tools, which take some getting used to, or you can go into the Explorer, find a preset pose you like, drag it onto the dragon, BOOM, done! Want other features, like a tail fin? Double-click the dragon, find a tail fin/spike/crazy-mad weapon in the explorer, double-click on that… and… okay, admittedly, that only goes "BAM, done" only about 60% of the time. Other times it’s like "BAM… what the focking hell?!" because you usually see the tail fin bigger than the tail and in the wrong place.
When you’ve gotten used to the manual controls, it’s so much fun to pose, because it’s so easy, and (forgive the cliché) because the possibilities are endless! And if you REALLY pull your finger out, the results can look pretty spectacular:
And that’s only the first one I’ve ever created. You don’t want to see him from the back, though, because of the crap job I’ve done with his wings. They look fine from the front, but they look crap from the back. Folding the wings was much harder than I thought it would be. And it’s amazing what a small eye adjustment can do to the expression of the dragon. It’s ace!
This is the best model I’ve ever seen! It’s not like they’ve skimped on the textures, either, because they are pretty damned detailed, even up close!
What other features are there… oh yes, there’s also a timeline, so animation is possible… although that can take a loooong time. The best part, though, is the lip-sync feature, and I’ve been messing around with it for hours ever since I found it. Not recorded anything of myself just yet, I’ve been using the preloaded sounds and marvelling at how realistic many of the mouth movements are.
Haha, I’ve just had an idea! One sec… well… maybe more than just a sec.
<about an hour later>
Right, I’m done with the animating, and I’m just about to start rendering a preview of the dragon saying something now, uno secundo. I bet you’re gonna like this when it’s done. I’ll be back later with a vid of awesomeness!
<a few hours later>
I’m back! Took a while, but well worth it. Here ya go, hopefully this embed works:
…Okay, so maybe dickhead Microsoft won’t let you embed anything, even though it WAS working in preview mode. Meh, whatever, you can just have the link.
I swear to God, this dragon must be alive. The lip-sync was done automatically, but the head movements were done by me, just to make it seem more realistic. Don’t scroll down past the whitespace (or greenspace, hehe ) just yet, it’ll give away what’s in the vid. You go and watch the vid first.
AHAHA! He’s never gonna GIVE YOU UP! I’m sowwy, I couldn’t resist.
Anyway, sure, some bits of the lip-sync look a little off, but it works pretty damned well! I tried importing a clip of the original song at first, just to see if the dragon could lip-sync to that, but that didn’t work as well as I wanted it to. DAZ Studio did a freaking good job of it, but it wasn’t accurate in places, the dragon looked like he was singing bits of the instrumentals. So… I had to break out the microphone and sing the chorus, just to get it to lip-sync properly… so you’re basically watching me sing as a dragon with Rick Astley singing over the top, haha! You should be grateful that I dubbed it with the original music, anyway.
I love this program so much. Methinks I shall be having a lot of fun with it for quite a long while.
Oh, by the way, weren’t you interested in animation, Aaron? This is the program for you, probably not as flexible as other kits out there, but it’s a damn sight more fun.
Anyway, I’m off for now, see yas! DAZ Studio roolz.
I made a new image. I’m getting into this a little more than I think I should.
Blue Teenage Dragon says "ROCK ON, MOTHERF’ERS"!
He’s supposed to be a hatchling, but I messed with a few morphs, and I say he looks more of a teenager now. Gotta tell you, these look FOCKING AWESOME on my desktop.
Have I mentioned I love this program?