How I was going to tackle the wings has been at the back of my mind since I started the project. I new I was going to need to use different hyper shade techniques that I haven’t used before but that was one of the reasons I decided on this project so I could push myself to learn more about Maya.

But to start with I needed a texture to apply to the mesh. I tried to use scans and photographs of the wings I had sourced from the internet and clean them up in Photoshop to apply an alpha for the transparent areas. But no such luck, the results were messy and not as crisp as they needed to be.

Above is the original image, I needed to illiminate the orange tint as dragonhunter wings are transparent with black veins.

I tried using threshold suggested by a colleague.

For a moment I thought it was going to work, but at one end of the threshold scale I was loosing some of the finer vessels and at the other end of the scale I was getting to much noise and would have to manually clean it up, which would take a long time.

Another friend suggested I ran the images through Illustrator using the live trace tool, it partially worked but the veins that appeared faint on the image were not picked up so I had half the wing. The faint lines weren’t being picked up again.

But… as an observation exercise earlier on in the project I traced the wing pattern by hand on a light box and I was able to pick up the pattern of the fainter lines. Scanning this in I was able to take my scanned drawing in Illustrator and got the result I needed!

It’s clean, crisp and will be a piece of cake to alpha for the transparency. It needs some touching up, but that shouldn’t take long and also I needed the bottom wing too as the patterns are different. That didn’t take me more than 20 minutes to trace out on the light box. Sometimes technology can’t always give you a solution, sometimes you need the traditional pen and paper .