This weekend, I began creating the Fire Salamander for the Root Chakra.

Box model salamander
Began with a box model, using a reference image
Salamander box model
Used Extrusions to work forward to the head

After an hour or so into it, I realized that my modeling felt clunky and wasn’t flowing smoothly. I began to feel I had started with too many subdivisions, which were unwieldy to control and shape. Every time I tried to select an area to scale, rotate or move, I had to select several faces/vertices. Also, it still looked very much like a box, not organic. At that point Maya crashed, so I called it quits for the night.

When I re-opened the file the next morning, something was wrong with it. Maya took several seconds to respond to any command, and seemed to seize up every time I made a selection. I decided to start over, since I wasn’t happy with that model anyway.

This time I began with a cylinder, using fewer subdivisions, and began blocking out the rough proportions. This was much quicker. It took half the time that I spent the day before.

Beginning again with a cylinder
Used Extrusions and scaling to rough out the overall shape
I cut a hole in two of the faces and attached an 8-sided cylinder for the leg
After attaching 2 legs on one side, I split the model in half
I mirror copied the model, so now it was whole again with perfect symetry
Added some spheres for eyes

About halfway through the process, I came across a tutorial that pointed out the Maya now has several ready-made basic mesh templates you can use, including a LIZARD! Although I would have shaved a few hours off my production time by starting out with a ready-made sculpt, I felt I got much better with practice doing this model and was glad I did it myself.

Up next – taking the model into Zbrush for more refined sculpting.