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(WIP) Warhammer 40k Leviathan Dreadnought

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Here I will post a thread of progression renders and the development that has gone into my Fan Art project of making a Game Ready Death Guard Leviathan Dreadnought.

Any feedback/ways to improve is welcome and greatly appreciated.

Throughout I shall include my own personal comments and observations detailing my intentions and direction for the piece. This shall be in the form of annotations.

First set of images showing roughly the early stages of where I am at with the project. Further iteration and development is being made on increasing the level of detail in the high poly as well as further optimisation for the low poly. Utilising Zremesher and 'Polygroup by Normals' I am able to maintain the silhouette but keep the topology clean for sculpting. With a little bit of extra clean up after this method has proven to be efficient on achieving base needed. The images following shall show this method more clearly.


This workflow will be carried throughout the whole of the mech to ensure a nice clean, not too hard, edge. This may have to be tweaked piece by piece but following this as a general guideline works well. This exact same process will be applied to the Storm Cannons that sit on either side of the mech.

Continuing Development

Seeing some noticeable errors with the proportion of the feet I went back to 3DS Max to alter the model. Having defined the workflow and having done it for the whole mech already it was super quick to repeat the process.

The Storm Cannons have seen a huge change in the amount of detail as well changes in proportion. The next step to this is to get it inside of Zbrush and to repeat the same workflow used on the body of the mech. Having this extra detail will now give me more options inside of Zbrush.

Although, keeping in mind that I still need to optimise the low poly as a lot of this extra detail, like the bullets, could just be baked down. Similarly, this approach is being taken with the mech to drop the polycount, making it more game ready.

Adding Chaos Elements

Rather than just making a stock Leviathan Dreadnought I saw an opportunity to push the model a little further and being obsessed currently with all of the conversions I have seen social media. My plan is create a Death Guard Dreadnought and have all of the cool and gross Nurgle themed elements.

Standard Leviathan

Chaos Inspiration

Continuing Development

Somewhat of a big leap with the Dreadnought, I am looking at wrapping up the high poly very soon. I am pushing to add more Chaos elements to the front and back whilst trying to maintain a balance and not going too overboard with how much is added. I could spend ages adding and detailing the model, but soon I am going to continue with optimising the low poly and move towards making this game ready.

The overall look I have achieved so far I am happy with. The amount of elements I think read well to give it the Nurgle/Death Guard Aesthetic. Some refinement is needed all over but I shall progress with this as I develop the high poly further.


  • mitchruss


    Above is the super quick workflow I used to create a piece of cloth inside of Marvelous Designer taken through to Zbrush for clean up. I will then take this and start sculpting some surface detail, adding tears and holes to suit the style I am aiming for.

    I wanted to have some torn cloth hanging from the Dreadnought. A lot of minis have this element, I think it'd work really well for my model.

    Continuing Development

    *Reposting reference imagery

    Here are some development shots of the mech with mostly all of the chaos elements added. I have been cautious with not adding crazy amounts all over the model. My aim was to create a balance between the two yet keeping the Chaos prominent, just making sure it isn't overbearing.

    With the base model having quite a lot of detail around the back I wanted not overdo it it here. To blend around the model I added more blisters and spikes in areas in an attempt to create a visual balance as you look around the mech. I think adding the three skulls on the back of the mech works really well, matching one of the Death Guard symbols. This just needs a mesh adding behind it so it isn't just floating.

    I am planning on adding more tentacles. I have added more around the back but I like the idea of some coming from the vents. Incorporating it more with the model itself, I feel this makes the design more cohesive when visually it is interacting with itself. A later plan is to use World Position Offset to make these wriggle and move inside of Unreal.

    Wanted to create a milestone render and bring the guns into the scene. Having a look at what the model looks like as a whole. So far I think it's looking pretty cool. Still a lot of work to do where tertiary details are concerned. Areas like the back and the cloth at the front still need some work. The guns need the chaos elements adding. I don't think these will be as detailed, just enough to blend to make a cohesive model.

    Here is a final version of the torn cloth. It is still very much a work in progress as there are elements needing to be developed.

    This was a first time for me in creating a detailed torn cloth effect in Zbrush. A lot of it was experimentation and doing some tests to see what works and looks the best. I settled on this small workflow on how I would approach the model. As noted in my annotations, some areas further away are to dense and need to be blended with the rest of the model.

    I have now added the additional tentacles. Looking closer, the vents are bending around model to have more of a believable look. I have also included some closer up shots of the detail that has been added to the tentacles. This is still a work in progress as I feel more can be added to emphasise the gross look of the tentacles, pushing it closer to the Nurgle aesthetic.

    After, the plan is to continue and finish optimising the low poly as this has been a slow burn whilst finishing up the high poly. Further surface detail is going to be added to the model to help push the plague and chaos that has inflicted the mech. More documentation of this will follow in my third blog post.

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