To start this thread, it already is a known thing that the SSS implementation for Cycles is incomplete, but it already allows us to do what it needed to create realistic scattering materials and that includes the materials that make it possible to create creatures in Cycles.
If you don’t already know, not long after the raylength output was created, I ported my old Dragon model to Cycles because of how one can now do scattering materials with falloff and with no need for multi-layered object shells.
Over the next year or so, I managed to slowly improve on my scattering material and eventually make it more convincing, the method I used was, in a way, a bit more complex than a lot of solutions posted on this forum and was happy with how it was able to take more things into account than simply looking at the thickness from the camera (like how it used lightpaths to allow the glass shader to drive some of the scattering without it being see-through and the enhanced energy loss when the interior rays hit backfaces).
Over the last year, I managed to get something that looked vastly improved from my first attempts, but then the SSS node was committed to trunk and allowed me to add a piece that was still missing, which was a front-scattering effect. All in all, this led me to take all what I have learned and compile it into a single group node where, with the help of multi-layered groups, the mixed and subtle use of the ‘add shader’ node along with higher-than-1 values for scattering RGB data (to compensate for energy loss while maintaining conservation), the subtle use of the ‘velvet’ node, and the use of separate diffuse and glossy components, had everything I needed to create a scattering material suited for use with creatures.
The result, after countless hours of learning and constructing the components of what would become the final material (along with some cinematic treatment with the compositor), is this.
Now I realize the environment is just a simple thing placed in there with him to try out lighting, but that’s why I consider this a test of new materials and lighting rather than a full image. In my mind, the materials I had for him in BI could hardly compare, something which you would be hard-pressed to achieve with legacy shading methods and a lack of GI. In all, my inspiration to do another push with this model was somewhat influenced when I did a laser-like focus on the Smaug part at the end of the trailer for the second Hobbit movie. And before you ask, yes, I am aware of some niggling things with the modeling around the eyes and the base of some of the horns, but my main focus in this case was the existing materials along with a basic rigging setup.
Meanwhile, you can also look at just how large the final node setup is for the scattering component, which utilizes both the SSS node and my custom raylength-based setup in an attempt to make it as complete as possible (beginners avert your eyes).
And yes, I know that not everything is readable, but it wouldn’t have been possible to fit it all on one screen otherwise. Now the setup in the top-right green window is not an actual part of the scattering setup, but is simply there to force energy-loss from backface bounces to create a more realistic falloff for some of the scattering.
Finally, we now come to the main point of this thread, and that is you feeling free to show off your Cycles creature tests and accompanying node setups here, so post them.