I’ve made some progress since this post: Starting on Kidneys.
At this point I am working on sculpting and painting in Mudbox. You can see some of my reference images on the left.
Researching Polycystic Kidney Disease was really startling. The kidney that I am working at is at a very late stage of the disease. The kidneys enlarge as they become covered in cysts, while maintaining the basic shape of the kidney. The cysts can number in the thousands. In the fully developed stages the kidney can weigh as much as 20-30 pounds. Polycystic Kidney Disease is the most common genetic, life threatening disease and currently has no cure. It affects an estimated 12.5 million people worldwide. Transplants only become an option after the patient has reached end stage renal disease, which is a progressive loss in renal function.