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Welcome to

3D Art & Design The

ANNUAL The world of 3D art and design grows exponentially every year and has been doing so for a long time now. Whether it’s in the modelling, texturing and real-time rendering you see in videogames, the blockbuster visual efects you see in movies, the clever invisible efects that are the building blocks of many TV shows or anything in between, the impact of developments in the visual efects industry can be easily identified throughout the entertainment, product design and medical fields. Whether you’re a professional working in the industry, a student or enthusiast, or just interested in the limitless possibilities that computer graphics present, The 3D Art & Design Annual – brought to you by the team behind 3D Artist magazine – is packed full of expert tutorials for you to absorb, written by some of the greatest artists in the field and covering every aspect of the 3D production pipeline from concept to the final render. On top of this, we’ve provided you with an astonishing assortment of free 3D resources for you to download, including hours of video tuition, 3D models to use in your work and much more.


3D Art & Design The

ANNUAL Imagine Publishing Ltd Richmond House 33 Richmond Hill Bournemouth Dorset BH2 6EZ  +44 (0) 1202 586200 Website: www.imagine-publishing.co.uk Twitter: @Books_Imagine Facebook: www.facebook.com/ImagineBookazines

Publishing Director Aaron Asadi Head of Design Ross Andrews Editor in Chief Jon White Editor Steve Holmes Senior Art Editor Greg Whitaker Designer Alexander Phoenix Cover image Hristian Ivanov Printed by William Gibbons, 26 Planetary Road, Willenhall, West Midlands, WV13 3XT Distributed in the UK, Eire & the Rest of the World by: Marketforce, 5 Churchill Place, Canary Wharf, London, E14 5HU 0203 787 9060, www.marketforce.co.uk Distributed in Australia by: Gordon & Gotch Australia Pty Ltd, 26 Rodborough Road, Frenchs Forest, NSW, 2086 Australia Tel: +61 2 9972 8800 Web: www.gordongotch.com.au Disclaimer The publisher cannot accept responsibility for any unsolicited material lost or damaged in the post. All text and layout is the copyright of Imagine Publishing Ltd. Nothing in this bookazine may be reproduced in whole or part without the written permission of the publisher. All copyrights are recognised and used specifically for the purpose of criticism and review. Although the bookazine has endeavoured to ensure all information is correct at time of print, prices and availability may change. This bookazine is fully independent and not affiliated in any way with the companies mentioned herein. The 3D Art & Design Annual Volume 002 Š 2016 Imagine Publishing Ltd ISBN 978 1785 464 683

Part of the

bookazine series


8 30 Hard

surface secrets Modelling

Texturing

18

60 Texture a sci-fi character

Create a stunning fantasy character

Rigging & Animation

26 Design a high-tech racing machine

68 Advanced texturing in MARI

34 Model and kitbash a mech

72 Create realistic tileable triple-A textures

40 Reconstruct a classical sculpture

80 The art of tattooing

48 Construct a real-time videogame asset

84 Texture a wartime jeep

52 Modelling and materials in Blender

88 Build bronze materials in Houdini

60

100 Build a quick rig for videogames 104 Pose a sculpt using joints 108 Animate a liquid metal logo 110 Rigging with FK and IK

Visual Effects

Lighting & Rendering

112

Enhance liquid & foam simulations

130 Light a night city scene in Blender

116

Create a customisable blood pool

138 Atmospheric lighting in Unreal Engine

120 Set up a huge pyro explosion 124 Create viscous fluids

142 Master advanced lighting with Octane 150 Pro rendering techniques in MODO

26 Compositing &

Post-Production 158 Master backplate integration 166 Create a dust effect 168 Day for night conversion in NUKE 172 Matchmove a scene for compositing

6


88

162 138

158 150

18 7


D R A H FACE R U S ETS R C E S ht g i t g n i t n struc you ca n o ences c r f fe e .” r s o ls l t mode ogt suggests that thhaerdbesusrfaces athnadtmfoordteruly r he art t e t c h a g f i r l V ou l-life ys su gh Pros hi d sleek hard- modeller is one ofththee most getrisatriae n“oIvf raenaov agr,eyeosu, asnhdousald lookitahroasuntod.lo“oYk H an les in of to t also models urface d job tit s from artist ood, bu internet is full und hard-s evable ie g li r k e a o b v edged lo d ie n r e ro ld l a a h a u e v e T o d e s " n r r h o . dive nam odel s rywhe efinitio plains

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30 HARD SURFACE SECRETS

3D ART & DESIGN ANNUAL

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30 HARD SURFACE SECRETS

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Modelling 18

Create a stunning fantasy character

26 Design a high-tech racing machine 34 Model and kitbash a mech 40 Reconstruct a classical sculpture 48 Construct a real-time videogame asset 16

52 Photoreal modelling and materials in Blender

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26 48

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CREATE A STUNNING FANTASY CHARACTER

3D ART & DESIGN ANNUAL

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MODELLING


CREATE A STUNNING FANTASY CHARACTER

PABLO MUÑOZ GÓMEZ The Jarl of Winter, 2016 Software ZBrush, Substance Painter, KeyShot, Photoshop

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Create a stunning fantasy character

Learn to illustrate a 3D character model, stylise hair and fur, use Smart Materials in Substance and create custom brushes for detailing skin

T

hroughout the course of the next few pages, we are going to dissect the process of creating and setting up the 3D sculpture of our Jarl character in order to create a detailed illustration. We’ll begin with the creation of a 3D sketch that has been based on 2D concepts, as well as doing some paintovers to further explore the design options. The character is not going to have an extreme or dynamic pose and the overall facial expression will be rather neutral. But we still need to make the illustration interesting, so we’ll pay close attention to the eyes as our means to create a captivating image for the final render. Although we are going to work with ZBrush for large parts of the tutorial, textures are going to be created with Substance Painter 2. We’ll also use KeyShot for rendering and Photoshop for compositing and refinements. Additionally, we’ll also take a look at some tips which will help us to suggest context or a story behind the character, particularly when working with a closed composition where the main focus is the face of the subject.

01

Set up and 3D sketching Let’s assume that you

have collected all of your references and have a clear idea of how your image should look. For this character, we already had concept art to help ignite the creative process. Starting from a generic female base mesh we can start appending various DynaMeshed spheres. To flesh out the volumes for the jacket and fur coat, we’ll use the Move tool while keeping the DynaMesh resolution very low. You can handle a great amount of details by having a SubTool for each key element. At this stage, the Dam_Standard brush is a great tool for defining cuts and intersections.

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Sculpt the face and explore in 2D With the basic shapes in place, we can do a BPR render and open it in Photoshop. Using a hard brush with pressure, sketch out some shapes over the render. This process will help us determine (very quickly) whether or not an idea is worth pursuing and will save us some time when it comes to the sculpting stage. Once the design has been refined, we can begin to sculpt the face using the Standard Brush with a low Z intensity, the Move brush and the hPolish brush.

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Increase resolution, details and alphas To

sculpt skin details, let’s increase the resolution in the DynaMesh SubTools and the subdivision level in the base mesh. Ensure the details are added gradually – only increase resolution or subdivide when more geometry is needed to describe smaller details. Using a plane in a separate tool, carve a few pores and generate an alpha (GrabDoc) to project high-frequency details into our model. we can create multiple alphas for areas of the skin with deeper pores or subtle bumps. Some areas need more attention and are important for adding asymmetry. The Dam_Standard brush is ideal for carving in wrinkles around the eye and use the Inflate brush for the lips. 02

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MODELLING

Create a brush for eyelashes We want to

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Gravity and useful hotkeys

exaggerate the eyelashes for this character to accentuate the eyes a bit more. We need two things to build the eyelashes: the structural planes and the eyelashes brush. The structural planes are single-sided pieces of geometry (an extruded edge or a tweaked plane) that follows the contour of the eye and serves as a guide to lay down and edit the individual eyelashes. The eyelashes brush is a modified version of the Insert CurveTubes brush. From the Stroke palette under the Curve subpalette, turn on Snap as well as Lock Start. Also switch on Size under Curve modifiers.

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Work on eyebrows We can use the eyelashes

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Replace placeholders and clean up Take each

A simple trick to sculpt wrinkles and crevices is to add a bit of gravity to the stroke of the Dam_ Standard brush. You can also use the Inflate brush with low intensity to tighten up the wrinkles area. The Replay Last Stroke hotkey is also a great help when detailing. If you make a brush stroke that you like, but perhaps you think that it lacks a bit of depth, then you can just press the number 1 key on your keyboard to repeat the same stroke over the same place.

brush for the eyebrows as well, following the same idea of creating a structural plane (a simple extract from the forehead). Since we enabled Snap and Lock Start, when we draw a tube with a small size brush, ZBrush will prevent us from moving the origin point and the tubes will snap to the plane we created. This is a really fast way to create this sort of detail. Since the shape and flow of the hairs is determined primarily by the structural planes, we don’t have to spend time grooming and moving things around after.

DynaMesh placeholder and refine the shapes. Make use of the ZRemesher feature to retopologise the shapes and optimise the polygon count. You can also utilise the ZRemesher guides to help you control the flow of the topology. In this case, and for most SubTools, we only need to keep the part of the mesh that will be visible in our illustration. So after getting a new topology, you can use the ZModeler to select and delete any polygons that you won’t be needing. With elements like the jacket, create a single polygroup for the resulting open mesh and use the ZModeler to extrude the polygroup outwards to create some thickness.

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Unwrap UV Now that we have new and clean topology, we are going to create UVs before subdividing and adding details. We’ll make use of the polygroups in our meshes to unwrap the polygons in separate islands. Open the UV Master and turn on the Polygroups switch – you can use ZModeler to assign new polygroups to segment the mesh in more parts. For the head, we already have details and subdivision levels. So we can use the Work on Clone option to unwrap the model and then copy and paste the new UVs into our detailed head mesh. 04

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CREATE A STUNNING FANTASY CHARACTER

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Use the Flatten option in the UV Master and the transpose line to rearrange the parts and give more space to the front part of the eye

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Detail parts and clean up Use the Texture Palette to select an image and check the UV mapping for all your SubTools. If you are happy with the result you can start subdividing and detailing each part. Keep in mind that some areas will be covered by fur or hair so not all the details will be visible. For things like the jacket, we can sculpt the most prominent details like cuts or scratches, and add smaller details to the mesh using surface noise. We can also use Insert brushes to add parts like the buckles. At this point it is also a good idea to save as a separate file, clean up the tool and remove any remaining placeholders.

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Create the eyes The eyes are a central part of this illustration so we are going to work on creating a separate ‘eye tool’ and then we will import it for our character. Create a 3D sphere now and click on Make PolyMesh 3D from the Tool palette. Assign two polygroups for the front and back, and then generate some UVs. Use the Flatten option in the UV Master plugin, and the transpose line to rearrange parts and give more space to the front part of the eye. Then subdivide the eye a few times, enable radial symmetry to sculpt the iris and keep changing the RadialCount value to add some randomness in the details. 21


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06 10

Optimise UV space To create a more optimised UV map for the head, you can control the unwrapping process with Polypaint by switching to Enable Control Painting. This will help ZBrush to determine where it should create the cuts. In this case, the hair will cover the head of the character, so we want to have more UV space (more texture space) for the face. You can paint with a green colour using the Density option in the UV Master plugin to better redistribute the polygons.

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Work with the hair brush

To optimise our model for KeyShot rendering, we’ll take a diferent approach to build the hair and fur. Create a new tool using a polymesh plane with UVs and create an Insert brush. With the new brush selected, you should now enable Curve Mode under the Stroke palette, as well as for Size under curve modifiers. Select the head of our model, duplicate it, go to the lowest subdivision level and delete the higher one. Now we have another placeholder and we can start drawing curves with the Plane Brush we created. Also, use Lock Start from the curve palette to avoid moving the origin point.

Move and Move Topology are handy for readjusting the model after posing

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Texture hair We already have UVs for the head. We also created the hair brush after creating the UVs for the plane, so simply add a tileable hair texture with alpha to our hair straps and they’ll start to look more like real hair. The benefits are that we have more control over shape and considerably fewer polygons to render. The downside is that it won’t look messy and random, which is something that makes it look more natural. To fix this, we’ll add more hair straps with a smaller brush to cover up areas were the polygons are evident. This will also create the efect of a greater volume of hair.

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CREATE A STUNNING FANTASY CHARACTER

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Groom and style hair When creating the hair straps, you can select the tip of the curve and move it in a circular motion to twist the curve and add a bit more life to the hair. Use the Move tool to ‘groom’ the pieces of hair and you’ll be able create the hairstyle that you want. For additional hair details like the braids, create another Insert Curve brush to build the base. A very cool and easy way to test this type of brush with repetitive patterns is by utilising ArrayMesh to see the efect of the pattern.

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Pose the model By now we should have all of our SubTools with subdivision levels and details. Before adding additional FiberMesh we need to create the final pose for the model using Transpose Master from the Zplugin palette. Since we have a good range of polygroups in all parts of our model, we can quickly create selections and mask the model. Generally speaking, it is easier to use the transpose line to move or rotate parts of the model. You might find that the Move and Move Topology brushes are incredibly handy for readjusting sections of the model after it has been posed.

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Retouch the hair Once the model has been posed, it is a good idea to preview the composition and test all of the various camera angles in KeyShot. Now add in FiberMesh to some key areas of the hair to create better transitions for a more realistic-looking hair efect. Take the duplicate of the head that we used earlier to insert the hair straps, and segment it in various polygroups. Now click Preview in the FiberMesh subpalette and tweak the settings to your liking, but make sure that you leave Gravity set to 0 and at a relatively low number of fibres. Create the fibres and use the Groom brushes, with Masking By Polygroups set to 100, to shape and comb the fibres into place.

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Working with Smart Materials in Substance Painter If you have a model with multiple meshes that share the same material, you can create Smart Materials within Substance Painter. You can work on the head, for instance, creating a base skin material. Once you are happy with the textures, group all your layers and create a Smart Material to reuse on the arms, body and so on.

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Create the fur Let’s move on to the fur coat. Select the relevant SubTool and mask the area where you want to grow fibres from. We are going to keep the polygon count very low and mimic the process we used for the hair, so aim for a single-side thick piece of hair. We’ll use a hair texture with an alpha again to create the appearance of a very dense fur coat. Make sure that you assign the texture to the fibres before making them into new SubTools so that they are created with UVs. Send the resulting fibres to KeyShot and test a few textures to see what looks best.

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Fine-tune the fur We can also assign a unique

polygroup to each fibre to use the Move tools with the Mask By Polygroup option. To do that, open the polygroup subpalette and click on Group By Normals. Since our fur fibres have very few polygons, once in KeyShot they might not look as smooth as they may look in a ZBrush BPR. We need to click on Convert BPR to GEO for a better result in KeyShot. If you want an additional level of detail, you can also create a FiberMesh pass by making use of the same texture or colour that was used in the fibres.

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Texture in Substance Painter To texture this character we’ll use Substance Painter 2. We need to export all SubTools (except the hair and fur) in their lowest subdivision level as well as the highest subdivision level. In Substance Painter, we just need to import the low-poly models and use the high-poly model to bake some maps to help us with the texturing process. The workflow is the same for all meshes. Start with a coloured layer as the base and then create new layers to progressively add more colour variations and details to the texture map.

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CREATE A STUNNING FANTASY CHARACTER

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Set up KeyShot Materials The great advantage of

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texturing in Substance Painter 2 is the ability of painting and exporting all separate channels/maps. Using KeyShot 6 Pro and the Material Graph we can set up our materials using the maps we created in Substance Painter. In ZBrush select the SubTool you want to set up a material for, and enable Solo mode. With only one SubTool visible, use the ZBrush-toKeyShot bridge to send only that SubTool to KeyShot. Assign a material and open the Material Graph. Import the various maps corresponding to the selected SubTool and connect them. You can concentrate on one material at a time and once you are happy with it save it to your library (including the maps you used), so when you send the whole model to KeyShot you can easily assign materials to the various parts.

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Render in KeyShot Send the full high subdivision level model to KeyShot, choose your camera angle and tweak the lighting of the scene. Under the Scene tab in KeyShot, you can see all of the models that are (SubTools) available. Select any model and in the properties tab, you can assign it to a separate layer. When you get to compositing you can have that object on its own layer so you can tweak it individually. In the render window, change the format to PSD 32 BIT and tick the Include Alpha box. Also tick the boxes to render the depth and clown passes, which are very useful when compositing. Now hit render!

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Composite and final tweaks After the render is

completed we can move on to the final stage of the process, so open Photoshop and bring in the PSD file. Because we rendered it at 32-bit, we have a tone of colour depth information to play with. Open the Camera Raw Filter and adjust exposure, contrast and colours. We can then create the background for the illustration. Also, add new layers and we can use a variety of brushes to do some paintovers and refine some details in the image. To finalise our illustration, let’s add the snow particles and a few gradients with the blending mode set to Soft Light and Screen to create the atmospheric haze.

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Remember to keep your geometry low poly and non-extruded at the blockin stage, as this will enable you to easily add edge loops and merge vertices 26


DESIGN A HIGH-TECH RACING MACHINE

Design a high-tech racing machine Create a vehicle based on F1 cars and hot rods – and infused with sci-fi influences – to create a futuristic racer design

D

esigning vehicles is fun, but this can also be challenging at times. We will need to figure out appealing forms, size relationships and details that are fantastic and yet rooted in reality. This design has been based on a combination of F1 cars and hot rods as these vehicles tend to have wonderful exposed areas that give us a view of the awesome mechanical elements that make the machine work! For this tutorial we will follow a design process that can be used for other models. We shall explore modelling in Maya, Rhino and ZBrush to produce specific elements. We will then learn how we can use the strengths of each of these programs to add to our model. This project is a great opportunity for us to experiment with diferent software packages since we will be producing custom components and fitting them to our design. The end goal is to produce a textured 3D model that can be rendered.

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3D ART & DESIGN ANNUAL

01

MODELLING

Reference collection A great place to start is the

01

collection of applicable references on Pinterest or on Tumblr. Build your own board that contains interesting things to inform your design. Try to also look at objects in a diferent category from your design intent. This can take your ideas to very interesting and unexpected places. When designing a vehicle why not look to something like an aircraft or an animal for inspiration!

IGOR SOBOLEVSKY Axiom Feral, 2015 Software Maya, Rhino, ZBrush, KeyShot, Photoshop

Learn how to ěũũ#2(%-ũũ5#'(!+# ěũũ#7341#ũ3'#ũ5#'(!+#ũ6(3'ũ ,/2ũ-"ũ"#!+2 ěũ (%'3ũ3'#ũ,."#+ ěũũ.++#!3ũ//1./1(3#ũ "#2(%-ũ1#2.41!#2

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02

Loose sketching Once your inspiration is firmly

established, start doing some loose sketching. You can do this both traditionally or digitally – this really depends on your personal preference. Don’t be afraid to make ugly sketches at this point. Sketch loosely and be comfortable, however you should keep the end goal in mind. We are doing this to figure out our design. These drawings can be cleaned up and used as an underlay later in the process.

03

Tight sketch Using loose sketches as an underlay, create a final sketch that can be placed in the scene. For vehicles, generally a side view contains the most information. For instance, look at the position and proportion of the wheels in relation to each other. The general shape of the body is clearly visible as well since there is no foreshortening or other perspective distortions. If the image was produced traditionally, then take a photo with your smartphone in a well-lit environment and transfer that to your workstation. 03

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02

Wheels and suspension Begin

by making a cylinder or a tube – this is a base for your tire. Make sure the tube has eight to ten sides, and this can be done in Maya or Rhino. Use simple geometry to block in the necessary parts. Look at images of suspensions to get a basic understanding of how the system works. Use primitives to make struts, springs, and hinges for your suspension. Utilise Move tools to position the elements in place and start adding edge loops and extruding polygons. Make sure to protect your edges with additional edge loops. Then smooth your geometry. Enable soft selection in Maya’s tool settings and select the vertices on the wheels that are contacting the ground. Now move and scale the soft selection to simulate tire compression.

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Import your sketch into Maya At this point in the process it is important to have somewhere to begin; the sketch that we made prior is a great way to start building your racer! In Maya, go to the panel layouts to enable four viewports. Then select the side view, go to the View button and select Image Plane from the drop-down menu. This will let you select your sketch. When it is imported, hit W or select the Move tool from the toolbar. This will let you position and scale your drawing. Get the bottom of the wheels positioned right at the bottom on the ground grid.


DESIGN A HIGH-TECH RACING MACHINE

06

Block in the body Start with cubes to represent the

06

Human factor

engine compartment and the main body. Subdivide the cube with a couple of edge loops. Proceed by deleting the bottom and sides of the cube. The resulting plane should have a number of polygons. Switch your selection to vertices and begin to manipulate the plane in order to give it some volume. Remember to keep your geometry low poly and non-extruded at the block-in stage as this will enable you to easily add edge loops and merge vertices. Duplicate the shape, flip it and position it underneath. Then you can bridge the two planes to create a volumetric shape.

Incorporate a human form by placing a model in the scene. This should help you establish scale relatively early in the process. That way you can imagine proportions of the vehicle better. This helps the designs look more realistic. Export a human body model from Mudbox and keep that OBJ handy.

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Build on the existing geometry When you are satisfied with the initial body geometry begin duplicating faces to produce parts like fenders and side skirts. Extract polygons along the top of the body to produce the cockpit enclosure. This technique will save you time since the general edge flow and shape will be maintained in the extracted geometry. For instance, the back quarter panel was made by duplicating rear faces on the body and bridging them with a non-extruded cylinder. Use this method to generate separate parts as opposed to importing or creating a new primitive. Always keep your edge count in mind. An equal number of edges makes for easy geometry bridging.

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Assess your design Take a step back and look at your design. At this stage you can make adjustments. For instance, the front section seemed too long and so it was shortened. The hood scoop was too obtrusive and was modified to have a horizontal configuration. These elements were easily adjusted due to the model’s modular nature. Make sure that the design works together and forms are pleasant and cohesive. Decide how you will distribute the detail density. The exposed front section is a great place to showcase the suspension elements and liquid cooling system, complete with pronounced fan enclosure as well as the electric motor. 29


3D ART & DESIGN ANNUAL

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MODELLING

Add details Now relax a bit! All of our essential

09

forms are established and we can start adding some details. At this time, select the existing geometry in Maya and export the selection as an OBJ file. This can be imported into ZBrush as a tool. We will be using the ZModeler brush (hit hotkeys B, Z, M) to refine the vehicle. Use the Point Split tool to make mounting points on the hood. Make a cylinder, subdivide it and sculpt insulation fabric. Select a stitch brush to add some stitches. Use the IMM_Modelkit brush to quickly add rivets, vents and screws on top of the our existing geometry. Then export the new elements to OBJ and add it to our Maya scene.

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Prepare for importing to KeyShot Now let’s look at our model and think about how our materials and colour scheme will be laid out. Since the final rendering will not be made in Maya, the material colour and properties do not have to be exact but the diferentiation between parts has to be. For instance, you may want to assign a material to all of the frame and suspension elements. Add a transparent glass shader for the cabin enclosure and headlights. Look at the model and think how materials are distributed in a real vehicle (lights, carbon fibre, tires, shocks, paint and so on). When making a shader in Maya try to name it so it will be easier to assign the correct material to a part for both Maya and subsequently in KeyShot.

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KeyShot import and setup Drag and drop your model into an open KeyShot scene. Adjust your import options as shown in the image below, but keep in mind that these do not have to be followed exactly. At this point all of the materials are rendered with default settings. We need to apply new shaders to achieve the desired look. Select all of the model parts in the project toolbar and link them. This will apply the same material to all of the parts. Think of this step as making a uniform material underlay. Apply a dark matte material to the whole model. 11

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Use various programs Do not be afraid to use a variety of modelling software. If available to you, use design packages for their particular strengths. Rhinoceros is great for detailed machined parts, as shown in Step 5. Use Boolean tools to add and subtract from your geometry in order to get awesome, precise machined parts. A command prompt in Rhino lets you type in and execute a command (like Boolean Diference, Boolean Split, Extrude and so on).


DESIGN A HIGH-TECH RACING MACHINE

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Apply materials and lighting Begin by selecting all of the parts of the model and unlinking them. Proceed with selecting the desired materials from the library window and dragging them onto the model. The material properties should remain linked according to our original Maya shader specs. At this point, have fun and experiment with various materials by double-clicking them and adjusting their parameters. Now tweak for a desired roughness, refraction index and colour. From the KeyShot library window, select the Environment tab. Let’s apply an environment that best accents our model. If we need to add an additional accent lighting, we can import a sphere and apply an IES spot light material to it. 13

The utility of an adjustment layer cannot be understated – this nondestructive way of working will save you lots of time

Back up your parts It’s easy to get carried away when building your model. You may find yourself with a detailed part that somehow does not fit in the design. When you achieve a desired look on a low-poly element, duplicate it and move it under the main scene. This way you can proceed with subdividing your parts and have a low-poly backup in your scene too. Adding extra back-up elements to a separate layer in Maya is great for keeping your scene clean.

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Decals and rendering

Double-click on the material and select the Textures tab. Drag your decal onto a Color block. Note that KeyShot 4 only lets you apply one image in the colour section, so be strategic in mapping this element. This design benefited from racing stripes placed on the sides. If there is a need for additional graphic elements, apply them as a label (PNG at about 88 per cent opacity). Experiment with the mapping type for best results. Place a tire tread Bump map on a tire and select UV mapping. Dial in the camera settings in the project window and save these parameters. Select your render resolution and quality, hit render, sit back and relax!

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MODELLING

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Photoshop setup Let’s open our render in Photoshop now. As you can see we have rendered out our model with a reflective plane underneath. This way we get the most intense reflection possible. At this point we can create a new path layer. The point of this operation is to separate the background from our render. Then we can create a new path that separates the reflection from the main render. Once our reflection is on a separate layer, apply a layer mask. At this point we can use a gradient tool on the mask and achieve a nice gradient on the reflection. 14

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Background and shadow Now we need to add a background to our image. A simple studio background lets us focus on our vehicle. You can start by creating a new fill layer behind the model. A smooth gradient can be achieved by using a gradient tool or by creating a new levels adjustment layer over the background. The utility of an adjustment layer cannot be understated – this non-destructive way of working will save you lots of time. Shadows can be achieved by using the original render output and modifying it by using adjustment layers. Now reference the provided PSD file!

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DESIGN A HIGH-TECH RACING MACHINE

Igor Sobolevsky I am a designer working in the fields of industrial, concept and graphic design. I enjoy applying industrial design processes when building sci-fi equipment. Here is a look at some of my favourite designs.

Airlock One Maya, KeyShot, Photoshop (2014) An airlock of an Aurora Mining Corporation outpost on Europa, one of the moons of Jupiter.

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The human model Size reference is very important in design. When we look at our

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Lighting and final adjustments Now

surroundings, we can judge the size of the objects by using ourselves as a unit of measurement. That is precisely why it is important to show a human figure in the presentation. Use your own photos for this step! Try to get images that match the lighting of your final render. Utilise an adjustment layer to tweak lighting so that the render and the image asset have a similar feel. Exposure and Levels adjustment layers are great for bringing out highlights and shadows. You can also use your logos on the uniform of your pilot – this will bring all the elements together.

that all of our elements are in place, let’s add some atmosphere and lighting efects. You can get some awesome lens flares, smoke, and dust particles from cgtextures.com. Experiment with blending modes in Photoshop too. Screen and Color Dodge tends to work well for these efects. Identify an area with the most intense light and add a lens flare to it. Try not to oversaturate the images with lens flares since this can take away from your render. Finally, let’s make vibrance and photo filter adjustment layers. Reduce the vibrance of the image and apply a photo filter on top. Save your image, and be proud of yourself!

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Branding and logos Graphic design is quite important when texturing and defining your models. Think about real-life hardware where there are logos, descriptors, warnings and basic instructions. These tend to add a level of realism and life to your design. Use Illustrator or Photoshop to make your graphic elements and try to stay away from premade graphic assets. Think about the purpose of your design. This will dictate the nature of your graphics. Since we have a racing vehicle we will use the team brand and number as well as other logos to detail our machine and pilot. Try to export your decals at about 88 per cent opacity as this helps them to appear more realistic.

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Infiltrator ZBrush, KeyShot, Photoshop (2015) This is a humanoid drone, designed for surveillance and intelligence collection.

BFT 0109 Maya, Rhino, KeyShot, Photoshop (2015) A large expedition vehicle designed to handle long missions in various rough environments.

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3D ART & DESIGN ANNUAL

TOR FRICK Rocket combat mech, 2015 Software MODO, Photoshop, Marvelous Designer

Learn how to ěũũ1#3#ũũ*(3 2'ũ2#3 ěũũ (3 2' ěũũ("#ũ1#/#3(-%ũ#+#,#-32 ěũũ+!#ũ#ą ũũ!(#-3ũ"#!+2 ěũũ(231( 43#ũ"#3(+2

Concept ũ6-3#"ũ3.ũ,*#ũũ,#!'ũ '#5(+8ũ(-Ąũ4#-!#"ũ 8ũ ,2!'(-#-ũ*1(#%#1Ĕũ6(3'ũũ heavy feel and layers of details and plates that are gritty and worn from use.

MODELLING

Model and kitbash a mech Build a semirealistic render, showing of the design of the mech

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n these steps we will give an overview of some of the main steps taken when building complex mechanical models from the idea to the finished product. We will explain the thoughts behind the choice of workflows and why we do things in our chosen order. The focus is on kitbashing and quick detailing, and how to avoid the pitfalls that normally come with these workflows. For example we will teach you to use kitbashing extensively while avoiding a repetitive look. We will also show you a process for quickly adding decals and custom text to our meshes. We mainly used MODO 901 and Photoshop for this model, but most of our steps are not program-specific and are adaptable to almost any workflow.

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Set up the scene When working with any kind of complex model, it’s good to take the time to set up a solid scene structure, as well as things like mirrored instances. A good method is to have the instances and mirroring set up correctly from the start, so that we can see the end result of the model at all times. It’s also good to set up animated parts with test animations, so that we can make sure that things work the way we want them to without accidentally ruining mobility or functionality.

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Create the blockout This might sound like a no-brainer, but it’s worth mentioning. The foundation to a good workflow starts with a good blockout. It’s good to identify kitbashing methods and pieces as early as possible. By finding reoccurring shapes in the blockout, we can plan our kitbashing elements ahead. For example in this model we have relied on cylindrical elements, hinges and diferent kinds of rails in the detailing and construction of the mechanisms. 03

By finding reoccurring shapes in the blockout, we can plan our kitbashing elements ahead

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Assemble kitbash pieces and details Using the

blockout as a base, we can identify possible kitbash pieces as well as find the style for the detailing. Create a decent number of kitbash pieces that you think will be enough to cover most situations on this model. Throughout the modelling phase keep adding to the kitbash library as you will find reuseable elements while building. Try not to create details that are too specific with the pieces so that you can reuse them easier.

Reusing elements

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If you are working on a series of models that are sharing the same underlying design principles or style, kitbashing is even more eicient. Reusing elements between models and constantly growing your library both helps maintain a visual style as well as speed up the detailing process. A good habit is to dissect your model after completion in search of good kitbash elements. It’s easy to forget once you are done with something as you just want to finish working on it, but it’s well worth the time.


MODEL AND KITBASH A MECH

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3D ART & DESIGN ANNUAL

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MODELLING

Set up core materials and colours Set up the core materials early on – this

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enables us to keep track of how noisy the final model will be visually. This allows for easier focus on the modelling and a better distribution of the elements because we will be able to catch cluttered or drab areas earlier. It also speeds up the texturing and shading process, since the majority of the materials will already be in place. It also saves time since we will be copying and pasting a lot of elements around.

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MeshFusion base elements For some of the main elements of the model like the cockpit, use MeshFusion to iterate quickly on the large shapes instead of on a traditional mesh. MeshFusion works best when you have large complex shapes and forms that do not need to match an existing design, that’s when it really shines. It allows for very quick experiments with shapes such as this. Spend some time experimenting in this stage, deviating from the original idea a bit to see if we find something new since the iteration speed is so fast. The rest of the model is hidden for clarity.

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MeshFusion polish After getting the base shapes

right, convert the MeshFusion to a schematic fusion, which enables us to do a few more complex things like layering the fusions on each other. Spend some time adding additional detail to the MeshFusion as well as cleaning up the angles and setting up the correct hardness of the intersections. Add all the large and medium-sized shapes needed for this part of the model – basically, add everything that needs large, soft transitions. Leave finer details out of MeshFusion entirely.

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Freeze the fusion

After we are done with the MeshFusion modelling, freeze a copy of the fusion mesh and start to model with that as a base. We do this because MeshFusion can get quite sluggish when you abuse it too much with many separate pieces. Separate the mesh into pieces, like the cockpit lid and the base, and start to do more detailed modelling and panelling on it. Use MODO 901’s new cutting and capping tool to create quick panels and seams in the mesh.

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Main modelling stage This is the biggest chunk of work for the model. Go through the entire model and model out all the main elements, or replace blockout parts with kitbash pieces, then do a detail pass using the kitbash pieces and flesh everything out to a near-final state. After this step, the majority of the mech has been modelled. During this stage we used a lot of Booleans in the modelling, combined with reused parts to speed up the process. It is during this stage that it’s easiest to find new material for the kitbash set.

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MODEL AND KITBASH A MECH

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Kitbash filler For areas that are hard to see, or out

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of focus, kitbashing can be a great time saver. Sometimes you need to fill large holes or areas with details, but doing them all by hand can be time consuming. A few areas of the mech could do with some more filling out, so just reuse existing parts (since this is not an area you will see all that well) – making it fit together is not so important.

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Cover up the kitbashing Once we have used the kitbash pieces everywhere, it starts to look overused and you can spot the repetition if it’s not hidden well enough.  Always take a quick pass to change some of the more obvious reused ones by adding or subtracting elements from them. The majority of the touchups we do includes rescaling parts of a kitbash element or just deleting parts of it, or covering/adding to it with some additional simple shapes. Most of the time, simple changes are enough to get away from repetition.

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Sculpting and cloth To break up the monotony of the metal surfaces, it’s a good idea to introduce some cloth and additional equipment (like bags for example). Parts of the cloth is sculpted in MODO by using the sculpting tools, which are great for quick, basic sculpting. For the more complex parts like the bags, we used Marvelous Designer combined with some quick shapes to simulate bags with packing in them. They are then instanced out in MODO so that the file does not explode in size.

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Set up the floaters

Before we do the very last detailing step with floating details, we need to create a small selection of details that we can clone out over the model. A selection of rivets and diferent small insets is more than enough for this model. A good trick is to give them their own material, so that you can easily mask them out if needed.

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Do your UV maps earlier! If you are aiming to texture and render the high-poly model properly, make sure to UV your kitbashing pieces before you start redistributing them in your model. That way you have already done UVs for a large part of your model from the get-go. Even if you alter a lot of the geometry later, the base unwrap still carries over.

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Before we do the very last detailing step with floating details, we need to create a small selection of details that we can clone out over the model. A selection of rivets and diferent small insets is more than enough 37


3D ART & DESIGN ANNUAL

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MODELLING

Fine detailing This is the final detail pass where we add the rivets, small details and so

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on. The reason why we do this so late is because it can make or break a model. Sometimes it’s hard to know what you have until this the model is almost complete. We do not want to create overdetailed areas, or cover areas of rest with small detail. The Tack tool and Clone tool are your best friends when it comes to placing detail meshes in MODO.

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Set up the decals The same way that we set up kitbashing elements earlier, set up a number of decals that we can combine: a few generic warning signs, some numbers, as well as some custom decals. Create these as separate mesh planes with a texture so that you can place them more easily using the same tools, the same as when placing the mesh details. 14

Rendering floaters One problem with using floaters in renders is that if used incorrectly, or too aggressively, they can become quite obvious. There are a few ways to minimise their impact in the render. One is to separate them to their own layer and turn of shadow casting. If you render an AO layer in MODO, do it using an occlusion node instead of the AO render output – this method creates a fake and faster AO that doesn’t highlight the floating details.

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MODEL AND KITBASH A MECH

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Place the decals and text The same

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way that we were holding of on adding the small detailing like rivets and so on, we hold of on adding decals until the end. We don’t want to end up with a cluttered model with too many decals in obvious copied-and-pasted locations.

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Tor Frick I am 3D generalist working in the videogames industry as an art director. I spend most of my time talking, studying or making 3D in diferent ways, preferably involving sci-fi and machines.

Set up materials

Set up some instances of the materials so that you can easily create more colour variations without having to create new base materials from scratch. We do a lot of the colouring by just tagging materials instead of adding textures to the model, saving us a lot of time when doing quick designs. Do not be afraid to create extra cuts and lines in your model only for the purpose of assigning colours. The main colour variation in the mech comes from material instances only. A simple tiling Bump map and difuse texture are all that drives the main material.

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We do a lot of the colouring by just tagging materials instead of adding textures to the model, saving us a lot of time

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Post-render tweaks After rendering out the model,

we take it into Photoshop for some quick touchups to get our final image. A quick trick is to render out an ambient occlusion layer and multiply that, combined with a colour to get a very basic dirt pass for the render. To get away from that artificial look, play with the layer blending and manually mask away parts where the AO is too strong. A few quick material overlays can get you a long way.

Steampunk microscope, MODO, Photoshop (2015) A study in modelling and shading, breaking away from sci-fi for a bit.

Decals An alternative way to create the decals is to have a decal sheet as an image only, and then camera project UVs from the viewport onto the decal sheet. That way you do not have to bother with planes for the decals, and it can make things easier.

Scifi corridor, MODO, Photoshop (2015) A sci-fi corridor speed-modelling session for exploring new features in MODO.

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Scifi speeder, MODO (2015) A sci-fi vehicle I made as part of a larger scene to test out new techniques. Textured using procedural shaders only.

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3D ART & DESIGN ANNUAL

MODELLING

Reconstruct a classical sculpture REZA SEDGHI Veiled Vestal Virgin, 2015 Software ZBrush, KeyShot

Learn how to ěũũBreak down the references ěũũSculpt the head ěũũSculpt cloth folds and wrinkles ěũũDo likeness sculpting ěũũUse KeyShot lighting and material settings ěũũRender realistic marble

Concept I wanted to reconstruct the Veiled Vestal Virgin. Besides the beauty of the sculpture, it’s a great way to understand folds, anatomy, expressions and more.

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hen it comes to classical sculpture, there is nothing more graceful and awe-inspiring than Rafaelle Monti’s bust of the Veiled Vestal Virgin. We’ll be studying and breaking down this reference, sculpting the bust and finally go into a finished realistic render. We will use ZBrush for creating the whole sculpture, from making the base mesh to sculpting the cloth and likeness, and in the end we’ll achieve a realistic render using KeyShot. The target of this tutorial is to capture the beauty of classical sculptures. Studying classical sculptures will improve your sculpting skills. You will learn a lot about anatomy, weight, cloth and folds. As you can see, the statue is veiled by a very thin fabric-like material, something that is reminiscent of silk so that you can see both the face and the folds on it. One of the most challenging parts is to create this cloth look on the face.

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Using the references and breakdown The first

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thing you need to do is to gather as many references as you can. You will need images with diferent points of lights and diferent points of view for understanding the whole proportion, the shapes and simply the whole sculpture. The next thing is to create a triangle from the centre of the mouth to the end of the eyes so you can understand the size and placement of the nose, eyes and mouth if you’re trying to capture a close render of your reference.

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Create the basic forms For creating this piece

we’ve decided to sculpt a bust of this sculpture. We’ll use a single sphere to start forming with the Move brush to create the overall shape that we want. First start with the head, make the sphere more like an egg shape and move the back part down to create the neck and the chest. Remember to always check your references from many angles so your basic shape will be more accurate. You can start with ZBrush DynaMesh Spheres in the Lightbox or you can use a sphere first and later turn it into DynaMesh.

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Develop the model using DynaMesh To start sculpting, you need to turn on the DynaMesh in the Geometry bar. Start sculpting the basic shapes and forms like the head and the main lines in the cloth folds, using a ClayBuildup or a Clay brush. At this stage, remember to avoid sculpting the details, simply go step by step and you’ll get a better result.


RECONSTRUCT A CLASSICAL SCULPTURE

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3D ART & DESIGN ANNUAL

MODELLING

04

Block the eyes, mouth and nose shapes Using Move and ClayBuildup, block the eyes, mouth and nose landmarks. In the reference breakdown stage, we’ve mentioned putting a triangle on the face with one point on the centre of the lips and the other two points at the end of each eye. This triangle will help you understand the placement of the eyes, nose and lips when you’re sculpting the face. You can create separate eyeballs for a sharper look. 04

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Develop the face We’ll keep developing the face

landmark until we reach the result that we need, the Pinch brush will be useful in this part to sharpen some areas. Classical sculptures have a very idealistic and innocent look so the lips are fuller, the eyebrows are arc shaped and the nose is smoother. Rafaelle Monti was a 19th Century artist but his sculptures had a Renaissance look.

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Initial details

Now we have a rough model and we know that everything is right as it should be. We will now start detailing the face and the main shapes on the body. Dam_ Standard, ClayBuildup and Move are the three brushes that we will use here. Avoid the cloth on the face at this stage and develop the face itself. Always go back to your references too.


RECONSTRUCT A CLASSICAL SCULPTURE

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Add folds Now that

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we’ve reached a satisfying level on the face we’ll go for adding the cloth. There are two ways of creating the cloth on the face: you can mask it, extract the parts out of the face, start developing it and at the end merge it with the base mesh, or you can pick your brush and sculpt it on the face. Both of these methods will give you the same result, as the original piece is sculpted in one piece. For better control of your lines you can go in to the Stroke bar and set your LazyRadius to around 30. 08

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Detail the folds with a cloth brush By using a Dam_Standard

brush and an edited Standard brush we’ll go for detailing the parts. To create a brush for sculpting folds, select the Standard brush, go to your Brush bar and edit the Depth parameters. Your Brush Imbed should be something around 15. Set the Gravity Strength to a high value – around 50 – and make your Gravity Direction negative (from bottom to top) to get bumpy folds; you can also choose the Direction based on the type of folds you are trying to create. Some folds are afected by heavy gravity, some folds’ directions flow from the top and so on.

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Create flowers and leaves You can create the whole statue in one piece, but for a sharper result it’s better to create shapes from separate models. For the flowers and leaves on the head of the statue, we’ll use a thin box and a cylinder, turn the DynaMesh on and then start developing our model. Inflate is a very useful brush here for making bumps. 09

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3D ART & DESIGN ANNUAL

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MODELLING

Create the base For creating a base, we’ve picked a cylinder, deformed it and put two rings on it. It’s important to create a smooth round-shaped base, the reason being that it might afect the feel of the whole sculpture. You might choose to go with a hard-edged base for a bust with an exaggerated expression.

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Clean up the lumpy parts The original sculpture’s face is covered with a one-piece silk, although Rafaelle Monti made some parts of the folds too sharp in order to emphasise more of the cloth so it might look like some parts are separate – remember not to make your model in a way so that the cloth looks divided. Now work with Pinch and Dam_ Standard, and smooth any parts that look lumpy. At this stage we have to clean up every single part of our model to make it clean and sharp.

Finalising the model

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Finalise the sculpt After we’ve created the flowers and the base, we’ll add them to our

main model and finalise our sculpture. By finalising we mean sharpening the areas, fixing the lumpiness of the model and preparing it for rendering. We will be using Pinch and Dam_Standard to make our model look sharper. Remember, as we’ve mentioned before, you can set the LazyRadius value higher to get better control, especially in this step where you will need to clean up your model.

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This is the part where we finish our model, adding the base and the flowers, sharpening the areas and fixing the lumpy parts. We will check our reference to see if everything is in its place and once we’ve done the cleaning up, we can go for the exporting and rendering parts.


RECONSTRUCT A CLASSICAL SCULPTURE

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Export the model Now that we have our model ready for render we’ll go for

exporting. Based on our goal, we can decimate it and export it straight to a rendering engine, or we can go for retopology if we’re going to texture it or if we need a lower resolution version of it. But here we go for decimating because we’re going to render it in KeyShot. 13

Reza Sedghi Reza is a 3D artist and digital sculptor from Tehran, Iran. He has been working as a freelancer mainly in character modelling for over five years and he has created several characters for both the videogames industry and for animations. Currently he is working as a digital sculptor for figure companies.

Pieta Reconstruction ZBrush, 3ds Max, V-Ray (2015) Reconstruction of Pietà, a sculpture that was originally by Michelangelo Buonarroti. This was rendered by my friend Milad Kambari.

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Render a realistic statue For rendering our model we will use the new version of KeyShot. Using a translucent material will help us to create a light passing efect, as we know marble can transmit the light based on the thickness of the stone. This means that on the thinner parts there will be more light passing and, as you may expect, on the thicker parts there’ll be less light passing.

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Set up the materials For setting up the materials, we’ll use a KeyShot Marble

material. You should change the material type to Translucent (Advanced) to have a better result. Increase the roughness to make it less shiny; the surface colour and subsurface colours should be close to each other – you can make the subsurface colour brighter but choosing them from a same palette can give a better feeling of translucency.

Abaddon the Noble Beast ZBrush (2014) Abaddon was my entry for CGart.ir’s Adrian Smith Massive Art Mythic Warlord challenge, which took the ‘Honourable mention’ title.

Garadon the beast ZBrush (2015) This orc is a creature that is based on the art style of Adrian Smith (artstation.com/artist/adrian-smith). I’m also a big fan of orcs.

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3D ART & DESIGN ANNUAL

MODELLING

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Lighting setup KeyShot lights can be simple but you need to know what you’re doing. You can set up your lighting in a way that your model looks eyecatching. For this part, we’re using spheres for lights, which you can add using the Edit menu. Three lights should work fine, one as our main light, one as an edge light and one as the fill light and then we can go for the render. 15

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Set up our environment As we’re trying to emphasise the sculpture itself, avoid setting up a busy scene as the model will get lost. For environments, the new Conference_Room in the indoor library is brilliant. You can rotate the environment until you get a good lighting result. For the final image, you can change the image of the environment to a back plate or a solid colour to make more room for the statue.

Rendering marble with KeyShot For creating marble, you can set the translucency high to a value around 10 to get a good result for light passing. With subsurface colours, a very light red can be great too – it all depends, really, on your environment and your lighting setup, but usually the colours of the light-passed parts are the original colour but brighter.

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Final render and rendering setup KeyShot renders are very simple. First thing you need to do for getting a better result is to set the lighting setup from basic to full simulation – basic is fine but full simulation gives you a fantastic look. For the camera you can add your camera in the camera bar and lock it so you won’t be worried that it might change in case you want to do further work on your scene or your model. Once we’ve set up everything we will go for the render and create a great image from our model.


RECONSTRUCT A CLASSICAL SCULPTURE

Create a triangle from the centre of the mouth to the end of the eyes so you can understand the size and placement of the nose, eyes and mouth

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3D ART & DESIGN ANNUAL

MODELLING

3DS MAX, QUIXEL

3ds Max Matthew Trevelyan Johns bit.ly/1QE7Qv4

33'#6ũ#-).82ũ 6.1*(-%ũ2ũũ2#-(.1ũ #-5(1.-,#-3ũ-"ũ 5#'(!+#ũ13(23ũ$.1ũ+.4"ũ ,/#1(4,ũ,#2

Construct a real-time videogame asset

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ithin the realm of videogames, often the beautifully rendered, expansive environments or fantastically realistic leading characters steal the show. But just as important, although sometimes overlooked, are the incredibly detailed tools, gadgets and props that also enjoy a considerable amount of screen time. Often a studio will break art tasks down into diferent departments, with dedicated environment, character, vehicle and prop teams. The aim of this tutorial is to outline the processes employed by an artist working on a highly detailed prop asset. A typical example might be the highly detailed AK-47 you hold as a character in a first-person shooter, or a mysterious, collectable artefact found in a lost tomb that the player can later view in detail. The subject of this tutorial is an impact 01

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wrench, or wheelgun as it’s also known, which is a tool typically used by professional pit crews when changing tires. With a solid and sturdy design, and plenty of interesting surface details and materials, this prop will provide many interesting opportunities to learn and refine your skills when trying to re-create it. This tutorial will identify each of the main steps involved in the pipeline before giving an outline of the processes required. Annotated images will also help guide you to completing each step before moving onto the next. Just as it is in the professional industry, it will be dependent on your own skill level and experience as to how long each step takes you to complete, and so with that in mind, try not to rush through this guide. Instead, take your time to learn, practise and, most importantly, enjoy the process.


CONSTRUCT A REAL-TIME VIDEOGAME ASSET

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Gather references Gathering suitable reference is

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one of the most important preliminary steps when beginning any project. It’s important to not only develop a familiarity with the appearance of the item, but also to learn a little about its construction, use and function. This is important because the more you are able to learn about this object, the more informed your modelling and texturing choices will be. Using sites like Google, Pinterest and Flickr we’ll collect images and information about each part of the impact wrench and create a mood board to help us generate ideas.

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Create a blockout Creating what is referred to as a

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High-poly model We’ll now move on to creating a

blockout mesh is an essential part of the modelling process; the aim of this step is to capture the rough proportions of the asset using simple primitive shapes and low detail meshes. At this stage keeping the meshes relatively simple will allow us to easily manipulate them. Using the basic modelling tools within the vertex, edge and polygon selection modes, edit the meshes with a focus on capturing the large masses of the object and their relation to one and others. With this done, we will no longer need to worry about general proportions in the next stage and we can focus more on details.

detailed version of the asset that we’ll later use to generate a normal map texture from. The type of modelling used at this stage is known as subdivision modelling: the workflow involves creating a mid-level mesh that accurately captures the silhouette and details of the subject, before applying the TurboSmooth Modifier within 3ds Max to smooth out all of the facetted polygons. The TurboSmooth Modifier works by subdividing each polygon once horizontally and once vertically, and smoothing the silhouette of the object in doing so. Unfortunately this can result in a loss of hard edges and so additional ‘support loops’ are required to control the efects of the smoothing. As you can see, adding a TurboSmooth to the model shown in figure A results in an overly smooth mesh as shown in figure B. However, with additional support loops added in figure C, the resulting TurboSmoothed mesh maintains its silhouette and tighter details as shown in figure D. With this in mind, it’s now simply a matter of modelling each part of the object in turn. This can take some time to do, but the quality of the final asset is often determined by the time and efort that is spent at this stage. 03

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MODELLING

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Low-poly model Now it’s time to create the

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UV unwrapping In order to generate a normal map,

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low-poly version of the asset. This model will need to adhere to a strict polygon limit and will also need UVs to enable us to generate normal map information from our previously created high-poly mesh. Creating a duplicate of the high-poly mesh, we’ll now simply begin to remove some support loop edges, cylinder segments and fine details like modelled text and small indents until the low-poly model is around 12,000-13,000 triangles. Figure A and B show examples of the low- and high-poly model for comparative purposes.

the low-poly mesh will need UVs. These UVs must fit within the 0-1 space within the UV Unwrap Editor and must not overlap at all. To make the process of unwrapping easier, you can use a free plugin called TexTools, though the standard 3ds Max unwrapping tools are also suicient for the task. One very useful function that TexTools has is the ‘Smoothing Groups from UV shells’ option found under the Tool menu. Clicking this button when our UVs are finished will apply smoothing groups to our low-poly mesh that will ensure the normal map that is generated works well with the mesh. Figure A and B show the final UV layout and the text tools dialog boxes.

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Texture maps with xNormal With the high- and low-poly models exported, you’re now ready to generate the normal map texture as well as ambient occlusion and height maps – these texture maps will be integral to the texturing process covered in the next step. As well as being free, xNormal is extremely easy to use. First add high- and low-poly mesh SBM files to the corresponding tabs labelled on the right-hand side of the program interface. In the Low Poly tab ensure Use Cage is ticked and in the Baking options tab select the Normal map option, choose an Output file location and hit Generate Maps. Repeat this process to generate an ambient occlusion map and a high-poly vertex colour map. 06

Prepare meshes for export with xNormal

UVs must fit within the 0-1 space within the UV Unwrap Editor and must not overlap at all 50

We’ll be using a free program called xNormal to generate a normal and ambient occlusion map, but first let’s prepare the meshes for the program. For the high-poly mesh, space the meshes out a little and add a bright vertex paint modifier to each part that represents a diferent material, as shown in figure A. For the low-poly, again space out the parts so that they lie on top of their high-poly counterpart and then add an Edit Mesh modifier and a Projection modifier to the object. In the Projection modifier use the ‘push’ option to expand the cage so that it encompasses the high-poly model. With xNormal installed, you’re now ready to export these two meshes as SBM files using the options shown in each corresponding dialog box.


CONSTRUCT A REAL-TIME VIDEOGAME ASSET

A program like Quixel’s DDO can make the texturing process dramatically more eicient 07

Presentation tips While taking screenshots within Marmoset Toolbag, using the default HDRI backgrounds is a nice way to present the asset; we always like to add a little context to our work, in order to really sell the idea we’re trying to present. In this case we’ll present the final image as if the impact wrench has been left on the floor of a Formula 1 pit lane. This can be achieved with a simple textured plane and a few additional models, like a hose and some bolts to add a little interest. After capturing the image we add some subtle photographic filters and we’re ready to call this project done!

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Texture using Photoshop and DDO In a

production environment deadlines are critical, and using a program like Quixel’s DDO can make the texturing process dramatically more eicient. Simply load textures and an OBJ of the low-poly mesh into the appropriate slots in the Base Creator window and set the options as shown in figure A. Pressing Create Base will now take us to the editor. Loading the 3D viewer, you can see a preview of the mesh and holding C will display the vertex colour ID map generated. Holding Shift and clicking on any of the colours will bring up the Material Browser window as shown in figure B, where you can select and apply materials to each part of the mesh.

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Fine-tune the textures in DDO With all basic material assignments made to the asset we can now begin to fine-tune them using DDO’s built-in options. With each new material assignment a material group has been created in the layer tab shown in figure A. Clicking on the mask icon for a layer, a Fine Rust layer for example, brings up the Dynamask Editor shown in figure B. Within this editor you can either choose from a selection of masks to control how the rust is then applied to the asset and view the changes you make with the sliders in the 3D viewer. With a little time and patience, fine-tune all of the materials this way until you’re happy with how the finished textures look.

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Presentation in Marmoset Toolbag Now that you’re happy with the asset’s appearance in the DDO viewer, use Marmoset Toolbag to capture a final render. Within Marmoset you can easily load the mesh and use the default shader and plug textures into their corresponding slots as shown in figure A. Using the Sky tab, you can choose from a number of HDRI maps for ambient light and by clicking on the Light Editor window, you can create an additional, shadow casting light as shown in figure B. Finally, you can set the Capture settings as shown in figure C to make a really large image that you can later downsize in Photoshop to fix any aliasing issues. 51


PHOTOREAL MODELLING & MATERIALS IN BLENDER

3D ART & DESIGN ANNUAL

MODELLING

Photoreal modelling & materials in Blender Learn how to model quickly, develop materials and then light and render with Cycles

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his fighter jet was completed entirely in Blender and in this tutorial we will keep the detail level quite low to keep the total project time down. This jet might be good enough for a simple flyover animation or a flight-sim model. However, if you would rather have a higher poly model that is fit for another purpose then you can go ahead and create that instead. We will be focused mostly on modelling since that’s the biggest and most time-consuming part of this tutorial. We will also be creating materials and lighting in the Cycles render engine to achieve a cool final result.

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PHOTOREAL MODELLING & MATERIALS IN BLENDER

53


3D ART & DESIGN ANNUAL

01 ADAM NORDGREN Saab 37 Viggen, 2016 Software Blender

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MODELLING

Find some references For a project like this we will

02

need some reference pictures; we got our imagery from a fantastic photographer called Jörgen Nilsson (jn-photo.se). However pictures of this beautiful plane are pretty easy to find, so it should not be a problem to get some of your own. We will also need a blueprint to help out with the modelling. Now we will display the blueprint in the viewport. The aircraft’s measurements are 16.4 metres long, 10.6 metres wide and six metres tall so try to match those measurements on your background image.

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Straight into modelling First we start by outlining

the body of the aircraft, as we’ve found that this gives a good impression as to how modelling each object can be approached. It’s almost like a painter doing an initial sketch and expanding on that, gradually giving it more and more detail. Then it’s just a matter of finding contours and connecting the edges, while at the same time looking at diferent reference pictures to get the shapes right. You can outline edges at the start for a hint as to which technique you can use to model it.

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Subdivide it When the main body is starting to take shape we add a subdivide modifier to smooth things out. Set it to two subdivisions to get a smooth surface. Since edges get cut in half by the subsurface modifier you need to take that into consideration when modelling, adding edge loops close to sharp edges or using the Crease tool to sharpen them up. UVs can be a bit messy with edges that are too sharp when using subdivisions, so be careful. 01

Extruding Since airplanes are tube shaped you can extrude sections one at a time quite easily and get a smooth edge flow. Start from the front and work your way back, changing width to accommodate the model. This method overrides the need to do the initial outlining step but you can still do it to get an understanding of the final shape. Modelling each vertex and filling in polygons along the way is also a good way to get detail right from the start and to have more control of your wireframe.

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Try to keep the wireframe fairly clean on both the canary wings and the main wings to make it a little easier to UV unwrap later

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Extrude the wings A simple part of the model,

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Add the landing gear Check out some reference

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Add details It is now time to add some details like

choose top view and extrude from the body and out following the blueprint for the wings. Try to keep the wireframe fairly clean on both the canary wings and the main wings to make it a little easier to UV unwrap later. After you have a suitable 2D shape extrude it downwards to give it a thickness of a few centimetres. Make sure you get the right angle from the side view. The aileron, flaps and elevators can simply be a copy of the wings’ backside and extruded out to the right length.

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pictures of the landing gears and see how they look. We decided on using a simple variant of the gear, and this can of course be worked to a much more detailed realistic presentation of the real thing but we are keeping it quite simple as of right now. We have a subdivision modifier on all of the objects on the models but these details could easily do without so that’s up to you. Using the autosmooth feature does the job just as well. You might not want to land on these gears though, these are just for show. If you decide to land on these we cannot take responsibility for any injuries!

the pitot head (the pointy thing in the front and on the tail fin). Add the cockpit venting ducts and the electronic venting ducts. The placement of the antennas and lights are diferent on diferent models of the plane; if you want to really impress the plane experts then be careful what model number your reference aircraft are. The real experts won’t accept any misrepresentations, so pay attention to what you’re doing!

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07

MODELLING

Test render At this stage you can do a test render to

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see if/where you messed up so you can fix it before you move into the UV unwrapping. It is also a good self esteem boost to see that model take shape in front of you. Maybe the placement of the wings or maybe the connections between the wings and the body are placed wrong? The top part definitely looks a bit too fat and the placement of the landing gear seems to be of so you may be asking yourself ‘Who created this? Really?’ That is why we need test renders!

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Mark seams for UV unwrapping It is time to mark seams so the UVs can be unwrapped nicely. You can do this the easy way and just use the Smart UV unwrap or you can do it the hard way and mark up the seams. We do it the hard way. Think of it like a paper model that needs to be flattened, you use a scissor to cut the paper model into pieces so that you can lay it flat on a surface and then paint on it. You either try to keep a big UV that sticks together or you cut it into smaller pieces that can easily be managed. This is an art that may be diicult to master.

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UV unwrapping An easy way to line up the UVs is

to use a colour grid texture and place that on the model, then use the UV editor to align the UVs. Make sure no part of the texture is stretched, or if it is redo the seams and check again to get an even UV layout. Getting the UVs straight really helps when creating the straight lines for the plates.

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Weapons You can’t forget the weapons! Well maybe if your aircraft is to be used in air shows or for training or something like that, but we like the look of the rockets under the wings and the drop tank under the body so we put them in. They are really simple models – just some tubes with wings.

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Mask the paint job We’ve chosen a livery called Blå Petter instead of the usual military camo or the metallic from the reference pictures. Do this by creating a black image and then use a sharp brush to paint white on the places that need masking. This will be used to separate the blue paint with the yellow paint. Then paint directly in the 3D viewport so that it is not super precise placements. If your UVs are up to it you can paint directly on the map, but we think it’s just easier to paint where you think it should be. 07

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Paint rivets and plates It’s time to do the bump map for the rivets and

plates. Start of by creating a fairly large grey image (50/50 black and white) in an image editor and use the line brush in texture paint to start painting in lines for the plates. Paint it black for the lines and white for the rivets. We find it easiest to just paint directly in the 3D view to get all the lines the same size and to not be stretched. You can use the image editor to draw the lines too, but it’s a bit harder to get it right. Just eyeballing it from the reference pictures should do the job at placing the plates. Then, change the spacing on the line brush to get dots instead, and paint them white around the black lines as rivets holding them in place.

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PHOTOREAL MODELLING AND MATERIALS IN BLENDER

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Create materials The materials we will use are super easy to make as there aren’t any advanced node systems to worry about. Start by mixing a dark blue coloured glossy node in the node editor with a slightly lighter blue glossy node. Mix it again with a slightly lighter blue colour. Use a layer weight to mix the colour you have with a white coloured glossy node to get the right shine. Do the same thing again but with yellow glossy nodes this time. Create a mix node between the two and use the mask created as the mix factor, to separate the blue from the yellow. Create a metal material and apply that to the details like landing gear and air intakes and we are all set.

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Bump it up Since our bump map is of a grey

background with black lines and white dots, it’s really just a matter of connecting it to a displacement and making sure it’s facing the right way. The grey area will be a flat surface, the black area will be slightly lowered and the white areas slightly raised. Use a colour ramp to adjust the highs and lows. Also use a colour ramp to isolate the white rivets and mask in a simple dark difuse node to make the rivets clearer.

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Bumping There are many ways to create bumps like this, and you can make use of Photoshop to create normal maps or use a premade stencil to stamp out the plates in a texture painting program. If you are going to be using a program to paint the model then you might as well do the bumping there too.

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Light it up To light up a vehicle in a photo studio, photographers often use lights placed

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around the object. Do a quick search to see how they do it with their lights and we will try to mimic that here. By using planes spread out with an emission material applied to them, we can get a soft light that we can easily move around and place where they hit the vehicle from the best spots. Preview the scene in rendered view while you move the lights around or add more to place the reflections where you want them. 14

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Post-process the image Some slight colour correction and a bit of adjustment in contrasts might be needed. Instead of a complete black background you can break it of with a smokey or dusty overlay to bring a bit of life into it. Since most of this image is in the details of the model, not much is needed for the environment.

Also use a colour ramp to isolate the white rivets and mask in a simple dark difuse node to make the rivets clearer 57


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Texturing 60 Texture a sci-fi character 68 Advanced texturing in MARI 72 Create realistic tileable triple-A textures 80 The art of tattooing 84 Texture a wartime jeep 58

88 Build bronze materials and shaders in Houdini


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TEXTURING


TEXTURE A SCI-FI CHARACTER

TOM BRAMALL Sci-fi Pilot, 2016 Software

Texture a sci-fi character

Make the most of Substance Painter to create industry-standard textures and emulate real-world materials for a dynamic character scene

Substance Painter

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exturing is one of the most important and sometimes overlooked aspects of 3D art. It is especially important for games, where textures can make or break the look of a low-poly model. Substance Painter has quickly risen to become an invaluable asset in the 3D texturing pipeline and a formidable alternative to traditional texturing in Photoshop. With it’s vast array of tools and intuitive painting features it’s a must-have for any 3D artist these days. In this tutorial we’ll be looking at how you can use Substance Painter to quickly and eiciently create amazing PBR textures for your models. We will be breaking down my own personal thought process for texturing step by step and see how Substance Painter was used to create the textures for the suit of this sci-fi pilot. We’ll go in depth on how the various features of Painter work and how to get the most from them, as well as show you how working smart with Painter’s artist-friendly tools can speed up your workflow dramatically. This tutorial is suitable for a beginner, but assumes a basic level of knowledge of the tools given to you. If you’re unfamiliar with Substance Painter I recommend reading up on the online documentation before diving straight in!

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Plan your texture Dedicating time to planning what you want to achieve early on can save you from wasting valuable time getting stuck and not knowing what to do next at a later stage. If you’re not working from a concept or you don’t have a clear idea of what you want, you may find it useful to experiment on a clean grey render of your high-poly model before starting. Just some simple modifications in Photoshop – planning out colour palettes and material looks you’d like to achieve can make things much easier later. For me, personally, this is a vital step and not one to be overlooked.

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Prepare your maps Along with the typical maps that Painter needs (Normals, Cavity, AO and so on), one map to ensure you bake is an ID map, also known as the Clown Pass. Substance Painter itself has excellent baking tools, which can generate this texture either by reading vertex colours provided by ZBrush or by randomly colouring each element of your high-poly mesh. Choose which option best suits your project. This map will be used extensively in this tutorial to mask areas of your model in line with its sculpted details (saving huge amounts of time), so it’s very important to have!

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Work smart, not hard Giving unique material IDs to areas of your model before exporting will separate them into diferent TextureSets when importing into Substance Painter. This is an efective way to isolate areas that overlap or would otherwise be quite hard to paint. The drawback to TextureSets is that when you have several of them filled with layers, it can become quite resource-intensive. If your computer is not very powerful, you may consider splitting the mesh and texturing each piece individually in its own project. Any work you do can be saved out as a Smart Material, which can be quickly transferred between groups or projects, so either method is fine. 02

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TEXTURING

Build a layer workflow Layers in Painter don’t

04 06

work how you would expect them to work from a Photoshop-style background. A layer can be directly painted into, but it is more commonly used as a miniature group for holding layer efects. For example, a fill efect will flood the entire layer with a colour, texture or Substance material, afecting colour, Roughness, Metalness and Height channels as you specify. You can also add blur, sharpen or even levels filters directly into a layer. The same rules apply for masks. Look at the Smart Materials and Masks that ship with Painter to see examples of how these efects can be used and combined.

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Create convincing base materials Before getting into any hand-authored painting, one of the most important steps in creating a great texture is making believable base materials. Painter’s built-in Materials and Smart Materials libraries can be extremely useful in creating these. Experiment with the Metalness, Roughness and colour values of existing materials and you’ll find you can adapt them to almost any role. During this early stage it’s also critical to use good references to make sure you capture the look of the material you’re aiming to re-create. For this model my personal set of motorcycle leathers was used. Pictures are great, but you can’t beat the real thing!

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Mask Here’s where that ID map comes in! We’ll be using it to allocate the materials we’ve made to specific areas of our mesh. Start by Ctrl/right-clicking on a layer and hitting Add Black Mask – the material should disappear. Then, Ctrl/right-click on the mask and select Mask By ID. This allows us to use the ID map we created in Step 1 to quickly choose areas of colour for our materials to fill without needing to paint the mask ourselves. This saves huge amounts of time over painting masks manually. Do this with all your materials until your model is completely covered – this is a good base from which we’ll begin detailing.

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Weather using Smart Masks Smart Masks are a

great way to quickly add basic wear and tear to your materials. An example of this would be automatically generated scratches at the corners and edges of your model, where a reflective metal base could shine through from underneath. To use a Smart Mask, simply drag and drop it on to a layer. Be sure to play with the settings and move away from the cookie cutter default appearance. You can also try stacking multiple on top of each other, using layer styles to blend them. Aim to re-create what you see in your references. 06 07

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Using multiple ID masks ID masks, while powerful, can get quite fiddly and inaccurate when the colours in your ID map are very similar. If your ID mask is bleeding into a colour you didn’t intend and you can’t seem to fix it with the Tolerance sliders, there’s a quick workaround. Add a second ID mask on top and check the Invert option. Set the Tolerances to be extremely strict and use this to fix any colour bleed. You can keep adding more ID masks on top with varying Tolerances and colour picks until all the unwanted areas are gone. This can get somewhat tedious, but it still beats manually painting masks for speed.


TEXTURE A SCI-FI CHARACTER

It’s critical to use good references to make sure you capture the look of the material you’re aiming to re-create

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TEXTURING


TEXTURE A SCI-FI CHARACTER

08

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If you need more dirt, simply increase the opacity of the colour, but remember that subtlety is key

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Create advanced custom masks You can get

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Material variation One or two accent colours work

advanced with masks by incorporating textures, custom generators and manual painting – you could even try masking your mask! To create the subtle scratches seen in the leather of this suit, first add a new layer above the base leather and fill it with a light-brown colour with negative height. Add a black mask and then add a Scratches generator. On top of this add a Mask Builder to exclude all the deep areas (where scratches are less likely to damage), then add a blur efect to soften the scratches slightly. Finally, add a paint efect on top and use the ‘Dirt 2’ brush to manually paint out some areas to break up the uniformity.

well, but use too many and you’re going to make your texture too busy. One technique we can use to add variation without using lots of colours is to duplicate existing layers and change their values slightly. Create some areas in your model with a diferent Roughness or Metalness value, or perhaps a slightly darker or brighter accent colour. You can manually paint a mask to do this or use the ID map to mask where you’d like these areas to appear. This is a very easy way to create subtle material variation that doesn’t overload your eyes.

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Get dirty Grunge is easy to overdo, so we’ll tackle it

gently. Create a layer and make it afect colour and Roughness. Fill it with brown and add a grunge texture to give it some grit. Mask this layer with a dirt Smart Mask, which will create some heavy, brown dirt in all the cracks. The trick to make it less overwhelming is to tone down the opacity of only the colour to 5-10% and let the Roughness do most of the work. This will afect how the light catches on the model, creating subtle disturbances in the specular and just a hint of brown. If you need more dirt, simply increase the opacity of the colour, but remember that subtlety is key!

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TEXTURING

Manually paint details At this stage it’s time to go in

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and hand paint extra details and grime in logical places. This will show you went the extra mile and will really help your work stand out. You can do this by either painting into your Masks or by painting into new layers. The advantage of a fresh layer is that you can set the colour, roughness and metalness values on your brush, but I find masks are typically faster because that setup is already done. The scufs and wear on the inner thigh for example were made very simply by painting into the mask of a plastic damage layer with the Scratches and Cracks brushes.

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Make easy panel lines Create a black layer set to

Multiply. Lower the opacity to 25% and set the height to a small negative value. Mask it black so that it disappears. Now, by painting with white in the mask, you can create recessed details! You can quickly create extra detail that wasn’t included in the base sculpt, which is perfect for panel lines. On this model all the embossed text and metal panelling lines on the back of the torso were created this way. It’s tempting to go wild with this efect, but like the dirt, be wary of making too much visual noise. 12

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Bring in the final details Decals,

stickers and other personalisations are great at adding that final layer of realism and visual interest to your textures. Create a decal sheet in Photoshop with all the things you’d like to add and import that into Painter by dragging and dropping the file into the shelf. Hit ‘3’ to enable the Stencil function, add your texture to the Color channel and it will pop into view. Use the regular camera controls to resize and position the sheet as you need it. Now wherever you paint, it will transfer the texture from the decal sheet to your currently selected layer.

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TEXTURE A SCI-FI CHARACTER

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MARI

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TEXTURING


ADVANCED TEXTURING IN MARI

MARI Paul H Paulino paulhpaulino.com

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Advanced texturing in MARI O

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ver the next few steps we are going to create a photorealistic gas mask using advanced texturing methods in MARI. We will explain the importance of having good quality UVs and how strong specular maps can make your object look real. Additionally, we will cover some methods to speed up your workflow and explain how keeping an organised scene can make your life easier. Texturing realistic objects is a process which requires a lot of patience and an understanding of light and colour. It also requires a good eye to understand how objects work in real life.

Reference in hand In order to create a photorealistic

asset, it’s really important to understand how materials react to the light, and if you have the opportunity, make sure to have an object that you could physically handle and observe in reality. Another advantage is that you can use it for photoshoots. We are going to have two diferent photoshoots, one for reference and another one for creating masks for projections. To do so, bring the photos into Photoshop and use Colour Range and Levels to extract a mask from it. Also, make sure that you are careful with the specular highlights.

Texture resolution Before starting the UV process,

you need to determine how close the camera will get to the model. The general rule for films is that there should be double the final resolution of the piece in texture resolution. Having this in mind will let you have the exact amount of UV tiles. It’s also important to have a uniform texture resolution across the entire model, except for very small pieces.

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Plan out the UVs Everyone has a diferent way of laying out their UVs and the way that works the best for us is to separate them by materials. Since we like to bring the combined object into MARI, having everything divided by materials will make your life easier in the future, allowing for faster selections. Another important thing you must consider is making sure you don’t get any stretching. A texture will stretch around a hard edge if that seam edge isn’t reinforced properly. To avoid this, add extra support edges around hard edges and choose your seam edges with caution.

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04

TEXTURING

Supporting maps Before jumping into MARI you

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must consider baking an edge mask in ZBrush and an ambient occlusion map in Mudbox. Those maps are going to help a lot during the texturing process, since they can be used as masks to drive details in specific areas. The edge mask also helps darken the edges of metal objects in the difuse and specular maps.

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Diffuse map The first map we are going to paint inside MARI is the difuse. Import your combined object into MARI, create a new channel and make sure to check if your tiles have the correct resolution. Once you have everything, you can start using a tileable texture that matches your material. Then you can build up the complexity by blending in diferent textures on top, aiming for interesting variations on the colour. By using textures such as concrete or plaster you can achieve distinct colour breakups, but it all depends on the reference you are using.

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Specular and roughness map After finishing the

difuse, you can duplicate the channel and start converting it into a specular map. You can start by adding a luminance adjustment on top of everything to get rid of any colour information. After that you should tweak each layer and try to get the best value range possible. The roughness map is going to do a similar thing to the specular, except the tonal values don’t determine the specular intensity, they indicate specular highlight softness. Using V-Ray, white areas in the roughness will create a tight specular hit, and black areas a broader and difused specular. 04

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Complexity requires organisation During the texturing process in MARI you can end up with a crazy amount of layers and channels. An organised scene is vital to making your life easier, so create a name convention that makes sense and use it for everything. Another tool in MARI that can help your organisation and also speed up your workflow is selection groups. This way you’ll be able to work without worrying about losing track of your materials and textures.

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ADVANCED TEXTURING IN MARI

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Bump and displacement maps For the bump

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map you can start by using textures that match your reference and tileables, but make sure you tweak those by adding a breakup texture as a mask. This way you will be able to achieve a more believable surface detail. Sometimes you may need to break the silhouette of your object – that’s when a displacement map comes in handy. You can create an 8-bit displacement in MARI, where white areas will be displaced outwards and black areas won’t be afected.

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Achieving realism After working successfully on the

broad aspects of your object, make sure to spend some time adding details such as decals, numbers, seams and so on. This refining stage will make your object even more interesting and realistic. Also, used objects get dusty and dirty; you can apply these details on a separate layer using a smudge tileable texture. You can also use the AO map, created previously as a mask, to drive the dust and dirt into occluded areas. Avoid overdoing it though, otherwise you will lose all the work that you did previously.

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Look development Now that you are done with all your maps, it’s time to move into V-Ray and start the look development phase. Keep the light setup simple and use a good HDR. Colours can be distracting in the beginning, so you can begin by using only your bump and specular maps to find the correct values. Make sure you adjust your materials separately and use blend materials if you need. Keep going back into MARI to adjust your textures if you judge it to be necessary. Once you’re happy, just press render. 09

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Build a texture library

You can use the AO map, created previously as a mask, to drive the dust and dirt into occluded areas

A texture library is one of the most important tools in the texture painter toolkit. After each project, ensure you collect and save all the textures that you have used. Be organised and separate everything properly; this step can save you a lot of time in the future. Also, get used to creating tiled textures from your regular textures and create a folder just for them, and create a separate one for masks that you’ve created.

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CREATE REALISTIC TILEABLE TRIPLE-A MATERIALS

Create realistic tileable triple-A materials From high-poly sculpting to baking and texturing, learn how to re-create this realistic tileable brick material for next-gen videogames

W Damage and wear and tear tell a story about the entire time that those bricks have been there

ith videogames hitting high levels of photorealism, next-gen graphics will therefore mostly involve lighting, rendering and materials. Consider also that around 70 to 80 per cent of the screen space in a videogame is the environment where you walk around, and this is made out of props, modules and tileable materials. So, why shouldn’t it be as important to re-create believable environments (and the textures and materials that impacts the process) as it is for interesting characters? Every pixel tells a story about the world you are in. In this tutorial we are going to learn how to create one of the materials that could be in any triple-A videogame.

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TEXTURING

Block out elements Considering that your work will end up baked into a 2,048 by 2,048 bitmap, bear in mind the scale

and the number of elements in it. We want to avoid losing any details that will be sculpted in the baking process. For that reason it’s important to block out the elements, do an early bake test, and double-check normal maps and detail fidelity. You should start with a plane and arrange the elements, in this case the brick’s blockout. Add any other elements needed, and check the scales again based on your references. Pixel density is also very important – 512 pixels per metre should be a safe choice. 01

AYI SÁNCHEZ London bricks, 2016 Software ZBrush, Photoshop, 3ds Max, Marmoset Toolbag

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Tile the borders The beauty of tileable materials is that they tile! Repetition should not be noticeable; with architecture elements this is easier but it can be tricky for organic elements. There are a lot of diferent techniques for this, but usually the simplest is the easiest technique. Arrange the bricks that will repeat in just two of the borders: vertical and horizontal. Leave the rest empty as we will take care of them after sculpting and during the texturing stage.

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Prepare for ZBrush Make sure you have your elements laid out in the plane; 3ds Max was used for that purpose, but you could use any 3D package of your choice. The benefits of this is that you will be able to work with instances instead of single elements. It is better to facilitate the subdivision by tessellating the meshes into a decent polycount manually. With this we will make sure we don’t get stretches while detailing. Separate things by materials or, if needed for performance reasons, by parts. In this case, bricks and cement were split into diferent patches. Also the tiling geometry was put into a diferent group.

The importance of working on the big picture and composition

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Tileable materials usually cover wide areas in games, such as walls or floors. It is quite a common mistake to work in a way in which you’re only previewing just the space from 0 to 1. For avoiding obvious tiling repetition, it’s better to tile it two or three times on a plane. That way we can spot easily where the repetition is happening and try to balance it in order to achieve a better result. Blending with other materials via vertex paint is usually used to enrich the overall composition.


CREATE REALISTIC TILEABLE TRIPLE-A MATERIALS

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Import into ZBrush Now it’s time to import all the

layers back to ZBrush. It’s better to organise the SubTools by elements or materials. In this case, bricks were separated into four chunks so we can subdivide without crashing our machine. Also bring a copy of the plane for the mortar. Solo mode is a very useful tool for working with SubTools, focusing only on what is selected.

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Fixing the tiling People usually struggle to make sculpted textures to tile. There are definitely a lot of ways to proceed. You can usually do this with repeated elements like bricks – the easiest way is to sculpt one vertical and one horizontal border using exported layers and then duplicate and move it to the opposite edge. We could also clone the seams in Photoshop to be completely unnoticeable.

Scale and rotation It is important to have some rotation and scale variation in our bricks, as this will bring an overall randomness factor as things are usually layered in reality. Also lighting will react diferently to the surface. Using the Rotation tool after masking some of the bricks, just move, scale or rotate. Don’t exaggerate too much or it will look unrealistic and don’t bend or deform the bricks in excess. Normal MatCap is usually a good way to check how the orientation of our elements is working out.

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Sculpt shapes Using ClayTube, TrimSmoothBorder and TrimDynamic, start to wear the edges from a lower to a higher subdivision. Try to treat every brick uniquely, looking for a common pattern in the overall image but diferent shapes when it comes to individual elements. Leave some of the edges intact, some with rounded corners and others with sharp cuts. Damage and wear and tear tell a story about the entire time that those bricks have been there.

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Detail with a sculpting brush When sculpting details, it is usually a good practice to analyse the surface nature. Usually black-and-white photos with a heavy specular component are good for giving us an idea of how porous or smooth it could be. With this in mind, create a couple of sculpts on a plane using the details you need for mimicking the material surface. To grab the depth of this, a brush was created so we could detail the bricks. 75


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Enrich the material and avoid noise Materials in videogames shouldn’t be boring, they should contain enough information to represent the surface faithfully without creating noise. Analyse all the layers that compose real-life elements carefully, but also all the other layers that bring it all together (moss, rust, stains, dust and so on). The final goal is to have a good balance between rich and heterogeneous elements, with slightly exaggerated distribution through the texture. Putting too many elements in will lead us to our main enemy, noise. Finding this harmony between the elements is what makes texturing so diicult and yet so rewarding at the same time.

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Detail the bricks Using the brushes, work on each brick. Cracks and small crevices were obtained from photo sources. It is better to work through stages depending on the scale of the detail: first do some big porosities, after that some mid-level details and finish with some cracks and holes. Working this way will avoid losing sculpted details. Saving layers for each level will be beneficial.

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Sculpt mortar Duplicate the plane and subdivide it.

Using the ClayTubes and the Move brush, pull and push it to get through the bricks. Add some variation in the bumpiness – it needs to feel real. Surface Noise is great for adding grain detail, combining passes with diferent scaling and morph targeting to help achieve good results. Play around with the curve for better results. Use the Move brush to overlap mortar over some bricks to give interest to certain areas.

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Normal map bake test Once we’re happy with the sculpt, do a bake test inside ZBrush in case we need to change any details or composition. Create a new document with 2,048 by 2,048 dimensions, and go into Solo mode with the original plane we exported. Fit it into the document pressing F, and ensure that you aren’t in perspective mode. Exit Solo mode and the whole document should be fitted. Using BPR render and a normal map MatCap, export a screengrab with ZAppLink and test it in a game engine. 08

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Bake and prepare for texturing Once we are happy with the

results, decimate all SubTools and export them to your regular baking software. It is crucial not to decimate too much geometry or we will lose details. The whole sculpt for this tutorial is around 50 million polygons; let’s optimise to 12 million. Now start baking (in this case we are using 3ds Max). A normal map, ID map, ambient occlusion, height map and curvature map should be enough for the texturing phase.

It’s good practice to group and name layers in the PSD by category or by hierarchy; in this case all of the masks are grouped at the top, followed by… ID masks Focus on what is important In the last generation of videogames, difuse was almost the most important texture in a material. Nowadays, with the PBR workflow, having a good high-poly model to extract normals from is crucial in achieving high-fidelity surfaces. Have in mind that all the masking and work we do after it is based on our sculpt, so take the time to do a good job. Smoothness and specular are also very important to determine a good material definition. Don’t forget about utilising correct values either, it will definitely be key to achieving an optimal result.

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Generate masks and use Photoshop Tools

shouldn’t be the means to an end to any render, but the final textures can definitely help. For that there are many software available that are good options for creating textures and Photoshop is our pick for this tutorial. Using the outputs from the bake, extract some masks using Quixel SUITE/Substance. Then just feed in the normal map, and we will get some nice masks to make use of. It’s good practice to group and name layers in the PSD by category or by hierarchy; in this case all of the masks are grouped at the top, followed by the brick and plaster ID masks groups.

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TEXTURING

Work on albedo/diffuse texturing Use accurate

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albedo values (there are reference charts online for main materials depending on your software of choice so look them up, in this case we are utilising Marmoset Toolbag) and work with them using a colour fill layer. Find the right base hue by checking your references; we will use this as a guide for not getting too far away from the correct values. Photo source material is fine when not containing lighting information. We will use some diferent base brick photos. The Clone Stamp is useful for getting rid of details and parts that don’t interest us. Using a couple of adjustment layers, match the values from the reference charts. Use opacity as well for subtlety.

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Add colour variation Once the base has been set up, let’s enrich the colours with more variation. For that, we have picked up some other interesting hues for some of the bricks, as well as some stains for the mortar. In the image to the right you can appreciate how the brick tones change from yellow through to brown. Using the ID map, select some of them to apply an adjustment layer for hue saturation. Repeat this process with diferent selections and opacity settings. Also, by looking at diferent photo sources and doing some more adjustments we will achieve even more variations on the base of the mortar. Double-check your references continuously and cross-check with the values so as to not go of the charts.

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Weather the bricks together Once we are happy with the base pass, we bring it all together. For the first pass, use dust in a contrasted version of the green channel from the normal map. Use details if needed, but it is better to use solid colours and play with opacity. Mould and mossy areas are added to connect the mortar and the bricks, blending both with a invisible transition. Try to break the peak and crevice masks so everything doesn’t look the same. Colour variations are welcome as well in order to achieve this. 15

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Author specular and gloss Duplicate the PSD and rename it to ‘_s’ and ‘_g’ for each

of the textures. Specular texture should be just a solid value for each material that we have. You can check these values online depending on the game renderer that you are using. The gloss map is a little more specific though. Taking advantage of the layer structure that we already have, put a black-and-white adjustment layer on top and start tweaking every detail that we have. It is good practice to include elements that are not visible in the albedo that would add some personality to the material response. 16

Ayi Sánchez Ayi has been working in triple-A videogames as a texture and environment artist for the past five years. He has previously worked on sagas that include Gears Of War and Castlevania. Additionally, Ayi has a secret passion for characters that he tries to explore in his personal work.

Guts study, ZBrush and Photoshop (2015) A study exploring a completely diferent material from Ayi’s everyday work: guts. He took advantage of subsurface scattering to accentuate material believability and behaviour.

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Render your material Presenting your work is probably as important as the rest of the

process. It is also a good time to do all the final tweaks for a better final result. Import a plane into Marmoset, create a new material and plug in all the textures. Choose a neutral HDR and place a light, in this case a spot, but avoid using colours on it. Using a little bit of displacement based on the height map will help make our details pop a little bit more than just using normals. 17

Cobblestone floor, 3ds Max and Photoshop (2014) This was some tileable textures work for Gears Of War: Ultimate Edition. It was really interesting for Ayi to work on this since it was one of his first contributions to a game.

Chupacabras counter, 3ds Max, ZBrush, Photoshop (2014) An old wood counter, the intention was to try to keep a good balance of detailing but working with the constraints of a mirrored texture for videogames.

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ZBrush Damon Woods

TEXTURING

ZBRUSH

dkwoods.com

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The real skill in applying the digital ink is knowing when and where to put your tattoos

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THE ART OF TATTOOING

The art of tattooing

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T

he art of tattooing goes back centuries and is practised by cultures all over the world. For some, it serves as a rite of passage and a personal statement about one’s heritage, culture and beliefs. For others, tattoos just make you look cool in a tank top. Whatever the motivation, it’s undeniable that tattoos can vastly change the way a person is perceived. In this tutorial, we will go over how to add an extra layer of flair with the addition of some well-placed body ink. The actual technique for applying these tattoos is pretty simple to pick up and you may be tempted to go crazy with the ink. But the real skill in applying the digital ink is knowing when and where to put your tattoos. This technique should be seen as complementary to a piece of character art. We’ll also go over the diferent types of tattoos and the message that they send. Part of being a good character artist is the ability to look past the polygons and texture maps and really understand your subject as a living, breathing person with a backstory. Finally, we’ll go over a few rendering and compositing tips using ZBrush BPR to show of your inking skills to the world.

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Types of tattoos First, it’s important to understand

the types of tattoos that are out there. Make sure that the you understand the tattoo’s meaning and that it fits your character’s personality. An out-of-place tattoo can be extremely distracting and even hilarious (in a bad way). Also make sure, that they aren’t placed in distracting places on the body where they will draw the viewer’s eye away from the intended focal point of the character.

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Create the tattoo alpha Using Photoshop, create

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Mask the tattoo alpha Load the image to your

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an alpha of the image that you will be using for your tattoo. You can turn almost any image into a tattoo. Sketches, photos, graphic designs, text – it’s really up to you. Just make sure that the image is completely desaturated and that it is in a 1 x 1 (one to one) space. For best results, try to use high-resolution images. A figure around 1000 x 1000 pixels is a good number.

alpha palette. Then, with the Ctrl/Cmd key held down, select it as the alpha for your mask. Set your Focal Shift to -100 and set your brush stroke to DragRect. Now drag the alpha onto your model to the desired size and orientation. Just like in the previous step, make sure that your model is subdivided a good amount so that you don’t lose resolution. Because the body has curves, you may get some unwanted stretching around the edges of your alpha. Don’t sweat it. We’ll teach you how to fix that in the next step.

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Refine the mask With our mask applied, hold Ctrl/ Command and click in an empty space to reverse the mask. Everything should now be masked except for the tattoo design itself. Now go in and clean up any stretching or imperfections that occurred while dragging the mask. 81


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Fill in the alpha Once you’re done cleaning up the

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Colour in the tattoo After you’ve filled in your line

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mask, hit Ctrl/Cmd+H to hide it. When choosing a colour for your line work, never use a pure black colour as it will look fake and slapped on. Real tattoos become faded over time by the elements and the healing process of the body. Even the darkest inks will take on a green-ish hue. With your colour selected, paint in the lines so that your design is revealed.

work, reverse your mask again so that now the line work is masked of. Now, you can colour in your design without fear of painting over your lines. You’ve essentially turned your character into a human colouring book!

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Text tattoos A popular tattoo choice is text.

Sometimes a picture isn’t enough and people want to literally spell out the meaning of their tattoos. Choose a font that has a good volume and makes sense for the subject matter. Old English and Gothic fonts are especially popular. Do some research and look at the types of lettering common in the tattoo world. Or break from convention and choose something completely diferent. Just remember to spellcheck everything. You do not want any regrets down the road.

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Lightbox method An alternate method to applying

tattoos is using ZBrush’s Lightbox tool. With Lightbox, you can project a fully coloured tattoo right onto your model. Lightbox also reads pure black as transparent, so when preparing them in Photoshop, set all of the areas that you want cut out to black. Use an adjustment layer to change the hue of your line work so that it matches the line colour of your other tattoos. Then load your image into textures and hit the ‘Add to Spotlight’ button. Finally place the image over your model and paint it on. 05

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Colouring tip When colouring in the tattoos, notice that many tattoo artists don’t fill the colour in all the way to the edge. There is often a soft fallof of colour before it reaches the edge. Too much solid colour will make it look more like body paint than tattoos. Gather plenty of references and even watch some videos of tattoo artists at work. Also pay attention to the saturation of the colours. Remember that because of the nature of tattoos, the ink is beneath the top layer of skin and it blends in with the natural skin tone. Diferent skin tones react diferently with colour. Make sure that the reference that you’re looking at matches your character’s tone.

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THE ART OF TATTOOING

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Lost in translation We’ve all seen them: people with tattoos in languages that they don’t understand. Sometimes this can have hilarious results. Don’t let your character fall victim to this. Before you start adding random symbols to your character because you think they look cool, find out what they really mean. Sooner or later, someone who speaks that language will see it and you don’t want to get called out for putting a bunch of gibberish on your character.

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Pose the character Once you’re happy with your

tattoo work, we can begin posing our subject for a nice render. If you choose a sitting position for your model, feel free to add a simple prop for them to sit on like what we have here. Make sure all of your geo is visible in the SubTool palette and select Transpose Master from the ZPlugin tab. Hit TPoseMesh in the dropdown. ZBrush will automatically merge all of your geo at its lowest subdivision level to make it easy to work with. Now you can mask of sections of your character and pose them using the transform tools. When you’re done posing, go back to the Transpose Master dropdown and hit TPose>SubT. It will now transfer your changes to your original subtools.

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Set up your render We’ll be using ZBrush’s BPR

Renderer this time round. Start by setting up your lights by going to the Light tab. Don’t forget to adjust your BPR shadow settings. Bumping up the angle to around 20 gives a softer fallof to your shadows. Next, find a camera angle that you like for showing of your subject. Then save that camera angle under Document>ZAppLink Properties. Turn on ambient occlusion for an extra layer of detail and hit the BPR button.

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Render passes Once BPR has finished rendering, go to

Renders>BPR Render Pass. The Beauty Pass render will be there along with Depth, Shadow, AO and Mask. Click on each to save them. Now we can get a few more passes useful for the final image. First is the Fuzz pass. Select the Frame 01 metcap material and make sure your colour palette is pure white. In SubTools, hold Shift and click the paint brush icon to hide all of your texturing. All of your SubTools should have the Frame 01 metcap as its material now. Hit the BPR button to get a render of that. Now to get a spec pass, select the Basic Material and set your colour palette and background to pure black. Set your ambient to zero in the Light tab and hit render. For a nice rim light, put a single strong light behind your model and render.

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Put it all together Now we can start compositing our render passess. Start with your beauty pass at the bottom of the stack. Plug your mask into the alpha slot to make the black background transparent. Now add a background image if you’d like. Add the shadow pass and AO pass and set them to Multiply. Add your fuzz layer, adjust the levels so that the fill is pure black and only the edge detail is visible and set it to Screen. Do the same with your rim light and spec layers. Now start adjusting the brightness and saturation with adjustment layers. The Depth and Mask layers can be added to the adjustment layer masks for added control. To add depth of field, duplicate all layers and flatten them. Now, paste the depth pass into the alpha slot. Go to Filter>Blur>Lens Blur and adjust the depth to your liking.

Make the bed The bed was made using Marvelous Designer. A simple chamfer box was created and then imported into Marvelous. The sheet is just a rectangle draped over the box. Then you simply toss the sheet around in real-time until you have some interesting folds. The bed and sheets are then imported into the ZBrush scene so that we can sit our character on it. Even though she looks pretty thin, she still has weight to her, so be sure to add a slight indentation on the bed with your Move brush.

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QUIXEL SUITE, KEYSHOT

Quixel SUITE Matthias Develtere

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Texture a wartime jeep T

he method that we will be going over in this tutorial is excellent if you want to present your model in a clean and interesting way for your portfolio. We will go over all the necessary steps of texturing a high-poly model with procedural textures using this method. We will take a finished high-poly model from my sci-fi vehicle series and texture it in the same style as my other vehicles. This tutorial is aimed at beginners, but it can’t hurt to have some basic understanding of Quixel SUITE and KeyShot – they should be really easy to understand anyway. The methods that we will cover are super useful if you want to texture your model in a quick and non-destructive way. For this we will make a couple of tileable textures; we will make sure that they fit with each other so that they can be blended into each other to get an even more unique end result. This tutorial also comes with an extra video where we will apply the same method on a complete diferent model – that way you can see that the method we have chosen is very flexible. In this video we will make a new texture from scratch and also use some old textures to blend it with. This project also comes with a pack of tileable textures and some alpha maps too so you can practise working on your own if you want to. For people who want to look at and learn other methods to achieve the same result, make sure you check out Tor Frick’s tutorial of his sci-fi transport vehicle on YouTube.

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Materials setup While modelling and designing it’s

really useful if you set up materials, that way it’s easier to understand your model and check if your upcoming textures are too noisy. You never want to have too many colours/materials in the same model. Your eye needs some rest to take in details instead of new materials every metre. For example: make sure you don’t have more than a maximum of two to three metals in your model. So set up some easy materials – this is also really important for later when you import your model in KeyShot – and export it using the BIP extension for KeyShot. 01


TEXTURE A WARTIME JEEP

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Start with Quixel For getting a nice quick base you

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Make layers and share normals Now that we

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can use Quixel SUITE as it has a lot of layers that you can work with. We only need a Normal map and a mask to get started. The mask can just be one blank colour, most of the information should come out of the Normal map. Just like all texture programs, Quixel bases its mask information on the Normal map information – for example scratches on the edges, dirt in the cavities. So just plug those in. Go for a material preset you like, and check out the outcome.

have a base we just want to make sure that we don’t have everything noisy. Save all the dirt, scratch, rust and/or paint layers separately so that you can blend them into each other later. Just make a mask now and save them as a PNG. Try diferent materials out. It’s a good idea to sometimes use the same Normal map while making these textures, so that all the damage and dirt are located around the same area – you don’t want to have them scattered around the whole vehicle (if you do this you can still cancel out unrealistic areas by using an inverted ambient occlusion).

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Combine textures with alphas You want to have your textures exported as PNG files – the great thing about PNG files is that it remembers what was blank or was not used. See it as painting decals on your vehicles. So how can you do this with a normal texture from the internet? Easy, you could just erase some of the texture information with a brush, but that is a really destructive way of working. A better way to do this is to make an alpha mask and to then link it to the image – that way you can still change it. Or even better, you could make diferent iterations of the same texture as that will mean that your vehicle is less noisy.

ALL FILES ARE USING THE SAME NORMAL MAP

THIS WAY ALL THE DAMAGE HAPPENS AROUND THE SAME AREA

BECAUSE OF THIS - IF YOU COMBINE THEM, THEY WILL FIT WITH EACH OTHER

For getting a nice quick base you can use Quixel SUITE as it has a lot of diferent layers that you can work with. We only need a Normal map and a mask to get started 85


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Project box mapping Unwrapping high polys can

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Texture blending Making one tileable texture is

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be super annoying and can take a really long time, especially if the model has a lot of details. If you unwrap it the traditional way then you have to do it as a 3D model package, straighten everything out and pack it really nicely – a really great example of this is in Rory Björkman’s work. But we can do this in a procedural way too – for this we will move to KeyShot. You can unwrap your model in diferent ways: Planar, Box, Cylinder, spherical and cylindrical, for example. We want to go for box unwrapping; it’s not perfect but with a tileable texture it should fix a lot of problems.

nice, but combining them is really interesting. Just think about real materials; everything is built out of layers. For example: the first layer is a bare metal, then a base coat, a paint primer, dried-up dirt and then fresh mud. You want to bring this to your model, but don’t do it the same, just think logically – you don’t want to have scratches or metal flakes covering your dirt patches. Another thing we can do is duplicate a material multiple times, rotate them separately and blend them with the intensity and contrast slider.

Search for your own style Don’t always use the same Alpha maps or textures that you can find on the internet because sometimes it’s really easy to spot. Try to combine internet resources with your own textures or alphas. For this you only need to make a custom brush. Just don’t be scared to experiment – you can only learn from your mistakes. Small tip: it’s also worth checking out Substance Painter and Substance Designer for unique textures.

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TEXTURE A WARTIME JEEP

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Bumping materials Adding bump information to

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your model can add a lot. First of all it helps you in defining your materials even better. Just imagine a coloured sheet – some people would not understand what it is but by adding a stitch pattern or seams, it’s really easy to understand. Next to that it can help give more lighting information in the cracks and on bumps. We can also make Bump maps by using NDO from Quixel. Convert your image to a Normal map or a Bump map. Make sure that this is also a tileable texture, and don’t make it too noisy.

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Experiment with values and sliders We now have our model finished, but of course nothing holds us back in experimenting with texture depth. The scale slider lets you change the size of the texture – you just want to be sure people don’t notice the pattern, so don’t set it too high. Same for the bump height, these things should be sudden so don’t overdo this. Make sure that these two values work together nicely, it will help to make it all look realistic. If you used a Normal map in the last step, don’t forget to check if you have enabled the Normal tab at the bottom of the bump texture options.

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Make tweaks in Photoshop It’s never a bad idea to put enough contrast in your materials. That way if you don’t like the colour scheme at the end result you can still change it when you get to the end. You just have to use masks and adjustment colours – this method can be really useful if you want to change the overall look of you vehicle. You can take this even further by using level adjustments to make the ‘old’ colours darker or lighter. As you can see in the image it can change a lot. It’s a bit of cheating but as long as it benefits the end result that should not matter.

Post-production is key One of the biggest mistakes you’ll see is that some people just skip the post-production step. And this should never happen, you should do everything you can to make your render as beautiful as it is. Post-production doesn’t mean make your render more noisy – it’s the opposite. It could be blend or change your colours more, add particles, add spec and shadow information. You can even remove backfaced shadows caused by floaters. It always comes back to cleaning up and selling your image at the highest quality that it can be.

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TEXTURING

HOUDINI Houdini Jarrod Hasenjager

artstation.com/artist/hasenjager

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Build bronze materials and shaders in Houdini T

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here is nothing quite like having a great shader to complement the other aspects of your setup or scene. It can make a texture go from looking good to looking great, and it can complement an already well-designed light setup. Building shaders often requires an observant eye and a fair amount of patience. Whatever 3D software you use, each one of them will ofer a slightly unique approach to shader building. For this tutorial we will be using Houdini, but we would like to think that this approach can be followed along in almost all 3D packages, since it is the methodology that is the most important aspect of this. The purpose of this tutorial is to hopefully help you to understand certain aspects of building a metallic material using the tools involved, and to also show how important it is to have a workflow that is technically accurate but also allows for visual appeal. Ultimately we are always trying to sell our creations visually, and it is not just about how realistic something looks, but also how appealing it is to the viewer. One of the other key reasons these shaders were created is because as much as it is enjoyable to work with software such as Substance Painter/Designer or MARI, you can still save yourself so much time by having a prebuilt library of materials that you know works. Top-quality texture software such as the ones we have mentioned are so important to have, but building these just means that you can start

focusing your attention on more detail-orientated aspects of the work. Finally, grunge maps play a crucial role in this approach, and there is a wealth of free resources online. We would have to recommend that you spend some time gathering as many as you can before embarking on this quite simple, but hopefully, visually satisfying journey of bronze shader building in Houdini.

01

Create an indoor studio setup Start by creating an infinity curve, or sweep. After this, place an area light to the left with a slightly warm temperature of around 4,500K. Then place the fill light on the right with a cooler temperature of around 7,000K. The final area light is placed directly above the subject matter and it is neutral (pure white) in temperature. Finally, place an environment light with an appropriate HDR for added interest regarding reflections. Balancing the lights correctly is key and be sure to not overexpose any of them, as it will result in blown-out highlights.

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Work on an outdoor lighting environment This setup is mostly driven by the HDRI map that you choose. For this example, choose a daytime map with almost no shadows cast from surroundings that would afect the subject matter. There are plenty of free maps that are available from '"1+ 2ē!.,, with this one being Ditch River. Add a ground plane as a shadow catcher onto which we are


BUILD BRONZE MATERIALS AND SHADERS IN HOUDINI

projecting the rendered visible portion of the environment map. As the shadows appear a bit soft, which is common with HDRI lighting, you can add a direct light to the scene that matches the angle of the Sun.

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Tileable texture maps Since we would like to create the shaders without having the distraction of having to specifically paint any textures, we need to make sure that all of the texture maps are tileable, giving the flexibility to repeat them as needed. Grunge maps play a huge role in this setup, as they have the type of randomness needed to convincingly pull of certain kinds of looks. If you do have a great looking map that is not tileable, you can easily correct this by going into Photoshop and then utilising the Ofset feature in the Filters menu. 02

Using Substance Painter If you have software such as Substance Painter or Designer, then you definitely want to be using it for this tutorial. Substance has brilliant tools for generating natural weathering and general wear and tear, and would certainly make the texture creation portion of this process much easier. There are no points for doing something the hard way! The process of obtaining grunge maps online that we have mentioned here is only for those who don’t have access to texturing software that could otherwise generate the needed efects quite easily.

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04

TEXTURING

Set up the base shader After creating an Arnold

04

Lighting is key

Standard material inside the shopnet, start by replacing the standard node with an AlSurface and connect its RGB output to the surface connection of the OUT_material. In the AlSurface difuse tab, lower the strength to 0, while in the specular 1 tab make sure the Strength is on 1. Change the Fresnel Mode to Metallic and set the IOR value to 1.18. Also make sure that the Specular 2 Strength value is set to 0, as secondary specular contributions aren’t needed. Lastly, it is a good idea to change the Specular 1 distribution model to GGX for more accurate highlights and fallof.

We can’t stress how important it is to have a proper lighting setup as you cannot expect anything to look as good as it could while your lighting is lacking. There are presets available online, but there is something hugely satisfying about creating your own and it is what ultimately sells the image. Take time, if needed, to get to grips with the lights in your scene, understand what each of them are doing and contributing, and research lighting setups that photographers use, or even reverse engineer some of their work.

05

Tint the material The AlSurface comes with a nifty feature that allows you to tint your specular channel using the Reflectivity (normal incidence) and Edge Tint (glancing incidence) parameters, instead of the usual specular colour. For Reflectivity, use a pre-made texture map with a value of RGB 153, 126 and 96. Then create a colour correct node separate to the Reflectivity connection, input the texture map into that and alter the gamma to 1.5, plugging the result into the Edge Tint value. Using this non-destructive approach, you can update the Reflectivity value map at any stage, knowing that the Edge Tint value will shift accordingly.

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Add inconsistencies to the reflection To add

visual interest, begin by targeting the Specular Roughness value. Create a ramp_RGB node, delete any one of the two default values and alter the remaining one to a value of RGB 90, 90 and 90. Finally, connect it to your roughness parameter. Create an image node with a tileable grunge map attached and combine it with your ramp_RGB using a mix node. Control the values of your grunge texture by using a colour correct node, tweaking the result as needed, at the same time controlling how much is mixed in with your ramp through the mix value. 06

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07

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Detail the surface texture The value of the

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specular roughness channel can also be used to drive the bump parameter. By taking the result of Step 6 and adding it to a bump2d node, we can then connect it to the bump input of the OUT_material. Since even new, polished materials have some degree of subtle weathering, a scratch texture works quite well. Creating another Image node with your scratch texture attached, feed it into its own bump2d node before mixing the two bump2d nodes together. The bump height values will need to be controlled for all of the connections.

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Create various looks This current shader setup should now be enough to give at least three of the variations listed. The polished material can have very slight surface defects with regards to scratches and the roughness value. The matte shader can be achieved by altering the roughness value with a colour correct node and increasing the gamma value. The rough version of the shader is almost the same as the polished, but the bump values are increased to give the appearance of a more weathered surface texture.

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Oxidise the metal Create a separate AlSurface and

use a difuse colour of around RGB 73, 110 and 92 with a difuse strength of 1. The specular colour has a fairly dark value of RGB 70, 70 and 70 and the roughness is RGB 30, 30 and 30. Mix a grunge map into the above three to create nice variation. Use an alLayer node to mix the two separate surfaces together, with the oxidised look having more minimal coverage and the corroded look having the majority of the coverage. For added visual interest, mix a spotted map into your roughness value to give a more inconsistent ďŹ nish to the brass material.

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108 104

Rigging & Animation 94

Rig a tropical fish

100 Animate a parkour sequence – part 1 104 Animate a parkour sequence – part 2 92

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Render your own text motion graphics


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RIGGING AND ANIMATION

Rig a tropical fish LEWIS PICKSTON Tropical School, 2015 Software Maya

Learn how to ěũũMake procedural, key-frame-free animation using deformers ěũũSet up dynamic and real-time simulations ěũũDrive joints by making use of IK Spline handles ěũũProduce realistic volume preservation using weight-blended skinning ěũũAdd multiple layers of control ěũũStructure your rig clearly

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enerally speaking, rigging is a part of the pipeline that is concerned with a great deal of eiciency and quality of movement, controls and deformations. With this in mind, this tutorial aims to reveal some hidden gems in terms of procedural, (almost) key-frame-free animation in Maya, as well as reveal some of the less talked about solutions to fairly common rigging issues. We’ll start by tackling some rigging basics such as joint placement and IK handles before heading over to driving joints with dynamic simulations and native Maya deformers, and tying it all up with well-thought-out controls and skinning. By the end of the tutorial we should have a fully rigged tropical fish, as well as an understanding of where similar practices can be used in diferent rigging situations.

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Concept The project itself is based on a specific fish in particular, the Moorish idol, and the challenges that its morphology poses. Reference for the project was gathered from pre-existing images and films

01

Place the core joints We’ll start of by placing the

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joints, which will drive the greatest amounts of motion in our rig. In the case of the spine, place eight evenly spaced joints along the centre of the fish, starting underneath the eye and extending all the way to the end of the caudal fin. We’ll be naming all of the joints we create in this tutorial with a consistent convention, so name the first joint in the spine chain as ‘spineA_jnt’ and work your way down to ‘spineH_jnt’. Next place the eight joints for the dorsal fin as seen in the image for this step, using an equally straightforward naming convention, and parent the dorsal chain under ‘spineC_jnt’.

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Place secondary joints Next we’ll go about placing the joints for the other fins and eyes. First place two joints for the left pectoral fin named ‘l_pecFin_jnt’ and ‘l_ pecFinEnd_jnt’, making sure to rotate the first joint in the x axis so that its orientation matches that of the fin itself. Next, freeze transformations on this joint and mirror it across y and z, searching for ‘l_’ and replacing with ‘r_’. Parent both joints to spineB_jnt and follow the same process for pelvic fins. Eye joints should also be placed in the dead centre of the eyeballs and parented under spineA_jnt.

03

The root joint Now we have a final joint to add in order to eliminate the flipping inherent in the IK Spline solvers. Since IK Solvers can flip when they themselves are rotated in space, we need a parent joint above or some spine joints so that the Solvers stay relative to their local space. We’ll place this in the middle of the fish and parent everything else underneath it, so that the whole rig will be able to be positioned later on using the centre of gravity control.


RIG A TROPICAL FISH

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05

Driving the auto-swim attribute The auto-swim attribute can obviously be keyed by an animator, but in the case of flocking multiple fish in a simulation or animating the fish along curves, this attribute can also be driven by any comparative calculation. A native Maya option is the frameCache node, which you can use to store values with over time. This will allow you to then calculate the distance travelled between each frame, but these are only generally useful after hand animation or simulation, as they only cache once. When animating along curves, the curve 0-1 can be plugged into the auto-swim attribute and the frequency value used to scale the amount of swimming at any given point.

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IK Spline for the spine In order to get this procedural animation for the fish, we need to set up an IK Handle, which will drive joint movement using a deformable object. To do this, select the IK Handle tool and select the start and end spine joints. Next, unparent the generated ‘curve1’ from the joint structure, rename it ‘spine_CV’ and use the Rebuild Curve tool to add more CVs – about ten will do. We do this in order to have a greater deformation fidelity for our curve, and thus a smoother swimming animation in the final product.

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Deformer setup Working together with the IK

Handle, we’ll be creating a sine deformer which will drive the majority of the animation on the fish. Start by selecting the spine_CV, creating the deformer and then snapping it to the last joint. Open the sine1 input, set the low bound to -2, the high to 0 and the dropof to 1. Rotate the deformer in the x axis so that its end aligns with spineA_jnt. At this point, playing around with ofset, amplitude and wavelength controls in the deformer should animate the spine and give an idea about the sort of movement we’re going for.

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06

Dynamics setup Now, with the spine joints driven by our sine deformer, we can use

Maya’s nHair to cheaply and physically drive an accurate movement of the dorsal fin in the water. To do this, we first have to repeat the IK setup for the dorsal fin by creating an IK Spline between joints A and H. After this, rebuild the generated curve with 20 spans, this will give us more CVs to work with during simulation and a greater quality as a result. Next, select the curve and in Maya’s nHair menu select Make Curve Dynamic.


RIG A TROPICAL FISH

07

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Configure the nHair The previous

stage should’ve created a few things. Firstly we should have a nucleus, a hairSystem node as well as a hair follicle. Take follicle1 and parent it under spineC_jnt, this will enable the animator to pose the fish without the simulation dragging behind and deforming the mesh. Also set the point lock in the follicle to Base. Next, set the nucleus gravity to 0, and then in the hair system set the values to those shown in the accompanying image. Finally, to drive the joints with the nHair, simply connect the worldspace[0] attribute of the output curve shape to the dorsal_IK inputCurve attribute.

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Auto-swim controls Next we’ll create a little

control which will allow our animator to key the swimming animation. Using the EP Curve Tool, draw a curve which will be instantly recognisable for the animator, before positioning it on either side of the fish and freezing transformations. Next, we’ll lock and hide all of its channels and add float attributes for amplitude, wavelength and frequency, as well as an auto-swim attribute. Then, in the connections editor connect amplitude and wavelength to their corresponding inputs in the sine1 node. Pipe the auto-swim through a Multiply Divide node in the Node Editor, setting the second value to -1, and plug this into another Multiply Divide node with the first input coming from the frequency attribute. Finally, the result of this should be connected to the ofset attribute in sine1.

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Create controls for the fins With little elasticity and movement in the pectoral and pelvic fins, basic FK controls will do for the little posing that needs to be achieved. To do this, we can create individual NURBS circles for each fin, group them and then snap the group to the centre of the joint. Following this, we can orient the groups accordingly before orient constraining the joints to them. After creating the controls, parent constrain their ofset groups to spineB_jnt so that they move with the spine when it is animated. 97


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RIGGING AND ANIMATION

10

Skinning Now, with controls for each joint we can go about skinning the fish itself. First select the torso mesh and all other joints, but not the eye joints, and smooth bind them with weight-blended skinning. After this, smooth skin all other parts to their corresponding eye joint. Now take the fish to an extreme pose using the auto-swim and begin smoothing, adding and removing weights on a joint-by-joint basis to improve the overall form. We will now repeat this process, and also animate ranges of motion for the fish or a basic swim to see whether the deformation looks realistic and retains volume during movement. 10

11

Applying the concepts This is a fairly basic rig but the ideas and methods can be applied to a multitude of rigging situations. For instance a great deal of feather systems are built of of the nHair method, which this tutorial demonstrates, however on a much greater scale with hair and a few joints driving and deforming each individual feather. Similarly, with Maya’s built-in deformation nodes you can address nearly any given procedural animation scenario. For more extreme situations, we can also turn to the Maya API and create our own deformation nodes as plugins.

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Blend Shapes Another tool in our arsenal is Blend Shapes. In any other rigging scenario we might find a need to use these extensively to fix skinning issues that are unavoidable with our joint setup. But as we’re rigging an animal with simple morphology, we only need three Blend Shapes. One to open and close the mouth, and one to flare each gill. Since these aren’t correctives, copy the skin for each Blend Shape and sculpt them, before applying them as a front-of-chain Blend Shape and connecting them up to controls.

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RIG A TROPICAL FISH

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The COG control and globalSRT

Finally, to get the rig to a place where it can be used in the pipeline, we need to create a centre of gravity control and globalSRT. To do this, create a control similar to those used for the fins, except centre the pivot on the root joint. This will be used for positioning and rotation. Next, parent all control ofsets underneath, select the spine curve, create a cluster deformer and parent the cluster underneath the COG control. The globalSRT control is a similarly basic control, but is instead used for the overall positioning and scaling of pre-animated assets in the scene. To make this, create another NURBS curve, place it underneath the fish at the origin and parent the COG underneath it. Next, create a joint group with which the joints are placed underneath, and then scale constrain it to the globalSRT.

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Expand the rig In its current form, the rig we’ve built would be pretty suicient for a background asset. In order to make the rig more poseable for the

animator, we’d need to add more controls which would enable the exact posing of the fish torso. If you want to delve deeper into the rig, we can tackle this issue by replacing our single cluster with many clusters, controlling a few of the curve vertexes each. Hooking these up to controls will then grant us the ability to pose the fish using our procedural animation and move controls to add detail on top.

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RIGGING AND ANIMATION

MAYA

Maya Jahirul Amin jahirulamin.com

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Animate a parkour sequence – part 1 T

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he temptation in this kind of situation is to want to get into the piece and start moving your character. However, there is a fair amount of preparatory work to do beforehand, which will make your life much easier and your ďŹ nal piece far easier on the eye. In the ďŹ rst part of this two-part tutorial, we will be doing all the prep work and completing the blocking phase of animating a parkour sequence. This will let us go ahead and focus on polishing of the animation in part two. First, we’ll be ďŹ nding some reference and then analysing the footage in Kinovea (kinovea.org). From this, we’ll then create a short animatic to help us to set the timing and the framing of the piece. After that, we’ll jump into Maya and set our cameras and start blocking in the key poses. We’ll then add the contact poses and then the breakdowns. Finally, we will reďŹ ne the cameras, the framing and the overall timing. When looking at parkour reference, the cameras almost seem like a character in themselves, so we’ll want to replicate some of those characteristics in our work. For this tutorial, we’ve included a rig (boxBoyRig_ PUBLISHED.ma) and knocked up a small environment. Feel free to use your own character rigs, though, and your own environment. You can also move the buildings in the environment around to create your own layout. Also, if you

are interested in creating a larger city environment for ďŹ nal renders, then make sure you take a look at using the free script QTown (braverabbit.de/playground/?p=464) by Brave Rabbit. It’s a little gem.

01

Find some good reference The ďŹ rst thing to do is

grab as much reference as possible. The internet is obviously a great place for this but it’s also worth investigating your local area for any parkour artists. Pop to your local gymnastics centre and see how gymnasts move – perhaps even have a go at some simple moves yourself to get a real feel for what happens to your body. The primary reference for this 01


ANIMATE A PARKOUR SEQUENCE – PART 1

tutorial was a combination of what was our, thankfully, unwitnessed attempts at parkour, and the invaluable Tapp brothers (learnmoreparkour.com). There’s some amazing visual footage on the site, and there is also an in-depth breakdown of most of the moves, which will really help when laying down the poses. We can’t go any further without saluting the original and best (in our eyes) though: the man Jackie Chan, from whose moves so much can be learnt.

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Get up and jump around I can’t recommend this enough and although you may get funny looks from friends and family, getting yourself out of the chair and moving your body is the best reference there is. You don’t have to go all out and push yourself to the limit, but do get up and get a feel for the poses, the shift of weight, being in balance and out of balance. A first-hand analysis of movement can only strengthen your work.

02

Select some key moves Once you’ve accumulated all your references, you should narrow it down to a set of moves that interest you most; don’t go overboard with the number of moves you’d like to animate and try to think about how one move will run into the next. The ones we have decided to go for are: the backflip to roll, the precision jump, the dash vault and the sideflip. We recommend that rather than copy the moves you’re aiming to animate, you should go for something diferent while keeping the principles and theories behind the animation – we’ll be outlining these below.

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Break down the reference in Kinovea When you are happy with

your list of moves that you’d like to animate and your supporting reference, we suggest you take the footage or the reference images into a package like Kinovea and then break the movement down. Start by thinking about the key poses as these will be the initial poses we lay down in Maya, and then the contact and breakdown poses. You can also export the drawovers out from Kinovea, take them into Premiere Pro and then export them out as a JPEG sequence in order to view them in Maya on image planes.

04

Create an animatic Once you’ve

gathered your reference and broken the moves down, create a little animatic to give yourself a good idea of the timing and framing. For this animatic, we actually created some low-res geometry in Maya for the environment, hit Print Screen (or Cmd+Shift+3) and then worked over the images in Photoshop using the references we had gathered online. The drawings were then taken into Premiere Pro and edited together to create a rough cut. If you are not in the mood to create some drawovers, why not cut up the video reference you have directly in Premiere Pro to see what sequences you can come up with? For this animation, we decided that we wanted it to play in a loop, with the character starting and ending in the same position. To make this work, we arranged the buildings in a manner that enabled him to run round in, what is essentially, a circle whilst performing the moves.

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05

Get familiar with the rig Now

that the planning is in place we are ready to bring in the rig and start animating. Before you do this, in a clean Maya scene import the rig and just have a little play with it. If you’ve broken your sequence down into a number of smaller shots, you can start considering which shots you’ll use IK mode for, and which shots you’ll use FK mode for. For example, we decided that any shot where the character needs its arms to interact with another surface, we’ll set the mode to IK; and for any shots where the majority of the movement is either running, jumping or flipping, we’ll stick with FK. You can use a combination of both and we’ll look at that in part two of this tutorial. At this stage though, just try and pick one mode for each shot and roll with that to make things less complicated.

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RIGGING AND ANIMATION

Create the cameras Back in Maya

now, you should have the rig imported or referenced into the scene and a low-res or mid-res representation of the environment. At this stage, create a new camera for each shot and arrange them around the environment, basing your decisions on your animatic. For the final framing we’ve gone for something a little more cinematic. We have set the Film Gate to 35mm Anamorphic. You can set this under the Film Back settings of the camera in the Attribute Editor. If you want to match the Resolution Gate to the Film Gate for rendering purposes, set it to 1920 x 816 in the Render Settings (under Image Size). The last thing to play with is Focal Length. Don’t worry about getting this perfect now, we can always come back and edit the framing should we decide to later on. You’ll also need to play with the camera’s Near and Far Clip Plane as you work (under Camera Attributes in the Attribute Editor). Without this, you’ll find parts of the scene will disappear or, worse still, not render.

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Use Parallel Rig Evaluation If you are using Maya 2016, take advantage of the new Parallel Rig Evaluation. This should give you a performance increase when animating. Go to Windows>Settings/ Preferences>Preferences. Then, under Settings>Animation, set the Evaluation Mode to Parallel and enable the GPU Override. As soon as you set a key on a control(s), you should see the efects kick in.

07

Sketch the action in the environment Use the Grease Pencil

(under View>Camera Tools) and sketch in the poses to get a feel for how the rig will flow through the environment. At this stage, you can quickly experiment with new poses, timing and also the framing of the camera. Another thing you can do is drop the character in and pose him roughly to give a better idea of scale and proportion as you lay down the poses with the Grease Pencil.

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Block the key poses The key

poses (also referred to as the golden poses) are the storytelling poses. If you had to tell a story with only a storyboard, these would be the poses that would fill those boards. Just a quick note: at this stage we have Default Out Tangent set to Stepped by going to Windows>Settings/Preference>Preferences, and then navigating to Settings>Animation. By doing this, we can focus purely on the poses rather than the transition from one pose to the next. Go through and add all the key poses in one Maya scene. Roughly add poses every 12 to 16 frames, and try to nail the poses that allow the core beats of the piece to come through. As we do this, make sure to work on the poses not just through the new camera view but also in the Perspective view, so that the poses feel natural and believable. This is going to be especially important should you wish to move the cameras later on or edit the poses. As you work on the poses, think about contrast, and how to go from one strong shape to another (for example from a c-shape to a straight shape). Also consider using squash and stretch by creating compressed poses and large expressive poses.

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ANIMATE A PARKOUR SEQUENCE – PART 1

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Break the scene into individual shots With the key poses in place,

have a quick play with the timing of the poses to see how things flow. Playblasts were also created from each camera, the clips were dropped into Premiere Pro, and we did some further edits with the timing. Once we were happy with how things were going, we broke the main Maya scene down into individual scenes based on each shot. By doing that, we can have the rig perform more cleanly. If we had wanted to keep the entire motion going in one Maya scene, the chances are we would have encountered gimbal lock issues throughout, especially with the number of flips, spins and so on that we are planning to take on. For each shot, the key frames that were not part of the shot were deleted, and on some occasions we reimported a clean rig, used the global_ctrl to get the initial position into place and reposed the character. This would let us avoid as many gimbal issues as possible with the controls later.

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Add the contact poses With the shots broken down now, the next stage is to go through each shot in turn and start adding in all of the contact poses (these are also referred to as the extreme poses). This is essentially where the character makes contact with any of the environment or has a change in direction. With the contact poses, we tried to place them evenly through the Timeline. This meant that we could easily add breakdowns between two contact poses later on. We have also started to make decisions regarding whether we’ll be using FK or IK for the arms. The legs throughout the process have so far remained in IK mode. 09

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Add the breakdowns After the

contact poses come the breakdowns. These are added between two contact poses and should illustrate how we get from one contact pose to the next. At this stage, we’re still working in Stepped mode. Every now and then, however, we will take all the animation curves in the Graph Editor and set the Tangents to Spline. This is just to get a quick idea of how things flow in full motion and go from one pose to the next. Once you’ve had a little peek, set the tangents back to Stepped.

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Retime, refine and reframe When you are happy with the poses, it’s time to go in and refine them. As mentioned before, you should work all the poses from every angle. At this stage, it is also worth spending some time refining the timing of the piece. If you have keyed all the controls in one hit for every pose, you should be able to easily slide the keys around in the Graph Editor, the Timeline, or in the Dope Sheet. The last thing to do is to go in and tidy up or update the camera positions. Have a play with the Focal Length, the framing of the shots and also experiment with animating the camera or zooming in to certain aspects of the action. In the second part of the tutorial, we’ll be adding some in-betweens, splining the animation and more.

Playblasts, playblasts and more playblasts As you progress with your animation, make sure to create a playblast every now and again to see how things are working in real-time. It’s also worthwhile comparing one playblast against another to see how things are progressing. I do this quite often at the blocking phase for timing.

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Maya Jahirul Amin jahirulamin.com

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elcome to part two of our parkour animation tutorial in Maya. Continuing on from where we left of in issue 91, in this tutorial, rather than working through all the shots one by one which could become very repetitive, we’ll be focusing on just one shot. However, through this focus we’ll be sharing a workow with you that you can use as a sort of template for every proceeding shot. The shot we’ve decided to focus on is the ďŹ fth, where our character performs the dash vault. We’ll start by taking a look at our existing poses to see if we are 100 per cent happy with them. After that, we’ll add some additional poses (the in-betweens) so that things ow more predictably when we transition our animation curves from Stepped tangents to Spline tangents. At that stage, the clean-up process really begins. We’ll reďŹ ne the movement from the core of the character (the hips and spine) and work our way downwards to the legs. Moving from the core outwards ensures that any changes we make to the limbs don’t come back to haunt us, and should hopefully reduce the number of iterations we have to go through to achieve the ďŹ nal result.

With the core movement in a stronger position, we’ll move on to tidying up the movement in the neck and the arms, and ďŹ nally we’ll come to the ďŹ ngers and adding secondary motion. As we progress through the clean-up phase, we’ll also want to make sure that we track key points in the body to ensure that the animation is uid, with natural arcs being created through the movement. At the same time, we’ll want to maintain a sense of weight in our animation. Balancing all of the above elements will help us to create a successful and appealing animation.

01

Always refer back to the reference At this stage and with the main poses in place, it’s very easy to just focus on polishing the animation and putting the reference to one side. We highly recommend you don’t go down that route and keep the reference as close to your peripheral vision as possible. In our case, we’ve made sure to keep the animation reference on an image plane in the Maya viewport. That way we can still analyse the footage frame by frame. You’ll be surprised by how many extra bits of information you’ll extract by keeping the reference in sight as much as possible.


ANIMATE A PARKOUR SEQUENCE – PART 2

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Revisit and refine existing poses If you have the

03

bhGhost Tool

time, leave your animation for a few days and come back to it with fresh eyes – if you have deadlines looming, this will not be practical, but even a few hours will suice. Taking the time away from your work and then coming back to it will allow you to re-examine your work more clearly and generally see the wood for the trees. For this dash vault shot, coming back to the work a week or so after the blocking stage, we found that we were not happy with some of the timing and some of the poses from where we’d left of. A quick review of the reference made it clear where we needed to make things stronger, which then informed the changes required to make the existing poses.

The native ghosting tool in Maya 2016 seems to work a lot better than previous incarnations. However, if you want a tool with a bit more oomph, we suggest you check out the bhGhost tool from Brian Horgan: graphite9.com/ MayaDownloads.html. We’ve been using this for quite some time now and it’s a little gem when it comes to ghosting in Maya.

03

Add the in-between poses With the poses now nailed down, we had keys on every six to eight frames or so (sometimes every four frames). At this stage, we decided to add a further set of poses between each of the current poses (well, most of them anyhow) – this was useful for two reasons. Firstly, animating in IK mode for the legs and the arms results in a very linear motion from one pose to the next, which can create very unnatural looking motion. By adding an in-between pose, we can easily control how the movement of the arms and the legs should transition from one pose to the next (in arc-like motions for most cases). Secondly, by adding in-between poses we’re more in control of how our character should move than if we were to let Maya do the interpolation for us.

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From stepped to spline With the in-between poses in place, convert the animation curves from Stepped mode to Spline. To do this, select all the controls in the Viewport, jump into the Graph Editor, select all the animation curves, and then go to Tangents>Spline. You can also experiment with setting the tangents to Auto initially. This sometimes works better with reducing the undershoots and overshoots that can occur in the animation curves when you have the same values on two keyframes that are pretty close together. Another thing you should do is jump into the Animation Preferences and make sure you set the Default In and Out Tangents to either Spline or Auto. This will ensure that any keyframes added will have the correct tangents with the existing curves. At this stage, you can simply go into the Graph Editor and edit the curves one by one. The first thing to look for would be any animation curves that are straight. This indicates that there is no movement being created from that attribute and therefore you can delete that animation curve. 105


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Clean up the hip movement Now we come to

05

cleaning up the animation, and we’ll kick things of with the hip region. You’ll find that as we transitioned from Stepped tangents to Spline, some of the weight in the animation has disappeared and things have become a little floaty. If you could only pick one control/region of the body to work on and thereby help create a sense of weight, we would say make it the hip, which is essentially the core from which most of our movement originates. We like to think of the hip as one large bouncing ball and treat it in the same way. You could, essentially, animate a bouncing ball performing the dash vault, copy the animation onto the root/hip control and things should look pretty good. Although we’re not animating a bouncing ball, we do have that motion of the hips acting as the ball in the back of our mind. As we clean up the hips, we will also take advantage of Motion Trails to ensure that we get a clean and natural-looking flow (more details on this in Step 9).

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Playblast with Motion Blur and Lights Once you have converted your animation curves from Stepped tangents to Spline, create all further Playblasts with Motion Blur enabled. This should help sell the movement and give you a better indication of what the final motion will look like in the renders. You can enable this by going to the Renderer menu on the Viewport and going into the options for Viewport 2.0. From there, you can navigate to Motion Blur and check the Enable flag.

Work on the spine movement The spine comes

next. With the spine, we’re mainly focusing on getting clean shapes and strong contrast from one C-shape to a reverse C-shape. We’re also trying to get some strong S-curves flowing through the motion, especially at the latter stages of the move as the character comes to land. As you work on the spine, remember to counter the movement of the shoulders with the hips. This should help maintain a feeling of balance and believability. Additionally, for the spine, you’ll notice we have three FK controls and two IK controls (for the hips and the shoulders). As you animate the spine, try not to overcomplicate how many controls you use as this can make the clean-up process a little long-winded. If you can get a clean and appealing pose with just the IK controls, then use them. If you need to use the FK controls on top to strengthen the pose, then do so.

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Work on the legs Let’s move on to the legs now. The main aims here are to capture the strong arcs created as the character vaults over the block and lands. We also need to ensure that as the feet make contact with the ground, the foot stays locked in place and does not slide around. This is not as important towards the latter stage of the shot as the character’s feet are of camera at this point, but it will be crucial at the beginning of the shot. As we go into the jump, we’ll also want to have the feet move with a fluid motion rather than linearly; Maya will try to keep things linear due to the nature of the controls being in IK mode. To combat this, you are more than likely to find that you’ll need to add additional keyframes to create the desired motion. Adding more keyframes, however, can start to add a staccato feel to the animation, so make sure you constantly review your work via Playblasts.

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Refine the arms, neck and head The arms are

the next port of call. The arms are in IK mode, so we’ll come across similar issues regarding trying to maintain arcs in the movement. More importantly, however, will be trying to keep the hands planted down nicely on the block, and then to capture the motion of rolling onto the palm of the hands and then exiting from the tip of the fingers. Before we look into the fingers though, try and get the shoulders, the elbows and the hands in a good place. At this stage, some of the fingers are still going through the block, but we can clean that up in the next step. The main focus here is to get the arms to feel like they are taking the weight of the body and then able to push of. When you are happy with the arms, you can easily clean up the

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ANIMATE A PARKOUR SEQUENCE – PART 2

movement of the neck and head. Try to mainly use the arms to create a sense of drag and overlap, whilst still supporting the gesture of the spine.

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Focus on the fingers With some rigs, you’ll find controls may be available to allow you to pivot from the tip of the fingers (which is exactly what we need to do). This rig, however, does not have that functionality. To help solve this, create some polygon planes, position them at the point at which the hand needs to pivot from (the tip of the fingers), and then add them to a Display Layer and set the mode to Template. From this, we can visually make sure the fingers and hands do not slide around as he vaults over the block. With the bulk of the fingers cleaned up we did a second pass, animating each finger and then each digit individually. This was to help strengthen the illusion that the character is making contact with the block and having pressure applied to his extremities.

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Use Motion Trails As you work on all of the above, make sure that you are creating nice, natural-looking arcs and achieving fluidity in the animation. To help visualise the movement, you can use Motion Trails in Maya. To do this, simply select a control and in the Animation menu, go to Visualize>Create Editable Motion Trail. This will create a Motion Trail from the pivot of the selected control. This works fine for things like the main body control. However, for things like the feet, the elbows and knees and so on, we won’t want to create a trail from the control (as the pivot point is not ideal). In these circumstances, we tend to do something like this: create a sphere and scale it so that it is very small. Then, position the sphere to a point on the model from which you’d like to generate a motion trail, eg the ankle. We tend to use Snap to Points for this. After that, parent the sphere to the closest joint on the rig (you’ll need to unreference the joints in the Display Layers to do so). Now set a key on the sphere. Lastly, with the sphere selected, go to Visualize>Create Editable Motion Trail.

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Bring it together You should have pretty much gone

through the entire body and refined each section as a contained mass now. This is good for a first-pass clean-up phase but now we need to ensure everything flows as one. To do this, go through and work in a similar fashion only, as you work on one section, make sure to work it into the next section. The core works into the spine and legs, the spine into the neck, head and arms, and then the arms into the hands. By doing this and reviewing your work, you’ll find that you’ve created an energy and a rhythm which flows through the movement.

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Add movement to the cameras The last thing to

do is add some subtle animation to the cameras. For our shot, we ended up creating a locator (which needs to be in the exact same position as the camera) and then parented the shot camera under it. This lets us use some simple expressions to simulate camera shake using the Translate attributes, whilst still being able to follow the action using the Rotate attributes. For example, using the Expression Editor, create the following expression for a camera called ‘shot5_cam’: ‘shot05_cam. translateX = noise(time)/2.5;’, ‘shot05_cam.translateY = noise(time)/3;’ and ‘shot05_cam.translateZ = noise(time)/2.6;’. Once you have done that, hit play, have a look at the results and then tweak the expression to your heart’s content! If you want to see the efects of the expression in the Graph Editor; make sure that you go to View>Show Results.

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here are many diferent types of text efects, from movie titles and company logo animations to simple presentation text animations or any kind of video trailer text. With all these efects around, it means that you can try various diferent methods, but in this tutorial we are going to create motion graphics text, which you could use in a video trailer or as a 3D cartoon logo. First of all, we will introduce the idea of a text efect. You may have seen these kind of efects on the internet, like on YouTube or on Vimeo. There are a number of 2D and 3D apps and plugins that people choose to use for motion graphics, including 3ds Max, Cinema4D, After Efects and so on, but we are going to use 3ds Max to achieve this efect. Before you start working on this kind of efect, you should have good knowledge of 3ds Max as well as diferent modifiers and options within this software, because sometimes it’s the simple modifiers that yield the best results. You might not be able to learn each and every parameter of this software, as 3ds Max is very vast and will need a lot of time to go through. As far as the motion graphics efect is

concerned, we will learn as much as required for this particular tutorial. This is very interesting subject because you can’t rely on one certain process to create this efect. As much as you will use your creativity and tools, you’ll find diferent efects every time you experiment. With this in mind, the kind of results you’ll get will very much depend on your own understanding of using tools and techniques.

01

Create spline shapes Open 3ds Max. Before we

start working on our scene, remember that we are going to create text motion graphics using both splines and geometry. First of all we will create our chosen word or text using Spline shapes. To do so, go to the Create panel and go to Shapes>Spline>Text. Now using a Line shape, draw a shape for this text or word. Refer to the image for better understanding. After you’ve finished the text shape, you’ll want to create surrounding shapes using a spline so it will add a more dynamic look as well as adding depth to the scene if you create these shapes in all three axes.

 


RENDER YOUR OWN TEXT MOTION GRAPHICS

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Create geometry As soon as you’ve finished with

the inital shape modelling, it’s time to create an object or geometry that will travel along these shapes or on splines. We will need to create a Geosphere. For that, go to the Create panel and select Geometry>Standard Primitives>Geosphere. Now add some modifiers to it. First add Noise modifier and set the Scale as 2.3, Strength X as 5.0, Y as 5.0 and Z as 5.0. Now add a TurboSmooth modifier and set Iterations to 2. Next, we will add our last modifier, which is Path Deform Binding, which we will use to animate this Geosphere on a spline.

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Animate geometry on spline shape To animate our geometry or object on the spline shape, we will use a Path Deform Binding modifier. Add this modifier and first of all click on the Move To Path button. We will need to change the parameters, but before that, remember we have to animate them too. Go to Frame 0 and set the Percent to 0.0, Stretch to 10, Rotation to 0.0 and Twist to 2000. Next, turn on the Auto Key and go to Frame 100 or your last frame. Now set the Percent to 100 or change it as per your requirement. Stretch should be set to 12.5, with Rotation to 360 and Twist to 2000. Make the same objects or geometries for all our splines and animate them as you need to.

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Light it up After finishing the initial setup, it’s time to add light in the scene. We will create a single light, which is Omni – for this, go to the Create panel, and go to Lights>Standard>Omni. Click on Omni Light and create it in the viewport. Set this light position as per the camera and scene requirement. Now select the lights and go to the Modify panel, then turn on the Shadow and make it a Shadow map. Don’t change anything in Light Multiplier and Light Colour. You can add more than one light if you think that the scene needs it, but otherwise keep it single to save on rendering time.

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Render After finishing the lighting setup, it’s finally time to render the scene. Go to Render Setup by clicking F10 and set the Output Range, Output Resolution and Output Path. After finishing this setup, if you want to render diferent passes, for example a Difuse pass, Light pass or a Reflection pass and so on, just go to the Render Elements tab and click on the Add button. Here you can see the new window has appeared, so select the elements that you want to render and click OK. Now just hit the Render button. It will take around one to two hours to finish the rendering.

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Assign materials Now that we have finished the modelling and animation part, it’s time to work on the look of our geometry. For that we will use a standard material. You could use a V-Ray material, but as you can see this efect doesn’t need any advanced material, so a simple material is probably better. First of all select one Geosphere and assign a standard material, then set the Specular level to 20, Glossiness to 30 and Self Illumination to 25. There is no need to change the colour because we are going to use colourful maps for this. Assign diferent materials for all the Geospheres, or you can select bunch of Geospheres and create a group, assigning a single material for that group.

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Composite and add final tweaks Once the render has finally

finished, import the renders into After Efects or any other compositing software that you use. We’re using After Efects, so import the elements and then drag them into the timeline. Now select Element and add Brightness and Contrast or any other efects, then play around with the parameters until you get a final result that you’re satisfied with. Then create a solid background in Photoshop and import that background into After Efects as well. Drag it to the timeline below the Text Element. Now make the final output and you will get your motion graphics text. 08

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Assign a texture Now we have created the material for our Geospheres, it’s time to work on texture for our geometries. For that we will use colourful images of textures. All you need to do is create colourful textures in Photoshop or just download them from the internet. After this, just add these images as a material and assign them to your diferent geometry. Because of these colourful images these Geospheres will look very attractive. 109


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Enhance liquid & foam simulations

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124 Create viscous fluids

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ifröst is Maya’s procedural framework that creates liquid simulations using a fluid implicit particle solver. Bifröst liquid simulations are incredibly simple to set up, and enable the user to quickly add realistic liquid efects, such as pours and splashes, to a scene. To create a liquid splash efect, all you need to do is create the Bifröst liquid and a container to hold the liquid. Then add objects to collide and interact with the liquid to create realistic splash efects. But sometimes a physically accurate splash is just not dramatic enough for your scene. We can use a Bifröst accelerator to enhance the splash efect that will enable us to create a more dramatic scene. In this tutorial, we’ll show you how to create a liquid splash simulation using Bifröst, how to enhance the splash efect using accelerators as we’ve previously mentioned and, finally, how to add more realistic detail to the simulation by adding foam particles. We’ll show you how to set up the scene, add

an accelerator and adjust its settings to generate the efect we want. First, we’ll create and animate the objects in our scene. We’ll add a Bifröst liquid to the scene and add the dolphin and liquid containers as colliders. We’ll take a second copy of the dolphin mesh and add it as an accelerator. We’ll tweak the accelerator settings and keyframe them at the appropriate times to force our Bifröst liquid up, creating a dramatic splash. Finally, the Bifröst liquid can be meshed, and lights and shaders can be added to finish the scene. A newly added feature to Bifröst in Maya 2016 enables you to add foam particles to your liquid simulation. Fast moving parts of the liquid simulation will emit additional foam particles to mimic bubble and froth efects, which adds an additional layer of realism to splash efects. After the creation of the Bifröst liquid itself, foam can quickly be added to the simulation by simply selecting the Bifröst node in the outliner and choosing Foam in the Bifröst menu.


ENHANCE LIQUID AND FOAM SIMULATIONS WITH BIFRÖST

01

Set up the scene The first thing you’ll want to do is

01

create and animate all of the objects in your scene. Keep in mind that Bifröst will treat all of your objects in a scene as if they were modelled in metres, regardless of what unit is set in Maya’s preferences. A one-unit cube in Maya is therefore considered a one-metre cube by Bifröst. We’ve modelled and animated a dolphin (which is about 2.5 metres long) jumping out of, and back into, a body of water. We’ve then created a small container to hold the water for the purpose of this tutorial to keep our calculation times low, but Bifröst can easily handle much larger bodies of water if you want to create them. We’ve also created a cylinder slightly smaller than the container that will serve as our Bifröst liquid emitter.

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Duplicate animated dolphin mesh We will need

a second copy of the dolphin for a later step, so we will duplicate the animated mesh at this stage. With the dolphin mesh selected, under the Edit menu we’ll select Duplicate Special options. Now just simply turn Duplicate Input Connections on and click Duplicate Special in order to create another dolphin mesh.

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Add Bifröst liquid Let’s create the Bifröst liquid.

First, select the cylinder inside the container and then under the Bifröst menu (found in the FX menu set in Maya 2016) choose the Create Liquid option. This will create three Bifröst nodes: Bifröst1, BifröstLiquid1 and BifröstMesh1. You may need to rewind the simulation to see the blue dots, which represent the Bifröst particles, show up in the viewport. You can then click on the original polygon water object in the outliner and press Cmd/Ctrl+H on the keyboard to hide the mesh from view.

Tip for creating colliders Are you having trouble with Bifröst particles leaking outside of your containers? Bifröst works best when the collision objects are modelled thick. If you want a thin container to appear at render time, you may want to model both a thick and thin version of the container. The thicker version can be used as the collider in the Bifröst simulation, which is hidden at render time, while the thinner version of the container is rendered.

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The frames turn green to indicate that the simulation calculated successfully

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Add container and dolphin meshes as colliders If you rewind and play the simulation now,

you’ll notice that the water falls right down through the container. Let’s make the container a collider by selecting the container in the outliner, Shift+selecting the Bifröst1 node, and under the Bifröst menu select Add Collider. Now if you rewind and play the simulation the water will remain in the container. Let’s also add the dolphin model as a collider. Choose the original dolphin mesh in the outliner, Shift+click the Bifröst1 node and under the Bifröst menu choose Add Collider.

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Add a kill plane You may also want to add a kill plane, which will eliminate any particles that escape from the bounds of your simulation. With Bifröst1 selected, under the Bifröst menu choose Add Kill Plane and adjust the position of the plane so it sits just below the floor of our scene.

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Adjust Master Voxel Size Preview the simulation as it is now. Rewind and click the play button on the timeline and play through the animation. You’ll notice that the timeline turns yellow as the time indicator passes. As the Bifröst simulation is calculated, the frames turn green to indicate that the simulation calculated successfully. The Master Voxel Size sets the scale and detail of our simulation. The

Add foam spray to Bifröst simulation In Maya 2016, you can add foam particles to a liquid simulation to create efects that include bubbles, foam and spray. Let’s find out how to add a foam efect to our splash simulation. First, select the BifröstLiquid1 node and under the Bifröst menu choose the Foam option. Rewind and then play the scene to view the foam. You can then go and edit the foam settings under bifrostLiquidContainer1>Foam. The accompanying image below shows a comparison of the liquid simulation without and with foam particles.

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ENHANCE LIQUID AND FOAM SIMULATIONS WITH BIFRÖST

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default is a little large for our size scene, so let’s increase the resolution. With Bifröst1 selected, find the Master Voxel Size under the bifrostLiquidContainer1 tab and change it to 0.2. Rewind and play the simulation through and enable the Bifröst simulation to finish calculating. You’ll notice that there’s a nice water trail when the dolphin exits the water, but when the dolphin jumps into the water again, the splash isn’t very impressive. Let’s create a larger splash using an accelerator.

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Add an accelerator to the simulation Select the

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Adjust accelerator setting to enhance splash

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Create Bifröst liquid cache Once you’re happy

second copy of the dolphin mesh in the outliner, Shift+click Bifröst1, and under the Bifröst menu choose Add Accelerator. If you rewind and play the simulation now, the accelerator will be active during the entire simulation, which is not what we want. In the next step though, we’ll describe how to adjust the accelerator to only afect the Bifröst liquid during the entry splash.

09

Under the dolphin2Shape tab, twirl down the Acceleration tab and change the Influence to 1.5 and the Directional Magnitude to 4. Choose a time that is a few frames before the dolphin re-enters the water (220) and keyframe Inherit Velocity to 0 and Direction Y to 0. Now move a few frames ahead (222) and keyframe Inherit Velocity to -1.5 and Direction Y to 1. Now as the dolphin enters the water, the accelerator will influence the particles to move up and away from the dolphin. Keyframe Inherit Velocity and Direction Y back to 0 when the dolphin is back in the water (approximately 240). Rewind and play the simulation again. Now we have a much more impressive entry splash.

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with the simulation, you can cache the data. Select the Bifröst1 node. Under the Bifröst menu, select Compute and Cache to Disk>Options. You can choose a directory name, a cache time range and click Create to generate the cache.

10

Enable the Bifröst mesh Let’s turn on the Bifröst mesh. Select Bifröst1 and under the BifröstShape1 node, twirl down the Bifröst Meshing tab and click Enable to turn it on. Change the Droplet Reveal Factor to 2, the surface radius to 1.1 and the Kernel Factor to 1 to create a more detailed mesh. Before rendering, hide the Bifröst1 node (so it doesn’t render in addition to the mesh) by selecting it in the outliner and clicking Cmd/Ctrl+H on the keyboard. You can then cache the Bifröst mesh itself by selecting the BifröstMesh1 node and then under the Pipeline Cache menu choose Alembic Cache>Export Selection to Alembic.

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Edit colour A Bifröst liquid shader will be applied to the

Bifröst mesh by default. It does a pretty good job out of the box, but the colour and other properties can be edited under the BifröstLiquidMaterial1 tab. Add custom materials to the dolphin and other objects, add a simple Physical Sun and Sky to quickly light the scene and render the final sequence using mental ray.

As the dolphin enters the water, the accelerator will influence the particles to move up and away from the dolphin 115


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he goal of this tutorial is to create a realistic 3D blood pool efect quickly and easily all within the same program, Blackmagic Fusion, which can be downloaded for free from +!*,%(!"#2(%-Ä“!.,. Creating realistic blood is a very common visual efects request, adding believability to any ďŹ ght sequence, and the work on short ďŹ lm ‘Temple’ – which has been awarded Vimeo Short of the Week – proved no diferent. One of the ďŹ ght sequences in the ďŹ lm involved a character dying on the ground, a pool of blood slowly growing underneath him. Creating this blood pool on set with practical efects was out of the question due to the budget. The solution emerged after testing Fusion. The program generated fast 3D liquid efects with realistic displacement and reection maps so that only simple 2D texture elements needed to be improved. That meant it was easy to model a customised design without other applications. This blood pool tutorial is simple to create and one that does not require a high degree of expertise. On top of this

being a unique visual efect, the aim for this tutorial is also to give you a new asset that’s customisable for any production.

01

Create a 2D shape for your blood The ďŹ rst thing you have to do is deďŹ ne the actual shape of the blood pool. Using Fusion, select Add Tool>Mask>Polygon to create a quick 2D shape for the pool. Then add a Background node from Creator>Background and change Depth to ‘16bit oat’ in the Image tab for smoother fallofs.

  02

Animate your shape To give the impression that

this blood pool is expanding, add a Matte Control node from Add Tool>Matte, lower the Matte Contract/Expand all the way down to -128.0, give Matte Gamma a value of 0 and select the Post multiply image tickbox. Then animate the Matte Blur value to create an expanding efect while making sure that you maintain nice, smooth edges for a more liquid feel. The great thing about this is that you can always go back and change the shape later on in the project.


CREATE A CUSTOMISABLE POOL OF BLOOD

01

02

Moving camera Use a still image with a fixed camera for this particular tutorial, but you can also create this blood for a shot where a moving camera is involved. All you need to do is to track the camera movement using Fusion’s Tracker or alternative tools such as Mocha, then import the track into your Fusion scene and apply it to your 3D camera there.

03

03

Make your 2D blood realistic Now that the

04

masked shape is set and animated, make the blood look as fluid and realistic as possible. To do that add a Background node to the tree from the Creator menu and then push both the Red and Alpha values up to 1 to change the blood’s colour to red. To create hard edge highlights, you then add several Displace nodes from Add Tool>Warp>Displace. Use a Creator>FastNoise node with ‘16bit float’ selected under the Image tab, Alpha set to 1.0 under the Colour tab, the Discontinuous box selected, the Lock X/Y box unselected and Contrast at 5.0 for a noise map. Then also add a Create Bump Map node to the tree to serve as a bump map.

04

Create the material Now we need to create the

material for the blood. This initially involves taking the Alpha of the blood design, and darkening it with a Color>Brightness/Contrast node so that it will better match the darker colour in the camera footage used as a reference. You’ll then need to add a Phong Shader for the 3D blood from 3D>Material>Phong.

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05

VISUAL EFFECTS

Make a bump map Create a bump map from the

Alpha that had the same features as the bump map developed in Step 2, and apply this bump map to a reflection map with the 3D>Material>Reflect node. The reflection map was made with the help of a 360-degree panoramic image. Essentially, you transform the image with a Transform node to adjust the lighting, grade it with a colour correction node that had a raised Master – RGB – Gain value to boost highlights, and blur before adding it to a 3D spherical map using 3D>Texture>SphereMap and then applying it to the reflections. It is all really straightforward, but as you can see there is no displacement yet so the shape is still pretty flat.

06

Create a displacement The next step is to take the Alpha channel from Step 3 and blur it. Then apply a displacement to the shape using a 3D>Shape3D node with Plane selected and a 3D>Displace 3D node with Alpha selected, a Scale of 0.008 and a Bias of -0.5. This will result in a very small, but perceptible height diference so that the blood looks like it has some depth, or thickness, to it in 3D. You can now make adjustments to this according to the needs of your own scene.

The reflection map was made with the help of a 360-degree panoramic image 06

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05


CREATE A CUSTOMISABLE POOL OF BLOOD

07

Add a shadow One of the last ways the blood we’ve

07

created could look more realistic in the final film is to have a shadow applied. For this, start with the Alpha channel from Step 4. Let’s start by adding a Background node from the Creator menu to the node tree, increase the Red value to 0.06 and change Depth to ‘32bit float’. Then add a Blur node with a blur size of 20 to blur the edges of your shadow, and add a Shape3D node with Plane selected and a subdivision level of 600 with no displacement so that the shadow remains flat. This allows you to then place it underneath the blood in the 3D scene and combine both the blood and the shadow together using a Merge node.

08

Light the scene Now you need to light the scene using a Spotlight node from 3D>Light, and then, finally, also add a 3D camera to the scene with Far Clip set to 4000, a Horizontal Angle of View Type and Angle of View and Focal Length settings to match the camera from the original rushes. You can then move the camera around in 3D space until the blood lines up with the still you are using. 08

09

09

Create a character mask Now that you’ve put all the elements into a core scene, create a mask for the character so that the 3D blood emanates from underneath him. To do that, create a mask based on the original still using a Mask>Mask Paint node. Then use a Shape3D node to place the mask into 3D space, making it easier to cut the 3D blood down the middle, giving the illusion that the character is lying on top of it. Finally, we finish things of using a few Colour Correction nodes, a ramp Blur to emulate the same depth of field seen in the original still and a Film>Grain node. Then render everything out in 3D space and the efect is complete!

Using Fusion for free Fusion is Blackmagic’s visual efects software solution. It’s a professional node-based compositor at heart, but also has a great 3D workspace that has proven useful for both motion graphics and animation. Fusion can be downloaded for free for both Windows and Mac OS X from Blackmagic’s website at blackmagicdesign.com.

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Houdini Carlos Parmentier

VISUAL EFFECTS

HOUDINI

carlosparmentier.com

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Set up a huge pyro explosion in Houdini W

henever we want to make a good FX explosion, we should start with detail and realism, and this can be obtained from good references. You can create an explosion like this with knowing just the basics of Houdini. The most important thing for this tutorial is to keep doing diferent styles of explosion and get used to doing them too, as this process will improve every scene that you create. This huge hangar explosion is made by starting the destruction of hangar. The hangar was inspired in part by watching the film Empire Of The Sun, and after that we’ve created the explosions layers as correct to their real size as possible for a good result, as we explain later in the tutorial, and then rendered with mantra PBR.

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120

Create the model Since this is a new scene, we will

now need to add a geometry node and then delete it from within. Next, we will then create a model with noise for the emitter of the explosion. Let’s start by creating a sphere that we will set as a polygon mesh, with the row and the columns set to 30. Add the sphere node mountain to be noise deformed and then cut it in half using the node cookie with a box from the floor downwards. This will leave only the noised model positioned above ground. Next we will add the Transform node with a scale of 2, 1 and 2. Finally we will add and call the Null node ‘OUT_ noised’ to make an easy path.

01


SET UP A HUGE PYRO EXPLOSION IN HOUDINI

02

The Birth operator Before making the Popnet better

03

Work with Fluid Source Rename Popnet to

02

03

we need to create a pyro, so create a box and click Explosion in the Pyro FX tab. Now we can create a Popnet inside the box geometry, we can then go in to Popnet to configure it. In Pop source we select the same path in SOP as we did in Pop, for example: obj/emitter/OUT_noised. In Attributes we choose Set Initial Velocity under Initial Velocity and we set Velocity to 0, 6 and 0, and in Variance we set the values as 12, 2 and 12. Now we have to make particles die or we will have an infinite explosion. In Birth we can animate the Const. Birth Rate by setting frames 1 to 3 as 100,000 and setting frame 4 as 0, or you can just type ‘if($F<3, 100000, 0)’. In the Life Expectancy we set the value as 0.15 and the Life Variance is set as 0.1. Now you can play around and see how the particles look.

‘explosion’ if you want and connect ‘create_fuel_ volume’ to the Fluid Source node. Erase the box now as it’s no longer of use. In Fluid Source set Method as Stamp Points to function with Popnet particles. Animate the fuel scale to stop it emitting fuel. Add a keyframe at 120 set as 1, frame 140 set as 0 and Stamp Points set as 0.3, the rest we leave as default.

04

Configure the pyro First change the name of the

DOP network to ‘explosion_sim’ and config the Pyro Solver starting with the Simulation tab, where we set the Temperature Difusion to 0.05 and Buoyancy Lift to 2.75. We leave the Combustion tab as it is but you can change it to suit your needs. In the Shape tab set the Dissipation to 0.035 (to make the smoke last), the Shredding to 1, Turbulence to 1. Also in the Turbulence tab, set the Swirl Size to 0.85, Grain to 0.55 and Turbulence to 3. If you have a good, up-to-date PC you can activate the OpenGL in the Advanced tab for faster simulation. Now we will add some extras in the Velocity Input from Pyro Solver and add Gas Vortex Confinement to make small swirls. Let’s leave the Confinement Scale at 5. Now add the Gas Disturbance and set the Disturbance to 4. Add the Merge and connect the Gas Vortex Confinement and Gas Disturb to the Merge, then connect the Merge to the Velocity Update input of the Pyro Solver. For the Gas Resize Fluid Dynamic (resize_ container) we increase Padding to 0.6 and in Max Bounds tab 04

we deactivate the Clamp to Maximum Size. Now let’s add the Ground Plane for the explosion and don’t let it go down over the floor – connect it to the merge as primary and make sure that it’s in order. Then set the pyro detail in the Smoke Object as ‘pyro’. The value for Division Size depends on what your PC can simulate – while the lowest value gives a more detailed explosion, a Division Size of 0.06 would be the most normal. Remember that you will need to set the correct size of the pyro container to that of the complete explosion, so set the Size as 35, 35 and 35 and the Center as 0, 16 and 0. Finally we will simulate the explosion, saving it as a BGEO formatt; the path in the pyro_import has the name changed to ‘explosion_export’. In DOP I/O import_pyrofields, we set the path for where we will save the simulation of the explosion such as ‘path/explosion/ explosion.$F4.bgeo.sc’. Remember to put the frames in, and for this we will use 1 to 200f. Then we can simulate by simply clicking Render.

Extra hangar destruction For the huge explosion, the first thing we did was model the hangar carefully for a stable destruction. Parts of the hangar are referenced from the movie Empire Of The Sun and we fractured them using a Voronoi Fracture. Also, we added constraints and glue for realistic destruction behaviour. For the explosion we used particles emitted like a bomb with copy spheres, then collided them with bullet-packed primitives. After we worked every piece with static objects, we set it as Use Deforming Geometry inside the Pyro DOP network.

Remember that you will need to set the correct size of the pyro container to that of the complete explosion 121


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05

VISUAL EFFECTS

Prepare the shockwave

Now we duplicate the explosion emitter and change the name to ‘emitter_ shockwave’. Once inside the emitter_ shockwave, change the name of Pop explosion to ‘shockwave’. Normally we create a new pyro with Billowy Smoke but this time we will use an explosion, changing a few things such as the name of the node ‘create_fuel_volume’ to ‘create_density_volume’, and the source attribute to density instead of fuel. Also delete the fuel animation and change the name from ‘fuel’ to ‘density’. Then we go on to duplicate the DOP network of the explosion, just like with shockwave we will need to set the Division Size of pyro as Relative Reference. The Division Size of Fluid Source can be the same value no matter what you change in the pyro. Now we get to the Pop network of shockwave, in the Pop source we change the name to ‘shockwave’. The frames of Const. Birth Rate here would be 1 to 6 and set as 250,000, and the 7 is set as 0 or written like if($F<6,250000,0). The Life Expectancy is set to 0.3 and Life Variance set to 0.03. Now let’s go to the Attributes tab, set the Velocity as 0, 0 and 0 and Variance as 25, 0 and 25.

06

06

More configuration and smoke

Duplicate the DOP network of the explosion_sim and name it ‘shockwave_sim’. Once inside, config the Pyro Solver and set the correct path in Source Volume to ‘source_fuel_ from_box_object1’, for example: ‘obj/emitter_ shockwave/OUT_density’ and change source fuel to source smoke. Now configure Pyro Solver in Simulation with Temperature Difusion set to 0.2, Cooling Rate set as 0.75, Buoyancy Lift set to 5 and Buoyancy Dir set to 0, -0.15 and 0. In Combustion, deactivate Enable Combustion for when the shockwave is only smoke. In the Shape tab set Dissipation to 0.01, Shredding to 1 and Turbulence to 1 so that it’s the same as the explosion setup and the rest is default. Now make the Size Container of the pyro wider, with Size as 40, 10 and 40, and Center as 0, 4.8 and 2. Keep the Division Size same as the explosion, but remember to copy Division Size to the emitter of Scalar Volume as Relative Reference as we are using it from explosion_sim. Now finish the config of DOP network and duplicate the explosion_export, changing the name to ‘shockwave_explosion’. Change the path of the DOP I/O in DOP Network to /obj/shockwave_sim, DOP node to /obj/shockwave_sim/pyro and the path where we save the BGEOs.

Division Size of Fluid Source can be the same value no matter what you change in the pyro 122

05

07

07

Work on the trails Duplicate the shockwave_emitter and name it ‘trail_emitter’. Once inside delete everything until you get to just before Create_density_ volume. Now let’s make half a sphere for trail emission. The process for this is simple – just add a sphere, add a cookie (with a box from the floor down) to leave the half sphere facing upward. Then add a new Pop network to emit a few particles as trails that come from the half sphere. We also create one grid as a floor for the particles to die when they touch it. Now we connect it to the second input of the Pop network and configure the Pop network. Then, inside the Birth tab of the Pop source, the Const Birth Rate would be set to if($F<2,150,0). Now we configure the Velocity in the Attributes tab where the Initial Velocity is set as ‘Set initial velocity’, the Velocity set to 0,15 and 0 and the Variance set to 10, 5 and 10. Add Pop Collision Detect for deleting the particles when they collide with the grid by going to the Behavior tab and setting the Response as Die. Now let’s get out of the Pop network. Next we add Cache node for automatically saving the simulation. Just click play and we get a few trails as particles. Now we add Copy with the sphere so that each particle is a sphere. In the sphere the Primitive Type must be set to Polygon Mesh and the Radius set as 0.1, 0.1 and 0.1. Now play to see it all.


SET UP A HUGE PYRO EXPLOSION IN HOUDINI

Tweak the colour ramp in the Color tab as much as you want

08

09

DOP networks and combustion

Now duplicate the DOP network of the shockwave_sim and name it ‘trail_sim’. We will configure the DOP network by going to the Pyro Solver in the Simulation tab and setting the Timescale to 1, Temperature Difusion to 0.75, Cooling Rate to 0.7, Buoyancy Lift to 1, Buoyancy Dir as 0,1 and 0. Then in the Combustion tab, we activate Enable Combustion and set Ignition Temperature as 0.1, Burn Rate as 0.12, Fuel Ineiciency as 0.1, Temperature Output as 0.25 and Gas Released as 15. Now in Shape tab, set Dissipation as 0.025, Disturbance as 1, Shredding as 0.25 and Turbulence as 0.75. In the Gas Vortex Confinement node, set Confinement Scale as 2.5. The Division Size of Smoke Object ‘Pyro’ can be copied to the create_density_volume of trail_emitter, with the value left as 0.06, but if you want more resolution then you can change the value to 0.04. Remember to correct the size of the Pyro as you did with the trails. Now, at last, we duplicate the shockwave_export, change the paths of DOP and bgeo path and then you can simulate it.

10

11

12

Shading and colour For shading we

can start with the explosion. You can use the pyro shader ‘fireball’, which was created when you added Explosion pyro from the ‘shop’. Let’s tweak the fireball a little bit, starting with the Smoke tab in the Density tab where we set the Final Amplitude as 7 for more density. You can tweak the colour ramp in the Color tab as much as you want – we have set the ramp as a mid to light grey colour. Now let’s tweak the Color tab a bit, so set Final Amplitude as 15. We have a Wave ramp in Float ramp, but in case you don’t understand, you can download the HIPNC file from FileSilo where everything is ready. The Color tab of the fire is a bit default except there’s just a bit more red than yellow. We also activate Color Correct and set Hue Rotation as 0.015 and Saturation as 0.65. In the Field Shape of Fire’s Color tab, set the Source range to a value between 0-8, add a Ramp Preset valley, set Final Amplitude to 0.75 and finally in the Shading tab set the Shadow Density to 2.5. Now you can use it as an explosion material, you can also use it for shockwave and minishockwave because it’s the same density smoke. Trails works similarly and you can just duplicate from ‘fireball’. In Fire we use Fire Density as temperature instead of heat and set Final Amplitude to 4, tweak Color Correct a bit and in the Shading tab add Shadow Density set to 5 for more shadow in the smoke. Then add the shader to the trails – we added Sky Light first while tweaking the shader. Also, deactivate the COP and Render Viewports from Color Correction in Color Settings. As well as this, remember to add a new mantra PBR for rendering and leave it all as default for now.

12

10

Simulate shockwave trails This step is practically the same as what we did for the shockwaves but small, the idea is to simulate one and when we render it, we copy in each trail with some random rotation so we don’t see the same movement. The most important thing here is using the TimeShift of each minishockwave to follow the trails touching the ground. So what we do is duplicate the shockwave_emitter, name it ‘minishockwave_emitter’, change the size of the noised object smaller, then duplicate the shockwave_sim and configure everything like the pyro size by setting the Division Size a 0.05, Otherwise we leave it, duplicate the shockwave_export and name it ‘minishockwave_export’. Change every path of

DOP and bgeo now, same as we did before with the others, and simulate it.

11

Trail emitters We continue

working with the trail_emitter here, so after the Copy SOP add another Pop network for making particles from each sphere. Let’s configure the Popnet by setting the Const. Birth Rate to 150,000, the Life Expectancy to 0.065 and Life Variance to 0.05. In the Attributes tab, the initial velocity is set to ‘Set initial velocity’ and the Variance set to 2.2, 2.2 and 2.2. Now exit from Popnet, add another cache node after the Pop network to save the simulation and, finally, connect it to create_density_volume.

09

08

Collect references To create a decent explosion, it’s always good to start by watching references before you create anything, because with references you can find a lot of solutions that make it easy for you to do the explosion your way. For example, we can see real explosion colours that help us when we are shading. For the trails, we used the film 2012 as a reference for falling meteors as they are pretty good. You’ll be able to find most references through Google.

Lighting Let’s add some lights for

more realism and add Distant Light in the front of the explosion by clicking Ctrl+Distant Light, setting the Light Intensity as 0.22 and Light Color as 0.9, 1 and 1. Add more light from the back with Distant Light by also using Ctrl and setting Light Intensity as 0.4 and Light Color as 0.825,1 and 1. The Light Sun from before has a Light Intensity set to 0.6. Add a Volume Light for the explosion and trail; Light Intensity must be low here because we deactivated shadow for both. Set the Shadow Type as No Shadows to get a nice light scattering. You can use FumeFX for much faster rendering; just set the Light Intensity as 0.035 for the explosion, and set this to 0.2 for the trails. You can also name each light if you want. For improving render detail tweak the Sampling and add Allow Motion Blur. Remember, the composition is your friend for making your work better.

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3D ART & DESIGN ANNUAL

RealFlow Vikrant J Dalal

VISUAL EFFECTS

REALFLOW

project01studio.blogspot.in (*1-3ũ'2ũ2#5#1+ũ 8#12ũ.$ũũ #7/#1(#-!#ēũ(2ũ !.,/-8ũ/1."4!#2ũ Ċũ343.1(+2ũ

Create viscous fluids S

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treaming viscous liquid can be done for anything, for example for chocolate syrup trickling onto chocolate balls, for honey or for any other thick liquid. So to start of, we will introduce the idea of streaming liquid. You may have seen many TV commercials with this kind of efect so it will be interesting for us to re-create it. There is a variety of software in which we can make this viscous liquid efect, such as Naiad, RealFlow, Houdini, the Phoenix FD plugin for 3ds Max and much more. But many big visual efects and animation studios will use RealFlow software as part of their pipeline, as RealFlow is older, more trustworthy to them and – most importantly – user friendly. There are diferent techniques you can use to make this efect in RealFlow, such as Liquid Hybrido and Liquid Particle, but we are going to use Liquid Particle. Before you start working on this kind of efect, you should have a good knowledge of liquid properties. You must know what viscosity, density, stickiness and friction is, for example. There are also diferent types of liquids for you to consider like water, oil, milk, honey and paint, and every single one of these has diferent properties. We can’t teach you each and every parameter of RealFlow, as the software is very vast and so you will need a lot of time to go through it all. So as far as the streaming liquid is concerned we will learn only as much is required for this particular technique only. This is a very interesting subject, because you can’t define one particular process to create a liquid efect. If you make full use of your creativity and tools then you will find diferent types of efects to make every single time. So it all very much depends on your own understanding of how to use tools and techniques. Let’s get started!

01

Scene setup Open RealFlow and create a new project. Now check the Scene Scale is 10.0 and for that go to Scale Options as shown in the image below. Now it might be set to 1.0, so make it 10.0. This will increase the simulation time but you will get the proper output.

02

Create animated liquid – Particle Emitter We

are going to use the Square Particle Emitter to emit liquid. We need to animate this Emitter to spread the liquid on the floor. So select Square Emitter and go to Node Params and change the Position and Scale. Now animate this emitter in the z axis. Go to frame 0, set the z position to -2.0, then right-click and select Add Key. Now go over to frame 20, set the z position to 2.0 and select Add Key. Then go to frame 40, set the z position to -2.0 and select Add Key. Now keep following this process until you get to the last frame and you will get the animated emitter. 01


CREATE VISCOUS FLUIDS

02

Loop animation to animate square emitter In this tutorial we have to animate the square from the first frame to last frame, but you can save this time by using loop animation. So for that follow our steps until frame 40, then right-click on the z axis position and select Open Curve. Now click on the Keys option in the toolbar, go to Last Node Behavior and select Loop. Now you can see your animation continuing until the last frame.

03

Set the parameters of the liquid – the Particle Emitter After you

03

finish up with the animation of the Emitter, set the parameters of the Particle Emitter. So select the Emitter and go to the Particles section in Node Params. Change the Resolution to 10, Density to 2000 and Viscosity to 600. Now go to the Square section and set the speed to 20. You can change or try diferent parameters for better output.

04

Create plane Let’s create a base for our liquid, so go to Geometry and click on Plane, now you can see the plane has been generated in the viewport. Select the plane and go to Node Params and change the Scale as shown in our step’s image. Now move ahead to Liquid – Particles Interaction and change the parameters as shown. It is very important to understand these parameters, because the liquid and geometry interactions depend on this section. 04

05

Use different parameters and daemons Try using diferent parameters and daemons so that you will be able to get to know a lot of liquid properties, and this becomes easier when you come to try working with various kinds of liquids – for example honey, milk, oil, water and so on.

05

Set the gravity daemon To drop the liquid

downwards we need gravity, and for that purpose we will use the Gravity daemon. So click on Show Daemon Menu and select Gravity. Now move to Nodes Params and set the Gravity Strength to 9.8 – increase it to drop the liquid faster.

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06

VISUAL EFFECTS

Set the K-Isolated daemon This

06

daemon will delete any isolated particles after the specified time because isolated particles can slow down a simulation. So click on Show Daemon Menu and select K-Isolated. Now move to K-Isolated Parameters and set the Isolated Time to 0.1.

07

Set the K-Volume daemon and Drag Force daemon There are

many cases where particles become invisible in the final camera view or leave a certain area. In most cases these particles only increase simulation time without any additional benefit for the project. Sometimes there are also some particles escaping from a scene, slowing down the fluid engine significantly. It is necessary to remove all of these unwanted particles, and in this situation the K-Volume daemon is very helpful. Click on Show Daemon Menu and select K-Volume to start using it. Now go to K-Volume Parameters and click on Fit to Scene. You can add Drag Force daemon as well to slow down the particles, but don’t change any parameters – keep it as it is. 07

08

Start the simulation After setting

up all of the prescribed parameters and animation it’s time to hit the Simulation button. This will take around four to five hours – the timeframe completely depends upon your machine’s configuration. If you don’t have a highly configured machine then you must go to Square Emitter and reduce the resolution before simulating it. By doing this you might get a worse quality simulation but you will be able to achieve it with machines that aren’t top of the range.

08

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CREATE VISCOUS FLUIDS

09

Meshing After simulation we will

09

get the liquid in particle form so now it’s time to convert the particles into a mesh. For this purpose, go to Show Mesh Menu in the toolbar and then select Particle Mesh (Legacy). This selection will be reflected in the Nodes section. Here you have to right-click on ParticleMeshLegacy, select the Insert Emitter’s option and then click Add Square Emitter. Again click on ParticleMeshLegacy and change the appropriate parameters in Nodes Params, which is on the right-hand side of Nodes. Now click on the Square Emitter, which falls under ParticleMeshLegacy in Nodes, and change the parameters. Now again click on ParticleMeshLegacy and hit the Build Mesh Sequence button on the toolbar.

10

Import mesh into 3ds Max After

building up the meshes, it’s time to import the mesh into 3ds Max. Open the 3ds Max file and through RealFlow Mesh Loader import the liquid mesh. You will find this option in the Geometry section on the right.

11

10

RealFlow 5 vs RealFlow 2014 In this tutorial we have formed a liquid effect by using Liquid – Particles and this same effect can be achieved by using Liquid – Hybrido. To use the latter method you will have to modify parameters according to Hybrido. It’s up to you how you use these parameters. We’re using Liquid – Particles in RealFlow 2014, because for us it is easier than the Liquid – Hybrido method. But in RealFlow 5, Particle Fluid is not that easy, whereas the Grid Fluid method is easier and faster for creating our liquid effect.

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11

Lighting and rendering After

importing the mesh, you can set up the lights as per your requirements and render the sequence. Here we have chosen V-Ray as a renderer and VRayMtl as the material. You can assign your own material and renderer as per your requirement.

12

Post-process with After Effects

After finishing up with rendering, import the sequence into After Efects and assign some efects to it as per your requirements. Then export this image sequence in video format and you’re done!

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138 130

Lighting & Rendering 130 Light a night city scene in Blender 138 Achieve atmospheric lighting in Unreal Engine 142 Master advanced lighting with Octane 128

150 Pro shader & rendering techniques in MODO


150

142 129


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GLEB ALEXANDROV Big City Sensory Overstimulation, 2015 Software Blender, Cycles

Learn how to ěũũ#3ũ4/ũ+(%'3(-%ũ(-ũũ!.,/+#7ũ urban environment ěũũ1#3#ũ"5-!#"ũ,3#1(+2ũ using Cycles ěũũ2#ũ.4%'-#22ũ,/ũ-"ũ other tricks ěũũ#-"#1ũũ+1%#ũ/1.)#!3ũ efficiently (and reduce the noise in Cycles) ěũũ/(!#ũ4/ũ3'#ũăũ-+ũ(,%#ũ6(3'ũ post-processing

Concept The concept of this work was based on a bunch of photos from Flickr and Pixabay. I picked and combined the parts that I liked from my library of night city photos.

Light a night city scene in Blender

Render an urban night-time environment, using Seoul as an example, and master depth and glossy surfaces with Roughness maps

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ave you ever tried to create a night city in Blender? The kind of city that is filled with shining billboards, shop windows and advertisements? Then you know how hard it is to set up believable lighting for such a scenario. And speaking of rendering… it could be easier to just fly to Beijing and take a photo with your old Canon. The list of potential roadblocks is endless: the I-don’tknow-where-to-start problem, the over-bright-highlights problem, the it-doesn’t-look-real problem and the Cycles noise is icing on the cake. So how you can approach the lighting and rendering of a night-time urban environment? In this tutorial we’ll show you a few tricks that will help you to master this skill. Step by step we’ll go through the whole workflow and assume that you have a basic scene to start with. First you’ll learn why finding great references is essential. Then we’ll jump into setting up the lighting and we’ll be creating a gigantic layered pie of emissive surfaces – it’s very tasty if done right. The next step would be to look through the materials and their settings. You’ll learn why breaking the laws of physics can be a good thing and how wet asphalt, and the use of other reflective surfaces, can drastically improve lighting. Finally you’ll discover how to render and post-process the image. If you take just one thing away from this tutorial, hopefully it’s this: don’t be afraid to go over the top with lighting in a big city. You can get ideas from all sorts of places, for example it could be an article written about mental health, where someone described her overstimulation while visiting a mall. She said, “Then my visual perception would shift and it was like everything within my visual range was reaching toward me.” Lighting in a city at night is all about overstimulation too. 02

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Prepare the scene for lighting So you modelled a city block. Now you can get started with preparing a clean environment for lighting. Remove the distractions so you can concentrate. Complete the models and put the finishing touches to the composition. Take your time. It’s essential to have all the content in place when you start setting up the lights. Imagine you’re building a stage for a movie. An hour later you will pass it to a lighting artist. What a lucky coincidence that you wear the hat of the lighting artist!

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Collect the references Now it’s time to browse

through the references of the crowded urban environments on Flickr or Pixabay. Having a great reference makes your life so much easier, because you have something visual to feed to your brain. It will enable you to obtain a vocabulary for night city lighting. Search “Night Seoul” and you’ll get dozens of delicious references. You’ll see glaring shop windows, paper lanterns, adverts of crazy shapes and much more. Just don’t forget to dump it into a special folder.


LIGHT A NIGHT CITY SCENE IN BLENDER

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LIGHTING & RENDERING

Feel the vibe of the massive urban environment at night Imagine the gigantic city that

exploded with flashing, blinking and strobing advertisements all around you. Imagine famous scenes, like the city that looks like the shopping mall in the photo by Andreas Gursky (99 Cent II Diptychon). Maybe you’ll remember the environments from Blade Runner, or something else like Duke Nukem. The point is to feel the mood. Look through the references that you collected and ask yourself: “What do I feel? What is special about the lighting?” What is interesting is that the large city lighting scenario will be hard to analyse. Why? You can’t tell the direction of light. Who cares about the direction when the light spills from all angles at once? If nothing helps and you still don’t feel the mood, prepare yourself a cup of double espresso. Now you can get straight to setting up the lighting.

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Create lighting in layers You can safely assume

that the whole city is a giant light source, like a gargantuan garland. There will therefore be no three-point lighting this time, just a dozen of individual lights (we ended up creating a scary number of the emissive objects and other types of lights including background matte painting). Let’s work in layers. The process for each layer starts with adding the light source or the emissive object, then tweaking its texture or a throw pattern, testing how it influences the scene (if you can’t see it clearly, isolate the light), and optimising it (by cutting down the number of bounces in Cycles). The aim is to stuf the whole cityscape with lamps, advertisements and other shiny things. With that in mind you can work on one step at a time.

Be creative with your keywords When searching for the references, think outside of the box. Obviously you are not limited to Pixabay and Flickr. Have you ever heard about Lomography (lomography. com)? It’s a community that is into retro-looking photography and exotic devices like the LOMO LC-A camera. If you search on Lomography, I bet you’ll get a new perspective on night city lighting. When I said references, I didn’t just mean looking at photography but also looking at digital art. Extend your search to Artstation (artstation.com), CGSociety (cgsociety.org) and other online galleries.

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Use the emissive shaders Cycles (Blender’s raytracing-based render engine) has

two types of lights: the invisible lights, like a spotlight, and the mesh lights. The mesh lights are the objects with the emissive shaders. Like its name suggests, the emissive shader makes an object emit light from its surface. This is as close as you can get to the real light behaviour and you can call it physically correct lighting. Every billboard and every other blinking and strobing thing in the scene can use the emissive shader, so go ahead and add some!


LIGHT A NIGHT CITY SCENE IN BLENDER

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Add some more lights! When you think you’re

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done, add some more lights! Why? Because we are aiming for sensory overstimulation like the lighting seen in Seoul, Beijing and New York. So you can’t go wrong with adding a bunch of lighting details on top of your initial setup. What could this be though? It could be the paper lanterns shimmering in the air, garlands behind the windows or smartphone displays… You get the idea.

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Use Light Path node to control the brightness

Have you ever wondered how to make the emissive object brighter without making it way too bright? In other words, how to stay within the dynamic range no matter what? By making use of the Light Path node you can break the emissive object into two parts: the light that is emitted and the look of the object (ie what the camera sees). Thus you can control the brightness of the object without compromising the amount of light it emits! 06

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Create awesome reflective materials using non-physically correct values

So you transformed the scene to make it look like it rained a few hours ago, but what can you do if the reflection doesn’t look right? For example, if you want it to be much, much more dazzling? Use the Math node to multiply the reflections (you are going to use the Add operation). This will push the reflections over their physical values. It’s cheating, but you know what? It doesn’t have to be physically correct here, it just has to be aesthetically appealing. 09

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Enhance your lighting by adding glossy surfaces This may sound obvious, but think about it – when you add mirror-like objects in your scene, you

crank up the amount of light that reaches the retina. In cinematography you see this trick all the time. They just pour water on asphalt to make it reflect the street lamps, it will look gorgeous ten times out of ten. So go ahead and add puddles, glass panels and other glossy stuf. Pour the water on the asphalt. Now what if you want to make the reflections even more prominent? Let’s take a look at the next step for that.

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10 Gleb Alexandrov The founder of the educational blog creativeshrimp. com and a digital artist, Gleb’s work has received numerous awards including Best Concept Art of the Year and has been published in magazines and books.

Use the Roughness map The variable roughness is the secret ingredient that adds depth to the reflective surfaces. We’d like to emphasise this process: mastering roughness is super important when you work with physically based rendering. Just by manipulating the roughness map you can dramatically change the look of any reflective surface: ice, rusty metal, mud, water, wet asphalt, you get the idea. For example the wet asphalt that is in your scene is a nice showcase of the variable roughness. Some parts are perfectly glossy (like with puddles), some are very rough (for example, the dry parts) and there are transitions between them. 10

The Magical Clocks and Where To Find Them Blender, Cycles (2015) A magical clock (or maybe a fantastical beast?), made using Blender and rendered in Cycles. Production time: two weeks. No wizards hurt. Sharing among muggles is encouraged.

Alchemy Blender, Cycles (2015)

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This render was created for the website: Poliigon.com (available from 2016). I aimed to reveal the microscopic details on every surface, while keeping the image photoreal.

The Personality of the Lamp Blender, Cycles, Photoshop (2015) Every lamp has its own personality. That’s what I found while writing the chapter 12 for The Lighting Project book, my manifesto of think-diferent approaches to lighting in computer graphics (creativeshrimp.com/book).

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Use the Mix shader to its full potential The materials that exist around you in everyday life are very complex. To mimic this complexity you can use the Mix shader. For example, even though the street advertisement is mostly emissive you can spice it up with a glossy finish, as if there is a layer of a thin glass on top of it. Conversely, you can add depth to the window glass material by blending in the room (just an emissive shader). Every type of substance has hints of a diferent substance. The Mix shader allows us to achieve a really believable look. The devil is in the details.


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The film emulation In analogue photography, every film responds to light in a diferent way. Some films clip the whites, some wash out the blacks and some types of film surprise us with a weird colour tint in the mid range. You can create your own type of film by enabling film emulation in Blender and tweaking the RGB curves. You will see the efect right in the viewport. Film emulation will make your render look less perfect and less digital so, as mentioned earlier, be willing to sacrifice some details in the shadows. 12

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Render settings You rarely need more than two light

bounces, and even the second light bounce is often overkill. It has a microscopic influence on the global illumination and at the same time it makes render times skyrocket. So start with setting the max bounces value to 2. Only when there are many reflective objects that reflect each other will you need to raise the maximum number of bounces. Also you can set the Filter Glossy to 1 to reduce the noise in the glossy materials. Another crucial thing when rendering the night city is the Clamp parameter. The Clamp will allow you to kill the fireflies (or so called hot pixels) that go over the certain threshold. As a side efect it can dampen lighting brightness, so proceed with caution. Try setting the Clamp Indirect to a value between two to 15 to see how it afects the scene. And of course you can disable the Caustics altogether if it generates too much noise.

Render additional angles You created a dazzling image, but you can take it even further by rendering a few additional angles! I almost always start with creating a close-up shot. It’s easy to set up. You can use the camera depth of field to blur the background and focus the viewers’ attention on some object. For the portfolio it’s beneficial to have the series of images representing a location. The viewers will love it.

If you take just one thing away from this tutorial, hopefully it’s this: don’t be afraid to go over the top with lighting in a big city 136

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Don’t be lazy and rework some parts It’s sad but true: often you have to make changes and render again and again. If you feel that something is of

with the image, don’t be lazy – spend more time working on your scene. Add something to the foreground to enhance the composition depth. Flip the image horizontally and see if it’s still balanced. Ask your friends to critique the render (but try to take a deep breath and stay calm). Good rendering is always an iterative process. Only when you are 100 per cent satisfied with what you see should you proceed to the post-processing. 15

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The post-processing stage Let’s work on the finishing touches. Barely visible things like scratches and grain give a subliminal boost to what we call photorealism. You can rarely see these efects when looking at the final image, but it’s important to have them. For the post-processing part, you can work on film grain (or ISO noise), light leaks, lens efects and chromatic aberration. Apply these defects to take your render to the next level and call it a day. You created a splendid night city and now we’re dying to see it. It’s your turn. Post it to online galleries. Share it with the world. 137


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Unreal Engine James Brady

LIGHTING & RENDERING

UNREAL ENGINE

artstation.com/artist/jamesbrady

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Achieve atmospheric lighting in Unreal Engine T

his tutorial will guide you through creating realistic lighting within Unreal Engine 4, starting from adding basic lighting all the way to adding post-processing efects and using the Reflection Capture system to realistically capture the lighting reflections in your Unreal Engine scene. We will be taking you through the creative process for a Silent Hill homage scene, which stormed videogame press worldwide after it was released online. You will discover what is involved in creating realistic lighting within a game engine, along with the theory of lighting while using PBR materials and in a mainstream game engine that supports PBR rendering.

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Prepare your project Before diving into a project, it’s crucial that you are confident in knowing what you want to create and what the end goal is for your project. This will end up saving a lot of time scrubbing for references, having to reshape your project on the fly if you ultimately opt to change your final result, and overall saves a lot of time and frustration. Once you’ve gathered enough reference and have a solid mood board, then we can move on to the blocking stage.

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Block out your scene Once your end goal is clear

and you are confident in what you are trying to achieve, it’s time to start the creation process. This is the easiest stage in creating an environment and helps to get you into the correct frame of mind mentally before starting to add detail into your scene. You can quickly scrub together a block out by using Unreal Engine’s primitive geometry. This can be found on the left-hand side of the editor. This also quickly allows you to decide on which angle or aspect of your block out composition works for your scene.

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Add lights to your scene Once you’re happy with the block out, you can then move on to lighting the scene. This not only provides you composition, but it means you can also quickly see how materials and assets look when imported to the scene. For this project, when we initially approached lighting the Silent Hill-style scene, we were clear on the atmosphere we were trying to achieve, enabling us to have a solid idea on how the scene should be lit. Start by adding a directional light and a few low-lit light points. Lighting plays a huge role in how believable your environment looks and feels.


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Achieve a chilling atmosphere Once the lighting

is set up in your scene and you’re happy with how it not only looks but feels, it’s time to then move on to nailing the atmosphere you are trying to portray. You can achieve this by using Unreal Engine’s Exponential Height Fog, which allows you to quickly create a chilling atmospheric composition while also leading the viewer’s eye. Start by adjusting the overall fog density followed by adjusting the overall fog opacity. You can also use directional in-scattering, which helps to blend the fog with the scene’s lighting setup.

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Include your materials/assets Once you’re content with the overall lighting and atmospheric setup, you should then begin to replace the overall block out with modular wall, floor and roof sections, followed by the assets that were created for the scene. It’s important to remember that when creating assets for a game engine, TRIS count is very important. Always remember that any assets in a scene that do not move – such as static meshes – should always be optimised. You can achieve this by deleting polygon faces that are not visible to the player. This saves TRIS count and overall UV texturing space.

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Capture environment reflections This stage is a crucial part of the environment creation process. This stage allows you to achieve realistic reflections within an environment and it also helps the game engine calculate how the glossy reflections should appear within the environment. In technical terms, the Reflection Capture actor provides indirect specular. We get direct specular through analytical lighting, but that provides reflections in a few bright directions. Indirect specular allows all parts of the scene to reflect on all other parts, which is important when you feature materials like metal that have no difuse response and rely solely on secularity when using PBR shaders.

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Post-process your scene This stage is always my favourite part of the environment creation process. Adding post-processing to your scene enables you to tweak the overall look and feel. Examples include HDR blooming, ambient occlusion and colour tone mapping. In Unreal Engine 4, the post-processing volume is essentially only a type of blend layer that enables you to blend diferent efects on top of your scene. The post-processing volume also acts as a linear interpolation, which enables you to blend this with actors, such as a camera, when creating cinematic sequences.

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Render images of your final scene Once we’ve completed the environment process and are happy with the final product, we then need to move on to taking screenshots of the environment. One trick that I find speeds up the process is to add cameras to the scene to avoid situations of losing that perfect composition shot. This can be done by selecting All Classics on the left-hand side of the editor and dragging a camera actor into the scene. Once you drag a camera actor into the scene, a small box will appear outputting what that camera is rendering. 07

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Bake Light maps using Lightmass Unreal Engine’s Lightmass creates Light maps with complex light interactions like area shadowing and difuse interrelation. It is used to pre-compute portions of the lighting contribution of lights with stationary and static mobility. This enables great optimisation and allows your scene to run a smoother frame rate. This is very important for game environments and also helps to decrease the time it takes to render a screenshot for your personal site. Remember, it’s very important to make sure a Lightmass importance volume is in your scene at all times. This means Lightmass bakes light that is only contained within it.

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Add any final touch-ups in Photoshop The

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final process is touching up the environment screenshots in Photoshop. Start by adding a Sharpen filter to really make the scene pop. Depending on how you’re trying to lead the viewer’s eye, you could start by adding a gradient overlay to focus the viewer on a specific area of the scene – this also helps to exaggerate the lighting within the scene. Follow up by adjusting the overall tone, contrast and brightness to finalise your result.

Lead the eye When creating an environment, it’s important to provide a focus of the scene to the viewer. This can be achieved through a number of techniques, which enable you to draw the eye into a focal point within the environment. This also applies to the lighting composition setup too. When creating the Silent Hill homage scene, you can achieve this by brightening a focal point of the scene while pushing the rest into the background. Pulling back on any detail from the unfocused section of the scene allows the viewer’s eyes the opportunity to rest on the focal point.

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Using NUKE, these render passes were composited together against a backdrop to create a stunningly realistic image

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MASTER ADVANCED LIGHTING WITH OCTANE

Master advanced lighting with Octane Discover how to composite this photorealistic study of a Mexican honey wasp in flight

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his tutorial demonstrates an approach for lighting a photoreal 3D model of an insect in flight. After modelling the insect, the model and textures were imported into Maya, and the lighting and rendering were also set up in OctaneRender for Maya. Octane was used to generate lighting render passes which were then composited in NUKE. We want to show you how easy it is to create realistic lighting using Octane, as well as how to export render passes for specific lights. Using NUKE these render passes were composited together against a backdrop to create a stunningly realistic image. The little-known Mexican honey wasp was chosen as a subject because of its distinctive look â&#x20AC;&#x201C; the abdomen has a pointed teardrop shape that gives it a rather elegant silhouette. Itâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s also one of the few insects besides honey bees that makes honey. Inspiration came from Alex Wild (alexanderwild.com). This tutorial focuses primarily on lighting and compositing, and the model was created in ZBrush but you can use these techniques for other software.

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01 ERIC KELLER Honey wasp in flight, 2015 Software ZBrush, Maya, Octane for Maya, NUKE, Photoshop

Learn how to ěũũCreate a simple rig for an insect model ěũUse Maya references ěũũCreate Octane Shaders ěũũRender using OctaneRender for Maya ěũũCreate lighting passes in OctaneRender ěũũRender Maya Paint Efects in OctaneRender ěũũRender motion blur in OctaneRender ěũũComposite lighting and shading passes in NUKE

Concept I obtained a specimen of a Mexican honey wasp from an entomologist and studied it under a microscope. For lighting I used online references and my favourite macrophotography books.

LIGHTING & RENDERING

Obtain insect reference When

you are trying to re-create something in nature, nothing beats having the real thing close at hand. Using a stereo microscope, you will be able to study the insect from multiple views and get a real sense of how the forms will work for you in 3D. Be careful though, a dead insect is not the same as a live one! Desiccation of a dead specimen can cause parts to shrivel a little and the colouration can then change. Make sure that you have access to photographic reference of a living version of the same species, in addition to any actual specimens that you may acquire.

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Study photographic lighting techniques Macrophotography uses specific

equipment and techniques in order to visualise detail that is too small to be seen by the human eye. The subject itself moves quickly and unpredictably. Photographers have developed lighting rigs to minimise blur and maximise detail. CG artists often have the opposite problem: our models move very predictably and often look fake or dead as a result. There is no shortage of books, magazines and videos on the subject of macrophotography we can learn from. 02

Using Maya scene references A scene reference is often a link to a rigged version of a model. When you change the rig in the reference, the linked version is automatically updated in the master scene. Create your insect model and rig in one scene and reference that file in a master animation or render scene. If you have animated the rig in the master scene you can still change the rig in the referenced scene.

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Create wasp drawings Matching

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a drawing in ZBrush is the best way to ensure accuracy. Draw what you can from your specimen or photos so you can sort out the various parts of the insect anatomy in your mind before modelling. Draw the side or top view and do a second drawing that maps out the wing vein pattern. Try not to make anything up.

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Organise your model Give each piece of geometry

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Add joints Use Joint to place joints. If you enable

a proper name by finding diagrams of insect anatomy online with a convention like ‘front_left_vein_GEO’. Group the parts of the geometry logically as well. Take advantage of Maya features such as ‘Prefix Hierarchy Names’ to speed up the process. Group UV shells based on the materials to be applied.

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Projected Centering, the joints will try to snap to the centre of the geometry volume. This makes it easier to place joints in the perspective view. Enable Symmetry on the x axis so you can create joints for both sides at once. The Symmetry feature adds a constraint to the mirrored joint so that placement is symmetrical even as you adjust a joint’s position.

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Octane geometry Each piece of geometry in your scene needs to be set to the correct render type when using Octane (in the channel box under Shape node). If the geometry does not move in the scene, set its type to Global. For geometry that has keyframed translation or rotation, you can set the type to Moveable Proxy. If the geometry is animated using joints or deformers set the type to Reshapable Proxy. Particle instances are set to Scatter. All of the geometry of the wasp should be set to Reshapable Proxy.

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Bind the geometry and create IK controls

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Skinning insect models is pretty easy: to reduce the need to paint joint weights, select a joint and the piece of geometry and use Skin>Smooth bind. Turn on Selected Joint so that only the current joint is included in the bind. For wings and antenna only, bind the geometry to the necessary joints. Create IK handles for the legs and constrain the handles to a locator or curve. For the head, abdomen and wings, create a forward kinematic control using curves and orient constraints.

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Create a master render scene The scene should

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contain just the model and rig, don’t add any lights or materials. Save this scene and then create a new empty Maya scene. Use File>Create Reference to reference the file that contains the wasp rig. Create a camera and choose a view of the wasp. Use the rig to pose the wasp. You will add materials in the master scene, not the scene reference. This way if you decide that you want to have multiple scene references of the same wasp model in the master scene, then you can apply one set of materials to all of the wasps. This is a big time saver!

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Pose the model Use the camera you’ve added to create a pleasing composition. Pose the insect so that you can see her best features. Make sure the silhouette still reads as an insect in flight. Make sure the legs don’t appear too tangled and be mindful of negative space around the insect and between its parts. To animate the look of motion-blurred wings, keyframe the wings downward, move ahead two frames and keyframe them in the up position. On the Graph Editor, set pre- and post-key behaviour to Oscillate. 145


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Set up basic lighting The

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lighting consists of three parts: one of these is an environment node to provide image-based environment lighting and two are large area lights. The area lights will simulate the ďŹ&#x201A;ash arrangement used by macrophotographers in the real world. Photographers use their ďŹ&#x201A;ash to reduce exposure time so that the moving insect is clear. Create an environment node and use a spherically mapped image of a forest. Create two large planes and place them on either side of the insect with the positive z axis of the planes facing the insect.

The level of detail sets the quality of the displacement

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Test displacement maps In the Octane material

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attributes click on Displacement and choose Octane Displacement node. In the Displacement attributes, add an Octane Image texture. Use the Height slider in the Displacement node settings to adjust the strength. Set the ofset slider to minus half of the height value when using greyscale displacement. The level of detail sets the quality of the displacement. In the Extra Attributes of the geometry set the Geometry type to Reshapable Proxy and increase the Octane Level to subdivide the model. Octane Displacement is so good you may not need to use a Bump or a Normal map! 13

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Render Paint Effects in Octane

You can use Paint Efects to add hair to the insect. Use the short arm hair Paint Efects brush preset as a starting place to create hair. Paint these hair strokes on the surface of the body. Brush in the direction you want the hair to point. To render Paint Efects brushes you can just attach an Octane material to the Transform node of each Paint Efects stroke. This can take a while if you have a lot of strokes on the model. Try writing a simple MEL script loop to automate the process. Hair adds a lot to the realism of insects.

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Octane materials Octane does not use Maya or mental ray materials, you have to use

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only Octane materials and shader nodes. There are four types: Difuse, Glossy, Specular, Mix and Portal. Difuse is for rough surfaces or light emission. Glossy is for most surfaces from plastic to skin. Specular is best for transparent, shiny and translucent surfaces. Mix material lets you blend other materials together and Portal is used when lighting interiors through openings such as windows. To create a subsurface scattering efect you can increase the transmission value and then attach a scattering texture to the Medium attribute of the Specular material. 12

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Octane Mix material Apply an Octane Mix material to the head of the wasp. Create a

Specular and Glossy material and attach each to a material slot in the Mix shader. Connect a Displacement node to the Displacement field and use this to connect your Displacement map. Use the Mix slider to set the strength of the Spec or Glossy material. Make your Spec material translucent and the Glossy shiny. Apply an Octane fallof texture to the Mix slider and use this to set the strength of the Spec based on the incidence angle of the geometry.

Render motion blur There are two types of motion blur in Octane: Internal and Subframe. Internal works for moving cameras and moving objects that are not deformed. Set the Motion Blur in the OctaneRender Settings tab of the Render Setting window. The Cam Shutter slider sets the speed of the shutter. Use Subframe Motion Blur when rendering deforming objects for the wasp model. Use the MB sliders to control the amount of blur. You won’t see the motion blur when rendering in the preview window, only when you batch render an animation. 15

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Realistic lights Apply a Difuse texture to the polygon

planes that represent the lights. Add an Octane Texture node with the button next to Emission in the Difuse Materials Attributes. Use an HDRI of a light for the emission texture. The Power attribute controls brightness and eiciency to control fallof (low eiciency means faster fallof). A bright light behind the insect brings out the translucent quality of the surface.

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Create test renders

Once you have your desired materials and lights set up, you can start to tune and polish the render. In the Render Settings make sure Octane is chosen as the renderer. In the Octane tab set the Kernel to Direct Lighting and Samples to 200. Open the Render View window and select a snapshot from the camera. Press the IPR button to view the render. It will take a few moments to compile the scene. The render view will update as you work in the scene but if you move geometry, you’ll need to press the IPR button to recompile it.

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To create a subsurface scattering efect, increase the transmission value and then attach a scattering texture

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Render passes from Octane When

you get something you like, increase the quality of the render by switching the Kernel to Path Trace or PMC. Increase the Samples to 2,000. Scroll down in Octane of the Render Settings windows and expand the Render Pass section. Click on the checkboxes to activate Render Passes. To view the passes, set Preview to the desired pass and press IPR to recompile the scene; you can use the preview render to switch between selected passes while rendering. To create a final render use the Batch Render option.

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Colourise lights The Grade node adjusts the levels; place it below Read for one of the passes and use Gain to control brightness. Click on colour picker to tint the light. Render a shading normal pass from Octane and connect it to the mask of Grade, then set the mask to the red, green or blue channel of the normal pass. Layer the result into the rest of the script using Merge. 19

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Composite in NUKE Open NUKE and import the images with a Read node. The

simplest way to composite the render passes is to use a Merge node, eg to layer the indirect reflection pass on top of the indirect difuse pass. Set the Merge operation to Screen and use the Mix slider to control the opacity of the indirect lighting passes. Try layering the subsurface pass on top of direct lighting and adjust the Mix to adjust the amount of subsurface scattering. Other nodes that sweeten the image include Glow and ZDefocus.

Setting up light passes Light passes isolate the efect of individual lights on the rendered model. Duplicate the Difuse material you’ve applied to the polygon planes and apply it to the other plane. In the Texture node for the emission texture set the Light Pass value to 2 for one of the planes and 3 for the other. In the Render Pass section for the Render Settings, enable Light Pass 2 and Light Pass 3. Render the scene. Octane will create separate images for each light pass. Use these images in the NUKE composite to fine-tune the strength of each light.

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Use a background image To complete the

composition try layering the rendered passes on top of a background image. A high-quality photo of flowers works nicely. Even a hint of colour behind the insect can add a sense of story to the composition. Use the Defocus node in NUKE to blur the photo – study real images of insects to see how photographers incorporate background into their work.

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PRO SHADER AND RENDERING TECHNIQUES IN MODO

Pro shader and rendering techniques in MODO Render surrealist art in MODO by exploring new techniques

I

t is always a great challenge to interpret 2D concepts and make a faithful version in 3D, but it’s also an extraordinary practice to turn shadows and lights from a pencil artwork into a 3D scene. One of the most interesting aspects of this tutorial is to see how rewarding it is to bring to life great concepts like this one and increase fine details for your characters and so on. Another great aspect of this process is to take advantage of the powerful render scheme of MODO and how it handles render passes so you can have precise control of your post-production stage. You can also discover exactly how ZRemesher can easily optimise your meshes for sculpting work and maps productivity. Great lighting can be achieved in a few steps inside MODO. Not only does it create great light, it’s also a powerful tool when it comes to the shading process. Once you master the Shader Tree, you can achieve any result you aim for. MODO is the main tool in my pipeline, simply because it has a very intuitive interface. Tasks become easier when your software UI is clear and neat and that’s how it feels working in MODO. Specific render settings in MODO can boost your final render quality and save plenty of time afterwards in Photoshop. Tweaks and fine adjustments are essential for a better result, so don’t skip it!

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LIGHTING & RENDERING

Block primary shapes The starting point of this

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artwork begins with blocking the primary shapes of your elements. You can do that simply by observing the overall composition and extracting those shapes in your mind – for example, the whale and its S cylinder movement. Open MODO and create an eight-sided cylinder using the reference image as a backdrop. At this stage it’s not necessary to worry about topology issues, since it’s just a base mesh of your scene.

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Create the whale base mesh After exporting the whale OBJ file, import it to ZBrush as a tool and begin to refine its silhouette. Using basically the Move tool and diferent brush sizes you can achieve pretty good results. If your topology begins to get uneven, it’s time to turn your tool into a DynaMesh. Increase your DynaMesh resolution to 32 and while pressing Cmd/Ctrl, click, hold and drag inside the canvas to activate your DynaMesh. Then when you achieve a good blocking result you need to optimise your mesh with ZRemesher. Before that, create some ZRemesher guides with the ZRemesher Guides brush to specify the polygon flow and then let ZRemesher work its magic.

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Begin to sculpt At this point it’s a good idea to

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create UVs, since your data will turn into maps in a further step. Always begin to sculpt rough aspects of the whale, such as the cheek volume and then go on to finer details as you increase the geometry resolution. You can make good use of brushes like Dam_Standard for the majority of the wrinkles and clay buildup. The last touches of texture are created with Alpha brushes combined with DragRect stroke.

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Polypaint and map exporting As you finish the

entire sculpting stage, you’ll start to polypaint the model. Select a light-blue colour as a base for the upper side of the whale and a pale yellow for the bottom part. This is where your artistic background can make total diference in enriching details of the whale. Widespread use of masking was used to reinforce occlusion areas and reliefs. Using the Cavity Mask will produce great results to select areas combined with polypaint. At the end of this step, it’s time to export all of your maps. Be sure to export your polypaint at the highest geometry subdiv and maps like Normal and Displacement at the lowest values of your geometry subdiv. 01

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PRO SHADER AND RENDERING TECHNIQUES IN MODO

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Enhance your work The great thing about reinterpreting a pre-existing 2D concept is the freedom to add your own personal vision and details. It’s not simply about working in a literal way since you are practicing new techniques, artistic vision and trying to push your limits. You should add textures that don’t exist, but that make sense in terms of enriching your art. Researching references is also a bit of a cliché, but it’s an efective way to push your skills further. You can also ask for opinions on specialised forums so that experienced artists can give you their words of wisdom. The more you dedicate yourself, the more you’ll evolve. Improving your artistry is an endless pursuit.

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Assemble overall positions You’ll need to repeat

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Light the scene The simpler, the better – that’s an

the previous steps until you get the scene completed. All the elements and characters created in the final render were made with the exact same technique, so it’s just a matter of hard work and time. Another important comment about this workflow is also the fact that all the models will remain in the same workspace even before switching between programs like MODO and ZBrush, so make sure you create all the base meshes in the desired positions as precisely as possible.

expression that fits perfectly for many lighting setups. Unless you need an specific efect, you can produce beautiful illumination results with just a few light sources. In this case use one directional light as the main light, an HDR image for the environment and an area light from the bottom side as the rim light.

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Work with your maps The next step is to take care of all the maps you’ve created in ZBrush and import them in to MODO. You’ll need to do a few tweaks in some of them in order to produce the correct results in the render. In the case of Normal maps, select the map in the Shader Tree, go to the tab image still and set the Colorspace to Linear instead of None. In the Texture Locator tab set the Vertical Wrap to -1, so it will flip the vertical to suit the map correctly in the UV. In the case of Difuse maps you can play with gamma values to balance the contrast and saturation of the map.

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Shade in MODO Before starting the shading work in MODO, lock the position of your main camera for security purposes so you don’t ofset the position accidentally. Duplicate your original camera and use it as a free camera, so you can pan around and focus on closer spots of your model. Watch the Preview window refresh the results. The use of a physically-based (BRDF) material can produce great results with a richer texture. Duplicate your Difuse map and drive it as a Subsurface Color map, which will give the efect of translucency that can be seen in most of the characters, such as the friendly penguins in front of the whale. 153


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LIGHTING & RENDERING

Create render passes Once the scene is ready we

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can move on to the Render Settings and Render Output adjustments. One my favourite features of MODO is the ability to select many diferent Render Outputs in a variety of situations. It will allow you to diagnose specific issues or give you huge amounts of control over compositing in Photoshop. A default scene automatically includes a Final Color and Alpha output, which should be fine for most situations. Additional layers can be added from within the Shader Tree viewport itself simply by clicking the Add Layer option of the full viewport window, and selecting Render Output>Render Output from the pop-up menu.

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Render the final scene Now, before starting the final render you should quickly adjust your Global Illumination settings. Boost your Light Bounces up to 3. This will prevent noise issues in the darker areas of your scene and also provide a more vivid final result. Select your image resolution inside the Frame tab. In this case the values are 6,000 pixels wide by 3,850 pixels tall. Once you’ve done all this, press the F9 key or go to Render>Render. The Render window should open and begin to calculate the irradiance cache pre-passes. Go grab a cup of cofee and wait until the render is finished.

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Design cartoon clouds After the render is complete

you can add clouds around the scene in order to give the composition some balance. In fact, this is a good opportunity to use some modern and cartoon cloud designs rather than traditional, as it would fit perfectly in this surreal scene. After a few studies the clouds were concluded and ready to render separately. You can now open Photoshop and start to have fun with the post-production stage. When you’re placing the clouds in the scene, you might find that their design is a little too distracting, so it might be worth adding in a blur or tweaking the opacity of the cloud layers. The clouds can be placed in the scene to suggest perspective and depth, so feel free to position them in diferent spots of your image. This is where your work will gain more life and interest. 09 06

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Make use of render outputs This is where you’ll feel thankful about having multiple layered render outputs in MODO. It becomes pretty handy to select areas with the help of Surface ID, or controlling shadow areas with a Shadow Density pass in Photoshop. As you get more and more familiar with each one of these render outputs you’ll find yourself addicted to this workflow since they give huge control to lights, shadows, reflections, specularity, roughness and so on. It is also time to play around with diferent background colours, and it can be a such a challenge in such a colourful palette. The pink-orange solution combined with subtle light invasions really worked for this scene.  06 12

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Final retouches and colour adjustments At this point, the last colour adjustments are added. Try to compare your rough render with your final retouched image to see how rewarding and important is to master Photoshop techniques. Add a Vibrance adjustment layer and increase the saturation of your image. You can also use a soft brush with a low opacity and paint a few interventions of pink and orange over the elements to simulate light and color bouncing. Add some fog, dust, speckles and particle efects above all layers but do not exaggerate it. It’s simply a matter of using your artistic skills and abilities to balance colour and contrasts. 155


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Compositing & Post-Production 156

158 Master backplate integration

168 Day for night conversion in NUKE

166 Create a dust effect in KeyShot and Photoshop

172 Matchmove a scene for compositing


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In addition to basic asset preparation, weâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;ll cover camera matching to make sure our lensing and perspective match up 158


MASTER BACKPLATE INTEGRATION

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here are a lot of useful techniques for lighting and shading our 3D assets on a photographed backplate that weâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;ll be going over in this tutorial. In our scene, we are integrating a CG astronaut character exploring an uncharted forest environment. This scenario is set up speciďŹ cally to help us practise the key concepts of backplate integration. In addition to basic asset preparation, weâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;ll cover camera matching to make sure our lensing and perspective match up; physically based, energy conserving shaders, to ensure our materials react naturally to our environment; HDR tone mapping to have our light intensity, light colour, and environment reďŹ&#x201A;ections match our background; and compositing techniques to bring everything together and put the ďŹ nishing touches on our integration. Weâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;ll be using Maya and mental ray 2016 with a particular set of photo assets, but the instructional emphasis in this tutorial is on the overall concepts, so anyone can follow along with their own tools and assets. It can be a bit of a challenge at ďŹ rst, but itâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s also a very fun and very useful skillset for any 3D artist to learn. So letâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s get started!

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Prepare our HDR dome Letâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s bring our HDR dome into NUKE so we can inspect it in the viewer. In order to check the value range, hover the cursor over diferent areas of the image to slide the exposure control up and down. Our HDR dome is also larger than we need it to be so use a reformat node and create a more manageable sized dome with values like 6000 x 3000. Also remember to set the ďŹ lter to Impulse. Next, create a write node and save it in an EXR format, which is much faster than HDR. 02

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Prepare the backplate The backplate is the image weâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;ll be integrating our assets into. Weâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;ll be using photo assets from  /2Ä&#x201C;!.,, which is a really great resource for well-prepared HDR domes and backplates. Letâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s take our raw backplate into NUKE and plug in a reformat node to resize it to 5600 x 3700 â&#x20AC;&#x201C; we can write it out in an 8-bit, lossless format. This will be our ďŹ nal image backplate, however we donâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t need to slow down our scene with this massive full-resolution image, so letâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s use another reformat node to write out a working resolution image at 1400 x 925. This resolution is the copy weâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;ll be using inside of our scene.

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Set up our image plane The Maya Image Plane can have a mind of its own, so letâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s try a diferent approach. Weâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;ll create a polygon plane and rotate it 90 degrees in x. Now set the height and width to 5600 x 3700 to match our backplate. Letâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s run Planar UV mapping from the z axis. Next assign it a Lambert shader with the ambient colour set to 1, and everything else set to 0. Weâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;ll plug our working resolution backplate ďŹ le into the colour slot. Now, in the polyPlane Render Stats, uncheck everything except Primary Visibility. Finally, letâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s freeze transforms on the image plane. 159


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Lensing in camera matching Now create the

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Work with perspective Select the image plane

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RenderCam, but before it is moved grab the image plane, group it and parent it to the group underneath our new camera. Now our image plane is always directly in front of our camera. In the Render settings, set the render resolution to match our backplate, and then turn on the Film Gate on the render camera. With the camera selected, in the Attribute Editor, set our Focal Length. HDRmap.com conveniently provides the focal length used to shoot each backplate right in the image name. Our backplate was shot with a 68mm lens that was set in the Camera Attributes.

and use the Move tool with the axis orientation set to Object and move it to -5000 in z. We’ll make sure it scales up in uniform to fill our film gate. Without measurements, and in a forest with uneven ground, perspective is an art more than a science. Create a ground plane at the origin and three cubes for the foreground, middle and background. Without moving our geometry, position the camera so that our ground plane is spread across the forest floor in our focal area, and the three cubes are resting on the ground. 05

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Working with metadata, reference and measurements When capturing domes and backplates, photographers will often collect data to help the CG artist match lensing, white balance and perspective. In addition to common image attributes like bit-depth and resolution, an image’s metadata can also include the focal length, exposure and f-stop, which can be viewed in NUKE with the ViewMetaData node. Other useful, but less common information can include measurements of the set, camera position, photographed cubes for scale and perspective reference, as well as the chrome ball, grey ball and Macbeth chart images for lighting and white-balancing. These are often luxuries, so here we’ll focus on working with only the bare essentials.

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Set up our image-based lighting We’ll be using mental ray’s native Image Based Lighting feature. In Maya 2016, create it by going to Render

Settings>Scene tab>Environment dropdown. In version 2015 or older, this can be done in the Render Settings>Indirect Lighting tab. Mental ray will create the IBL sphere in our scene for plugging in our prepared EXR. Let’s turn on Emit Light so that our IBL now has direct difuse contribution. We’ll also want an indirect difuse contribution so go to the global illumination. When using mental ray 2016, use Final Gather Force mode. For older versions, Final Gather will work.

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Evaluate reflections and illumination Let’s

create a mirror ball to evaluate how the dome is contributing to the reflections, and a grey ball to see how it is contributing to the difuse illumination. Create a sphere with a 50cm radius and duplicate it. For the mirror ball create a MIA material with Difuse Weight set at 0, Specular Weight set at 1, and the ‘0 Degree Reflection’ in BRDF set to 1. For the grey ball create a second MIA material with a Difuse Weight of 1 and the Difuse Color swatch at 50 per cent and grey, with a Specular Weight of 0. Now run a test render.

Based on our backplate, we can figure out where the sun should be in relation to our focal point, and compare it to where it is actually reflected on our mirror ball 08

08

HDR reflections and dome rotation The first thing we should do to evaluate our reflections is to look at the actual orientation of our dome. We want to be sure that the relative direction of landmarks reflected in the mirror ball matches up with the backplate – an easy way to do this is by using the sun’s direction. Based on our backplate, we can figure out where the sun should be in relation to our focal point, and compare it to where it is actually reflected on our mirror ball. With a spherical transform node in NUKE and Input and Output Types set to Lat Long Map, use the rotate y value to adjust the rotation until our reflections line up right. If the dome also happens to be flipped, check the Flop box in the Reformat node to correct this.

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Get the white balance right Next thing to look at is how the overall colour reflected in our mirror ball matches up with the colour of the backplate. HDRmaps.com already white-balanced the dome and backplate image to match each other, so our colours are very close, but we may want to bring up the brightness and saturation of our grass a bit. Start of by creating roto nodes to mask of the sky from the ground to help control them individually. Then utilise ColorCorrect nodes to adjust the colour values for each of these sections individually.

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HDR illumination and ambient light Let’s look at

our grey ball. Here we’re evaluating the overall ‘broad-stroke’ brightness and seeing how it compares to the backplate. Typically, in a first pass-render, we’ll see our grey ball looking significantly darker than it should. We know that our material is 50 per cent grey difuse, so ultimately aim to make it feel 50 per cent grey in the render. This requires a combination of boosted ambient light and direct light, which we will cover next. For now use a Multiply node in NUKE to bring up the overall lighting value in our dome by about 1.5.

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COMPOSITING & POST-PRODUCTION

Position direct light Start by creating a shadow plane

on the ground. In our hypershade we’ll use the mip_ matteshadow with a mib transparency plugged into the background attribute. Run a test render to evaluate our ground shadows. Shadow intensity is controlled by direct light intensity and boosting the direct sunlight values in our HDR dome will have two major efects. First, we’re obviously going to see more light introduced into our scene, and second, we’re going to see that ground shadows will start getting darker. Let’s start by dropping our exposure slider in NUKE Viewer and creating a very small roto around our sun.

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Create shadows With our sun roto created, let’s use it as a mask for a new Multiply node to control the sunlight. Hover the cursor over the sun in the viewer to get a reading of its RGB intensity. Typically, we’ll have to boost the sun values drastically to get into a realistic range. Matching our shadow darkness with the backplate shadows will typically require values into the several thousands. Matching how soft or crisp the shadows are is dependent on how tight or feathered the sunlight is. Because of the leafy canopy in our forest, our sunlight is fairly spread out, so we want to replicate that efect with a wide feather on our roto. 12

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Mental ray production shaders We’ll be using some neat shaders in mental ray that are not visible or accessible in the Hypershade UI by default. These are the mental ray mip production shaders. Before we unlock these shaders, let’s be sure to save our progress, exit our scene and open up a blank Maya scene. Now we can expose the production shaders by typing the following in the MIL command line ‘optionVar –intValue MIP_SHD_EXPOSE1’. Now we can exit and restart Maya and the MIP production shaders will be accessible through Hypershade.

13

Physically based textures We will be using mental ray MILA shaders, driven by textures from Quixel SUITE 2. These textures are generated from real-world scans and come precalibrated to work with our shaders, so it’s a great way to build accurate materials very quickly. We’ll create material ID maps for our models to designate which materials go where. We can plug our UV model into Quixel’s DDO Painter and quickly start assigning materials from the Smart Material Library to the diferent colour-coded sections of our model. Once all of our smart materials are assigned we can use the Exporter tool and set our Export Profile to Arnold.

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Build our MILA materials Quixel SUITE 2 will generate a set of five maps for us: the Difuse Colour, Normal, Reflectance at Normal, Roughness and Specular Colour. We will start by opening our Normal map in NUKE or Photoshop and then flipping the red and green channel. Now, in Maya create a new MILA material. Let’s set up the Difuse colour to black on the base layer, and create a New Weighted Difuse layer and a Custom Glossy Reflection layer on top. Now we can start plugging our appropriately-named textures into their corresponding slots on the shader. The real-world scanned data from the Quixel SUITE 2 material library will be driving our materials. 163


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Add bounce light For more bounce light we can create a ground plane with only ‘Visible in Reflections’ checked in the Render Stats. In Photoshop, make a roughly tiled texture of the ground in our backplate. Then in Maya, create a MIA material and plug our ground texture into the Difuse colour. We should give it a Difuse weight of around .9 with a Specular weight of 0. To avoid any hard edges in the reflections, create a ramp and plug it into the MIA Cutout Opacity. We’ll set the Ramp type to circular with a smooth interpolation, and adjust the values to be white in the centre and fade out to black around the edges.

16

Integrate depth Let’s create some simple geometry

for the trees in our backplate. This will help for overlapping CG elements and for including the trees in our depth pass. Now create a simple eight-sided cylinder at a rough size for our trees. Looking through our RenderCam we can make some duplicates and move them back into the scene in the x and z axis, lining them up with the trees in our backplate. We can then make simple vertex adjustments to approximate the tree shapes. In the Render Stats we’ll turn of everything except for Primary Visibility and assign these a surface shader with the Out Matte Opacity set to 0. We’ll composite this depth pass in Step 19.

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Render passes and render layers With our material contribution passes, let’s include depth, normal and occlusion passes. Mental ray lets us select these in the Passes section of the Render settings. We’ll also create render layers for each of our 3D assets and their ground shadows. For our astronaut, we’ll duplicate our master layer and select everything except the astronaut. Now go to Window>General Editors>Attribute Spread Sheet. In the Render tab, we’ll select the Primary Visibility column and set it to 0. Now only our astronaut is visible in this render layer, without losing any reflections from other objects in our scene. Let’s repeat this to create render layers for our pod, the solar panels and the ground shadows.

Quixel SUITE 2 The DDO painter in Quixel SUITE 2 is intuitive and very easy to pick up, especially for artists who are already familiar with Photoshop. Though we don’t have room to go into more detailed instruction on the Quixel SUITE texturing process here, there is plenty of excellent documentation available to help you quickly create physically accurate textures and materials for your CG assets. Also remember that in order to accurately preserve the real-world data from our Quixel textures, we need to pay attention to our colour management and make sure we’re employing a linear workflow.

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Composite our passes Let’s bring our astronaut

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Integrate depth of field and other effects To add

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render into NUKE and look at the passes. We have our Direct Difuse, Indirect Difuse, Direct Glossy, Indirect Glossy, Front Scatter and Back Scatter channels that together add up to the final beauty pass. Create six Shuffle nodes to shuffle out each of the passes from the EXR. Now add the passes together by piping them through a set of Merge nodes that will then be set to plus. At the last merge node, our combined image is identical to our original beauty pass! So you can simply adjust each pass individually in the segments between all of the Shuffle and the Merge nodes.

depth of field bring our depth pass into NUKE and soften it with a Blur node set to 2. Now shuffle the R channel into the Alpha and then pipe it through an Invert node. Next pipe our image through another Blur node set to 5, and plug the mask pipe to our Invert node to achieve a lens blurring efect. We can control the focal length by adjusting the White and Black Point on our depth pass with a Grade node, and we can control the intensity of the efect in the Blur node.

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Retouching Once we’re done adjusting our passes,

write out the composited image and open it up in Photoshop to add finishing touches. To bring the viewer’s eye back to our astronaut, use an adjustment layer with a layer mask to bring down the saturation in the background. Add a quick vignette centred around our character with a circular gradient on an overlay layer and a low opacity. Now add an ambient occlusion layer set to Multiply to push model details. Finish with subtle environmental efects like air particles, light rays and a warm photofilter layer. 20

Cameramap bounce light Alternatively, we can use the mip_cameramap to project our backplate image onto our ground plane and enable our global illumination to grab light and colour directly from the backplate image. We can create a mip_cameramap and plug it into the background attribute on our shadow plane’s mip_ matteshadow. We’ll be using our backplate image as the map. Now turn on ‘Per-Pixel Match’, Transparent Alpha and ‘Ofscreen is Environment’. This would also give us light and colour bouncing up of our green forest floor, and we can control the intensity via the multiplier attribute.

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166

n ancient Japan, it is said that woodcrafters spent the first half of the day sharpening their tools and only the remaining time actually ‘working’. For us, software is our tool, and acquiring new techniques is the way we ‘sharpen’ ourselves. With that in mind we are going to bend the rules a little. Have you ever generated a fake Ambient Occlusion pass in KeyShot and used it to mask an image? Have you ever used a stone to create a dust efect on a surface? No? Well, today is the day! Everyone knows that KeyShot and Photoshop are great pieces of software and if we can learn to bend the rules a little, we can achieve greater results. We’ll be expanding the techniques that come from an artist called Scott Robertson. Sadly, KeyShot does not have many options in terms of render passes, but if we use our imagination and a few tricks we can take this software to a whole new level. Of course, this is not a modelling tutorial, so you have to have a model to mess with. It can be a freebie from the internet or a simple sphere, but we do recommend you start with something a bit more fun than a sphere. First we are going to set up some renders in KeyShot with diferent materials and render pass configurations. Once the images are ready we will jump into Photoshop to clean them up and stack them in a unique PSD. Be aware that this technique is going to be used for a car model, but you can use it for environments, characters, machinery and more – it can be modified to fit the requirements of most models or scenes. If you are not a huge fan of creating UVs or need to create one-shot concept art pieces, you will love this technique.

01

Render the base model First of all import your

model into KeyShot. You can import it from your hard drive using File>Import or you can use the Bridge functionality of ZBrush. Once you are happy with the angle and placement of the camera, freeze it using the Camera panel. This is very important as we are going to create several renders with diferent materials and all of them have to match exactly, one over the other. Select an environment, dragging it from the menu (choose a dusty one!) and apply the materials that you like for your model. Now, render the image adding the clown pass in the render dialog. 01


CREATE A DUST EFFECT IN KEYSHOT AND PHOTOSHOP

02

Render the dust and the AO passes We are ready to create our

dust render. Select the Travertine Beige material from the Stone menu in the material tab and apply it to the whole model. We used that material in order to match the ground colour of our environment, but you can choose the one that fits your situation – just consider that the material has to be a non-reflective one. Tweak the colours of the material to better match the ground colour. Disable the clown pass and render the image. For the AO render, drag and drop on to the scene the all-white HDRI and the Paint Matte White material on the model. Render the image.

03

Prepare the layers in Photoshop

Once in Photoshop, open the four images (main render, dust pass, AO pass and clown pass) and stack it all together in one PSD. Select the clown pass layer and with the magic wand tool mask the background (black). With that selection, select the dust pass layer and hit delete, as we only need the background of the main render. Erase the AO pass background too using the same selection. You can adjust the tolerance of the magic wand to be sure that none of the background escapes the cleaning. Now select the dust layer and press Cmd/Ctrl+J three times (we need four dust layers in total).

04

05

Detail the dust and use the AO pass If you want to emphasise the

dust efect on certain parts of the image you can lower the opacity of the last dust layer that we made, reveal a fresh one, and repeat the process, painting on some of the areas that you need to draw some attention to. For the next layer, select the AO pass and invert (Cmd/ Ctrl+I), select the whole image (Cmd/Ctrl+A) and copy it (Cmd/Ctrl+C). Show the last dust layer and click on the Quick Mask Mode (below the tool bar) and paste the AO (Cmd/ Ctrl+V), disable the Quick Mask Mode and press the Layer Mask button. This creates a sort of cavity pass, where the dust rests in the cracks and the occluded parts of the geometry, right in those hard-to-clean cavities.

06

The importance of references It’s very useful to base your designs in the real world (even if you are creating something alien). For this tutorial I downloaded pictures of vehicles running through the desert. That helped me to understand the distribution patterns of the dirt over the diferent parts of the vehicle. Before you start every project, take a few minutes to find nice references and learn from real objects. You’ll not only save a lot of time, but you will also bring a new level of realism to your images.

04

Final adjustments and postproduction Of course, you can

erase parts of the layers and play with the opacity of the layers to achieve better results. If you need to completely erase the dust from one of the objects in your scene, you can use the clown pass to select the object by colour and fill with black region on each dust layer mask. Colour grade the image, add in some atmospheric efects, flying dust, a nice vignette, your signature and you’re good to go.

05

03

Base effect and first dust layer

Select one of the dust layers and hide the others. Create a Mask Layer and, with the gradient tool, draw a few strokes in using black in the top part and then using white in the bottom. This is going to create the appearance of dust in the bottom of the model that slowly disappears towards the top of it. Reveal another layer of dust and create a black Layer Mask for it. Set white as your foreground colour and paint with a soft (or textured) brush on the layer mask to reveal the dust layer. Don’t paint everywhere! Analyse your model and use online references to learn about how real vehicles collect dust.

06

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Day for night conversion in NUKE D

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168

ay for night (DFN) conversion involves shooting a scene during the daytime that is supposed to be set at night, and this dates back to the early days of ďŹ lm-making. Generally itâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s achieved by underexposing the image in camera, then calibrating the white balance to yellow to blue up the shot and colour correcting the footage in postproduction to sell the shot. The location of the Sun is an important consideration; this light source will transition to become moonlight. With overcast footage, ensure thereâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s no Moon as there wonâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t be hard shadows on the landscape. Avoid shooting right in the middle of the day when the Sunâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s at its highest point because that will cause the most problems for you. Try shooting later in the day when the Sunâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s lower. For this tutorial a Lumix Panasonic DMC-GH4 with a Leica DG Summilux 25mm F1.4 ASPH H-X025 lens was used to shoot early-evening footage and stills of Portland Bill lighthouse, which we are converting to night. We will use a still image but since the only moving element is the sea, footage is also provided if you prefer to use that since the workďŹ&#x201A;ow is the same. We will use night photos for reference and also for sky replacement and for compositing illuminated windows, although you could use your own stock images for this, or simply paint these details. The lighthouse beam has been made entirely in NUKE by using animated VolumeRays, Colour Correction, Glow and Noise. Being a 2D efect itâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s not the most utterly convincing

approach, especially if used as a foreground efect. But for this tutorial itâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s far less expensive than re-creating it using 3D volumetrics and accurately modelling the top of the lighthouse for light collision, which would be a better option for a close-up shot. In the ďŹ lm Shutter Island for example, the lighthouse was a combination of practical, miniature and digital efects. 01

01

Pull a Sky Matte Using a Read node, load Plate1.

Connect a Roto and draw around the sky as a rough Garbage Matte. Set Output to Alpha and premultiply to rgba. Isolate the sky as much as possible without concerning yourself with overly problematic areas such as the fencing or top of the lighthouse. We will use Rotos and Keyers to complete the Matte. Then we will draw a Roto shape around the top of the lighthouse. Now view the Alpha Channel and then add a Keyer. Adjust the range to retain as much detail as possible. If required, add a Grade after the Keyer and ďŹ ne-tune.


DAY FOR NIGHT CONVERSION IN NUKE

02

Merge Alphas and clean up Continue to Roto and

03

Composite the sky replacement Add a Copy

02

Key diicult sections such as the central fence and terrain, and areas each side of the lighthouse, as required. Once done, we will composite the Matte together. Create a Merge, and set operation to plus. Connect A and B inputs to two diferent Keyers. Then add further Merge nodes connecting A to the previous Merge’s output, and B to a Keyer. Add a Clamp to the final Merge to constrain the Alpha value between 0 and 1. Add an Invert to the Clamp so the sky is black and the rest of the image is white. Use extra Rotos if needed.

node to your Network. Connect A to your final Roto node and B to the Read node to copy the Alpha Channel. Add a Premult node to the Copy. Check the Alpha correctly matches the sky. Next add a Reformat node and set output format to HD_1080 which will be the render dimensions. With a Read node, load NightPlate. Add a Merge and set operation to over. Then connect A to Reformat and B to NightPlate. Add a Crop after Merge (over), set r to 1920, t to 1080 and enable reformat. Add a Transform between NightPlate and Merge (over), and scale and translate as desired.

03

  04

Colour correct the landscape With the sky replaced, we can begin work on the landscape. Add an Exposure node between plate1 and the Copy node and lower the RGB values to around -0.45. Next add a Grade and slightly increase the black point to darken the image. Increase the white point for lower highlights and now lower the gain, which is a Multiply operation. Add a ColorCorrect and lower the saturation. Rods in the retina are responsible for vision at low-light levels, which are black and white, whereas cones are for colour. Adjust the ColorCorrect gain Red to 0.3, Green to 0.6 and Blue to 1.52, to better match the sky. 04

05

Add window elements Creating the appearance of lit windows and lamps is easy enough and helps set the mood. We will use photos to add lights but there are other alternatives (see boxout). Using a Read node, load Windows. Attach a Roto node and draw around the red-lit window. Set premultiply to rgba, add a Transform node and reposition and scale the light to the lighthouse lower window. If you hold the Ctrl key you can move the pivot only, which can make placement easier. Now scale to fit and add a Merge node after premult, connect A to the Transform. Now repeat for the other lights. 05

Enhance the shot with elements Adding lit elements such as the windows helps further convey the DFN feel. Keeping a collection of elements like this can save you time but you could just as easily paint in these features by creating roto shapes over windows, then adding a Constant node to colour them and Blur, Feather and Grade if needed, then Merge (over) into your network. Alternatively, you could also simply use a RotoPaint node and paint the light sources for a less even and more organic look. Adding glow or animating the light turning on or of can further enhance the shot’s believability.

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06

COMPOSITING & POST-PRODUCTION

Add VolumeRays Add a Roto and

draw an Ellipse for the lighthouse beam light. Add VolumeRays and connect the Roto to its img input. Move the vol_pos to the Ellipse centre, connect a Glow and a Merge and set it to Out. Plug its B input to the last Roto before the Copy. Add a Merge set to multiply, and connect a Noise to its A input and B to the Glow. Add a Merge after the premult set to plus and connect its A input to Merge multiply. Moving the vol_pos controls the direction of the beam. Adjust VolumeRays and Noise settings to alter the beamâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s look.

07

Animate VolumeRays To create the illusion of the lighthouse beam rotation we will animate the vol_pos. At Frame 1 place the vol_pos above the Roto Ellipse and set a key frame. At Frame 50, move it to the right of the Ellipse, and below it, set a Keyframe. At Frame 51, move it left â&#x20AC;&#x201C; the same distance from the Ellipse. At Frame 100, return it to its location at Frame 1 so the animation can be looped. In the Curve Editor tweak the key frames and interpolation as desired, you can also select the key frames, right-click and choose Predefined>Loop. 07

170

06


DAY FOR NIGHT CONVERSION IN NUKE

08

09

Lighthouse beam considerations Lighthouses have more than one beam (usually four) and using VolumeRays which is a 2D efect makes that diicult to cheat. You can copy and paste the network so there are multiple beams, and ofset the animation and then tweak the vol_pos y so more than one beam is visible at once. Alternatively add a Transform after the Glow and animate the rotation. It’s worth keeping in mind that in this tutorial the lighthouse beam animates quickly but a beam can take 20 seconds to rotate in a real lighthouse, therefore, depending on your project, this may not be an issue.

08

Add Lighthouse Glow Add a Glow and Blur after the VolumeRays Merge (plus). Connect a Roto to Glow and Blur’s mask inputs. Draw a shape around the lighthouse where the lighthouse beam comes from and Feather as desired. Roto areas you want to catch light from the beam such as railings and features in the beam’s pathway. Add a Dot above the Glow by holding Ctrl, clicking the yellow dot and connecting a Roto. Draw the area you don’t want to be afected by the Glow and Feather as desired. After the Blur add a Merge (over), and connect A input to the Roto.

  09

Optional details and rendering At the end of the

network add a Write node. Click the folder icon next to file, and choose a destination to render to. Enter name.###.(file format) for example like Lighthouse.###.tif then hit Render, choose the Frame range and hit OK. In this tutorial we have touched on several techniques but there’s plenty of scope to develop the shot further, especially with the lighthouse beam (see boxout), which is adequate for a midground/background element, but for a foreground/close-up shot you’d want to model and light the top of the lighthouse in 3D and then composite it.

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TECHNIQUES

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Blender Sean Kennedy openvisualfx.com

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172

et extensions are the kind of visual efect that every single movie released today has. Not just the big blockbusters, but comedies, little indie dramas and even just about every TV show has some type of set extension or background enhancement happening in it. It can be anything from alien landscapes and futuristic buildings to simply replacing a traic sign or a storefront. Usually the same techniques are also useful if you want to remove something from a scene, like a wayward crew member or a car driving through the background of your medieval village. While set extension tasks can be accomplished using both 2D and 3D techniques, in this tutorial we’re going to focus on 2.5D to add an important exterior location to our shot. Perhaps the actual location was a protected park, and we were not allowed to build any kinds of structure out there during shooting. If the interior scenes are all shot on a soundstage or another location, then we only need a couple of establishing exterior shots, which is where matte painting and set extensions can save the day. And if you’ve not heard of 2.5D, it is exactly what it sounds like – a blend of 2D and 3D. We’ll use 2D cards with matte paintings on them and position them around our 3D space. We are going to utilise Blender’s 3D space for much of this project, but keep in mind that the work we are doing is set up

for compositing, not a 3D render. Matte painting, which isn’t the scope of this tutorial, goes hand in hand with set extensions. Matte paintings are usually given to a compositor in layers so the compositor can make adjustments to (or completely remove) each individual part of the painting and layer them into the matchmoved scene as needed. These layers can range from very simple (as in our case with this tutorial) to very complex. Do not rule out 3D completely, though. Naturally, you are welcome to create any 3D elements you want. Having the matchmove will make it relatively easy to drop things into place, but be sure to take great care when texturing and lighting. Look at light and shadow placements in the footage, and the overall tonality of the shot, and do your best to get your 3D in the same visual world.

01

3D track the scene Bring the footage into the Movie Clip Editor (MCE), then Set Scene Frames and Prefetch so it’s loaded into memory. This is a simple shot, so there should be no problems finding at least eight points to track. Try and select points that are both close and far from the camera. I tracked 16 diferent points, finding contrast areas on the hillside and the pathway. In this project I tried to stay away from the very edges of the image.


MATCHMOVE A SCENE FOR COMPOSITING

02

01

03

Zero-weighted tracks Zero-weighted tracks are track points that do not afect the camera solve. By leaving the original 16 track points weighted to 1, the camera solve should remain the same, but these new zero-weighted track points will populate the scene in their correct places and basically give us a 3D outline of the landscape. We can then place vertices at each of these points automatically, which lets you easily re-create basic geometry that matches the landscape in the footage.

  02

Solve the camera motion After choosing

Solve keyframes and setting Refine to Focal Length, K1, K2, my 16 points generated an error of 0.3. In the Scene Setup tab, press Set as Background, so Blender places the frame sequence in your camera view, then click Setup Tracking Scene. There are some buttons in the MCE editor for aligning the orientation, but I find it just as easy to select the camera, set the pivot to the 3D cursor (at centre), and rotate until it is aligned properly to the world.

03

04

Zero-weighted tracks Having only 16 points

makes it tough to get an idea of the geometry of the scene, so let’s use zero-weighted tracks to create many more. In the MCE, under the Track Settings tab, open Extra Settings and change the weight to 0. Go to the first frame and use Detect Features. Press F6 to bring up the options and change the threshold and margin until you have tons of tracks all over the shot. Track forward, then do the same from the last frame, tracking backwards. In the MCE graph editor, select the most erroneous curves and delete them.

04

Create rough geometry Solve the camera

again, and your 3D scene should now look like a point cloud of the landscape. In the Geometry tab, press 3D Markers To Mesh. In the 3D view, you’ll see a vertex created for every track point. Turn of the track points by unchecking Motion Tracking in the Properties panel. Create geometry from the new vertices by selecting four vertices and pressing ‘F’ to create a face. Keep building new faces of that one, choosing vertices that make sense.

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05

COMPOSITING & POST-PRODUCTION

Bring in matte paintings In File>User

05

Preferences>Add-Ons, turn on Import Images as Planes (which you’ll now find under Shift+A>Mesh and begin importing your matte painting elements. In this case, we’re using PNG images with alpha channels. When importing, be sure to use an Emission material and Use Alpha – Premultiplied. Place and scale them as necessary. Be sure to place the planes near vertices that lie in 3D space where that matte painted element should actually be.

06

Spice up the sky The sky was clear on the day of shooting, but we can add some drama by replacing it or adding clouds to it. Import a sky image as a plane and make it very large. Push it back away from the camera, beyond the farthest track point. We don’t need a real sky dome because all the elements have light painted in to them from the matte painting department. This sky will be just another layer we composite in.

07

Arrange the layers We have to split these paintings

into the correct layers for compositing. For this particular scene, we could leave the hut and the bridge on the same render layer, but if we want to colour correct only one of them later, it will be easier if we just place everything on its own layer. Once you have split objects onto their own layers by pressing ‘M’, you then have to set up the corresponding render layers in the Render Layers panel. Place the rough landscape geometry on a layer that won’t render.

08

Rotoscope foreground objects Obviously we’ve got to bring the actor and some of the pathway back over the matte paintings. Back in the MCE Tracking Properties, turn of the checkboxes for Pattern and Disabled, to keep the view less cluttered. Press Tab to switch into Mask mode and Cmd/Ctrl-left click to begin drawing your first mask around the actor’s hair, pressing ‘I’ to set keyframes. As you create the masks, be sure to label your mask layers clearly. I’m creating one mask for the actor and one for the pathway in front of the bridge. And don’t forget you can parent masks to tracks! 07

174

06

Rotoscoping keyframes When rotoscoping, by default, Blender does not set a keyframe on your mask. Once you draw your mask, press ‘I’ to set a keyframe, and then we recommend turning on the Automatic Keyframe Insertion button. Now, when you adjust your mask, it will automatically set the keyframe. It’s also worth opening a dope sheet and setting it to Mask, so you can see those keyframes on a timeline. Be careful to turn of Automatic Keyframe Insertion when you go back to your 3D view, or you’ll be setting random keyframes every time you move a plane!

08


MATCHMOVE A SCENE FOR COMPOSITING

09

10

11

Projecting onto geometry We’re only using flat images here, but it’s also very easy to project those flat images onto basic geometry to give a bit of real 3D depth to the matte paintings. My preferred method of doing this is by UV unwrapping the simple geometry using the Project From View option. Then simply move the UV vertices around the matte painted image to place them precisely, and your matte painting is now mapped on. Alternatively, you could use the UV Project modifier. Each way has its own pros and cons.

12

09

Moving to the compositor Once in the

compositor, Enable Nodes should already be activated because setting up the tracking scene creates a basic node layout for render layers and shadow passes. Delete whatever you won’t need, duplicate the Render Layers node for every layer you set up in Step 7 and layer them so the sky is first (using a Mix node set to Screen), followed by the bridge, hut, and hut shadow (all using Alpha Over nodes). Create Mask nodes for your rotoscoping, combine them with a Math node set to Add (enable Clamp), and plug it into the factor of the Alpha Over node for the bridge.

10

Adjust alpha channels You’ll have to invert the matte on the bridge, and add a Blur to each mask before they are combined. You could also use a Dilate/Erode node if your roto isn’t accurate enough once blurred. For the sky, run a Separate RGBA node of the Movie Clip node and plug a Color Ramp into the blue channel. Experiment with adjusting the sliders until you get a nice matte for the sky, then subtract the actor’s hair roto with a Math node. In order to get the perfect clouds, you’ll need to plug that Math node into the sky Mix factor.

11

Add 3D elements Now let’s dip into real 3D to bring in

some added realistic details. I chose to make a bird flying in the background, which I rendered from a separate project file to use as an alpha channel on a 2D card in our main scene. Other fun details could be a clothes line hanging outside with fabric blowing in the breeze, or maybe some added trees or bushes. You could even shoot an actor against a greenscreen and place that footage on a 2D card out there in front of the hut, if you liked.

12

Finalise the shot Now that all the elements are there

and layered correctly, feel free to dial things in to your liking. Maybe add some light wrap to the hut, and make sure the colour correction is working on all the individual elements. Check your black levels and brightness levels by making the composite overly bright or overly dark temporarily (throw a Color Correction node at the end of the node tree and crank up the Gamma). If you’re using footage from a camera that has noticeable film grain, you’ll have to add matching grain to your matte painted elements.

175


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