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Software ZBrush, Maya, Substance Painter, Mari, XGen, V-Ray, Marvelous Designer
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his year marks 100 years since women won the right to vote in the UK. Though we’ve come a long way since then, 2017 proved to be a momentous year for highlighting issues that some women may face across all industries – including ours. One of the responsibilities that we, as a magazine, have is to carry on the conversations with the aim to improve equality. There are so many ways to help, and Animated Women UK is just one organisation supporting women and promoting equal representation, so this issue we’ve brought them in to
curate a special gallery. We’re celebrating women across a variety of artist roles, with expert tips so you can achieve amazing art yourselves. We’ve also harnessed the force to bring you some of the behind-the-scenes secrets of Star Wars and ILM, as well as jumping into the virtual and mixed reality field with REWIND – the award-winning creative agency based in St Albans, UK. Plus we’ve got some amazing Maya, Nuke, Blender and arch vis tutorials to take you to new levels of working. Make sure you study these techniques. Tickets are also available now for our event, Vertex. Head to vertexconf.com for more. Enjoy the issue!
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This issue’s team of pro artists…
Liudmila kirdiashkina artstation.com/liu_k
daniel d’avila davilastudio.com
Amazing artists like Liudmila show off their skills in a special gallery, curated by Animated Women UK. Learn top tips on textures, hair, modelling, posing and more from page 12. 3DArtist username Liu K
jahirul amin jahirulamin.com
Double Negative VFX trainer Jahirul has returned to 3D Artist this issue with some unmissable expert advice on UV unwrapping a vehicle in Maya. Read it on page 64. 3DArtist username aminjahirul
rainer duda rd-innovations.de
Rainer gives Maxon’s new release: Cinema 4D R19 a spin this month to look at the improved 3D tracking, new VR features and much more. Read his verdict on page 84. 3DArtist username N/A
walk the room walktheroom.com
Daniel owns his own illustration studio in Sao Paolo, Brazil and this issue he takes us through the process of re-creating a 2D concept in 3D over on page 58. Read it now! 3DArtist username N/A
Joshua Poole-Gotto lexhag.co.uk
Creative communications studio Walk The Room tells us its industry-standard techniques for stunning architecture visualisation renders in 3ds Max, Corona and Photoshop. It’s on page 50. 3DArtist username Walk The Room
pietro chiovaro pietrochiovaro.artstation.com
The lead Nuke compositor has plenty of experience working on blockbuster films and award-winning TV VFX, so we thought of no one better to take us through object tracking on page 68. 3DArtist username N/A
Taking us to hyperspace and to Canada this issue, Trevor goes inside the secrets of ILM’s Jedi tricks as well as discovering the best of animation at Toronto International Film Festival. 3DArtist username N/A
Pietro is a skilled generalist and this issue he has explained his processes for creating realistic wood material and textures in Blender. His quick guide is over on page 72. 3DArtist username N/A
rebekka hearl paranoart.com
Illustrator, designer and 3D animation graduate Rebekka has given us her opinion on Wacom’s new Pro Pen 3D – the pen specifically designed for 3D artists – on page 80. 3DArtist username N/A
What’s in the magazine and where
News, reviews & features
12 The Gallery A hand-picked collection of artwork curated by Animated Women UK
28 Going Forward In VR With REWIND Immerse yourself in creative new tech and VR with this exciting studio 34 Getting Animated At TIFF The best of animation at Toronto International Film Festival 2017 42 Jedi Masters We jump into hyperspace with Ben Morris and Mike Mulholland to talk Star Wars: The Last Jedi secrets
In Substance Painter I drew separate masks for the black, orange and gold paint on the girl’s face
76 Technique Focus:
Termas Geometricas Gregory Rogers on the concept behind this stunning scene
78 Review: PNY PrevailPro P4000 Orestis Bastounis on this incredibly powerful mobile workstation 80 Review: Wacom Pro Pen 3D Illustrator Rebekka Hearle discusses the new 3D functions of Wacom’s pen
82 Subscribe Today! Save money and never miss an issue
84 Review: Cinema 4D R19 Rainer Duda gives us his verdict of Maxon’s new release
Liudmila Kirdiashkina on achieving hand-painted textures for the face Page 14
Learn how to UV a vehicle in Maya 2018
93 Technique Focus:
Kaelya the Battlemage Kat Unsworth talks us through her use of Marmoset Toolbag
98 Technique Focus:
Ford Pickup 1940 Dragster
Vadim Ignatiev on quickly modelling with a kits library
Create realistic wood material in Blender
Save up to 20% Wacom Pro Pen 3D 8
Turn to page 82 for details
Render stunning arch vis
Getting Animated At TIFF
The Pipeline 50 Step By Step: Render stunning arch vis Walk The Room gives us their pro guide for creating arch vis 58 Step By Step: Compose a
Daniel D’Avila tells us how he took a cool concept and composed it in 3D
64 Pipeline Techniques: Learn how to UV a vehicle in Maya 2018 VFX trainer Jahirul Amin teaches us how to unwrap a car
The execution of the lightsabers was similar to The Force Awakens but the look is more refined
68 Pipeline Techniques: Discover
object tracking with Nuke Techniques for face tracking without leaving Nuke
72 Pipeline Techniques:
Create realistic wood material in Blender Make brilliant wood textures with Pietro Chiovaro
Ben Morris on making lightsabers more photoreal Page 48
Compose a slow-mo render
The Hub 88 Community News
Find out all about AnimDojo, the gym to get your animation skills fighting fit!
90 Industry News Mari 4.0 and Cara VR 2.0 are out now, plus SketchUp on the web
92 Opinion Simon Fenton The Escape Studios head of games on how game development tools have evolved
Discover object tracking with Nuke Visit the 3D Artist online shop at myfavouritemagazines.co.uk 58
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94 Project Focus Hellblade’s Valravn 68
Adam Barnes talks to Ninja Theory about the animation of creepy character Valravn
96 Readers’ gallery The very best images of the month from our online community 9
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animated women uk
Wonder Women We’ve teamed up with Animated Women UK to curate a special gallery celebrating women across our industry. Get inspired and upgrade your skills with these talented artists today! The work of artists such as Julia Margaret Cameron or Käthe Kollwitz stands out for me because it is so different to that of their male contemporaries. Despite working at times controlled by the patriarchy, these women did not try to compete by expressing themselves as men did, but instead embraced their female point of view. With that came a warmth we all recognise from our mothers and grandmothers – something that could be said to be uniquely female. We have come far in the decades since, as more and more female artists come to the fore, but still have a long way to travel before the perspectives of all genders are considered of equal value. Diversity is only achieved if the world we represent is as varied as the views of it. One of the AWUK pillars is to showcase the work of our peers and it has been an honour to help select these pieces and celebrate just a handful of the many talented women in our industry. Each one of these pieces is unique; each one is uniquely female. Beth Parker Animation Chair, AWUK
About the organisation Animated Women UK exists to positively support, represent, celebrate and encourage women in the animation and VFX industries in the UK. It aims to change the gender landscape by building a vibrant network that facilitates mentoring, knowledge exchange and education resulting in women in animation and VFX fulfilling their potential. Join today at animatedwomenuk.com
In Maya I made several nHair systems based on the curves exported from ZBrush. Then I assigned a Paint Effects brush to those nHair systems and used the output curves to generate XGen hair. Later on I made about seven VRay Hair shaders for different types of hair strands. Liudmila Kirdiashkina, Portrait of the Girl, 2017
Liudmila Kirdiashkina artstation.com/artist/liu_k Liudmila is a 3D artist focused on hard surface objects Software ZBrush, Maya, Substance Painter, Mari, XGen, V-Ray, Marvelous Designer
Work in progressâ€Ś
Iâ€™m the director of this test scene, working with Laurent Harduin, Jacob Norris, and Colin Thomas. The power of real-time rendering has come such a long way. This shot demonstrates the high-quality we are achieving internally when exploring content from an artistâ€™s perspective Yibing Jiang, Art Test by Unity Technologies, 2017 14
unity.com Yibing is technical art supervisor on the Made with Unity team Software Unity, ZBrush, Maya, Mari, Substance Painter and Photoshop
I like the quality, lighting and the gentle scene Anna Gregory Director, AWUK
Great light work and a cool idea Beth Parker
Kathrin Hawelka saddingtonbaynes.com
Kat is a senior digital artist at Saddington Baynes, specialising in 3D visualisation, art direction and high-end retouching Software Maya, ZBrush, Mari, V-Ray, Photoshop, Nuke
Work in progress…
The award-winning ASICS Gellyfish was developed for ASICS’ ‘Gel Runs Deep’ campaign, launching the innovative Gel Quantum 360 trainers. From laser scanning the prototype to organic sculpting, bespoke lighting techniques and procedural simulation, this branded character was crafted to mimic the balletic movement of a jellyfish, while maintaining the look and feel of the innovative sports shoe Kathrin Hawelka, ASICS: Gel Runs Deep, 2015 15
Projecting in ZBrush
Emilie Stabell emiliestabell.com
Emilie is currently working as a character and environment artist at Media Molecule Ltd in the United Kingdom
To provide myself with a few landmarks to paint from, I projected a rough guide from the original concept onto the finished 3D asset when necessary. This helped me streamline my workflow and made the process more enjoyable because the need for constantly checking my textures was eliminated.
Software Maya, Photoshop, After Effects, ZBrush
Work in progressâ€Ś
Hand Painted Textures
Every single texture, all 60-something of them, are hand painted in Photoshop. Since the piece is flat shaded, I painted all the light information into the textures themselves. This was a great creative challenge and allowed me to get a much more illustrative and playful look.
This project was huge. What I didn’t expect was how much patience and persistence it would take to complete, and just how many assets it would end up consisting of. The original concept only shows the front of the piece whereas the 3D model had to work 360, ultimately making it contain over 300 assets.
A faithful reproduction of the original artwork! Anna Gregory Director, AWUK
It might look 2D, but the model and environment is in fact built to work from all angles. This proved to be more challenging than first expected. The amount of assets and the way they’re stacked were hard to balance on the turtle’s back, while still making the composition look believable.
Great design and rendering – I was creeped out! Beth Parker
This was one of the concept sculpts for the Martian creature design in The Great Martian War, a documentary for the History channel Clare Elizabeth Price, Martian Creature Design, 2013
Clare Elizabeth Price clareorchard.co.uk
Clare is a senior character artist with expertise in sculpting. She is always looking for new challenges to expand her skills and knowledge Software ZBrush, Photoshop
Work in progress…
The image was created as a response to an art test for games studio Glowmade. The task was to design and create a toy caravan that had been lost in an attic for decades, I wanted to create a pressed tin caravan that was part of a travelling circus set Sinead Oram, Rocketman Miniature Caravan, 2016
Sinead Oram sineadoram.com
Sinead is a Welsh 3D artist with a love of creating miniature worlds, and a passion for creating tactile 3D imagery Software Maya, Photoshop, V-Ray
Work in progressâ€Ś
This is cute â€“ I want to hop on board! Beth Beth Parker Parker
References are very important in our work. Artists should collect references for each stage and not rely on memory. It can be references for design, sculpt, topology, textures, render or anything else.
When it came to rigging and skinning, textures helped me to bring better deformations to her skin, because the pose I wanted was an extreme one. So I had to make a few blend shapes. While posing, I made sure to constantly check her silhouette.
For the modelling stage, I started with a rough sketch in ZBrush, then polished it and did retopo a few times. The gun was modelled in Maya.
artstation.com/bakuroff Alena is a 3D artist, currently designing characters for dieselpunk game Egress Software Maya, ZBrush, xNormal, Marmoset Toolbag, Quixel Suite, Photoshop
Work in progressâ€Ś
I can use UVLayout but hate switching between different 3D packages, so all UVs were completed in Maya. Then I baked normal and AO maps in xNormal, created ID with ZBrush. Textures were painted in Quixel Suite. Robot Girl has 2K textures, her gun 1K. Here you can see how her final textures looked.
I use a basemesh with subdivisions for a lot of my female projects. Because of the topology it’s easy to quickly pose the model and change the proportions drastically. I make sure I don’t break the loops around the mouth and eyes while I shape them, so I don’t have much sculpt/cleanup work to do in higher subdivisions.
Using Insert Brushes and Insert Curves can increase your work speed tremendously. With the ZBrush 4R8 update, some neat features have been added such as the projection strength, which deforms your inserted model over the underlying surface. Model your own and save them… before you know it you’ll have a nice library of useful stuff!
Shows what beauty is for a woman, not via a male gaze. Beth Parker
Shana Vandercruysse shanavandercruysse.com
Shana is passionate about making pretty things, or making things pretty. She takes great pride in being a perfectionist Software ZBrush, Marmoset Toolbag, 3ds Max, Photoshop
Work in progress…
Colour schemes need to be simple; I try not to go over one or two dominant colours and some variations on it. I want my image to be easy to read and balanced, and more than three colours quickly creates chaos. Sticking to the colour wheel hasn’t always helped me, so I’m not scared to break the conventional rules of colour picking.
Stay true to the concept art
Staying true to the concept art is a balancing job; I want to convey the same expression and emotion of the face and body, but avoid copying the proportions and pose exactly. What works in 2D does not always work in 3D, and I’m not a copy machine, afterall. I read the concept and give it my own twist, while undeniably staying true to the original. Concept by Natalie Behle.
Some lovely soft rendering, even if it is a bit princess! Beth Parker
I created the model during my first term at Animschool and worked on rendering. The assignment was to model a cartoon head. While looking for concepts I came across this beautiful concept by David Ardinaryas Lojaya. I do my best when I feel really excited about the idea or concept Nina Tarasova, Kingâ€™s Taylor, 2017
(concept by David Ardinaryas Lojaya)
artstation.com/nina406 Nina started learning 3D in her free time and signed up for a character modelling and rigging programme at Animschool Software Maya, Mudbox, RenderMan
Work in progressâ€Ś
saddingtonbaynes.com Megan’s a 3D generalist and begun her career at Saddington Baynes after graduating from the University of Bolton
Nice piece of surreal imagery Beth Parker
ACADIA: Fantasy Brain is a representation of what people with Parkinson’s disease psychosis experience daily. The juxtaposition of various creatures and objects, morphing in and out of the brain illustrates the overwhelming confusion and daily experience of a person affected by Parkinson’s
Software Maya, ZBrush, Mari, V-Ray, Photoshop, Nuke
Work in progress…
Megan McLean, ACADIA – Fantasy Brain Treatment, 2016 23
For this project I wanted to merge one of my favourite games, Mirror’s Edge, as well as Makoto Shinkai’s animation style. I also wanted to practise some new ways of doing lighting and chose to follow an excellent tutorial by Tilmann Milde
xiaowantou.artstation.com Maria is currently a lighting artist working at Cloud Imperium Games. She previously worked at Crytek and Ubisoft Software Unreal Engine 4.14
Work in progress…
Maria Yue, Sunrise and SciFiHallWay, 2017 25
albedo / detail light / beauty render passes
Since I wanted to achieve a very clean look, I desaturated most of the original texture, making the base colour neutral. Neutral colour is helpful for more obvious colour lighting. I kept checking my lighting setup in the detail lighting mode while working.
Basic lighting setup
Since this is a rectangular space, I tried to mark my bright point in the far end of my scene, as well as darken the area closer to my camera. I feel defining the dark and bright zones at an early stage helps me present the space better.
Interior and exterior light position
To achieve the ideal balance of brightness, I tried to design the artificial light source and exterior light source via opposite incidence angle. It also helps to present a convincing reflection effect on the ground later.
Blend Sun and sky light
I was unsure about the result in the beginning, so to test the intensity of both sun and sky light, I baked each of them individually while keeping the other entity dynamic. After a few tweaks of light intensity, I found the ideal setting for the final render.
e i k Fran e
What is the name of the developer of Frankie? A) Perspective B) Retrospective C) Cospective
r at: e w s n a r u o y r e Ent Frankie bit.ly/3DA-115
New year, new workflow! As part of our first 2018 giveaway, we’re offering five lucky 3D Artist readers the opportunity to win a free 6-month licence of Frankie worth $588 each! Courtesy of Academy award-winning software developers Cospective, Frankie is a professional remote video review and approval tool that helps artists effectively communicate their creative concepts via stills and video, via secure review sessions. Used by studios such as UPP, Hinge and Rodeo FX and independent professionals the world over, the tool offers unparalleled ease of use and interactivity with creative work. Frankie’s main features include: • Synchronised, remote video playback • Annotation and drawing tools • Compatible with any web browser • Save notes as PDF • Custom branding • 5GB storage • Compatible with iOS and Android To be in with a chance of winning, simply answer the question.
*The competition is open to UK entrants only. Under 18s must obtain parental consent to enter this competition and be able to demonstrate this to 3D Artist’s reasonable satisfaction. Answers must be received by 19/02/2018. The winners will be selected at random from all correct entries received and will be sent the prize free of charge. For full terms and conditions, please go http://www.futureplc.com/ competition-rules/.
Going forward in VR with Rewind
Going forward in VR with Rewind The immersive creatives are turning heads (and headsets) globally, so 3D Artist went to St Albans, UK to find out what it takes to craft award-winning experiences
REWINDâ€™s work ranges from AR/ VR and MR to 360 video and installations
n St Albans, UK, you’ll find a historic Roman market city just 20 minutes away from the hustle and bustle of London’s Soho – the undisputed capital of the UK’s visual effects and animation industry. But tucked beside an ornate 14th century clocktower in this peaceful location is REWIND, the creative digital studio that is making waves across the globe with its immersive experiences. “About three years ago, we had a choice of being in Soho with a hundred other small visual effects and animation companies and agencies – or not,” says REWIND’s CEO and founder, Solomon Rogers. “I just made the decision that I wanted a point of difference, the first being that I don’t like commuting so I’m going to put the office where I live. But we did go to all our clients and ask ‘Fundamentally, do you want us here or here’ and they said ‘Well first of all you come to us, and secondly have you heard of the internet? We don’t have to be in the same location’. It was very refreshing. “Being out here [in St Albans] allows everybody one or two hours extra in their day. Everybody ends up living around here and they have a better way of life. They see their families more, they can walk to work, they have a beautiful city to live in and the company actually
We made a decision we wouldn’t ever white label again… we are proud of the work we do and stand by it Solomon Rogers, REWIND CEO and founder
gets a lot more out of them because they’re not exhausted by a London commute.” That energy has led to some inspiring pieces of work, like Home – A VR Spacewalk, a cinematic, narrative led and fully interactive virtual reality experience inspired by NASA and ESA’s training programmes and the experiences of real astronauts such as Tim Peake. It’s earned the studio several awards, but has that created any pressure for REWIND? “We already create our own pressure, so awards aren’t going to make us feel any more!” says Rogers. “We made a decision three years ago that we wouldn’t ever white label again. It was a very clear decision because of two things: if no one ever knows we’ve done the job, then we can hide behind someone else and just be good enough. We didn’t want that. We are proud of the work we do and want to stand by it. “Home won nine awards, which we’re super proud of and we got Tim Peake to try it, because it’s based on his experiences. He was very complimentary about it; he said it was better than the simulator in Houston and would be perfect for training. “We never set out to win awards. We wanted to do something we enjoyed and the audiences would enjoy, we wanted to push ourselves and
Going forward in VR with Rewind
VR, and the BBC allowed us to collaborate in that way. The ‘pushing boundaries’ mentality runs throughout the company. The projects I bring in have to keep the team engaged, so by hook or by crook we’re always doing something experimental or something we’ve never done before, so it keeps us on the same path. If I brought in something that anyone else could do, they’d all get switched off!” The work that’s come into the business has shifted significantly since the early days, too. REWIND has successfully made the transition from high-end visual effects, CGI and television commercials to creative immersive tech. The change was initially challenging but exciting at the same time. “I realised we had a great drive for the strange and the wonderful, the creative technology and the experiential.,” says Rogers. “We moved swiftly into a place that allowed us to play with tech, animation, storytelling. Our curiosity and ability drove us forward.” The transformation hasn’t just been with the type of work taken, but in the type of clients and attitudes coming into REWIND: “We started out with lots of PR agencies, then they became marketing agencies and now they’re Hollywood studios and global brands.” And a consequence of this improved understanding of the type of work from clients and a bigger variety of projects, is a whole new
way of discussing VR, as Rogers explains; “We’ve had to find a new lexicon to explain the things we make! We start pulling film words, game words, we’re still figuring things out. It’s getting better! But we get people calling us asking ‘I’d like a VR please!’ and we ask them ‘What do you mean you’d like a VR?! Do you mean 360 video? Stereo? Fully immersive? Interactive? Room scale? Installations?’ There are so many different flavours. But luckily people are beginning to understand the different possibilities.” This gradual comprehension has led to exciting projects, including an incredible social VR event, linking 66 headsets across continents for Jaguar’s I-PACE concept launch. Guests were transported to a virtual space where they could enjoy the sleek interiors of the Jaguar I-PACE Concept with a 360-degree view of Venice Beach. “It was phenomenal,” says Rogers. “The network structure, high-end CGI, delivered globally, a PR event that had to happen when the screen went up: it was a live event running like a theatre piece. There were so many moving parts. It was one of our proudest moments, let alone running it five times, and it worked 100 per cent every time. “We had the designers in the studio mid-way through the project. We put them in a headset, The Jaguar I-PACE experience was a cross-global multi-user event
5 ways to help immerse your job in new tech There are so many job roles in VR, and the industry is constantly shifting. Here are Solomon Roger’s five top tips for ensuring you get ahead in your VR career Learn your craft If you’re going to be a 3D artist, make sure you are a very good 3D artist. That quality bar is high and always moving, so practise, put the 10,000 hours in and create the best artwork you can. Get to know the technology If you are using a HTC Vive or Oculus Rift, it is vital that you really understand their strengths and weaknesses. Each one has its positives and negatives.
For the Jaguar I-PACE, REWIND created a social VR experience
Play to the strengths of the engine Unreal is very different to Unity, which is very different to CryEngine. Really understand where you can push and where the limitations are. Stretch your knowledge outside your role Learn what others in the company do. If you can understand how the whole company works together, you will be able to do your best work! Don’t be a dick! We all like to work with people we like. There’s nothing wrong with a bit of constructive criticism and conflict, but when it comes down to it you have to be a good person. You can always find positivity.
Home is an epic 15-minute spacewalk
REWIND worked on a Ghost In The Shell VR experience
Working closely with Red Bull, REWIND launched a global film
Going forward in VR with Rewind
Venturing into VR Solomon Rogers tells us why some artists and directors have been leaving their industries to join the new worlds of REWIND
Ghost In The Shell takes you inside of The Major’s world
put them inside the vehicle. We were worried, that as experts in how the car should look, they would find fault. But something unexpected happened. They started leaning around and talking, pointing and said ‘You see this, I think we should change this’ they were having a conversation about the design of the interior because the VR representation made it easy for them to explore it in detail. The immersive experience allowed them to evaluate their design decisions. VR is incredibly useful in aiding the design process; many industries already use it as standard practice.” In terms of software, REWIND has also been happy to open itself up to new tools where they’ve been shown to improve the company’s
I often call us a village or a tribe – mindsets pulling together to create something exciting pipeline; “We’re very flexible due to our size and the diverse range of skills we have in-house,” explains Rogers. “We have Unreal and Unity developers, 3ds Max and Maya experts, ZBrush and Mudbox people. “If we were just a VR company, VR would be the answer to everything. But we tell stories through creative technology, so maybe it’s VR, AR or MR – we find the right solution based on the brief. We are hardware and software agnostic. We are at an amazing time in which creativity is unbounded – if you can think it, we can make it.” Unsurprisingly for such a vibrant and creative company, it’s the actual craft of candidates applying at REWIND that is more important to Rogers than which software or tool they can use;
“I just want to hire good people. We are always hiring, at senior and junior levels. We have a graduate recruitment scheme, so we bring on three to six interns over the summer and we are always looking for high-quality graduates to join us on the journey.” With 50 people in the office, and with this desire to hire many more, REWIND is evolving to become a more modern type of studio – with Rogers favouring a new creative approach to describing itself: “I often call us a village or a tribe – certain mindsets pulling together to create something exciting, redefining the use of VR, AR and MR. We’re always changing, we’ve almost doubled every year to pull more talent into the business.” REWIND’s projects are being driven by growth and with a San Francisco office having just opened up, its connections with Hollywood are getting ever stronger; “You’ll see the fruits of that labour coming out in the next year or so,” says Rogers. “We’re also working with high-end TV so HBO with Silicon Valley, and the BBC and others like that. You’ll see a couple of really high-profile projects this summer as well, which are going to be amazing.” With all of this development taking place, just what is it that drives Rogers, and keeps him excited about waking up to work at REWIND every day? It’s all about the people and the journey: “I get to work with my best friends. [And as] a CEO I feel like I’m continuously solving a Rubik’s Cube. The challenges of creating a company that can deliver diverse work in an ever-changing world is a continuously changing goal that I’m really excited about. With the energy and the wind behind us, the options of where we want to go next, we’re choosing our own destiny, and we are creating the future. That’s what’s getting me up in the morning – this thing is never going to get solved, but I’m loving the challenge and the path we’re going on.”
“We’re a blend of a creative digital agency and a games studio,” explains Rogers of the type of studio that REWIND is and why more artists from games are joining the company. “We’re absolutely attracting top talent from the games industry, because we are so experimental, we offer diversity of projects and because we are defining new pipelines. It’s a great place to come and play, to be challenged, and define the future of immersive experiences!” But REWIND isn’t just made up of talent from the games sector; “While many of our developers are coming from the games industry our directors and creatives are coming from films and commercials. It’s a bit of a hybrid.”
REWIND’s studio is based in St Albans, UK. The creative technologists launched a second office in the US to cater to clients in Hollywood and beyond
getting animated at tiff 2017
An amorous cat leads to a lot of chaos in Catastrophe. Courtesy of Some Shorts
Playful mayhem unfolds in The Big Bad Fox & Other Tales. Courtesy of Folivari
Getting Animated at TIFF 2017 Trevor Hogg heads to Toronto International Film Festival to discover all there is to know about animation perfection
nimation did not go unrecognised at the 2017 Toronto International Film Festival, with the adaption of The Breadwinner having a world premiere and The Burden winning the Short Cuts Award for Best International Short Film; they were accompanied by a strong contingent that included the feature The Big Bad Fox & Other Tales and shorts Airport, Catastrophe, An Imagined Conversation: Kanye West & Stephen Hawking, Charles, The Tesla World Light, Threads, and Wicked Girl. Along with the filmmakers coming from countries ranging from Canada, France, Ireland, Sweden, Switzerland, Norway, Turkey and the Netherlands, was the desire to explore the medium in ways that go beyond simply entertaining children but also makes a commentary about contemporary life in a grown-up manner. Deviating from the source material of The Breadwinner author Deborah Ellis, was the decision to create a world that displays the storytelling skill of the 13-year-old female protagonist in cut-out to go along with the traditionally created present day struggle in Taliban-rule Afghanistan. “Guru Studio art director Sam Suryavanshi and head of compositing Sheldon Lisoy built a world in Nuke where they lit the Story World like a stage,” explains The Breadwinner director, Nora Twomey. “Jeremy Purcell [director of the cut-out sequences] used Moho, an animation software which is rig based, and Photoshop to figure out textures to put onto our rigs.” Dust in the real world was CG. “Sheldon tried to find a way of
getting animated at tiff 2017
Style Guide Having a unique style is important for a filmmaker There is no shortage of animation styles, from detailed sketches, simple line drawings, 3D animation or long-exposure lighting techniques. Here filmmakers explain what draws them to their method of choice. Black-and-white illustrations populate the world conceived by Sol Friedman, such as with his short An Imagined Conversation: Kanye West & Stephen Hawking. “It’s a style that I’ve been playing with in previous projects,” he explains. “It’s the immediacy of just wanting to get going and also in terms of how it connects to the drawings. I love the drawings and once you add colour they change a lot. Not always in a bad way but often it becomes more of a composition, while using just black and white allows the drawings to stay drawings.” As for Threads, a simplistic approach is taken when designing the characters, environments and colouring. “My drawings are simple line drawings,” explains Torell Kove. “What you see is what you get. I use contour lines for the characters and for whatever is in the film, and flat colours to give the universe a sense of design.” Putting her own spin on 3D animation is Jamille van Wijngaarden. “Catastrophe uses dark humour and the style of animation needed to contrast that. I felt a strong need to play with the audience’s expectations. A seemingly sweet and innocent environment, using organic shapes and warm colours, juxtaposed with a cruel story. Also Amsterdam, with its unique unsymmetrical shapes and crooked buildings, formed a good starting point in creating the arena and its characters. Together with the motion designer and 3D artist we designed our own style, which is colourful, playful and round-shaped, leaving out details like defined hair or muscular forms.” Being inventive like Nikola Tesla with electricity is Matthew Rankin in his short The Tesla World Light. “It was a technique I had experimented with a bit in some previous films, and I’m a big fan of Takashi Ito’s short masterpiece Thunder , which contains a number of stop-motion, light-painted ectoplasms,” he explains. “Truthfully, the idea to make a film about Tesla grew simply out of the idea of long-exposure animation with light; it is a visual abstraction which, in the context of Nikola Tesla, takes on a narrative value. That’s what interests me most of all: using abstract cinematic language to tell a story, build characters and create emotions.”
making dust that wasn’t going to draw attention to itself; that we could layer in a way that gave us an area of perspective and fit into the art direction. In the real world you can see painted brushstrokes because our backgrounds started as acrylic on paper that were scanned, pulled apart and layered in Photoshop.” Originally conceived as half-hour specials for French television, The Big Bad Fox & Other Tales became an anthology with the addition of two animal-centric misadventures; A Baby to Deliver and The Perfect Christmas. The groundwork was established with the animation team returning from Ernest and Celestine, which was the first time Benjamin Renner adapted his own graphic novel alongside co-director and animation supervisor Patrick Imbert. “It’s hard to match watercolour because you have to make backgrounds feel like you’ve done it [by] accident even though they are being rendered by a computer,” notes Renner. “We wanted the watercolour to go over the lines [of the characters] to make it feel accidental; however, when we saw the first result it was moving everywhere.” It was important to cast theatre actors speaking in their own voices rather than trying to sound like a pig or a duck. “It’s a
We wanted the watercolour to go over the lines to make it feel accidental cartoon that has these animals with two legs but many things are possible and taken from reality. All of the behaviours, reactions and actions are realistic, which makes the audience feel closer to the characters because they can imagine that it could happen to them.” Two and a half years was spent making The Burden by Niki Lindroth von Bahr, which has become an awards darling on the festival circuit; the cast features stop-motion puppets of fish, mice and monkeys doing menial jobs in a world nearing an apocalypse. “That’s the only kind of animation that I’ve ever worked with because I had a huge interest myself in building models, sets and puppets,” says Lindroth von Bahr. “I am educated in fine arts in sculpture but also as a propmaker.” Points of cinematic reference were movies such as Singing in the Rain. “It’s a musical so the music is originally written for this film and we chose to record it with a live orchestra. I also asked dancers to help out [with] choreographies for the dancing scenes so we could use the video clips while animating scenes.” Over the course of six years, the paint on glass animated short Airport was created and executed by Michaela Müller. “It was a challenge for me to capture the architecture of the airport but also to make the crowds of people not as
A great debate was deciding how transparent the bubble was to be in Threads. Courtesy of NFB
Wicked Girl took more than a year to complete. Courtesy of Ayce Kartal and TIFF
The crooked furniture emulate Catastropheâ€™s building exteriors. Courtesy of Some Shorts
getting animated at tiff 2017
The town model in The Burden was the scale of a train set. Courtesy of Niki Lindroth von Bahr
There are no digital transitions or compositing tricks used in Wicked Girl. Courtesy of Ayce Kartal and TIFF
The decor in Charles is desaturated to blend with the characters. Courtesy of NFB
Threads, courtesy of NFB
The Breadwinner, courtesy of GKIDS & Elevation Pictures
individuals but as a mass. With painting I can make the whole scenery out of focus. I can paint the motion blur in contrast to other animation techniques where you always have to outline.” Photographs taken on an iPhone, sketches and videos were collected as part of the research but not directly incorporated into the animation. “I went to an airport for a whole day with sound designer Fa Ventilato and he had a binaural microphone.” The selected audio was later refined once the animation was completed. “The airport has all of the stories at the same time so I wanted to capture that in the film and express the feeling of being controlled [like in a prison], my own anxiety, and the freedom of flying.” “If you close your eyes and listen to the story by heart, you will feel what it needs,” notes Ayce Kartal, who explores the theme of sexual abuse in Wicked Girl. “Some stories need 3D while others require stop-motion.” Illustrations constantly move and morph over Manila paper. “Sexually abused child victims usually don’t remember the places and the backgrounds after violence. They mostly remember the faces and the events. That’s why there is nearly nothing on the background. I decided to use a textured drawing paper [that] is used in schools for drawing lessons. That paper is simple, clean,
Character design of the hen in The Big Bad Fox & Other Tales. Courtesy of Folivari
Research for Charles involved watching documentaries and sketching frogs. Courtesy of NFB
If you close your eyes and listen to the story by heart, you will feel what it needs natural and unpretentious, as is the main character of the film. On this simple background paper, very bad things are happening to this child.” It was a challenge to convey a struggling brain that cannot distinguish between the past and present without alienating the viewer. “There are no digital transitions or compositing tricks. What you see has been drawn by hand, frame by frame.” Switching from live-action to animation for Catastrophe was a major learning experience for Jamille van Wijngaarden. “The biggest challenges I faced were mostly during the blocking phase. The lack of detail at that point in the process demanded a lot of imagination and vision to make the right decisions.” Playing against conventional perceptions was a big part of the storytelling. “I wanted to use the classic stereotypes in this animation, meaning a cat, especially put next to a bird, is our villain… The idea here was to play with the viewers’ expectations and to give the characters an interesting twist. Finally, Nel lives up to expectations, especially, if you are familiar with what a classic lady her age from the Jordaan [an area in Amsterdam] would be. Her menacing
Traditional & Modern Tools The filmmakers discuss what’s in their 2D and 3D toolbox Similar and different tools assist filmmakers to realise their creative vision even with contrasting animation styles, with prominent software programs being Photoshop, Illustrator, After Effects, Maya, Harmony, Dragonframe and TVPaint Animation. “The first step in making the film was to design the set, which was based on a collage made up of snippets of photographs,” explains Dominic Étienne Simard when discussing his short, Charles. “For example, I took a picture of the dresser in my room, which had belonged to my grandfather, so that it could become Charles’ dresser. Then I used Photoshop to put the picture together with pictures of a bed, a mobile, a chair and a window to create the room. That was done for each room. After that, it was time to start working on the animation. Eighty per cent of it was done directly on paper, in the traditional way, before being digitised. The digital animation and colouring of all the drawings were done in TVPaint Pro. The animation and set integration was done in After Effects. I also added the shading.” Combing traditional and modern techniques resulted in a rather dramatic moment for Ayce Kartal upon completing Wicked Girl. “I took the pen of the Wacom tablet and started to draw frame by frame. I drew and coloured more than 15,000 frames: [a] traditional technique with a modern tool. But the modern tool collapsed after the film – [the] mainboard caught fire!” Making use of two animation styles within The Breadwinner led to different technical solutions being used by Nora Twomey. “For the story world it was rigged animation, and from a directing perspective we wanted the animation to feel theatrical and broad, like a child would imagine a character would move as opposed to the subtleties of actual human gesturing. Whereas for the Real World, every frame was drawn. We used TVPaint Animation and would draw onto the screens of our Wacom Cintiqs.” The benefits of traditional and digital animation came together with The Big Bad Fox & Other Tales. “It’s all made [on] computer,” states co-director and supervising animator Patrick Imbert. “There’s no paper. But the way we did it was more traditional. It’s 2D not 3D software. We all had a Wacom tablet and are traditional drawers. We drew [everything], there was no interpolation.”
getting animated at tiff 2017
Michaela Müller kept in mind the atmosphere of the audio when animating Airport. Courtesy of Michaela Müller and Alvaro Schoeck The Breadwinner. Courtesy of GKIDS & Elevation Pictures
An Imagined Conversation: Kanye West and Stephen Hawking. Courtesy of Sol Friedman and TIFF The Burden. Courtesy of Niki Lindroth von Bahr
A detailed storyboard and shot list for The Tesla World Light. Courtesy of NFB
presence does get an abrupt finish as a result; her part adds an interesting twist to the story.” Black-and-white illustration is the preferred method for Sol Friedman, who created the satirical An Imagined Conversation: Kanye West & Stephen Hawking. “I love this approach and it feels consistent with the way that I draw. I joke that this is the black-and-white way of seeing the world. In the writing it comes out a bit more where I often find myself playing more on the literal reading of things, like Kanye always saying that he’s got magic.” The sound design of the magic was a concern. “Is it going to sound too hokey or whimsical or jokey? The sound guys did a great job of balancing it all out.” The National Film Board of Canada was well-represented with Charles, Threads and The Tesla World Light being screened at TIFF. “I chose the animation technique and style after writing the script for Charles so the story influenced the choices I made on that level,” reveals Dominic Étienne Simard. “The film’s theme, namely a child confronted with various forms of passive violence, required a softer style; drawings composed of fine lines that were animated slowly, like the pace and staging.” A creative
difficulty was to make sure that the obese protagonist always looked like a child. “There are no boundaries separating the various locations in the film. When Charles opens the living room door, he automatically lands in a classroom. As soon as Charles goes out the school door, he’s in the entry hall of his apartment. This way of moving from one place to another symbolises
There are no boundaries separating the various locations in the film that the problems Charles has at home follow him to school and vice versa. His world is not compartmentalised, except for the swamp, which is his refuge. But it eventually ends up spilling over into his house.” There was a lot of discussion about the attire of the mother and child in Threads by Torell Kove. “With many animated films where the
character design is simple, it’s like they become these icons. You expect the mother to have long dark hair and blue dress while the child has black hair and red clothes. You accept that early in the film.” It was also hard for Kove to decide upon the sparse background where the mother and the child first meet. “I wanted it to be somewhere neutral.” A key visual element reflects the title of the short film. “I wasn’t sure if the red thread that binds these two characters should have a constant length or a life of its own. In the end I decided that it could do whatever I needed it to do.” Matthew Rankin did not choose an easy animation technique when producing The Tesla World Light. “The sequence where Tesla [Robert Vilar] gets out of his bed, circles it in stopmotion, then vanishes as geometric and handheld lights erupt around him was all shot in-camera. Each frame required four separate exposures of Rob, me running through the space with a sparkler, the set and the backlit tiles on the wall. The true solution to this particular problem was our clairvoyant producer, Julie Roy of the National Film Board of Canada, who generously allowed us to shoot overtime!”
Adam Driver returns as the Darth Vaderobsessed Kylo Ren
Trevor Hogg encounters the creative force of ILM when exploring the visual effects wizardry found in Star Wars: The Last Jedi
© 2017 Lucasfilm Ltd. All Rights Reserved.
s filmmaker Rian Johnson took control of the Star Wars franchise with The Last Jedi, he was supported by production VFX supervisor Ben Morris and ILM facilities in San Francisco, London, Vancouver and Singapore as well as six third-party vendors in producing 2,000 shots featuring new creatures, environments, models and more. One of the prominent alien creatures in The Last Jedi is a Porg, a hybrid of a baby seal and puffin. “Neal Scanlan [creature shop concept designer] and his team built a series of different puppets that were articulated in specific ways in order to achieve certain things,” states Morris. “As a safety fallback we built a digital version that was kept close to what a practical puppet could achieve.” Ahch-To’s nun-like Caretakers, which are a cross between lizards and fish, were entirely practical. “They have bird-like feet so the costumed performers playing them had little green legs on; we painted those out and animated in some CG feet when you could see them.” Crystalline foxes with reflective iris and pupils meanwhile inhabit the planet of Crait where the Resistance have their final battle with the First Order. “The Vultpex were inspired by beautiful oily iridescent refractive crystalline structures along with some sculptures.” Lighting them was tricky. “They picked up not only
lighting refractions but also reflections and interreflections of the environment around them.” Falthiers are majestic short fur creatures with long manes and large ears at Canto Bight. “The anatomy was inspired by a horse but if you look at the legs and their bone proportions they’re closer to a dog or cat. Cheetahs, greyhounds and hunting dogs are able to do quite ambitious movements and the Falthiers needed to do that.” As with The Force Awakens, ILM London transformed
Just like in The Force Awakens, BB-8 is a seamless blend of practical and digital effects
Andy Serkis is such an expert in… mocap that you can put him on the stage and he knows what to do
It was an even split between the CG version and animatronic puppet being used in shots for the Porgs
Mike Mulholland, ILM VFX supervisor the mocap performance of Andy Serkis into the Force-sensitive humanoid alien Snoke. “Rian wanted Snoke to feel like flesh and blood,” states ILM visual effects supervisor, Mike Mulholland. “They created a new practical maquette for onset reference with a real skin tone quality that put him more into the physical world. We took data and reference photography of that and started rebuilding Snoke. Andy Serkis is such an expert in the field of mocap that you can put him on the stage and he knows what to do. We were able to build a mocap rig on the set, capture material and Andy was able to perform as if it wasn’t there. You get a fantastic performance.” The camera and processing technology were upgraded to enable more accurate mocap information being transferred to the animators. “When we started putting Snoke into the first round of shots, Rian realised that the design of the character felt like a feeble old man and he wanted the character to feel much more aggressive and powerful. We gave him a more powerful jaw line and adjusted the skull slightly. They’re subtle changes but make a large difference. That was something which happened midway through the production.” One of the first shots ever captured was of the robotic hand of Luke Skywalker (Mark Hamill) receiving his lightsaber from Rey (Daisy Ridley). “I had no idea on how close we were going to go and then Rian pulled out his viewfinder and put on a macro lens,” reveals Morris. “It represents Luke’s hand after being sliced off by Darth Vader. You can see the interaction marks and scoring on the back of the metal plates that relates to
Creating the water planet of Ahch-To was a seamless combination of location photography, stage work and CG augmentation
Following in the tradition of Jawas and Ewoks, actors wore practical costumes for the Caretakers
The look of the lightsabers was refined according to what they do to the environment that they’re in and when they contact surfaces or each other
Posing a lot of reflective challenges for ILM Vancouver was the chrome uniform of Captain Phasma, which had a habit of picking up unwanted elements such as film crew members
Resistance of the First Order Space battles continue to be a primary focus on the franchise… While The Force Awakens concludes with the space battle over D’Qar, it’s the confrontation between the First Order and the Resistance that is used to welcome fans back into Episode VIII. “The Resistance ships are more worn down and grungier than the First Order. But there are also a couple of different aesthetics to the creation of those ships depending on what species that they come from,” explains ILM London VFX supervisor, Mike Mulholland. “Every single film is a couple of years apart so we have to ingest the assets from the previous film, bring them up to date with the latest technology in terms of shaders, pipeline and rigging and then rerelease them. Poe’s [Oscar Isaac’s] X-wing is the same design as the previous film, apart from the booster on the back. However, it was remodelled quite a lot because suddenly we have a lot of close-up cockpit shots or had a camera mounted on a wing so we were dealing with distances that weren’t a problem in The Force Awakens.” Unlike the VR approach taken with Gareth Edwards on Rogue One, the shot design process was different with filmmaker Rian Johnson. “Rian would edit storyboards and then previs them,” remarks Mulholland. “There were subtle changes between the storyboards and previs. Then we worked on the execution. Every stage there was always a little adjustment but the narrative of the shots remained consistent all the way through.” Johnson was deeply involved in directing the action and composition. “If there was a particular problematic shot or we had a new idea or brief, then Rian would sit with an animator.” D’Qar is featured heavily in the background. “We took the initial D’Qar from The Force Awakens,” remarks Mulholland. “Because we’re in low orbit most of the time, D’Qar got a new rebuild.” A lot of time was spent on developing destruction elements for the space battle. “If you look at the individual explosions and destruction there is a great level of detail in terms of debris and the amount of stuff being thrown around,” remarks Mulholland. “We took a different approach within the effects team in London on this one as it was mostly carried out in Houdini. We built a whole new set of custom rigs and approaches both for the shattering of the ships and the debris, but also for the explosions within them.”
Filmmaker Rian Johnson onset directing the late Carrie Fisher in her final role
when Vader smashes Luke’s hand and burns it. All of the love attention had been put in there. We had to take the CG hand to another level because it fills the entire screen for that shot. It’s a wonderful shot. The robotic hand was detailed and technical to execute because we had to get rid of Mark’s real one, drop that in and inevitably they’re not the same size and shape.” A casino city, which is the playground for the wealthiest people of the galaxy, is introduced to the Star Wars universe. “Rian had a specific idea of what he wanted for Canto Bight,” remarks
It involved lots of practical puppets, CG work, and 200-300 actors onset as we were shooting. There’s a bit of everything! Ben Morris, VFX supervisor
Morris. “It’s a luxurious and warm Mediterranean environment. It’s a rich golden city nestled in some mountains with a casino and racetrack at the top. We went to Dubrovnik, Croatia and shot quite a lot of footage there.” Canto Bight is a high-end version of the cantina that appeared in the original Star Wars. “It needed to be more in the James Bond beautiful casino world rather [than be] seedy and sleazy. Rick Heinrichs built an incredible set on the Bond stage that we extended and augmented. It involved lots of practical puppets, CG work and
The CG robotic hand of Luke Skywalker is scorched, worn down and in keeping with the ‘used universe’ mandate of the Star Wars franchise
The fingers of Mark Hamill are marked with green tape as the hand will be replaced with a CG robotic version
200 to 300 actors onset as we were shooting. There’s a bit of everything in there!” Constructing Canto Bight was like assembling LEGO bricks. “We had individual styles of architecture and tried to get variety in the pieces built,” says Mulholland. “Then we populated the city out of those pieces. The streets and buildings were designed and structured in a way that made logical sense.” The street traffic and the ships flying around was mostly art directed in animation. “The majority is set at night so there’s artificial illumination from street lamps and
We had individual styles of architecture and tried to get variety in the pieces built. We populated the city from those pieces Mike Mulholland, ILM VFX supervisor
window lamps. DP Steve Yedlin had a particular colour scheme that he wanted to depict that gives it an amber honey tone for the majority of the shots. We took that as the base and tried to ingest other moments of colour into it so that it wouldn’t feel like it was an entirely orange wash.” A dramatic event unfolds at the casino, causing mayhem. “A lot of the work went into the Falthiers running amok through the city causing destruction and damage. There was extensive FX work and small interaction details as you’re dealing with creatures smashing up
Art of Design
Red explosion simulations produced by ILM San Francisco were a trademark of the battle sequence that takes place on the mineral planet of Crait
3D modelling, drone surveys and the iPad were key components when designing concepts for The Last Jedi Working closely with filmmaker Rian Johnston and production designer Rick Heinrichs, was ILM supervising art director Kevin Jenkins. “He works for me in ILM London but spends most of his time at Pinewood,” notes production VFX supervisor Ben Morris. “Kevin comes from a visual effects background and knows how to put a shot together in visual effects.” Small 3D models were printed as a way to test concepts for spaceships. “I would work closely with him, Rian and Rick to talk through any new designs and features such as the Resistance bomber and First Order Dreadnaught,” explains Morris. However, designing in 3D provides quicker answers and enables ideas to be accurately represented. “We were able to model with all of the lenses that the DP Steve Yedlin proposed using, so when generating previs and concepts we could say, ‘This is a 27mm or a 35mm anamorphic lens.’ The other thing that we did quite a bit on this was to go to large locations with complex terrain and do drone surveys,” reveals Morris. “We were able to reconstruct that accurately in 3D. It helped inform us in the process of the prevising work with Rian but was also shared with the art department for them to be able to plan not only how the stage or a set piece would fit in, but also the logistics of how do you get to the location, what shots and angles can we achieve, and where the sun will be on certain times of day. All of those things lead to nearly every other department.” An important visualisation tool was the iPad. “I discussed with Rian if he wanted to do a simulcam where we can composite in real-time elements within the frame,” reveals Morris. “In his mind he didn’t need to do that so we didn’t. Rick Heinrichs would generate from his art department large long maps that could be loaded into VR viewers. On the Bond stage you could have a huge practical set rigged with a few key specific point crosses on the floor. By loading the right map into your viewer, you could see not only what he was going to build or had built, but also what the scene would look like, and what the distant view would look like. We used that for Rian and Steve Yedlin. “At Lucasfilm and ILM we’re already building advanced toolkits to allow filmmakers to use those technical tools in the virtual space just as much as the practical ones that they have.”
We used RenderMan RIS for our main pipeline and Arnold for some generalist work Ben Morris, VFX supervisor buildings and vehicles that required integration, animation and simulation work.” The grand finale between the Resistance and First Order that takes place on the mineral planet of Crait was handled by ILM San Francisco. “To get a sense of that environment, we shot plates at Salar De Uyuni in Bolivia, which is the biggest salt flat in the world,” says Morris. “We also built sets at Pinewood on the backlot. SFX supervisor Chris Corbould worked out some compounds that allowed him to do practical red explosions but the vast majority that we see in the film are CG digital simulated ones.” The stark bleak setting is reminiscent of Hoth in The Empire Strikes Back. “It’s salt not snow. There are visual similarities but the red components that Rian has brought to it breaks the ‘Hothness’.” Getting a lot more screen time is the water planet of Ahch-To, briefly introduced at the end
of The Force Awakens, overseen by ILM Vancouver. “Skellig Michael is a nature reserve so we didn’t want an entire film crew on that island for months on end,” states Morris. “We scouted and shot in a lot of other locations in western Ireland that had similar geology and terrain. Large-scale sets were built at Longcross Studios and Pinewood Studios, and [we] digitised huge amounts of the terrain. We gave the island more scale and structure than in The Force Awakens.” Practical effects were utilised to create the impression of a rock breaking and pebbles being suspended in the air due to the power of the Force being manipulated by Rey. “The splitting of the rock was a practical set built on a stage and the rocks floating we shot with a high-speed camera dropping pebbles onto Daisy [Ridley]’s hand and reversed the footage.” “The execution of the lightsabers was similar to The Force Awakens but the look is more refined and less saturated and overwhelmingly vibrant,” says Morris. “It’s more photographically real.” Extensive CG work was involved with the duel between Captain Phasma (Gwendoline Christie) and Finn (John Boyega). “When you have a character that is perfectly reflective, reflections and even parts of the character had to be replaced by doing roto animation so we didn’t see the camera crew appearing on the side of her helmet on a close-up.” Objects and assets in the entire ILM pipeline were shared between all four facilities as well as the reviewing tools. Various rendering software was utilised. “We used RenderMan RIS for our main pipeline and Arnold for some generalist work. We also used V-Ray and Mantra for Houdini sims and FX.” Before becoming creative director for ILM London, Morris gained experience working for Jim Henson’s Creature Shop and Neal Scanlan Studio. “The most important thing to me is that you use the best approach for what the story needs. You don’t just use one approach because it’s the approach that somebody shouts loudest about. For me, it’s about making the most compelling film.”
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All tutorial files can be downloaded from: filesilo.co.uk/3dartist
Render stunning arch vis Discover an industry-standard workflow for building architecture visualisation for facade and courtyard renovation approval and marketing
his tutorial, written by Walk The Roomâ€™s senior artist, Sergiu Zbora, will guide you through the studioâ€™s process of creating an after-rain Scandinavian environment, in a situation where the given architecture is not so impressive. Through this tutorial you will learn a couple of tricks, for instance, to better integrate 2D people into the render and use Forest Pack for something other than vegetation scattering. You will also learn a useful technique for how to use the Corona Distance map for asphalt markups and render an additional element that will enable you to paint rain puddles in Photoshop. At the end, you will discover how the studio postprocesses its renders in Photoshop to improve on the already great results Corona Frame Buffer gives. Some aspects of this guide are tied to 3ds Max and Corona Renderer in particular, but they can be easily migrated to other software solutions.
Render stunning arch vis
Walk the Room Rainy June Afternoon, 2017 Software 3ds Max, Corona Renderer and Photoshop
Learn how to • Better integrate people • Use Corona Distance/VRay Distance • Have total control over puddle location for your wet pavement renders
Concept When the architecture is not impressive, it is the mood that sells an image. A common technique for making moody images is setting them after it has rained, which was the inspiration for this image.
Experimental renders Once you get the model from the architect or you land the base geometry yourself from 2D, it is a good time to perform some test renders. Use grey Override Material, excluding glass or very reflective/ distinctive parts. Start the interactive render; navigate around like a photographer scouts a real building for angles/ compositions. Use either daylight system, change the time of the day or rotate/swap HDRIs to achieve various light scenarios. Save the ones you like the best to review with the team or art director.
Build up the concept As soon as you’ve chosen the angle(s) you want to go for, start developing the composition by adding key elements. It’s best to start with the biggest chunks and build up from there. You can also add some key materials in this step. The concept(s) will be used to present the early stage to the client, so that you don’t waste time bringing something the client won’t approve. Embody the idea with rough shapes and colours. Not much detail is needed at this stage.
Develop the scene The meaty part of the whole process is modelling the building’s surroundings according to the situation plan, as well as adding props to the building and street with furniture, cars, and so on. In this case, even though it’s not really visible, we scatter with Forest Pack furniture and people inside the building. We use RailClone to instance better-looking windows instead of the basic ones provided with the model by the architect. Some are even open, to create a more interesting situation. 01
from filesilo.co.uk/3dartist • Tutorial screenshots
City presence As much as we focus on what is actually visible in camera, we do give some love to the city at the sides and behind the camera. It doesnâ€™t have to be the exact same buildings as in real life, not even the exact location. It just needs to be close enough in style and size. Add a few low-poly trees and lamp posts, even a few low-poly people. These will give some play in the reflections and some ambient shadowing or light bouncing for a more convincing render.
Render stunning arch vis
Integrate 2D people As an alternative to the given technique for a sunny scenario or an indoor multilight/multi shadow situation, you can use a ready-posed 3D person or pose a rigged model similar to your 2D PS character. Render a region with your 3D person, once visible to the camera and once invisible. The first render will help you understand tone, colour, saturation, size and perspective of the character in that place to balance your 2D in PS. You can use the second render directly for shadow casting of your 2D character.
Perfect the light By this moment we already have our light set and we are adjusting everything to work with this particular light scenario. We use cloudy_ sun09deg_0084-04 CG-Source HDRI for this project, which creates a nice after-rain sunny evening mood. Before deciding on this one, we tried several other CG-Source HDRIs. We add some sphere lights indoors with various Kelvin temperatures to create division of space, and some disk lights at the entrance and under the trees. Corona LightMix helps get the correct interior light intensities.
Achieve wet asphalt To create realistic wet asphalt, use (Corona) layered material, but also use some composites and mixes on the material level. Mix bitmaps and procedurals to create variation and randomness. Use Corona Distance (VRayDistance) for masking wet and dry regions, for asphalt markings, for adding dirt close to the curbstones and to avoid painting all these in your 2D editing software. Wet asphalt should be darker in diffuse as a general starter rule.
Facade materials The window glass material has a slight bump for reflection distortion, double-glazing geometry. The concrete plates use a modified concrete Megascans. The small dark tiles use unique material ID per element to be able to randomise their diffuse/reflection with the MultiTexture map.
Scatter debris We used some Megascans assets in this scene in order to enhance the asphalt with scattered branches and fallen leaves. You donâ€™t necessarily need Megascans or scanned assets; you can detach leaves and pieces of branches from an existing tree model and use them for scattering on the pavement. 04
Add waterdrops As an addition to the rainy effect, you can scatter or object paint waterdrops on cars, bikes and props. For this purpose, we used Forest Pack. Ideally, the raindrops should be everywhere but due to time constraints, we limited ourselves to the most obvious parts.
Camera effects Nowadays renderers are fast enough to permit the use of DoF instead of Z-Depth faking without much render time penalty. The advice here is to use real-world camera settings in 3D and enable Depth of Field and Auto Vertical Tilt. In our case we used an f4 aperture with the focus point set around the entrance area. The effect is subtle and hardly noticeable, but it all adds up to the final result. A little chromatic aberration was added in PS with ArionFX. Some bokeh was also added in the post, set to the Screen blending mode.
Framebuffer effects Some post-processing adjustments were made in the Framebuffer; 2 in Highlight Compress, 0.7 in Filmic Shadows, Canon_DSC_ S315_n5 as a LUT at 0.8 Opacity. Bloom 1 and Glare 0.1 were also enabled. These were mostly for creating an impression of what you will be getting later in PS, so when going to post-processing we save the EXR version without Highlight Compress and other post-processing adjustments.
Post-production Corona and its post-processing tools will get you to a very good level out of Framebuffer. But you can improve your image more with some fine-tuning in PS. Camera Raw is a tool we highly advise for your workflow. It handles the highlight compression and shadow balance much better. Smart Objects and Smart Filters are both really useful when you need to update your post-production with the latest render or regions.
Organise yourself Having a well-curated and organised library of models and materials will save you time for more creative tasks. There are many asset organisers out there, but one thatâ€™s been widely praised is Connecter from Design Connected. Weâ€™ve been using it for almost a year now and it is a great tool to have.
Render stunning arch vis
Integrate 2D people As soon as 2D people are set/approved, you can achieve a better integration of them in the render by actually placing them in 3D as 2D planes. Use a script by cbuelter.de – dragNDropReferences – which makes the entire process of placing 2D people in the 3D scene a lot faster. Render the region of the person and their reflection. Observe the colour, tone and saturation of the character within the 3D environment and replicate on the 2D one in PS. Obviously paste and mask around the rendered region in PS to get the reflection and shadow correct. 12
Walk The Room Walk The Room started with a goal to shape architecture that spark innovation. WtR Studio 1 is a creative comms studio for architecture. Studio 2 is a full service design studio creating environments that people love and thrive in.
Life City, 2017 3ds Max, Corona Render, Photoshop Life City will become the centre of a science-cluster situated at the most visual spot in Scandinavia. Here, over 200,000 people pass by every day, 73 million every year.
Building 26, 2017 3ds Max, Photoshop Words from our client “We envision a workplace where you can be amazed, bold, creative and different.” This is the result.
Create puddles in post-production You can render the asphalt with a chrome/mirror material instead. Afterwards, blend in Photoshop using the Screen mode, alter the Opacity setting to your liking (shallow puddles would show more of the underlying asphalt texture, deeper will be mostly reflecting the ambiance). Start with a black mask and use a randomised brush to paint where you want the puddles to be.
56 All tutorial files can be downloaded from: filesilo.co.uk/3dartist
Schoolyard, 2017 3ds Max, Corona Render, Photoshop When you transform a preschool of 150 students into a school for 600 plus students, the schoolyard is the centre of your world.
Compose a slow-mo render
Daniel D’Avila Fresh Salmon, 2017 Software Modo, Substance Painter, ZBrush and After Effects
Learn how to • Plan to create a complex scene • Block basic shapes • Optimise mesh for sculpting • Prepare your mesh for Substance Painter • Export FBX files to Substance Painter • Bake maps in Substance Painter • Gather useful references • Export textures to Modo • Import and adjust textures in Modo • Lighting set-up tips
Concept The idea of modelling a salmon came after seeing a very unique 2D drawing from the Italian artist, Vanni Vaps. This was an excellent opportunity to practise Substance Painter and include the software in my pipeline, since the scene is bursting with texture details and multiple shaders.
Compose a slow-mo render Take an original 2D concept, discover how to plan it for a 3D scene and then prepare meshes for sculpting
he best way to quickly learn something is simply to practise, and the process will be even more rewarding if you choose a challenging and beautiful concept. When trying to enhance new techniques and add new programs to a pipeline, Substance Painter is definitely a powerful tool for every digital artist. Fresh Salmon was born after seeing the incredible 2D concept of the Italian artist, Vanni Vaps. It has a full balance between movement, perspective and richness of texture details. The main challenge here was composing the scene in a way that preserved the feeling of movement, while keeping it natural.
Choose a subject Picking a subject for a 3D project can be a real challenge, since its complexity may also mean hours of dedication in front of your monitor. That’s why you should make good use of your intuition and pick a concept that is worth all the hard work. In this case it was an incredible 2D concept made by the Italian artist, Vanni Vaps. It was an opportunity to work on a scene full of movement, interesting textures and a bold idea.
Block the basic shapes First things first, start focusing on blocking basic shapes in Modo. Keeping things simple and building an even mesh is always a clever way to develop your model. It’s inevitable that you will make use of references at this stage, paying attention to a salmon’s anatomy and main proportions. In our case this process was a bit quicker because the fish was chopped.
Optimise mesh for ZBrush Once the overall shape is complete, it’s time to export every single mesh to ZBrush. You might find it’s a good idea to use GoZ at this time and avoid the tedious process of exporting meshes manually. This is where refinements and details come into play. Pay attention to how scales flow over the body, especially the tail area, and how they follow a certain consistency in regards to size, shape and overlapping effect. In this situation you should create a seamless alpha with scales, since modelling every single scale would be a real pain. Please, don’t forget to activate Symmetry!
from filesilo.co.uk/3dartist • Tutorial screenshots
Be flexible and open minded to workflow The creative process is not always a linear process, therefore you’ll perceive which workflow works best for your needs. Maybe you can solve certain minor sculpt details, like the scales texture in Substance Painter, at a later stage.
Compose a slow-mo render
Save time with ZRemesher Although it isn’t the most recent innovation, one of the most handy is undoubtedly ZRemesher. In just a couple of clicks this feature could save you so much time you’ll be thankful to ZBrush developers forever. ZRemesher Guides is a complementary tool that will guide the polygon flow over your model in this process. Definitely worth a try.
Enhance details At this point, you should be satisfied with your highly detailed salmon. Use Dam_Standard Brush in Zadd and Zsub modes to sharpen and highlight the edges of the fish. Some spots, such as the gills, are more evident and deserve more attention in this sculpt process. Now, it’s time to export both low resolution (Subdiv1) mesh with UV and the high-resolution mesh (Subdiv7) with no UV to Modo. Use Decimation Master in the high-resolution version to optimise mesh for next steps.
Export FBX files Import your meshes to Modo, and then give them a material name with _low for low-resolution mesh, and _high for high-resolution mesh. Keep in mind that you only need UVs for the low-resolution version model, since you’ll project details into a baking process inside Substance Painter later on. Make sure to adjust FBX export preferences and select only Materials, Geometry and Polygon Parts as options. Export both meshes and open Substance Painter.
Intuitive painting workflow Always be grateful for program developers that care about friendly interfaces and know that you are an artist and not a programmer. You’ll immediately notice how the learning curve of Substance Painter is fast since it has a similar feel to Photoshop; for example it has the same layer stack and the same blend modes. Smart materials, smart masks and exclusive tools like gravity brushes will all help produce unique results. 06
Use Substance Painter Painting in SP is a delightful and straightforward experience, especially if you are already familiar with Photoshop because it works in a very similar way, just in 3D. Create a new project and then select your low-poly version, clicking the Select button. You can choose either OpenGL or Direct X, because your normal map format may vary according to your render program. In our case we’ll go with OpenGL because we plan to use Modo. We will keep 4K as the document resolution, but you may also change to a higher or a lower size, on the fly and without any loss of quality.
The baking process Inside the Texture Set settings window, click Bake Textures and another window will pop up. In the Baking window, select your highresolution mesh by clicking the tiny New icon located next to the High Definition Meshes field. You can also set Output Size to 4K and set Antialiasing to Subsampling 4x4. Click on Bake Textures in the bottom-right corner and go get a coffee while everything is processed. After the baking process is finished, the magic begins! Now it’s time to have fun with brushes and tons of tools available in Substance Painter.
Multiple textures and shaders Gather as many salmon references as possible and notice how metallic and diffuse areas are distributed along a salmon’s surface. Try to think about the best layered solution to achieve a natural behaviour for materials, textures and shaders. Every layer can be optimised for unique effects and combinations, such as roughness, height, diffuse, metallic and so on. It’s time to put your artistic perception and creativity in action. Play around with brush shelves and smart materials; they can save you a lot of work. Also visit allegorithmic.com to find a huge amount of other resources and downloadable data.
Export maps from SP When you’re satisfied with the results, it’s time to export your texture maps to Modo. Once again, check if the 4K document size is selected. Got to Configuration, click the plus sign in the top-left window, and create a new preset named Modo. In this case we’ll use PBR shaders in Modo and add all major maps you need. You can find a detailed explanation for that at Pixel Fondue: youtube.com/watch?v=4HhiqsdIhyA. This will help you during the export process for the best results in Modo. Click on Export and go back to Modo to apply the textures you’ve just made.
Compose a slow-mo render
Depth of field can be applied in a couple of ways, but for more control you can use After Effects, which gives results that are more natural and photographic
Position meshes After opening Modo, import all low-resolution meshes into your scene and position them according to its original 2D concept. Assign a material to each one, pressing M as a shortcut for Material. Import the texture maps you painted in SP and set all of your imported maps to a Linear Colorspace, inside the Image Still tab. This will ensure all textures behave correctly.
Keep lighting simple Almost every lighting setup can have a simple solution. Prior to positioning lights around the subject, you can usually play with an HDR image in your environment. Once again, the results you’ll get are subjective and after tweaking and rotating HDR for a while, look for the most dramatic solution. Adding an area light behind the salmon may produce interesting results, such as a rim light. It’ll even help you to cut out your model from the scene. Set the resolution size, add render passes and voilà! Now click on Render.
Post-production sorceries Since Modo doesn’t have a native GPU render, you can take advantage of a render farm, such as RebusFarm. A 12-hour render became a 15-minute task and at a very reasonable cost. Now begins one of the most important stages: Photoshop! Retouching helps to accentuate textures, contrasts and enhance the lighting. Since we have a very rich scene, let’s increase highlights with a specular pass set to the Screen blend mode on top of all the layers. Use a normal map to relight the scene and add subtle spots of light to it. Curves adjustment layers are always handy. Depth of field can be applied in a couple of ways, but for more control you can use After Effects, which gives results that are more natural and photographic. Some subtle chromatic aberration in After Effects is the icing on the cake… our image is finished! 11
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Expert advice from industry professionals, taking you from concept to completion
All tutorial files can be downloaded from: filesilo.co.uk/3dartist
Jahirul Amin jahirulamin.com
Jahirul is a VFX trainer at Double Negative. The training encompasses all stages of the 3D pipeline from data acquisition to shot lighting. He also teaches and mentors externally for higher and further education centres
from filesilo.co.uk/3dartist • Maya files for every step • ABC files • Tutorial screenshots
Learn how to UV a vehicle in Maya 2018 I
n this tutorial, we’ll be UV unwrapping a classic Sunbeam Rapier and preparing the asset for texturing and look development. UVing may not seem like the most glamorous of tasks, but it is the key to achieving a well-textured asset. Therefore, we’ll want to make sure it is done to the highest standard; cutting corners at this stage will only result in pain and trouble later. For this exercise, we’ll be sticking to the UV tools in Maya 2018, which have developed over the past couple of Maya releases. A few years back, as soon as it was time to UV an asset, I’d be straight out of Maya and into something else. Nowadays, however, I am finding that I can easily and more importantly, happily, unwrap assets in Maya without having to jump between apps. Before unwrapping an asset, it is worth spending some time assessing the model and if you are in a production pipeline, you’ll need to find out what you can and can’t do without having a knock-on effect in other departments. For example, once modelling has been completed, the asset may get sent off in two different directions: to be UV’d, textured and look dev’d, and to be rigged. If that is the case, one thing you should not do is change the model hierarchy because this could have implications for rigging and
shading. Another reason to assess the asset is to check if it can be smoothed at render time (if required) without causing distortion around the seams. If you find that there are inadequate edge loops, you may want to add more before continuing. For this exercise, I am assuming the asset is still with the modelling department, so I can still make edits to the model hierarchy and modify the topology if need be. Also, the model has yet to be passed on to other departments, so I can very easily mirror geometry that has been UV’d from one side to the other. This will help reduce how long it takes to complete the UVing process. My methodology for unwrapping an asset is similar in style to how I would tackle most tasks, whether they be modelling, texturing, rigging, and so on I start with the big broad shapes and work my way to the smaller details. I’ve also set my Workspace to UV Editor mode. This will bring up the main UV editing window, a 3D view, the Outliner and the UV Toolkit: essentially, everything you’ll need to unwrap an asset. Alembic and multiple Maya files have been provided for you with the resources on the FileSilo, so you can follow along with the tutorial yourself.
Prepare the asset Once I’m ready to start UVing,
the first thing I like to do is use Display Layers and basic shaders to prep the asset. Doing this enables me to map out a plan of attack for UVing and think at the earliest stage about how I will organise and lay out the final UVs. So, what do I do? I simply grab all the objects that are made up of the same material (for example, aluminium, glass, rubber, steel, and so on) and I then create and add the objects to a new Display Layer. I give the Display Layer a relevant name, and then assign the objects a Blinn shader and tweak the colour appropriately. For example, all the car panels were added to a Display Layer called ‘metalPainted_mtl_layer’ and had a Blinn shader applied. I then tweaked the colour to something greyish and then called the shader ‘metalPainted_blinn’.
Start with an initial projection I’m going to kick things off with the bonnet. This will enable you to grasp how I will tackle most of the panel-like surfaces. In the 3D View, select bonnet_geo and hit Cmd/Ctrl+1 to isolate the selection (you can hit Cmd/Ctrl+1 again if you need to bring everything back into view). In the UV Toolkit, under the Create header, click on Best Plane. Next, select any face on the mesh and hit Enter on the keyboard. This should give you an initial first projection to get yourself going.
Cut seams and unfold When creating cut lines, it is useful to turn on Symmetry mode for symmetrical objects. To do this, either in the UV Toolkit or the main Maya Status Bar, set the Symmetry to Object X. Just make sure to turn it off for non-symmetrical objects or else you end up with weird things happening. Next, jump into the 3D view and go to UV>3D Cut and Sew UV Tool (you’ll need to be in Modelling mode to find the UV menu). This tool will enable you to click and drag to ‘cut’ across edges. You can also double-click an edge to cut through an entire edge loop. If you need to ‘sew’ an edge back together again, you’ll need to hold Cmd/Ctrl and drag, and if you need to ‘sew’ an entire edge loop, hold down the Cmd/Ctrl key and double-click an edge. For the bonnet, you can simply double-click an edge loop running along the outside to separate the front-facing panel of the bonnet from the back. Once you’ve done this, select the UV Shells in the UV Editor window and click the Unfold button (under the Unfold section) to flatten the shells out.
Control the Texel Density After hitting the Unfold button, you may find that one of your UV shells for the bonnet is large and the other is quite small. To fix this, we can set a Texel Density value and apply them to all our UV shells so our UVs across the entire asset are relative in scale to one another. To do this, first select the larger of the two UV shells for the bonnet, and in the UV Toolkit, navigate to Texel Density (which you’ll find under the Transform>Tools section). Set the Map Size to 4096 and with the UV shell still selected, hit Get. This will find out the Texel Density for the UV shell. We can then apply this value to all the other UV shells to have them consistent in size. Select the small UV shell now and hit the Set button to apply the Texel Density value. Both UV shells should now be of similar size. If you enable the Checker display mode, you should find that the size of the checker pattern is consistent across both UV shells. We’ll want this to be the same across the entire asset. 65
Clean up the symmetry The Unfold tool does a
pretty good job, but we can always refine the result to get cleaner UVs. For symmetrical objects (like the bonnet), I like to make sure that the UVs are also symmetrical. To do this, centre the UV Shell using the snapping tools under the Snap section of the UV Toolkit. Then straighten the shell by selecting all the UVs and going to Straighten Shell (you may have to do some manual rotating too). Once you’ve done that, in the UV Editor top menu, go to Tools>Symmetrise and then select an edge running down the centre of the UV shell. You should find a solid black line will appear in the UV Editor. This is your line of symmetry. If it is not centred correctly, you can hold down the MMB and drag with the mouse to move it into the right position. Once positioned, simply click to paint one side of the UV shell. This will then mirror the other side.
Check for distortion Using this workflow for the bonnet, my approach was pretty much the same for the rest of the panels and the windows for the car: create an initial projection, add some cut lines, unfold, set the Texel Density and then clean up the UVs. For the main body of the car, I did find that additional cut lines were necessary to avoid UV distortion. I’m generally happy to add additional cut lines when required, as I’d rather have more UV shells with little to no distortion, as opposed to fewer UV shells with more distortion. Turning on the checker pattern is a useful way to examine the distortion but I also like to turn on the UV Distortion mode to check with more clarity. You can find the display modes under the View menu in the UV Editor UI (or hit 4, 5 and 7 to toggle between a few different modes). Once UV Distortion mode is enabled, anything blue equals stretched UVs, anything red equals pinched UVs and everything else in white has no distortion.
Tweak the UVs If you find some distortion issues
that cannot be resolved with a simple Unfold, you have a range of tools at your disposal to fix them. You can find the tools under the Tools menu in the UV Editor. There are a whole heap to experiment with, but the two that I mainly use for hard-surface objects are Smooth and Lattice. To use the Smooth tool, select a set of UVs (or the entire shell as UVs) and then go to Tools>Smooth. A tiny menu will pop up with the words Unfold and Relax. With your UVs selected, you can drag on the Unfold word to further unwrap your UVs. Once I’ve created an initial unwrap of a UV shell and unfold, I probably use this on 80 to 90 per cent of my UVs for a clean up, or at least to see if it will improve the unwrap. If you have UVs that are intersecting, you can use the Relax tool to initially unfold them and then the Unfold tool to tidy them up. With the Lattice tool, you can select a series of UVs, enable the tool and then use the Lattice control points to refine your UVs. If you need to modify the number of Lattice control points, go into the options for the tool and adjust the Columns and Rows.
Normal-Based projection Another projection
method I like to use is Normal-Based. In fact, this is becoming my main weapon of choice for UVing, especially as a starting point. Once I’ve cut up part of an asset, I’ll select a UV shell and run this tool by going to the Create section of the UV Toolkit and hitting the Normal-Based button. This tool is extremely useful for slightly curved objects, so was very handy for panels and windows.
Cylindrical projections For some shapes, the new tools won’t give you what you want. For cylindrical objects, such as the tyres, go back to the Cylindrical unwrap tool. Start with an initial projection (Best Projection or Normal-Based) and separate the UV shells in the UV Editor. For my shells, I separated the tread and the inside ring of the tyre and then I had a projection for each of the sidewalls. For the sidewalls, I had a Normal Projection followed by the Smooth tool. For the tread, select the UV shell and click Cylindrical (under Create on the UV Toolkit). Without unselecting anything, go to the Channel Box (or the Attribute Editor) and you’ll find attributes for the projection. Set the Rotate Z to 90 for the projection, and you should now have a nicely UV’d tread. Next, run the Smooth tool.
Transfer UV attributes For most hard surface assets, you’ll have similar parts that need unwrapping. Tackling each object would be laborious, so UV unwrap one part and duplicate the UVs onto similar objects. Copy the UV’d object, move into the place of its duplicate, and delete the un-UV’d object. If this is a pain, transferring UVs from one object to another is the best solution. Select the object that has been UV’d, and Shift-select the object that needs to be UV’d. Go to Mesh>Transfer Attributes (Options). When the UI pops up, set Sample Space to Topology and hit Transfer. Select both objects and go to Edit>Delete by Type>History to clean things up. The UVs will be sitting one on top of the other for both objects, so move one set out of the way.
Stitch back together When all looks well, I make a second pass to see if I can stitch pieces together again without compromising UV distortion. For the car panels, when the UVs were laid out, they looked like a set of jigsaw pieces. So, I selected a set of edge loops that connected two UV shells together and then under Cut and Sew in the UV Toolkit, hit Stitch Together. This should bring and stitch the shells together along the selected edge(s). Hopefully, minimal distortion has been added to the unfolded UVs but if there is any, you can use the Smooth tool to clean things up. If you notice a lot of change to the UV shells, then leave them as they were before. Try and go through and see how many pieces you can stitch. Fewer shells means a lower chance of seeing UV seams when texturing and then rendering.
Lay out the final UVs My preferred method is to lay out the UVs based on material, as this makes it easy to assign shaders, export out a single or group of objects and so on. I’m using a UDIM workflow, so that means I’ll go a maximum of ten UV tiles across in U and then as many as necessary in V. For each material type, I also start a new row in V. To lay out the UVs without making them look too messy, take advantage of Align and Snap, Move and Rotate, and the Stack Shells. When stacking, I make sure that the UVs are not laid one on top of the other afterwards (although, you may want this if you want to apply the same texture to all the stacked UVs). For objects that are mirrored (such as doors or windows), once I’ve laid them out, I will duplicate them, and flip them around the world centre so I have mirrored UVs. When flipping around the world centre, you’ll find the UVs inverted. This behaviour enables a texture artist to stamp the same texture onto both sets of UV shells. Or you can hit Flip under Scale in the UV Toolkit. At this stage, you have an asset all UV’d and ready for texturing and look development.
All tutorial files can be downloaded from: filesilo.co.uk/3dartist 67
Joshua PooleGotto lexhag.co.uk
Joshua is a lead Nuke compositor at Lexhag Visual Effects. His work includes Oscar-winning blockbusters and BAFTA-winning television shows.
from filesilo.co.uk/3dartist • Tutorial screenshots • Video tutorial
Discover object tracking with Nuke
n these steps we’re going to show you how to object track a face without having to leave Nuke. Getting an accurately tracked mesh of a face or head can be very useful anytime you need to augment, cleanup or do any work on an actor. This could be beauty work, removing skin blemishes or it could be adding blood and gore to a zombie, something that’s very popular right now. Usually compositors have the following options for tackling this challenge. You could try to get away with a 2D Tracker node but this is not such a good approach for anything with a Y axis rotation, for example, a head that turns. A slightly better option is a Planar Tracker. However, it can be tricky to keep it aligned properly without a complex roto shape that has many points, which can get messy to work with. Alternatively, you have the Smart Vectors introduced in Nuke 10. This option can be great for stretching skin but is very slow to generate and work with. Also there is no room for improvement if it doesn’t work. That just leaves 3D rotomation, and this usually means handing off to the 3D department where a model of the object is created (a face) and is then object tracked or manually animated to match the footage. That is until now. We’re going to show you, the compositor, how to handle this step of the process quickly
yourself using the KeenTools plugins, and without needing ugly tracking markers!
Tool up The first thing you will need to do is make sure you have installed the tools needed for this technique. You can download Nuke from foundry.com. This requires you to sign up to the website so you can be sent your trial licence. You will need the 30-day trial version of Nuke as the Non-Commercial version won’t work with custom plugins. If you own a copy of Nuke then this won’t be an issue. Next you will need the latest version of GeoTracker and FaceBuilder from keentools.io.
Use the FaceBuilder node Create a FaceBuilder node and new Camera. Connect the Camera to cam input of the FaceBuilder. Connect bg pipe to the footage you’re tracking. Click centre geo in the top left of the screen. You should see the head mesh in the viewer. Click the geo in the viewer to create points that can be used to reposition the mesh. Start with the tip of the nose, then corners of the eyes, then mouth. Grabbing the tips of the ears can be useful for getting the rotation correct. Keep dragging points to align the mesh with the face in the footage.
Mesh refinement If you find you have too many
points on your mesh when lining it up, you can always click the Unpin button, which is located in the top-left corner of the screen when the FaceBuilder node is selected and open in the Properties pane. Then you can just add some new points to adjust further. Once you get a feel for this step in the process, it is very easy and fast to position your mesh correctly over the footage. Just practise a few times and you will find a preferred placement of points that works best for you.
GeoTracker node and file Create a GeoTracker node and connect the geo pipe to the FaceBuilder, bg to the footage and cam to Camera. Double-click the GeoTracker node and click centre geo and position the geo in the same way as before by creating points and moving them in the viewer. In the GeoTracker node, specify a folder and file name for the analysis file. There’s no need to give it a file extension. A rough alpha of the head on the bg pipe will speed up the analysis when used in the GeoTracker node Mask dropdown. Click Analyse to create the .precalc file.
Object track and refine With the .precalc file
created, the computationally slow part of the process is finished. This is what makes GeoTracker so fast to work with. Go to your first frame and then click track_to_ end in the top left of screen. Let it run, and you’ll probably notice that the track breaks. Go back to where the mesh is slipping and click Unpin to remove any points. This won’t move the mesh. Create new points on the mesh and reposition. This will create a keyframe. Now click Refine. Keep doing this on different frames until the track is sticking. 01
Maintain your footage The golden rule of compositing at a professional level is to maintain as much original footage, or ‘plate’, as possible. On a big project, hundreds of thousands of pounds or dollars may have been spent on generating the pixels that arrive at the compositor’s desk. So it makes sense to only modify the pixels that really need changing to tell the story. In the context of this GeoTracker shot, do this by giving the texture you are adding an alpha channel. Once you are happy with your paint or texture work, drop a Remove node after the UV unwrap ScanlineRender.
Projection If everything went to plan and the
refine process worked, you should now have a mesh that has roughly matching facial proportions to the actor and it will be tracking nicely to the footage. So what now? Projecting the footage onto the matchmoved head geo will enable you to unwrap the footage like a UV texture. This won’t require you to use a frame hold to work on the face. This is particularly useful in a shot with changing lighting where a frame hold patch of skin would stand out and would need an animated grade applied to it.
Unwrap To project and unwrap your footage you will need a couple more nodes. The first is the ApplyMaterial node. Create it and connect the main pipe to the GeoTracker node. Create a Project3D node and connect your ApplyMaterial mat pipe to it. Connect the Project3D cam to the Camera and the other pipe to the footage. This will project the footage onto the mesh through the shot Camera. To view this, create a ScanlineRender, connect the obj pipe to the ApplyMaterial node and cam to the Camera and change the projection_mode dropdown to UV.
Get creative You now have a nicely unwrapped
animated texture sequence from your footage with UV coordinates and no need to frame hold. You may want to render out the ScanlineRender to speed up your comp. The format depends on the bit depth of your source footage, but Linear EXR is always a safe bet. Remember to render out as a sequence as you aren’t just working on one frame, but the whole shot length. Now it’s time to get creative. You can paint or add textures to this sequence. Make them a zombie, add face paint, whatever you (or your client) want.
Apply your texture With your texturing or paint work finished, it’s now time to apply it to the animated mesh. Copy and paste your FaceBuilder node from earlier and plug the unwrapped texture into img. As always, connect the Camera to the cam input of the FaceBuilder. Now double-click the previous GeoTracker node and go to the Results tab. Click the Export button to create a TransformGeo node. Connect this TransformGeo after the second FaceBuilder node. Now all you need to do is plug the TransformGeo into a ScanlineRender, connect the Camera to the ScanlineRender and Merge the result over the footage.
Remember to render out as a sequence as you aren’t just working on one frame
Tech tips When using RotoPaint, you can automatically create an alpha of your paint strokes by clicking the small arrow just below and left of the Clip To dropdown. This opens up options that enable you to specify the alpha output. Click on the Output Mask dropdown and select rgba.alpha. Now all of your paint strokes will have an alpha. If the shot has motion blur, you will need to match it in the ScanlineRender. Make sure to set Shutter Offset to Centred and adjust Shutter for more or less blur. Increase Samples for higher quality; 10-20 is a safe bet.
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Pietro Chiovaro https://pietrochiovaro. artstation.com
Pietro is an 3D artist, who creates 3D assets and environments. He specialises in design and architecture.
Create realistic wood material in Blender
here are an infinite number of materials in this world and all of these are different from each other when it comes to properties and peculiarities. For this reason, when I start to create a new material I seek different types of it, and when I decide which is the most appropriate, I study its main properties; the specularity, the reflectivity and the details that make it unique. Then I have to decide if I want to create the texture myself (by taking a photo or drawing it) or download from a website (such as cgtextures.com). On these pages, I will share the process I use when I want to create a texture using a photo, in this case the focus will be on making a realistic wood material.
from filesilo.co.uk/3dartist • Tutorial screenshots
Parallel symmetry For the creation of this scene, and in particular, for the creation of the wood texture, I have started from a photo I have taken. A photo that will become a texture is not simple to take, in fact we have to consider two essentials elements, the symmetry and light. It’s important that we take a photo from the correct position, and in this case, that means putting the camera parallel to the object. In this way we will avoid any sort of distortion in the final texture.
Ambient light The second element that we have to consider during this process is the lighting. It’s very important that the light in the scene is homogenous. For this reason, I usually advise avoiding the use of flash during this process and also avoid taking photos during sunrise and the sunset, because in these hours the light changes and we could have some trouble with the shadows and other elements.
Photo editing Once the photo is taken, it’s time to
enter the editing stage. The photo-editing process is the last process, here we are going to essentially fix the colour of the photo and in particular the colour saturation, the contrast, the colour temperature, the shaders and the sharpness. All of the values of these elements depend on the photo that we have taken, but the main rule is generally not to exaggerate too much.
Add the nodes Starting from this, we have to select the mesh in which we want to assign the material and from the Properties panel, we have to create a new material. Opening the Node Editor panel, we have to add these nodes: Diffuse BSDF shader, the Glossy BSDF
shader and the Normal Map node. In the Texture section we have to add two Image Textures, in the Input section, we add Texture Coordinate, and then we have to add Gamma, Hue Saturation Value, Fresnel, and finally last but not least, the Material Output. These are all the main elements of the wood material.
Connect the nodes Now all the nodes have been added, the next job at hand is to connect them all. We can start mixing the Diffuse and Glossy shaders; to do this we have to connect these nodes to the Mix shader. Once that is done, we can subsequently connect the Mix shader to the Material Output. In the first image texture, we have to add our wood texture and connect it with the Hue Saturation Value and the Gamma. Once we have done this, we can connect the Gamma to the Glossy shader in Roughness, and the Hue Saturation Value to the Diffuse shader. After that, we can connect the two image textures to the Input Texture Coordinate in UV (make sure you have already unwrapped the model). In the second image texture, we have to add the Normal texture of our wood texture (the normal map can be created manually or with software such as CrazyBump and xNormal; just put the photo in the software and that’s it!). In this second image texture it’s important to change the image file colour space, so change Color to Non-Color Data. Then we can connect the Image Textures to the Normal Map node, and subsequently connect it with the Diffuse shader, the Glossy shaders and the Fresnel. At the end we will then have to connect the Fresnel to the Mix shader.
Fix the parameters In this step I will show you
the parameters that I used in my material, using the texture that I created. Please be aware that all of the parameters can change to make them relevant to your own textures. The first one is the Hue Saturation value. I set these values: Saturation: 1.200, Value: 0.700. In Gamma I set a value of 2.110. For the Fresnel and the Normal Map I decided to stick with the default values, but if you want to achieve a marked effect, then you can increase the Strength setting of the Normal Map. 01
Be careful When taking the photo of a texture, it’s important that the subject (floor, wall or anything else) doesn’t have a lot of imperfections. This is principally because depending on the type of imperfections that are there, they could cause problems during the other steps, especially during editing.
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concept This piece was created for the Evermotion â€˜Secret Gardenâ€™ Challenge. While looking for inspiration, I came across a beautiful set of photographs on Instagram that showcased Termas Geometricas, a Japanese inspired hot spring in Chile. I had never seen anything quite like it, so trying to create my own depiction of it was extremely rewarding.
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Industry experts put the latest workstations, software & 3D printers through their paces
PNY PrevailPro P4000 A high-powered mobile replacement for a desktop workstation that doesn’t compromise on rendering capability
NY’s name resonates among artists as the brand with sole rights to manufacture Nvidia Quadro cards, although the firm has a strong grounding in other areas, too. But it’s not associated with laptops, which makes the PrevailPro series the first time you’ve seen a portable PNY graphics workstation here. What’s most exciting about this range of high-end laptops is how PNY is using its 3D expertise to offer the performance hardware it knows artists need for detailed work. There are three models available, all of which have specifications suitable for artists needing some real rendering horsepower. Common to all three is a 2.8GHz (3.8GHz boost) Intel Core i7-7700HQ quad-core processor, but storage, memory and graphics varies across the range. The PrevailPro P4000 has a whopping £4,493 inc VAT sum attached to it. The weak pound and relentless global demand for memory means prices have shot up for some components. It’s a lot, for sure, but whether 3D is a hobby or a profession, you’re probably used to hardware costs not being kind to your wallet. In design, PNY has thankfully avoided the trap of shoving all this hardware into a chassis that resembles a paving slab. It measures 14.96” x 9.8” x 0.73”, weighs 2.18kg and therefore is (relatively) thin and light for a 3D workstation. It has a generous array of ports as well – two USB-C and two USB 3.1 ports, HDMI 2.0 and two DisplayPort 1.3 connectors, a 6-in-1 card reader, RJ45 and 3.5mm audio. If it deserves any criticism, the PrevailPro’s design is somewhat bland and generic. The chiclet-style dark grey chassis and keyboard is the same thing we’ve seen before on hordes of other laptops. It’s not ugly, and doesn’t detract from the experience, but it doesn’t stand out. The specification is one of the most high-end we’ve ever seen in a portable machine – it doesn’t just ‘do 3D’ but can chomp through renders like a desktop workstation. With a caveat, though. PNY is limited to a quad-core mobile processor, while AMD and Intel are now pushing six, eight and more cores on the desktop, and crucially, at more affordable prices than they ever have before. This means you simply will not get the kind of rendering times out of some software that you could from a high-end desktop system. But the Nvidia Quadro P4000 (and P3000) are beastly graphics cards. The P4000 has 8GB of dedicated GDDR5 memory and 1792 shaders, with the upgraded Max Q model used by PNY offering 192.3GB/sec of memory bandwidth and higher clock speeds than the standard model.
The PrevailPro’s Cinebench OpenGL results raced ahead of MSI’s P3000-powered WS63 by 30 per cent with SPECviewperf results showing gains across the board, with a Maya score of 76.82. Notably, these scores power ahead of the result from AMD’s WX7100 desktop card. OpenCL performance is equally impressive – 15,419 points in Luxmark’s Ball render, with ArionBench Cuda performance render time of 3 mins 33 seconds, bested only by Nvidia’s more high-end desktop P5000 and P6000 cards. Great results, but the Cinebench CPU score of 732 is distinctly average, comparable to other quad-core systems. Worth noting is the Samsung PM961 SSD, getting 3138MB/sec burst read speeds and 1599MB/sec write. The buying decision for 3D laptops has always depended on price and performance, with machines that can just about run 3D software versus a system that can be used for real work. But once you start spending megabucks, the alternative is to settle for a high-end desktop instead; you lose the portability, but get a lot more rendering hardware for your money, particularly on the CPU front. Worthy of note is the slim price difference between the two lower tiers in this range – the P3000 model nets you twice the amount of memory (32GB) and a 4K display for less than £500 extra: it’s the best value of the three. But with all three systems in the PrevailPro series, PNY is offering everything you need for high-end 3D in a portable chassis, including a high-resolution display for 4K workflows, which is fast becoming a requirement. But with this level of 4K-capable rendering muscle underneath it, it’s for more than just show. Orestis Bastounis
PNY is offering everything you need for high-end 3D in a portable chassis
Main A 4K screen is nothing without a powerful graphics card pushing the pixels, a description satisfied by the Nvidia Quadro P4000 Bottom left 32GB of memory gives very comfortable headroom for rendering Bottom middle There aren’t many options for mobile processors with more than four cores, which reveals the limitation of any mobile workstation Bottom right We’re not particularly blown away by PNY’s bland design, but on the plus side, the PrevialPro is thin and light for a mobile rendering rig
Essential info Price Website GPU CPU Display SSD RAM
£4493 inc VAT pny.com Nvidia Quadro P4000 Intel Core i7-7700HQ 15.6-inch 4K Samsung PM961 512GB nVME 32GB 2400MHz DDR4
Features Performance Design Value for money
Delivers what you expect from a desktop, in a mobile chassis that won’t weigh you down
Wacom Pro Pen 3D
Wacom Pro Pen 3D The Pro Pen loses its eraser and gains an extra button – but what does this mean for 3D artists?
acom is the forerunner of manufacturing high-end digital art hardware, but it’s been a long while since it produced something that felt truly innovative. The Wacom Intuos 3D tablet and pen package marked Wacom’s first foray into manufacturing hardware specifically with 3D artists in mind. Its latest product, the Pro Pen 3D, not only improves on its previous model, it feels like Wacom has created a new gamechanger that will alter the way you work. In lieu of a pen stand, the Pro Pen 3D comes encased within its own carry tube, including four nib refills. The pen itself is as sleek and comfortable to hold as its predecessors. It’s shorter than the Pro model, as are its nibs. Though lacking an eraser, it has gained a third function button. These buttons are positioned near the tip of the pen so they can be comfortably activated by the user’s thumb or forefinger. These buttons aren’t as ‘clicky’ or satisfying to press as the Pro’s buttons, but users of 3D software will still benefit from the extra, easily-accessible hotkey. Hovering the pen over the surface of the Cintiq guides the cursor across the object, and pressing down interacts with the object. So far so standard, until you discover the Pro Pen 3D is capable of manipulating the X, Y and Z axes. While working in 3D art software, such as ZBrushCore, moving the pen over your tablet/ Cintiq’s surface (without making contact) causes your cursor to move around the object. In Photoshop, pen pressure affects brush size, but with the Pro Pen 3D, artists can now modify their 3D models in the Z axis. The harder you press into your pen display, the further your selected tool will go into your model. The
aforementioned function keys put all the hotkeys you need to move through all three axes at your fingertips, greatly increasing workflow speed. Arguably the most impressive asset of the Pro Pen 3D is its increased pen pressure levels, now boasting a whopping 8192 levels of pressure. Artists will have far greater control than ever. Newcomers to pen displays may need time to adjust, and even proficient users will need time to get to grips with the additional z-axis control, but this breaking-in process is made easier thanks to Wacom’s user-friendly hardware and software design. Users unsatisfied with the default setting can set the function keys on the Pro Pen 3D and Cintiq display to their most commonly used tools and hotkeys using the Wacom Tablet Settings software. The Pro Pen 3D is compatible with the Cintiq Pro and Intuos Pro range and the two make a perfect pair. If you were comfortable using the touch controls on the Intuos 3D tablet to operate your software’s camera, the Cintiq Pro’s touch sensitive surface enables you to pan, zoom and rotate objects with multi-touch gestures, freeing up the pen’s function keys for your personal settings. The Cintiq Pro also has natural pen tilt support, virtually no lag, 4x greater accuracy, and the 16” model supports 4K resolution and 94% of the Adobe RGB colour range. This is without a doubt Wacom’s most powerful pen display to date, leaving the Intuos 3D utterly in the dust, and the Pro Pen 3D’s increased pressure sensitivity provides a level of control that will impress. Whether you’re looking to upgrade from your old hardware, or you’re delving into the use of pen displays for the first time, the Pro Pen 3D will not disappoint. Rebekka Hearl
It feels like Wacom has created a new game-changer that will alter the way you work
Main The addition of a third function key puts navigation at your fingertips, and makes working in 3D space easier than ever before centre row The Pro Pen 3D is contained within its own carry case. Its design is just as sleek as the pen itself, and protects both your pen and its spare nibs Bottom left The design of the Pro Pen 3D is typical of Wacom’s work: light and comfortable to hold. It’s as functional as it is pleasing to the eye Bottom right The Pro Pen 3D’s function keys and pressure levels ensure mouse users needn’t worry about leaving behind convenience or functionality by upgrading below The 8192 levels of pen pressure make this pen 4x more sensitive than the previous Pro Pen, granting users far greater control over their work
Essential info Price Website Levels of pressures: Function Keys Support Navigation Compatibility
£89.99 / $99.95 wacom.com 8192 Three Tilt support Full 3D Cintiq Pro and Intuos Pro
Features Performance Design Value for money
Astounding pressure sensitivity and full 3D navigation control makes this the essential 3D art tool
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Cinema 4D Studio R19
Cinema 4D Studio R19 Achieve your most realistic product visualisation yet
axon has managed to pack a raft of decent features in the latest version Cinema 4D. One of the most interesting is the new scene reconstruction function, which can help users in terms of digital set dressing and compositing 3D elements into live action footage. Over the last releases of C4D, Maxon updated the 3D tracking capability over and over again to make it more accurate. In R19, there is a scene reconstruction method, which generates coloured point clouds in 3D space that can be converted into meshes, just like photogrammetry solutions – all inside C4D. The generated geometry can be used as position reference of assets in the scene. VR enhancements are also included in the R19 release. Maxon has implemented a spherical camera that enables the creation of 360-degree VR videos. Users need to check the Spherical tab inside the camera attributes for the activation. The render output can be used in 360-degree spherical players to view it properly, as C4D renders images with their respective coordinate space. In terms of fracturing objects, there is a Voronoi Fracture object available within the MoGraph settings. This tool can be used to easily break objects with MoGraph effectors. In R19, Maxon gave this tool a major update. Now users are able to break objects with more realism by using options such as Connectors and Glue. Settings like Geometry Glue provide control for how pieces of objects are glued together and how they can be modified within a simulation to look more natural. Detailing, on the other hand, adds more detail to fractured objects including all their pieces. And if you ever find yourself in the situation of wanting to break pieces for motion graphics based on sound, a new Sound Effector will take care of business, which is quite handy.
One important aspect for users is that they want to see how their creations are shaping up in the viewport. Older releases of the C4D viewport were quite good, but in R19 there is further improvement, such as depth of field for the enhanced OpenGL viewport. Users just need to activate the Enhanced function and then enable DOF on the respective camera from the camera properties. Another great addition, and possibly the most wanted feature, is the implementation of AMD’s ProRender, which enables the usage of a physically based renderer with GPU rendering capabilities. Maxon has said that the implementation is still experimental, but with a proper understanding of the given PBR components, like materials, in combination with the corresponding lights, it is a quick process to create cool images. Apparently the version used for this review only supported the sky object and not the physical sky – which is absolutely fine. With a decent HDR image as the colour input of a material for the skydome, Cinema 4D creates working reflections for the PBR materials. The only actual thing you need to do is activate ProRender as the main rendering engine in the render settings. Afterwards there are a just few things you need to know about, especially if you want to see results in the viewport – the real benefit with progressive rendering, apart from the common OpenGL view capabilities. Above the viewport is the ProRender menu, where you can specify the render settings for the active viewport and if you want to use the current view as ProRender view. If you do, the scene will be ray-traced and you can move in the viewport with active and GPU-powered ray tracing. Even if the ProRender release is new and some features are missing, especially for animations, physical plausible product visualisation is now easy and possible. Rainer Duda
Main Speed up your product visualisation with C4Dâ€™s ProRender live viewport Bottom left Motion graphics based on characteristics of sounds can be easily achieved thanks to the introduction of the new Sound Effector Bottom middle With the enhanced OpenGL viewport capabilities, users can adjust DOF in real-time Bottom right Create better-looking fractured simulations based on artistically driven glue constraints with the Voronoi Fracture 2.0 toolset Below The rendering of spherical images can be applied to any camera in the scene by checking the Spherical tab
Maxon has implemented a spherical camera that enables the creation of 360-degree VR videos
Essential info Price Website OS
ÂŁ3,270 / $3,695 maxon.net Windows 7 SP1 64-bit and up / Mac OS X 10.9.5 and up RAM 8GB 4GB Graphics CPU AMD and Intel 64-bit CPUs with at least SSE3-support OpenGL and OpenCL OpenGL 4.1 and OpenCL 1.2+ recommended
Features Performance Design Value for money
The new fracturing tools and increased rendering speed through the ProRender engine rock!
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The inside guide to industry news, VFX studios, expert opinions and the 3D community The process of look development has undergone a renaissance in game art Simon Fenton, Head of games at Escape Studios
088 Community News
Blue Zoo on the creation of its new animation gym that hopes to get Maya animation skills up to scratch
090 Industry News
Foundry releases new version of the texture tool, plus Cara VR gets a look in
Escape Studios’ head of games discusses the exciting software innovations in the games industry
094 Project Focus
Adam Barnes talks to Ninja Theory’s lead animator, Chris Goodall, about his work on the Valravn character
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The Animator’s Checklist was developed to help memorise how to approach self-critiquing and to enable animators’ skills to develop quickly without relying as much on supervisor feedback
Exercise your animation skills at AnimDojo
Multi BAFTA award-winning Blue Zoo Animation Studio inspirits animators of all levels to get their skills fighting fit in its online training gym
or budding animators, learning the important skills freedom of movement because an average of 35 per cent and knowledge that studios require can become a of studios’ staff are non-UK.” big obstacle to landing that dream job. With that in Another issue that Blue Zoo found was with the mind, Blue Zoo’s AnimDojo has set up shop. It’s a flexible existing animation training. “A lot of animation training online learning platform that’s crafted to tackle the out there, especially the online ones, tend to focus on knowledge gaps Maya character animators may face highly refined feature animation where a shot has been when entering the industry. iterated over for weeks by a professional. This has two “We noticed that out of problems. The first is that isn’t like everyone that applied for much of the real world. Most animation roles in our studio, less animation jobs are in long form kids’ than ten per cent were of a TV and commercials where the standard we’d consider ready for deadlines are very tight and you have to be able to produce very highemployment,” explains AnimDojo co-founder Tom Box. “I heard the quality character animation in days, same from other studios, too. This not weeks. The second is that in the is tens of thousands of people, industry you do not have someone which is crazy when there’s a skills constantly giving you feedback, you shortage and studios are have to be 90 per cent autonomous struggling to recruit. This will be and confident as possible. We looked Tom Box, amplified with Brexit closing off at how we can fix this with a low-cost AnimDojo co-founder
We’ve designed AnimDojo to be scalable, and we want to teach animators to become better at self-critiquing, so they can help themselves
way of training that helps people animate fast and is not reliant on feedback. “We’ve designed AnimDojo to be scalable, and we want to teach animators to become better at selfcritiquing, so they can help themselves. AnimDojo also promotes peer to peer critiquing, where we guide you to critique other’s exercises, and the more you do this, the more others will feedback on yours. People can also up-vote good critique comments weighted by animator skill level, to help make sure there is purposeful learning going on, not just the blind leading the blind! We’ve spent months developing tons of materials such as masterclasses, short exercises and quizzes. In addition, we host weekly evening live sessions, where Bader and other coaches animate a shot in real-time, encouraging others to animate at the same time too. This is followed by a group critique session. “This format allows people to learn at their own pace, so if there is a single parent or someone juggling three jobs, we provide the framework to allow them to work at their own pace in their own time and pay for a professional review when they are ready. We then help connect them with studios who are recruiting, so they have a trusted stamp of approval on their reel.” Two users who have already taken the AnimDojo sessions are Gianluca Tieghi and Jack Bond. “I feel as if I learned more in a month of AnimDojo than what I learned during one year of university,” confides Gianluca Tieghi, animator. “I’m now capable of doing a 16-second lip sync in a weekend! I don’t think that’s something I would be able to manage had I not done AnimDojo,” comments student Jack Bond. AnimDojo co-founder, Bader Badruddin, explains more about the ethos: “We took a lot of influence from martial arts and boxing – a lot of focused hard work and daily exercise leads in small increments to mastery. In the future we want to provide an ‘Introduction to Maya’, so people can try it out to see if animation is something they want to pursue professionally.” You can sign up to AnimDojo for £15 a month. For more information, check out animdojo.com.
In the weekly interactive live stream, animators are encouraged to carry out the animation exercise alongside AnimDojo co-founder Bader Badruddin. This is then followed by a group critique of the work
A membership for AnimDojo costs £15 a month, with some optional extras that can be added on such as one-to-one reviews by professional senior animators
Don’t miss Bader Badruddin’s Vertex workshop The Blue Zoo and AnimDojo co-founder will be holding a masterclass on 13 March 2018 Bader Badruddin will be holding ‘A Blue Zoo Masterclass in Cartoony CG Character Animation for TV’ at Vertex, our event to bring the CG community together. Head to vertexconf.com for tickets and news on our amazing line-up and schedule!
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The non-commercial version of Mari now gives beginners full Node Graph access
Cara VR 2 out now Virtual reality plugin toolset succeeds in pushing the boundaries for seamless VR and 360 video content creation
Mari 4.0 now available 3D painting and texturing tool becomes easier to use and faster to learn The latest release of Mari is aimed at improving the user experience with a line-up of time-saving workflow enhancements for artists. The most immediately apparent change is a vast reduction in the amount of screen space given to palettes and tools in favour of a much larger canvas for painting. There has also been a de-cluttering of the UI dock palettes in the right-hand side toolbar. Palettes can either be pop opened temporarily or pinned open if needed. Several of the palettes have also been merged together to remove
New and redesigned palettes The new Texture Sets palette includes a tab for accessing Quixel’s Megascans textures. Working with group layers using the Layers palette now takes less steps. The Colours palette is scalable for extra precision and numerical values can be adjusted at any decimal point. The Brush Editor is now merged into the Tool Properties Palette.
duplication and further simplify the UI. The HUD has relocated to the bottom right of the Viewport, where it’s less conspicuous. For faster set up and more streamlined workflow the New Project window receives tabs for colour space management and initial lighting and shading setup. Mari also automatically creates and connects Shaders when using Channel Presets. Batch exporting Channels and Bake Point Nodes is handled via the new Export Manager, which enables artists to create and manage multiple export targets from the same source. The advanced Node Graph has now become the default, completely replacing the basic version. “The launch of Mari 4.0 marks an exciting new era for the tool,” says Jordan Thistlewood, senior product manager, Foundry. “At Foundry, we pride ourselves on listening to the needs of our customers, and creating with them in mind. We have taken on board the requirements of both our customers and the wider industry, to create a new version of Mari that is more responsive, precise and inspirational from the get-go.”
To help minimise ghosting and make the work of stitching faster, Cara’s new GlobalWarp Node includes extra controls for lining up features in overlapping areas and uses constraints to reduce warps. Also, the redesigned Tracker supports automatically tracking a 360-degree stitch for stabilisation and creating a 360-degree match-move camera to assist in 3D corrections and CG insertion. For stereo, a suite of new tools adapted from the Ocula toolset deal with correction and clean-up. The suite updates the Disparity Generator Node, Disparity To Depth Nodes and adds a Stereo Colour Matcher. Craig Rodgerson, CEO of Foundry had this to say about the plugin: “To fully realise the potential of VR, we need to enable content creators to build experiences that are more immersive than anything before. The first iteration of our Cara VR toolkit was hugely well-received, and this latest version will help usher in the next level of VR experiences. Artists can now better meet the demand for VR content thanks to our industry-leading creative toolset.”
Cara includes a Stereo Colour Matcher for unifying colour between left and right views
Have you heard? One year into the relaunch, it’s the end of an era as NVIDIA ceases development of mental ray 90
Boris FX announces partnership National Film and Television School (NFTS) chosen as a European film school partner for Boris FX Boris FX has donated 300 licences for its Continuum, Sapphire, and Mocha plugins to NFTS students. Boris Yamnitsky, Boris FX CEO explains: “We chose the National Film and Television School as our European film school partner because they focus on postgraduate education and on producing high-level career-ready graduates, which the VFX industry is crying out for. The partnership is part of our ongoing education programme and desire to support the next generation of talent and the industry as a whole by ensuring there are enough highly trained professionals to fill the many jobs available.”
SketchUp transitions to the web Trimble increases accessibility to SketchUp by shifting from desktop to web SketchUp Free delivers the core of SketchUp’s 3D modelling tools online through a web browser. Artists can host models online, send invites to clients and colleagues for commenting, editing and feedback. SketchUp Free puts the future of desktop-based SketchUp Make in doubt as Trimble has announced no further development of Make is planned. Make will continue to be available to download in its current build.
Software shorts Substance Painter 2017.4 In the latest Substance Painter update, Allegorithmic debuts Layer Instancing, enabling artists to share content across multiple texture sets that can be combined into a single unified stack to reduce time spent on look dev. The Live Link plugin has been overhauled to now support both Unity and Unreal Engine.
From left: sales executive Marie Buckley (Boris FX), John Rowe, NFTS head of DFX, Boris Yamnitsky (Boris FX CEO), John-Paul Smith (Boris FX)
Vue and PlantFactory updates E-on software strengthens its collection of realistic digital environment creation tools Rendering improvements are at the forefront of VUE xStream 2016 Release 4. Stereoscopic rendering of scenes has been added for producing panoramic and non-panoramic renders. Stereo render settings include Interpupillary Distance, side-by-side and top-bottom layout options plus Parallel, Converged and Off-axis modes. PlantFactory 2016 Release 4 gains tools for creating leaves and small vegetation. Single Plane leaves have a grid-based mesh that can be curved, bent, folded and deformed by wind. Crossed-planes give an effective poly count solution for complex plant geometry with texturing either per plane or random.
PlantFactory debuts new tools for the realistic representation of complex plant geometry and dense foliage
Bringing you the lowdown on product updates and launches Anima 3 Stand-alone character animation application, Anima 3, introduces a new Unreal Engine plugin for real-time integration of realistic 3D Human assets with refined UI featuring new drawing tools, multi-scene loader for working on multiple scenes at once, 3D viewport shader and performance improvements. Anyone who purchased in the last year gets a free update.
V-Ray 3.6 for SketchUp Chaos Group’s V-Ray 3.6 for SketchUp rendering plugin features GPU/CPU Hybrid rendering for speed improvement and introduces Viewport rendering directly in the SketchUp Viewport. The streamlined UI gives better support for 4K monitors and includes a file manager, new V-Ray colour picker and accurate V-Ray material display in the Viewport.
did you know? Insydium has released X-Particles 4, a fully-featured particle and VFX system for Cinema 4D 91
How new software and tool innovations are changing the videogame industry
Simon Fenton Head of games at Escape Studios escapestudios.com
The better that software gets, the more creativity is allowed to flourish, says Simon Fenton from VFX academy Escape Studios
Artwork credit: Pierre Cormier
n 2017, Naughty Dog’s Andrew Maximov gave a fantastic talk at GDC regarding what videogame art production will most likely look like ten years from now. He prefaced the talk by referencing a story by David Foster Wallace, regarding two fish swimming and how one of them doesn’t know he is in water, or indeed what water is. It’s a great talk discussing the importance of not getting used to our environment and continually analysing it critically. It’s something I have tried to pass on to my students at Escape Studios, to try to be critical and analyse one’s artistic choices and to continually adapt your approaches and skill sets. As software becomes ever more sophisticated and the level of art needs to be of a higher quality, automation of manual tasks can be a huge boon in art production. Packages such as Simplygon have automated the once boring and timeconsuming process of creating differing level of detail models, thus freeing artist to do other tasks. At Escape Studios, I recently taught LODs, or Level of Detail creation. A once cumbersome part of production and teaching, now for the most part is reduced to the click of a button. Something that could take a good chunk of time is now, broadly speaking, semi-automated in UE4. This is a fantastic evolution in content creation; my years of experience in creating LODs is now almost redundant as technology has automated the process. This revelation was wasted on my students who simply accepted it as the way things are, I however am pretty happy I don’t have to do it manually anymore. Artists need time for reflection and the great bonus of automation is that it allows for iteration, happy accidents and more time to create. Another example cited in Maximov’s GDC talk was the fact that managing colour palletisation during the NES days was of vital importance; I can remember at Sony using super sophisticated quantisation software for a PlayStation game, worrying about the horrible banding and dithering effects of menu icons and textures on screen. Nowadays this is hardly an issue, unless it’s low-end mobile development, for example. As an artist I am free to explore colour and light like never before. Now I can consider my work on a 4K HDR TV, something almost unthinkable only a few years ago.
On a personal level, Substance Painter has given me a new love of texturing – it has genuinely unleashed a whole new approach to content creation. Allegorithmic has transformed the artistic process and quality levels one can achieve in an amazingly short time. We genuinely live in exciting times. New software advances means we’re able to remove layers of onerous production, ultimately saving time in the development of games. Software advancements enable more scope to successfully push the boundaries of creativity. From the continuing advances in modelling with ZBrush, Houdini with its game engine plugin, Substance Designer transforming materials and texturing and simulation software such as Marvelous Designer, a whole new world of artistic possibility is open to us. At Escape, our Games course has changed dramatically over the past few years. Keeping up with the industry so students have the best chances of being ‘studio ready’ is a core goal. The creation of textures, materials and the process of look development has undergone a renaissance in game art. It feels that texture creation for games has really come into its own. For us at Escape, this can prove to be a challenge in terms of respecting older workflows and choosing new software. PBR is now mainstream working practice for many developers but there are still a few that don’t use it as part of their process. The games industry is so diverse it can sometimes feel like you’re betting on a horse in terms of adopting software. For our texture pipelines we have chosen Allegorithmic’s Substance Painter and Designer. As our courses keep pace with the industry, procedural tools such as Houdini for environment art and FX are looking increasingly important, while workflows for technical modelling, such as Agisoft, Marvelous Designer and Wrap 3.3 are very interesting. I also can’t help thinking that when ZBrush 5 comes out, it will be very special. In fact right now, the plethora of incredible tools means it’s Christmas 365 days of the year for games artists. With all that said, the march of progress is pretty relentless and each and every one of us must keep up. Do we specialise or should we be generalists? You can’t do it all, so my advice is to follow your passions.
Rendering One of the goals of this project was to really convey the characterâ€™s personality in the final render. I used Marmoset Toolbag 3 because it offers a quick and flexible way of creating convincing renders. I learnt a lot about the importance of presentation as the lighting and props play a pivotal role in communicating the personality of the character.
Incredible 3D artists take us behind their artwork
Kaelya theÂ Battlemage, 2017
Software 3ds Max, ZBrush, 3D-Coat, Substance Painter, Marmoset Toolbag 3
Kat is a professional 3D character artist working at Automaton Games in Cambridge, UK
Hellblade’s Valravn Company Ninja Theory Location UK Website ninjatheory.com Biography Having built up a reputation for great storytelling, finely-tuned combat and a unique art style, Ninja Theory has now become one of the more popular UK game developers, especially after the release of its cult hit Enslaved, a post-apocalyptic retelling of the classic Chinese tale, Journey To The West. Contributor • Chris Goodall Lead animator
Chris Goodall animated creepy warrior Valravn for Ninja Theory’s latest release
espite the self-imposed limits that Ninja Theory thrust upon itself with Hellblade: Senua’s Sacrifice in trying to create a high-end title with the budget of an indie studio, the most intriguing aspect of its creation was the darker themes. Utilising a Norse and Celtic setting for the game was interesting enough, but tackling the subject of mental health and psychosis enabled a unique approach to the style that could quite have easily been templated fantasy. Creating characters that fit within the confines of main character Senua’s mind, while still holding true to the Viking aesthetic, led to some incredible creations such as this enemy character, the Valravn. “His movement and style that we wanted to use… jumps around a lot and he moves very fast,” explains Chris Goodall, lead animator, about the approach to the character’s creation. “And he stands in a specific way; like, he’s obviously humanoid but his proportions are kind of weird.” His job was to bring this demon to life, to ensure its creation felt realistic within the confines of our world, but still the right side of eerie to make him feel otherworldly. “I started by trying to figure out the character’s idles,” Goodall explains of his initial approach to character creation, “when they’re not doing anything, what do they look like? What pose are they in? Can you communicate exactly what that character is about with that one pose?” This is especially important for the Valravn, whose jittery idle stance creates a perfect sense of the unhinged, really fitting with the nightmare-like approach of the game’s tone. “My process with that character was to do like a previs, like a style test first. I just roughed out his movement first, really basic. It’s not polished and doesn’t look super realistic but it’s got the general movement of the character. So I start doing that just to kind of figure him out, then you just work up in layers.” What is surprising is that Goodall didn’t use motion capture for the character, despite the game’s need to stay grounded in realism and the fact that it’s a humanoid character. “I filmed a lot of my own video reference,” explains Goodall, “just to kind of act things out. Not to copy one-to-one, but just to kind of figure out what kind of choreography I wanted to see, and try out some of those. And so I would just do some attacks and try to figure out if it worked as a character or not. And some things I would just create on the fly. I would be animating and I’d be like ‘Oh, wouldn’t it be cool if he jumped this way, or he flipped like this, or something’.” Animation is the card up the sleeve, the magician’s trick that makes such 3D characters really come to life, and Goodall’s work on the Valravn was no different. “I tend to focus a lot on the centre of gravity,” he reveals, “so it’s kind of the hips of the character and how his weight moves through the world. It’s mainly just about creating this sense of weight throughout.”
Valravn’s concept It’s impossible to show this character in motion, so how does this twisted, agile warrior move and feel? The obvious inspiration here is from the character’s mythological origins of a supernatural raven, blending the crow-like aesthetic with twitchy facial animation in his idle pose. This is also where the character gets a lot of his agility, capable of bursting into action and approaching the player in a flurry of attacks from the two blades. But as the game’s God of Illusion, the Valravn also mixes a more fantastical element, too, capable of sudden dashing attacks – to cover distances long and short – as well as flips and even disappearing acts as he vanishes into the folds of the black ribbon engulfing his thin body.
He jumps around a lot, he moves very fast, and he stands in a very specific way… I filmed a lot of my own video reference just to kind of act things out Chris Goodall, Lead animator 04
01 Goodall has been working at Ninja Theory for many years now; the company gave him his break in the industry as animation intern 02 Goodall’s work with motion capture in the past has helped his eye for how humanoid animation should look, and he created the Valravn primarily with keyframe animation 03 In-game, the Valravn typically inhabits a much darker area, which increases the eeriness of his movements 04 Despite the fantastical elements, the focus was still to create something believable yet deranged to fit in with the subject of psychosis 05 Goodall’s approach to character creation is to typically begin with the idles, since this is the best way of diluting the character down right to their essence
Images of the month Here are some of our favourite 3D projects submitted on 3DArtistOnline.com in the last month 01 Never by Vinicius Hernandes 3DA username poker82 Vinicius Hernandes says: “A simple image with a minimalist approach, trying to convey a concept through colour and composition. Everything done in Blender and Cycles.” We say: A lovely scene from Vinicius here, we especially enjoy the almost stylised cactus plant – we can imagine an interesting story about the bubbles, like did a naughty child blow them on the cactus? 02 Kaiju
by Placido Obama Mexia 3DA username PlacyObama Placido Obama Mexia says: “I designed this character for a ‘kaiju competition’. My main inspiration was a gorilla’s body and the Leatherback kaiju from the movie Pacific Rim. I was trying to catch the silhouette of my creature with ZSphere in ZBrush first, then I moved on to the anatomy, different shapes and details. I really enjoyed working on this project.” We say: We are always a fan of detailed kaiju sculpts here at 3D Artist and this creature by Placido is no different! What really caught our attention was its taut skin textures and glowing green eyes. We love this.
by Lorenzo Troiano 3DA username lollo_O Lorenzo Troiano says: “This project is borne from a visit in an old and dark building. The light now is the principal actor in all the space, a hot light that invites the people to stay in what was once an old and dark building.” We say: The light definitely does feel like its own entity here, drawing your eye to this minimalist interior. Great design work.
04 Plymouth Barracuda ‘71 by
Yuri Rodchenko 3DA username anykey Yuri Rodchenko says: “The new cars are fun and good as well, but classic cars, with their retro technology, their flaws, have some indefinable quality known only as soul. Hope you can feel it with this work.” We say: We can definitely feel the retro atmosphere with this lovely piece from Yuri. The filters have helped to make this car model feel extra 70s, and we think that it would be perfectly placed inside an old photo album. 03
Create your own gallery at www.3dartistonline.com
98 Modelling I found real photos of this car first. Then I started to create it from the wings, and step by step I created a car. I have a library of car parts (wheels, engines and more) so I just connected the body with these parts. Anybody can create a library of details, and not only details but also objects and materials; it can help you to create your art faster.
Incredible 3D artists take us behind their artwork
Ford Pickup 1940 Dragster, 2017
Software Blender, GIMP
Vadim is 18 years old. He is a 3D artist mostly using Blender and GIMP with much love for Ireland and the streets of NYC