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EDITORS

WELCOME
Is it time to give your CG art
a bold artistic style?

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Turn to page 34!

Creating photoreal renders is a great skill to


have, but this issue cover artist Amir Erfani
argues you should aim for more. In his
tutorial on page 60 Amir shares his process
for giving a standard car render a new,
dramatic look. Our other tutorials this issue
include integrating CG and photography to
create dramatic results (page 64), making
surreal renders in Arnold (page 74) and
an imaginative approach to modelling an
Egyptian pyramid (page 76).
Finally, if you want to be featured
in 3D World, write in and show us
your CG art. Were always keen to
promote artists work!

Ian Dean, editor


ian.dean@futurenet.com

EMAIL
3dworld@futurenet.com

WEBSITE
3dworld.creativebloq.com

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TITANIC TEXTURES
Turn to page 44 for
tips on using the new
Substance Painter and
Substance Designer!

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FEATURED

ARTISTS

Meet the CG experts and artists who


have contributed to this issue

COVER ARTIST
ARTIST
Amir Erfani
SOFTWARE
V-Ray, Photoshop
Amir is a 3D artist with a passion for automotive
design. He enjoys creating photoreal car art
with a game-style look. His personal projects
are a roaring gallery of supercars stunningly
rendered against neon lights and rain soaked
streets. We felt he would be the perfect person
to tackle this issues Lamborghini cover.
Wanting a unique car render for the cover,
and a tutorial that reveals something a little
different, Amir chose to focus on the creative
process of rendering; he discusses the ideas
of photorealism and nding a style of your own.
Starting on page 60 you can read how Amir
uses V-Ray to light and render a photoreal
render before using Photoshop in order to
add more drama to the scene. Follow Amirs
workow and be inspired to create renders
with more artistic air.
For more information on Amirs work visit:
FYI www.amirhossein-erfani.com

FOLLOW THE
WORKFLOW!
Turn to page 60 to
read Amir Erfanis
tutorial on lighting
and rendering the
Lamborghini.

SPOTLIGHT ON OUR CONTRIBUTORS


Jonathan Ball

Francesca Forzoni

Jonathan works full time as an illustrator. Hes


been doing so since 2008, and has worked on
a lot of projects for toy companies, games and
advertising agencies. On page 36 the artist reveals his process
for creating the rainbow rage of Unicorn War!
www.pokedstudio.com

Rafael Vallaperde

Nicolas Garilhe

Frankie is a 3D artist and visualiser in London.


This issue she opens our Artist Q&A section
on page 40 and gets into the Christmas spirit
revealing how to create depth of eld for your rendered
Christmas decorations using Cinema 4D and Photoshop.
www.francescaforzoni.com

Nicolas is a freelance character artist for video


games and a user of the Substance suite tools.
Recently he won the Substance challenge
organised by Allegorithmic and on page 44 you can see his
model and learn from the artists advice.
www.guedin.wix.com/guedin

Vikrant J Dalal

Rafael is a CGI artist and director at Lightfarm


Studios in Brazil. He has experience in the
advertising industry and enjoys creating art by
blending art and photography together. On page 64 Rafael
reveals how he mixes CG into his underwater photo shoot.
www.lightfarmstudios.com.br

Daniel DAvila

Vikrant has worked in the VFX and graphics


design industry for eight years. He has started
his own VFX studio, Project01 Design Studio. On
page 70 Vikrant shares the basic approach to creating owing
liquids using RealFlow, 3ds Max and After Effects.
www.project01studio.blogspot.in

Daniel is a 2D and 3D illustrator based in Sao


Paulo in Brazil with 16 years of advertising
industry experience. He also owns DAvila
Studio. On page 76 Daniel shares his process for creating
a complex environment using Modo 801.
www.davilastudio.com

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CONTACT US
3D W O R L D MAG AZI N E
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EDITORIAL
EDITOR Ian Dean
OPERATIONS EDITOR Kulsoom Middleton
ART EDITOR Darren Phillips
C ONT E N T TEAM
GROUP CONTENT EDITOR Tom May
COMMISSIONING EDITORS Martin Cooper,
Beren Neale, Julia Sagar
STAFF WRITERS Gary Evans, Sammy Maine
C ONT RIBUTO R S
Jonathan Ball, Cirstyn Bech-Yagher, Vikrant J Dalal,
Daniel DAvila, Renee Dunlop, Amir Erfani, Andrew
Finch, Francesca Forzoni, Fabian Frank, Pedro F
Gmez, Lee Griggs, Steve Jarrat, Denis Koslov,
James Morris, Mark Ramshaw, Jim Thacker,
Rafael Vallaperde, Ethan Wolfe, Alvin Weetman
S E NIOR CR EATIVES
EDITOR-IN-CHIEF, DIGITAL DESIGN Dan Oliver
GROUP ART DIRECTOR, CREATIVE & TECH
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ISSUE 189

CONTENTS
Our complete line-up for this
months 3D World

DIGITAL
SUBSCRIPTIONS
Get a free issue when you
subscribe! Or download a
back issue for your
Android device today!
www.bit.ly/3dworld-digital

8 ARTIST SHOWCASE
Discover the best digital art from
the CG community

17 COMMUNITY
18 IN A LEAGUE OF THEIR OWN
The rise of CG in broadcast sports

22 STUDIO PROFILE
Stop-motion powerhouse Laika

26 SHORT CUTS

26 SHORT CUTS

Explore the awarding-winning Natalis

Natalis fuses mocap and photoreal rendering

36 IN FOCUS
Jonathan Ball shares his techniques

40 ARTIST Q&A
All your software queries solved
by our panel of CG experts, this
issue includes Marvelous Designer 4

FEATURES
44 TITANIC TEXTURES
Tips on using the Substance Suite

54 A THOUSAND FACES
The Boxtrolls: Laikas 3D print

8 ARTIST SHOWCASE

Discover the most outstanding new creative work from the CG art community

36 IN FOCUS: UNICORN WAR


Jonathan Ball shares his techniques

59 TUTORIALS
Improve your CG skills with
practical tips and tutorials

83 DEVELOP
Theory, research and reviews, plus
industry tutorials from the experts

REGULARS
34 SUBSCRIPTIONS
81 NEXT MONTH
91 COMPETITION: ICLONE

40 ARTIST Q&A

44 TITANIC TEXTURES

Your software queries solved by our experts

Substance Painter and Designer tips

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54 A THOUSAND FACES

The Boxtrolls: Laikas 3D printing workow

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TUTORIALS
60 RENDER A LAMBORGHINI
How to create photoreal vehicle
renders with artistic impact

64 BLEND CG AND PHOTOS


Learn to integrate CG and
photography for unreal scenes

68 VIDEO GAME ENVIRONMENT


Part 3 of the series looks at using
assets and materials

70 LEARN FLUID SIMULATION


Create realistic streaming uids
in RealFlow and 3ds Max

74 XGEN AND ARNOLD RENDERS


Realise a surreal fantasy scene
using XGen and Arnold

76 MODEL A DETAILED SCENE


Create a complex environment
using Modo 801

60 RENDER AN EXOTIC LAMBORGHINI

64 BLEND CG AND PHOTOS

68 BUILD A VIDEO GAME ENVIRONMENT: PART 3

76 MODEL A DETAILED SCENE

Learn how to create vehicle renders with artistic impact with car enthusiast Amir Erfani

How to integrate CG and photography

Create your own assets and materials in the third installment of this series

Sculpt a complex environment in Modo

DEVELOP
84 THEORY: RENDERING
How to better understand
texture coordinates

86 DEVELOP: STAR WARS VFX


VFX guru Richard Edlund recalls
working in a galaxy far, far away

92 DIGIMANIA: RENDERING

92 DIGIMANIA: RENDERING

Discover an ambitious render software

Digimania reveals a rendering


suite with ambition

REVIEWS
94 MARVELOUS DESIGNER 4
The cloth sim tool gets a revamp

95 MSI WS60-2OJ
The ultra-thin laptop impresses

96 INTERPRO IPW-HWE
A powerful machine that comes
at a price, will you be convinced?

97 LG 21:9 ULTRAWIDE
Two screens are better than one

86 DEVELOP: THE TECHNOLOGY OF STAR WARS

94 MARVELOUS DESIGNER 4

Richard Edlund, the Oscar-winning engineer recalls working in a galaxy far, far away

Whats new in the popular cloth sim tool?

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98 MY INSPIRATION
Keith Self-Ballard remembers how
his career began, with Myst III: Exile

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ARTIST

SHOWCASE
The best digital art from
the CG community

GET PUBLISHED
EMAIL YOUR CG ART TO
darren.phillips@futurenet.com

Visit the online Vault to download


extra process art for these projects:
www.creativebloq.com/vault/3dw189

Theres a ne line between


inspiration and intimidation.
The difference is hard work
and a lot of experimentation

FAST LANE

This image took Graham


36 hours.Im not very fast
ironic, considering the
content. Snail does F1!

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EXPLODED VIEW OF
A FORMULA E CAR
ARTIST
Graham Murdoch
SOFTWARE
Modo, Photoshop
Graham Murdoch started his CG career in the
1990s using Alias Sketch! before migrating to
LightWave and now Modo, in which he created
this dauntingly complex model of a race car as
an illustration for Popular Science magazine.
Theres a ne line between inspiration
and intimidation, says Graham. Turning that
intimidation into inspiration is just a lot of hard
work and experimentation.
In this case, experimentation led to Graham
using some new techniques, including a Render
Boolean for some of the smaller screw holes in
the bodywork. It saved a bunch of ddly
Sub-D modelling, he says.
The car itself was created as a single mesh
item, then separated into layers to make
it possible to animate between different
congurations of exploded parts. It adds
another layer of interest to the process,
Graham notes.
Read Grahams quick tutorial at
FYI creativebloq.com/3dworld/cutaway

3D WORLD VIEW
Theres so much
to enjoy here. The
detail and the lengths
Graham has gone to
for this project are
incredible.
IAN DEAN

Editor

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3D WORLD VIEW
The character is
very strong without
being overly dramatic.
The subtle gestures,
the lighting and the
richness of the cloth
are a joy to behold.
KULSOOM MIDDLETON

Operations editor

A WOMAN
IN HANBOK
ARTIST Seungmin Kim
SOFTWARE Marvelous Designer,
ZBrush, 3ds Max, Hair Farm,
V-Ray, Photoshop
Two goals lay before Korean artist Seungmin
Kim as he began this four-week project: to
study V-Ray, and to create a Hanbok the
traditional local dress in Marvelous Designer.
While learning V-Ray took up 40 per cent
of Seungmins time, adopting Marvelous
Designer sped up his workow. Because
everything from modifying clothes to putting
in a crease [is] represented in real time,
Marvelous Designer is denitely an interesting
program for 3D character designers. If you
have a chance, try learning it, he says.
One unexpected challenge was nding
good design references for the Hanbok.
Seungmin turned to dressmaking books to
nd a pattern he could recreate in Marvelous
Designer and even learned to sew.
As well as recreating the clothing accurately,
a key challenge was conveying the personality
of the woman wearing it. When creating Asian
female characters, delicate facial expressions
and gestures are considered most important,
Seungmin says. Subtle expressions of the
eyes, nose [and] mouth, gaze, and nger
gestures can hold everything.
See more of Seungmins work on his blog:
FYI blog.naver.com/seungmingun

STITCH UP
Seungmin created the
costume in Marvelous
Designer, even learning
to sew in the process

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SHOWCASE

ISLAND
ARTIST
Ahmad Turki
SOFTWARE Maya, V-Ray,
Photoshop, After Effects
LIGHTING THE SCENE
I wanted to create a
simple light setup so
I used an HDRI image
with a directional light,
explains Ahmad

By day, Ahmad Turki works as a texturing


artist in 3D animation studio Rubicon Group
Holding, but in his spare time, he found ve
days to work on this personal project.
Of that time, he spent three days working
on the modelling, and says the most enjoyable
aspect of creating the image was the scenes
set dressing; creating the trees, grass and
owers using Mayas Paint Effects and foliage
using the standalone software Ivy Generator.
I encountered a problem with texturing the
base, since I had to use different textures and
masks for the road, grass, rocks and sand,
he says. After I nished drawing the masks,
I combined them with the blendColors node
in Maya, to texture each part alone.
After rendering the scene Ahmad imported
the individual passes into After Effects for
compositing, I like to use the LooksBuilder
plug-in [Magic Bullet Looks], he reveals.
Follow Ahmads quick tutorial on
FYI www.creativebloq.com/3dworld/island

OCEAN BREEZE
For the ocean, I used a
standard ocean shader
from Maya [with] a Color
map for the cartoonish
look, says Ahmad

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3D WORLD VIEW
"While the colour
and detail is the
immediate eyecatcher, it's the subtle
composition tricks
that guide you around
the Island that make
this scene special."
DARREN PHILLIPS

Art editor

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SHOWCASE
LIGHTS
AND MATERIALS
The light setup is very
simple, says Luigi.I
use one VRaySun and
two VRayLights, and one
HDRI. Most objects
use V-Rays Standard
material, with V-Rays
skin shaders for the
frogs and gnome

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3D WORLD VIEW
A scene full of
character and charm.
The detail on the
Gnomes rabbit ride
is wonderful too.
KULSOOM MIDDLETON

Operations editor

GNOME
ARTIST
Luigi Monaldi
SOFTWARE ZBrush, 3ds Max,
V-Ray, Photoshop
Based in part on the paintings of illustrator
Jean-Baptiste Monge, Gnome took freelance
artist Luigi Monaldi a total of 100 hours to
create. The portrait of a gnome riding his pet
hare is a wonderful image, with some fantastic
textures painted in ZBrush using the Standard
brush with CavityMask, along with the Spotlight
projection texturing system and Surface Noise.
The hares fur is also beautifully rendered:
I used [3ds Max Modier] Hair and Fur and
combed the hair with an imported spline, says
Luigi. Suitable maps were used for Tip Color
and Root Color to ensure fur colour felt realistic.
But despite the detail and effort gone into
creating the hare and gnome, Luigis favourite
part of the image is hidden at one side: I think
I enjoyed creating the frogs most of all, he
says. I was inspired by a card [from Blizzard
Entertainment game Hearthstone] called Hex.
Follow Luigis quick tutorial for Gnome at
F I www.creativebloq.com/3dworld/gnome
FY

The inspiration for the frogs


was the Hex card from
Hearthstone, Blizzard
Entertainments card game
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CONTENTS

COMMUNITY
News and views from around the
international CG community

18 IN A LEAGUE OF THEIR OWN

20 FACE OF THE FUTURE

22 STUDIO PROFILE: LAIKA

24 NVIDIA VCA EXPLORED

How the rise of real-time graphics has changed the way sport is broadcast

Behind the scenes with Laika, the stop-motion studio responsible for The Boxtrolls

Chris Joness photoreal human project

Real-time on-demand rendering is here

GET PUBLISHED
EMAIL YOUR CG ART TO
ian.dean@futurenet.com

Visit the online Vault to download


extra process art for these projects:
www.creativebloq.com/vault/3dw189

26 SHORT CUTS: NATALIS

3O REBELS WITH A CAUSE

Fusing mocap and photorealistic rendering The creation of Star Wars Rebels key art

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32 NEW IMAGE FOR IRELAND

Stephen Lohan argues for better training

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THE BIG ISSUE

IN A LEAGUE OF THEIR OWN


With sports broadcasting now as much about pixels as players,
Mark Ramshaw examines how CG is changing our TV coverage

T
Storytelling remains
at the heart of
sports broadcasting,
therefore if data
can be harnessed by
graphics companies
then some very
cool production
enhancements
will emerge, says
ChyronHegos
Jonathan Roberts

elevision and sports have a


remarkable history together,
stretching all the way back to
the late 1930s, when NBC made the
leap from radio with live baseball
broadcasts that initially transmitted
to just 400 proud owners of the USAs
rst commercial TV sets. On-screen
graphics arrived in 1965 and in 1996
Fox debuted permanent on-screen
scores. With the arrival of tracked
screen overlays two years later a new
era of computer-enhanced sports
broadcasting truly kicked off.

CG-powered dynamism

Now its impossible to imagine what


a sports show without an army of
graphical ourishes would look like,
much less who would want to watch
it. Even in the CG-saturated world of
the broadcast market, sports shows
stand out in their unbridled reliance
on CG-powered dynamism, but then

this is perhaps to be expected given


the vast sums of money involved.
First of all its a way for
broadcasters to put their
own stamp and branding on
programmes, differentiating
them from others and making it clear
to the viewer which channel their
watching, says Thomas Nelson,
business development manager,
Sports, Vizrt Switzerland. Broadcasters
are also seeking to keep viewers
watching before and after games
as long as possible, to increase their
ratings and so also the amount of
advertising they sell. By adding VFX like
augmented graphics to their shows they
can tell their stories in new ways that
captivate the viewers at home.
Also broadcaster demand has been
fuelled by the increasing affordability
of the tools required, according to
Mike Ward, European managing
director, Reality Check Systems.

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Were also seeing downward


trend in both software and
hardware pricing, plus tighter
integration between various
pieces of the graphics workow. These
developments are allowing
broadcasters and integrators to
innovate more easily and frequently
with technology to deliver graphics that
enhance the viewer experience and
stand out from the competition.
Reality Check provides customised
solutions right across the globe, to
corporations including ESPN, NFL,
Sky and Endemol (for matches airing
on Fox channels).
Most of our systems use Vizrts
Viz Artist/Engine to enable real-time
graphics authoring and rendering,
with our team building custom
graphics hardware, says Mike. We
then design and implement the latest
software development techniques
to deliver robust and easy-to-use

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Every graphic has to
be available in real-time
and also templated in
sophisticated ways, to
allow anyone to create
a stunning-looking
graphic with a few
button clicks, says
Thomas Nelson

INDUSTRY INSIDERS
Thoughts & opinions from the experts

integrated solutions that help bring


client ideas and visions to life.
Viz Engine is something of a mainstay
in sports broadcasting, with CNN, Fox,
Sky, ZDF, and the BBC all relying on
the technology to power on-screen
graphical enhancements. Its roots
can actually be traced back to the late
1990s when it was created as a realtime rendering tool by Peak Broadcast
Systems (one of Vizrts founding
companies). Its been constantly
developed and optimised since its days
as an Onyx-based tool, says Thomas.
In the last couple years, Viz Engine has
expanded its role from just rendering
graphics to being a full video and
graphics compositor, he adds. This
is part of Vizrts strategy for erasing the
barriers of graphics and video content.

Live graphics on the host feed

Another serious player in the market is


ChyronHego, which along with Vizrt
and Sky Sports recently won an IBC
Innovation Award for Skys agship
Monday Night Football Show. This
system utilised the companys GS2
Multi-Touch in-studio solution and ultra
high-res Vistacam backdrop system in
conjunction with the highly acclaimed
six-camera, 25fps ChryonHego
Tracking system. Its now in its fourth
generation, with the various
iterations used for more than
3,000 matches across ve
continents to date, says
Jonathan Roberts, vice president,
EMEA sales, ChyronHego. For Sky TV
the tracking data is fed live into another
of ChyronHegos products, Virtual
Placement, which enables Sky to place
live graphics on the host feed.
With CG now utilised for everything
from on-screen score keeping, player
tracking and play-by-plays to fully
digital scene simulations, virtual
studios for presenters and even virtual
ad placements into venue footage,
its clearly a challenge catering to the
differing needs of each broadcast
channel, sport, and show format.

Streamlining sports pipelines

Mike Ward says that the rising cost of


sports actually creates an additional
challenge. Higher fees burden
production budgets, so our team,
along with other players in the industry,

are working to develop solutions that


streamline live sports production
workows. These include Uppercut, a
full HD production system with a micro
footprint that can be controlled by a
single operator. It enables a network
like Sky Germany to take a smaller
team on-site, in contrast to the larger
traditional crew live productions often
require.
Artistically, this is also a unique
niche for 3D work, requiring a deft
blend of asset creation and data/
footage control. Every graphic has
to be available in real-time and also
templated in sophisticated ways, to
allow any journalist or producer to
create a stunning looking graphic
with a few button clicks, says Thomas.
All these graphics are most likely also
driven by some sort of data feed that
needs to be incorporated seamlessly
into the graphic templates. To create
these simple but powerful workows

By adding cool VFX like


augmented graphics to
shows they can tell their
stories in new ways that
captivate the viewers
for broadcasters is what we are
continuously striving to do.
Consider that sports broadcasting
isnt merely getting more graphically
ambitious and reliant on the close
integration between footage and
live animation, but also on the evercloser links between broadcaster and
audience. Social media integration
is a huge focus, says Mike. The tech
and techniques to implement it well
arent fully rened just yet, but several
companies are developing solutions
to help simplify the process.
With programmers now working to
meaningfully integrate spectator video
tweets, and more, into their shows; and
content delivery formats evolving daily,
sports broadcasting is set to remain the
most vibrant meeting point between
live footage and digital enhancement.
Make a logo. Follow the C4D and AE
FYI tutorial: www.bit.ly/189-makealogo

MIKE WARD
European managing
director,
Reality Check Systems

Sports broadcasters
are under pressure
to create high
volumes of content
for distribution across
a growing number
of platforms, as well
as produce more
appealing content
that attracts and
retains viewers. As a
result, weve seen a
lot of experimentation
with virtual studios,
augmented reality
graphics and
centralised graphics
operations, in
addition to far greater
levels of production
automation in sports
broadcasting. The
rapid evolution of
technology is partly
enabling this. Drawing
on new hardware and
software innovations,
companies like RCS
are able to deliver
solutions like Data
Center, a cloud-based
data network that
culls and organises
real-time sports data,
which may not have
been possible two
years ago. Improved
rendering power and
speeds, as well as the
rollout of improved
broadcast resolutions
have also created
higher audience
expectations, and
also opened up
new opportunities
for networks.

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JONATHAN
ROBERTS
VP, EMEA sales,
ChyronHego

The biggest change


in this eld has
been the need for
the enhanced story
telling. With viewers
becoming more savvy
the need to show and
tell a more enhanced
story is becoming
ever more important.
The other big thing is
speed of turnaround,
with the speed at
which production
companies wish
to tell the story
becoming more
important. The faster
the turnaround can
be, the more relevant
the story becomes,
so we focus on being
able to show the
story for rst replay
and even predict the
story by analysing
the live footage.
Broadcasting
innovation really
comes down to who
has the money to
pay for it. The change
that has occurred
is that sports rights
have become more
concentrated with
fewer broadcasters.
These broadcasters
can then spread the
cost of innovation.
My prediction is that
if a fraction of the
analysis that takes
place at club level
can be distilled by
broadcasters then
the true nuances
of the games will
be discovered.

THOMAS NELSON
Business development
manager, Sports,
Vizrt Swizerland

Working with
sports is deceptively
tricky. To meet the
challenges that
sports bring, you
need to be good
at a couple of
things. The rst is
data visualisation.
Sporting events are
all about statistics
and incoming
information. You
need to be able to
take that information
and turn it into
something tangible
and understandable
by the audience,
and to do it as it
happens. Next is
easy usability. You
need to be able to
put the content in the
hands of an operator
and enable them to
make rapid changes
on the y as needed.
More and more
broadcasters have
also introduced
immersive graphics
into their real studios
over the past few
years, as a way to
create an augmented
reality experience
for the viewers and
to help tell their
stories in a better
way. Its now almost
a must-have for
sports broadcasters.

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COMMUNIT Y
Project insight

PROJECT INSIGHT

ADOBE
MEETS MIXAMO

FACE OF THE FUTURE


Chris Jones explains how he's developing the ultimate
generic CG character for reuse in multiple projects

C
CHRIS JONES
Chris Jones has been
drawing, animating,
and music-making
virtually since the day
he was born in Bendigo,
Victoria, Australia.
www.chrisj.com.au

CG artist Chris Jones


is developing a
reusable character, so
he wont have to keep
reinventing the wheel

hris Jones is known around


the world for his incredible
photorealistic animations, but for
his latest project Chris decided to do
something different. I started thinking
about possible applications
for a generic, reusable
character, he explains.
And so I set out to nd the
most ideal form, the perfect topology
and the most exible rig for the
ultimate template that could serve as
the basis of all my future characters, so
I didnt have to make them from scratch
every time.
As it progressed, the goal started
moving more towards realism, and soon
it had become a sizable project in itself,

LightWaves
improvements over
the years have made
it possible for Chris to
push things further

spawning smaller projects in the form of a series of videos.


It has already surpassed its original objective, but now it
continues to steam on ahead like a runaway train, he says.
Jones has been using Light Wave, which hes been on
board with since 1995. He nds rigging a challenge, but
says that, LightWaves improvements over the years have
made it possible for me to push things much further than
before. And there was no shortage of support from the
LightWave community whenever I found myself stuck.

Photoshop
embraces 3D
animation tools
NEW DEAL
Mixamos teamed
up with Adobe to
bring support for
3D characters with
skeletal animations
to the latest release
of Photoshop CC.

Sensitive and subtle

The other main tool hes been using on the project has
been Sculptris. Initially I had some trouble getting things
in and out of Sculptris without it crashing or messing up
the mesh, he admits. But after I pinpointed these issues
(it doesnt like single point polys, or UVs that overlap or
extend beyond the boundaries of the texture page for
example), its been fairly robust.
When it comes to the face itself, Chris was expecting
problems with eyes, he says. Theyre actually not as hard
as I thought. Its just a matter of scrutinising your reference
material and being meticulous about reproducing all
those details, which I seem to have a knack for.
The mouth, however, has been a much more difcult
proposition. Its a lot more exible and is capable of a
much wider variety of shapes, and were also very sensitive
to its subtleties. Skin has also proved tricky. Its about
the most complex material imaginable, Jones points
out. And youre at the mercy of the software to some
degree. If the lighting or subsurface scattering model
isnt accurate enough or doesnt offer enough control,
its never going to look completely convincing no matter
how great your texture maps are. My progress in this area
are still a bit rudimentary, so whether I can pull off a truly
lifelike skin remains to be seen.
Beyond that, Chris has yet to tackle hair and clothes, and
says ne tuning everything will be an on-going process.
You can follow Chris Jones's progress on the project
FYI at his website: www.chrisj.com.au

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IMPORT SUPPORT
Users of the
subscription-based
Photoshop CC now
have the ability to
import animated
3D characters in
COLLADA format.
For details, visit
www.mixamo.
com/workows/
photoshop-3d
RANGE OF
WORKFLOWS
Once imported
into Photoshop,
artists can use the
animated characters
for a number of
workows, such as
creating animations,
2D/3D compositing,
3D painting of
character textures,
and 3D printing.

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COMMUNIT Y
Studio prole

STUDIO PROFILE

INSIDE THE STOP-MOTION


ANIMATION POWERHOUSE
Sammy Maine reveals how Laika has revolutionised
stop-motion, from Coraline to The Boxtrolls
ortland, Oregon, with its crusty
thrift markets, out-of-issue
bookstores and fair trade coffee
shops, is a Mecca for any discerning
trend-setter. It's no surprise then, that a
company formed in an environment like
this is made up of a bunch of wonderful
weirdos. These particular weirdos came
together to found Laika, to pioneer
processes and innovate technologies
while expanding the boundaries of
animation and dragging a moribund
art form into a new and vital era.
Were a band of analretentive mole people,
laughs Travis Knight,
president and CEO of Laika.
Travis is an Oregon boy through-andthrough. Growing up in the great state,
he says that the values of the company
are a reection of the environment in
which they have ourished. It
inevitably creates a kind of push and
pull, a dissonance that makes for fertile
ground for art, ideas, and innovation,
he explains. You see that in our
company, where we've fused an
age-old craft with cutting-edge
technology. It's a place where
troglodytic stop-motion artists work

TRAVIS KNIGHT
Travis is president and
CEO of Laika, and also
worked as a producer
and one of the lead
animators the new
movie The Boxtrolls.
www.laika.com

side-by-side with eggheaded engineers and futurists;


where knuckle-dragging cavemen break bread with
well-mannered astronauts.

STUDIO
STATISTICS

Old-school movie magic

LOCATION
Portland, Oregon
TEAM SIZE
364
KNOWN FOR
Coraline
ParaNorman
The Boxtrolls
DIRECTORS NAME
Travis Knight

Over its ten-year history, Laika has shunned the advances


of modern offerings and have instead opted for one of the
oldest animation techniques there is: stop-motion.
It's old-school movie magic, he enthuses. We fuse
art, craft, science, and technology in a big, swirling gumbo
of production techniques representing a century of
lmmaking. Its a technique that, they feel, allows them to
stand out from the animation crowd.
Admittedly, were freakishly obsessive, Travis continues.
Were consumed with esoteric and fetishistic bits of
minutiae, but thats what we do The two things that set
Laika apart are the lms we make and how we make them.
Laika is a small independent animation house in a town
950 miles away from Hollywood that has managed to
establish itself as world-class frontrunner: the team has
produced three full-length feature lms including the
Oscar nominated and multi-award winning Coraline, as
well as recent successes ParaNorman and The Boxtrolls.
We aspire to make lms that are visually stunning,
that have a patina of beauty, but more importantly have
a reservoir of meaning, says Travis. Films that are
thought-provoking, emotionally resonant, progressive,
and just a wee bit subversive.
Although the animation studio may favour more
traditional animation methods, director of Laikas Rapid

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In effect, we are Luddites


who have embraced the loom,
says Laikas Travis Knight

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STUDIO
PORTFOLIO

CORALINE
Laikas first feature film, 2009s Coraline, was the first stop-motion
animated feature film to be conceived and photographed in
stereoscopic 3D. The movie was nominated for an Academy Award
and a BAFTA Award for Outstanding Animated Feature and won the
Cristal Award at the Annecy International Animation Festival.

OFFICE BRIEFING
With an abundance of creative
personalities, Laika is a studio that
ourishes in the animation world.
Working on feature lms, commercials
and short lms, Laika focuses its craft
on the art of stop-motion, the team has
worked on a number of award-winning
movies including Coraline, ParaNorman
and the recently released The Boxtrolls.
Were freakishly obsessive. Were
consumed with esoteric and fetishistic
bits of minutiae, but thats what we do,
says president and CEO Travis Knight.

BRIAN MCLEAN
Brian Mclean is the
director of Laikas Rapid
Prototyping Department.
He has been instrumental
in the development of 3D
printer technology.
www.bit.ly/189-mclean

STEVE EMERSON
Steve Emerson worked
as the co-VFX supervisor
for The Boxtrolls. His
previous credits include
The Matrix Revolutions
and Transformers.
www.bit.ly/189-emerson

Prototyping Department Brian Mclean is quick to enthuse


about their 3D printing technology for facial animation.
Knowing we are in uncharted territory can be
both daunting and exhilarating, he explains.
Almost daily we encounter issues that require
creative problem solving. Realising that the team
just discovered a solution to a problem that we had no idea
was actually solvable is one of the most rewarding aspects
of my job. Laikas unique RP process means it has increased
characters possible facial expressions and combinations
from 8,000 to 207,000 in just six years. Thanks to
interchangeable 3D printed facial components, Norman of
ParaNorman and Eggs of The Boxtrolls are now capable of
over 1.5 million expressions. You feel that you are watching
living, breathing kids. We believe they are the most
beautiful and emotive characters in stop-motion history.
Steve Emerson, who worked as the co-VFX supervisor,
says the art was taken to a new level: he witnessed the interdepartment collaboration excel to the best its ever been.
Weve progressed to a point where we can look
at a storyboard together and almost instinctively
know who will be handling which aspect of a
particular frame and what type of support each
department will have to provide.
And as Travis says, Laikas just getting warmed up they
aim to be the centre of independent animation lmmaking:
With this remarkable ragtag band of mists, mole people,
and brilliant, beautiful freaks, I know our future is boundless.
For more on Laikas 3D printing techniques see page 54, and
FYI visit the site www.laika.com for news and art.

PARANORMAN
Laikas second feature film, the 2012 zombie comedy ParaNorman,
was the first stop-motion movie to utilise a 3D colour printer to create
replacement faces for its puppets. Over 40,000 individual face parts
were printed for the production. It took three to four months to craft a
new puppet from start to finish, not including design or testing time.

THE BOXTROLLS
Laikas latest film, The Boxtrolls, is a 3D stop-motion and CG hybrid
animated feature based on Alan Snows bestselling novel Here
Be Monsters. It introduces audiences to a community of quirky,
mischievous creatures whove lovingly raised an orphaned human boy
named Eggs in the cavernous home theyve built beneath the streets.

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COMMUNIT Y
Industry news

PEGASUS FOR PREVIZ


Vicon has launched Pegasus, a new tool
for streaming motion capture data into
game engines developed with IKinema.
As Phil Eldereld, product manager,
Entertainment for Vicon explained: It
allows you to stream from Blade, or any
Vicon product. You can import an .fbx of
your nal asset, or a low-res
version if you want, and
retarget in there, then stream
the retargeted data out into
Unreal or Unity, or any engine. It streams
the same format coming out of Blade; you
can use the SDK to build an integration
into whatever product you want.
Another new Vicon tool solves joints
to rigid body data and streams from Vicon
Tracker. Now you can stream data into
ubiquitous ergonomic packages, as well
as integration with Unreal and Unity.
Visit: www.vicon.com/software/pegasus.

VCA accelerates ray tracing,


enabling you to interact with
models of such high delity
that it can eliminate the need
for 3D physical prototypes

INDUSTRY NEWS

WHAT WILL NVIDIAS VCA


DO FOR THE INDUSTRY?
Access graphics-intensive applications powered by
workstation-class Nvidia graphics on demand

vidia has unveiled its new VCA


(Visual Computing Appliance)
device and it promises to be
a real game-changer for the industry.
Packed with eight Nvidia high-end
GPUs that can map a 3D space and
render in real time, the networkattached appliance scales to multiple
nodes, reducing rendering time from
hours to seconds. The potential benet

The new tool solves


joints to rigid body
data and streams
from Vicon Tracker

MOCAP MADE AFFORDABLE


A Kickstarter project is aiming to raise
funds to develop an adaptive and
affordable mocap system by using
Neuron, one of the world's smallest
full-functioned 9-axis IMUs. We started
project Perception Neuron to develop
the most affordable, inertial sensorbased motion capture system that ts
the needs of the majority
of the uses, explains Dr.
Tristan Ruoli Dai, CTO and
co-founder of Noitom.
But why use Kickstarter? We are still
a fairly new company and dont get
much international publicity, he said.
On Kickstarter, branding has almost
zero effect and every product is treated
as a new one. The backers are the core
users: They can provide helpful advice
to help improve the products. See the
Kickstarter at www.bit.ly/189-mocap2.

The Kickstarter
backers are best
placed to provide
useful feedback

Well be connecting into other 3D


applications that use Iray for a renderer
like 3ds Max, Maya and SketchUp

GREG ESTES
Greg is responsible for
worldwide marketing for
the enterprise business
at Nvidia, focused on
the Nvidia Quadro,
Tesla and GRID GPUs.
www.nvidia.co.uk

to the industry is immense, including


enabling designers to study the play of
light on a car windscreen in real time.
Originally the device was marketed
as Iray VCA but Nvidia has since
announced you can run V-Ray RT on it
as well. As the adoption of
Iray continues to grow, we
will be connecting into other
3D applications that use Iray
for a renderer like 3ds Max, Maya and
SketchUp, added Greg Estes, VP
marketing for Nvidia.
Of course, Nvidia is never going to
promote the VCA as being for anything
other than CUDA apps. But Greg
accepts that you could run software that
is GPU-accelerated through OpenCL.
Theres nothing particularly magic
about CUDA [in those terms], said
Greg, though he stressed that when
we run the same code with the same
GPU and compare with the OpenCL
version, CUDAs almost always about

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30 per cent faster. The only reason


youd do it is if you had a piece of code
for which there was no CUDA version
available [but] then the OpenCL version
would work ne.

GPU acceleration

Pressed on whether that could include


Arnold, though, he was open to the
possibility. Weve always had an
open line of communication with Solid
Angle and wed greatly enjoy bringing
a GPU-accelerated version of Arnold
to market, whether it was OpenCL or
CUDA, he said. We'd prefer CUDA
if we had the choice, and it would go
faster, but nothing would make us
happier than to have GPU acceleration,
however it got there.
Greg was less optimistic about
future GPU acceleration in Mental Ray,
though. Were doing a little there, but
you won't see amazing breakthroughs
there in the short term, he said. Thats
25-year-old code, its not constructed in
any way youd think of if you were going
to make it GPU-accelerated. It was built
with a completely different mindset.
Learn more about Nvidia's VCA at
FYI www.bit.ly/189-vca

VCA is a scalable, network-attached GPU


rendering appliance with eight high-end GPUs

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COMMUNIT Y
Short Cuts

SHORT CUTS

NATALIS EVOKES FRIGHTENING


VISIONS OF THE FUTURE

GET PUBLISHED
EMAIL YOUR SHORT TO
ian.dean@futurenet.com

Natalis, a student short that fuses motion capture and photorealistic rendering,
is an inspiring piece of work. Co-director Jan-Marcel Khn shares his story
JAN-MARCEL KHN
Marcel is the co-director
of Natalis. He lives and
works in the Stuttgart
area of Germany as a
freelance generalist on
feature films and spots at
local studios.
www.facebook.com/
natalismovie

VITAL
STATISTICS

TEAM
Directors/asset creators
Daniel Brkovic
Jan-Marcel Khn
Effects TD
David Kirchner
Rigging TD/animation
pipeline
Tom Ferstl
Surfacing/render
pipeline
Karsten Wagenknecht
Compositor
Johannes Peter
Music and sound
Johannes Helberger
Felipe Sanchez
Producer
Philipp Wolf
Cast
Evi Rejeki Riecken
COUNTRY
Germany
SOFTWARE
Maya, 3ds Max,
Sculptris,
3D-Coat, Mudbox,
ZBrush, Houdini,
MotionBuilder,
Vicon iQ, RenderMan,
V-Ray, Nuke
PRODUCTION TIME
20 months

Year on year, students


at Filmakademie BadenWrttemberg have been
surprising us with their superb
animated shorts, and this animation ups
the ante once again. (It won the VES
Award for Outstanding Visual Effects
in a Student Project in 2013, but it has
been on the festival run, so weve only
just been able to showcase the project.)
The original idea came from
student Felix Mertikat, and directors
Daniel Brkovic and Jan-Marcel Khn
developed the story. We liked the early
designs done by Felix. It was a pleasure
to work with that base and develop
the idea further, says Jan-Marcel.
Inspirations were lms like Blade
Runner with its humanoid replicants
and Avatar with its great creatures, and
various images from digital artists.

What where the key challenges


in the production of Natalis?
We had a lot of challenges, but I'd
say handling the enormous scenes
and getting them to render was
extremely challenging. For this we had

We spent a lot of time


developing tools. It was vital
to create a functional,
structured pipeline

users so it was prudent to use this


tool as our core software. To get it to
work properly for our production it
was heavily customised by our TDs to
maintain a good workow. Without
doing this we wouldn't have been able
to handle the enormous les or nish
the project on time.

to plan the render scenes accurately


so all the pieces would t together in
compositing. Another hard aspect was
rigging the monster with its muscle and
skin system. And thats not to mention
the storm and the destruction effects.

What other software did you use?


For modelling we used various
packages: Maya, 3ds Max, Sculptris,
3D-Coat, Mudbox and ZBrush. For
most of the assets we made sketches
in Sculptris or ZBrush, which were
retopologised and nally sculpted
in Mudbox or ZBrush. Texturing was
almost entirely done in Mudbox, with
only minor tweaking in Photoshop. This
workow allowed us to create assets
in a very artistic way, spending only
a little time on the technical aspects.
The mocap was captured and solved
with Vicon iQ and the animation was
done in Maya and MotionBuilder.
Rigging and rendering was done in

How long did the short take to make?


Natalis took us about 20 months to
make. So we spent time developing the
assets and tools. It was vital to create a
functional, structured pipeline because
we used a lot of different software.
Why did you use Maya?
We used a lot of different tools, but
most of the team members were Maya

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Maya. Most of the effects were built


using Houdini and a few with Maya.
Final compositing was done in Nuke.
What lessons did you learn?
In the early days of the project, we spent
so much time making nice pictures we
forgot to get the story working well,
so later we had problems getting it to
work in a way that the audience would
understand it. Technically, the decision
to create an anatomically correct muscle
system for the monster a very fragile
and complicated system that let the
muscles work right under the skin was
too much effort for a short. A normal
rig with shot-based blendshapes
would have worked better and been
more efcient. We also wanted to
work with two renderers, V-Ray and
RenderMan. We found V-Ray easier to
handle, but knew RenderMan would be
faster. However, we didnt customise it
properly and so couldnt use it fully.
Watch Natalis online (password:
FYI Enki): www.bit.ly/189-natalis-short

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1 Felix Mertikat did


a lot of breathtaking
designs from which
we drew inspiration
for the characters Ea
(the robot gure) and
Enki (the beast)

2 Daniel did some


wonderful mood
boards to get a feeling
for the forest. They
were great references
for the light setup in
the 3D scenes

3 We had to create a
lot of blendshapes to
transfer the real facial
captured movements
from the actor to the
robots face

4 The creation of
the big storm was
challenging. Houdini
was used for the
simulation of the
destructive elements

STORM SIMULATION

The creation of the big storm where the main character Ea sees
her frightening visions about the future was a challenge. The
distinctive shape was dened by a procedural particle simulation
in Houdini, says effects TD David Kirchner. A relatively small
amount of particles was used for this base simulation. The
base particles were then used to drive a standard Pyro FX uid
simulation. Finally the uid simulation advects another particle
simulation. This nal particle simulation has a large point count
and was created to get more detail in the Mantra renderings. We
also added some rigid body simulations and stylistic elements.

6 A screengrab of
the proxy model of
the robot. The model
was swapped at the
rendering stage for
the high-poly model

7 Robot texturing
and bump map
creation was done
in Mudbox. We
found it great to
sculpt and paint
at the same time

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5 Enkis highresolution geometry


for the muscle
deformation shows
the muscle areas

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COMMUNIT Y
Industry interview

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INDUSTRY INTERVIEW

REBELS WITH A CAUSE


The Lucaslm Animation team discuss how they created
a single image to represent the story of Star Wars Rebels

zra Bridger stands beneath


a low-ying Imperial Destroyer.
As it rumbles by overhead, the
warship casts a long shadow over the
young rebel. This, the opening scene of
Star Wars Rebels, sets the tone for the
whole series: a return to the look and
feel of the franchises original 1977 lm.
The team behind the new animated
TV show currently airing on US
channel Disney XD says Ralph
McQuarries original trilogy concept

KEITH KELLOGG
Keith is the animaton
supervisor of Star Wars:
The Clone Wars and Star
Wars Rebels.
starwarsrebels.wikia.com

We referenced McQuarries palette by


picking vivid complimentary colours for the
light and shadow sides of the characters
Chris Voy, senior designer, Star Wars Rebels, Lucaslm
art was a big stylistic inuence. In a key
frame created especially for 3D World,
Lucaslm came up with an image that
captures the essence of the show, Ezras
journey from teenage thief to hero.
The posing, animation supervisor
Keith Kellogg says, is accomplished

CHRIS VOY
Christopher Voy is a
senior designer on Star
Wars: The Clone Wars
and Star Wars Rebels.
starwarsrebels.wikia.com

JOEL ARON
Joel is a VFX and
CG supervisor who
specialises in the field on
lighting and FX.
starwarsrebels.wikia.com

Animation supervisor
Keith Kellogg posed
the main characters,
such as Kanan Jarrus

using the tried and true


method of contrapposto
which makes characters
look heroic, rather than bland
cutouts. Ezra staring out into the vast
beyond highlights the heros journey
he is about to embark upon. Kanan,
the mentor slightly behind but still
beside Ezra represents the help that
Ezra will receive. The Star Destroyer
was put in to show the approaching
darkness and struggle that the
characters would need to overcome.
We added in the Ghost swooping in
overhead to help sell the existence
of the other characters on the show.

Developing the render

The image began with a quick sketch,


which executive producer Dave Filoni
created. Senior designer Chris Voy
worked on the lighting concept in
Photoshop: McQuarries
work has been a huge
inuence on the art of the
show, so we referenced
his palette here by picking vivid
complimentary colours for the light
and shadow sides of the characters.
We tried to delineate rim light but
kept shadows nice and soft. I painted
a few variations so we could get some
ideas worked out before settling on
the nal version to light.
In Maya, Keith used Daves sketch to
position the camera and the characters.
VFX/CG supervisor Joel Aron then took
the scene and set up lighting to match
the look of Chriss work.
Once I was close to
complete with the set,
vehicles and characters, I
assembled each layer in
Photoshop where I dialled in nal
colour-looks and paint-retouching,
Joel says. Chris then went in on
top of my nal renders and did
further cleanup to the sky and the
characters. I took the complete image
and sweetened it as we do with the
production shots a nal colour grade
that pushes the contrast and tone.
Lastly, I added the edge treatment and
lm grain, processes that are identical
to our nal shot look for the show.
Turn to page 86 to discover the untold
FYI story of the original trilogys VFX.

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The opening scene of Star


Wars Rebels, sets the TV
shows tone: a return to
the look and feel of the
original 1977 lm

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USING
THE FORCE

Lucaslms Keith
Kellogg shares his
top tips

LOOK TO REAL LIFE


Observe everything
going on around
you. Study the
differences between
how people stand
and move. How
they think before
they act. Notice
all the little subtle
details in a simple
motion. Once you
can internalise how
people and creatures
move and react, only
then can you begin
to replicate it.
MASTERS AT WORK
Study the masters.
Look at Da Vinci's
sculptures, and
Muybridges lm
studies. Incorporating
their poses and the
way the body moves
into whatever you are
working on. Read the
amazing book The
Illusion of Life once
every year. In my
mind that truly is the
animators bible.
GESTURE & MOTION
Remember, animation
is the exaggeration
of motion. You
cannot begin to
exaggerate motion
until you understand
the physical reality
behind motion
and gesture. Really
become a student
of motion and
acting. Look at
everything, take in all
the different drawing
and animation
styles. Find the
aesthetic that you
prefer and strive to
create it, but never
discount the others.

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COMMUNIT Y
Education news

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STUDENT PERSPECTIVE
Film school could be the place to launch
your career in VFX and animation. It
certainly was for Reece Sanders, who
recently completed a course
in Visual Effects for Film at
Met Film School and is now
working as VFX supervisor
on a new feature lm called Endemic.
Here, Reece provides a glimpse into
a day in the life of a lm student.
I remember seeing the trailer for
the rst Transfomers lm. Straight away
I thought: I want to do that. I began
the six-month VFX for Film course at
Met Film School. It was pretty intense.
We learnt theory and skills in the
morning and put them into practice
in the afternoon. For the rst three
months the focus was solely 3D work:
modelling, reference images, rules of
topology, rules of animation and looking
at rigging a character. We also did work
on dynamics using simple objects.
The last three months was purely
2D, focusing more on Nuke, compositing,
After Effects and putting 3D work on
live-action plates. This was the more
challenging part of the course for me,
because as a node-based compositor
Nuke was different from anything Id
used in the past.
Constantly producing practical
work meant that I had a ready-made
showreel on nishing my course as
well, which the lecturers at Met really
encouraged me to add to and develop
over the six months. Another great thing
about coming to study at a dedicated
lm school is the fact that all of the
lecturers had industry experience.
I got my rst job, making a promo
video for Dimitri Vegas in LA, less than
one month after nishing. Im about to
start work as the VFX supervisor on a
new feature lm called Endemic. This is
less than six months after nishing my
course at Met Film.
Id denitely recommend going to
lm school. But dont think it all just
comes of its own accord: working hard
and putting in the hours in are what
took my experience to the next level
and got me where I am today.
See Reeces reel: www.bit.ly/189-reece
Recent graduate Reece Sanders is
now VFX supervisor on Endemic

Students will
learn more in one
month than theyll
learn in four years
at university, say
Stephen Lohan

VFX SCHOOL

IMAGE IRELAND ON
INTENSIVE TRAINING
Ireland's only dedicated VFX school aims to revolutionise
training for careers in the entertainment industry

S
STEPHEN LOHAN
Stephen is CEO and
founder of Image
Ireland School of Visual
Communication.
www.imageireland.ie

tephen Lohan promises to teach


his students more in one month
than theyll learn in four years at
university. Stephen is CEO and founder
of Image Ireland School of Visual
Communication, which offers intensive
training courses for those looking to
work in the entertainment industry.
One of our biggest
challenges, he says, is to
try and change the mindset
of people. To many, a degree
is of the utmost importance which is
ne. But in the ever-changing world of
VFX, a piece of paper does not reect
the quality of the learning experience.
There is also the cost. Theres a
perception that three or four years in
college represents better value than

In the month-long courses at Image Ireland


we give our students 160 hours of studio
time, working on real-life projects
one month in a privately run training
studio. But in the month-long courses at
Image Ireland we give our students 160
hours of studio time, working on reallife projects. At least 50 per cent of that
time is spent with some of the best VFX
artists and trainers in the world.
Stephen, whos worked in the visual
effects industry in Ireland for 20 years,
founded Image Ireland in 2013. He
spent two years planning the school,

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the initial idea stemming from a poll of


Irish animation studios which revealed
that 89 per cent would not employ
native students because they lack the
necessary skills. Similarly, students
felt existing courses lack relevant,
real-world training.

One-to-one training

To counter this, Image Ireland accepts


just six students at a time. Tutors are
established industry professionals. And
the course operates on a one-to-one
basis (or as closely as possible).
We have people on board like
Rob Redman, Glen Southern and Ian
Murphy. These people are well known
in their respective elds, MoGraph,
Cinema 4D, ZBrush and Nuke, says
Stephen. We have experienced
actors, concept artists, photographers,
Maya artists, compositors and
creative directors, to teach courses
in storytelling, storyboarding, writing,
3D, compositing, Python scripting
and many more to follow.
Our tutors have partnered with us
because they understand the need for
specialised, intensive training. They
also offer practical advice on how to act
in pitches and interviews, an approach
that is already showing signs of success.
Two of our recent Nuke students have
worked on a full feature. They hadnt
used Nuke before. They did this after
training with Ian Murphy for four weeks.
To nd out more about the school
FYI visit www.imageireland.ie

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COMMUNIT Y
In Focus

WorldMags.net

IN FOCUS

UNICORN WAR
Jonathan Ball shares his process for building
on an old render to create something new

ARTIST PROFILE
Jonathan works full
time as an illustrator.
Hes been doing so since
2008, and has worked
on a lot of projects
for toy companies,
games and advertising
agencies, as well as
selling his own artworks.
www.pokedstudio.com

hile thinking of a new project


to devote time to, UK artist
Jonathan Ball came across an
old image that gave him inspiration.
I had started an image with unicorn
characters about year or so
back and never finished it.
I rediscovered it and I
decided to do something
with it, he says. But then the idea
grew into something a little different.
I like the idea of unicorns, the most
peaceful animals, having a battle,
explains Jonathan.
It took around a week to finish
the image, much of that time spent
adjusting render passes to ensure the

nal image met with Jonathans vision of


a unicorn armageddon. Several different
passes were used, including Ambient
Occlusion, Glossy Direct, Z-depth and
a pass of a custom rim material. Particle
systems were used for the plants.
As a full-time 3D illustrator with a love
of street art and 1980s style, this scene
of unicorns waging war with rainbow re
encapsulates Jonathans work perfectly.
I love characters and strange worlds,
he says. All my personal works form part
of a world I am gradually creating. These
will be tied up with a story at some point
and then well see.
For more art by Jonathan Ball
FYI go to www.pokedstudio.com

VITAL
STATISTICS

SOFTWARE
Blender,
Photoshop
COUNTRY
UK
PRODUCTION TIME
Seven days

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WorldMags.net1

REUSING
OLD ART

With this image, I started


with my rough design for the
unicorns. This was based on
an old 3D model I had found.
I tend to keep my designs
simple and geometric in
nature. First, I create some
plants and foliage and use
a particle system to spread
them around. I also model
some mushrooms.

2 STAGING
THE SCENE
After modelling a
few new unicorns
to build the idea
in my head, I start
staging my scene,
and experiment with
angles and camera
settings. I add a
few extra details
to the closest parts
of the image to ll
out the setting.

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COMMUNIT Y
In Focus

WorldMags.net

RENDERS
3 TEST
I do some test renders to get
an idea of lighting. I add a large
plane with an emission value to the
left of the scene: this helps highlight
the edges of objects. I want to keep
things quite dark with some areas of
brighter light and colour.

3
4 EMPLOYING
LAYER MASKS
I render a Mist pass so I can
use it to control how other
render layers are blended in
Photoshop. You do this by
pasting the image into a
layer mask. Create a new
layer and click the New Layer
Mask button in the Layers
panel. In the Channels tab,
make sure the eye icon is
displayed next to the mask
channel. Paste the render
pass into the mask layer.

4
5

Z-DEPTH
5 USING
I start blending my render
passes by importing them on
separate layers in Photoshop.
I want the background to fade
off to some degree, so I use
the Z-depth pass Ive rendered
out, and paste it into a layer
mask in Photoshop. I now play
with the mask, making it lighter
and darker, and painting some
areas manually.

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6 ADJUSTING
RENDER PASSES

AMBIENT
7 ADDING
OCCLUSION

I have a basic render pass


that I use as the base layer
to build all the other layers
on top. For the next layer I
duplicate the basic pass and
change the Brightness/
Contrast and Hue/Saturation
settings, using the layer mask
Ive already created from the
Z-depth pass to mix it with
the layer below.

I add an AO pass,
using the Color Burn
blending mode. I play
with the colour and
saturation and layer
Opacity until I begin to
discover the tones
and feel Im looking
for in the nal scene.

6
PASSES
8 NEW
I add a Glossy Direct
pass using the Color Dodge
blending mode and set the
Opacity quite low. I also
render out a pass with a
custom rim material: a black
material with a Glossy
reection and Emission
mixed with a Fresnel value.
You can see the node
network for it on the right.

ADJUSTMENTS
9 FINAL
I assign this new layer pass the
Linear Dodge (Add) blending mode
in Photoshop. I make a few other
small tweaks and colour changes to
various layers until I am happy with
the nal image. Now my unicorns
are ready for war!

9
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ARTIST

EXPERT PANEL

Q&A

Cirstyn Bech-Yagher
Cirstyn is a freelance
CG artist and educator,
with over a decades
experience in 3D art. Her clients
include AMD and Daz 3D.
www.northern-studios.com

Francesca Forzoni
Frankie is a 3D artist
and visualiser in London.
She has recently moved
from working in post-production to
branding and packaging.
www.francescaforzoni.com

Your software queries solved


by our CG experts

Mike Griggs
Mike is a freelance
3D, VFX and motion
graphics artist and
technical writer working across TV,
exhibitions and digital design.
www.creativebloke.com

Fabian Frank

FOLLOW
THE VIDEO

MPC CG supervisor
Fabian started his career
in VFX in Germany. He
joined the MPC London commercials
team in 2011 as a CG supervisor.
www.moving-picture.com

Ethan Wolfe
A recent graduate of
Purdue Universitys
Computer Graphics
Technology program, Ethan is currently
employed as a 3D artist in Chicago.
www.ethanwolfeart.com

If you see the Play icon,


click the link!

PHOTOSHOP
How do I create depth of field in Photoshop
with a rendered image from Cinema 4D?
Macie Keyes, US
Francesca replies

GET IN TOUCH
EMAIL YOUR QUESTIONS TO
ian.dean@futurenet.com

There are lots of ways in which


artists can create depth of eld
in their animations and stills.
Personally I like to achieve one
gradient running through my scene, from
white to black, and have this as a separate
pass. Once your scene is all set up and
ready to go, just apply the following steps
to create your z-depth pass.
First, turn on your Depth pass in your
Render Settings, within your Multi-Pass
option. Remember to save out your
Multi-Pass render too. Keep the format
as .psd here, so your pass will render out
separately within your Channels option
once youre in Photoshop.
Look through your top view in Cinema
4D for the next few steps. If you have one
object you want to focus on, you can drag
and drop it onto Focus Object, under
Object in your Camera Settings. If you
have several objects, or just want more
control, go into your Camera Settings

EXPERT TIP
Create your z-depth
pass manually
By tweaking your camera
settings to achieve a smooth
gradient with your z-depth
pass, your retouching will
be more realistic. If you
are animating with a
separate render pass,
you can animate
depth of field.

When your still has objects at


various depths, taking a Depth
pass into Photoshop adds the
finishing touch to your render

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CLICK TO PLAY VIDEO
www.bit.ly/189-modo

STEP-BY-STEP CREATE AND USE A DEPTH PASS


ONE SET UP YOUR SCENE

EXPERT TIP
Use the Setup tab
Make your controllers
dynamic using the Setup
Layout when working
with deformers it adds
a wide range of exciting
possibilities to your
animations.

If you have objects at various depths in


relation to the camera in your scene, a
depth pass is a nice touch for retouching.
Just turn on Depth in your Multi-Pass
options for rendering and ensure you save
out a Multi-Pass image. This will create a
layer in your Photoshop Channels, where
your Alphas normally live.

TWO FOCUS DISTANCE

MODO 801
How do I modify models
while keeping their
original state in Modo?

Decide if you want to focus on a single


object or if you may need to change the
point of focus later on. Setting up your
focus distance manually gives you greater
control, which is always beneficial if the
work is for clients, but it just gives you
more options when youre retouching.
There are a lot of options to play with
in Photoshop, but you can also animate
moving through your depth of field, which
gives some really nice effects.

James Alan, Australia


Mike replies

THREE DOF MAP FRONT BLUR


You want the objects in your scene to be
between the front and back lines of the
camera box this is where your gradient
will run through in your render. Keep
Start at the most distant point of your
scene, and move End to the frontmost
part. Try it out and check your test
renders to see if your gradient is coming
through how you want.

FOUR PHOTOSHOP LENS BLUR


Once youre happy with your z-depth
pass, go into Photoshop and apply a
Lens Blur to your beauty layer. If youve
retouched a lot, use Apply Image to
make a single layer and blur that. (Lens
Blur only applies to a single layer.) Set
your Depth pass as Source and tweak
the settings to your hearts content!

under Object, and move your Focus


Distance until the furthest green line
adjacent to the camera moves past the
furthest object away from your camera.
Then, under Details, turn on DOF
Map Front Blur. Start should be on 0cm,
right at the back of your scene; move the
End option to the foremost part of your
scene by increasing the measurement.
I nd this gives you a really nice gradient
throughout your z-depth pass, which
gives you more control when you bring
it into Photoshop.
Now render, and your black-and-white
z-depth pass will be there, ready to bring
into Photoshop or After Effects. Keep
in mind it is the same principle for both
stills and animations.
In Photoshop, I like to retouch my
image rst before adding the Lens Blur
lter towards the end, once I have the
look and feel Im happy with this keeps
the image looking much more consistent.
When I have done my retouching, I

create a new layer on top and select


Image>Apply Image, which attens all
the retouching underneath my new layer
onto a single layer. Now I can apply a
Lens Blur to this layer only.
When youre in the Lens Blur dialog
box, change Source to your depth map:

this way the camera lens will run through


your z-depth gradient like a real camera.
Have a play with the other settings
until youre happy. Then you can add
nal touches like lens ares, and colour
correction if need be, via layers on top
of this image.

Modo is one of the best polygon


modellers on the market, and with
the new release of Modo 801, this
software now has a new range
of powerful deformers which enables you
to animate your model quickly and nondestructively. One of the most powerful new
additions is the Bezier deformer. With this you
can animate and pose meshes easily without
affecting the original mesh.
In this example, I will show you how to deform
a length of gantry: one solid mesh. In the Setup
Window create another mesh item, and draw
a Bezier curve down the length of the gantry
which youll see in the background. Take care
to create logical articulation points especially
at the base. Ensure snap to grid is selected.
With the Bezier mesh selected go to the
Deformers tab on the left of the Setup Window
and select the Bezier deformer, and make sure
that the axis is correct in relation to your model,
and that Use Selected Mesh is ticked.
After hitting OK, Modo creates Bezier nodes
which correspond to the points on the curve.
These can be selected and animated like any
object in Modo, but also retain the quality of
a Bezier such as being able to animate the
tangents independently.
To apply this setup to the gantry mesh, select
the Bezier and gantry Mmesh and select Add
Selected in the Node view at the bottom of the
Setup Window and then swap the links for the
Bezier curve and the gantry mesh which you can
now animate via the Bezier Node controllers.
Add a Bezier Curve in its own Mesh Item. With
Grid Snap enabled its easy to keep the points
aligned. In the Deformers tab of the Setup
Window press the Bezier deformer with the
Curve Mesh Item Selected. Making sure Use
Selected Mesh is ticked, hit OK and the Bezier
Node items are created. Use Add Selected
in the node view to add both the gantry and
deformed curve mesh item, swap the geometry
to that of the gantry meshSB_45 and the Bezier
deformer now deforms the gantry mesh.

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ARTIST Q&A

WorldMags.net

EXPERT TIP
Knowing Nuke
Nuke provides much
more control of
mattes when you
understand the
workflow.

Fabian shares his advice for


creating a photoreal lighting
setup using his work from
Assassins Creed

STEP-BY STEP CREATING A PHOTOREAL LIGHTING SETUP

MAYA | NUKE
How do I create a photoreal
lighting setup to create a CG
and live-action sequence?

ONE GENERATE YOUR HDRI

Maria Principle, US
Fabian replies
A fundamental step for recreating lights
from a shoot or set is ensuring you have
taken HDRIs on the shoot day. In the case
of Assassins Creed, my example project,
because the foreground is mainly shot in a studio on
greenscreen and all the outdoor backgrounds, including
ships, ocean and islands are created in Maya, the use of
the location HDRIs is quite limited. Instead we have to
create a CG outdoor lighting from scratch.
The base is a HDRI of a night sky. Extract and remove
all direct light sources from the HDRI: you get much
better control over shadows and lighting, intensity and
direction using CG lights. Next colour correct the HDRI
in Nuke to match the graded plate as closely as possible.
Compare the black levels, mid-tones and highlights
but be careful to maintain the full range of the HDRI.

From there start to set up all direct light sources. To


ensure the CGI is integrated perfectly it is always crucial
to analyse the plate. There are four main components
to consider in setting up the shot: light direction/
position, intensity, colour temperature and shape/size.
Analysing not only the plate but reference images from
the shoot location helps to understand where each
individual light comes from.
The last step is to tweak the lights. Ensure there
are some interesting highlights and give shape to
objects by adding an additional rim or ll light, as well
as playing with light and shadow. This is an artistic
process and so theres some freedom to tweak. I would
always recommend referring back to the real lighting
of the plate, as you don't want to move away from
photorealism, but to create a stronger image.

Use a fish-eye lens for the best result


and take at least three angles to get a
full 360-degree panorama. Usually seven
exposures for each angle is enough. Make
sure your lowest exposure captures all the
detail in the lights. There are several tools
to automatically generate and stitch the
HDRI; alternatively you can use Photoshop
and Nuke. You can save your HDRI as a
.tif, .hdr or .exr. Just make sure its a 32-bit
floating point format.

TWO GRADING HDRIS


By colour correcting the HDRI, your CG
renders will be much closer to the final
result than working with a neutral plate and
applying the grade later. The colourpicker in
Nuke is a useful tool to measure luminosity
and colour values. To overlay the HDRI and
plate, use the Spherical Transform node to
convert the latitude-longitude format HDRI
back to a mirror ball image, making it much
easier to compare the grading. Paint out all
direct light sources.

THREE SETTING UP LIGHTS


The HDRI works as your diffuse ambient
light. Adjust the exposure and rotation.
Analyse the plate and lighting references
like Macbeth charts, grey balls and
reference objects. Then you can set up
the direct light sources. Start with the key
light: for example, the sun or the main key
light on set. Add fill lights and rim lights.
Always ask yourself where the light is
coming from the setup should match the
location lighting as closely as possible.

FOUR ADDING AND TWEAKING LIGHTS


Once you have the basic light rig of the
scene, you can start to improve your
image. Depending on the scenario, there
are different ways to create interesting
compositions. Try to play with different
light angles or add rim or fill lights to give
certain objects shape and form, but keep
the original lighting in mind; you want to
keep it photo-real. Render your CG with
the plate as a backdrop and make sure
that both match seamlessly.

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CLICK TO PLAY VIDEO


www.bit.ly/189-marvelous

WorldMags.net
EXPERT TIP
Creating buckles
Create loops for your
scabbards buckles or
rings by sewing rectangles
onto the blades edges.
Remember to smooth
them out by lowering
their particle
distance.

EXPERT TIP
Linear workow
Colour management
and linear workflow
eliminates much of the
guesswork in lighting,
shading and rendering.
Getting predictable
results from your
lighting setup will
accelerate your
workflow.

Research your subject matter


before you begin. Good
reference will save you time
and headaches later on

Marvelous Designer can


help you create generic
assets easily and quickly

MARVELOUS DESIGNER 4
How do I create a simple
but realistic scabbard?
Robert Bellingham, UK
Cirstyn replies
Sometimes its easy to forget you can
shape and drape minor items as well
as larger ones in Marvelous Designer,
especially when it comes to fantasytype assets, such as shoes or boots and, as in
our case, a simple scabbard.
As you can see in the accompanying video
(downloaded from our online Vault), it is a
simple workow: Import your sword as an avatar.
Load the my pre-made, or your own, bounding
volume and arrangement points for draping.
Draw up your assets components using the
Polygon, Rectangle and Edit Curvature tools in
the 2D Pattern Design View. In our case, well
draw a rectangle for a simple locket at the top
of the scabbard, and then the outline of the
scabbard by tracing the swords blade before we
copy and do symmetric pastes for tweaking.
Next, assign the stiff, leather-based,
scabbard material from the asset-folder via the
Physical Property Editor, before nalising by
stitching it all together and watch the model
assemble itself after having pressed Synchronize
before Simulate.
You may of course bump into some issues as
you go rst of all, make sure your sword does
not rest 100 per cent on the oor when you
export it from your modeller. As cloth simulation
is collision based, your cloth may also collide
with the oor at the tip of the scabbard. To avoid
this place it slightly off the ground, as shown
in the project le. In addition, your cloth may
look or wrap a little bulky. You can solve this by
decreasing your garments particle distance.
If its still bulky, try tweaking the Stretch-Weft
settings a little. When youre all done, export
into, for example into ZBrush, as a welded object
for ZRemeshing and further detailing.

MAYA | MENTAL RAY | PHOTOSHOP


How do I model a suit of armour for a Samurai?
Stuart Clarke, UK
Ethan replies
Traditional Japanese culture
is famous for its attention
to detail. Samurai armuor,
in particular, has a complex
construction with many layers and small
details. Having lots of reference material
is key, especially given the historical
subject matter. I push myself to be as
authentic as possible: however, I research
my subject to not only understand the
rules, but also to know how to break
them while remaining true to the subject.
Begin by building low-poly versions
of the major armour pieces: chest,
shoulders, gauntlets and thighs. Samurai
armour has many repeating elements,
which can work to our advantage. Create
a library of low-poly fasteners, rivets,
and stitches. These can be repeated
across the model as much as needed. By
subdividing the large forms, you can snap

pieces to individual vertices. Assigning


different shaders and creating subtle
variation helps disguise the repetition.
Time saved here allows you to focus
on unique elements, such as the fox
head helm and mask. Create the the
ropes and cords using NURBS surfaces
made by extruding CV curves. The
moustache is created by applying
Maya Fur to small cones. When nished,
combine several pieces and use a lattice
deformer to nalise the shape.
To create the underlying robe use
nCloth and a few cylinders to act as
colliders. The robe is modelled in a
T-pose to simplify the shapes. Inside
it, build cylinders to represent a basic
arm and chest. Key these cylinders to
move from the T-pose to the pose you
need and then run the simulation. Once
more, use lattice deformers to rene
the shape and pose.

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FEATURE
Titanic textures

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[ Tutorial ]

[ Company ]

For your free tutorials


on getting started in
Substance Painter, use
the web links below

Allegorithmic

[ Software ]
Substance Painter,
Substance Designer

CLICK TO PLAY VIDEO


www.bit.ly/189-painter-1

[ Website ]
www.allegorithmic.com

CLICK TO PLAY VIDEO


www.bit.ly/189-painter-2

[ More information ]
The creatures in this
article were created for the
Battle of the Titans contest
(bit.ly/titanscontest). To
follow the walkthroughs,
download the artists
project files from
www.creativebloq.com/
vault/3dw189 and trial
versions of both
software packages from
www.allegorithmic.com.

CLICK TO PLAY VIDEO


www.bit.ly/189-painter-3
CLICK TO PLAY VIDEO
www.bit.ly/189-painter-4
CLICK TO PLAY VIDEO
www.bit.ly/189-painter-5
CLICK TO PLAY VIDEO
www.bit.ly/189-painter-6
CLICK TO PLAY VIDEO
www.bit.ly/189-painter-7
CLICK TO PLAY VIDEO
www.bit.ly/189-painter-8
CLICK TO PLAY VIDEO
www.bit.ly/189-painter-9
CLICK TO PLAY VIDEO
www.bit.ly/189-painter-10
CLICK TO PLAY VIDEO
www.bit.ly/189-painter-11

This summer, Allegorithmic challenged video game


artists to model a unique Titan and texture it using
Substance Designer or Substance Painter.
We asked the contest winners to explain how they
created their creatures and share their texturing tips

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UNCHAINED

FOLLOW
THE VIDEO

Freelance artist Nicolas Garilhes


winning Titan draws on Studio Ghibli

Inspired in part by the


lms of Studio Ghibli,
particularly the robot
from Castle in the Sky,
freelance character artist Nicolas
Garilhes gigantic Unchained
Titan also draws inspiration from
classic PlayStation 2 video game
Shadow of the Colossus.
I really enjoyed the art
direction, and particularly liked
the fact that my Titan didnt look
aggressive: more curious and
mysterious, says Nicolas.
Nicolas came to the
competition late, so he needed
to take advantage of the rapid

texturing workow the Substance


software packages provide.
Since I knew Substance
Designer was really powerful for
making procedural textures and
mask generation, I was able to
skip [creating] micro details, and
[dening materials], and save

I particularly liked the


fact that my Titan didnt
look aggressive: more
curious and mysterious

If you see the Play icon,


click the link!
myself a lot of time, he says.
Substance Painters ability to
generate multiple texture maps
in parallel was also crucial to
Nicolass workow. It really sped
up my texture work as I was able
to work on all the maps (diffuse,
roughness, normal, and so forth)
at the same time, he says. Also,
unlike Photoshop, where workow
is linear, in Substance Painter, you
can have one mask driving all the
maps for each material at the same
time, which makes tweaks really
quick and easy.
Visit Nicolass site for more info:
FYI www.guedin.wix.com/guedin

Know your layers

NICOLASS
EXPERT TIPS
Know your layers
In Substance Painter,
a single layer can hold
painting information
for each of its channels.
You dont need to create
separate layers for height,
diffuse, roughness and
so on: just select the
channel you want to paint
in from the Tool panel.
Make use of masks
You can use Effects layers
to create editable masks:
useful for adding dirt or
weathering quickly. Click
the Add effect button
in the Layers panel to
mask your material.
Its a non-destructive
workflow, and you can
edit the parameters at
any time. Even better, you
can still refine the result
by applying a regular
mask onto your layer and
painting into it.
Explore Fill layers
Substance Painter and
Substance Designer work
together like a charm. In
Painter, you can use Fill
layers to import a custom
material you have created
in Substance Designer:
to create one, click the
Add fill layer button in
the Layers panel. While
you wont be able to
paint onto this layer, you
will be able to edit the
parameters of the custom
material. This is a good
way to do quick retakes!

Explore Fill Layers

Custom channels
If your engine needs a
texture that isnt included
in the default set (Diffuse,
Height, Roughness,
Metal), you can add a
new map by clicking the
plus icon in the Document
Settings panel. You will
now be able to select
it from the Tool panel
and preview it in your
viewport via Solo mode.

CLICK TO PLAY VIDEO


www.bit.ly/189-substance

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Titanic textures

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OCEANUS

SELVES

Carbine Studios artist Eddie Munoz


reveals how he made an ocean giant

The ocean has always


been something that
fascinates me because
there is so much
we dont know about it, says
Carbine Studios character artist
Eddie Munoz, discussing the
inspiration for his Titan. Of what
is known about ocean life, I think
orcas are the smartest and most
powerful creatures out there,
and I wanted to portray that in
my model.
Creating a sea creature threw
up some unique problems for
Eddie, who had challenged himself
to avoid using Photoshop for the
work. There are many examples
of hard-surface [assets created
in Substance Designer], but not
many of people doing skin, he
says. It turned out to be one
of the simplest shaders, and it
looked pretty neat.
Eddie praises Substance
Designer for the accurate preview
it provided of the textures he was
creating. The render engine
also allowed me to see how my
model would turn out before I
took it to Marmoset [Toolbag] for
the nal render, he says. I also
really liked that whenever I made
changes in Substance Designer,
it automatically saved my textures
in a specic format and location,
allowing me to work seamlessly
between it and Marmoset.
See more of Eddies work at:
FYI www.eddiemz.blogspot.com

Wayny Pictures Sylvain Castelanelli


created a colourful mythic monster

EDDIES
WALKTHROUGH

French artist
Sylvain Castelanelli
has been using
Substance Painter
since the start of the year, and
used it in this project for 98 per
cent of his texture work; prior to
this he didnt have any experience
in Designer.
Substance Painter is
everything you could dream of,
he says. It is a pure pleasure to
use: simple, efcient, intuitive
and constantly evolving.
To create Selves, Sylvain
currently working at Wayny
Pictures as a 3D modeller on
animated feature lm Fauve
made use of Substance
Painters layers and masks
for non-destructive work and
particle brushes for creative
experimentation.
The hardest part for me was
to achieve the right balance
between texture projection
and direct painting, he says. I
wanted [the result to be] colourful
without falling into cartoon excess
that would have affected the
readability of the scene.
Sylvain is most pleased with his
Titans head, as it is central to the
concept of the creature. However,
he also has a fondness for some
of the scenes foreground details.
I have a soft spot for the sheep,"
he says. They make me laugh.
See a 3D view of Selves at:
FYI www.bit.ly/titanscontest

ONE TILEABLE TEXTURES


My base textures come
from www.cgtextures.
com and ZBrush stamp
Alphas I made tileable.

TWO NODE GRAPHS


My Substance Designer
node graphs are shown
in the download
accompanying this article.
I began with a base colour
map and multiplied my
AO map by 30 per cent.
The Skin Spots section
of the graph floods the
map with spots from the
tileable textures. The
Edge Overlay section
feeds a Curvature map
generated in Designer
through an Edge Select
node to isolate the edges.
Colored Shadow tints
my AO map red and
applies it as a Color Burn.

THREE VEIN TEXTURES


Veins/Blood uses a mask
created from a clamped
tileable marble texture.
I reduced the noise of
the skin by blending my
original colour base. My
Metal mask is black; my
Rough uses an RGB value
of around 115, 115, 115.
Tileable textures

Vein textures

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SYLVAINS
EXPERT TIP
Topology counts
Good topology can
save hours of texturing
time, especially when
you start digging into
the powerful features
of Substance Designers
toolset. Think your model
through before you begin
sculpting, and always
keep UV mapping and
texturing in mind as you
work to avoid creating
problems later.
Topology counts

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TUNDRASHIFT KRULO

Naughty Dog character artist Adam Scott


shares his approach to texturing a Titan

I wanted my Titan
to be a large lizard,
mounted with a human
rider to help show
the scale, says Naughty Dog
character artist Adam Scott.
Initially I watched my favourite
childhood [cartoon], Dino-Riders,
which is where I chose the name
Krulo, after [Krulos], the evil
Rulons leader.
Adams next step was to gather
reference material, including
photographs of lizards, dinosaurs,
dragons, and some excellent
concept pieces from Pacic Rim
and [multi-player shooter] Evolve.
Work across meshes

Adam worked on Krulo before


and after work for two months,
getting used to Substance
Designer in the process. It has
a unique workow, and I can see
this being the direction a lot of
game studios will be heading,
he says. I quickly became a big

I quickly became a fan


of the mask generator
nodes provided within
Substance Designer

fan of the mask generator nodes.


By using texture inputs (normal,
ambient occlusion, curvature,
position) generated from my
high-res sculpt, I was able to
quickly get a solid base texture
without any manual tweaking.
This workow also made
rening the Krulo easy. If I ever
updated my sculpt in ZBrush, I
could easily re-bake my input
textures and have the nal
textures generated based off
the new sculpt, says Adam.
Everything just worked.
Discover more of Adams work at:
FYI www.3dadam.blogspot.com

Tidy your graphs

Work across meshes

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ADAMS
EXPERT TIPS
Work across meshes
Substance Designer is
very efficient for texturing
multiple similar objects;
once a node graph is
created, it can be used
to create textures across
multiple low-poly meshes
based on their unique
normal map inputs.
Tidy your graphs
Its very important
to keep your graphs
tidy when working in
Substance Designer.
Not only does it reduce
processing time but
it makes it easier to
make changes later in
the project. Its easy to
keep adding nodes like
mask generators, level
adjustments, hue shifts,
and detail overlays,
but doing so can make
your graphs balloon to
unmanageable sizes.
As I worked on my Titan,
I found myself going back
to graphs I had created
previously to trim the
fat. A big part of this
was grouping nodes,
which you can do by
right-clicking a node and
selecting Add Frame.

FEATURE
Titanic textures

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INSANIA DEVASTATOR

Whale Rock Games Pasha Guba textured his


creature in seven hours in Substance Designer

Whale Rock Games


3D artist Pasha Guba
drew on a mixture
of sources for his
Titan, including Pacic Rim,
sea creatures and video game
characters such as Blizzards
alien race, the Zergs.
Pasha has been working in the
games industry for three years,
including outsourced modelling
work for major titles like Dragon
Age: Inquisition and Elder Scrolls
Online, and loves creating
Basic brushes

characters. But even with his


experience of working against
the clock, he found hitting the
contest deadline difcult. The
high-poly work, [retopology],

High-poly work, mapping


and baking took most of
my time: I only had six or
seven hours for texturing

mapping and baking took up


most of my time: I only had six
or seven hours for texturing, he
says. Luckily, I know some of the
basics of Substance Designer.
The main thing I found useful
was the opportunity to complete
the whole process, from baking
the model to rendering, in one
software package. [Not having
to switch] from one software to
another saves time.
See more of Pashas work at:
FYI www.pashaguba.blogspot.com

Set proportions

Split into parts

PASHAS
WALKTHROUGH
ONE BASIC BRUSHES
I created the model in
ZBrush, using mainly the
ClayBuildup, Move and
Dam_Standard brushes.

TWO SET PROPORTIONS


I changed some of the
proportions during the
sculpting, but tried not
go far from my main idea:
a creature with massive
hands and mantis paws.

THREE SPLIT INTO PARTS


I split the model into parts
and retopologised each
one with ZRemesher and
the ZRemesherGuide brush.

FOUR UV LAYOUT

UV layout

I unwrapped all of the


parts using UV Master
and exported to 3ds Max,
where I optimised my
model and fixed some
seam issues. The final step
was to pack all the UV
shells into one texture.

Final render

FIVE TEXTURE BAKING


Next, I exported my
mesh for texturing. I used
Substance Designer to
bake normal and ambient
occlusion maps, baking
separate normal and AO
maps for each part of the
model and combining
them into one map with a
Normal Combine node.
I converted the normal
map to greyscale maps
with Normal to Height
and Curvature nodes.

SIX KEY MAPS


I created specular and
glossiness maps from my
primary diffuse map.

SEVEN FINAL RENDER


When the textures were
complete, I rendered
the model by taking
screenshots of the 3D
View window. I adjusted
the brightness and colour
balance of the images
in Photoshop.

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HYDRA

Freelance artist Javier Lpez Sotoca


reimagines Jason and the Argonauts beast

Madrid-based character
artist Javier Lpez
Sotoca spent six weeks
working on his Titan
in his spare time, tting the work
around his day job. It was a hard
month, he confesses.
Javier was under no illusions
that creating the creature his
interpretation of the hydra from
the lm Jason and the Argonauts
would be a tough task, not
least because he had never used
Substance Painter or Designer

before. Id seen them advertised


online, but I hadnt actually used
them before the contest, he says.
However, Javier found the
software quick and intuitive to use,

The most challenging


aspect of the work
was nding the colour
combination of the model

praising its masking workow and


fast and easy previsualisation.
In the end, the biggest
challenge Javier faced was
artistic rather than technical.
The most challenging aspect
was [achieving] the colour
combination of the model, nding
a sweet natural combination, he
says. The reward was seeing the
character take form, and begin to
seem real.
For more of Javiers work, visit:
FYI www.doses3d.blogspot.com

JAVIERS
WALKTHROUGH
ONE CREATE A MASK
To create a worn metal
effect in Substance
Designer, start with a
simple colour map and
an occlusion map baked
from the high-resolution
model. Use this occlusion
map to create a mask,
add a Sharpen node,
then add noise to the
edges to make them more
irregular. You can use the
Edge Wear node for this.

TWO RETOUCH THE MASK


Combining the colour
map and mask generates
a worn metal texture.
You can retouch the mask
to control where the wear
appears on the model.
Create a mask

Retouch the mask

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Titanic textures

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KORONUS

ANTI-ALIEN DEFENDER

Freelance artist Wandah Kurniawan


created unique armour for his Titan

Self-taught freelance
character artist
Wandah Kurniawan
used the contest as an
opportunity to learn how to create
armour, drawing on concept
designs for Cryteks actionadventure game Ryse: Son of
Rome to create his Titan, Koronus.
Like many of his fellow
contestants, Wandah found
that it was the modelling work
that took up most of this time
on the project. It was my rst
time learning hard-surface
[techniques] in ZBrush, so I really
wanted to give my attention to the
sculpting, he says.
Fortunately, Substance
Designer ensured that the
texturing work went smoothly
in the time remaining.
Wandah made good use of
its features, including the ability
to generate dirt, rust and
scratches automatically, as well
as multi-material blending. I
particularly enjoyed multi-material
blending: it works well with SVG
masks, he says.
See more of Wandahs work at:
FYI www.kurniawan.wandah.com

Capcoms JaeHyup Keum used


physically based shaders on his model

WANDAHS
EXPERT TIPS

For his Titan full name,


Anti-Alien Two-Legged
Defender Capcom
senior character artist
JaeHyup Keum drew on creatures
from games and movies. My rst
idea was to mix an alien with the
anatomy of a fantasy creature like
a centaur, he explains.
With many game developers
moving to a physically based
rendering workow, JaeHyup says
that the Substance applications
have a key role to play in the
process. Theyre great tools for
creating PBR shaders, he says.
For JaeHyup, the most
challenging part of the work was
texturing the organic parts of his
Titan. It was the rst time I have
tried to create pale skin with a
real-time shader, he says. I used
both subsurface scattering and
translucency at the same time.
However, Substance Designers
tools for generating rust and
worn edges made texturing
metal straightforward. They are
a great time saver when creating
mechanical parts, says JaeHyup.
See more of JaeHyups work at:
FYI www.gamegraphicartist.com

Use SVG masks


In Substance Designer,
you can create a colour
mask by using Bake
model information,
then selecting Convert
UV to SVG from the
Information to bake
drop-down of the dialog
that appears. Connect
the resulting map to
a new SVG node as a
background to edit the
mask. You can add more
detail to the mask using
the Pen or Extrude tools.
Use SVG masks

JAEHYUPS
WALKTHROUGH
ONE COMBINE NORMALS
To create rusty metal
in Substance Designer,
I began with a base metal
material. Substance
materials have Detail
Normal information
already. You can combine
the Detail Normal of the
material with the original
normal map from the
mesh using a Normal
Combine node. Use a
Transformation 2D node
to control the scale of
the texture detail.

TWO ADD RUST


I used a Rust Weathering
node to create the rust.
It needs inputs from
curvature, ambient
occlusion and position
maps: you can generate
these using the Bake
model information
command. Just connecting
the maps gives quite a
decent rust effect.

THREE EDGE WEAR


To keep the edges of the
model rust-free, I used an
Edge Wear node to create
a mask for the edges of
the object, and linked
it to the original metal
material and the rusty
material from Step Two
using a Blend node.
I used a grey value of
RGB 115, 115, 115.
Combine normals

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MITHALA (KREIKEN)

Xaviants Kevin Murphy took a multimaterial approach to his sea creature

Currently a character
artist at Georgia-based
game developer
Xaviant, Kevin Murphy
spent a month working on
Mithala (Kreiken), his marine
Titan, regarding the project
primarily as a technical challenge.
The main inspiration was
to create a multi-material
character with a lot of texture
types, he says.
Not surprisingly for a creature
that blends humanoid and
invertebrate features, and

Substance Painter and


Designer are both easy to
pick up if you understand
nodes and layers
contains both organic and
inorganic elements, Kevin says
that his biggest challenge was
managing all of the different
details in the textures, but that
it was rewarding to see how they
all worked out together.
The Substance applications
fast, intuitive workow also made
the task a lot less daunting.
Substance Painter and
Designer are both super-easy to
pick up if you understand nodes
and layers, says Kevin. My
favourite parts of the software
were the node system, and
multi-channel painting to layers:
a big time saver.
Find out more about Kevin at:
FYI linkedin.com/in/kevinnmurphy

KEVINS
WALKTHROUGH

KEVINS
EXPERT TIPS

ONE FILE IMPORT

Reuse normal maps


I highly recommend
using your normal map
to generate your AO/
cavity, curvature and
height maps in Substance
Designer using Grayscale
Conversion and Levels
nodes. This way, you can
keep your tangent space.
These maps are helpful
in edge detailing and
setting up material types.

To set up Substance
Designer for work, I drag
and drop the .sbs file into
the Explorer and the .fbx
file into the 3D View.

TWO KILL THE GRID


I often turn the Grid off
and the Light on under
Display settings in the
3D View. [Shift]-click to
move the light around.

THREE BACKGROUND

Blend switching
I like to bring a simple
target paint in for my
diffuse texture and use
a Blend node to turn
the main output on and
off to see how close the
final texture is to where
I want it. This also helps
to assess the result of any
drastic changes further
down the pipeline by
comparing the results
with previous iterations.

I prefer a neutral
background, so in the
Background Image rollout
(accessed via the icon
at the bottom left of the
3D View), I set Visible In
Viewport to False.

FOUR PBR SHADERS


To switch to PBR shaders,
in the 3D View, go to
Materials>Your
Object>Shader >
physically_based.

Using material IDs


Its easy to plan materials
in Substance Designer
using the Material
Selector or a colour mask.
I like to do a Polypaint fill
in ZBrush for reference.
This can either be baked
into a vertex colour
map or used to fill in a
Material ID map baked
from base colours, giving
objects unique colour IDs.

FIVE VIEW IN 3D
Right-click>View in 3D to
apply your textures to the
3D View and choose the
object and channel they
display in.

SIX VIEW TEXTURES


Double-clicking a texture
makes it appear in the 2D
View: handy for colour
picking a Material ID mask.
Blend switching

File import

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Using material IDs

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graphics, from
virtual sets to realtime infographics

FEATURE
The Boxtrolls 3D printing tips

WorldMags.net

AUTHOR PROFILE
Barbara
Robertson
Barbara is an awardwinning journalist
specialising in visual
effects, computer
graphics, and
animation. Shes
based in the San
Francisco Bay Area.
@barbarobertson

Laikas rapid prototyping team pushes the boundaries


once again, producing thousands of face parts for
The Boxtrolls, reveals Barbara Robertson

aika was the rst studio to print puppet


faces with 3D printers for stop-frame
animation, and one of the rst companies
to use rapid prototyping machines as a massproduction tools. As a result, the processes
they have developed are state of the art.
The studio rst used the process for
Coraline, released in 2009. For that lm,
painters coloured the plastic parts printed
by the rapid prototyping machines.
For Laikas second lm, Paranorman, the
studio brought in powder-based colour
printers from 3D Systems.
Brian McLean has been the director of the
Rapid Prototyping Department, since Coraline.
He received a Special Achievement Award at
the Annie Awards in 2010.
The studios work on the 2014 lm Boxtrolls
represents the highest form of printing colour
models with a 3D printer. Each of the hero
puppets faces is made of two parts, a brow
part and a mouth part. Animators create facial

BRIAN MCLEAN
Brian McLean is director of
Rapid Prototype, at Laika
Entertainment where he
has been instrumental in
the development of 3D
printer technology for facial
animation at the studio.
www.laika.com

expressions with combinations of the two


parts. Currently, the studio has ve colour 3D
printers and two polyjet printers. The colour
printers, which run almost 24 hours a day,
print the face parts by spraying glue onto ne
layers of powder. The polyjet printers produce
the internal components. Brians
department is responsible for both.
The polyjet technology is
dimensionally accurate, precise,
and consistent, Brian says. The colour
printers are not very accurate. It takes a lot
of nesse and under the hood work to get
these colour-printed faces to work well.
We asked Brian to describe the process of
giving their puppet heroes a thousand faces
(or more) and to share the lessons theyve
learned about creating facial expressions with
3D printed parts, and provide tips for working
with 3D printers no matter your skill level.
Watch the Boxtrolls trailer here
www.bit.ly/189-boxtrolls

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SCAN A MAQUETTE
We start with a clay sculpt, a maquette and
do a high-resolution scan. We want to pick
up every detail, all the hand and tool marks.
Then we print it. The 3D printers often soften
things. If you tried to print a square, it might
come out with slightly rounded edges.

EXAGGERATE THE DETAIL


Our CG modellers sculpt the head
using Topogun with the scan as
a guide. Then they go into Maya
and ZBrush and exaggerate some
of the detail the tool marks,
the planer changes. The intent is
to overdrive the details until the
3D print matches the maquette.
The back and forth process can
take two to three weeks. What
you see on the computer screen
is different from whats printed.
Printing 3D objects is fun, but
it can be frustrating.

RIG THE CG FACE


We have a packet from the 2D department that has a
one-sheet with a range of expressions for each character,
different perspectives of the faces, and a range of
emotions. Also in the packet are a couple of lines of
dialogue strung together in normal, angry, and happy
voices to give a pitch and range to the performance. The
2D department animates that entire line of dialogue so we
can see in 2D how the character talks; its idiosyncrasies.
They animate the front, side, and three-quarters views
with the head locked off to give a schematic look for
the character, how it moves, how the volume changes,
how the wrinkles come and disappear. That gives us
a blueprint for the riggers. They work with a hollow
head. They dont pay attention to the back of the
head or the ears; they only rig the facemask.

Boxtrolls, Laikas
third animated
feature has earned
rave reviews

[ Film title ]

BOXTROLLS
[ Software ]
Maya, ZBrush, Topogun, Mari, Photoshop

[ Website ]
www.laika.com

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FEATURE
The Boxtrolls 3D printing tips

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ENGINEER THE INTERNALS


While the riggers are working,
the modellers switch gears from
sculpting to engineering. They
decide how the head breaks apart,
the face splits, what the eyes look
like, and how the ears come apart.
When the modeller separates the
face from the model, we decide
where the split line will be between
the brow and mouthparts. The
reason we split them is to get
a broad range of expressions.
Its a simple placement. We use
the corner of the eye where that
almond shape comes down. If
a character squints, you see the
cheeks bulge and the eyebrows
move and it all converges and
moves around the corner of the
eyes. The modellers also start
working on the inner components
and decide what the puppet
department will need to build. We
had to make sure we designed
internal components that would
work with their moulding and
casting processes. For Boxtrolls,
we wanted the ears made of
silicon so the animators could
move them around.

TEST THE COLOURS


Tory Bryant, our painter, takes
the same solid head given to the
riggers and begins to test the
painting. Her painting process is
similar to a CG workow: colour
matching with 3D printing. She
uses Photoshop and Mari UV
unwrapping the 3D head and
painting at texture maps in
Photoshop, or wrapping and
painting with UVs in Mari.

PRINT EVERY DAY


Every day we combine everything
into one le that we send to the
printer so we can see whats
working and not working. That
process of getting something
rigged and painted can take three
or four months. Because every lm
is different from the last, every
new character has a whole new
set of problems we havent solved
before, so theres a lot of testing
going on. If we were doing cookie
cutter movies, we could streamline
our builds. But were not.

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Half of Laikas ftyperson rapid prototyping


team is committed to
processing and quality
control, ensuring the
printed parts are right

WorldMags.net
BUILD EXPRESSIONS IN
CG AND PRINT THE PARTS

PUT THE DIGITAL FACES


THROUGH ACTING PASSES

We have two kinds of animators.


Pose animators and dialogue
animators. The pose animators
work with 2D animators. They get
the packet with the 2D drawings
and the line of dialogue that the
riggers used, and work in Maya
using the rig to create different
expressions in 3D for the mouth
and eye parts. Once they get some
poses they think are working well,
they show the director in CG. If the
directors like the performance, we
print out the poses as a test. Well
fully process them, sand the faces,
put them on a stick on the set, and
watch how they move. Quite often
they look different than on the
computer. Weird things disappear,
the cheeks are too thick, we see
colour bleeding through, or maybe
the paint stretches in an unrealistic
way. When the poses look the way
we intend, the pose animators
save them into a digital library, and
send them to the printer to print
out. They build thousands of poses
based on that few seconds of
dialogue and the drawings.

The dialog animators are the facial


animation specialists. They work
with the animation supervisor,
Brad Schiff, who is a stop-motion
animator. And, if its a main
character, the lead animator will
consult at various stages. The
facial animation specialist grabs
eyebrow and mouth shapes from
the digital library and drops them
onto the computer model. Thats
a keyframe. Then they change
the shapes, do another pose, and
keyframe it again. They do acting
passes, timing the poses out.
Theyre trying to see how these
faces will work when they are on
the stop-motion stage. The faces
not only have to move naturally,
but also stay on character.

TEST THE EXTREMES


In the design stage, we take a handful of
extreme poses, maybe 20, and do test prints
to make sure they work without breaking. We
print kits with similar expressions. A kit of smile
faces might contain 200 poses to include all
the phonemes with various smiles. We have a
frown kit, a sneer kit; sometimes as many as 40
kits. Before we start mass production, we take
samples from each to make sure everything
works. Once we start printing, we end up with
tens of thousands of faces that we test. Its a
crazy engineering job. All the shapes have to
ow seamlessly from one to the next. They
have to make sure this smile and that frown
work together. Its a maths problem and it takes
a rigid set of rules. It was difcult on Coraline.
But now we affect more of the characters face.
Weve introduced wrinkles, muscles, pinching
in the eyebrows and the cheeks. They all have
to transition into other poses. That whole
testing process takes six months.

SELECT THE PARTS TO CREATE


SHOT-SPECIFIC EXPRESSIONS
Every time the stop-motion animators get
a line of dialogue and know theyll shoot a
six-second shot of maybe Eggs and Fish and
Shoe, they meet with the facial animation
specialist. The specialist picks mouth and
brow parts from the kits in the digital library
to put together facial poses. They create the
right combination of faces for that moment in
the lm and send them to the director. Once
approved, they create an X-sheet that has
instructions like Put this face on this frame,
hold for 12 frames. It also includes a shopping
list with all the faces needed for the shot. This
enables animators to compartmentalise and
separate the animation task. They animate the
faces rst [in the computer]. The body later.
By the time the stop-motion animators are on
set, they know how the faces will animate. They
drop the faces on at the exact right moment.
Then, they can focus their attention on how the
body, hair, eyes, and eyelids will move.

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CONTENTS

TUTORIALS
Practical tips and tutorials from pro
artists to improve your CG skills

64 BLEND CG AND PHOTOS

How to integrate CG and photography

IN THE
VAULT
www.creativebloq.com/vault/3dw189

ALL YOU NEED


FOR OUR TUTORIALS
www.creativebloq.com/
vault/3dw189
Visit the Vault to add this issues
video tutorials and associated
screenshots and source les
to your personal library

60 RENDER AN EXOTIC LAMBORGHINI

68 GAME ENVIRONMENT

70 FLUID SIMULATION

76 MODEL A DETAILED SCENE

Learn to create vehicle renders with artistic impact, with car lover Amir Erfani

Part 3 of the series looks at using materials

Download video and resource


les by simply visiting this issues Vault
website and clicking the links

Download video from the Vault


if you see this icon

Create streaming uids in RealFlow

74 XGEN AND ARNOLD

Realise a surreal fantasy scene in Arnold

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Create a detailed scene using Modo 801

TUTORIALS
Render your own Lamborghini

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3DS MAX | V-RAY | PHOTOSHOP

RENDER AN EXOTIC
LAMBORGHINI
Follow Amir Erfanis guide to lighting and rendering to
create a dramatic illustration of a Lamborghini Reventon

hen I was asked to


write a tutorial about
my work on this image
of a Lamborghini Reventon, I
thought to myself: There are
a thousand tutorials about
modelling and rendering cars.
What can I show you thats a little
bit different and might enable
you to learn something new? I
came up with the idea of sharing
my experience of making your
works more artistic rather than
creating a hyper-real render that
is indistinguishable from a photo.

ARTIST PROFILE
Amir Erfani
Amir is a 3D artist
with a passion for
automotive design.
He enjoys creating
art with a gamestyle look to it
www.amirhosseinerfani.com

I believe realism is not the main


point of 3D nowadays; it takes a
lot to make your artwork more
memorable for your audience.
Of course, there is a lot to learn
about lighting and rendering,
but those are mainly tasks for the
computer. We should never forget
that we, the artists, are presenting
an artwork, and that takes more
than simply knowing about all
those cool technical tips.
In this tutorial, Ill explain how to
render a Lamborghini Reventon,
and share some tips about using

V-Rays car paint shader, setting


up the lights and nalising the
image, both for the cover of the
magazine and another rendered
image of the same model. Ill also
talk a little about composition,
lighting and the colour palette of
the image.
Hopefully at the end of this
tutorial, you'll know how to create
a great car render and be able
to apply the lessons here to any
vehicle you care to create.
For all the assets you need, go to
creativebloq.com/vault/3dw189

EXPERT TIP
Power it up
Find the power angle and
best material and lighting
setup for your car. Theres
no formula for vehicle
rendering: what works for
one car is not necessarily
best for another.
COMPOSITION: This simple top view of a Ferrari will
look incorrect if we choose the wrong aspect ratio

1 BASICS OF COMPOSITION

TOPICS COVERED
Materials
Lighting
Rendering
Post-production

This is a very important step. Lets not forget that


whatever we do, were showing an image in a frame.
This frame could be horizontal, vertical or square,
depending on the purpose of the image. Sometimes
you come up with an idea and search for a good
aspect ratio and composition for the image, and
sometimes youre given a xed frame: in our case,
the cover of 3D World. You need to understand the
rules of composition to make a good impression.

FUNCTION: Having the space around the car leaves


room for cover elements such as the logo and coverlines

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COMPOSITION CHOICES
I chose a back view and
left the top and bottom
parts of the image empty
because I knew text had
to be added around them

TUTORIALS
Render your own Lamborghini

WorldMags.net

SETTING UP LIGHTS
You might want to create
your materials rst, but I
prefer to set up my lights
before continuing. It can
save a lot of render time

2 LIGHTING SETUP

3 TIPS ABOUT V-RAY LIGHTS

I tend to set up my lights at this point. You can use


V-Rays VRayOverrideMtl material to see only the
effect of the lights. The VRayLight provides indirect
illumination which gives you smooth shadows, and
VRaySun gives you direct illumination with sharp
shadows. As this is an exterior scene and theres no
light source but the sun, I use a combination of both,
but disable the VRaySuns illumination so we only
have the smooth shadows created by the VRayLight.

There are four Type settings for a VRayLight: Plane,


Sphere, Dome and Mesh. I want the light to behave
like a skylight, so I choose Dome so that I can provide
my scene with indirect illumination from all possible
angles. Assigning a HDR map to a Dome light as
a texture is a great way to provide the scene with
image-based lighting. The HDR image also acts as
a nice reection source for the reective materials in
the scene.

4 SETTING THE ENVIRONMENT

5 ADDING MATERIALS

The object needs an environment: not only does it


ll the background but its reection can be seen on
the surface of the car. You could create a genuine 3D
environment, or you could simply put your car in a
photo and try to match the two. In this case, I create
a very basic deformed plane, assigning a simple
material to represent white sand, and a simple sky
which well work on later in post. (The image above
shows the same model with a different background.)

Back to our own image. Its time for the materials,


particularly the car paint shader. VRayCarPaintMtl is
a great addition to V-Rays materials and gives you
an awesome result, but I recommend that you try
making your own car paint shader: it helps you to
understand V-Ray materials better. I create a simple
car paint shader using a glossy VRayMtl blended
with a less glossy VRayMtl using the VRayBlendMtl
and enable Fresnel reections.

EASY ENVIRONMENTS
Placing your sports
car in a photograph
If you need to present your
vehicle in a nice way but dont
have time to create a complete
3D environment, its a good
idea to put your vehicle in
an actual photo. This has the
advantage that theres no need
to model anything but your car,
but you have to make sure your
car matches with the image.
Perspective, materials, the
type and direction of the lights
you use, and the interaction
between the 3D model and
the photo the reections and
shadows must all be considered.
If you dont have an HDR image
for the background photo, I
suggest using the whole image
as a texture in the cars diffuse
channel and blending the result
into the surface in Photoshop.
This might sound a little weird,
but trust me: doing this has
saved me a couple of times
when I have been out of HDRIs
and backplates.

PERSONAL PREFERENCE
Which passes you render
depends on your personal
workow. You should
render only as many passes
as you need to create
the nal image

6 PREPARING THE PASSES


After youre done with composition, lighting,
materials, its time to think about generating render
passes that can make the nal image even better.
In these images, I have the main pass without the
details of the sky and ground; a sunlight pass; a sand
pass in which I have covered the car with white sand
so that I can mimic the effect of sand grains clinging
to the paintwork; and a mask pass which helps to
separate the car from the background.

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EXPERT TIP

7 PHOTOSHOP COMPOSITING

8 ADDING POST EFFECTS

Next, we need to combine all the passes we


rendered in the previous step to create a single
image. We can do that in any compositing software;
I use Photoshop. Importing all the passes into
Photoshop as separate layers and playing with them
leads me to this image. I also decide to light up the
back light, thinking that a red element will improve
the colour palette and help prevent the image from
becoming too monotone.

This is my favourite phase of the work. Before this,


youre just a 3D artist, but here youre the art director
of your own project. I add some particles and lights,
along with the red part of the car body that supports
the back light, using masking and some basic colour
correction and level adjustments. Some of this work
could be done in 3D, but it can be quicker and more
creative to make these adjustments during postproduction. Feel free to experiment and enjoy.

Develop your own style


Realism is good, but try to
develop your own style as
well: not everything that is
real is necessarily special.
However, achieving realism
is the first step. You have
to know the rules before
you can break them.

TAKING CENTRE STAGE


In the nal image, the
forms and light have been
directed to make sure that
the Lamborghini Reventon
is the hero of the piece

9 CREATING TYRE TRACKS

10 FINALISING THE IMAGE

I add the tyre pattern on the sand next. I nd


VRayDisplacementMod a very handy tool for doing
this. I create the tyre texture by duplicating the tyre
model and bending it, then applying the resulting
texture to the ground. You can also use 3ds Maxs
classic Displacement channel to do this, but it takes
a lot longer to render.

In Photoshop, I adjust the contrast, sharpness, focal


depth, colour correction, vignetting and all the other
things that will help the vehicle to stand out in the
image. As you can see, Im directing the forms and
the light in a way that the Lambo is the hero of the
piece. I have to be mindful of other elements that
may be added to it. If this were a personal piece,
I would go for a horizontal shot, but since my brief
was for a magazine cover, I have to present it like this.

11 THE FINAL RESULT


Heres the nal image. As you can see, weve only
used basic tools, and thats exactly the point of this
tutorial: to explain that creating great CG images
is all about employing basic principles well. Try to
create a mood for your artwork, as if there is a
story behind it. And remember: how successful
an image is isnt just about how real it looks its
also about how you express your own visual taste
through your workow.

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TUTORIALS
Integrate photography and CG

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MODO | ZBRUSH | MARVELOUS DESIGNER | PHOTOSHOP

HOW TO BLEND CG
AND PHOTOGRAPHY
Rafael Vallaperde creates a realistic render of a mermaid
and a diver by integrating CG with photography

O
ARTIST PROFILE
Rafael Vallaperde
Rafael is a CGI artist
and director at Lightfarm
Studios in Brazil. He
has experience in the
advertising industry
and enjoys creating
art by blending art and
photography together.
lightfarmstudios.com.br

ver the next few pages


youll learn the process
needed to create a highly
complex image, integrating
photography with CGI seamlessly.
On a production level we
can divide the image into ve
steps: Blocking out, developing,
shooting, developing again, and
merging CG and photography.
First well go through the
concept and idea. What are the
key aspects we want to highlight
and communicate? Then we move
on to modelling and blocking
the scene. Then its texture time.
Well use Polypaint in ZBrush and
Photoshop to get our textures
looking nice. After these steps we
should be ready to click.

The photography is a key element


in this scene, and while we used a
professional underwater shoot you
can adapt the core process. After
getting the shot ready we come
back to our 3D environment and
tweak everything again to make
sure it all matches.
When we move on to the
rendering, Modos nice rendering
engine kicks in. Many techniques
will be used here like SSS
(subsurface scattering) and
progressive rendering.
Finally, well merge our render
and our mermaid shot this is
where we give the scene some
nal touches of realism.
For all the assets you need go to
creativebloq.com/vault/3dw189

FOLLOW
THE VIDEO
If you see the Play icon,
click the link!

CLICK TO PLAY VIDEO


http://bit.ly/189-dive

FINDING YOUR
COMPOSITION
Theres no right or
wrong way to find your
composition, but to me
drawing is the best way
to get it right; it is a
good way to grab a lot of
expression, especially if
you sketch it quickly

TOPICS COVERED
Modelling
Shading
Photography
CGI integration
Retouching

1 THE CONCEPT

2 BLOCKING OUT

This idea was born while I was randomly sketching


between renders at Lightfarm NZ; Ive always been
fascinated by the sea and human relationship. To
communicate the idea, I knew it would need to be
dark and moody. While many things changed along
the process, the colour and mood remained the
same since the rst sketches.

Blocking is key to creating a successful image, as


you can see if the piece is going to work or not. This
is where you should gure out the composition and
relationship between all the parts of the puzzle.
Often people tend to jump straight into modelling
their assets, but I would always advise you to block
out your image rst. I tend to go back and forth,
blocking with 3D shapes and painting on top of
the renders in Photoshop.

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MERMAIDS EXIST
Rafael has made the
unreal real by mixing
CG and photography
to create this scene

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TUTORIALS
Integrate photography and CG

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SEAMLESS INTEGRATION
Make sure the angle and light
match; the angle above all,
otherwise it wont ever feel right
and you wont even know why

EXPERT TIP
Tweaking in
Marvelous Designer
In Marvelous Designer you
can tweak your cloth a lot
and when youre ready to
go, make sure you lower
the particle distance on
your fabric to something
quite low like 3 or 1: using
Marvelous Designer is
processor heavy.

3 SETTING THE LIGHTING

4 CREATING THE HELMET

Once youre happy with the composition, you can


start detailing. I did some basic lighting just to get
the composition right as luminosity plays a huge
part on how we read an image. Next, its time to get
these assets ready. Sometimes you'll have a nice
composition where everything works well together
as at shapes but then you start to light it and boom,
it looks bad. Thats mainly because every element
will have a different weight when lit, so take care.

Now we move onto some hard surface modelling. To


model the helmet I source reference of old divers
helmets and mix elements I like together. Use basic
poly modelling to get the shape, then move to
ZBrush and sculpt the irregularities on the copper
material. After nishing with ZBrush, bring the asset
back to Modo, import the irregularities through
displacement mapping and get all that nice detail
back in Modo. At this point I also set up my shader.

5 CREATING THE DIVERS BODY


The divers body is mainly done using the usual
poly modelling (plane and box) technique, and
Marvelous Designer to simulated the cloth parts.
Marvelous Designer makes complex and technical
tasks like simulating cloth a piece of cake. And as all
your simulated cloth comes with perfect UV maps,
applying textures on them becomes very easy. You
can use the wind feature to simulate submerged
fabric as shown in the screengrab.

6 SCULPTING THE TAIL

EXPERT TIP

Getting the tail on the model correctly is hard due


to the scales pattern. I try a couple of different looks
and shaders until I come up with something I am
happy with. The tail is modelled from scratch using
ZBrush. The secret here is to generate a nice scale
map, and then UV map it onto the tail, convert it into
a selection and paint the scales volume back onto
the mesh. Then Polypaint the model to give it colour
and import the maps back into Modo.

Masking is
your friend
When Polypainting
make sure you mask
a lot. The masking tab
has some very powerful
masking algorithms
such as cavity
and occlusion.

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EXPERT TIP

Modos Mesh Paint


Mesh Paint is a nice
feature in Modo, it is
also present on most 3D
apps under a different
name, so make sure you
use it! Its an awesome
way to get lots of
detail quickly.

7 DETAIL THE ENVIRONMENT

Mark Carter Photography 2013

I do a lot of work on the environment. The rocks are


modelled in ZBrush and then I add coral on them
using Modos Mesh Paint tool. Mesh Paint is also
used to scatter little sh and smaller rocks across the
scene. The sandy seabed is modelled in ZBrush too.
You can see how to do this in detail in the video, you
can download this from the link on page 64. The ship
and sh models come from stock, thanks to Mr. Tim
Klanderud. Now its time for the photography shoot.

8 FINAL RENDERING
After the shoot, we analyse the shot from two
perspectives, camera matching as per angle and
distortion, and lighting matching. The tail is posed to
match up with the models waist at the correct angle.
The camera and lighting are adjusted to match the
picture. This scene is quite heavy to render, but
setting the render to progressive helped to get rid
of all the noise as Modo keeps ring samples until
you call it done.

9 RETOUCHING OUR MERMAID

10 ADD DEPTH WITH DETAILS

My business partner and great friend Milton


Menezes is tasked with retouching the mermaid and
the nal comp. Combining many pictures into one is
a tricky task as we have to respect many goals. Firstly
her arms have to be in a position where she can cut
the air hose and touch the helmet at the same time.
After creating the combined picture we extend her
hair and nails so they look more dramatic.

This is the nal step, where we add depth to the


image. We add bubbles to increase the sense of
movement on the tail and to help create the illusion
of depth. Actual pictures of sharks, sh, sting ray
and many corals are added to bump the realism
of the shot. Doing this helps to trick the eye, and
when done properly the viewer shouldnt know
where CG and the photography blend together.

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ON THE SHOOT
Photographing the model
Most people think this image
was created using a large
budget, because of the quality
of the render, but it was actually
a budget production. We
rented a divers training pool,
hired some lights, a model
and a photographer, and that
was it. Mark Carter was the
photographer on this shoot.
(I have to say a big thank you to
him. Thanks Mark!)
We did the lighting setup
to mimic the 3D environment.
The model on the shooting is
Natasha Johnstone, shes done a
wonderful job. (Again, massive
thanks to her too.)
During the session we found
that it is very hard to control the
movement/acting. So we had an
approach that is very common to
fashion shooting, do it a million
times and comp it all into a
single shot.

POST-PRODUCTION WORK
Good retouching can take you miles
ahead from where your raw render
is, adding lots of detail that would
be impossible or unpractical to
model. When dealing with images
Photoshop is unbeatable. Add
bubbles to increase the sense of
movement on the tail and to help
create the illusion of depth

TUTORIALS
Build a game environment

WorldMags.net

3DS MAX | PHOTOSHOP | CRAZYBUMP | UNREAL EDITOR 4

GAME ENVIRONMENT
PART 3: MATERIALS
Andrew Finch shows you how to deal with assets and materials
for this video game scene, in part three of our six-part series

L
ARTIST PROFILE
Andrew Finch
Andrew is a senior
environment and
lighting artist at
Codemasters Game
Studio in Birmingham.
He has been in the
industry professionally
for seven years.
www.andrewnch.
carbonmade.com

TOPICS COVERED
Importing assets
Creating new materials
Creating PBS materials
Applying materials to assets

ast issue we looked at UV


unwrapping the asset for
texturing and lighting and
also learnt the process for creating
diffuse, specular and normal
maps. We talked about texture
creation: I tend to make my own
textures using Photoshop to
manipulate photographs to
create diffuse and specular ones.
Remeber theres a wealth of free
photograph galleries online that
you can use.
This time were going to work
on the assets and materials.
When dealing with your assets in
Unreal Editor you usually work via
the Content Browser. This browser
allows you to add folders to better
organise and nd your assets
when creating a new environment,
as scenes can get large quickly.
Ill show you how to import your
assets into the correct folders

within the Content Browser


and create materials to apply
to your meshes.
I spend a lot of time creating
and modifying assets in the
Content Browser and with the
new tools in Unreal 4 its now

easier than ever to transfer assets


from one project to another.
This tutorial will concentrate
on material creation. Materials
are very important to get
right because they affect the
visuals of your environment so

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FOLLOW
THE VIDEO
If you see the Play icon,
click the link!

much. Materials in Unreal are


very powerful and give you
the ability to create all sorts of
visual styles from photorealistic
to cell-shaded cartoon.
You can also create special
effects such as animated materials
and self-illuminating properties
that also give off light in your
environment. The Material Editor
is very simple to use and import
your textures, it uses a visual
node-based graphical interface.
This means its very simple to
create your materials from a visual
perspective which is fantastic
for artists. The Material Editor
is where I will set up a quick
example of the physically based
shader in order to get a realisticlooking surface that reects the
environment in the correct way.
For all the assets you need go to
creativebloq.com/vault/3dw189

WorldMags.net
USING TEXTURE
SAMPLES
Hold down [T] with
texture selected in the
asset browser to drop
a texture sample node
into the material

CLICK TO PLAY VIDEO


www.bit.ly/189-game3

1 IMPORTING ASSETS

2 CREATING NEW MATERIALS

With the Content Browser open select the game


folder and right-click to add a new folder. This is the
location for all your assets so name it accordingly.
Open an explorer window and browse to the
location of your exported .fbx les and select all of
them; simply drag the selection from the window
into the new folder you created. Unreal presents you
with an .fbx importer options window, just change
the normals rollout setting to Calculate Normals.

Using the same technique for the meshes, drag and


drop the textures into a new folder called materials.
With the textures imported, right-click anywhere
in free space within the materials folder and select
Material from the rollout. This will create a blank
material, name it appropriately. Double-clicking on
the new material will open the material up for editing
in a new window. This is where you drop your textures
into the material and can set up how it will look.

3 ASSIGNING TEXTURES

4 EXPERIMENTING WITH PBS

You have to plug in textures to their corresponding


material slot in order for them to work correctly.
For example, the diffuse texture will link into the
Base Colour slot and the normal texture will link to
the Normal slot. Drop Texture Nodes into the new
material and assign textures to each of them, in this
case, diffuse, normal and specular. Then link each
texture to its corresponding material slot.

To use the new PBS technology you need to put a


value into the Roughness slot of the material, in the
garage door example, the diffuse has two kinds of
materials, brick and metal. Using a Constant Node
gives the same result across both surfaces which was
no good; you have to create a new texture to plug
into the Roughness slot. The brick surface would be
white and the metal would be black. You can now
see the metal is reective and the brick work is not.

EXPERT TIP
Applying new materials
If you want to see what a
new material looks like on
a particular mesh that is
already in the scene, drag
and drop the new material
from Content Browser
directly onto the static
mesh in the viewport and
Unreal will automatically
apply the material.

Its OK to leave the


smaller objects such
as the litter at a size
of 32 as they wont need
such high resolution

MASS IMPORT ASSETS


You can now drag multiple
assets into the Content
Browser at once to mass
import, this saves a lot
of time and fuss

5 APPLY MATERIALS TO ASSETS

6 SETTING UP MESHES

Assigning materials to static meshes is easy. In the


Content Browser nd the garage door mesh and
double-click it to open its properties. Back in the
Content Browser window locate the new garage
door material you created in the previous step and
select it; return to the garage door mesh window and
youll see a grey sphere in the element 0 section of
the details panel, click the arrow; this will assign the
selected material into this slot and to the mesh itself.

Your static meshes will require some minor setting


changes in order to light correctly. We have to
increase the size of the light map the asset will use
to get a good resolution for our shadows this is all
dependant on the size of the asset. Here the garage
door asset is selected and because this is quite a
large object for our scene the light map needs to
have good resolution, so change the Light Map Res
from 32 to 512. The smaller objects can stay at 32.

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TUTORIALS
Fluid simulation

WorldMags.net
FOLLOW
THE VIDEO
If you see the Play icon,
click the link!

REALFLOW | 3DS MAX | AFTER EFFECTS

CREATE A STREAMING
FLUID SIMULATION
Vikrant J Dalal explains how to create quick and
successful uid simulations for different liquids

his tutorial will show you how


to create liquid owing onto
an object. This technique
can be used to simulate anything,
dripping chocolate or honey
or indeed any thick liquid, onto
some icecream, for example. So
to start, I will introduce the idea
of streaming liquid. You may have
seen many TV commercials which
include this kind of effect and now
we will look to create the same
technique so you can add it into
your workow and projects.
Theres a lot of software that
we can use to create good liquid
effects, for example, Naiad,
RealFlow, Houdini, and so forth,
but many big VFX and animation
studios use RealFlow software in

ARTIST PROFILE
Vikrant J Dalal
Vikrant has worked in
the VFX and graphic
design industry for
eight years. He has
started his own VFX
studio, Project01
Design Studio, which
provides VFX, graphic
design and tutorials.
www.project01studio.
blogspot.in

their pipeline, as this software is


well established, trustworthy and
most importantly user friendly a
key ingredient for anyone looking
to create intricate VFX.
There are different techniques
you can use to make this effect in
RealFlow, for example, Grid Fluid
& Particle Fluid, but we are going
to use Grid Fluid.
Before you start working on
this kind of effect, you should
have some knowledge of liquid
properties. You must know about
viscosity, have a good grasp on
density, understand stickiness and
what friction is, and so on. Also
there are different types of liquids
and you should account for that:
water, oil, milk, honey, paint, all

behave in slightly different and


unique ways.
I cant teach you each and every
parameter of this software, as it is
vast. However, as far as the topic
of streaming liquid is concerned,
we will learn as much as required
for this particular tutorial. This is a
very interesting subject, because
you cant dene one certain
process to create a good liquid
effect. As much as you will know
the tools, you will nd different
types of effects every time you
play with the software, depending
on your own understanding of
the tools and techniques you will
discover something new.
For all the assets you need go to
creativebloq.com/vault/3dw189

EXPERT TIP
Do your R&D
Play with parameters
and daemons so that
you will be able to
see how a variety
of liquid properties
act, for example,
honey possesses
different properties
to water.

TOPICS COVERED
Fluid simulation
Scene setup

CLICK TO PLAY VIDEO


www.bit.ly/189-realow-1

CLICK TO PLAY VIDEO


www.bit.ly/189-realow-2

1 EXPORT GEOMETRY

2 SCENE SCALE AND SETUP

Lets start with building up the 3ds Max scene.


Use two GeoSpheres or any geometry through
which the liquid will be colliding. If you are using
GeoSpheres then keep the radius of both the
objects as 20. Then export this geometry in .obj
format. To show you this effect in my demonstration
I have used eggs and if you need it you can nd the
attached project les in this issues Vault follow
the link at the start of this tutorial.

To create the owing liquid, open RealFlow and


create a new project. Now click on the Object menu
and select Import. Now open the previously saved
.obj le, you need to change the scene scale doing
this will save you time. In order to do this, click on the
Scale Option button and change the scale from 10
to 1. This means that we have reduced the scale by
ten times from the actual 3ds Max scene, and so will
speed up the simulation time.

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CLICK TO PLAY VIDEO


www.bit.ly/189-realow-3

3 CREATE GRID FLUID DOMAIN

4 CREATE A SPHERE

Now click on Show Grid Fluid menu from the


toolbar then go to Domain, a box will appear
on both the GeoSpheres. Next go to the Nodes
parameters on the right-hand side and change the
Position, Rotation and Scale as required. Now click
on the uid option below Nodes and change the
Resolution, Density, Viscosity and Compressibility as
shown in the image. For example, for a thick liquid
ow, you have to increase the amount of Viscosity.

Next we need to create an animated sphere that we


will use to emit the liquid. We want to keep moving
this sphere so that the liquid spreads on both the
GeoSpheres evenly. Now click on Show Grid Fluid
menu button and go to Emitter and select the sphere
we have created. Now make some changes in Emitter
parameters as shown in the image above.

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GREEN GLOOP
Learn how to create
quick and successful
uid simulations for
different liquids

TUTORIALS
Fluid simulation

WorldMags.net

HITTING SIMULATE
The time it takes to
simulate will depend on your
machines conguration:
you may need to reduce the
Fluid resolution to get a lowspec system to simulate

5 USING THE GRAVITY DAEMON 6 START THE SIMULATION


To make the liquid move downwards we need gravity
and so we use the Gravity Daemon. To do this, click
on the Show Daemon menu and once open select
Gravity. Now move to the Nodes parameters and
change the Gravity strength from 9.8 to 98. This will
make sure the owing liquid now drops faster as it is
released. We are now set for the fun part, creating
the simulation.

After setting up all the prescribed parameters and


animation, its time to hit the simulation button. It will
take around two or three hours to simulate. (The time
frame completely depends upon your machines
conguration.) If you dont have a highly congured
machine then you must go to Grid Fluid Domain
and decrease the Fluid resolution amount and then
simulate it. By doing this you might get a lower
quality of simulation, but at least youll have one!

7 CREATING THE MESHES

8 IMPORT MESH INTO 3DS MAX

Now convert the particles into a mesh. To do this go


to Show Mesh menu in Toolbar and select Particle
Mesh (Render Kit). This will be reected in the Nodes
section. Right-click on ParticleMesh_RK01 and select
the Insert Emitters option and then Add Grid Fluid
Emitter. Again, click on ParticleMesh_RK01 and
change the appropriate Parameters in Nodes Params.
Now click on Grid Fluid Emitter, which falls under
ParticleMesh_RK01 and change the parameters.

Now again click on ParticleMesh_RK01 and hit the


Build Meshes Button on the Toolbar. Now that
youve built the meshes, its time to import your
mesh into 3ds Max. So, now open the 3ds Max
le where we have the prepared GeoSpheres and
through the RealFlow Mesh Loader import the Liquid
Mesh. You will nd this option in the Geometry
section on the right-hand side of the panel.

PARTICLE FLUID METHOD


Ways to make fluids flow
In this tutorial we have created a
owing liquid effect by using Grid
Fluid but this same effect can be
achieved by using Particle Fluid.
However, if you choose the latter
method you will have to modify
a lot of parameters, which can be
very time-consuming. The Grid
Fluid process explained here is
a much easier method.

CLICK TO PLAY VIDEO


www.bit.ly/189-realow-4

9 LIGHTING AND RENDERING


After importing your new mesh into 3ds Max, you
can set up the lights required and then render
the sequence. Here I have chosen V-Ray as a my
renderer and V-RayFastsss2 as my material. This is
the time to assign your colours to the liquid and the
object. After nishing up with rendering, import the
sequence into After Effects and assign some effects
as per your requirements. Then export this image
sequence in video format.

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TUTORIALS
Animating abstract patterns

WorldMags.net
FOLLOW
THE VIDEO
If you see the Play icon,
click the link!

ARNOLD RENDERER | XGEN

CORE SKILLS: RENDERING


WITH XGEN AND ARNOLD
Make use of Solid Angles Arnold renderer and XGen to realise a surreal
fantasy scene with Lee Griggs and Pedro F Gmez

A
ARTIST PROFILE
Lee Griggs

ARTIST PROFILE
Pedro F Gmez

Lee is a technical
author at Solid
Angle where he tests
and documents the
Arnold renderer.
www.leegriggs.com

Pedro is a software
engineer at Solid
Angle. He assisted
Lee with his XGen
experitse in here.
www.pedrofe.com

TOPICS COVERED
Organic modelling
Using primitives
Lighting techniques
Creating depth of field

rnold is a production ray


tracing renderer thats
used in many feature lms,
animations and commercials. It
excels in four main areas: highperformance rendering, scalability
to many threads, low memory
usage and ease of use.
Arnolds focus is on cuttingedge unbiased Monte Carlo raytracing techniques, it also avoids
cutting corners with point cloud
caches or other tricks that would
increase visual bias and reduce
delity. It integrates this approach
with all the usual suspects: motion
blur, displacement, subdivision
surfaces, primitives like hair
and particles, volumetrics, level
sets and so on. And it does this
while maintaining high-scene
complexity and handling scenes
with hundreds of millions of

unique polygons in its stride.


Its scalability ensures it will
continue to make gains on future
hardware as new CPU technology
hits the market. The focus on
unbiased rendering techniques
and fast, progressive interactive
preview provides natural global
illumination out of the box,
reducing the number of iterations
you take to nal a scene or shot.
Here we will focus on the new
XGen in Maya via the Maya-toArnold (MtoA) plug-in. The two
packages go well together, as
XGen can be used to generate
interesting and organic elements
such as fur, particle systems, or
complex layouts.
XGen is a powerful tool that
offers creative opportunities
for positioning an arbitrary
number of primitives. You can use

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expressions or texture maps with


XGen Descriptions to specify the
location and density of primitive
generation. You can also control
any other attribute of these
primitives. These primitives can
range from spheres and splines to
geometry that has been exported
as an archive.
We will use XGen to create a
complex scene with more than 50
thousand instances of a primitive
that itself has over 100 thousand
triangles. The nal scene has a
total of 3 billion visible triangles
and it will render using only 1.2GB
of memory. You will experience
Arnolds interactive rendering
capabilities when modifying
shaders, lights and camera in
a Maya IPR session.
For more about Arnold and
MtoA visit: solidangle.com

WorldMags.net
XGEN DESCRIPTION
You may need to modify
the Size attribute so that
the primitive size ts
the scene
CLICK TO PLAY VIDEO
www.bit.ly/189-arnold

1 MAKE THE PRIMITIVE ARCHIVE 2 THE XGEN DESCRIPTION


Load the geometry that you want to use as the
XGen archive. Any initial shaders you apply will be
able to be modied later. Export the archive to the
Arnold format; ensure the MtoA plug-in is loaded.
Open the Arnold Render Settings to initialise MtoA
settings for the scene. Save the scene. With the
geometry selected go to XGen>Export Selection as
Archive(s) Rename the Archive Name to stalagmite
and choose to save the archive to the Local Archives.

Create a polygon plane, select it and go to XGen>


Create Description, then Custom Geometry/Archives
and click Create. In the Archive Files section, add the
archive youve created. Use one of XGens sample
expressions on the Twist attribute to add randomness
to the primitives: Under Primitive Attributes, click on
the arrow next to the Twist slider control. Select Load
Expression>Samples>Geometry>Flatten_Room.
Increase the Twist Width to 200.

EXPERT TIP
Randomising
the primitives
After adding the archive
youll notice that the
primitives are randomly
scattered over the plane,
but with the same size
and orientation, so youll
have to randomise the
orientation to make
it look right.

MODIFY A TEXTURE MAP


Click on the disk icon at the
right of the length attribute
control to save it. Values from
a texture map go from 0 to 1. If
we want to change this range
and add a bit of randomness to
the primitive height, we can do
this by modifying the current
Length expression.

3 ADJUST THE DENSITY VALUES 4 CONTROL THE LENGTH


If the stalagmite archives are too densely packed, you
may want to reduce the density value, or if they are
too far apart, you may need to increase the density
or decrease the maximum width size. The image
shows the effect that increasing the density has on
the number of primitives created by XGen. You can
decrease the Percent attribute to reduce the number
of primitives being represented in the viewport while
still being able to render all of them with Arnold.

To control the length (height) of the primitives create


a texture map: Click on the downward pointing arrow
to the right of Length. Select Create Map (This only
works if the plane has a Maya shader assigned to
it). Increase Map Resolution to 200 and click Create.
Youll see in the Hypershade or Node Editor that a
le texture node has been connected to the plane.
Select the le texture and open the texture map that
you want to use to drive the length of the primitives.

5 LIGHTING AND CAMERA DOF 6 USE AN IPR TO TEST RENDER


Select Arnold>Lights>SkyDome Light. Connect a
le texture to the Color attribute of the sky dome
light and choose an HDR map. Adjust the Exposure
in the Arnold settings of the sky dome light so that
the scene is evenly lit. Increase light samples to 3.
Add some DOF to the camera to simulate a macro
photography shot; position it close to the XGen
description. Increase the focal length of the camera.

Using IPR rendering with MtoA enables you to


interactively update the lighting, cameras and
shaders in your scene. You may need to refresh
the IPR after making adjustments to the XGen
description. Once youre happy, you are ready to
render. Increase the Camera(AA) samples to around
7 or 8. If you get any noise in the indirectly lit areas
of the scene, increase the Diffuse (GI) samples to 3.

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MODIFYING THE
LENGTH EXPRESSION
Use the Expression Editor
Click on the Expression icon to the
right of the Length slider control.
You should see the following
length expression text in the
Expression Editor:
$a=map(${DESC}/paintmaps/
length);#3dpaint,200.0.
$a
Add the following line in the
Expression Editor before the last
line:
$a = 2*$a + rand(0,0.75)
Now the primitives will have a
length ranging from 0 to 2, and an
additional random value between
0 and 0.75 will be added. Click on
Accept when you are done.

ADDING DOF
In the nal image a value of
65mm was used. Select the
camera and go to the Arnold
settings. Select Enable DOF
and choose a focus distance. In
order to add shallow DOF to the
camera, increase the aperature
size. Adjust this value according
to the size of your scene

WorldMags.net

TUTORIALS
Model a complex scene in Modo

MODO | ZBRUSH | PHOTOSHOP

MODEL A DETAILED
ENVIRONMENT
Daniel D'Avila reveals how to build a complex
3D environment using Modos powerful tools

he Egyptian universe is
a fascinating subject to
consider for a modelling
environment project. From its
fantastic architecture to its god
statues, the elements are a good
ARTIST PROFILE
starting point for a fresh image.
Daniel D'Avila
Daniel is a 2D and 3D In this project Ill be combining
illustrator based in
a pyramid scene with the
Sao Paulo in Brazil
excitement of a theme park. Well
with 16 years of
be using Modo and its powerful
advertising industry
native render engine to help us.
experience. He also
The possibilities that this scene
owns DAvila Studio.
offer are exciting, and we need
www.davilastudio.com to ensure we dont get carried
away at the start, so begin by
collecting good references. A
good understanding of not only
Egyptian culture and icons, but
also how rollercoasters and theme
parks work is needed to make this
piece successful.
In this tutorial well be covering
the use of references along
with key techniques in Modo
and ZBrush to ensure that the
Egyptian theme park feels
authentic and accurate.
As well as showing how to
create the cutout of the park ride
to reveal the interior detail, its
important to focus on the realism
of the model, so well be exploring
ways to texture and light the
scene in Modo, and importantly
how to save time when modelling
TOPICS COVERED multiple objects like intricate brick
Scene modelling
work. With nothing left to add,
Render techniques lets buy a ticket to ride and start
Composition tips
the project!
For all the assets you need visit
Lighting & texture
creativebloq.com/vault/3dw189
Colour correction

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THE BRICK BRUSH


Rather than sculpting
each brick by hand,
Daniel made an alpha
brush with a brick texture

WorldMags.net

TUTORIALS
Model a complex scene in Modo

PLANNING IS THE KEY


Mix media in environments
No matter what subject you want
to illustrate, make sure you plan
it as much as possible. Study and
gather reference of your subject.
Begin with pencil and paper. You
dont have to solve everything in
3D. The process need not to be a
personal challenge with sleepless
nights. Combine what ts best.
Maybe a CGI of the background
is the best choice as it will give
you the quality and realism you
seek. Maybe some retouches with
digital painting can do the trick
and save you lots of headaches.
Try to imagine the workow
youll adopt and try to choose the
best program for each task. Also
research your colour scheme and
lighting. Imagine how the eyes
will wander around the image
and the points of interest; try to
balance them. And try to have
fun, good solutions will appear,
especially when you do what
you love.

1 PLAN THE PROJECT

2 CREATE THE BASE MESH

After spending some time researching rollercoaster


rides and ghost trains, I ended up with my nal
sketch. This sketch will help me during the process
of making the image; it will inform the composition
of the elements, lighting sources, scale and other
elements. I aimed to maintain the rich detail on each
oor and make the ride coherent. It begins at the
top of the pyramid and comes out of the Pharaoh's
mouth all the way down to the other oors.

So rst, prepare the base mesh model of the


pyramid inside Modo. Begin with a basic four-sided
pyramid shape. It has to have a big hole cut into the
pyramid surface like the sketch. To achieve this, add
some edge loops horizontally and vertically using the
Edge Slice tool or the keyboard shortcut [Alt]+[C]
with the specied range of slices. Notice that I will
divide my pyramid into rectangular polygons that are
approximate to bricks at the scale that I want.

3 CREATING THE CUTOUT

4 SCULPTING IN ZBRUSH

Now delete the desired polygons to make the hole.


Before deleting them, switch to Wireframe mode,
this enables you to select all the polygons you want
with a single selection, including the inner polygons.
Use the RMB to Lasso-select the polygons and
observe the irregular ow of the edges hole. Delete
them. Now use the Thicken tool to reach the desired
thickness of the stone walls. Now the base mesh is
ready to receive minor details in the next step.

Only export the front broken walls of the pyramid


since the other walls will not appear in the scene.
Using good pyramid reference, work on major
sculpting details and then on the smaller ones. I use
three brushes for this task: Trim Dynamic, Smooth
and the Move brush for larger bumps. Make a mask
with the bump shape and then bring it out with
Move tool, atten it with Trim Dynamic and smooth
the edges with the Smooth tool.

5 CREATE A BRICK BRUSH

6 WORK ON THE TEXTURES

Make an alpha brush with a brick texture. I made


mine in Modo after sculpting a couple of them and
applying the Geometry To Brush command. This
renders an alpha map based on camera projection.
To use the brick brush on the pyramids surface,
mask the wall, excluding its thickness, so the texture
will not exceed its limits. Select the brick alpha map
and use DragRect stroke to drag the texture over the
model. Adjust Z intensity and Draw Size if needed.

Now that you have textured your wall its time to


work on its thickness. For the rock textures I used
brushes that I downloaded from Pixologic, but you
could produce your own brushes using the same
procedure as in step 5. Use those brushes combined
with DragRect stroke and vary Zadd and Zsub while
sculpting. Rotate them to avoid pattern repetitions.
When youre happy, optimise the mesh. (At this stage
my mesh was about 15 million polygons!)

MAKE A BRICK BRUSH


To create the intricate
bricks, use the brick
alpha map and
DragRect stroke to
drag the texture over
the model, keeping a
close eye on the bricks
alignments and scale

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EXPERT TIP

Adjusting the light


This lighting setup is a
simple directional light
working as physical sun.
In light properties adjust
the spread angle to 10
degrees so the shadow
edges get a little bit
smoother.

7 REDUCE POLYGON COUNT

8 TEST THE LIGHTING SETUP

With such a dense mesh I need to use Decimation


Master, this tool is capable of reducing millions of
polygons down to a few. Before doing this be sure to
have a backup of the original pyramid. Decimation
Master will transform your mesh into triangles
making any sculpt changes more difcult to control.
Go to Zplugin tab>Decimation Master>Pre-process
current>Decimate current, and watch the miracle
happen. Finally, export an .obj of your model.

Import the .obj le inside Modo. The model is


already high-res so it's not necessary to press [Tab]
to smooth it. This is a good time to start the light
testing. I made a sculpt of the sand dunes to see how
the shadows and light bounces behave. Start to work
on the setup adjustments, turn on GI and select the
main render passes that you'll render to use on the
post-production phase.

9 MODEL THE INTERIOR

10 SCULPT THE INTERIOR

Modelling the inner elements is a time-consuming


task since you need to gather as much reference as
possible, and choose the ones that will guide you
through the modelling stage. I follow my sketch to
help with proportions and arrangements. The puzzle
here is how to combine the Egyptian idols, columns
and walls with the ow of the trails and tunnels of the
rollercoaster ride. Choosing good quality reference
will also aid you in how to texture the various parts.

Use ZBrush to model the Sphnyx. Start with a lowpoly model and focus on its basic silhouette and
shape, slowly increasing the geometry levels. Try
not to jump to a very dense mesh at once, but put
in as much detail as you can into each level. When
its done you can optimise with ZRemesher. Use
ZRemesher Guide brush to guide the polygon ow.
Draw the guides along the model and on edges you
want to sharpen. Open your UVs on UV Master.

EXPERT TIP
Using Bump maps
Normal and Bump
maps are great
friends of yours,
use them to avoid
unnecessary
modelling.

11 FINALISE THE COMPOSITION


Now all the modelling is done, its time to nalise
the composition. Begin with the parks structure;
ramps, trails, columns and tunnels. Then compose
the gures, idols and Egyptian decals, details and
elements. I separate the inner rooms into four
groups; I nd this a more secure way to work, as I can
render and texture without getting worried about a
lack of resources. Duplicate the repeated mesh using
instances to speed up your render time.

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TUTORIALS
Model a complex scene in Modo

TEXTURING
TIPS

12 TEXTURE THE SCENE


RUST AND DUST
ACHIEVING REALISTIC
TEXTURE RESULTS

When it comes to texturing I prefer to use seamless


les, this helps me to get avoid any annoying UV
problems. You can nd them at www.cgtextures.com.
Modos preview window does a great job when youre
handling shaders, it displays a very faithful result of
what you can expect from the nal render. For this
image I used Occlusion (see the boxout) to mask
some dust and rust effects. Render the four groups
separately, well assemble them later in Photoshop.

ONE USING OCCLUSION


This technique was used several
times to enhance the effect of
rust and dust. Especially because
you can mask areas regarding
convexity or concavity. Occlusion
is a technique for calculating the
shading of surfaces based on
how occluded it is. In this case,
after the setup youll notice the
black areas on the Horus Idol
that will work as a layer mask.

TWO LAYER MASKS

13 COLOUR CORRECTIONS
Open all renders in Photoshop to start the postproduction renements and colour corrections. With
my shading passes and masks I can now apply the
sky and the sand dunes behind the pyramid. In this
case Surface ID a coloured mask will help you
to quickly and cleanly select each desired element
in the scene. To compliment the sandy tones in the
scene, I decide to create some elements in gold and
bronze-green to make the image more interesting.

Youll notice how the effect is


produced after all maps are
exposed on the shader simulating
an oxidised bronze. Occlusion
is set to Layer Mask effect and
positioned under the stack of
maps. Bear in mind that those
adjustments will vary according
to the scale of the model.

THREE SEAMLESS MAPS


Maps were downloaded from
CG Textures (www.cgtextures.
com). They are seamless, which
means that you dont need to
worry about UV problems. Just
place them and be happy!

14 FINAL ADJUSTMENTS
The nal touches include adding some extra details
like ame torches, smoke and sand. This creates
some bounce light coming from the torches ames
that adds texture and life to the walls. Clouds are
added one by one in the sky and the depth of eld
fog is controlled by a layer in Screen mode. The
last touch is a layer of black and white correction (in
Overlay Blend mode) that gives a subtle contrast to
the park. Then atten the image and youre done.

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ISSUE 190

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CONTENTS

DEVELOP

Theory, research and reviews plus


industry insights from todays experts

84 THEORY: RENDERING

86 DEVELOP: THE TECHNOLOGY OF STAR WARS

92 DIGIMANIA

94 MARVELOUS DESIGNER 4

95 MSI WS60-2OJ

96 INTERPRO IPW-HWE

97 LG 21:9 ULTRAWIDE

98 MY INSPIRATION

Learn how to better understand UVs

Richard Edlund, the Oscar-winning engineer, recalls working in a galaxy far, far away

Discover the rendering outt with ambition

A revision or a revamp for the cloth sim?

This high-spec laptop impresses

GET PUBLISHED
EMAIL YOUR CG ART TO
ian.dean@futurenet.com

Visit the online Vault to download


extra process art for these projects:
www.creativebloq.com/vault/3dw189

A fast machine that comes at a price

For when two screens are better than one

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Keith Self-Ballard remembers Myst III

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DEVELOP
Theory

AUTHOR PROFILE
Denis Kozlov
Denis is a CG
generalist with 15
years experience in
the lm, TV, game,
advertising and
education industries.
He is currently
working in Prague
as a VFX supervisor.
www.kozlove.net

THEORY

Render elements: UVs


Denis Kozlov gives a brief anatomic study of a texture coordinates
output variable so you can employ UVs for post work and more

TEXTURE
MAPPING

Procedural
3D textures
Three numbers or
UVW coordinates
are used for
volumetric
texturing, like
when applying
procedural
3D textures

his issue we continue to


present render elements
that can aid you in your
post work and more.
Previously weve dealt with
a normals output variable, this
time well be delving into the
less common, yet extremely
powerful render element texture
coordinates or UVs. 3D software
typically doesnt provide a preset
output for them out of the box,
however, it is quite easy to create
one manually and then you can
experience the benets of postrender texturing and other tricks.

The UVs
UV coordinates or texture
coordinates are used to map
texture along the polygon. For
each point of a three-dimensional
surface, texture coordinates are
nothing more but two numbers.
These numbers dene an exact
location of a point within a

regular 2D image, thus creating


a correspondence and ultimately
matching every surface point with
a point of a texture. This sets the
precise way that a 2D texture
image should be placed over a
models 3D surface.
In fact, UV unwrapping,
projecting, pelting and editing
are simply the methods by which
we dene this correspondence
within the software.
The UVs are measured relatively
to the borders of a picture, and
are therefore independent of its
resolution, allowing them to be
reused with any image of any size
and proportion. The rst number
out of two denes the horizontal
coordinate (0 means the left
picture edge, 1 stands for the right
one). The second number describes
the vertical position within the
raster in the same way: 0 means
the bottom and 1 is the top.
Texture coordinates locate vertices

without snapping to texture pixels


(texels) a surface point can be
mapped to a centre of a texel, its
border or anywhere within its area.

The shader
Since raster images store nothing
but numbers (and often within
that very range of zero-to-one), the

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A tile of texture
coordinates
represented as RGB
colours. Rendering
objects with this
texture and no
other shading
generates UVs
render element

WorldMags.net
RENDERING
THE SHADER
The Red and Green image channels of
this element are traditionally utilised
for storing U (horizontal) and V
(vertical) values respectively. The
Blue channel stays free and can be
used to encode some additional data
(like an objects mask or ambient
occlusion). The Red and Green values
display the exact UV values for each
pixel. And this in turn enables us
to map a texture after the render
is actually done.

This is how the


resulting render
element looks. The
Red and Green
values display the
exact UV values for
each pixel and this
enables us to map
a texture after the
render is done

surfaces texture coordinates can


be rendered out as an additional
element. Just like the colour of the
main beauty pass, or z-depth, or
normals are rendered.

The practical applications

An image textured
in compositing
using the UVs
render element
and the individual
objects masks
as discussed in
issue 186

The main point in outputting UV


coordinates as a render element is
the ability to quickly reapply any
texture to the already rendered
object in compositing with the
specialised tools like the Texture
node in Fusion or STMap in Nuke.
The image below has been
textured in compositing using
the UVs render element and
the individual objects masks as
we discussed in a theory article
from issue 186.
Like almost all post-shading
techniques, this one has certain
limitations. The main ones being,
it is not really suitable for semitransparent objects and works best
on simpler isolated forms.
Using a constant shader ensures
that the coordinate information is
rendered precisely unaffected by
lighting. However, antialiasing of
the edges introduces colour values
that do not really correspond
to the UV information which

naturally leads to the artefacts in


post-texture projection. A typical
way of partly ghting these is
upscaling the texture AOV before
processing and downscaling
afterwards, which can be turned
on right before rendering of the
nal composite to keep the project
more interactive.
You could also combat problems
by rendering aliased samples
directly into a high-resolution
raster; while this is proper method
it is also a more demanding one.

times. Taking it further, the


texture coordinates plate from the
image of the UV tile, for example,
can efciently serve as a tool for
measuring and capturing any
deformation within the screen
space. Modifying that image
with any transformations, warps,
bends and distortions results
in a raster remembering those
deformations precisely. And that
means that it can be recreated
on any other image with the
same tools used for post-render

And still the advantages are


many. Post-texturing becomes
especially powerful when the scene
is rendered in passes with lighting
information separated from
textures, so that it can be reused
with the new ones.

texture mapping. This method is


commonly used for storing the
lens distortion, for instance.
Another practical application
is to render our magic shader
refracted in another object
to create the refractions map
rather than the usual surface
UVs element.
For more about Denis and his
FYI work visit: www.kozlove.net

Post-texturing power
In fact, much of the lighting can
be recreated in post as well from
additional elements like normals,
world position and z-depth. All
this, in turn, allows for creating
procedural scene templates in
compositing. As a basic example
of when you might use this,
imagine an animation of a book
with turning pages which needs
to be re-rendered with the new
textures every month.
A good compositing setup
using various render elements
would only need an actual 3D
scene to be rendered once, leaving
most of the other changes in
comp, which typically has more
interactivity and lower render

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Lighting developed
for a previous
issues article solely
from the normals
AOV applied to the
same image as a
simple example of a
procedural shading
setup assembled
entirely in comp

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DEVELOP
VFX insight

VFX INSIGHT

The technology
of Star Wars
Renee Dunlop reveals the technological prowess of Oscar-winning
legend Richard Edlund, one of the key engineers behind Star Wars

T
AUTHOR PROFILE
Renee Dunlop
Renee has over 20
years experience
working as a script
analyst, creative
and technical writer,
2D and 3D artist.
She is the editor of
Production Pipeline
Fundamentals for
Film and Games.
www.reneedunlop.com

he iconic work in Star


Wars would not have
been possible without
the geniuses who navigated the
technology needed to create the
lm. One of those geniuses is
Richard Edlund. Considering
three of his four Oscars were
for VFX in the rst three Star
War lms, and hes since added a
bevy of awards and nominations
including three Academy
Scientic and Engineering
Awards, its difcult to imagine
his career began with such
humble beginnings. Even more
astounding, the innovations on
Star Wars: Episode IV A New
Hope launched an entire industry
on what would now be the budget
of a 60-second commercial. I

PROFILE
Richard Edlund, ASC,
has won Oscars for
the VFX in Star Wars,
The Empire Strikes
Back, Raiders of the
Lost Ark, and Return
of the Jedi.
richardedlund.com

(Above) The
Millennium Falcon
is on a track
as its lowered,
simulating the
landing in the
Death Star. Richard
Edlund is left with
Doug Smith right

think the effects budget


on Star Wars was $2.5
million. It was like no
money, says Richard.

Building a reputation
Nothing gets done without
credibility, and in Hollywood,
its one of the hardest things to
establish. So there we were,
says Richard, a bunch of exhippies longish haired guys. I
dont even know if I was smoking
pot anymore at that time. We
all had great commercial reels;
John [Dykstra] had worked on
Silent Running and I had worked
on the Star Trek television show
and various movies. I set up Al
Whitlocks rst matte shot for a
movie that never went anywhere,

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called The Glory Guys. But we


didnt have any feature effects.
Fox was really paranoid about us
because we were spending money
and they had no understanding of
what the hell we were doing.
Early on Richard called on
Jerry Smith, a business agent at
the local camera union 659. I
told him I was going to take a job
as rst cameraman on this big
sci- movie that Fox was doing
called Star Wars. Being a punster,
he said, You know, the odds are
about two thousand to one that I
dont have a guy that can ll that
job. The union sent out a couple
of cameramen but the demands of
the Star Wars lming process was
so unique they had no idea what
we were doing, says Richard.

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The Anderson
printer was
aquired for just
$14,000. On the
left is the aerial
projector, in the
middle, the main
projector and
the camera would
be mounted on
the right

RICHARD EDLUND
TM & 2014 LucasFilm LTD. All Rights Reserved

The multi-award winning VFX


gurus career began with Star Wars

HOLLYWOOD
HISTORY

See iconic and


daring designs
Check out some of
the best designs
in sci- movies:
bit.ly/189-sw

About six months later some union


members paid a visit, including
one from the props, some
teamsters and Josef Bernay. The
timing was good as the team had
just nished building the system
that would give more visual detail
and greater depth of eld: We had
nished building the VistaVision
motion control camera on its boom
and we were just starting to run
tests. I knew they were coming,
says Richard, so I positioned

Richard Edlund, special FX cinematographer, Star Wars


them for a demonstration. I had
pre-programmed the elaborate
camera to go down to the end of
the track and stop, the boom to
rise up and swing around towards
the camera, then to travel right
up to within a few feet of the
union guys and stop. They didnt
know what to say, this was like
magic. Wheres the operator,
wheres the loader?! So they left.
And about three weeks later I

was accepted into the local as


a director of photography. It was
the cameramans version of make
it shiny.
There was a second instance
involving Lin (Linwood) Dunn,
who was the patriarch of special
photographic effects (now known
as visual effects). The studio
was paranoid about this bunch
of unknowns, so they sent in
Lin and his sidekick, Cecil Love.
John Dykstra and I were showing
him the equipment, and John
was evangelising about motion
control. Cecil goes around to
the back of the tower to look at
the electronics. He opens it up
and it has all these wires, like
barbershop sweepings, electronic
spaghetti. He looks at it, looks at
John, sets his jaw. He was real
stoic and has nothing to say at all.
John was really worried that we
werent impressing them.
The meeting did result in some
very good advice. Lin took me
aside and said, look, I think you
guys have your act together but
one thing youve got to worry
about is keeping track of all those
elements. That is going to be your
big problem. That was really good
advice so we wound up hiring
[production staffer] Rose Duignan,

Richard has won four Oscars for VFX in Star Wars,


The Empire Strikes Back, Raiders of the Lost Ark, and
Return of the Jedi, with a nomination for Poltergeist.
He has received six additional Oscar nominations,
three Academy Scientic and Engineering Awards,
an Emmy, and two Bafta Awards.
In 1983, he founded a visual effects company
called Boss Film Studios, whose maiden project was
the lm Ghostbusters. Until its close in 1997, Boss
Film Studios produced visual effects for thirty-plus
movies; notable among them 2010, Die Hard, Ghost,
Poltergeist 2, Cliffhanger, Batman Returns, Alien 3,
Species, Multiplicity and Air Force One. The company
achieved ten Academy Award nominations over a
fourteen-year period.
Richard has served as a governor of the Academy of
Motion Picture Arts and Sciences (AMPAS) for twelve
years, chairman of their VFX branch since its inception,
and for eight years as chairman of the Academys
Scientic and Technical Awards Committee. In 2007,
The Board of Governors of the AMPAS honoured him
with the John A. Bonner Medal of Commendation
for his outstanding service and dedication to the
Academy. Currently, Richard is actively serving on the
boards of the American Society of Cinematographers
and the Visual Effects Society.
In January of 2008, the American Society of
Cinematographers presented Richard with the
Presidents Award in recognition of the contributions
he has made to the art and craft of lmmaking.

[production coordinator] Mary


Lind and a few other people.
I was thinking, lets call the
Rand Corporation!

The Anderson printer


We thought if we were going
to have a VistaVision optical
printer, we could make 2:1 optical
reductions, which would eliminate
the dupe look. In other words,
that would give us an advantage

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DEVELOP
VFX insight

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in reduction that would minimise,


if not dispense with, the dupe
look that would normally happen
when you make composites when
they are 1:1.
Howard Anderson of Paramount
offered to sell his printer, a couple
of roto stands and a few extra

A pick-up truck in
the parking lot was
used to capture
explosions on the
Death Star, using
the sun for the
key light

Richard Edlund, special FX cinematographer, Star Wars


cameras for around $14,000.
We went to see the printer. The
light switches were the kind you
turn, from the 1940s. The room
had been untouched since 1956.
The last camera report written
up on The Ten Commandments,

the last thing that had been shot,


was sitting on the write-up table.
They just left.
Dick Alexander totally rebuilt
the printer in the machine shop,
and David Grafton designed a
special lens that didnt require the
cursed eld lens. In other words,
when you have two projectors and
a camera, the rst projector can
have a matte and be operating with
an object, and the second projector
projects an aerial image at the
focal plane of the rst projector.
In order to do that, you have to
evenly illuminate the combined
images and in order to do that, you
have to put a simple convex lens
in the optical path which did
provide even illumination but it
destroyed the optical properties
of the lens that was feeding the
image through, adding chromatic
aberrations and geometric
distortion. With such impairment,

getting rid of dreaded matte lines


became nearly impossible.

Lofty solutions
Dealing with the technology of
FX for Star Wars was interesting
because so much of it was
groundbreaking. Back in the 1970s
that could mean something as
simple as pulling a good matte.
John Dykstras idea was to shoot
everything with a front light/
back light, but Richard felt there
was a better solution. To shoot
the front light/back light, you
shoot the hero shot of the model
against black, and then you put
a white background behind the
model and then shoot a matte
pass. The problem with the matte
pass is that the blurred edges on
a back light matte are not going
to be anywhere near the same as
the blur on the hero pass, so your
mattes arent going to work. I said,

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Richard Edlund
and Grant McCune
prepare to shoot
the sand crawler
by digging a hole
for the VistaVision
camera. The Death
Star, with a back
light that wouldnt
actually exist in
deep space

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RIP: JOE VISKOCIL

Academy-Award winner Joe Viskocils iconic


career started with a bang literally

Richard Edlund met Joe Viskocil during Star Wars. Originally, the union
recommended Greg Auer, a Class 1 pyrotechnician. Grant McCune provided
a plastic 707 model for a test. The plastic was roughly a 32nd of an inch
thick, but Greg wanted to put a 12-inch length of primer cord inside the
same cord used by lumberjacks to take down trees. They would wrap it
around a 3 foot diameter tree trunk, says Richard, and it was so powerful
it would take the tree down with one charge. This cord travels at almost
the speed of light, and when it blows up its like the tree has been hit by
800 axes.
I talked him down to a piece about 5/8 -inch long. We were sitting behind
like a -inch Lexon glass, and I cranked my high-speed camera up to 144
frames per second. He triggered the blast, and boom, it goes off. The next
day in dailies, we viewed the model in centre frame and suddenly the screen
went black; the explosion was so powerful the model disappeared in less
than one frame.
Joes approach was a bit more conservative, but at the time he didnt
have a powder card. Since a Class 1 technician had to be on set, Greg was
hired, but the actual explosions fell to Joe. Joe and I worked out black
powder charges that were successful at 100fps, the maximum we could
shoot with the VistaVision high-speed camera. We shot most of the model
explosions in about two weeks and took a few more days for the Death Star
surface. Using black powder bombs and gasoline in moderate amounts, we
came up with some really nice explosions.
The shot used a high-speed VistaVision camera on a pipe rig mounted
in the back of a pickup truck. The camera weighed about 100 pounds and
though capable of handling 2,000 foot magazines, they used 1,000 foot
rolls of lm. As the truck sped by the Death Star model, it would hit an
electronic trigger, followed by an explosion a few milliseconds later. So
we got some pretty good explosions on the Death Star, by way of a pick-up
truck in our parking lot, using the sun for the key light.
On August 11, 2014, Joe passed away from complications of liver and
kidney failure. He came back for pyro shots in Battlestar Galactica and Ive
met with him a few times over the years. He was my buddy, a really good
guy. Rest in peace, says Richard.

Joe Viskocil, sitting


in the hole on the
Death Star, sets
up an explosion
while Richard
Edlund prepares
the camera

the only way I can think of that


you can extract a matte that will t
the ship is to do blue screen. After
a bit of discussion, John agreed.
Richard contacted LaMar
Stewart at Stewart Filmscreens,
who manufactured seamless
screens for theatres. LaMar had

Joe Viskocil, special effects artist, Star Wars


invested a great deal of time
perfecting a building with a
awlessly at ceiling surface.
Using a moving gantry they would
spray several passes of vinyl on to
this surface. It was like a mirror;
the paint would stick to it but

not adhere, and once the process


was completed they could peel
the nished screen off the ceiling
in one perfect sheet. Using this
technique, he made us a 12 foot
by 22 foot translucent blue screen
that we could light from behind
with uorescent lights. It was
a big bright blue light box that
would show up all the oaters in
your eyes
Al Miller, our resident
electronic genius, gured out
how to make uorescents work
on direct current rather than
alternating current so that
we could shoot high-speed
photography on the screen and
not have ickering problems. We
could also shoot one frame per
second motion control. Our task
was all about coming up with a
production line where we could
shoot all those models and still
meet the delivery date.

Pork Burger The


Millennium Falcon.
From left to right:
Grant McCune,
Richard Edlund,
Joe Johnston and
Steve Gawley.
Note the side
mounting post

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However, lighting with a blue


screen background in what was
supposed to be deep space could
still be a challenge. Using the
Death Star as our example, when
one side is lit, as if by sunlight, and
the other side is dark, the dark
side will reect blue light from the
screen: the dreaded blue spill. In
order to wash out the blue spill we
had to have about a 3:1 contrast
range on the model; in other
words, if the key was 125 foot
candles you had to have about 25
to 30 foot candles of ll in order to
wash out the blue spill. So we had
ll light in space, but Star Wars
is kind of a fantasy, and so we got
away with it.
John Dykstra, Grant, Bill Shourt
and Dick Alexander used to take
their dirt bikes out to Randsburg,
an old ghost town in the Mohave
desert. Randsburg was once a
silver mining town, and used a

DEVELOP
VFX insight

WorldMags.net

method called sluice mining, the


process of shooting high-pressure
water at decomposed granite to
extract the embedded silver. The
silver would settle to the bottom
as the sluice would run down a
trough and eventually down the
hillside, leaving behind a layer of

The small size of


the X-Wing model
meant it could be
mounted on a
inch rod, making
it much easier to
manage than the
Millennium Falcon

inches high, 20 inches long and 10


inches wide. I think the approach
of using small scale miniatures
really helped us out. They are
much quicker to build than bigger
miniatures, and much easier to
light and shoot. And our time was
getting short.

Space-age budgets

Richard Edlund, special FX cinematographer, Star Wars


ne sand. As time went on this
ne sluice run-off eroded and
became a miniaturised canyon.
We used this as a backdrop to
shoot the sand crawler, working
with small miniatures. The sand
crawler model was only about 16

I did all the shots on the


Millennium Falcon, or what
Grant called the Pork Burger.
At almost 5 feet long, the original
Millennium Falcon was big and
heavy. George came in and said,
you know, that looks too much like
Space 1999. Lets come up with a
better shape. I think Joe Johnston
came up with the round concept
and the guys in the model shop
built it. It was still very heavy,
weighed at least 100 pounds. It
needed to have a mounting post,
about a 2 foot, 5 inch pipe, whereas

the X-wings, Y-wings and Tie


Fighters all had inch mounting
rods. Those were much easier to
deal with, and you could set up and
get ready to shoot in much, much
less time. It took a lot more time to
shoot the Millennium Falcon.
The thing about VFX is you
never know what is waiting
around the corner to trip you up,
so you constantly have to be on
guard with your inventive mind
in order to gure out how to paint
yourself out of the corner. Its
become a lot easier now, but notice
how much more expensive its
become. Visual effects budgets
are now reaching tens of millions
on the big tent pole movies, and in
Camerons world they are in the
hundreds of millions. And it all
started with just $2.5 million and
some brilliant ex-hippies.
See concept posters for Star Wars
FYI Episode 7: www.bit.ly/189-sw2

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The X-wing was


roughly 15 inches
long with an
approximate 15
inch a wing span.
Smaller models
are much quicker
to build then big
miniatures, and
much easier to
shoot and light,
says Richard

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PRIZE DRAW

Win a copy of iClone


Animation Pipeline
Enter now for your chance to win one of three copies
of this groundbreaking bundle of animation software

eallusion is a leader in
the development of 3D
cinematic animation
tools for consumers, students
and professionals. It provides
consumers with easy-to-use
avatar animation, facial
morphing and lip-sync solutions
for real-time 3D lmmaking,

iClone Animation Pipeline contains


everything you need for character
generation and animation work
while professionals can equip
their studios with Reallusion
technology to streamline
production work.
Reallusions iClone software
has built a strong reputation

for accessible but powerful


real-time tools to help you craft
great animations. Supported by
a content library and integrated
with an online marketplace
containing characters, scenes and
props, iClone enables you to easily
assemble animations for previz,
online broadcasting, education
and many other needs.
Courtesy of Reallusion,
3D World has three copies of
iClone Animation Pipeline to
give away. The product bundle,
currently sold for $499, features
iClone5 PRO, the 3DXchange5
Pipeline le converter and the
Mocap Device Plug-in, plus the
bonus Character Designers
Resource Pack with its DAZ
Genesis Extension.
The toolkit contains everything
you need for quick character

generation and smart motion


editing. By using intuitive realtime character animation tools
alongside Autodesks HumanIK
technology, iClone makes it easy
to retarget both facial and body
animations to your native working
environment, supporting standard
.fbx, .bvh and .obj formats.
If you have a Microsoft Kinect
sensor, iClone Animation Pipeline
also provides a straightforward
motion-capture solution, helping
to turn your PC into a powerful
production studio at minimal cost.
For more information on the
individual applications included
in this prize and other products in
the Reallusion catalogue, visit the
companys website at the address
listed below.
Visit Reallusions website:
FYI www.reallusion.com

HOW TO ENTER
In this prize draw, 3D World is offering you the chance to win one of four
product bundles of iClone Animation Pipeline, worth $499 each.
To enter, simply complete our online entry form at
www.futurecomps.co.uk/189_iclone.
Three lucky winners will be chosen at random after the
closing date of 31 December 2014. Terms and conditions apply: these
are available at the website: www.futureplc.com/competition-rules.

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DEVELOP
Studio insight

STUDIO INSIGHT

Making rendering
child's play
Glasgow-based Digimania is busy reinventing how the CG
cartoon industry creates its content, says Steve Jarratt

AUTHOR PROFILE
Steve Jarratt
Ex-editor of 3D
World, Steve is a
freelance journalist
and CG artist with
an unhealthy plugin habit.
www.bit.ly/189-steve

cute young dinosaur walks


across a rocky landscape
and plays with his newfound toy, a rock football. Its
beautifully animated and looks
great but the surprising thing
is that it wasnt produced using
Arnold or RenderMan or any
one of the myriad of renderers
available. Instead, the animation
was rendered using a game engine,
and the 565-frame sequence took
just 207 minutes to render at
1,920x1,080, including 33 render
passes per frame. Thats 18,645
les at just over 22 seconds each,
and all it used was a standard
Nvidia GeForce GTX 660, a
gaming card you can pick up for
less than 150.

The system in question is


RenderDigimania (RenderDm
for short). The app launched at
Siggraph in August and uses a
modied version of the Unreal
3 Engine to produce real-time
feedback for layout and lighting,
and which then generates the
nal anti-aliased image. Its an
interesting concept and could
save companies that produce the
thousands of hours of serialised
cartoons for childrens TV time
and money.

BARRY
SHERIDAN
Barry is
RenderDigimanias
product director and
studio manager at
Bradley and Bee.
www.digimania.com

Good cartoon graphics


The app is produced by Digimania,
the team responsible for the
hobbyist animation package
Muvizu. Theyd been working

on a Muvizu Pro, when they


were approached by Red Kite
Animation, makers of CG TV
shows such as Dennis And
Gnasher, Wendy and The Imp.
They had a selfinitiated idea called
Bradley and Bee,
explains Barry
Sheridan, RenderDigimanias
product director, and they
wanted to take an eleven-minute
pilot episode to MIPCOM [the
TV and entertainment
commissioning fair held annually
in Cannes]. They had an extremely
tight deadline and had heard
about some of our tech, so they
came with a script, and said to
us, we dont have time to do this

The cartoon graphics


in Red Kites Bradley
and Bee TV show are
a perfect match for
RenderDms game
engine render pipeline

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MARKET FORCES

Having developed a solution, Digimania


has found that theres plenty of demand

the normal way, can we try to


do it with your software?
We were working on ideas and
prototypes, Barry adds, and we
had an assertion in our minds that
you could render cartoons with
a game engine, and you could do
it quicker and cheaper than the
normal way of doing it, with airconditioned render farms.
Fortunately the pilots director
felt the same way, says Barry,
and so a three-way collaboration

Digimanias artists
create animations
to show off
RenderDms
strength and to
stress-test new
versions

quality in terms of lighting and


shadows, theyre certainly not a
thousand times better and the
intended pre-school audience
wont be overly bothered by the
lack of global illumination or
ambient occlusion.
We started to realise,
particularly at the end of
this project, that there was a
professional application to it, says
Barry. Weve spent the last nine
months putting the lessons that
we learned form that pilot episode
into the software thats released
just now.

Naturally RenderDm isnt an ideal solution for all


content creation, but theres clearly a market for it
and its growing, says Paul Collimore, Digimanias
commercial director. We had some research
commissioned that suggested for our kind of prole
animation studio, there are about 1,500 studios
out there, he says. But weve also seen a lot of
independent studios popping up. The industry for our
market is growing by about 23 per cent annually, in
terms of the number of studios. Thats a quarter every
year, added on to that 1,500.
And while Digimania is focused on TV production for
the time being, there are lots of other opportunities:
Any CAD-based industries, architecture, product
design, engineering, anywhere quick renders are
needed, suggests Paul. Not necessarily the best,
photorealistic, but rapid prototyping. Weve had a
lot of interest from several design companies who
specialise in making mock-ups of, say, a Coke can or
of a bottle, you can move them around in real-time,
change them in real-time. So when they take it to their
client, and the client says, That needs changing, they
dont have to go back to the ofce they can do it there
in front of them.

No network rendering
ensued between Digimania, Red
Kite and animation studio Super
Umami. Storyboards were made
and reviewed, characters were
modelled and rigged, and we did
the bulk of the animation and
rendering using our software.

Fast results
Despite the app only being at
an alpha stage, the experiment
proved successful the entire
eleven-minute episode was
rendered in about three hours
on a medium-specced Dell PC.
Interestingly, the show is bookended by two sections rendered
with mental ray, in which the main
characters are seen in their play
room. They then enter the world
of a magical pop-up book, which
is the sequence generated using
RenderDm.
We had this nice comparison
where the same assets were going
down our pipeline and also down
a mental ray pipeline, says Barry.
To render a frame, mental ray
took 210 seconds we took a fth
of a second.
And while its clear that the
mental ray sections are of a higher

THE
FUTURE OF
RENDERDM

Digimania his no
shortage of ideas

Not only does RenderDm render


quickly, it enables artists to iterate
more quickly, and removes the
overhead of network rendering.
We also realised, too late, in
the pilot episode project, that
we were still producing frames
and our compositor was offsite, explains Barry. We were
producing gigabytes of frames
and trying to get them to the
compositor. Sometimes we
FTPed it, sometimes we put it
in a car and drove. And then we
realised, the scene les are tens
of megs we simply could have
just emailed them to him and said,
Open that, press the button!

Bradley And Bee has since


been picked up for broadcast
in the UK as part of Channel
Fives Milkshake!, with Red
Kite commissioned to deliver
52, eleven-minute episodes.
By Digimanias reckoning, a
traditional show such as Bradley
and Bee would need 17,500
CPU hours to render using 30
rack-mounted PCs, and says
that RenderDm can do the same
show in eight hours, using just
a handful of desktop PCs. The
term game-changer seems
suitably apt in this case.
Download a trial of RenderDM:
FYI www.renderdigimania.com

As well as
incorporating
the Alembic le
format, it also
wants to support
OpenEXR and
OpenSubdiv. And
as for the next
game engine, Paul
Collimore suggests
that, Its more of
a question of do
we use somebody
elses engine, or
do we develop
our own.

ANIMATION
SYSTEM

To try out
Digimanias other
app, head to
www.muvizu.com.
You can pay 75
for Muvizu Play+,
or download
the free version
and then pay
to generate
animations using
in-app purchases.

With high-res
meshes and the
right textures and
lighting, youd
never guess this
was the output of
Unreal Engine 3

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DEVELOP
Software review

SOFTWARE REVIEW

Marvelous Designer 4
PRICE Personal licence: $550 (about 344) | COMPANY Marvelous Designer | WEBSITE www.marvelousdesigner.com

I
AUTHOR PROFILE
Cirstyn
Bech-Yagher
Cirstyn is a freelance
CG artist and educator
with over a decade's
experience in 3D. Her
clients have ranged
from AMD to DAZ 3D
and Future plc.
northern-studios.com

nitially promised back in 2011,


some users will be happy to
know Marvelous Designer 4
nally ships with a Quadrangulate
function, which will make rigging
in ready-to-render software less of
a hassle. However, the new version's
strengths lie elsewhere.
The latest release has user
enhancements and speed of
workow as its primary targets,
and it shows. Marvelous Designer
(MD) 4 has few new wow features.
Instead, the developer has focused
on keeping their promises, with
the addition of the Quadrangulate
function, and workow
enhancements, such as a Symmetry
and Symmetry Merge-functions,
giving users an alternative to the
onerous 'design half, unfold, copy
and mirror paste' routine in the
creation process.
Several other tweaks have been
implemented as well, such as the
1:N Segment Sewing options,
which mean you now can now sew
multiple segments onto one, in one
go. This removes the need to rst
split lines in multiple parts before

you can attach several segments


to it. Hold down [Shift] while you
Segment Sew, and it will divide the
sewing lines by itself, should you
not want to utilise the new Free 1:
N-sewing option instead.

A functional upgrade
Several other tweaks and
featurettes have been implemented
for easing the digital garment
creation workow: Basting and
Tacking enables you to test ts
before you nalise them, while
Layer Clone clones entire layers of
garment patterns, making padded
garment creation a snap. Multiple
Selection has now made it easier to
create rolled up sleeves and trousers
by allowing poly- or tri-selection

across garment pieces, reducing the


steps needed to create these. Add
to that a slew of other tools such
as Normal Flipping and Pattern
Scaling, MD4 has signicantly, and
wisely, solidied and enhanced
existing functionality, rather than
implementing too many entirely
new features.
There are some downsides: the
new FBX import-function doesnt
work on some imports so, youre
still better off importing and
posing MD3-style. Also the current
quad-topology is uneven at best.
Bar this, MD4 is a solid release;
and its biggest issue may not be
technical at all: With a full Adobe
Creative Cloud subscription
costing $49.95 (about 29), current
MD4 licensing fees seem a bit
out. Commercial licenses start at
$4,000 (about 2,500), in effect
excluding small studios and
freelancers; even current Autodesk
licensing options for Max or Maya
are cheaper, and MD4 offers a
fraction of their functionality.
VERDICT

MAIN
FEATURES

QUADRANGULATE
Easing the
workow for
the ready-torender segment,
quadrangulate
turns tris
into quads
ONE-TO-MANY
SEWING
Easing the
workow on items
like waistbands,
cuffs and necks
WORKFLOW
ENHANCEMENTS
Small UI tweaks,
like Pattern
scaling, enhanced
copy/pasting
and arrangement
enhancements
show this is a
no-frills release.
LAYER COPYING
Layer copying
makes creating
padded garments
a snap
SYMMETRY &
SYMMETRY
MERGE
These muchrequested features
that signicantly
ease workow
have been added

A no-frills, workowenhancing release.


Marvelous Designer
4 gets your gures
dressed. Fast!

WHO'S USING MARVELOUS DESIGNER?


Being used in games like Metal Gear Solid 5, lms like The Hobbit, and applications from Daz
Studio, Marvelous Designer is a 3D clothing generator which has garnered interest with hobbyists,
lm, and gaming studios alike. Its ease, versatility and speed of use appeals across the board.

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The MSI WS602OJ is deceptively


thin and light, but
it still packs in a
serious amount
of workstation
performance for a
reasonable price

HARDWARE REVIEW

MSI WS60-2OJ
PRICE 1,699 inc VAT | COMPANY MSI | WEBSITE www.msi.com

MAIN
FEATURES

2.5GHz Intel Core


i7-4710HQ; 16GB
1600MHz DDR3
SDRAM
Intel HD Graphics
4600 and Nvidia
Quadro K2100M
graphics with 2GB
GDDR5 memory
128GB Toshiba
THNSNJ128G8NU
SSD; 1TB Hitachi
Travelstar
7K1000 7,200rpm
hard disk
15.6in LED backlit
TFT screen; 1,920
x 1,080 pixels
390 x 266 x
19.9mm (WxDxH);
1.9kg

he WS60 comes in at just


under 20mm thick, and
weighs less than 2kg,
it is a decidedly portable 15in
laptop, yet it still packs in a bevy
of powerful components.
Central to the WS60s abilities
are its processor and graphics. The
CPU is a Core i7-4710HQ, which
is from Intels fourth Haswell
generation. This is a quad-core
processor running at a nominal
2.5GHz when consuming its
standard 47W, but can increase
to 3.3GHz at 55W, and a single
core can hit 3.5GHz. With hyperthreading on hand to turn the four
physical cores into eight virtual
ones, the Core i7-4710HQ will be as
capable a performer with parallel
tasks like rendering as it will be
for tasks that prefer a single highfrequency core, such as modelling.
This will be further assisted by the
16GB of 1,600MHz DDR3 SDRAM,
which is the maximum possible
for this notebook, but more than
enough for professional 3D work.
Further aiding the WS60s
workstation credentials is the
Nvidia Quadro K2100M graphics.
This is a mid-range professional
accelerator based on the Kepler
architecture with 576 Cuda cores
and 2GB of GDDR5 memory. The
memory runs at 3GHz, but only on

a 128-bit bus. The processor also


supplies Intel HD Graphics 4600.

Professional performance
Nvidia Optimus technology
switches between the two graphics
accelerators as required. The
graphics drive a 15.6in screen with
a 1,920 x 1,080 resolution.
Despite the svelte, relatively
light chassis, the WS60 still has
room for up to three hard drives,
although our sample was only
supplied with two. This took the
now traditional form of a SSD
for OS and applications, plus a
conventional hard disk for general
data storage. The SSD is a 128GB

Toshiba THNSNJ128G8NU,
which is a little meagre, but the
1TB Hitachi Travelstar 7K1000
7,200rpm hard disk should mean
you never have an issue with
running out of space. However,
there is no room for an optical
drive, so only a multi-format
memory card reader is available
for removable storage.
Rendering is excellent for a
laptop, with 7.02 in the CPU
portion of Maxon Cinebench R11.5,
and 648 in R15. The Cinebench
OpenGL results of 55.78 in R11.5
and 68.08 in R15 are excellent if not
desktop-beating. This is mirrored
by SPECviewerf 11 results of 64.48
in lightwave-01, 73.54 in maya-03,
and 47.46 in the SolidWorks sw-02
viewset. In the recently released
SPECviewerf 12, results are merely
good, with 17.37 in maya-04 and
40.52 in sw-03.
The WS60 acquits itself well in
all areas of 3D content creation.

AUTHOR PROFILE
James Morris
James has been writing
about technology for
two decades, focusing
on content creation
hardware and software.
He was editor of PC Pro
magazine for ve years.
www.tzero.co.uk

VERDICT

MSI: THE GAMER TURNS PRO


MSI has a history of producing laptops for gamers, and its previous mobile workstations
were derivatives from the top end of its more entertainment-oriented ranges. The WS602OJ, however, is MSIs rst design aimed purely at professional use. It still retains a greater
sense of style than most mobile workstations though, and the thin prole allied with the
low weight are somewhat unique in its class.

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DEVELOP
Hardware review

The InterPro IPWHWE combines the


fastest eight-core
Intel Core i7
processor, with
64GB of DDR4
SDRAM and the
latest Nvidia
Quadro K4200
graphics giving
it phenomenal
rendering power

HARDWARE REVIEW

InterPro IPW-HWE
PRICE 2,995 (ex VAT) | COMPANY InterPro | WEBSITE www.ipworkstations.com

T
AUTHOR PROFILE
James Morris
James Morris has
been writing about
technology for more
than two decades,
focusing on content
creation hardware
and software. He
was editor of PC
Pro magazine for
ve years.
www.tzero.co.uk

he frequency-enhanced
Intel Core i7 has become a
mainstay at the single-socket
end of the workstation market. But
the options have been stagnant for
a while. Now, with the release of
the eight-core version of the Intel
Haswell generation, theres a leap
in performance, and rst to show
us the potential is InterPro with its
IPW-HWE.
Currently, there is only one
eight-core Intel Core i7, the 5960X
Extreme. This runs at a nominal
3GHz, with a 3.5GHz Turbo mode.
However, InterPro has permanently
set the processor at 4.4GHz, and the
Corsair H80i CPU water cooling
system will easily cope with the
extra heat. As with all Core i7s,
the 5960X sports Intel hyperthreading, so its eight physical cores
are detected as 16 virtual ones, for
huge parallel processing potential
such as 3D rendering. InterPro has
partnered the top-end CPU with a
similarly meaty 64GB of 2,133MHz
memory, and this is another
technology rst as its DDR4 rather

than DDR3. The new standard


will eventually allow 3,200MHz
modules, and runs at a lower voltage
for reduced power consumption.
The processor and memory
arent the only all-new additions
in the IPW-HWEs specication.
The Nvidia graphics were also
just launched in August 2014.
The accelerator in question is
the Quadro K4200, which now
comes with 1,344 Cuda cores
compared to the K4000s 768,
and 4GB of GDDR5 compared
to the K4000s 3GB. The core
frequency is 780MHz and memory
bandwidth is 173GB/sec thanks
to a 256-bit bus. So performance
should be signicantly improved,

A MACHINE WITHOUT COMPROMISE


So the InterPro IPW-HWE has phenomenal rendering power, and its modelling abilities are
equally impressive whether in 3D content creation or product design. You do pay a sizeable
price for all this, with the system coming in at 2,995 plus VAT, but with no weak areas it
could be money well spent. This is one machine that can do it all without compromise.

although power consumption has


increased from 80W to 105W.
Storage takes a more usual
approach, with a SSD for OS and
applications, plus a conventional
hard disk for general storage,
but both are premium in their
respective classes. The SSD is a
sizeable 480GB PNY Prevail 3K
Endurance Edition, while the HDD
is an also capacious 3TB Seagate
Barracuda 7,200rpm SATA model.
Theres a Pioneer 209EBK quadlayer Blu-Ray burner as well, but no
multi-format card reader built in.

A powerful performance
The IPW-HWE stormed through
the tests. The rendering results were
18.95 in Maxon Cinebench R11.5 and
1,696 in R15, with the former only a
third behind the fastest dual-socket
Xeon systems weve reviewed.
The OpenGL results of 129.08 in
Cinebench R11.5 and 188.23 in R15
are the highest we have seen by a
signicant margin. Highlights in
SPECviewperf 11 include 98.28 in
lightwave-01, 144.48 in maya-03,
and 81.81 in the SolidWorks sw-02
viewset, all of which are the fastest
weve recorded. In SPECviewperf
12, the IPW-HWE managed 54.3
in maya-04 and 95.95 in sw-03.
VERDICT

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MAIN
FEATURES

3GHz Intel Core


i7-5960X Extreme
frequency
enhanced to
4.4GHz
64GB 2133MHz
DDR4 SDRAM
Nvidia Quadro
K4200 graphics
with 4GB GDDR5
memory
480GB PNY Prevail
3K Endurance
Edition SSD; 3TB
Seatage Barracuda
7,200rpm hard disk

WorldMags.net

The 21:9 aspect


ratio aims to aid
your productivity by
simulating a dual
monitor setup

HARDWARE REVIEW

LG 21:9 Ultrawide 34UM95


PRICE 890 (about $1,348) | COMPANY LG (Electronics) | WEBSITE www.lg.com

MAIN
FEATURES

10-bit colour via


DisplayPort
x2 Thunderbolt
ports (for daisychaining only)
DisplayPort
& HDMI
110ppi pixel
density
Dimensions (with
stand): 829.9 x
172.9 x 468.9mm

e know what youre


thinking, This is a
gimmick, right? Those
were our initial thoughts too,
back when LG rst revealed its
21:9 QHD monitor we were puzzled
as to who would purchase this
unusual, rst-to-market display.
Turns out LG want it to be us
digital content creators.
Just take a glance at the monitor;
its easy to see why LG is targeting
creatives rst and why it might
be onto something with the 21:9
aspect. You dont need to work in
VFX to appreciate a display that
caters for a cinematic aspect, no
matter what 3D package or videoediting software you favour, the
amount of tools and windows you
need to open during an average
session warrants the extra screen
estate. The workow benets of
greater screen space are obvious,
but there are some annoying
downsides to a dual monitor setup.
Aside from the ugly, intrusive bevel
smack-bang in the middle of your

using it if colour accuracy is key.


Also, the LGs panel has a DeltaE of
<5, which is OK, but for professional
use we would expect a DeltaE of <2.

Screen Split software

eld of view theres also the issue


of colour consistency across two
(or more) separate displays. Even if
you use identical monitors, daisychained and running the same
colour prole, when you get down
to colour grading those shadows
in a scene on monitor One then
referring to playback on monitor
Two, if there is even the slightest
variation frustration is bound to
kick in. A large, continuous panel
negates this.
Its also worth noting that LGs
34UM95 supports 10-bit colour
via DisplayPort, the HDMI cable
simply cant deliver full resolution
and deep colour support so avoid

THUMBS UP FOR 21:9


A middle of the park score for a review that, on the whole, is quite positive might seem a
little odd. Dont get us wrong we did enjoy using LGs 34UM95, but its fair to say we were
taken with the 21:9 aspect ratio more than this specic model. This size clicks with the
productivity side of our brains, and were hoping to see more 21:9 displays appearing on the
shelves. How about a 21:9 Wacom Cintiq, now youve really got our attention.

Consider how this IPS monitor


is constructed and how it can be
used, its a 34in panel (at 21:9 ratio)
delivering 3,440 x 1,440 pixels, 34
per cent greater than a 27in Quad
HD display like the ASUS PA279Q
ProArt monitor. When using the
bundled Screen Split software
you can chop the screen directly
down the middle giving you two
20.5in 1,720 x 1,440 views (using
a 5:4 aspect ratio) which might
feel a little small at rst. In both
instances youre getting a superb
110 ppi pixel density.
A xed-height monitor stand
just doesnt make any sense, the
10 degrees of tilt is OK, but we
wouldve also preferred the option
to swivel. Theres too much tacky
plastic in the overall build for our
liking. Combine these quibbles
with the 890 price point which
is comparable to a decent dual
monitor setup and the 34UM95
is still a compelling display that
unfortunately just misses the mark
for professionals.
VERDICT

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AUTHOR PROFILE
Paul Tysall
Freelance graphic designer
and illustrator, and former
magazine art editor, Paul
has extensive knowledge
of various professional
digital art tools from
hardware to software.
Between jobs hes
combining his design and
illustration with motion
graphics to broaden his
creative range.
studio_tysall.prosite.com

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DEVELOP
My inspiration

MY INSPIRATION

Keith Self-Ballard
Art training manager at Blizzard Entertainment recounts working
on the Myst franchise and with memorable mentors

ARTIST PROFILE
Keith Self-Ballard
Keith is the art training
manager at Blizzard
Entertainment. Hes
a veteran artist of
the games industry,
who has worked on
a variety of PC and
console titles including
Myst III: Exile (PC)
and Saints Row.
www.eu.blizzard.com

etting into the games


industry required a lot
of effort and no small
measure of luck. I didnt expect
to be part of games development;
my schooling had been focused
more on product visualisation,
illustration and design. I had
originally thought that I would
spend several years building my
portfolio in product visualisation

and hoped to transition to lm/


TV/VFX in the following years. I
eventually found myself working
in game development, which
proved to be the ideal match for
my interests and strengths.
Ive been fortunate enough to
work on a number of great projects
and with some truly incredible
teams. As an artist, my personal
favourite was working on Myst

III: Exile. Most people today have


probably forgotten about the Myst
franchise, but those visuals were
considered the high water mark
when I was in school. Years later
when I was interviewing with a
studio in San Diego, California,
I had no idea what the project
was. When they revealed it to
me behind closed doors, I was
dumbstruck. I still take a lot of
pride in having contributed to that
franchise: The gameplay is basic,
but the attention to detail required
at that time for pre-rendered
screens was mind-boggling. Lots
of long hours. Lots of lost sleep.
But everyone was fully committed
to making it the best game it could
be, and we were there because we
loved what we were doing.
In the nal stage of Myst
(Narayan), the art director (Phil
Saunders) wanted the shield
surrounding the environment to
look frozen, like ice crystals.
I was still a fairly inexperienced
artist at the time and just tried
to cobble together a texture and
paint my own fractures into the

diffuse texture. My painting skills


were, to be charitable, lacklustre.
Thinking back on it, those textures
looked more like the web of a
neurotic spider. They were jittery
and lacked any sense of depth
of readability. Anyway, the art
director stopped by my desk to
review my progress. He took one
look at what I had and told me to
follow him. We went to the other
end of the ofce where he stopped
in front of the refrigerator and told
me to hold out my hands. Upon
doing so, he promptly opened up
the freezer grabbed a handful of
ice out of the tray and dumped
them into my cupped palms. This
is ice, he said. Make it look like
this. He then left.
It was a very humbling and
big learning moment for me as
an artist. Some will read this
and might think poorly of Phil.
I completely disagree. To this day,
Phil is one of the best art directors
I have ever had the privilege of
working with. Thank you, Phil.
See some of Keiths work at
FYI selfballard.carbonmade.com

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At school Keith
was inspired by
the visuals in the
original video
game Myst. Later,
as a 3D artist, he
got to work on
Myst III: Exile

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