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Welcome to


3D Art
& Design

The world of 3D art and design continues to be one of best places in which to express
artistic creativity. As the possibilities are almost endless, 3D artists have the opportunity to
design and create whatever they want, as long as they have the inspiration. The 3D Art &
Design Book Volume 2 provides that inspiration with a variety of step-by-step tutorials and
comprehensive features covering six key aspects of a 3D artists portfolio. From characters and
arch-vis to vehicles and environments, these expert guides will help educate and inspire you to
create your best ever designs. And if that wasnt enough, weve also included a free CD packed
full of textures, 3D models, video tutorials and source les to help you nish many of the tutorials
found in the book.


3D Art
& Design

Imagine Publishing Ltd

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Aaron Asadi
Head of Design
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Senior Art Editor
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Rachel Shemilt
James Sheppard
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The 3D Art & Design Book Volume 02 2013 Imagine Publishing Ltd
ISBN 978-1909372283

Part of the

bookazine series



50 3D art tips & tricks


126 50 tips for ultimate 3D realism


50 tips for better characters


Design and model a robot


Master arch vis

132 Learn to create photoreal 3D


Animate characters
in modo 601


Visualise architecture
using Blender

138 Achieve fantastic 3D realism

Create a high-res


Apply the finishing touches


Sculpt an epic beast



48 Design striking
54 Design and create an exosuit



Sculpt folds and fabrics


Create a mythical beast


Master Weta character design

6 3D Art & Design

143 I made this Sphynx Cat

100 Create superior interiors

144 Visualise realistic products

in modo

106 Design interactive interiors

149 Gallery Taha Alkan

110 Build unique arch-vis assets

150 Make realistic food

116 Fantasy arch vis: concept design

155 Gallery Rod DeWeese

118 Fantasy arch vis: 3D illustration

156 Model and render a

photorealistic watch








162 20 steps to better


200 Model vehicles for animation

232 Learn to animate a bouncing ball

169 I made this Rue de


206 Rig vehicles in Maya

236 Realistic character rigging

212 Texture a realistic vehicle

240 Learn to animate a walk cycle

170 Underwater landscapes

214 Model a luxury car

244 Animate a character lifting weights

175 Gallery Dennis Kaya


219 I made this Black Drone

176 Create a desert landscape

181 I made this Under the
Southern Highway

220 Sculpt a space vehicle

248 How to animate a jump

252 Animate action moves

226 Create vehicles with opensource software

182 Create trees in Unity

184 Futuristic cityscapes
190 Sculpt beautiful terrains
192 Design an epic Vue
197 Gallery Lee Griggs

3D Art & Design

3D art tips & tricks


8 3D Art & Design

Pieces of expert advice to help
improve your work and your artistic
standing within the 3D community


3D art

3D art tips & tricks

hether youre seeking some guidance on

rendering and postproduction, or how best to
promote yourself and your work, help is at
hand. Weve tracked down a group of pro industry artists
with exceptional portfolios to ask them for their top tips
on composition, copyright and everything else in between

Improve your images



Mostly I place a raster on my

image with nine squares three in
height and three in width. Then I try to
nd a balance between the viewpoint
of the character and that of the viewer.
You can push the viewer to a desired
direction with depth-of-eld
efects and vignettes.

The rule of thirds

plays a big role in
image composition
and leading the eyes
into the image.



Its more to do with personal

taste here, but I like to play with
slightly shifted vibrant primary
colours and their complementaries.
But there are tones of palettes
to test be imaginative and
look around on the web. I always
look for new inspiration.

Our panel of experts

media department of Guanajuato

University, Mexico, Carlos specialises in 3D
illustration, modelling and texturing.


the basic
theories and
observe why they
work then learn
how to break


ej S

Thumbnail sketches are the

best way to establish composition
Artist: Andrzej Sykut
and lighting. Draw them small and in
black and white to start with, keep them
Bio: Lighting is what full-time freelancer
Andrzej likes to do most. He also enjoys
simple and abstract, and draw at least
riding his mountain bike and photography
four iterations. Once you have a solid
in his spare time.
composition you can then move on to
colour thumbnails to establish your
Artist: Carlos Ortega Elizalde
main colours and lighting
Bio: A self-taught 3D artist working in the
scheme. Richard


Journey Continues Andrzej Sykut


I like triangular
compositions they are very
efective and always create
powerful pictures. Avoid
presenting characters in a T-pose
theres so much you can express
[with a] nice dynamic
posture try to push it.


Even if it is a very
colourful scene, its good if
the atmosphere tints the
whole scene colours at
least a bit just like in
real life. Carlos

Twisted Dolls: Mistress

Lili Rebeca Puebla

Andrzej Sykut

Artist: Maarten Verhoeven

Bio: Maarten is a CG sculpting/design
artist with a passion for anatomy, lm and
monsters in the toy, VFX and game world.
He has a Masters degree in animation.
Artist: Maurice Panisch
Bio: Maurice started out with grafti at a
young age, going on to add Photoshop and
3ds Max to his arsenal. He works as a
senior 3D artist at Sehsucht in Germany.
Artist: Pascal Blanch
Bio: French artist Pascal lives and works in
the UK. Hes worked in the videogame
industry for many years and is currently
employed as an art director for Jagex.
Artist: Rafael Grassetti
Bio: Rafael specialises in traditional
sculpture, 3D modelling, digital sculpting,
texturing and assets for feature lms like
Star Wars, cinematics and toy design.
Artist: Rebeca Puebla
Bio: Spanish creative Rebeca excels in
modelling and texturing characters. Shes
worked in the game, lm, television and
advertising industries for eight years.
Artist: Richard Yot
Bio: Richard is a professional illustrator
specialising in character design with a taste
for the quirky and contemporary. He likes
to create weird characters and worlds.
Artist: Sven Juhlin
Bio: Sven lives in Stockholm, Sweden. He
has been working as a freelance character
artist for three years, creating characters for
games, cinematics and movies.
3D Art & Design

3D art tips & tricks



Truth is, I dont take many

risks when it comes to
lighting. I try to create a look
similar to that of fashion
with global
two or
Having a noticeable primary
source of light helps to avoid a atRebeca
looking image and better dene the

volumes and depth of the subject and

scene. I always complement this
with some opposed ll lights or a
rim light to contour the main
subject of the scene.


Have some good

reference pictures of nice
lighting on your screen so
you can get the right help
inspiration needed
to make your render
pop. Sven
Start with the basic threeSHADES
point setup (key, ll, rim) and
Put some colour in your
dissect it nd out why it works
ambient lighting and
so well so often. But dont be
in any case, get away
constrained by three-point
from the grey! Even the best
lighting its just a useful
photorealistic renders have
shortcut, after all.
subtle touches of colour
bouncing here and
there. Pascal

Irulan Pascal Blanch

arlos Orteg Elizalde

Rendering layers for

the nal composite

What are the most helpful
passes to render out?
I will usually render out a pass for
each light and composite them in
post that way I can relight my
scene in Photoshop without having
to render again. I dont tend to
bother with diffuse/specular/
reection passes, though; I nalise
my materials in the render.


Rendering and
The most important rule is
knowing when to stop dont
destroy your ne work with
bad compositing or by
painting out nice details

For every single image I create, I

always render a depth pass and a
matte or the subject/object of focus.
The depth pass helps to add
depth of eld in postproduction,
which is faster and more
manageable. It also helps to
dene the scale of the scene.
If some things can be
made faster and better
An alpha pass is a must-have
looking in postproduction,
to isolate your subject; apart
I usually go for it. Unless, of
from that, depending on the
course, its something Im
needs, I make two or three
trying to learn in the 3D
package. Carlos
versions of different shaders and
mix them during post, or isolate
some objects for masks. Sometimes
I isolate the specular too. Pascal

10 3D Art & Design

Maarten Verhoeven


I dont render out any passes

any more though I used to
render out an occlusion layer but
it is denitely a good method if you
want to tweak the render and its
much easier to get the result you
want. A separate spec and AO
pass are essential if you want
to postprocess your
image. Sven

In Photoshop I tend to
create tons of layers any time I
need an efect and then erase it
where I want to tone it down. When
the comp becomes a bit messy I
create a copy of the collapsed
layers, but always make sure I
keep them around in case
theyre needed.


Experiment, use Curves a

lot and, most importantly, use
adjustment layers everywhere.
Dont tweak levels for the whole
image apply a Levels adjustment
layer instead. Youll be able to go
back easily, mask it, drop it into
another image, thus saving
yourself a ton of work.

3D art tips & tricks

Keep the faith

Promote yourself
Get feedback and get noticed

Do it for yourself rst, not for a

community. Keep yourself happy
with the art you create, then
acceptance to the online forums
will be conrmation of all the hard
work youve put in.


Its important to show work

online in several communities
and get comments from people
who arent your family or friends.
This feedback is mostly true and
raw but it is real. Itll prove more
helpful than a nice or great
from your mum!

If your image doesnt get accepted,

just keep plugging away. It takes
work to get to where you want
sometimes a lot of work. Richard


We all have rejected works from

galleries and colleagues it can be
disappointing at rst, but it is also a
good motivator to seek advice from
the community to nd out how you
might improve. Carlos

Youll quickly learn to be

selective about the critics; whos
constructive and who isnt. I
personally like to show my work as
a nished piece that way no one
interferes with the process and,
once its completed, anyone
can say whatever they
want. Rebeca

If you like
what youre
doing and want to
make a living out
of it, continue till
you get there
make it happen!


Centaur Maarten Verhoeven

BMW Interior 1er Coupe

Maurice Panisch

Pascal Blanch


What to do if your image

doesnt get accepted by online
forums and galleries


I love ZBrushCentral lots of

professionals drop by to check
out each others work. Most of
the guys and gals are also very
helpful if you have questions.
Its a good place to get
positive feedback.

Learn to accept critique

and grow a thick skin. Itll
come in handy again and
again when it comes to
commercial work.

CGTalk and CG Channel are

still the best places. deviantART
has a huge community and is a great
way to reach many people at the
same time. When you have some
good pictures, submit your work to
Your blog/website must be the
CGHub and magazines and
best place for people to see your
cross your ngers to pass
work, but you need places where people
the selection. Pascal
can access your website. Forums are a

great start, but unless you receive front

page or an award its hard to get noticed.
You need clients to see your work and the
best place to do that is by creating
portfolios on websites that ofer that
possibility, such as CGHub,
CGSociety, deviantART and so
on. Rafael

Portfolio tips

Do what youre best at. Work on

your weaknesses as well, but only
your best work in your portfolio

be ruthless about that .

Richard Yot




In my case (Im slow

and busy!) I try to keep it to
a minimum of three pictures
a year, but a good portfolio
could have just three to six
good pictures for
starters. Pascal


Its always good to show

your workow and workin-progress on forums. You
have to keep your mind
open to other artists


I try to create at least one

personal piece per month, when
time allows it. It helps me to optimise
workow from previous projects to use
later when tight deadlines show up in
real work. And, of course, its a great
way to show the community you are
still actively practising and learning
from mistakes and hits. It helps
keep the stress away too.
3D Art & Design


3D art tips & tricks

Portfolio tips

Update your portfolio as often

as you can. Its a lot of fun to do
stuf for your portfolio since you
can do whatever you like. Dont
rush it though: two really good
images are always better than
ten semi-good ones.


You need to know what type of

industry you want to work in and
focus your portfolio on this. If its
the game industry, do at least three
nished characters; if its for
statues and prototyping, focus
your work on ZBrush and
high-res models.

Photography is a great addition to a

portfolio as long as its good. Itll make you
grow as an artist and help with your lighting,
framing and composition skills
Andrzej Sykut

Just have your best

work in your portfolio
its about quality
not quantity

Its important to rst show a

solid base of work before you
go on and show diversity. Thats
not to say diversity isnt good,
but high standards are the rst
thing a client or company
wants to see. Maurice

Rebeca Puebla


Find something youre

comfortable with a technique
or style and just show of your
skills. Try to show something new
every time something that pushes
your skills to a new personal level.
Dont be afraid to be diferent
and try out your own
ideas. Maarten

VW Passat Maurice
Panisch & Markus Hanke



While most people can feel attered

looking at work derived from their ideas,
some artists can take it in a bad way. The
best thing about the internet is that its easier
to get in touch with the original artist than
ever before. Drop them an email asking for
permission, explain the clear purpose of
using their concept and, of course,
always give the appropriate
credit(s). Carlos


Always apply a signature,

credit and email address on
your nished images. Images
get lost on the web and no one
will know its yours if you
dont have a name on it.

12 3D Art & Design

In the case of very

recognisable characters, you
can enter them into the fan art
category and interpret the character
how you like. Although you cant
legally exhibit them without
permission from the copyright
holder. Its complicated.

You could benet and learn a lot

more if you do your own concepts. That
way, come the end, you can say its 100 per
cent your own work and not copied or
reworked from another
Maurice Panisch


I usually post images bigger

than 800px and smaller than
1,600px its a high enough
resolution for people to appreciate
your work online. People can take
advantage of high-res images and
make a prot out of it; its attering to
know your work is good quality,
but its unfair without your
consent. Carlos
Pascal Blanch

3D art tips & tricks

Protect yourself


Ive got my work backed

up tons of times Ive even
hidden some high-res images
online just in case. I had my PC
stolen ten years ago and I lost
some work you can never
have enough backups.

Why would you want to

publish your high-res images
online? Screen resolution
is often enough
Andrzej Sykut
The Greatest Show On
Earth Richard Yot


Ensure your work is secure


Mecha Rafael

Be honest about the

references and textures used
in your projects. Names and
links are most often
enough. Andrzej


CGFeedback is by far the best

feedback site. Theres a lot of good
artists there and youll denitely
get a lot of good comments
Sven Juhlin

I like to create my own

characters because I have
lots of original ideas. This
also avoids any legal
problems when you come
to exhibit work.


Creating the design is the best

part of CG to me, since its the
most creative job. The rest is just
execution. With design you can
really express your own point of
view and make something
unique. Richard


CD/DVDs are worthless

you cant read them after a
few years. HDDs, and now
cloud storage, are the best
ways to make sure you
dont lose your work.

You should back up your work every

day both to a local hard disk and to an
online service such as Dropbox
Richard Yot
Yeti Sven Juhlin

Think ahead
Paul Hellard is editor of
CGSociety, manager of CGJobs and
is artist liaison at Ballistic Media
from his home in Melbourne,
Australia. With a varied career as
an artist, cameraman and
production manager in lm behind
him, Paul has a passionate interest
in the internet, cinema and digital
arts and is a font of CG knowledge.
What is an ideal size to work at to
ensure images are good enough
resolution for the web? And how
about for print?
I always urge artists to work on
their images at as high a resolution
as possible. You never know you
may create something that
everyone will want to see as a big
print! You can always save a 72dpi
RGB for uploading to your
CGPortfolio on CGSociety, and a
300dpi for that high-end art book
you submit to, like Exotique 7.
When it comes to working in RGB
or CMYK, whats best if I want to
submit to an online gallery? And
what about for a book?
The colours on display on a
computer screen are generated in
Red, Green and Blue (RGB) at 72dpi.
The pixel info in your image
instructs each pixel of the
computer screen to illuminate each
colour light to a certain strength.
These three colours mix to the
perfect value. Same with print,
though there is more information
for the book press, at 300dpi.
Why does my image look different
from one monitor to the next, and
then again in print? How can I
make sure my image will look as
intended when I submit it to an
online gallery or to a book/mag?
The quick answer is that monitor
gamma and colour settings vary
considerably. Studios should have
their monitors calibrated regularly.
For Ballistic books, we prepare all
received images on a monitor
with sRGB colour response and
a gamma value of 2.2. We then
convert them from RGB to CMYK
using the latest stochastic screen
processes for printing.
3D Art & Design


Master the essential art of
the human form


50 tips for better characters

Advice for improving your characters

Jos Alves

Design and model a robot

da Silva

Hard-surface modelling techniques

Animate characters
in modo 601

Taking a closer look at 601s toolset


Create a high-res creature

Taking you from concept to the final render

Sculpt an epic beast

Capture intense creature expressions


Nathan Boyds Firebomb

Design striking characters


A fun and vibrant character creation

Design and create an exosuit

The workflow of a mechanical design


Maciej Kuciaras Alien


Sculpt folds and fabrics

Use ZBrush to design a stylised character

Create a mythical beast

Luiz Alves takes us through his workflow

Master Weta character design

Use ZBrush to create a fantasy character


14 3D Art & Design



We will essentially be
taking a simple 3D primitive
through the stages to a
complete polished bust

3D Art & Design


16 3D Art & Design

Zhang Chen

Yang Guang

Titouan Olive




Tiago Idalino

Mohsen Fallah

Matej Hradsky

Luis Santos

Jos Alves da Silva

Jorge Lopes

Eric Spitler

Dmitry Cheremisin

Carlos Ortega

Arda Koyuncu

Alex Huguet

Andrew Hickinbottom

Andrew Hickinbottom


Whether theyre
realistic, stylised
or just plain out
there, heres some
advice to help
you improve your
CG characters

n many ways, character creation is one

of the toughest elements of CG work.
We all have a pretty good idea of what a
human looks like, so even the smallest
errors or inaccuracies will stand out as clear
as day. To help you overcome these
troubles, we talk to some of the top artists
in the eld of character creation to gather
50 tips and tricks that will help you instil
your characters with personality!

50 tips for better characters

Even with cartoon images, depicting the correct anatomy

can be key: I put the main bony landmarks of the arm in
place the epicondyles of the humerus, the olecranon and
the styloid process of the ulna then added muscles based
on those landmarks, explains Spitler

Getting started

Starting right is often the most crucial part

of the process


Strive for originality. The 3D market is

becoming quite saturated now [so] new ideas
are hard to come by. Look for things for inspiration
your favourite cartoonists, real-life moments you
experience, lm, illustrations. Save any inspirational
reference you nd and keep a record of ideas that
come to you. Andrew Hickinbottom

Eric Spitler


Create more than one sketch. I

always start by sketching several of
my ideas down on paper. I then choose the
one I prefer. If youre using photo references
then select them carefully use images
with a similar focal length, sharpness and
exposure to what you wish to achieve.


Quick T-pose sculpt

Retopologised in 3D-Coat

Blocking in PolyPaint

Transposing & DynaMeshing


Titouan Olive


Do research. To capture the

essence of realism in your artwork,
you must study what it is you want to
create. For instance, if Im texturing a
character, I like to do a lot of research into
the characters age and profession, and
collect reference material accordingly.

Arda Koyuncu


You need to pay attention to

detail. Decide your characters
sex, age, physique, occupation and
environment, and then collect reference
information that will complement your
character. They must be high-resolution
images of excellent quality, with the right
lighting and correct angle. You can nd such
images on or Google, or [shoot] them
yourself with a model. Dmitry Cheremisin

Detailing in

Titouan Olive

Lighting is one of the biggest
challenges, Olive says. I
usually render my images with
mental ray. I often use an HDR
Dome coupled with Final
Gather. I also create traditional
key and rim lights

Its never a good idea to wing it.

I have a full-length mirror where
I work, so I can pose for myself. I start
out small maybe just working on the
bust of a character, or even an arm, leg or
torso study. You might also want to try
posing one of the free models that comes
with ZBrush rather than making one
from scratch. Eric Spitler
3D Art & Design


rst steps

For Carlos, the very rst thing he needs to

consider before even thinking about
exploring poses or sketching ideas is the
back story of his image. He explains: I
always take into account the characters
attitude, the emotions or feelings I want to
convey and the background story, if any,
of the character. Sometimes I even start
thinking of the atmosphere I want for the
nal image. Thinking of the mood you
want to convey helps you to narrow your
options and speed up the process.
When it comes to posing, Carlos
believes its better to think about broad
shapes rather than precise positioning. I
look for an attractive ow of shapes
between the elements on the scene and
balance whether its a static or a moving
pose, he says. In a static pose it will
avoid a stiff look in the character, and in a
moving and dynamic pose it will tell the
viewer where the elements are moving
and where they come from in space.
Always try to guide the viewer from one
element to another.
Finally, as always, reference is key. I
suggest you use as many references as you
can when starting out, as it helps you to
learn how a body reacts and balances in
different positions. [Whenever] I can I
look for anatomical and artistic
references, while taking a few moments to
analyse what makes me feel comfortable
or disturbed by looking at them. Most
importantly, look outside for real-world
reference at all times! The more info you
have about how people react to
movement, the more intuitive and fun it
becomes to re-create those poses. Know
their limits and even go beyond them!

Ortega believes that real-world references still apply

to cartoon characters as well as realistic ones, but
you can push those limits to get even more attractive,
graceful and believable poses

18 3D Art & Design

Carlos Ortega

Carlos Ortega talks us through

the initial stages of this stunning
image, The Weeping Woman

50 tips for better characters

Find the right tools that work for you


My preferred software is ZBrush. It really ofers you the

freedom to create what you want. You can freely add or remove
whatever you want, when you want. Its a lot like traditional sculpture in
that sense. Mohsen Fallah

It all depends on your experience

with the software. Ive used Maya
and ZBrush for modelling, sculpting,
shading, lighting and rendering for years, so
I have no reason to change my tools. As
reptology can be a really time-consuming
process, I use tools like 3D-Coat [for that].

Mohsen Fallah


I stylise my characters directly in

Mudbox. I prefer to work with it
because its a straightforward piece of
software. Its toolset and interface enable
me to reach my goals in an intuitive and fast
manner, meaning I have more freedom to
experiment instead of having a painful
experience of interface juggling. Find
something thats comfortable for you in this
way thats what really matters.

Mohsen Fallah

Luis Santos

In terms of textures, it depends on what Im trying to
make. Sometimes I use projection and paint over that;
other times I feel I should paint some skin tone. It
depends on what Im looking to create, says Fallah

Most of the time I feel most

comfortable modelling the base
mesh in Maya and posing the model by
adding a basic skeleton. It can serve as a
dummy to explore silhouettes, store
diferent poses on the timeline and block a

Expert stylisation

Jos Alves da Silva reveals the tools he uses to

create his professional stylised characters


Exaggeration is about giving more

relevance/expression to parts of the
character broadening their shoulders to
give information about their physical
strength, for example, or modelling a
high forehead to transmit intelligence.


While modelling exaggeration, I

mainly use the Move tool in ZBrush
to redene proportions. The Inat tool is
also good for expanding/contracting
certain areas and testing their impact.


Simplication, meanwhile, is less

about pronouncing elements and
more about making their shape readable.
Its about transmitting the idea in a very
clear way, says Jos. I like to use curved
lines versus straight, which contribute to
a dynamic design for stylised characters.
This will often lead to characters with
sharper shapes than in reality. To achieve
this sharper or harder-edged look, I tend
to use the Polish, Flatten and Trim
Dynamic brushes in ZBrush.

good camera angle and focal length to keep

a nice composition for the nal frame before
moving forward. Carlos Ortega


For organic modelling, I prefer

Maya over 3ds Max due to the
Artisan tool and the easy setup of the Soft
Selection. However, both are equally
capable and the tools I use are quite basic
extrusions, brushes to paint and relax
topology and so on. I tend to use Maya and
3ds Max for creating a base mesh to further
sculpt in ZBrush and texture in Mudbox.

Alex Huguet


With each new release Im nding it

possible to do more of my work in
ZBrush. I am experimenting with ZSphere
rigging and having some positive results. If
Im creating a character that will need to be
animated, I will sculpt my model in ZBrush
in a base pose, then pose the mesh in 3ds
Max and transfer all the sculpted details
using Displacement or Normal maps.

Eric Spitler

Jos Alves da Silva


Exaggeration is a key tool when creating stylised characters. It helps create a

pronounced image around the kind of personality youre looking to convey
3D Art & Design



Modelling & posing

How the physicality of a good pose is just as

important as your characters aesthetics


When using Maya, set some basic

image planes with some of your
reference pictures to help with proportions.
Its important to place those image planes in
perspective views, not in orthogonal (front,
side) views, because the perspective
distortion will mean you will never get the
model right. Alex Huguet


Convincing character movement is

incredibly important, from the bone
movement limits to the way the muscle
shape is formed by force and angles. Good
anatomical knowledge is important in
shaping a convincing sense of movement
and selling the viewer on your premise.

Yang Guang


I model the base mesh in a neutral

and slightly relaxed pose to keep
control of proportions such as the limbs
length and body volume. Then I start
exploring diferent positions. It helps me to
try to re-create the same pose myself and
see which things work and which dont. Yes,
sometimes youll look ridiculous, but thats
one of the fun parts of the process!

Carlos Ortega


What I like to do is create a highly

detailed base geometry in 3ds Max.
You can then put your mesh and your
reference next to each other in Photoshop
and match the proportions. Creating the
nal base geometry is important, because
when you get into the rendering process
your base geometry needs to hold up the
overall shapes and retain the detail you
sculpted via Displacement maps or
something similar. Arda Koyuncu


Exaggerating your characters

features is important when adding
personality and keeping away from a
generic-looking character. You must
balance such features if you want to achieve
a rich character without going overboard,
though experiment to see what works,
and keep in mind that there are such things
as happy accidents dont underestimate
the power of chaos! Luis Santos

20 3D Art & Design

Arda Koyuncu

Pushing and pulling on the mesh is important once I have the

base head geometry, I can make adjustments with Symmetry and
Soft Selection, or even use ZBrush to re-proportion the model and
experiment with looks, shapes and congurations. Once Im happy, I clean
up the image then add detail and denition. Andrew Hickinbottom


ZBrush has multiple tools that give

you design exibility: ZSpheres
enable you to block a characters silhouette
fast [and] DynaMesh opens the possibility
of modelling the base of a concept without
having to worry about polygon stretching or
lack of polygons. The latest tools in ZBrush
4R4 even permit welding diferent
geometry parts together It also adds the
QRemesher tool, which generates
automatic topology. Jos Alves da Silva


Once satised with a pose, start

recovering the missing volumes and
deformations the sculpting software cant
re-create, such as the elbows and shoulders
on a bending arm, or knees and hips on a
bending leg, which are better to adjust
separately without any Symmetry settings.
Having constant details like this along the
body helps to keep the piece at a certain
level of stylisation. Carlos Ortega

I avoid using too

many or too few
difuse lights
because they tend
to make it more
difcult to create
says Koyuncu


When Im trying to nish up a pose Ill look at

it from extreme angles that I havent been
paying attention to; Ill move the lights around in
ZBrush and Ill squint my eyes to blur it. Ill often look
at the pose upside down, and I nd it very helpful to
look at a mirror image of the pose. Looking at your
work in these ways can help you to see it with fresh
eyes and highlight some of the errors you couldnt
see before. Eric Spitler

50 tips for better characters

Textures & materials

You wont be able to sell the audience on your

character unless they believe in its appearance!

Luis Santos


Realistic skin

Luis Santos talks us through the process of

texturing lifelike skin
If you have a traditional painterly background, this will
denitely help with this process, says Luis of creating
true-to-life skin textures. Instead of relying only on
photo sampling and projection, I prefer to manually
paint on my characters. The results are unique and allow
for stylisation.
I start off with broad strokes of colour and gradually
include smaller details, he continues. Real skin is a stack
of layers, so it makes sense to paint it accordingly. I paint
several passes of layered skin tones and details while
ddling with different opacity values. Please avoid using
Mirror, as it may kill your works sense of authenticity,
making it look dull and unrealistic in essence remember,
we are not truly symmetrical!
When it comes to materials it all depends on the style
youre aiming for: Photorealism will lead you towards
referenced materials, while illustrative works will often
lead to rule bending, says Luis. Sometimes, youll be
constrained by client requirements, [and] other times
youll have context considerations and sometimes
hopefully it will be entirely up to your taste, and youll be
able to experiment in order to achieve the desired amount
of stylisation in your textures!

Try to eliminate unnecessary

steps in the process. For example, I
sometimes wont UV my character, and will
just use PolyPaint to texture in ZBrush. Sure,
it will probably look better with a full set of
textures and rendered in V-Ray, but
sometimes taking too long on a project can
see you can get tired and quit. I see so many
artists start projects but never nish them!


If Im trying to create a realistic

character, I like to use texture
projection to create a solid base. After I get
a clean projection, I like to hand-paint on top
of that to get more interesting colours and
variety that ts with the character I am
trying to create. Arda Koyuncu


In terms of textures, it depends on

what youre trying to make. I really
like Photoshop and BodyPaint 3D, as Im
comfortable with them. I can use pretty big
textures with many layers, simultaneously
paint many channels, project diferent
photos and paint over and over again until
Im happy. Mohsen Fallah

Materials play a big role in the

stylisation of characters. You can
force the specularity to create a more plastic
look or exaggerate the reections to get a
shinier and visually appealing character.
Toon shaders and materials that render
lines at the characters edges create a
cel-shaded look. By mixing regular materials
with at-shaded materials you can achieve a
comic-style look. Your imagination is the
only limit. Jos Alves da Silva



Eric Spitler


When working with stylised

characters, simplify! Having a
cartoony character with photorealistic
textures can look strange, so think about
how you can stylise textures and reduce
detail to complement the models look.
Many people opt for cel shading when
producing cartoony images, which can
look cheap if handled without reason
and restraint. Andrew Hickinbottom


Photoshop has a fabulous toolset

to create painting brushes.
Mastering brush creation is important when
you paint textures by hand which happens
very often in stylised characters as you
can create brushes with specic purposes,
like adding noise, dirt, texture, stitches,
patterns and so on. You will be able to work
much faster. Jos Alves da Silva

When texturing, I use ZBrush to do

the base painting and [create] the
occlusion maps, cavity mask, difuse and
bump. I work with these maps in Photoshop,
building the composition using photographs
and a little painting. The tip here is to
composite textures in Photoshop, along with
cavity maps, photographs, and some
hand-painting to give volume to the maps.

Tiago Idalino

If you dont have a good light setup it could ruin

everything youve done up to that point. That said, a
good lighting setup can also save a job that wasnt as
successful earlier in the process, Idalino advises


I use ZBrush with PolyPaint to

create the main tone and colour
directly on my model. When this base is
done, however, I use Photoshop for the ner
details. I try to work with larger textures, as
its always possible to reduce the resolution
later, but the opposite is not possible.

Santos uses Mudbox for his textures due to the softwares ability to paint
layered textures in a Photoshop-like manner while also being able to keep
sculpting and texturing tied closely together

When creating Sub-Surface Scattering

maps for realistic-looking characters, try to
be as objective as you can. Its always really cool to
add tons of SSS to your renders, but try to push it just
to the right level if you overdo it, it can be easy to
end up with waxy-looking models. Alex Huguet

Tiago Idalino

Titouan Olive

3D Art & Design



Light your characters

Why setting the scene is almost as vital as populating it


Light intensity will help pinpoint the parts of the character that you
want the viewer to see rst, and establish the path that their eyes
follow when interpreting the image. Intensity and sharpness between light
and shadow can also convey a darker or comic-book look, while softer
lights establish a cuter or lighter look. Jos Alves da Silva


When Im doing stylised rendering

I mainly use soft shadows and
dont put too much contrast in the picture.
Global illumination is my friend, and I like to
use higher settings for the primary GI
bounces. It also helps to use higher values
for ambient occlusion and to add some
warm colour to the lights. Matej Hradsky

Cheremisin is a fan of
MARI: Its easy to
implement the
process of projective
texturing; it allows
you to create shaders
and it contains a set of
masks. The benets
are innumerable

Dmitry Cheremisin

When posing a character

you must look for
references of dynamic,
real-life characters. Do
not fall into the cycle of
endlessly studying
anatomy, though study
art! Guang says


I light most of my work in mental

ray with mr lights, but sometimes
for pre-vis I use GPU-based renderers like
FurryBall or Mayas Viewport 2.0. Even
when they dont give you full physically
accurate lighting, it saves me a lot of time by
providing real-time feedback. Sometimes I
start to light the scene at the same time Im
exploring poses with rough geometry, as it
helps to plan my workow and see what
areas I need to take more care on.

Carlos Ortega

Be sure to study lighting in

advance, just as if you were
directing a photo shoot. Pay close attention
to how lighting afects your specular, bump
and other channels. If youre aiming for a
stylised/cartoony look, you have more
freedom regarding multiple light sources,
straight separation between character
and background, depth illusions and
colour exaggerations. Luis Santos


I always try to add a bit of contrast

[to] the nal render, a little rim light
and so on nothing too complicated. I tend
to place a couple of V-Ray lights and play
with the intensities, sizes and positions until
I nd what Im looking for. I often do a lot of
tests too, tweaking the lights and shaders to
get the desired result which can
sometimes take longer than the modelling
and texturing! Alex Huguet


Try to use soft shadows, as they

look more realistic. Also pay
attention to the work of professional
photographers and how they set up their
lighting. You can nd a lot of information in
books about photography. I often use
VrayPhysicalCamera, as it has settings [like
on a] real camera. Dmitry Cheremisin

22 3D Art & Design

Yang Guang



Depending on the mood of the

piece, its good to get nice, bright
and clear lighting with some strong, sharp
rim lights to show of the silhouette
providing your character design and pose
has a strong silhouette to begin with. Weak
lighting can ruin the impact of the
characters, so its best to think about
whether you want soft or sharp lighting;
dramatic or at; bright or dim; warm
or cold. Andrew Hickinbottom


A good light setup such as the

reliable three-point lighting can
give the viewer enough information to read
the whole piece if its for showcase
purposes. For a diferent kind of feeling you
can go for a more dramatic approach
varying light types, temperature and
intensity will help to immerse the viewer in
the characters atmosphere without losing
its silhouette. Carlos Ortega

Lopes uses PolyPaint to create textures, which gives

him a broad idea of what the nished image will look
like before adding details in Photoshop
Jorge Lopes

50 tips for better characters

Rendering advice

The nal steps of the character-creation

process can often be the most important


Hradsky was
inspired by the
dirtiness of
Rangos textures
for this image. He
used overpainting,
gradients and
contrast on the
textures for the
nal version
Matej Hradsky

For me, the most important V-Ray

render element passes are VRay
Difuse,VRay Raw GI,VRay Raw
Light,VRay Raw Reect,VRay Raw Refract,
Reect Filter,VRay Refract Filter,VRay
Specular,VRay Self Illumination andVRay
Background. The nal render is the sum of
these diferent render elements (render
passes). We can achieve the same result in
Photoshop, like in the VRay Frame Bufer.
For this, we just need to put all passes in
Photoshop and set each layer to Linear
Dodge (Add) excluding the VRay
Background (this must be Normal and
belowall other layers).
GI (VRay Global Illumination) is a
complex render element: we can take it
from the Render Elements menu, or we
can multiply VRay Difuse with VRay Raw
GI. The result will be the same. Its the
same for the Light pass: just Multiply VRay
Difuse with VRay Raw Light.
Heres an example:
GI = Difuse*Raw GI
Light = Difuse*Raw Light
Reect = Raw Reect*Reect Filter
Final render = GI (Difuse*Raw GI) + Light
(Difuse*Raw Light) + Reection (Reect
Filter*Raw Reect) + Refraction (Refract
Filter*Raw Refract) + Specular + Self
illumination + Background.

Dmitry Cheremisin


Render passes and render layers

are really important when creating
something special and realistic I like using
ambient occlusion, a Fresnel pass [with] fur,
hair and shadows. Sometimes I prefer to
render lights separately. Mohsen Fallah


With stylised images, once

everything is done I often try to put
one more Difuse pass on top of it all. With
blending modes (in Photoshop), I play a
little; using transparency/the Eraser gives a
painted, cartoony feeling. I think its good to
play with ideas like this, as you can hope for
a magical happy accident. Matek Hradsky


I try to render major things in one

pass and create masks for the
diferent elements like the character, the
background, depth of eld or the efects
so I can separate them or put them together
later on in Photoshop. Arda Koyuncu


I always render a Depth pass for

atmospheric and lens-blur
purposes. I use an Object ID pass to have
enough masks to work with and to adjust
colour values on individual objects. I add a
Normal map pass if I need to re-light areas
for composition or aesthetic purposes, and
a Specular Reection pass just in case!

Carlos Ortega


I render separate passes to save time if I need to make

adjustments on materials or x distracting artefacts without
having to go back to render everything again. It gives you more control
over the nal image not to mention the chance to create efects in
post-production. Carlos Ortega

Quick rendering tips

Jos Alves da Silva offers four quick tips for rendering


Zhang Chen

The Maya skin

material is a priority in
material selection
You need to spend a
lot of time adjusting it
and comparing it to
other materials,
advises Chen

I use render passes to force

non-physically correct light
situations (that look right) to enrich my
images. For example, sometimes Ill want
to emphasise a characters silhouette,
even though hes against a wall I create
a separate pass of the rim light without
any shadows that I can composite later
with physically correct lights.


Rendering specular highlights

and self-illuminated objects in
separate render passes is a trick I use to
easily boost the highlights and create
bloom/glow effects in post-production.


I often render an Occlusion pass

to enhance the connection
between the various scene elements
and help dene the character form, using
the Linear Burn blending mode with a
low ll value to composite it with the
original image.


Importantly, I render a pass with

masks that will enable me to
easily select different objects in
Photoshop and make colour corrections
to each part of the image very quickly,
then ne-tune the colour temperature,
contrast and saturation.
3D Art & Design



Red eye 2012

Niles Doubleday

A robot design created for practise and to demonstrate

some helpful hard-surface modelling techniques
Niles Doubleday is an environment artist at Airtight Games

f you love robots or sci- and want to turn some of

your ideas into 3D, this step-by-step tutorial will
give you a great start.
Well begin by going over some of the basic design
techniques involved in coming up with balanced
thumbnails. Once youve got an idea youre excited about,
youll then be able to turn your idea into a fully-edged

Easy-to-follow guides
take you from concept
to the nal render

Artist info

Design and
model a robot
3D model. Well go through the basic workow I use
when hard-surface modelling in 3ds Max and then render
in KeyShot (look out for my mental ray tips on the
opposite page).
If youre already a modelling pro Ive included some
hard-surface tricks for 3ds Max, before we nish of with
a few quick steps to make your render pop in Photoshop.

Personal portfolio site
Country USA
Software used 3ds Max,
KeyShot, Photoshop
Expertise Niles enjoys all
aspects of 3D, but specialises in
props and environments for
video games

Plan now, save time later the most important step!
This is what my initial
thumbnails look like not
exactly cohesive!

Customise your modier

sets and drop down a plane
with your image
for reference

01Develop a concept

The key to concept development is to draw all your

ideas even the bad ones as you never know which direction your design
may take. Grab the elements that you like from one sketch and then apply them to
another in a diferent way. Just throw down a bunch of ideas without worrying about
polishing them or thinking too hard about it. Details can be as loosely represented as
random lines; once you have some general volumes you like, then you can take some
time to deconstruct it and detail those parts individually a.

02Set up a scene

I usually take one of my key concepts and put it in the

scene on a plane aligned to one of the axes. I always use an Orthographic
camera, but its especially important at this stage. The Orthographic view makes it a
lot easier to make shapes accurate to your concept when you start modelling. Ive
also added some common modiers to my Modier box on the right. I strongly
recommend setting up this UI element to support your most-used functions b.

24 3D Art & Design

Design and model a robot

If you prefer mental ray
This tutorial was created using Keyshot, however its
possible to easily achieve great results right in 3d studio
max using mental ray. Start by using the arch and design
materials found in the material editor, choose some of the
presets for the materials you need, then adjust the colors
to your needs. Then hit F10 to bring up the render settings
and switch the preset to photometric, mental ray, next turn
on nal gather in the indirect lighting tab. Next throw in
some basic lighting, use a couple of mr Sky Portals found in
the photometric lights, adjust there color and brightness. I
use draft setting to get the ballpark settings, then for the
nal switch over to higher quality.

Software used in this piece

3ds Max



My initial concept
was a heavy,
robot about two/
three-feet tall. I am
really playing with
the idea of a 20:80
ratio of detail versus
overall shape

You can download the following

source les from http://tinyurl.
Final_Model_01.max (2011)
3D Art & Design



Begin modelling

Analyse the

Its time to define the shape of your robot


Some things to remember

when blocking in:
Gaps in shapes are ne
you can worry about
these later
The goal is to get a feel
for the shape of what
youre making. Hide your
concept and ask yourself
design questions
Is your concept working
in 3D? Does the 3D
model look like something
you want to spend
another week or so
working on? If any of
these answers are no,
experiment with what
you have; try some new
shapes or scale what you
have diferently.

03Block in your base shapes

Using the plane as a reference, start blocking in your key

shapes. I create the torso rst and make it the most detailed. Once that is done, I start adding
in other pieces such as the legs and pipes in the back. This robot is going to be nearly perfectly
symmetrical for most of the process, so its important to only really work on half of it, you can mirror
and weld it later. That being said, its not a bad idea to copy what you have across to check out the
proportions on the full piece as you progress c.

04Detail the blocking shapes

Pick a core mesh and hide the rest of the model. Start to
detail out the mesh and get in some supporting edges so that it holds its shape when you
apply the TurboSmooth modier. When you approach subdivision hard-surface modelling, you will
spend a lot of time looking for pinching and odd shading. To help you spot these errors easily, apply a
base material with a high Specular and Glossiness setting. This material will enable you to get a better
idea of how the forms will look when rendered later on d.

05Add basic edge supports

The most challenging part of hard-surface modelling is

getting interestingly-shaped surfaces to subdivide correctly and derive a clean form. The next
couple of steps will cover some geometry solutions I use for some common scenarios. In this example,
you can see the shading along the crease of the surface in the red box has a shadow along the edge,
the surface in the green below doesnt. The diference is due to the extra supporting edge added
around the actual cut. This provides more support and attens the surface quicker when smoothed e.

c Block in the basic

forms to decide if your
concept works in 3D

d Apply a shiny material to

help you spot errors
when subdividing

e Support your
edges to get nice
clean bevels

g Edge Constraint is one of

the key hard-surface
modelling tools

Niles Doubleday

Currently living in the state of

Washington in the United States, Niles
spends his days working for Airtight
Games and his nights modelling to the
sounds of dubstep. When hes not busy
at the computer screen he enjoys riding
his trusty bicycle and hanging out with
good friends.

26 3D Art & Design

Cryogenics facility 3ds Max, Photoshop, Unreal Engine (2011)

This is a game resolution project Niles created to practise bringing
the sci- themes of his personal work into the Unreal Engine

Sci- diver 3ds Max, Photoshop, KeyShot (2011)

This image was created as an exercise using the same workow

Niles is demonstrating in this tutorial

Design and model a robot

Add form and functionality

Place large and small elements for believability

Ending edges on at
surfaces in the middle
of polygons is ne

06Avoid extra work

Its always important to model cleanly, however there are exceptions to

every rule. In this case, since the side of this leg segment is perfectly at, its okay to leave
edges ending in the middle of polygons. You can see that it still smoothes out ne in the right-hand
image. When you have edges end in convenient places, rather than carrying them all the way into an
Edge Loop, this saves a lot of time and keeps the model a little easier to manage f.

07Constrain edges

Most important is the ability to easily move a vertex along an edge. Turn
on Edge Constraint under Constraints on the right, found in the Edit Polygon modier. In the
image I have a vertex that is interrupting a smooth ow on this bevel. To x this issue, turn on Edge
Constraint and slide it to one of the end vertices, then slide it back along that edge to the correct
location. Now itll be in line with the intended surface and wont create any odd bumps g.

The Inset and Collapse

command are more
weapons in your arsenal

Surface type

08The Inset and Collapse tools

The Inset tool is very useful for adding Edge Loops to

support edges and add detail. Sometimes when you add an inset it creates overlapping
vertices in sharp corners. This doesnt work all the time, but most of the time just collapsing that will
enable you to keep your sharp corner and smooth surface without noticeable pinching. Easily navigate
to Collapse by right-clicking and nding it on the pop-up menu h.

Alien spine
Photoshop (2012)

Inspired by the Alien

franchise, Niles
made a quick
ZBrush sculpt
before rendering
the diferent
elements in ZBrush
with various
MatCaps and
compiling them in
using Photoshop

An edge-supported mesh
with some larger detail added

As you continue to model, dening surfaces and details,

keep in mind what kind of material the pieces are made out
of. If you add really sharp edges and at, smooth surfaces,
the material will appear to be much harder. Rounder edges
with big bevels and a more supple surface will appear
softer. Its important to have a couple types of surfaces in
your model. I like to have the sub-surface feel softer, with
the exterior pieces being hard plastic or painted metal.

large details
and new forms

When supporting the edges and

dening the design further, I
always start to add large-level
detail, such as big vents or tube
connections. As you add the
detail, make sure the new shapes
t in with your existing large
shapes. As an example, here is
what the underside of the body
looks like with the four leg-attach
points and the vent underneath.
Details such as this add an extra
layer of believability and display
function. The more the viewer
can relate the forms to real-world
things, the more believable your
design will be i.
3D Art & Design



Polish the model

With all the basic meshes complete, bring your creation to life

10Fill in the gaps

Now that you have all the major forms

nailed down, there are probably some gaps still left
between pieces. Now is a good time to ll those gaps. Use the
same workow as the other pieces to make a sub-surface. Block in
some base shapes that intersect with the large forms youve got.
Try to make these new shapes match the design of the existing
ones as much as possible. In my case I have matched the arch of
the rear tubes with a rear guard j.

feedback and
adjust accordingly

Show your model to the

client, or friends whose
opinion you value, and ask
for feedback. In my case it
became apparent I needed
to better illustrate a face and
show more character. I
started blocking out some
shapes to see what would t
in with my existing structure
and provide a more
interesting focal point. Its
okay to make big changes to
your model, even at this late
stage in the process. I push
the main lens out and add
some representational
plating, as well as a couple of
spline-based hoses. These
add mid-level detail by
externally attaching them to
the body of the machine k.

After I
dened the face, it
became apparent that the
shape would be very
time-consuming to model in its
curved form while still avoiding
errors when subdividing. This is
a perfect case for the FFD
modier. To use it efectively,
model out your form at to a
world axis where you can get
the mesh to subdivide easily.
Next, reference that mesh and
drag it to the location its
needed. Once your at
unsmoothed mesh is in place,
use one of the FFD modiers to
bend it into shape. Last, go
back to your on-axis mesh and
use TurboSmooth l.

The last phase of modelling is where
you really get to add some life to the model. Take elements
that you think need another layer of detail, subdivide them, then
apply another Edit Poly modier. In the new modier, start adding
some insets, bolts or seams in key places. Another method is to
select a bunch of faces and Shift-drag them of of the mesh to
create a new sub element. Add a bit of thickness to this new
element to create a layering efect m.

Extract another layer of

detail from the model with
insets and more elements

Design your fine details

Fine detail of the model is what really makes it come alive,
taking it from a 3D model to something believable. The
really important part is to use the detail to add hints of
construction and ne seams where the plating comes
together or is attached. Ive also added little divots to
suggest vents or attach points. Use this opportunity to
better support the large forms. With the plate, for instance,
Ive added highlights to the slight curve of the front as well
as conforms to a new vent along the side.

28 3D Art & Design

12FFD modier

Use the FFD modier to easily

make complex shapes

13Final detail pass

You can still make

changes late in the game

Design and model a robot

Pose and render

Its time to make that model into a polished image


Set up a hierarchy

At this point your model

is all nished and you need to
put it into a cool pose for
rendering. To make that posing
easy and avoid making a full
bone rig, set the pivot points for
the meshes where the joints
are. Parent the meshes in the
way you would expect the
robot to bend. For example, in
the screenshot Ive shown the
foot plate being parented to the
lower leg n.
j Fill in any gaps that may have
appeared between the forms
n Parent the meshes to one
another at the joints to make
posing easy
p The base render and
sub-surface render

in KeyShot
KeyShot, formerly known
as HyperShot, is a really
great piece of rendering
software. I like to use it
because it enables me to
focus on my model
without worrying about
spending lots of time
setting up an HDRI and
complex shaders. Im
actually using an old
version, so I have to break
up the diferent materials
into separate meshes to
import it into the
program. With the latest
version (a free demo is
available) you can import
your MAX le straight in.
This enables the material
IDs from 3ds Max to be
transferred and makes
material selection and
organisation very easy!

Pose the model and set

up the scene


Build up the scene Switch the Rotation to

Local and start rotating the base into position. All

the legs and head should follow if youve parented them.
Next, rotate the legs and head to suit the camera and the
scene. Ive set up a bunch of boxes to give the robot some
context, but sometimes a at plane works. I generally play
around with a few diferent camera angles and poses o.

tion time


Image resolu25
3,200 x 3

16KeyShot rendering

Ive chosen KeyShot to render this

scene, but any renderer that gives you easy access to a
broad range of materials will work well. Its a good idea to try out
diferent materials and colours until you nd the best results. I
knew that I wanted some chipped-away paint that would reveal a
metal surface underneath, so I make an additional render that is
entirely metal. In Photoshop I take the metal image and add more
contrast using the Levels adjustments p.

17Move to post-production

In Photoshop I start by
copying the base render onto a layer above the metal layer
and painting a mask where I want scratches, so the metal shows
through. Other important elements are Bloom and Sharpening. For
Bloom, copy the merged layers onto a new layer and use Levels to
drag the darks almost all the way to lights to clamp it. Use the
Gaussian Blur lter (6-10 pixels) then set the Blending mode to
Screen. To sharpen, copy the merged layers and apply a High Pass
lter with a low pixel count and set it to Overlay q.

The nal composite

and the accompanying
Photoshop layers

3D Art & Design


Software used in this piece



Artist info

3D artists explain the

techniques behind
their amazing artwork

Richard Yot

Personal portfolio site
Country UK
Software used
ZBrush, modo, Photoshop
Expertise Richard is an
illustrator who specialises in
quirky character design.

dragon tamer.mp4
karate kid-2.mp4

30 3D Art & Design

Animate characters in modo 601

Animate characters
in modo 601


Dragon Tamer 2011

modo 601 can now do full-blown character animation. We

take a closer look at the new toolset
Richard Yot illustrator

he modo 3D
modelling software
continues to go
from strength to strength.
Many new options are
featured but characteranimation tools are the most
signicant. Developer
Luxology has not contented
itself with just copying
features from established
applications, but has
approached the workow
from its own unique
perspective with the aim of
making the tools accessible
and enabling users to get
results very quickly.
Ease of use and quick
workows are at the heart of
modo, and in 601 there are
tools that enable novices or
those working to short
deadlines to set up
characters for animation
extremely quickly. It also
enables more advanced
users the ability to create
powerful custom rigs with
extremely complex and
versatile controls.
For those who have ever
spent frustrating hours
setting up a basic character,
modo 601 is breath of fresh
air. Bones can be placed
intelligently inside your mesh,
saving hours of time
tweaking them into place.
Binding and weight painting
is painless and you can use
the new Pose tool and the
Actors and Actions groups to
start animating without any
of the usual problems.

Create detailed assets

Use modos new features to build textures and more

01Initial modelling

The initial modelling was completed in

ZBrush using ZSpheres to block out the basic form of the
character. I prefer to sculpt the initial stages of a character rather
than deal with polygons so that I can concentrate on nding the
forms without having to worry about topology. Its also much
easier to revise and tweak a design in a sculpting package since the
mesh is so much more malleable a.

02Use new retopology tools


With 601, modo

is now among
the very best
solutions on
the market

In its latest version, modo

has introduced some substantial new retopologising
features. There is a dedicated Topology tab, a new Background
Constraint type and some new tools, of which the Topology Pen is
the most important and innovative. With this it is possible to
retopologise extremely quickly by extending edges, creating new
loops and merging vertices all without ever dropping this one tool.
Having tried all of the specialised retopologising packages on the
market, I can say that modo 601 is among the very best because of
the fast workow it ofers and the way in which this one tool
combines so many useful features b.

03A new improved paint engine

601 has a much

improved painting engine compared to earlier versions of
modo, and I used this in conjunction with Photoshop CS5s 3D
features to create all of the texture maps for the animation. By
using the Brush settings to create chaotic and varied brushes, I was
able to make the worn wood and paper textures that are used
throughout the set. The Procedural brush in modo is particularly
useful for this as it can create very natural results. The character
was also painted this way, and the Image Ink brush was used to
add details such as ngerprints on his virtual Plasticine face c.

The concept was based on an
existing digital painting of mine.
There was a nice atmosphere
with a blend of spooky and funny
that seemed like a good starting
point for a simple short lm.
a Finding the initial forms is much easier in ZBrush, where you can
concentrate on design without worrying about topology

c Using modo and Photoshops brush engines enabled me to create

natural and convincing textures
3D Art & Design



Set up the scene

Now that the assets are created we need to prepare them for animation

04Add shading and materials

Once the textures were

painted, the diferent materials were dened in the Shader
Tree. In order to create the handmade look that I like to use in my
work I made heavy use of SSS in the character to simulate the look
of Plasticine. The materials for the set were also designed to look
handmade, so the oor used displacement to portray wood, the
walls used a matte material to look like stained wallpaper and the
blanket used bump and a tiny bit of fur to create a convincing fabric.
I also sculpted some folds into the blanket, pillow and sheets d.

05Light the set

Because my intention was to mimic a

physical stop-motion set I could make use of quite
theatrical lighting, using a spotlight shining down on the character
in bed. The little bedside lamp created some context for the light,
but it was actually placed far above the character to single him out
from his environment. Monte Carlo global illumination was used
throughout the animation despite the added render times, because
of the added realism it creates e.


Lay out the bones With the assets all created, it was

then time to move to the rigging stage. Luckily this is very

straightforward in modo and can be done quickly. The tools are
exible and set up in such a way that it is still possible to make
modelling changes without breaking the rig. To add bones to my
character it was a simple case of drawing them over the mesh in
the new dedicated Setup Mode. Modo takes care to intersect them
with the geometry of the model, so once drawn they need little or
no tweaking into position f.

07Apply binding and weight painting

With the
introduction of bone-based deformers, modo has also
introduced several automatic binding algorithms as well as
allowing the paint tools to edit weight maps. Alternatively the
weights can be edited with the same Weight tool that is used to
crease SDS models. It is possible to create everything manually
using Weight Containers, Deformers and the Schematic View, or
to use an automated option and then edit the results manually. The
automated results were very good in this case and only needed
some minor adjustments to create nice deformations g.

Character design
problems and solutions
There is a big diference between stills and animation
when it comes to creating and preparing assets. When
working on a still it is possible to cut a lot of corners
topology doesnt have to be perfect, meshes can be very
dense, textures might not be seen close-up and so can
be lower resolution. When making an animation,
however, every stage of the process is going to take
longer: a mesh that needs to deform must have good
topology, an animated character must also have a
manageable mesh density for fast playback in the
viewport. Textures might need to be seen in close-up as
well as from far away, so every asset needs much more
thought and preparation for it to hold up under every
possible situation you might require in the animation.
This means that as well as all the time spent
animating and rigging, you generally need to allow for
more time when it comes to asset creation. This means
you get the best outcome that you are capable of. In this
case I spent just as long on the assets as I did on the
rigging and animating. Three weeks were spent building
the set and characters and another three weeks on the
actual production.

32 3D Art & Design

Animate characters in modo 601

the new
Pose tool

The Pose
tool is a really great feature for
anyone who needs to animate
a character quickly. It is
essentially a very exible and
powerful tool for posing your
skeleton without having to build
any rigging controls. I was able
to use simple kinematics to
rotate joints in the normal way,
and then by activating the Pose
tool I could have on-the-y
Inverse Kinematics (IK) in any
part of my skeleton. Its also
possible to add real IK and use
it in conjunction with the Pose
tool, but its not strictly
necessary. This tool saved me
many hours of rigging work,
making this a relatively
short-term project h.

Create the
set texture

09Go to the Actors and Poses option

Another nice
workow tool is the Actors and Poses feature, which
enabled me to store poses and recall them later. I dened actors by
selecting the rig for my main character and another one for the
dragon, then I could set up the key poses for the action and reuse
them in later sequences. This was particularly useful for repetitive
actions such as the wings apping. I was also able to set up smaller
selection sets as Actors, which I did on the hands so that I could
reuse hand poses throughout the animation i.

d Using modos excellent Render

Preview makes material creation
very quick
e The lighting was intended to
mimic a stop-motion animation,
with the character isolated by a
spotlight positioned above him
f The smart bone positioning in
modo ensures that your bones
are always placed correctly
inside your mesh
g Weights can be adjusted with
modos paint tools, or with the
Weight tool


Morph map workow Once the basic poses had been

blocked out the next step was to create morph targets for
both the facial expression and for corrective modelling on some of
the deformed poses. With modo you can model and sculpt in pose
space, making the task of creating corrective morphs very
straightforward and in the Deformers List you can organise the
order in which morphs and bone deformers are triggered. This way
facial expressions can be red before the skeleton poses, but
corrective morphs afterwards. This gives animators a lot of
exibility with their use of morphs j.

I wanted the set to have a

handmade feel and look
like a stop-motion set. In
order to do this I
downloaded some
photographic textures
from www.cgtextures.
com. I used both modo
and Photoshop to
handpaint extra layers of
grime using custom
brushes to simulate
scratched paintwork and
stains of various kinds.
For the tinfoil moon and
stars I sculpted some
wrinkles and created a
metallic material with
some additional bump
maps for extra creases.
The key to creating
convincing textures is
mostly patience, time and
attention to detail. I spent
more time on the textures
for the set than I did on
the modelling, because in
this particular case the
textures create the vast
majority of the details. In
order to further reinforce
the stop-motion feel I
used very shallow depth
of eld to make the
results more
photographic, and the
fact that the focus is
sometimes briey of also
helps to create the illusion
of a real camera. The nal
touches in postproduction
to add some glare around
the highlights and a tiny
bit of vignetting were also
aimed at increasing the
photographic feel
achieved in the lm.

h With the Pose tool you can

animate a character with
minimal rigging or setup time
i With the Actors an Poses
feature, you can dene a motion
to be used repeatedly

j Morphs can be used for facial

animation and for corrective
modelling on deformed meshes
3D Art & Design



Character control
Fine-tune the rough animation
Richard Yot

I am an illustrator that specialises in making quirky

characters and quirky little worlds for them to live in. I
like giving my CG work some of the charm of handmade
things and use photorealism with a twist to create
something a little imperfect.

Morph fallofs can be

animated to add an extra
layer of subtlety to your
facial animations

Think pace
and contrast

Rufus modo (2011)

This bad tempered

little mutt is part of a
family of not-really
wooden characters.
Hes noisy and
irritating, like any selfrespecting small dog
should be.

One way of helping a

story along is with pacing
and contrasts. The start
of the animation is
deliberately slow to
reinforce the idea that the
character is sleepy, the
nal section is paced
much faster as a
deliberate contrast, the
diference between the
two helps to tell the story.
The editing was also
instrumental in this, with
slow dissolves used in the
rst part and fast cuts in
the second to emphasise
the change in mood.
l Workow in modo frees you up
to spend more time on content
rather than technical aspects
m A simple rig for controlling eye
movement, that can also be
overridden when necessary

Vinyl monster
ZBrush, modo (2012)

If he had some brains, he would be scary. Part of a series of

virtual vinyl monsters created for 3D Artist magazine.

11Morph fallofs

Most deformers can be attenuated with fallofs and this applies to morphs
too, adding another layer of control and subtlety. I was able to model quite extreme versions of
my characters expressions and then use Spherical Fallofs to modulate how and when they appeared
over his face. This enables for much subtler morph map animation and also for more movement. For
example I animated the gulp by creating a simple morph map of the throat but created the movement
by animating the fallof which made the throat move as it owed over the morph map k.

12Aim for emotion

Vlad modo, ZBrush

A virtual ppier
mach monster with
a big mouth and even
bigger tongue. Hes
not as scary as he
thinks, and being pink
doesnt help.

34 3D Art & Design

With most of the technical work done and the basic poses and
expressions blocked in, the most important part of the work could then proceed: the
performance. Animation is essentially about conveying emotions and maybe humour and its
important not to lose sight of this. Because modo enables such a rapid workow with the Pose tool
and the minimal rigging, I was able to spend more time working with the character and his emotions
rather than spending time on technical tasks such as building rigs or setting up IK l.

13Animate the eyes

With this particular character design (although this is true of almost any
character), most of the expression had to be conveyed in the eyes. The big mouth lends the
design a lot of humour and quirkiness, but is limiting in terms of animation since it doesnt have the
realism of a less-extreme design. This meant I had to take great care animating the eyes and I used the
lower lids extensively to convey the characters emotions. I made a basic rig using locators and
direction constraints and another really simple rig to control the eyelids m.

Animate characters in modo 601


Final animation and edit

render tim
1,920 x 1,08 :

Once the final touches are complete, its time to edit the film

14Place cold sweat

In the sequence where the boy wakes

up suddenly, I needed to create many little beads of sweat
forming over his face. These were done with a replicator system
that used the face as a point source and a map was painted to
control their placement. Then it was simply a case of animating
their size over time to create the illusion of the character breaking
into a cold sweat n.

15Use the Graph Editor

The nal step in the animation

process was to tweak the Curves and the timing by
manipulating the Curves in the Graph Editor. The Graph Editor in
modo also has some useful controls for setting up repeating
actions such as the dragons wings in ight. I could animate them
once and set the action to repeat o.

16Render the animation

Because the raw animation was

almost two minutes long at full HD it was rendered on a
commercial render farm, taking a few days to render out all the
sequences. In order to keep things manageable, I broke the
animation up into short sequences that could be rendered
separately. Each sequence was rendered with extra footage at the
start and end so I could have some space to work when making my
nal edit p.

17Final composition and edit

Finally everything was put

together in After Efects. Magic Bullet Photolooks was used
to add some bloom and vignetting. All of the depth of eld efects
were created in the raw modo renders rather than post as this
gives much more realistic results. Audio was added at the edit
stage and all the nal decisions on timing and pacing were left until
the very end. I began the editing stage with some rough viewport
renders while the animation was in the render farm to save time q.

Ideas and story

The story ideas were being revised all through the
process and I didnt settle on an ending until the
animation was almost complete. I had initially started
with a darker direction that was potentially funnier, but it
wasnt right for this project so I toned it down. But then I
wasnt really happy with the ending so I kept
storyboarding diferent ideas right up to the eleventh
hour when I settled on the nal version. This is a normal
process with any animation, because if theres even a
small chance of improving the work before its too late
then that chance is worth taking.

n The beads of sweat were

created with a replicator that
was animated to increase
gradually over time

p The new, improved render

window in 601 is much more
user-friendly than seen in
previous versions

o The Graph Editor can be used to

quickly set up repeating actions
as well as for tweaking timings

q All of the nal editing,

compositing and efects work
was done in After Efects
3D Art & Design



Software used in this piece



mental ray


Create a
high-res creature
Desert creature 2012

With this project we wanted to create something a little different, so we mixed a few
different creature styles together. We had a vision of a desert-dwelling creature, but a
Daniel Crossland is a senior character artist
desert from another world that was dry but cool

he aim of this tutorial is to give an overview

of how to go about taking a concept and
translating that into a nished render. In
my job I have the great fortune of working around
really talented people, so I asked Daniel Baker, a
senior concept artist here at Ninja Theory, to help

36 3D Art & Design

create this creature. We were keen on the idea of a

desert-dwelling creature on the side of cute but still
grotesque, much akin to some of the creatures from
the recent lm John Carter.
After taking Daniels concept I made blockouts in ZBrush to check the concept translated well

into 3D. I will now show you how to go about

making an asset to be shaded, lit and nally
rendered in Maya. Ill also cover how I optimise my
scenes for more streamlined rendering when
memory can be an issue, and how to composite the
nal scene.

Create a high-res creature


Artist info

Easy-to-follow guides
take you from concept
to the nal render

Daniel Crossland
Username: Pteropus
Personal portfolio site
Country UK
Software used
ZBrush, Maya, mental ray,
Expertise Specialist areas
include character design,
concepts, high-detailed sculpts
and 3D modelling


We started by discussing
the direction for the
character and, knowing
Daniels designs, I knew it
was going to be something
unique. After exploring a
few ideas we both liked
the louse concept

appendages I prefer to make a basic ZSphere rig. This

approach is far better then modelling a base in 3D as I can pose
the rig, make global changes to the proportions and easily make
an Adaptive Skin mesh to lay my basic forms down a.

Work with DynaMesh Daniel provided me with

some silhouettes of the creature. A strong silhouette
can inform the design and is enough to make some design
sculpts in ZBrush, so from this point on I make an Adaptive Skin
from my ZSphere rig, providing a new ZTool to start sculpting
on. With this done I hit Use DynaMesh under the Geometry
panel and started to sculpt. I spend a couple of hours at this
stage just playing with the forms. These will act as conceptual
meshes for you to base the nal model on. Having a workable
asset early on makes projects run much smoother b.


a A ZSphere rig can quickly

lay your model out ready
for basic sculpting

b Here we aim to block in

major forms. Only a
strong and accurate
foundation for the work
will ensure our success
to clean the mesh and
sculpt the basic volumes
ready for rening

Use a ZSphere rig Because the character has many


c Using DynaMesh, we need


Its essential that the

concept sketch translates
well into 3D

The digital sculpt process Digital sculpting with

DynaMesh is now very much like working as a
traditional sculptor. I like not having to worry about topology so
I can just sculpt and let the model grow organically.
You always have enough resolution with DynaMesh. If you
choose when to tessellate the model, by hitting Cmd/Ctrl and
dragging a box outside your model it will update the mesh with
new geometry to work with. I keep my meshes low and really
simple. Once basic feature planes are blocked in, I then rene
the sculpts main masses into denite volumes that are
polished with the hPolish brush. The modelling process for me
is mainly to retopologise my DynaMesh tools so they can go to
a rene pass, which cleans any artefacts c.
3D Art & Design



New topology
Transfer the sculpt to clean topology
d The model
with polished
major forms

e The nal
character pose
f The louse
after a
detail pass


Renement pass At this stage I work up the sculpt

to a rened state. All the main muscle masses and the
skin quality are built but not in high-frequency detail. If we were
to detail with too many wrinkles and too much noise early, we
could lose the primary masses. Without these smaller details
we dont have structure to keep the model together. For this
pass I use my favourite brush, Clay Tubes, to place muscle. The
Pinch brush also tightens areas and inates at a very low
setting to add volume where needed. I work each area of the
face, smoothing as I go along. To tighten the primary wrinkles I
switch to a high-specular MatCap and with the Dam Standard
brush to go over the model, adding criss-cross marks to make
only the major wrinkles. I polish these afterwards by stroking
the hPolish brush lightly over the entire model, one area at a
time, to complete the renement d.


Remain exible In my day job, the ability to be

exible to change is of the utmost importance. We
tried lots of diferent poses using the Transpose tool in ZBrush,
and Dan worked some pose silhouette thumbnails so we could
explore further. In the end, we xed the pose to be more
hunched over, where the character is slightly turned to look at
the viewer. Once the stance was xed I did some corrective
sculpting around the joints. Its best to x this before going on
to high-frequency detail. You are safe to then concentrate 100
per cent on those nal details, assured that your pose will work
for the nal angle of the shot e.


High-detail pass Once Im around Level 6, I divide

my mesh using HD sculpting. This takes my model to

ten million polys per SubTool. By hitting the A key over an area
of the sculpt, I go into HD mode. The main reason Ive recently
started using HD sculpting is because then I can also use HD
PolyPainting, which makes creating texture maps much quicker.
As long as I sculpt the detail into my model, its all there for
making masks and painting. For detailing I use a combination of
the Standard brush with the modier set to around 30. This will
use the Push and Pinch functions, which work really well for the
wrinkles. Additionally, I usually tighten them with Pinch and
steady strokes, with some more Dam Standard brush thrown in
to deepen the crevices f.

Daniel Crossland

My fascination with art started at the age of

four and it continues to fascinate me to this
day. Im currently senior character artist at
Ninja Theory and in a lot of my work I like
to focus on traditional art skills by looking
at anatomy and real clay sculpture. I nd
this keeps me focused on pushing my art. I
try to replicate the same level of realism
and quality in my digital work.

38 3D Art & Design

Fetal skull Maya, ZBrush (2010)

I modelled this skull as part of some learning

sculpts, to improve in sculpting and the
development of form

Udasaur Maya, ZBrush (2011)

I sculpted this creature based on one of the creatures from The

World of King Kong natural history book. This creature didnt
appear in the lm so I took the chance to realise it in ZBrush

Create a high-res creature

Create UV maps

and solutions

Prepare the model for lighting and texturing



Steps for setting up UVs To set up my UVs I use

UV Layout Pro. Switching all my creature SubTools to
Level 0, I export my meshes and load them in for unwrapping.
By marking where we want our seams, we can extract those
meshes into pieces for attening. Once I have clean UVs with
no distortion, I import them back into ZBrush over my original
meshes with these new UV versions. This updates the tools so
I can now bake and paint my maps g.


Eyes, claws and spines Once the main body is

resolved I add additional geometry to the eyes, spines

and claws. I model these in Softimage and add them as a
separate SubTool. Using the same workow I add UVs and do a
sculpt pass to add some details h.


Bake maps Next I bake out the base maps that I will

Once I have my rened

sculpt I prepare the model
for rendering. This means
making some new
topology from which we
can make UVs for
texturing. I currently use
Silo at work to create new
topology, but there are
many other options to
create new meshes, as
long as you have the ability
in your program to draw
polygons and get them to
snap to your high-res
source. Keep in mind the
direction and ow of the
polys you draw, as good
directions will facilitate
your sculpting and also
optimise your model for
the rendering stage.
After making my new
mesh I can now project
my DynaMesh sculpt onto
it. There are a few options
to get this to work, but
assuming the models are
pretty well surfaced, each
should be fairly
straightforward. In short,
you need to bring in your
new mesh, subdivide it
four times and then go to
Project to get the detail
from your DynaMesh.
Usually there will be a
clean up of this mesh
where the projection has
broken, such as under the
arms. I clean this then
move to the polish phase
of the sculpt.
g Distortion-free UVs

use later for textures. To set up my textures in ZBrush

I set my resolution under the UV section, choosing the highest
map bake of 4,000 and maximising the edge bleed to 16 pixels
so I have no issue with seams on my normals. I then drop down
to Level 0 and use a multimap exporter to bake out my Normal
map, Displacement map and PolyPaint in one go i.

h Additional features
i The ZBrush multimap
exporter at work

j Texture map bases


Maya (2011)
This piece
was created
for a 3D print.
Eventually it
will be cast
out in bronze


Paint the bases Painting the bases is pretty simple. I like to roughly match some basic

SSS colours so the model will give a good appearance of skin when I come to render. In
this step I block in Photoshop colour by lling with basic skin values using the Paint Bucket tool. In
this case the skin is quite cool, so I add a blue Overlay layer on top of my bakes from ZBrush and
balance them so theyre not too strong. I make a map for each slot that includes an epidermal,
subdermal, backscatter, Difuse and an Overall map. Making these basic block-ins will give me a
good idea of how to treat the skin and the feeling of the work before getting into ne detail j.
3D Art & Design



Move into Maya

Take the model and lay a foundation for the light rig


Export meshes from ZBrush Exporting meshes has

never been easier. I use GoZ to export all my meshes out

for light tests at the same time. I always build my models to
real-world scale so the SSS setting will be relative and wont
cause any issues with my skin shading. I set Maya to
centimetres, import my OBJs, and in the Object Properties set
my Geometry to Visible In Reections and In Refractions. This
is necessary when bringing in meshes from ZBrush k.


Pre-visualise light Dan and I had a brief discussion

on how the character should be lit and felt that we
would like to avoid the typical warm earthy tones. Instead we
both felt a cooler palette would look a little more sinister and
also convey a strange landscape. This would bring an almost
twilight feel, like the character was lit by moonlight. I did some
basic lighting studies before I set up the nal lighting l.


Light the scene I always apply my lighting in another

Maya le so I can better concentrate. I use a low-res

proxy mesh of the creature to do my light tests. I have two key
lights and one back light; additionally I use some bounce cards
with incandescence only to add bounce light when using nal
gather. I use area lights with the Mia Portal shader plugged into
them, which gives bounce light efects so you can take it easy
on nal gather samples and speed up render times. In the
portal light attributes, I tick Enable Sky Portal and tweak the
Intensity multiplier until the image is the correct brightness. At
this stage I also plug the MR photographic shader into the lens
of my camera, along with a blackbody node that will simulate
real work values. This will enable me to essentially take a digital
photograph of my model and make use of realistic camera
efects, such as bokeh. I build up efects such as depth and
bokeh in another pass, which I blend later in Photoshop as they
can take time to render m.


Subsurface scatter Here I add the SSS shading

networks to the body shell and eyes. I begin by blocking

out each component of the SSS efect on its own by switching
of the backscatter and subdermal scatter. I concentrate on
Epidermal Weight and Radius values, going through each
element in the same way before nally adding them together
and doing test renders, balancing the efect as I go. I like to get
the SSS looking as good as possible before plugging any maps
into the channels. Once the correct values have been achieved
for the skin, I polish these shaders with maps n.

k Use GoZ to export out of

m Taking numerous light tests

l Lighting can make or break

n Add SSS shading before

ZBrush for light tests

is an essential stage

an artwork, so be careful

plugging any maps in

40 3D Art & Design

Create a high-res creature

Skin shading in mental ray

Set up the skin in Maya


render time
4,000 x 3,000


Texture renement To make textures I use ZBrush

and PolyPaint. As mentioned, for high-res sculpting I
switch to HD. I also do my PolyPainting at HD levels so I have
plenty of pixels to play with. By masking my model by cavity I
can isolate the raised parts and begin painting some light
colours into each cavity of the mesh. This works really well and
gives you a really detailed map to use in your rendering. I
usually paint lots of splatter and noise into the map, adding
veins and other imperfections to really sell the image.
Scattering the brushes with an alpha and spraying strokes adds
great depth to your maps. I use this along with a spotlight to
blend imperfections from real photographs into the skin o.



Build the nal render scene For rendering I add all

the OBJs that make up my creature at a mid-level mesh.

I use Level 3 so I dont have to displace to any great detail, as
displacements can soon eat up lots of memory if used to
displace the high-frequency details. For this model I use a
combination of Displacement and Normal maps. I use a
Displacement map on the body and shell to take the model up
to a smooth result, then Normal and Bump maps for ne
details. This is faster for your machine when it comes to
rendering and gives you great control of the details as you add
them into your model. I then check that everything is working
with a test render at small dimensions, to make sure there are
no nasty surprises before I hit the Render button p.


Finalise the image The image took me about a week

of balancing the SSS shaders with the scene to get the

result I wanted. Test rendering constantly at small dimensions
is essential, and using the Render Region tool to focus and
rene areas before making any decisions gives great exibility.
Because of using a streamlined workow with no high FG
samples, I could make as many changes as I needed without
bogging my computer down. I composite the nal image in
Photoshop and render it as a separate pass. Daniel made a
background plate of the environment that was composited and
graded into the render. This was then dropped in behind the
model along with images of dirt to add a grungy feel. With
further balancing of all layers, I colour correct the main passes
to nish the image q.

o Build up the skin

using HD PolyPainting for an

impressive efect

p With all the elements

added we can start the

test render process
Finishing touches

I think when creating a

character like this the
design is really important.
You have to feel good
about what you are
producing, otherwise I
nd it doesnt ow as well
as it should.
In this industry we have
really open critiques,
which helps push design
further than it might
usually go. Making
concept sketches or a
digital sculpt sketch is
now possible, and I feel
has really opened up
more creative workows.
As a result we can now
see just how a model will
look before going into full
production. I feel this is a
great advancement and
has beneted my
workow tremendously.
I have always felt that
studying traditional art is
the best recipe to follow
in creating successful
artwork, and that remains
true. Theres a lot to cover
in a short space on the
entire breakdown of this
character, so if you have
any specic questions
feel free to contact me via
my website.
Good luck with your
own artistic endeavours!
3D Art & Design



Software used in this piece


42 3D Art & Design


Sculpt an epic beast

Sculpt an epic beast

Pteroscent: The Blue Hour 2012
Jamie-lee Lloyd Is a character artist for Rockstar North

Jamie-lee Lloyd
Personal portfolio site
Country UK
Software used
ZBrush, Photoshop
Expertise Jamie-lee is a
videogames character artist,
currently working for Rockstar
North. He specialises in
character design, digital
sculpting and real-time assets

n this tutorial we will cover the process to create

a creature from scratch using the new tools in
ZBrush. We will mainly focus on DynaMesh and its
ability to enable free-form sculpting without the
constraints of topology. We will take you through the
stages of sculpting and show how you can quickly
extract, append and duplicate parts to improve your
design in no time at all.
The most enjoyable aspect of working this way is the
ability to keep the creative ball rolling and never having to
leave the zone. We will essentially be taking a simple 3D
primitive through the stages to a complete polished bust,
without having to fret about jumping between packages
or hitting any snags. Well touch on posing and
PolyPainting the creature before hitting BPR and
preparing for the nal illustration.

2012 C.Huante.

Artist info

Easy-to-follow guides
take you from concept
to the nal render

The attention to detail and anatomy in Carlos Huantes awless

work is inspiring! Here weve tried to capture the intense creature
expression he does so well, in a ZBrush sculpt


Carlos Huantes creature

concepts are insanely
detailed and very well
thought out. The powerful
pose and facial expression
of this vampire bat really
bring this bust to life! The
details and bone structure
are a great reference point,
and the silhouette is very
appealing to me.
I compiled a mood board
of some of Huantes other creature sketches as reference for the
sculpt. One of the challenges was to keep control of the design
it would be easy to make a mash up of all the diferent designs
and end up with a something inconsistent.

Pull shapes to create form

Create the base mesh and block in shape

01 Block from a sphere

Go to Lightbox>Tools and select PolySphere.

Navigate to the Tool>Geometry menu and click the
DynaMesh button. This will activate DynaMesh
mode, but at this point well keep the DynaMesh
resolution quite low so we can pull things around
easier. Move the Resolution slider to adjust.
Use the Move Elastic and Move brushes, with
Symmetry turned on, to pull the sphere into shape.
Change the brush sizes to target smaller areas, like
pulling out the neck. By holding Cmd/Ctrl and
dragging outside the canvas you can refresh
DynaMesh and always have topology to work with.
Pull the mesh around to get a rough bust shape
then use the Curve Tube brush to drag out the arms
(the size of the brush determines the thickness of the
tubes). Once dragged out, the bust will automatically
mask itself, enabling us to move or rotate the arms to
t them into place. When it looks okay, clear the
mask and update DynaMesh. You will see the arms
have been included in the mesh A.
To create the big ears, mask a section on the side
of the head, invert it, then use the Transpose tools to
move and rotate them into place. Update DynaMesh
as you pull out the ears they require more topology
to work with b.
A Pull the sphere around to create a simple bust shape
B Update DynaMesh with Cmd/Ctrl-drag to build the ears

3D Art & Design



Build up the forms

Continue blocking in your character

02 Block in the forms

the mouth
03 Open
and make a pose

We want to go for a similar

pose to the original Carlos
Huante bust, but before that
well try to get a better idea of
the mouth and jawline. By
thinking about the mouth area
at this early stage well make it
easier to nail the open scream
when posing.
Start by adding a bit more
resolution to the DynaMesh
and begin blocking in the brow
bones, nose and cheekbones.
Then paint a mask line across
the lip area, invert it and use
Transpose Move to push it
inside the head. Update
DynaMesh and push things
around inside this will be our
basic mouth d.
Next well begin the posing.
As our DynaMesh is still quite
low-res, we can blur masks
pretty well, enabling smooth
transposing. With Symmetry
still on, use the Mask Lasso tool
to select parts of the bust you
want to efect. Blur the mask to
get a nice smooth ow of
topology when youre rotating
them. Well try to rotate from
the areas where the bone
would actually pivot from, for
example rotating the jawbone
to open the mouth e.
Push the bust forward from
the stomach, rotate the arms
back and lift the head up. Well
pull the neck forward slightly,
and drop the shoulders before
using the Move tool to adjust
small bits like the area around
the mouth. You can mimic a
pose in the mirror it helps to
get the lines right and pick up
on subtle details but just make
sure no-one walks in on you f!

44 3D Art & Design

Next use the Move

and Clay Buildup brushes to
start roughly blocking in the
shape. At this point well keep
the proportions quite human,
just to get an idea of things. Use
some anatomical references at
this point, but dont get too
carried away with the details.
Using the Polish and Flatten
brushes will help give an idea of
some basic shape and forms.
These harder-planed areas will
act as reference points in the
next step when we start to
pose the bust c.

c Roughly add simple shapes to get

an idea of proportion and form
d Rotate from the jaw pivot
to open the mouth

04 First pass

Begin again by adding a bit more resolution

to the mesh and start working in the medium forms
relative to the new pose. With the same method used in Step 1, pull
up the nose ap and adjust the ears. Again, with the Clay Buildup
and Standard brushes, work in a rough idea of the underlying
bones and muscles while dening some eshy areas. You can also
push the mouth area inside and adjust the cheeks around it g.

e The rough, blocked forms

sculpted earlier should help with
reference points to make the
posing quite relative, and keep
the proportions intact

Sculpt an epic beast

Create the teeth and gums

Append spheres and duplicate to shape the mouth

05 Extract gums and teeth

To get a better idea of the expression, were going to need teeth

and gums. Hide everything but the mouth area and paint masks where we want the gums.
Click the Tool>Geometry menu and select Extract. Our mask is extracted into geometry on a new
Subtool. You can adjust the Thickness of the extract with the slider click Accept to keep it. Well then
use DynaMesh on the extracted gums to move them into place.
For the teeth we use the same technique as in Step 1, append a sphere, scale it down and position it
in the mouth, then duplicate it and move one inside the mouth. Well form a tooth out of the rst
sphere and use the second to create the tongue. By activating Transparency and Ghost modes, you
can adjust the tongue through the face and position it easily h.
We duplicate the teeth and then move/scale them into place. Work in a rough pass to get them
looking decent, then adjust the whole mouth area to get the expression working i.


06 Duplicate
and add a mesh

We want to add large shapes to

the back to help the silhouette,
so duplicate the main bust and
hide the rest. Start by choosing
Slice Curve (Cmd/Ctrl+Shift
from the Brush menu) and
draw around the ear hit Opt/
Alt to curve the line. When
Polyframe is selected, youll see
that the Slice Curve has created
a new Polygroup for the ear.
With Select Rectangle
highlighted, press Cmd/
Ctrl+Shift and click on the ear
isolating the Polygroup. Select
Del Hidden from the Geometry
Subpalette to leave just the ear,
which we place over the
original bust and position using
the Move brush. Adjust it to
make a breathing duct feature
on the characters back, then
merge it down onto the bust.
With the bust and the new
back detail as one Subtool,
continue to add the skin aps
a really nice feature of
Huantes work. Choose the
Curve Tri Fill brush and draw
the ap shape across the chest
and arms.
Well then use the Move
brush and Transpose tool to
position the ap. Deselect the
mask and activate DynaMesh
to remesh the bust, back details
and skin aps into one j.

07 Complete
second pass

Now the main forms are in

place, deactivate DynaMesh
and begin the second sculpting
pass. Its good to have room for
further subdividing now
DynaMesh is of but if you
dont, you can always turn
DynaMesh back on with a
lower resolution selected.
Use the Clay brush to work
in the muscles and bones, and
the Standard brush to
emphasise tendons and eshy
areas. At this point well
append a sphere to the bust,
place it in the eyesocket, use
the Clay Buildup tool to push
the socket back and build up
the lids around the eyeball. Use
Select Rectangle to isolate the
eye area to get in close k.

h Turn on Transparency and Ghost

to adjust the tongue through the
entire face

i Scale the teeth and mouth

into place to capture the
extreme expression

j Use Polygroups to build up

details and enhance the
silhouette shape

k Press Mirror and Weld in the

Geometry Subpalette to ip the
bust around
3D Art & Design



Refine and paint your creature

Add the final details and PolyPaint your masterpiece
Since were using ZBrush
to render well use PolyPaint to colour the bust, as no UVs
are needed and we have enough resolution to get great results.
Merge the bust with the other Subtools and apply a rough base
colour to the whole model (Color>Fill object). Well then use
Transpose Move while holding Cmd/Ctrl to mask separate
elements like the teeth and then ll them with their own colour.
Repeat this for the eyes, gums and the tongue. With Symmetry
activated, start painting some tonal variation with the RGB
Intensity set to around 30. Add warm tones to the eshy areas and
darker desaturated tones to cavities, such as where the pectorals
meet and behind the collar bones. Deactivate Symmetry and add
subtle tonal variations using the Spray brushes. Apply warm
shades to break the contrast and give it a eshier feel, then add
lighter tones where the bones push against the skin. Finally, use the
DragRect stroke with various alphas to add patterns onto the skin
and give a sense of underlying veins. Rotate the head and drop a
shoulder to break up symmetry and use the Move brush to make
subtle changes by ofsetting features m.

08 The rening pass 09 PolyPaint and asymmetry

At this point, we use
the highest subdivision level to
rene the details. Pick the Clay
Buildup brush to add subtle
bres to the muscles, and the
Standard brush to dene the
taut and loose skin, paying
attention to how it stresses and
relaxes around the pose. Use
the Dam Standard brush to cut
wrinkles, followed by the Inat
brush to build up the skin
especially around the eyes
and the bridge of the nose,
where the expression forces
the skin to fold up. Add a new
layer with custom Alphas to
add high-frequency details l.

Now the bust is ready

for the nal illustration, open a new document, click Double
Size twice and hit the AA Half button. Draw the model onto the
canvas and nd a suitable view. We decided to use a dramatic
front-on view with eye contact. For this we will ramp the
perspective up to about 150, which with the depth of eld should
be quite intimidating. Pick a suitable MatCap shader to
complement the PolyPaint. Go to Render>Render Properties and
turn on the passes you require, the quality settings for each pass is
located underneath. Experiment with various settings, mainly
adjusting the BPR Shadow and BPR AO Rays. Press the BPR button
in the BPR render pass to start rendering. When youre happy with
the results, click on the various pass icons to save them to a le on
your desktop. Well also render custom LightCaps and some
standard MatCaps to experiment with.
Composite the render passes in Photoshop. Applying the Mask
pass enables us to paint the background with colour washes that
set the mood. Paint in layers of smoke around the bust to add
atmosphere before applying the depth of eld. Paint over the nal
result, adding details and specular highlights n.

10 Rendering and presentation

l Skin pores and impurities are added using custom alphas

with the Standard brush and Drag Rectangle

46 3D Art & Design

m Use DynaMesh to create the lines of saliva in the mouth.

Pull them out from the middle to suggest a powerful exhale of air

n Experiment extensively with Overlay and

adjustment layers to wrap it up

Artist info


Nathan Boyd

Nathan is a texture painter at

Sony Pictures Imageworks and
loves lms, art and computers
Personal portfolio site
Country USA
Software used Maya, MARI,
Photoshop, ZBrush

Work in progress

I wanted to make a portrait-style image

focusing on the textural detail of the mask. I
attempted to maximise the contrast and dramatic
effect of the image with Chiaroscuro lighting.
Caravaggios Tenebrism works were a great
Nathan Boyd, Firebomb, 2012
inspiration and guide
3D Art & Design



Artist info

Easy-to-follow guides
take you from concept
to the nal render

Kurt Papstein
Username: Ikameka
Personal portfolio site
Country USA
Software used
ZBrush, Photoshop
Expertise Kurt specialises in
digital sculpting, creature
design, and all kinds of
character creation using ZBrush

Design striking
Leona 2012

A fun and vibrant character creation thats a

little different to my gritty or hyper-real works
Kurt Papstein is a character and creature artist working at Turtle Rock Studios in southern California

his tutorial will demonstrate how to go about

concepting a full character in ZBrush. We will take
this piece all the way to the end of the pipeline,
starting from a sketch, which well translate into a 3D
concept to build our nal character from. After exploring
with digital clay youll end up with a detailed 3D gure.
We will rst go over how you can start translating your
ideas using DynaMesh, then well take advantage of Mesh

Insert brushes to block in the proportions and body parts

of the character. We will also cover how to create all of the
props and accessories with the new Topology brush.
Each step in this tutorial will have something for
everyone and will be focused on sharing some of the
newer features of ZBrush 4R4. This tutorial is just the tip
of the iceberg, but hopefully it will inspire you to take your
sculpting further and to be more creative with your tools.

Concept with DynaMesh

Build a rough sculpt to guide the modelling process

01Dene the body

Well start the project by

constructing the main body in DynaMesh. Im using
a concept sketch as a guide. We want to accomplish two
things here: rst we need to lock down the characters core
proportions, which is why we start with the torso and the
head. Having them in place will make it easier to build out
the limbs. The second goal at this stage is to establish a
solid foundation to build the clothing, props and
accessories on a.

02Use Mesh Insert brushes


To build out the rest

of her body, well use a lot of the default tools and
Mesh Insert brushes located in ZBrush. Using IMM BParts
in your Brush menu, you can drag out some quick arms
and legs onto your character. Once placed, you can further
sculpt on them and rene the proportions. Well also
change DynaMeshs Blur setting to zero and activate Polish
in order to have a more accurate and clean-looking
concept sculpt b.


Finish the concept We should now have

48 3D Art & Design

everything blocked in. We have all the major

shapes (the body) and medium shapes (the suit) sculpted
roughly onto the model. We also currently have one
SubTool, with everything on it. Its a little dense in topology,
but thats okay for what we need. The point of this
completed model is to act as a blueprint for us to build new
assets. Some of it will be saved in the end, but for the most
part it will be disposed of before were nished c.

a Starting with a DynaMesh
sphere at a resolution of
12, we can proceed to
block in the character

b Use the default body parts

Insert Multi Mesh brush to

esh out the body

c Major and medium shapes

are dened on one
SubTool; smaller details
are saved for later

Design striking characters


I wanted to revisit an older
character idea to experiment with
some of the new features in ZBrush
4R4. Creating this character in 3D
has been a really fun challenge,
which has pushed me as an artist.

Software used
in this piece


Kurt ofers his top

workow advice for
helmet creation on
page 51

3D Art & Design



Piece it together
Use the Topology brush to build SubTools

04Topology brush basics

This is where we start building all the separate pieces,

with our original sculpt as a guide. Select the Topology brush in the Brush palette
and begin drawing edges on your model to dene a piece of the armour. Wherever the
curves intersect, a vertex will form. By using Symmetry, the curves will automatically snap to
the centre. To delete a curve, hold Opt/Alt and draw over it with another curve. This
function will also clear any unused curves if you hold Opt/Alt and draw on an empty area
of the model d.

Model using PolyGroups and

Transpose options
Using masking and PolyGroups we can do some precision
modelling with our Transpose line. I use the Move Transpose
line to universally inate the PolyGroup I have selected
through masking. If you Ctrl/right-click inside the outer
handle and drag, the Transpose line will do a universal
ination to the mesh. I do this for the inner PolyGroups as
well, to push them in further and create more of an edge.

05Create the mesh

In order to turn our orange

preview mesh into an actual piece of geometry, we
have to adjust a few things. First we want to adjust our
brush size, as this will directly afect how thick the model
were creating will be. A value of 100 will create a very thick
extrusion of geometry from our topology curves, whereas a
value of 0 will create single-sided polygons. Then all you
need to do is click on the mesh to generate some new
geometry from the curves e.

Sculpt the suit

Once the body is blocked in
we can start sculpting all of
the suit details onto our
surface. If you dont feel
comfortable sculpting on your
model, you can always
duplicate it in your SubTool list
and continue working on the
duplicate. For this step, I use
my organic sculpting brushes
like Clay Buildup and Dam_
Standard to build the forms
and carve in the shapes. I say
shapes rather than details
because at this point you
shouldnt be worried about
the small stuf. You only want
to construct the shapes and
think about the overall design.
d Use fewer curves to keep
the topology low

e The new geometry thats

created from our Topology

brush curves

f The new geometry is now

split into a SubTool using the

new Split Hidden feature

g Using the Move brush and

Clip Curve to adjust vertices

at a low-poly stage

50 3D Art & Design

06Split the model

Currently our new geometry is

combined with the original sculpt. We want to split
this mesh into its own SubTool so that we can easily control
it in the later steps. To do this, simply hide either the sculpt
geometry or the new Topology mesh and open up the Split
sub-menu inside the SubTool menu. Notice now that there
are hidden meshes, Split Hidden becomes active. This is a
new feature in ZBrush 4R4. By pressing this button,
anything hidden will be split into a new SubTool. Be careful
you arent splitting any of the new geometry apart f.

07Work with low geometry

At this stage its really

easy to manipulate the geometry to be exactly how
we want it. To move vertices around, we use the Move
brush. By turning its brush size down to 1, well be able to
move only one vert at a time. This is extremely useful, as
this way you dont accidentally move other vertices around
it. The brush size is very similar to a soft selection in a
program like 3ds Max. You can also quickly clean up these
faces by using the Clip Curve tool to manipulate multiple
vertices along the same plane g.

Design striking characters

08Edge creasing

Edge Crease is ZBrushs way of managing smoothing groups. A

crease denes a hard edge, so even when you subdivide your mesh with Smt turned
on, those edges will remain hard. Open the Crease drop-down under the Geometry
sub-menu, located in the Tool menu. To quickly crease the object, click Crease All. You can
also control your creasing by hiding certain parts of the mesh and clicking Crease or
Uncrease. This is an easy way to keep areas rigid, without sculpting them manually later h.

Pro tips for helmet design

Here we have my three-step workow solution for great
helmet designs. This is a simplied version of the
character tutorial, showing you how you can take the same
steps and apply them to a simple object or prop to enhance
your character creations

Concept with DynaMesh


To begin, I simply append a sphere into my tool to act as the

helmet. I move it into place on the characters head and turn
DynaMesh on. Because of its size in space you may need to
turn the resolution of DynaMesh up to get the information
you need. We still want to keep it as low as we can, because
we only want to capture the general shapes. Just like the
body armour, I use brushes like HPolish, Clay Buildup and
Dam_Standard to dene the design.

09Edge looping

For this step, were going to use the outer PolyGroups to create
additional Edge Loops on the model for some mechanical details. By hiding the outer
and inner shells, we are left with the side PolyGroups. Once they are hidden, open the Edge
Loop drop-down in the Geometry sub-menu and click the Edge Loop button. By default it
will create four additional loops and PolyGroups. You can adjust this with the Loops slider.
Now we have new PolyGroups to mask with. You can inate them using the Deformation
menu or your brushes i.

DynaMesh with Groups

I turn Groups on in the DynaMesh drop-down menu so I can

add more meshes without fear of DynaMesh fusing them
together. This is a really powerful way to stay organised in
your SubTool palette, by keeping things together with
PolyGroups, without sacricing the freedom of DynaMesh. I
apply some additional shapes using Mesh Insert primitives,
like the cylinder and the cube, then cut them into shape with
Clip Curve.

Finish up

10Clean up the mesh

Weve now dened our mesh with additional Edge Loops, then
creased and nessed it into place with the Move brush and Clip Curve tool. Next well
start subdividing our mesh and smoothing some of the details out. You may notice some of
the creasing afecting areas you dont want it to, or that areas are just too crisp and
jagged-looking. Divide your mesh more so that the Smoothing brush will have a smaller
impact on your geometry. Begin brushing some of these imperfections out to make a clean
surface without destroying the form j.

Once were happy with the design and the overall shapes we
can commit to it. Turn DynaMesh of, and begin subdividing
the mesh if we need to. I will now add detail with the usual
sculpting brushes, as well as alphas. This is also a good time
to use some of our other Insert Mesh objects to add more
technical details, like plugs and straps.
h A combination of i Edge Loops are
Crease and
Uncrease when
hiding areas to
get hard edges

used to create
great additional
detail in your
base mesh

j A subdivided

mesh will enable

you to iron things
out without losing
the overall shape
3D Art & Design



Add some detail

Sculpt the small pieces to bring everything to life

11Mesh Insert objects

We now
have all of our meshes, complete
with subdivisions and creasing. They are
nally ready for some additional details,
so we will now go through each SubTool
one at a time to add any Mesh Insert
objects that they need. Things like rivets,
straps, buckles and plugs are perfect
candidates for this step. First you will
want to duplicate the surface that needs
these Insert Meshes and delete its
subdivisions. This will act as a temporary
surface to place your objects on. When
you are done, simply delete using Delete
Hidden in the Modify Topology
drop-down under Geometry k.

12Mechanical creasing

With our smaller objects in

place as a separate SubTool, we can go back to our
larger shapes and begin sculpting some mechanical edges
and details. For this step well use brushes like
Dam_Standard once again, and the Pinch brush to create
clean cuts. To better control your brushwork you can turn on
the Lazy Mouse feature in the Stroke menu. This will then
average your hand movements out, making the detail come
out much smoother. You can adjust the efect of Lazy
Mouse by turning up the Lazy Radius slider l.

The little things

Using DynaMesh and Transpose modelling techniques, Ive created some custom Insert
brushes (supplied with this tutorial). By staying in Orthographic mode, you can easily
manipulate vertices and cut through your DynaMesh objects with precision. With this
tutorial you will nd an Insert Multi Mesh of unique bags, as well as buckles. These assets
can be used on just about anything, complete with PolyGroups for further customisation to
better suit your needs. Ive used these objects on the character, along with some existing
Insert Meshes like the IMM_Zipper to add further interest and detail to the character.
k Create duplicates of the

SubTools using Insert

Meshes as placeholders to
draw on without

l Use brushes with Lazy

Mouse to create smooth

and even strokes

m Dragging out alphas onto

the surface to create subtle

mechanical details

52 3D Art & Design

13Use alphas

Having a large collection of alphas at

the ready is a must for any digital sculptor. If you
dont have any at hand, you can grab a bunch from the
Pixologic Download Center (
zbrush/downloadcenter), or you can create your own.
Its best to create a unique look with your own alphas,
but there are plenty out there to choose from. Here were
using the Standard brush, with DragRect as our stroke.
This enables us to drag out the details we want in a very
precise way m.

Design striking characters

Finishing touches

Wrap up the character for its final presentation

14PolyPaint with Masking

To add some colour, start

by turning ZAdd or ZSub of from your brush and
turn on RGB. Once you have lled your mesh with a colour,
by either painting it or going to the Color menu and clicking
Fill Object, you can then add some more interest to the
PolyPaint through masking. Open your Masking sub-menu
under Tool and cycle through the diferent types. You can
invert these to afect other areas of the mesh. Use Mask By
Smoothness to pop details n.


tion tim
Resolution e
1,252 x 2,016:

15Custom materials

As the artist you can use any

combination of materials or MatCaps that you want.
In this case, well stick to using SkinShade04 from the
Material list. Make slight modications for rubber, metal,
cloth and skin materials. The primary slider that well adjust
is the Specular slider, and the Specular curve. The general
rule of thumb is if the slider goes down, then the curve will
be more towards the centre, making the speculartiy more
subtle and broader. Also play with the Wax Modier for
each material to suit o.

16Pose your character

Using Transpose Master we

can move all of our SubTools at the same time. By
clicking TPose Mesh in the Transpose plug-in under the
ZPlugin menu, all of the SubTools are merged at their lowest
resolution to be adjusted together. This is why it can be
really helpful to have low-poly base meshes. Through
Masking and Transpose rotations you can pose your
character. When nished, click TPose to SubT to transfer the
pose to the high-poly model. With Layer turned on before
transferring the pose back, the new changes will be applied
as layers on all your SubTools p.

17Rendering and presentation

For the nal presentation, take advantage of all the

BPR lters to pull out the best in your work. Some of the most applicable include
Sharpen, Orton and Blur. Each lter has settings that will change which part of the image it
will afect. Blur works best with its depth sliders tuned to simulate lens efects. Its good to
use Orton to brighten the lighting, excluding the shadows to create more contrast. With
some careful adjustments to the lters, and some additional efects in Photoshop like
Render Lighting and Curves, you can nish your piece of in a really professional way q.
n Mask by Smoothness, and

Mask Peaks and Valleys to ll

the unmasked areas with colour

Light with LightCaps

LightCaps are a great way to control your lighting. You can
also use them to capture and render new lights from an
HDR image by loading them into the Background sub-menu
under the Light menu and clicking the LightCaps button. I try
to keep it as simple as possible and will use ZBrushs default
light with one LightCap. This LightCap will usually be
backlighting, with blue colouration and shadows turned of.

o Fill your meshes with your

material using Color: Fill with M

turned on your brush

p Using the Transpose Master

plug-in with the Layers option
turned on will enable exibility

q BPR Filters and Photoshop


compositing can be used to

enhance your renders

3D Art & Design



Design and
Cricket Exo-Suit

Explore the 3D and post-production

workow of this mechanical design,
based on the aesthetic of the Roach
Exo-Suit concept
Matthew Burke is a senior concept artist at
id Software based in Richardson, Texas

Download outdoor furniture

models by going to http://

Software used in this piece

3ds Max

54 3D Art & Design


Artist info

3D artists explain the

techniques behind
their amazing artwork

Matthew Burke
Username: MBurke
Personal portfolio site
Country Texas, USA
Software used
3ds Max, Photoshop
Expertise Matt specialises in
mechanical design and
hard-surface modelling

3D Art & Design



I was asked to create a new exosuit to show my
workow when designing mechs in my Exosuit series.
So my goal with this image is to apply similar elements
and style to one of my other concepts: Roach Exo-Suit.

his tutorial will illustrate my personal process of

concept design, using only the tools inside 3ds Max
and Photoshop to create a mech exosuit model.
Throughout this tutorial you may nd yourself asking Why
didnt he just do that?, Wouldnt it make more sense to do this
instead? Well, gentle reader, if this proves to be the case, I
recommend listening to your gut and following your instincts.
My technique is a rats nest of online tutorials, a jumble of
advice from my peers, added to hours of desperate frustration.
You dont need to travel in my exact path, but perhaps youll
nd a kernel or two of wisdom from my unconventional
experience. At the very least I hope youll pull out a few tricks
to apply to your own workow.
Essentially we will be tackling my personal favourite subject:
designing a mech. Well start with the rough-poly concept,
move to detailing the model, apply some mental ray shaders,
then tackle our lighting. From this point Ill be able to walk you
through my post-production process in Photoshop and, with
any luck, well end up with a killer concept. So lets get started!

Explore your ideas

Lets kick things off with the concept


The essence of low-poly designs

First of all we need a rough foundation, so well create

a low-poly block-out of the mech design. However, before
your pencil hits the paper, or you move a single polygon, you
need to establish a general theme or idea to work from. Are
we creating a lumbering, impregnable war machine or a
nimble and agile mech? Is it fully automated or manned?
How futuristic do we want to go? This example is a
quadruped mech with some motorcycle overtones that
would be able to climb rough terrain and re on enemies
from miles away, since its not overly armoured A.
a Quickly rough out a low-poly concept to lay the foundations of

your design

Matthew Burke

Matthew grew up in an incredibly small

town in Iowa. Desperate for entertainment
and a job outside of the agricultural
industry, he turned to a career in art. After
college he managed to land himself a
concept artist role at a small studio and he
has been successfully avoiding farming for
12 years now.

56 3D Art & Design

Roach Exosuit 3ds Max, Photoshop (2012)

A manned combat exosuit designed to leap great

distances and release an arsenal of weaponry on
enemies. Here its shown in an inactive stance

Roach Exosuit 3ds Max, Photoshop (2012)

Here the same combat exosuit is presented in an action

pose to showcase his arsenal of weapons and help get
the idea of the mean machine across

Design and create an exosuit


Base materials and shaders

Convert your model to mental.ray.daylighting in

your renderer presets and then create three to ve base
materials for your model. First, convert your standard
materials to mental ray Arch and Design materials. Then
apply an appropriate template for the aesthetic you are
looking for: dark, dull metal; reective, coloured metal; white
metallic; chrome or coloured striping you can always add
more further down the line. For my base brown reective
material I have chosen to go with a Brushed Metal template
with the Reectivity at 0.9 and Glossiness at 0.86. Dont
forget to turn on the Round Corners option in the Special
Efects category b.


Lighting base

Now we need to create a mental ray Daylight

System under Lights. After applying a generous ground
compass, angle the DaylightAssemblyHead towards an area
of interest on your mech. This will be adjusted later, but it will
serve our purposes for test renders during our concepts
development. If you know the environment your mech will
appear in, you may want to adjust the ground colour
accordingly under the mr Sky Parameters as well c.

Balance form with function

As we start dening our design, keep in mind that a healthy
balance of form and function is needed to inspire the
imagination. To begin, I take one of the predominate shapes
from the rough geometry and start working on its general
shape. In this case I decide to begin with the contoured head
of the mech. Focusing only on the form, I usually start a
fresh piece of geometry and shape it into the general
direction of the concept.
Once I have a solution, I apply a TurboSmooth lter to
iron it out. Next I place an FFD (box) over the piece and,
using the control points, begin to mould the object into
something bold but completely undetailed. From here I
repeat another shape that I will lay over the original rough
and form something that supports an interesting design.
Now I have
something with
potential, I need
to balance the
form with some
function. This
means detailing
parts and objects
with a clearly
dened purpose.

b Establish your material

foundations using mental

ray settings and options in
3ds Max

c Apply your settings in

the mental ray Daylight

System to capture an initial
lighting setup

Sphinx Infestation Vehicle 3ds Max, Photoshop (2011)

Here we have a mighty, interplanetary, pest-control vehicle that

has been designed to exterminate alien enemies of all shapes
and sizes

3D Art & Design



Finalise the design

We can now finish the design and render out passes for post-production


Detail the ugly geometry

Weve nally got to the part where we dont need to

be embarrassed if someone looks over our shoulder, so lets
detail the geometry! This is easily my favourite part of the
process and where the concept really starts to develop. The
most important things to keep in mind throughout this
process is positive and negative space, and detail pacing. We
want our silhouette to read clearly, and elements from the
foreground, middleground and background to be easily
readable. When detailing, remember to let the viewers eyes
rest in spots, keeping in mind that adding details without
purpose quickly kills a composition. You want large areas of
simplicity with small, intricate details in small pockets. In this
case, our armoured casing is the rest area and the
mechanical functionality is the detail d.

Complementary details
The trick to successful detailing and design
is guiding where and when the viewers eyes
will travel in the piece. Regardless of
whether its an epic environment painting, a
character, or even a simple prop asset,
having a clear read on the images ow is
often an overlooked step. Breaking a design
into both form and function will help its
readability; however, spacing the detail out
in breathable areas is just as important.
Complement the existing shapes and dene
a synchronised rhythm that enables a
smooth transition from one area to the next.
Here Ive tried to complement the
rounded shapes of the mechs top with the
contours of the drivers back. Move down to
the large, circular shape in the centre of the
design, then to the curved, moulded armour.
To illustrate this even further, in each of
these forms there are additional shapes

adjacent to them that suit their form. The

hull on the top has an inset shape that
conforms to the drivers shoulder. The
operators curves are mimicked in an almost
mirror-like reection in the padding shape
under him. The large, circular engine has
suitable forward-facing plating and the
bottom piece is arched upwards to ease the
viewers eyes back into the composition.

d Dene forms and

functionality in your
mech concept

e Our nal geometry

with shader materials

and an initial lighting
setup in place

f Diferent passes at
material renders

g Layer your render passes

in Photoshop

h You can show of your


details with the Poster

Edges Filter


Conclude the geometry

The hardest part of this step is realising when

enough is enough. Deciding what can be left for Photoshop,
what to dene and what is necessary to model is the
diference between hitting a deadline or working long hours
at the weekend. Have you noticed that our character model
hasnt changed since the beginning of the tutorial?
Photoshop will be able to handle this easily. At this stage we
should have nice, unfaceted geometry and our shaders
should all be applied to the appropriate areas. Once our
lighting is nalised, we can pump out a big render and save
the image as a 32-bit TGA le e.

58 3D Art & Design

Design and create an exosuit

Rendering & post-production

Render out the design and bring it to life in Photoshop!


Make your render passes

From our xed camera angle we will be rendering several diferent versions of our
model. Aside from our original nal geometry model, we will be rendering a base grey, a shiny
reective, a dark-grey matte and a bare difuse colour pass. These will be layered on top of
one another in Photoshop to give us control of all the aspects of our concept f.


Layer in Photoshop

Import all the TGA les into Photoshop and use Channels to select the ground plane
with the shadow on its own layer. Render the TGAs into the scene and remove the mech from
the background. Order your layers as follows: grey background; ground layer with shadow in
layer one; the original fully coloured render in layer two; layer three is your shiny reective
with 100% Opacity in the Overlay option; next its the dark matte for layer four at 35% in the
Multiply option; and layer ve is the shiny reective again, but at 37% with the Pin Light
option. Open the Difuse layer on top and separate each colour into individual layers g.


Make those details pop

After adjusting all the layers to something that feels like a good starting point, grab
only the mech in Photoshop and hit Shift+Cmd/Ctrl+C to bring all the layers into one layer.
Once this is pasted into the top layer, go to your Filters tab and open Poster Edges in the
Artistic channel. Change the Edge Thickness to 0 or 1, the Edge Intensity to 1 and the
Posterization all the way to 6. Once these settings are applied, your details and line work will
be far more pronounced. You may want to lower the Opacity on the layer to around 20-30%,
so it doesnt overpower the image h.

Render setup tips

To begin, change your render presets to mental. and load the default
settings make sure that all your mr Arch and
Design materials are assigned to their selections.
Create a Daylight System light in your scene, drag
the compass out to cover the entire area, and then
drag again to build the sun.
Go to your Common tab in the render setup
and switch your Output Size to HDTV (video).
Start small for your test draft renders but go large
for nal renders.
Go to Environment under the Rendering tab
and change your Environment map to mr Physical
Sky. Make sure your Exposure Control is on
Photographic Exposure Control. Below that is the
mr Photographic Exposure control, where you can
switch the preset to Outdoor Lighting, Clear Sky.
Throw up a quick Render Preview under the
Exposure Control tab and adjust the Exposure

value to an appropriate setting. Under Image

Control, adjust your highlights to a low setting
here I have set it at 0.02 and tweak your
shadows to a level that isnt overpowering (I chose
to apply 0.79).
Youll want to toggle through your Midtones
until you nd a realistic value for your render (1.27,
for me). Select your Daylight in the scene and
change the Position to Date, Time and Location.
Hit the Setup button followed by the Get Location
button. Here we have a choice of locations all over
the world: time of day and month of the year. This
is a fantastic tool that, with some time-consuming
experimentation, can give you fantastic results.
In my render I have decided to go with Seattle,
Washington. This opens up the Control
Parameters le and under Time I have chosen to
go with Hours at 15 and Month at 1 (choose your
own settings and adjust the hours to have control

over your shadows and highlights, though). Now

go back to your Daylight Parameters, change your
Sunlight to mr Sun and your Skylight to mr Sky.
Finally, we can now adjust the ground colour to
a low, saturated value. Be sure to hit Final Gather
in your renderer. Now you can simply adjust the
previous settings.

3D Art & Design



Material overlays in Photoshop

Using your Difuse colour levels that have been separated into layers, you can apply
a large photo material to each layer, giving it a new level of believability. Apply a low-level
metal texture to appropriate areas, then scratches and dents in others. Adjust the levels and
opacity of the layer until they are just right and you can barely even notice theyre on the
model. I get all of my photo reference from its a resource that I cant
recommend enough. Apply warning stickers, logos and even overlay some mechanical
photos on areas that need some additional denition i.

Wireframe render tips

for mental ray

There are a couple of ways you can create

awesome-looking wireframes of your models to
help spruce up your portfolio

Original mental ray render

+ hours

ation t

Resolutio ime
9,722 x 5,4 n:
pixels 9


Polish to

The concept is close to

being wrapped up at this
stage, so pick a
complementary palette for
the background that
highlights and doesnt
distract from the mech. Add
some atmosphere and
shadows to help push and
pull the elements, then as a
nal stage add a blue-green
Overlay layer at 25%
Opacity over the top of the
piece. This will help unify all
the colours. Flatten the
image then play with the
Levels, Color Balance and
throw in an additional
Sharpen lter if needed j.

i You can help dene a

materials qualities with

photo overlays

j The nal concept

complete with postproduction edits

60 3D Art & Design

Technique 1
Technique 2 finds hosts many wonderfully high-quality
textures that can help you add detail to your artworks. Here
is a selection of images that Matthew nds useful when
bringing his exosuits to life!

TECHNIQUE 1: The rst technique is incredibly simple:

just select a Standard material of your choosing and apply

it to the entire model. Under Shader Basic Parameters
check the Wire and 2-Sided boxes. Then, in the Extended
Parameters channel, adjust the thickness of your wire to
your preference. A friendly warning: this is extremely
taxing on most computers so try to apply it to your model
just prior to your render.

TECHNIQUE 2: The alternative method just requires a

few additional steps. Select a material and change it from

a Standard to a Composite shader. The preset setting for
the base material is a Standard material and its colour will
dene your mass area in the render. In this case Ive
changed its Difuse to a solid white colour.
Go back to your original parent group and select your
Material #1, just below the Base Material. Click on the
Channel box and keep it a Standard material. This material
will dene the Wireframe Overlay. In this example I have
used a solid black in the Difuse colour. Next, check the
Wire selection and then down below in the Extended
Parameters channel adjust the thickness of your wire. For
this teapot I have it set at 3.

Artist info


Maciej Kuciara

This concept designer has

recently worked on Naughty
Dogs The Last of Us videogame
Personal portfolio site
Country USA
Software used
ZBrush, Photoshop

Work in progress

[I created this] Alien head concept to practise and learn

the basics of sculpting and rendering passes in ZBrush,
with the ultimate goal to use this software in lm and
videogame production. Having a 3D sculpt allows [you] to
assess your design problem areas much quicker than with a
Maciej Kuciara, Alien, 2012
standard 2D paint or sketch
3D Art & Design



Software used in this piece



The idea behind this
illustration is to
create a unique
fantasy character
Ive decided to
concept a female
spirit of a tree. I want
to achieve a very
sculptural, stylised
look to the image,
inspired greatly by
ancient Greek
character sculptures.

62 3D3DArtist
Art & Design

Sculpt folds and fabrics

Sculpt folds
and fabrics

Dryad Spirit of a Tree 2012

The goal of this image was to create a stylised, sculptural,
fantasy character with a focus on showcasing the dress folds, the
hair and the tree branches in the design and creation process

Andrzej Kuziola is a freelance illustrator and 3D artist and he loves it! Besides
illustration and 3D work, he also writes tutorials and training material for artists

n this tutorial we will explain the design and creation

process of a fantasy character showcasing the features
in ZBrush. Well explore various ZBrush tools and show
how helpful they are to visualise ideas and achieve great
efects. ZBrush gives the freedom of creation in any
workow, enabling you to experiment and visualise ideas.

Artist info

3D artists explain the

techniques behind
their amazing artwork

Andrzej Kuziola
Username: ak666

This tutorial will explain how to design and create a

character from scratch, showing important considerations
along the way while explaining the workow and various
techniques used. We will focus mainly on sculpting the
fabric of the dress, the characters hair and some stylised
tree branches to nish.

Personal portfolio site
Country Scotland
Software used
ZBrush, Photoshop
Expertise Andrzej specialises
mainly in character creation,
from concept to render, and
detailed 3D model creation

Create the body with ZSpheres

Lets begin by creating the character in a neutral pose

03 Detail the face

Pay the most attention to the face

design, especially the eyes and lips. Switch the model to a
high subdivision level, then sketch the shape of the eyes and the
lips with the Pinch brush. Create eye sockets with the Clay brush
and shape an interior with the Smooth brush. To sharpen eyelid
edges use the Pinch brush with a very small Draw Size. To create
eyeballs, append a sphere as a SubTool, adjust its size, position and
then mirror it to the second eye socket. With the character base
mesh active, use the ZProject brush on the eyeballs. Thanks to that
weve now got spheres projected into the eye sockets, so we are
able to delete the eye SubTools C.
A When working with ZSpheres
you can preview Adaptive Skin
by pressing the A key


B Block in the main muscle

masses and establish the
characters proportions

Establish your base mesh Using ZSpheres, create an

initial armature and block in the shape of the character. In

these early stages we wont draw ZSpheres in place of the eyes
and mouth. Primarily, well focus on proportions, as this will give us
more design freedom in the later stages. When happy with the
result, change the rig to Adaptive Skin, then press the Make
Polymesh3D button A.


C Use Slash 1 and Clay brushes to

add details to the lower lip

Why model the whole body?

Sculpt the body Modify the shape of the mesh with

the Move Topological brush and start dening masses

with the Clay, Clay Tubes, Simple and Smooth brushes. Work
gradually from the lower subdivisions to the higher levels,
subdividing the mesh when necessary and trying to get as much
detail as possible on the lower polygon densities. Focus mainly on
the head and hands, because the rest of the body will be covered
with clothes. As were going to create a stylised character, change
proportions by exaggerating the head and elongating the limbs. Do
this with the Transpose tool and the Move Topological brush B.

Ive chosen to create whole body anatomy even though

most of it will be covered with cloth for two reasons. The
rst is so I can reuse the model in my future projects.
Keeping a repository of base meshes and models gives a
huge advantage when a deadline is short and you dont
have enough time to create something from scratch. The
second reason for creating the whole body is that the
clothing process is much easier with body armature
underneath. Besides these, its always good to practise
sculpting human anatomy when you have the opportunity.
3D Art & Design



Design and composition

Establish composition and block general forms for further development

04Pose the character

Pose the character with the

Transpose tool and then x deformations with the Move
Topology, Clay and Smooth brushes. In this case its not necessary
to adjust body distortions in some areas due to the fact that they
will be covered with a dress, but here weve done it for the purpose
of the tutorial. We want to create a neutral, balanced and relaxed
pose. This is a framework for the cloth anchor points and will help
us establish interactions between the body and the clothes D.

05 Create the base of the dress

To create a base for a

dress were going to use DynaMesh. As a starting point
we want a mesh that matches the shape of the legs as much as
possible. This will help us establish interaction between the fabric
and the body later. To do so, rst duplicate the character, then
extract the bottom part of the mesh by partially hiding it with
Cmd/Ctrl+Shift, the Delete Hidden and Close Holes options.
Convert it to DynaMesh and start reshaping it with the Move
Elastic brush. For smaller areas, use the Move Topological brush.
Also start to use the Standard brush with a large Draw Size to
sketch the direction of the folds E.

06 Rene the dress

Principles of
good design
There are a few golden
rules that you need to
follow if you want to
create a really impressive
illustration. First of all you
need an interesting focal
point to pull in the
viewers eye. You also
need to design and place
elements in your image in
such a way that the
viewers eye will ow
around the various
details. Creating rhythm
and variety in your image
to keep it balanced is
important. Always think
about positive and
negative space, and also
about the relationship of
light and dark.

Activate the
DynaMesh function by clicking
its button. This creates a new
uniform topology with the
density dened by the
Resolution slider. Make sure
you always start with a lower
resolution and then adjust it to
achieve the desired result. Each
time polygons become
stretched after adjustments to
the mesh, recalculate
DynaMesh by hitting the
Cmd/Ctrl key and then
dragging the cursor onto an
empty canvas F.
D Use the body as a framework
for cloth anchor points
E Start shaping the dress with the
Move Elastic brush
F Always start with a lower
resolution and then adjust it to
achieve the desired result

Andrzej Kuziola

Andrzej is a self-taught digital artist

who is currently based in Scotland. He
originally qualied in dentistry, but
decided to give it all up for a career as a
freelance illustrator and 3D artist. Z
Brush, CINEMA 4D and Photoshop are
now his daily tools to help him create
realms that would otherwise exist only
in his mind.

64 3D Art & Design

Wild at Heart ZBrush, Photoshop (2012)

This illustration is inspired by a woman blessed with a

truly wild heart and a passion for nature. Its a very
personal image, packed with symbolism

Tattoo Goddess ZBrush, Photoshop (2011)

A T-shirt design created for Rocknroll Tattoo and

Piercing studios in Scotland. The image was also
published in EXPOS 10 by Ballistic Publishing

Sculpt folds and fabrics

07 Move to the top

To create the top of the dress well use DynaMesh again, but in a slightly
diferent way than previously. Mask the area that you want to use for a new SubTool. Go to
SubTool>Extract, adjust Thickness and choose Accept Extraction. This is a good way to create a mesh
around a complex shape. Now start to reshape a new mesh, using the Move Elastic, Move Topological
and Standard brushes to add volume and block large folds. Remember that DynaMesh needs some
thickness. When you get artefacts after re-calculation, undo the action and work on the area with the
Inate brush G.

08 Design the tree

Create a curved tree trunk with ZSpheres, adjust its shape with the Move
Elastic brush, then transfer it to DynaMesh and start adding branches with the Curve Multi
Tube brush. This is a great tool for elongated, tentacle-like structures. Re-calculate the mesh often and
also use the Inate, Smooth, Move Topological and SnakeHook brushes. This sketch-like workow is a
good way to create designs and develop ideas straight in 3D without an initial sketch H.

09 Create the background

Now well add a background that will play two roles. First it will
show the nal image proportions that will consequently help establish an efective
composition. Were also going to use the background plane as a basis for the hair but rst we need to
add some dimensionality to it. Use the Move Elastic brush to create a recess behind the character, then
move a part behind the head towards it and the bottom edge towards the viewer to create some
ground. After that, sculpt the whole plane with the Clay Tubes brush, then equalise it roughly with the
TrimDynamic brush and Morph Target I.

10 Sculpt the hair

Now we can start sculpting the hair with a modied Slash 2 brush.
Sculpt the hair strands with loose and smooth strokes on a separate layer. Our goal is to create
an efect of hair lling the background and turning into it. We also want the hair to be tangled with the
branches. At the end, decrease the layers intensity and gradually work with the Morph brush to create
a smooth transition between the strands and the background material. For the loose hair strands,
append a sphere and move it to the head area, also using the DynaMesh and Curve Multi Tube
brushes. After that, atten the strands with the TrimDynamic brush and nish with the Standard brush
with Alpha 38 and Lazy Mouse options turned on J.
G Remember that DynaMesh
needs some thickness
H The Curve Multi Tube brush is a
great tool for elongated,
tentacle-like structures
I Open a new document with the
dimensions of the nal
illustration and then use
Transpose tools to adjust its size
to the dimensions of the canvas

The Discreet Charm of the Butapren ZBrush, Photoshop


Andrzej says: Butapren causes brain damage; bioluminescence

is the production and emission of light by a living organism

J You can nd the Slash 2 brush in

Light Box>Slash Brushes

3D Art & Design



Add the fine details

Create a winding tree and realistic cloth elements

11 Detail the tree

Go back to the tree and develop it further.

Use the Curve Multi Tube brush to add roots and vine-like
structures. The Draw Size determines the diameter of tubes
created by the brush, so work here with a smaller size. When a
tube is painted you can adjust its location and shape. Its possible
to draw multiple tubes at once but its handy to update DynaMesh
after each added tube. Also increase the DynaMesh Density to
keep all the new details. When youre happy with the form of the
tree, quit DynaMesh and start detailing with the Clay, Clay Tubes,
TrimDynamic and Dam_Standard brushes K.

Crinkle and
fold effects
To create believable
wrinkles or folds you need
to keep in mind a few
factors such as the
interactions of folds and
the forces generating
wrinkles like kinetic
energy and gravity. You
need to know where to
place anchor points
areas of retention on a
body where wrinkle
systems will originate. I
highly recommend the
book Dynamic Wrinkles
and Drapery by Burne
Hogarth, where you can
nd all this information.
Its also a useful source
for great references.
K Increase the DynaMesh Density
to keep all the new details
L Increase LazySmooth,
LazyRadius and adjust LazyStep
for smoother results
M Use Alpha 38 for ner wrinkles

66 3D Art & Design

12 Add some wrinkles

Start sculpting wrinkles and folds

on the bottom part of the dress. Begin working with the
Standard brush without any Alpha loaded and with Lazy Mouse
mode turned on. Begin to add volume with the Inate brush, using
it lightly with low pressure. Also adjust the brushs Gravity Strength
and start using Alpha 38 for the ner wrinkles. Work with smooth,
loose brush movements, relying on your own intuition and
experience. During this process, smooth and sculpt again until you
get the shapes you want. You can also switch between ZAdd and
ZSub modes L.

13 Rene the curls

Now move to the top part of the sculpt.

Initially the workow and brushes are the same as in the
previous part, so create some horizontal folds with the Standard
brush. Mainly use Alpha 38 here and turn Gravity on and of in the
Brush>Depth menu to check your work. To create vertical patterns,
use the Clay brush and then develop it further with the same Slash
2 brush used earlier. Rene the shape of the curls with the Move
Topological brush and add some more volume to the horizontal
folds using the Inate brush M.

Sculpt folds and fabrics

Finishing touches

Finalise the model and render it for illustration



eation tim

3,480 x 4,40 :

14 Complete the dress

Add more volume to the folds

with the Inate brush and pull down some parts that are
lacking in gravity. Fine-tune the creases with the Standard brush
and Alpha 38, then use the same brush with a very small Draw
Size to add some texture to the fabric. Work with diferent
Gravity settings and adjust interactions between the wrinkles.
See how they react to kinetic and gravity forces and then tweak
the overall owN.

15 Facial expression

Our goal is to show that our Dryad

enjoys the presence of a tree (shes the spirit of a tree,
remember). To change her neutral facial expression to
something with more character, rstly re-sculpt her eye a little
to a half-closed, sleepy shape. Mask the lower lid and lower half
of the eyeball with the Layer brush and then work on upper
parts of the eye with the Clay brush. When the upper eyelid is
lower, use the TrimAdaptive and Smooth brushes to create the
correct curvature of the lid. To nish, use the Pinch brush to
sharpen the edge. To create an elusive smile, decrease the
models subdivision and use the Move Topological brush to
move the corners of her mouth slightly O.

16 Apply materials

Im going to re-create materials from

a similar, older illustration. Before we start sampling
information we need to prepare our tools. Choose a Plane
primitive, convert it to Polymesh3D, draw it on the canvas and
enter Edit Object mode. Choose a Flat Color material, then in
the Texture menu import an image to sample information from
and add it as a texture to the Plane. Drop it on the canvas and
choose a sphere an object to check the new material. Draw it
on the canvas in Edit mode beside the Plane and choose
MatCap White Cavity material from the ZBrush library. Pick the
MatCap tool and start sampling from the illustration reference.
Click the image and drag the cursor until a red arrow points
outwards. Repeat this several times, bearing in mind the
direction of the facing surfaces. When happy with the colour, hit
Cmd/Ctrl and start grabbing the highlighted areas. Doing this
we can create specular highlights P.

17 Create illustration

Use Best Preview Render to render the image in a few separate

passes: diferent MatCap materials, Ambient Occlusion and Shadow from one main light
source. Fill each SubTool with a diferent colour and render it with a Flat Color material it will be
the mask for easy separation of each SubTool for post-production. In Photoshop, apply a layer
mask to each rendered MatCap layer and experiment with diferent material congurations. To
nish the illustration, import a Shadow pass and Ambient Occlusion and set them to a Multiply
blending mode with customised opacity Q.

Practice makes perfect

At the beginning, without knowledge of fabric dynamics, it
is very difcult to sculpt believable folds. I recommend
studying as many references as possible, observing
diferent kinds of clothes, studying sculpture works even
taking photos of varied fabrics in diferent congurations
and then trying to re-create them digitally. The more you
practise, the more believable your efects will be. When you
understand folds you can create any fabric without relying
on references. Its vital not to focus on one area at a time;
rst establish larger folds, their direction and placement,
and keep in mind fabric qualities and gravitational forces.

N Be sure to check the ow of the

folds looks realistic
O The Layer brush is best for
masking due to its handy
pre-loaded Alpha
P Use the Wax Modier for a
translucent efect
Q Render the images for
illustration with Best Preview
Render and the highest
Antialiasing Quality

3D Art & Design



Create a
mythical beast Fauno


In this step-by-step guide I will offer an insight into my workow for the
Luiz Alves is a freelance 3D artist based in Brazil
personal illustration Fauno

ntrigued by mythical creatures, I decided to create one

as a personal 3D project. Over the next six pages I hope
to share some of the techniques I used to produce this
ctitious beast.
For those who may be unfamiliar with this creature, the
faun is a man with goats horns, ears, tail and legs referred

to in Roman mythology and elsewhere. The subject

presented a great challenge to me as an artist because
there were many diferent elements to incorporate into one
body. I used 3ds Max, ZBrush, Photoshop and V-Ray to
tackle the task at hand, the techniques of which Ill reveal
over the next few pages.


Initial concepts
From rough ideas to designing the model

01Seek inspiration

First search for

appropriate reference material to
establish the exact tone and style of what it is you
would like to create. Since the faun is made up of
limbs from both man and beast, its a good idea
to nd plenty of images of each to familiarise
yourself with the diferences in anatomy A.

68 3D Art & Design

02Build the base mesh

Now I have an
idea of what I would like to create, its
time to produce the base mesh. I tackle this by
starting with the face rst, poly by poly. By
drawing the basic face loops and following the
appropriate ow, it prevents any strange
deformations in the geometry B.

03A question of curves

Once I have a basic shape I

move on to rening the geometry. I made the ears with a
basic primitive out of the head and horns. Meanwhile, the
curvature of the horns was built with a simple spline it was
already the shape I wanted and was then converted into polys C.

Create a mythical beast

Artist info

3D artists explain the

techniques behind
their amazing artwork

Luiz Alves

Personal portfolio site
Country Brazil
Software used
3ds Max, ZBrush, Photoshop,
Expertise Luiz is a freelance
3D generalist currently based
in Brazil

Software used in this piece

3ds Max




3D Art & Design



Build features

Progress the characters design

05Produce the peepers

04Shape geometry

With the head modelling nished, I

move onto the bust creation. I start with a simple box,
adding some loops and making adjustments where necessary to
create a humanoid shape. Once Im happy, and the geometry is
taken care of, I move the arms down to facilitate the rig process
and minimise deformation during the posing D.

Since the faun is a blend of

man and beast, I wanted the eyes
to reect that. I decided to produce
a variation of a human eye and a
goat eye. To do this I made a little
deformation in the eye to look like a
goat and added an FFD modier to
align the eyes in the face. When
making realistic eyes, its necessary
to have two meshes one for basic
colours and the other to make a
liquid efect. It works well to
produce the Reection and
Refraction on the eyes E.

06Move on to maps

With my basic mesh nished, its now time for UV mapping. I organise
the UV maps and use the chequered map to indicate whether there is any deformation. In
order to economise the space in the UV area, I organise them into groups of similar sizes f.


07Sculpt stage

After modelling and mapping the base mesh, I export the OBJ le to ZBrush.
Before I start sculpting, I always check to see if the UVs are correct with the UV Check tool in
the Texture Map panel. This way it guarantees I wont have any map-related problems g.

70 3D Art & Design

08Use the brushes

Once I have subdivided my model to

ve levels, I begin sculpting the volumes and details with
ZBrushs basic brushes (Standard, Flatten, Smooth and so on). I
use alphas to create details such as creases, scratches,
deformation and asymmetrical small details h.

Create a mythical beast

Lighting and polypainting

Apply realism to your model

09Return to 3ds Max

Now I have nished the sculpting

stage, I export the displace and normal maps created in
ZBrush back into 3ds Max. Once there, I use the Displace modier
with TurboSmooth to apply the maps to the model. To test the
maps, apply a simple V-Ray shader with one VRayLight to check
the model over i.

Challenges with the project

Certainly the greatest challenge I faced during the fauns creation was the hair it was tricky
to both make and render it. Lighting also took quite a bit of efort, since I needed to test
diferent congurations of setups and rendering specic to him (he didnt work well with
V-Ray). As a result, this had a knock-on efect in the postproduction stage where I had to
composite the two elements to produce a seamless integration of the two. It was tricky,
especially considering both had diferent lighting setups and so on. Despite the difculties, I
learned a lot from my experimentation with these processes and hopefully, with the help of
this tutorial, you can too.

Since the faun itself is a blend of man and beast, I

wanted the eyes to reect that. I decided to produce a
variation of a human eye and a goat eye

10Strike a pose

Rigging and skin is next on the list. I make

a basic bone structure and apply the skin modier to
control the mesh. This means I can pose the faun and tweak the
position of the camera j.

11Illuminative advice

I decided to stick to a very simple

light setup for this illustration. I tested my light using a basic
V-Ray shader in grey and also added an innite background, similar
to whats used in photographic studios. Two lights were present:
one yellow on the head with more intensity and on the right-hand
side of the character a blue, less-intense one k.

12Paint the character

Now the lighting is sorted, I head back to ZBrush to paint the colour
map and create a cavity map. I use the Polypaint tool to paint my basic channel of colour map,
mixing a large number of alphas Ive created with skin variations and false shadows to raise areas on
the body. I use the cavity map with the colour map to gain more volume and detail on the skin l.
3D Art & Design



Add skin and hair

Use shaders, maps and more

13Get dirty

Its time to
start the nal textures.
Using the basic colour Ive
made a lot of layers in
Photoshop in order to add more
details with more denition. Ive
mixed all kinds of textures to
create cracks on the horns, dirt,
stains and Ive added the cavity
map so it doesnt look so clean.
All the maps are created at
5,000 x 5,000px m.

14Realistic skin

I complete the shading

process using the maps created
in Photoshop. To simulate more
realistic skin, I would suggest
using VRayFast SSS2 a
practical and fast V-Ray shader
thats great for translucent
materials. To control the SSS
shader create a SSS mpa.
Meanwhile, I use the VRayFast
SSS2 to make the translucent
aspect of the eyes, but to give a
reective element I create a
Refraction and Reection
shader applied on the superior
eyes geometry n.


15A new coat

The fauns fur was created in 3ds Maxs Hair

and Fur modier. In order to optimise the process its
necessary to convert the base geometry into a new geometry. This
way it is possible to brush comb it really fast and get control using a
density map I made in ZBrush o.

Luiz Alves

Im a freelance 3D generalist working in a

freelance capacity. Ive always loved art,
animation and special effects in movies
since I was a kid. My course in Digital
Media Production gave me a great start on
my artistic journey. Since graduating Ive
continued to evolve my traditional and
digital art skills and knowledge to improve
my personal and professional portfolio.

72 3D Art & Design

Chupa Cabras 3ds

Max, ZBrush and
Photoshop (2009)

Bravo 3ds Max,

ZBrush and
I created this
model as a
character study
to practise
creating realistic
facial features.

The goat-sucker
creature was my
submission for a
3D4ALL forum
challenge. I tried to
create something that
was fantastical but
that also carried a
strong resemblance
to a common animal
in our lives.

Create a mythical beast

Achieve the final render

Techniques to combine two assets into one


The nal
render for this
illustration was
generated in 4,000 x
3,072px as an 8-bit
TIFF le. I prefer to use
a larger scale for the
nal render because
it makes it easier to
make selections
while compositing
everything and I
can see more details
than if it was a
image. If you look
closely, the medium
render always
produces a blur in the
ner details, whereas
this doesnt happen
often with the higher
quality render p.

17Furry problems

The render process was diferent for the

fur because hair and fur doesnt work with VRayLights. In
order to make the fur render, I worked with Scanline render and
Omni Lights in the same positions as the VRayLights. Its important
to remember that when we want to render the fur, the resolution of
it is totally proportional with the tile memory usage so if you want
to render in large scales, you will need to set the tile memory usage
in large values, otherwise it wont render.
To improve the integration of the body and the fur, I created a
render channel just for the fur shadows. I then applied a matte/
shadows material and turned the option of in the panel efects so
that the shadows are only generated on the body q.

Boy Lucas 3ds Max,

ZBrush and
Photoshop (2011)

My nephew inspired
this piece. I realised
that the looks and
expressions of children
are something very
interesting. They carry
a feeling of pure joy
that we gradually lose
as we reach adulthood.
I tried to capture this
look in the bust to
make me always
remember what we
once were.

18Final touches

Now its time to tackle the composition. My postproduction stage was

completed in Photoshop. Using the channels applied on the original render you can control
aspects of light, shadows and reections. With the body setting closed, prepare the fur it will be
necessary to paint the fur and simulate some shadows on the body to make it look more real. Add a
Noise lter, some colour gradients and one layer to paint necessary highlights r.
3D Art & Design




Software used in this piece



The aim of this tutorial is
to create a fantasy
satyr-type character. I
want to create an overly
stylised face for a fantasy
genre that can be
rendered realistically and
create impact.

74 3D Art & Design

Master Weta character design

The Satyr 2012

Learn to use ZBrush to create a fantasy character portrait, following

the principles of Andrews 3D character conceptualising workow at
Weta Workshop

3D artists explain the

techniques behind
their amazing artwork

Artist info

Master Weta
character design
Andrew Baker is a senior character/creature designer at Weta Workshop Design Studio in New Zealand

bust or portrait is always a great place to start

visualising a character. ZBrush enables us to
conceptualise an idea to an extremely high level
relatively quickly. We no longer have to go through an
arduous technical process to create an efective, realisticlooking 3D character.

Without getting too focused on the technical aspects in

the 3D process, Id like to show how I generally start
conceptualising a character by creating a bust and portrait.
Due to the speed at which I execute such rened work, this
is where I begin the conceptual stage of my project often,
in essence, cutting straight to the point.

Andrew Baker
Personal portfolio site
Location New Zealand
Software used
ZBrush, Photoshop
Expertise Creating and
conceptualising characters and
creatures for physical and
digital pipelines

Conceptualise with digital clay

Get started on the sculpture in ZBrush

I start using DynaMesh
on a very low level. In this
case I have it set to 48,
but depending on how
large your model is the
resolution will difer. At
the early stages its
almost like what you do
with sketching: blurring
your eyes to start
visualising where the
forms are, and quickly
laying down broad strokes
to nd the design.
DynaMesh is extremely
useful at this stage and
can be used in the entire
sculpting process.
However, I prefer to use it
as a base generator and
subdivide further. Later I
want to be able to
drastically pose this
character, so having a
lower subdivision level
helps with this.
A Using primitives with the Insert
and Move brushes to
manipulate my base

01 Use primitives to establish a base

Traditionally, it
used to be quicker to start a 3D sculpture from a base
mesh you had already created. Ive always found this process a bit
limiting on a conceptual level, though, as you are technically
pushing and pulling a volumetric shape it feels constraining. All of
my design sculpting now starts from a sphere. With the use of
Insert Mesh brushes and DynaMesh I can experiment with
diferent shapes before locking into the base Ill use to nish the
sculpture on. Once Ive got enough primitives there to manipulate, I
use DynaMesh at a low level of 48 and start sculpting A.

02 Design considerations

I create several lines to

highlight relationships on the face. The ears line up with
the eyes to the point of the nose and from the nose outwards to the
edges of his jaw. I generally think of character faces in triangles that
are largely based on humanoid congurations. This can be pushed
as far as you like for example huge noses, tiny eyes, massive
chins. Its a game of consideration. Be aware of whats working and
what isnt. This will be the design base for the following steps B.


The right geometry With this sculpture were trying

to be fast, but efective. My goal is not to create a

production model; however, ZBrush still enables you to create a
high-res sculpt really quickly, so its worth having enough geometry
to get you there. I nd its essential to get as much information in
the lowest subdivision level before subdividing, so that I wont need
DynaMesh again. I keep design elements like horns and eyes on a
separate SubTool to move them independently if I need to. I
subdivide twice at this stage to begin sculpting further C.

B My plans in regards to the

nature of the face I want to
eventually create

C The DynaMesh base created,

with more subdividing needed
to move it on further
3D Art & Design



Form, texture and pose

Lets get the character into pose and refine the sculpt

04 Build the forms

Now, with some extra

subdivision levels, I build up
some of the forms. Using the
Clay Buildup brush I want to
create direction for the surface
and build up some secondary
forms. Doing this on one of the
lower subdivision levels can
create some nice organic
efects on the upper levels. I
often switch between the lower
and higher subdivisions at this
stage to play with the options a
little. I want to create a drastic
pose for this character, looking
over his shoulder, so I dont
want to get too precious about
any forms at this stage, but
rather block out the basis for
his personality D.

Top shaders

05 Put the character into a pose

As our end goal is

not a symmetrical production model, I want to pose it
right away. I have a clear idea of how Id like to present this
character, having him look over his shoulder to create an
asymmetrical bust and an interesting view for the portrait. I use
Transpose Master to generate the pose. Be as bold as you can! Its
important not to marry to any forms at this stage and let it come
out in the posed maquette. I also sculpt into the mesh while
transposing, trying to x any broken anatomy as I go e.


D Build up the forms, keeping the

design base and appending
some horns
e Mask and transform the
character, while sculpting and
xing broken areas
f Build up secondary forms and
detail the horns
g Sharpen details and add some
surface noise

Tighten up the forms Now that the model is posed

and I have some higher subdivision levels, its about

rening those secondary forms, like the cheekbones, lips, brows,
eye sockets and so on. For me, theres no better brush than the
Clay for this. It creates very nice crease lines, which can start as the
base for our wrinkles. I nd the Clay brush, if treated right, can give
some nice results to the higher subdivision levels, using the Smooth
brush to soften where needed. I also play with the shape of the
horns, considering how they afect the overall silhouette more,
now theyre on the posed character f.

76 3D Art & Design

Using diferent shaders is

a great way to tackle
certain aspects of your
sculpting and colouration.
For my primary forms, I
prefer to use a shader like
MatCap Grey, which
shows the forms of really
well. When I start my
secondary forms, I turn
on the Blinn shader, as
this has a nice general
specular highlight, which
is also good for showing
the detail. I ick between
that and MatCap Grey.
The Skin Shader default is
awesome for colouring
esh-toned characters,
and I use this a lot for my
concepts as it displays
really well.

h Use a scattering efect on the

brush, adding in some extra
pore detail
I Layer up the colour of the
character, masking the cavities
and washing over the top with a
base colour

J You can still tighten up the

details with your sculpting
brushes as you apply colour

Master Weta character design

07 Detail and texture

I am now happy with
the secondary forms and can
start to see where my detail
needs to go. DamStandard is
my new favourite brush for
going into these soft forms and
giving them some sharpness.
They fold into the surface and
create a pinched, V-shaped
crease, instead of a U-shaped
crease like the normal Standard
brush makes. I also add a noise
pass to create the pore efect
on the surface. Playing around
with the scale and intensity of
the noise function can create
awesome pore- and skin-like
textures. Experiment with this
feature to really get a grasp of
just what it can achieve g.

08 Pores and extra texture

To create another level of

focused noise in areas, I use the Standard brush with a
Scatter efect and a very small Point Alpha. I turn the Z Intensity
slider quite low and increase the size of the brush and intensity as
needed, especially on the shoulder and chin areas or anywhere I
think a specular highlight might appear on the nal piece. I also use
DamStandard with a really low intensity to create very ne
wrinkles, going in the direction of the skin compression h.

09 Add some colour

As colour will greatly afect how

our texture is shown, I want to start adding that in,
treating the detail of the surface and colour now at the same time. I
start of by adding a very light base colour, covering the whole
model. I use the default skin shader as this shows up colouring for
skin very well and all in real-time. I layer up the model with reds,
blues and yellows for the underlying blood vessels to wash with a
esh colour and soften in areas. I also mask out the cavities to add
some dirt i.

10 Rene detail with colour

Because ZBrush enables us to afect the form while adding

colour, I go back to my DamStandard brush, turn the RGB down very low with a brown colour
and start to tighten up some of the wrinkle details. I also use the Inate brush to push all the details
tighter together j.

3D Art & Design



Final touches and presentation

Finish the painted sculpt and get it ready for maquette presentation

11 Add the hair

Another hugely
innovative tool from ZBrush is
FiberMesh. This is a great
addition to the process as
things like hair really add a nice
touch to a character like this. By
simply masking of areas where
I want there to be hair, I turn on
the FiberMesh button and
begin to adjust to the diferent
hair Id like to add. I want some
variation in the hair around him,
but I want it to be quite thin,
sparse and wiry k.

12 Get creative

13 Give him some ink

I want to add another element to this character that isnt necessarily a

costume accessory. Im thinking of a large religious-style tattoo on his back. I create the tattoo
in Photoshop as a at template then use Spotlight in ZBrush to project it onto my character. Spotlight is
another great way to project any other further texture onto characters m.

Without going too far

and crashing your machine, you
can have a lot of fun creating
diferent hair around the face.
Masking areas like the tips of
the ears is a nice touch, I nd,
while creating some scraggly
sideburns can also be efective.
There are lots of options to play
with, so I suggest spending
some time to get used to
whats possible. I always take
time to manipulate with the
brushes afterwards, so I can be
sure to create a much more
efective look l.

tips & tricks
Depending on how long I
have to get an image
done, I sometimes spend
a bit of time playing with
the hair and positioning
tattoos. These are often
things that can be
explored in 2D for
conceptual pieces, but it
never hurts to have
something 3D there for
the nal render. All of
whats been done so far
has been done very
quickly without getting
too consumed with
technical aspects. If its
not working in 3D, solve
the idea quickly in 2D by
doing paint-overs before
committing to the 3D
render. This can also be
really handy to show a
client for variations.
k Mask of areas on the head
where you want to create hair

78 3D Art & Design

l Add diferent types of hair

around the ear

m Use ZBrushs Spotlight to apply
the tattoo created in Photoshop.
Adjust the hue and opacity
before applying to the model so
it blends in correctly

n Some layers rendered in ZBrush

to take into Photoshop

p The nal ZBrush layers

composited in Photoshop

o A layer rendered out in ZBrush

for Photoshop blending

q Give the nal image some

post-production work

Master Weta character design

Compose the final image


Render and capture the essence of the sculpture in post

14 A perfect comp

Its vital to experiment

with diferent shaders
and efects in ZBrush.
Theres no limit to the
variation of materials and
textures you can create in
ZBrush without the use of
photos or alphas.
Designing and creating
characters in 3D and
getting realistic results
doesnt have to be a
laborious process
anymore. Also, keeping a
library of references will
always aid the creative
process and arm you with
a catalogue of ideas.

Having the composition

in mind from the beginning will
certainly help you get to this
stage quickly. This way theres
no unnecessary sculpting and
the entire process is geared
towards aiding what we want
to show. I aim to create an
interesting pose that isnt
front-on to the character,
thereby enhancing his
silhouette a little. Having the
sculpt turned to a grey shader
(Blinn, in this case) and doing
some quick BPR renders with
the main light source will also
help us judge how best to
compose the character. I create
my document in portrait at
about 1,310 x 2,050 pixels,
which will be the nal crop n.


out layers
15 Render
for post

Once Ive
established my main light
source, and the shadow that is
created by looking at the BPR
render passes, I start to look at
what else I can take to
Photoshop to help this image
along. I render out a lot of
diferent light passes on the
various standard shaders
turned to black. I use the BPR
render passes, a cavity and
reection pass. For SSS I use a
standard shader set to red and
amp up the ambience. Then I
just need any shader that looks
like it might do something
interesting in Photoshop o.

16 The nal composition


I generally experiment a lot

with blending options on the passes Ive rendered out.
Because this guy has human skin and Ive painted the model, the
initial render gave me a lot to work with. This is the great thing
about this process and leaves us a bit of time to spruce up the
image. Using the Z-Depth map and changing the colour while
turning it to Overlay can create some nice depth efects. Reection
and Light maps can be used to create interesting efects for the
eyes, too. At this stage, be experimental and have fun p.

tion tim
Resolution e
2,953 x 4,58 :

17 Post-production

Once Im happy with the blended

layers, and theyre all doing what I want, I can really start to
have some fun. A background can be used to make the image look
more of a studio shot or something more photographic. As this
image could be used as the base for many design passes, Im not
shy about painting over areas that need further attention even
using photographs although I only ever use photos to add noise
or textures where I can. Sometimes its unavoidable, but if Im
sculpting a character like this, theres really no need q.
3D Art & Design


Find inspiration in the world around you and
achieve some interesting arch-vis creations
82 Master arch vis

Begin designing and creating an archvis project a house


88 Visualise architecture

Develop your houses surroundings

94 Apply the finishing touches

Finish your project by rendering your

house to perfection

100 Create superior interiors

Design a dramatic bedroom interior

106 Design interactive interiors

Use Unity to enhance your arch vis

110 Build unique arch-vis assets

Create a model that can be easily reused

116 Fantasy arch vis:

concept design

How to create a fantastical concept

118 Fantasy arch vis: 3D


Take your concept to the next level by

illustrating it

80 3D Art & Design





3D Art & Design


Architectural visualisation

Master arch vis

House stage one 2012
Lech Sokolowski explains how to
create a place of residence from
architectural plans
Lech Sokoowski is a self-employed
3D generalist based in Poland

Artist info

3D artists explain the

techniques behind
their amazing artwork

Lech Sokoowski
Username: lechu
Personal portfolio site
Country Poland
Software used Blender
Expertise Considered a 3D
generalist, Lech most enjoys the
compositing and postproduction
stages. He has worked as a
freelancer and as a 3D artist at
Evermotion. He currently runs
his own studio based in Poland.

82 3D Art & Design

n the rst of this three-part tutorial, well be learning

how to handle a professional architectural visualisation
project using the free and open-source 3D software,
Blender. This rst part will include some very useful
techniques for creating the buildings model, which will be
based on architectural drawings and sketches. When
working in a studio or architectural ofce, youll often be
given plans like these by the client or your manager. Having a
good knowledge of how to quickly apply these drawings in
your 3D environment and later create a precise
representation of the 2D concept is highly valuable.
The most popular le formats for saving technical
drawings are DWG and DXF, which can be created by
almost any CAD software. While Blender supports the DXF
format pretty well, probably the best, fastest and most
reliable way of working with these types of information is
using CAD data exported to a PDF or JPG le. I prefer the
PDF output as it can be processed later using 2D software
and saved in any resolution without losing quality.
For the purposes of this tutorial, Ive already created some
JPG les ready to be imported into Blender. However, if you
would like to practice on raw PDF data, this can be found on
the free disc at the back of the book.

The plan for this arch-vis project is to build a standard,
one-oor family house. These types of jobs are commonly
available in studios or as a freelancer, so once youve got the
hang of this house style, youll be able to apply what youve
learnt to more complicated buildings.

Master arch vis

Part one

Building plans
Finished model of the building
Helpful modelling scripts

Software used
in this piece

Press N to display this panel

Various display options

Load background images here

01Prepare the workspace

Before we start with modelling, its a

good idea to set up the Blender workspace the way you like it. By hitting
the N key while in 3D view, youll open a Display Properties panel in which you
can load a background image. Unfold the Display Options and click Toggle
Quad View. This will subdivide your 3D window into four orthographic views.
This should work perfectly if you have a more technical approach to the 3D
geometry. I personally prefer to work only in one big window and change the
views by using numerical keys A.

A Pressing Cmd/Ctrl with the left or

right arrow keys enables you to quickly
alternate between created workspaces

B Not every supported add-on is

immediately available by default after
Blenders installation

Click here to install external scripts

02Load additional plug-ins

Blenders modelling tools are still under heavy

development, so Id suggest using some external plug-ins created by the
community. Hit Cmd/Ctrl+Opt/Alt+U to open the User Preferences window. Choose
Addons and at the bottom of the window click Install Addon. Now select the mesh_bevel.
py and les that can be found on the free disc (these are free to use and
can also be found online). After that remember to switch the tools on by nding them in
the correct group on the left-hand side of the screen. Well be using these two quite a lot,
so double-check everything has been set up correctly b.
3D Art & Design


Architectural visualisation

Start the basic structure

Create basic geometry and begin window details


Press T to open additional Tool Shelf

Extrude along the walls

04Place interior walls

We need to create inner walls

inside the house so it wont look totally empty later when
rendering. The techniques are pretty much the same as in the
previous steps create a cube, enter Edit Mode and, by moving
and extruding the faces, cover all the areas. Well leave the interior
very simple for now and will come back to it much later if some
additional changes turn out to be necessary d.

03Begin with basic geometry

With everything set up, create a simple plane and scale it up

by about 20 times. Now add a cube and enter Edit Mode. With the oor_plan.jpg le from
the disc set as the background, start extruding one of the faces along the outer walls of the building.
Dont be bothered by the cubes height at the moment, well set it up later. While extruding try to mark
all the openings, windows and doors by hitting E just where they appear on the building plan c.

C Press T in 3D View to open a

panel with more options

E Hold the Alt/Opt key while

selecting edges to mark at once

D You can add a ground plane

object for better scene
navigation in later steps

F For the best efect its good to

have some reference images of
the object youre modelling

05Rene the walls

From the disc, open the

elevation_front.jpg drawing and
set it up to be displayed in Front
Orthographic view. Scale both the
interior and exterior walls and
match them to the lines
representing the top and bottom
edges of the walls. Next, select the
outer walls and enter Edit Mode.
Press Cmd/Ctrl+R to create edge
loops and match them to the
window lines marked on the
drawing. Repeat this process for
each elevation and delete the
faces, making the window
openings. To join the interior and
exterior edges in each opening,
select them and click the Bridge
button under the LoopTools list,
located in the 3D View Tool Shelf
(hit the T key to reveal the list) e.

06Add window models

The window dimensions

difer quite a lot in each elevation,
so to speed up the work well
create just one basic model, and
then copy and adjust it to each
opening. Create a cube, scale it
down several times and place in
the corner of one of the holes.
Enter Edit Mode and create a
window frame by scaling and
duplicating the cube. Repeat the
process and create a smaller frame
inside the window for better detail.
Last, apply the Bevel modier (hit
W to access) but rst, go to Object
Mode and press Cmd/Ctrl+A to
zero the scale of your model f.

84 3D Art & Design

Select and press X to delete


Ctrl+N to ip normals

Alt+right-click to loop select

Press T for additional

panel and choose Bridge

Select all by pressing A

Problems and solutions

Creating the outer walls was a good starting point for the
upcoming steps. Now well be adding more detailed objects
like windows, doors and roof elements. Its good to plan
your work ahead, as a good management of all your objects
is essential when working on bigger projects. Blender gives
us a basic yet very handy layer system, which can be
accessed by pressing the M key. While continuing, try to
sort all the elements into separate layers. This will help you
in hiding all specic parts of the building, windows for
instance, or viewing only solid elements like the walls and
ceiling. Tweaking the display options may also be very
helpful. Enter the Object menu in your Properties panel,
and under the Display list, change or enhance the ways
your geometry is displayed. Clicking the Wire type of
display creates a wireframe grid, covering the shaded,
normal-looking model. This is very helpful especially when
adding new elements in Perspective Mode.
In order to quickly distribute the objects through the
scene, just model one of them and later duplicate it into the
desired areas. Of course the duplicate will require some
tweaking and adjusting, but its much faster than making
every window from scratch, for example.

Master arch vis

Detailed modelling

Find a proper
detail balance

Add more specific features to your elements

07Window details

Create another cube

and by simple scaling
operations, create a thin glass
surface. Duplicate it, select
both objects and hit Cmd/
Ctrl+J to merge them together.
Now create window shutters.
Add a plane object and scale it
according to the window
dimensions. Rotate it slightly in
Edit Mode and add an Array
modier. Adjust the Relative
Ofset settings so the plane
duplicates in the Z axis and
increase the Count number to
20. This way you can now
randomise the length of each
shutter in just a few clicks g.

Use Count number to

tweak the shutter length

Properly created models

are a great material for
animation purposes

Although the
nal result would probably
consist only of one image,
its a good habit to
approach your scenes and
models globally. Your client
might want to see their
building from totally
diferent perspectives and if
your model lacks signicant
details at this point, you
might get into trouble.
Modelling everything from
scratch is time consuming,
so its common for
designers to reuse models
from past scenes or even to
buy some pre-made
objects online. There are
also many websites sharing
great models for free h.

When working on your

scene, its very important
to nd a proper balance
for details youre going to
add. Focusing on some
elements too extensively
is time consuming and
might result in you not
nishing the project on
time. You may also
overload your scene with
surplus geometry and
cause signicant viewport
slowdown. Adding some
basic enhancements to
your models, like the ones
weve created in previous
steps, should work ne in
most cases. However, you
may also encounter a
situation when a client
requires high-resolution
renderings or close-ups
on some elements. If
possible, its best to have
good-quality models
already prepared for that
kind of project. This saves
you a great amount of
time and enables you to
make quick changes
during the project. The
scene handling also
requires a diferent
approach. As mentioned
earlier, use Blenders layer
system to distribute the
models properly, for
example, according to the
view location. Its not
necessary to overload
your viewport with
objects that are not visible
at the moment, so disable
their layer.

09Model a door

The door modelling

techniques are pretty much the
same as with the windows. Ive
even used the basic window
shape to create the entrance
door model. Enhance the frame
by removing the bottom
element and add four
horizontal slats to make the
doors difer from the windows
at some points. However, the
balcony doors are still very
similar to the base shape i.

G Pressing Shift with one of the

axes (X, Y or Z) while scaling,
moving or rotating, will exclude
this axis from operation

10Add a garage door

I You can diversify the model by

opening some of the doors
J You can soften the edges using
both Bevel and Subdivide
Surface modiers

Copy the entrance door frame and

edit it to match the wall opening. Create one thin, vertical
element and use the Array modier to duplicate it several times.
Add a plane object and place it behind the arrayed boxes. Apply
the modier and join the parts together. Create details by adding
and scaling cube objects and applying the Bevel modier j.
3D Art & Design


Architectural visualisation

Create the covering

Focus on modelling the roof
Lech Sokoowski

I am an architect by education and 3D artist by passion.

Since my youth I was interested in various forms of
expression, especially drawing. My adventure with 3D
graphics started during my studies and Ive quickly
fallen into it. Currently I run my own 3D graphics
studio, NoTriangle, and live a happy life in a quiet,
mellow region in east Poland.

11Basic roof model

To start the roof correctly, lets rst

create the basic shape. From the disc, load the roof_view.jpg
image into Blenders viewport and create a simple plane object.
Subdivide the edges marked on the image and move the newly
created vertex into proper position. Now select the triangle vertex
shape and hit the F key to create a new triangle face. This way
weve made a roof surface that only needs to be edited in the side
view. Select middle vertexes, switch to Orthographic Front camera
and move them up as on the drawing k.

Angle proles are the
most important roof
elements, yet we still
need to add some details.
Using the very simple
techniques described
earlier, Ive created the
chimney model and some
additional roof details like
gutters to improve the
nal look. Ive also added
wooden nishings at the
bottom surface and edge
of the roof.
K The roof consists of two similar
models so we just need to
duplicate one weve created
L Cut tiles will have uncapped
surfaces, but well cover them
with other elements

Art Gallery 3ds Max, V-Ray, Photoshop (2010)

This is one of the interior scenes I prepared when working in the

Evermotion studio. My task was to create a set of complete 3D
environments for various product-rendering purposes.

M You can include simple details

by adding edge loops, beveling
them and using the Solidify tool
to extrude
N If possible, try to nd any
reference pictures similar to the
project youre working on

Jewish Museum,
Berlin Blender,
V-Ray, Photoshop

This scene was

created for light study
purposes. I always
found this building
very touching and
inspiring and still look
forward to nishing a
CG animation project
regarding it.

1. Tile model
used in this

2. The rst
Array modier

12Add roof tiles

Create a rectangular roof tile by scaling

the cube object and soften its edges by applying Bevel in
Edit Mode. Rotate the tile matching the roof angle and add two
Array modiers. The rst one will duplicate the tile along the wider
roof edge and the second will multiply all these tiles upwards.
Tweak the Relative Ofset settings to match all the duplicates.
Switch to Top Orthographic view and apply the modiers. In Edit
Mode, select all the elements, hit W and pick the Fake Knife tool.
Cut the tiles along the roof edges and delete unwanted parts l.

3. Rotate
the tiles

4. The second
Array modier
5. Apply the modiers

6. Use the Fake Knife tool

Youth Hostel Interior Blender, Cycles, Photoshop (2012)

This image shows the interior space of a building designed in our

studio. Its a multi-functional youth hostel located in one of the
natural parks in east Poland.

86 3D Art & Design

7. Delete

13Roof details

Create the angle proles to cover the

uncapped faces of the cut roof tiles. Duplicate one of the
cross edges of the main roof model, hit the P key and choose
Selection Only to separate the edge. Enter Edit Mode and extrude
the edges upwards. Press Cmd/Ctrl+F, choose Solidify and extrude
the element in two directions. Select the external vertexes both in
the upper and lower part of the model, and move them down m.

Master arch vis

Detail the elevations

Focus on the elevation enhancements and final touches

14Project options

It happens quite often that you have to

visualise projects that arent fully nished and dened. A
client might want you to take responsibility and create some of the
elements by yourself. In our example, we have very basic elevation
drawings so lets use this as an opportunity to practice. Ill be using
three nishing materials: plaster, bricks and stone tiles n.

nder time

5,000 x 2,50 :

Some elements of
this project are
not dened


15Create the bricks

Ive decided to create the brick

elements in the entrance area. Although these are very
repeatable, I wont be using the Array modier this time. Bricks are
usually aligned to certain pattern and almost always need manual
renements when creating the corner sections or openings. We
could use a texture for this, but a real model representation of each
material will yield better results o.

16Input stone tiles

As youll notice, were using the same, very basic techniques for creating
most of the elements. The tiles wont be an exception. Start from the simple cube model and,
by scaling and duplicating, create a few tiles of diferent dimensions and match them up. While in
Object Mode, join the elements together, zero the scale by pressing Cmd/Ctrl+A in the Scale options
and apply the Bevel tool in Edit Mode p.

Coming up next
In this tutorial youve hopefully learned some essential skills on how to approach and manage
a standard architectural rendering project. In the next couple well be covering the
environment setup, diferent types of vegetation, scene enhancements together with
Shaders, rendering and nal postproduction. Hopefully youll stay with us and nd out what
amazing things can be done using free and commonly available software.
O Bricks are just
simple cubes scaled
into typical proportions
P The elevation materials
placement is totally up to you
Q The geometry mostly consists
of very basic shapes

17Additional elements

To make the building look

complete, we need to add some nal objects. Start creating
a garage driveway by editing the cube and moving its vertexes
under the ground plane surface. To create entrance stairs just add
another cube, match it properly and use some of the stone tiles to
make the covering surface. Copy the whole element and create the
terrace by applying some simple adjustments. You can also create
the ower bowls around the terrace, but the vegetation will be
widely covered in the next tutorial q.
3D Art & Design


Architectural visualisation

3D scene with basic

environment setup and shaders
Image les describing some
of the shaders
Sample shaders

Visualise architecture
using Blender House stage two


Starting from proper camera placement and setup, well create the buildings
Lech Sokoowski runs his own studio
surroundings, vegetation and the lighting environment

his is the second part of a tutorial series

in which well learn how to handle a
professional, architectural visualisation
project using the free and open-source 3D
application, Blender. In the previous tutorial we
looked at the modelling techniques and skills
required for professional 3D building preparation.
This time well focus on various other aspects of
architectural rendering. Starting from proper
camera placement and setup, well create the

88 3D3DArtist
Art & Design

buildings surroundings, vegetation and the

lighting environment. Well also get into the hair
particle system and study some of the great
features of Blenders rendering engine, Cycles.
The article will also cover some modelling tricks
and other important aspects of creating
professional, good-looking images.
As each render is in fact a 2D image created
inside 3D software, it can be considered on the
same basis as photography, drawing or even

painting. A common aspect of all these art

disciplines is the need to use proper image
composition. There are dozens of renders on the
internet that are perfect when it comes to
technical issues, yet the overall efect is often
average at best. Commercial architectural
renderings arent the kind of projects where we
can apply many artistic values, yet a good
composition will always give us many benets.
This will be our starting point for this article.

Visualise architecture using Blender

Software used
in this piece

Camera setup

A When adjusting camera

placement, always have the
concept of the nal image in
your head. You can make some
very simple drawings for helping
yourself with that
B Composition guidelines can
be very helpful, but dont let
them limit your creativity!

Camera setup
Good camera placement is essential

01Camera placement

Good camera placement and focusing on interesting

aspects of the building (or any other object) is essential to achieve a good nal
efect. In part one of the tutorial, our closing image showed the front entrance of the
house. However, after some considerations Ive decided to choose a rear elevation. The
main reason is that it will look much more interesting after adding the vegetation and
other details. Secondly, its easier to pick an interesting angle as were not limited by any
surrounding frontal elements that would need to be added for realistic results a.


image aspect ratio used is 1.6:1,
giving us a wider picture frame
to cover the whole building and
some surroundings. The
resolution Ive used for preview
purposes was 1600x1000.
Another very important factor
is the camera Focal Length. Ive
used the standard value of 35
as it is very popular in
traditional photography. I also
recommend switching on the
Compositing Guides to
ne-tune the camera
placement. Choices range from
standard Center-based image
subdivision to Golden or
Harmonious Triangles b.

3D Art & Design


Architectural visualisation

Building surroundings
With camera placed, well now add surroundings and place the final details
c Setting up the vertical lens shift

building details

I start by creating the wall

surrounding the plot. Depending
on your clients preferences, you
might be asked to create a metal
fence or organic enclosure like
bushes or hedges. This would
require you spending more time
working on the background,
perhaps adding neighbouring
buildings, vegetation etc.
However, solid walls are quite
commonly used by people and
for us are the quickest way to
create a good-looking
background. Well also create
the vegetation behind the wall,
which will diversify and detail
the nal image even more d.

03Lens shift

Lens shifting is a technique allowing us to

eliminate the natural distortion efects generated by standard
and digital lenses. Its commonly used, especially in architectural
photography. When using wide camera lenses (usually from 16 to
35mm), we have a wider viewing angle and can capture more
information, but the nal image will also be distorted. To eliminate
this efect, the lens is being shifted out of its natural placement,
neutralising the distortion. In our example we need to adjust the ShiftY
factor and then rotate the camera in the vertical axis c.

walls are simple
objects, they also have
some details and diferent shaders

e Step-by-step stone creation

05Additional renements

The owerpots from the previous tutorial dont look good

enough so Ill extend them through the whole terrace. The building walls also need some
detail. Ive created thin kerbs and distributed them all around the building. Now well ll the gap with
gravel stones. Create the plane object and extrude it along the building walls. Add a cube object, enter
Edit Mode and subdivide it once, adding some random rotation to the newly created faces. The stones
will be very small so the single subdivision should work well. Adjust the object manually by editing its
Vertices. Create up to four diferent stones using this technique e.

f Kerbs, walls and

gravel distribution

06Distributing objects

Group the stones together and

select the extruded plane from the previous step. Add a
new Particle System and change its type from Emitter to Hair.
Switch on the Advanced options and go to the Render tab. Click
Group and select your stones from the list. You should now see all
four of your objects being randomly distributed throughout the
plane. Go to Emission settings and increase the amount number.
Its also recommended to change the distribution type from
Jittered to Random. Under the Physics tab you can also randomise
the size of your objects f.

Problems and solutions

07Pre-made models

In real-life situations youre very often working within tight deadlines

and many other stressful circumstances thats why you need to be fast end efcient. While
its quite easy to prepare objects like windows, owerpots and doors by yourself, creating good-quality
furniture models for each scene is totally pointless. Thats why its essential to build up your own library
of 3D models, ready to use at any time. Although most of the models available online are dedicated to
commercial software, you can store them as .obj les, since Blender imports these without any
problems. You may also create a Cycles shader library that might be used simultaneously g.

90 3D Art & Design

After putting the camera in the desired location, well now

gradually add more and more details to our scene. It is really
hard to estimate from the very beginning what will be the
nal object placement, shader setup or lighting parameters.
In order to work efciently, I always try to roughly build up
my scene and later rene each detail after knowing its
placement, dimensions or material. In the next few steps Ill
focus on some techniques and issues that you may
encounter during your own projects, but keep in mind that
in real life you should build a workow that will suit your
own preferences. Be exible, change the steps order, mix
the techniques together or try to develop your own, basing
this on the information youve already received. Ultimately,
thats the only way to successfully learn new things and take
your skills to a higher level.

Visualise architecture using Blender

Interior design
Glass material for windows, plus curtain-making

Material system
In the previous steps Ive very
roughly described the Cycles
material system. This topic will be
covered more deeply in the next
part of this tutorial series, but
some basic understanding of the
shading system is required for the
next steps of this article.
Cycles uses a node-based
system for creating the materials
and currently it doesnt ofer any
pre-made setups or shaders its
up to us to build them from
scratch. This approach has both
advantages and disadvantages.
First of all, you have total control
over the shader. Most 3D
applications have material
systems supporting pre-dened
shader types such as Difuse,
Glossy or Translucent. Each of
these has its own specic values
and parameters. In Cycles, every
material you create can be freely
dened and changed using the
node editor. For instance, when
we choose the Glass type of
material, the node editor gives us
the freedom to delete the Glass
shader node and replace it with
Transparent or Emit shader
nodes. To create a physically
accurate glossy material, we need
to mix Difuse and Glossy
shaders, using a Fresnel node as
the input for the mixing value. It
may seem complicated, but once
you grasp how this system works,
youll love it. One drawback is the
lack of pre-made, useful materials
that could be quickly added to the
scene. This can be solved by
creating your own library of the
most used shaders and storing
them in one Blender le.

Step 1

Step 2

08Basic shaders

In order to see the furniture weve

just placed, we need to create a glass material.
Although the Cycles shading system gives us a glass-type
shader on the go, we still need to apply some adjustments.
Firstly, your glass object must have a thickness, just like in
the real world. Secondly, we need to tweak its Ray Visibility
options. These settings determine which aspects of the
material will take part in the rendering process. For instance,
we can switch of the objects visibility, but still allow it to be
visible in the reective surfaces. For glass objects, especially
windows, we need to turn of the Shadow, Transmit and
Difuse properties h.

09Adding curtains

The buildings interior looks too

empty so Ive decided to add some curtains. Create
a Bzier Curve object and enter Edit Mode. Select an end
point and by pressing the E key, extrude the curve, adjusting
its shape. Convert it to mesh geometry by returning to Object
Mode and pressing Opt/Alt+C. Choose Mesh from Curve
and enter Edit Mode once more. Extrude the path towards
the ceiling, add horizontal subdivisions and press the P key to
switch on Proportional Editing. By selecting random vertices,
adjust the curtains and diversify their shape i.

g Some of the models that

Ive been using in this
tutorial scene
h Step-by-step process of
creating a glass object
and material

Step 4

Step 5

Step 7

Step 6

i Creating curtains in
step-by-step fashion
j The same method was used
to map and texture the
surrounding walls,
owerpots and terrace

10Quick UV mapping

3D viewport

Step 3

UV/Image editor

speed up the texturing
process well use the Cube
Projection technique to unwrap the
house walls. Cube projection works
quite well with architectural models,
but always check if there are no
visible seams in areas exposed to
camera. If this issue occurs, select
all of the faces directed towards the
camera and use either the normal
Unwrap or Project from View
option. Remember that you dont
need (and, except for game models,
barely ever should) to unwrap all
your geometry at one command.
Instead, select the faces you want
to texture and use the unwrapping
mode that works the best j.
3D Art & Design


Architectural visualisation

Illuminate the scene using sun and environmental lights
15 seconds using CPU

15 seconds using GPU

k Using GPU mode

may speed up the rendering
process by a factor of ten or more!

11Lighting and preview rendering

Before we create a lighting setup, lets learn how to preview our scene and render it in
real-time. Next to the Mode button in the bottom tab of 3D Viewport we have a Display Mode button. Choose the Rendered type
of display and after a few seconds you should see your scene with an ambient occlusion type of lighting being rendered in real time. If the
Rendered type of display is not available, check if youve chosen Cycles from the Rendering Engine tab located in the Info panel. You can
switch between CPU and GPU rendering modes in User Preferences>System options k.
l Change the Sun or
Environment emitting
values for ne-tuning
the lighting

Textured Icosphere imitating sky

It can often happen that
a specic shader which
worked perfectly in one
scene doesnt seem to
look good when we try
to reuse it in another
project. This issue is
common to all 3D
applications and in fact
isnt even an error or
software failure. Just as
in real life, where we
perceive colours,
materials and surfaces
depending on the
environment in which
theyre located, the
same efect applies to
the digital world.
m If the sky sphere shader
seems too complicated,
check the tutorial les
for additional

Sun location

12Sun and background light

Open the World setup

panel and change the Surface colour type from RGB to Sky
Texture. If you switch on the Rendered mode in Viewport, you
should see a nice-looking physical sky appearing. By clicking and
dragging the sphere in World panel, youre able to dene the
physical sun placement or change the time of day, from midday to
evening for instance. Still, there are no shadows appearing in the
scene. Press the space bar and from the Add menu, choose Sun
lamp. Access its settings and change the shadow size from 1 to
0.01. Now you should have a fully working sun and sky system l.

Lech Sokoowski

Im an architect by education and 3D artist

by passion. Since my youth I was
interested in various forms of expression,
especially drawing. My adventure with 3D
graphics started during my studies and
Ive really quickly fallen into it. Currently I
run my own 3D graphics studio and live a
happy life in a quiet, mellow region of
Eastern Poland

92 3D Art & Design

Additional background plates with trees

13Environmental setup

The default sky system looks nice, but doesnt have any settings
allowing its colour correction or image placement. We could replace the sky in a 2D application,
but this can be also done inside Blender. Create an Icosphere and delete its bottom part, subdividing
the object to half. Generate the UV map choosing the Cylinder type of Unwrap and load the panoramic
sky texture you nd most suitable. Rene the UV mapping so it covers the entire image and return to
Object Mode. Scale the sphere up and rotate it the way that gives the best sky look. Now create the
node material setup based on the attached image m.

Change ZBrush

The project that I

started years ago as a
simple ZBrush
exercise later turned
out to become very
personal, describing
some situations Ive
been going through in
my life in the past

Lama Blender (2009)

Llamas are my favourite animals This image

is a result of rigging and fur rendering
exercises I did in Blender years ago

Visualise architecture using Blender



With other details finished, we will focus on vegetation

n Trees and bushes
used in my scene

o Remember to apply a shader with grass image

to the plane object distributing particles

Step 1


Vegetation models database As with the furniture,

you need to have a good, pre-made model library for

vegetation. Compared to more technical objects like furniture, trees
and other forms of vegetation are much more challenging to create,
even when you have time. There are a plenty of very good-quality
models available on the internet; but if you dont want to buy them,
you can use open source software like ngPlant, for instance, to
quickly generate your own, nice-quality vegetation models n.


High-poly geometry Fine-looking trees are usually

very heavy 3D objects, comprising up to hundreds of

thousands or even millions of polygons, so we have to use them
very wisely. In Blender we can duplicate or copy objects in two
ways. The standard Shift+D method results in creating two totally
independent objects. During the rendering process each of them is
being calculated separately, requiring more RAM and therefore
slowing down the rendering. However, we can copy objects in a
much less resource-consuming way. For this we should use the
Opt/Alt+D key combination to create an object instance.
Instanced objects will be calculated only once and can be
distributed through the scene countless times p.

Final thoughts

Step 2

Step 5

Step 6

Step 3

Step 7

render tim
3,200 x 2,00 :

Step 4

Step 8

15Grass distribution

To distribute grass in the scene wed use the same technique as with the
gravel in step 6. Grass modelling is fairly simple: create one strand and a UV map (simple
Unwrapping should work ne). Bend it using proportional editing and 3D cursor. Create up to ve
diferent strands and mix them together into up to four small, varying clumps you can also change
the scale of each strand. Take these strand groups and create bigger clumps these you can separate
to diferent objects and join them into a group. Use the Hair Particle system to distribute the grass o.
Only two 3D models were used to create
the foreground vegetation. Each model is
distributed as an instance

p Limit yourself to just four tree objects

and use diferent scale and rotation
parameters for diversifying their look

q A tree in the
foreground has
the displacement
modier applied,
adding some

Weve reached the end of the second part. Hopefully youve

managed to learn some new skills that will turn out to be
useful on an everyday basis. For more in-depth information,
especially regarding the Cycles shading system, please
check the materials on the disc at the back of the book. In
the next tutorial well be going over rendering and
postproduction techniques.

Breathe Blender, Octane Render (2011)

Im interested in macro photography and this inspired me to

create some imaginary owers, place them in a moodily lit
environment and render using GPU technology

17Tree placement

Gaining some knowledge about proper scene management, lets now add
the vegetation to our image. We dont have to ll everything with trees as it is in real life having
the camera already set up, place the vegetation only where its necessary. Ive made an exception to
this, putting some trees out of view in order to achieve nice, deep shadows being cast on the lawn and
the back of the house. Using all the techniques described in this and the previous article, Ive created
the foreground to add more depth and harmony to the nal composition q.
3D Art & Design


Architectural visualisation

Apply the
finishing touches
House stage three

In the nal chapter of this three-part series, Lech Sokoowski reveals how to apply the
Lech Sokoowski is a 3D generalist based in Poland
nishing touches to your house-build project

elcome to the third and nal part of

this tutorial series. So far, we have
covered modelling a house from 2D
plans, properly distributing high-poly
vegetation models throughout the scene and we
have also given insight into Blenders shading and
rendering systems.

94 3D3DArtist
Art & Design

Over the next six pages we will cover Cycles

rendering settings and an in-depth study of
Blenders new shading system. Well create
diverse materials from scratch, later separating
them from the nal rendering as individual layers.
Well also cover the process of transforming the
raw rendering using Photoshop techniques.

While I wont be describing how Ive achieved

every particular efect for the nal image, I will
introduce skills such as material creation, proper
scene rendering and nishing touches in 2D
software. You can then apply these skills to your
personal projects, or develop them for use in your
professional portfolio.

Apply the fnishing touches

Set up


Review your options

01GPU vs CPU options

Using the graphics card

(GPU) instead of standard processors (CPU) for the
rendering purposes has both its advantages and drawbacks.
The positive aspects are of course very good rendering
times (often up to ten times faster) and the ability to tweak
the shaders or environmental setup in real-time. At the
moment were limited to NVIDIA GPU units as Cycles
doesnt fully support Open CL technology, which is used by
ATI cards. Another drawback is the GPU RAM limitation,
but this issue can be resolved either by proper scene
management or by rendering the images on separate layers
(foreground, background and so on) a.

Sample shaders for your

personal projects
Shader descriptions
Final rendering with
postproduction layers

a You can choose the rendering

method in the User Preferences
window under System Settings
b For quick previews, use the
slider of per cent scale for
render resolution

we begin
The Cycles rendering
engine difers quite a
lot from the old and
outdated Blender
Internal. It would be a
good idea to learn its
basic settings rst.

Software used
in this piece


02Basic settings

The Rendering panel is divided into

a few categories. The Render tab contains the
available computing devices and buttons starting the
rendering process. The Dimensions tab has all the settings
regarding the images resolution, the animations frame rate
and so on. The Stamp tab enables us to include various
information on the rendered image, such as the lens value or
rendering time. The Output tab contains all the settings
regarding the le extensions and image compression. The
Film tab controls the nal image exposure and anti-aliasing
settings. The Performance tab gives us control over the
geometry calculating methods. The Layers and PostProcessing tabs will be described together in the
postproduction steps b.
3D Art & Design


Architectural visualisation

The shading system

After adapting the basics of rendering systems, its time for materials

03The Integrator tab

Ive purposefully omitted one

of the tabs to better describe it now. The Integrator
tab contains the most important rendering settings. Sample
sliders control the noise levels of the nal or preview images.
If the value is set to 0, the rendering would continue forever.
This works quite well for the previews and youd rarely need
to go above 1,000 for nal images (with proper scene setup).
Transparency, Bounces and Light Path settings refer to
various Global Illumination attributes and I wont cover them
in detail. Id suggest decreasing the Light Path bounces to
eight and switching on the No Caustics option. This setup
never failed me when I needed a noiseless image in a
reasonable time c.

Problems and solutions

The Cycles rendering system doesnt really have many options to tweak but requires some
time and individual testing before it achieves nice and noiseless images. I recommend nding
some additional information on the internet about how the unbiased rendering engines work
and what rendering or lighting conditions might be troublesome. As most of the unbiased
renderers work pretty much the same, reading articles regarding other applications is useful.
In the last tutorial I briey mentioned that Cycles works on a node-based material system,
which might seem a little bit confusing in the beginning, but later turns out to be very
intuitive and exible. The key to understanding the main concept of this system is knowing
that by joining the nodes inside the editor, we add specic attributes to the base material. For
instance, if we create a simple Difuse shader, we can mix it with an unlimited number of any
other kind of other shaders glossy, glass or translucent. By using more advanced nodes, we
can switch of the materials visibility in reections or camera. The possibilities are unlimited
and in the next few steps Ill describe the most important shaders and nodes in Cycles.


The Difuse shader Difuse is the simplest shader

you can use in most of the rendering packages. Its

helpful to consider it as a perfect matte layer of the material
youre working on. You can determine its colour by applying
a specic image texture or assigning RGB values for any
particular tint d.

05The Glossy shader

This shader can be regarded as a perfectly reective material such

as polished metal, or as a coating layer that can be added to difuse material. This shader
has an additional attribute called Roughness which determines the blur amount of the
reections. We can apply image textures to determine both the glossy colour and Roughness
factor. Brighter values will give the stronger and sharper reections, just as darker colours would
result in weaker and more blurry ones e.

06The Mix Shader

The Mix Shader is one of the most important nodes available in

Cycles. It enables us to join two independent shaders based on the Fac value. By default
its set to 0.5, which means that materials will be mixed in equal proportions. Various nodes can
be plugged into the Fac slot; for instance, we can use a procedural noise texture to randomly
mix shaders together f.

96 3D Art & Design

c Set viewport Shading Mode to

Rendered for real-time preview
d The Difuse shader with image
texture and mapping nodes
e Examples of Glossy shaders
f Glass/Difuse shaders mixed
using noise procedural texture

Apply the fnishing touches

Custom shaders and materials

Create your own assets to suit your piece

Glass shader

Transparent shader

07Transparent shaders

Translucent shader

There are three diferent

transparency shaders in Cycles. The Transparent
Shader is simple as its opacity is determined by colour
(white equals 100% transparency) and can be used in
creating alpha transparency. The Translucent shader can be
used for creating the matte transparency efect, visible for
instance on paper surfaces. The last is the Glass shader,
which has a Roughness value determining the blur intensity.
IOR value generates the refractions in the glass volume g.

In summary
With the basic but solid knowledge of the most important
shaders and material nodes, you should now be ready to
build your own materials. Before you start, its important to
know exactly what you would like to achieve. Take a grass
strand for example. If we were to examine it close enough,
wed see that it has two diferent shaders Translucent and
Difuse mixed together. After even closer examination wed
notice that each strand has some value of Glossy shader
added but with quite blurry roughness. By examining the
world around you and applying CG terminology, you can
better understand the processes inside 3D applications.
In these few steps I wasnt able to cover all the aspects of
the shading system, such as light-emitting shaders or bump
mapping, but Ive prepared some basic shaders for your
personal use and further studies on the disc.
g Examples of three diferent types
of transparency shaders
h A more complex setup where
colours are used to control the
Fresnel efect

i Two examples of using diferent

shaders and a Geometry node
with Backfacing applied
j Similar settings can be tweaked
for each selected mesh. Go to
Object Options and check the
Ray Visibility tab

08Fresnel and Layer Weight nodes

Now lets move to

Input nodes. The Fresnel node is one of the most
important when it comes to creating realistic-looking materials.
By plugging it into the Fac pin in the Mix Shader, we can now
determine the viewing angle from which one of the mixed
shaders would be visible. The Layer Weight node works
similarly but gives you even more control over this efect, so try
both of them when preparing your own materials h.

09Create a two-sided material

To create a grass or leaves shader, we can mix

Difuse and Translucent Shaders. When you look at leaves, you can see that they are
translucent on one side and more opaque on the other. To achieve this efect inside Cycles,
add a Geometry node from the Input group. By using the Backfacing property we can plug it
into the Fac slot, so each of the shaders is assigned to its own surface of the model i.

10The Light Path node

To enhance the materials even more lets now use a Light Path
node. Each of its pins, when plugged into the Fac slot of the Mix Shader, determines
what would happen to the second (bottom) shade. For instance, lets take two Difuse
shaders red and blue. Blue would be plugged to the upper slot and red to the bottom. If we
choose the Is Glossy Ray property and plug it into the Fac slot, the red Difuse shader will
now be visible in all glossy reections, but the basic material would still remain blue j.

Camera view with

selected border

11Border rendering

When preparing the shaders, you

might want to pre-render parts of the scene to check if
everything works. Press Shift+B in the 3D viewport and
select which region youd like to render. This is also useful for
noticing errors on the nal picture if the changes arent too
big, you can render the selected region instead of the whole
picture and later merge them in Photoshop. To disable
bordering select the outline of the camera k.
3D Art & Design


Architectural visualisation

Postproduction stages
Prepare your piece for rendering
Lech Sokoowski

Im an architect by education and 3D artist by passion.

Since my youth I have been interested in various forms
of expression, especially drawing. My adventure with
3D graphics started during my studies and Ive quickly
fallen into it. Currently I run my own 3D graphics
studio, NoTriangle, and live a happy life in a quiet,
mellow region in east Poland.

12Material ID

Quite often
objects on nal
renderings have a diferent tint,
saturation or values than
expected. Masking them in
Photoshop may take time so
well use render layers instead.
In the Rendering panel, go to
the Layers tab and enable the
Material Index option. Now
open the Material panel, go to
Settings and change the Pass
Index to any suitable number.
Repeat this process for every
material youd like to have
masked out l.

13Final rendering setup

Car environment 3ds Max, V-Ray (2012)

An image from a set of 3D environments weve prepared specially

for car renderings. This kind of scene can easily be used for
commercial animations or other forms of visual presentation.

With all objects, materials

and the camera set up, we can run the nal render.
Settings used for this scene are simple. A more important
issue is the GPUs RAM. For the best performance, I
recommend switching of the viewports and restarting
Blender. This way we purge the RAM so it can be freely
used during the rendering. For this project I was using an
NVIDIA GTX 560 with 2GB of RAM m.

l Note that render layers are

available only in the latest
Blender build (2.62)
m Bigger resolutions increase
GPU RAM usage
n An easy way of merging two
separate material masks
o A quick guide on how to use
the Material_ID le
p Schematic showing how to
extract a Z-Depth pass inside
the Compositing Node editor
q Small comparison of the raw
rendering and nal picture

VFX Studio Blender, Cycles, Photoshop (2012)

Image showing the inside view of the conceptual project for a VFX
studio located in our city. Both the renderings and interior design
were created in our studio.

A frame from a short animation project commissioned by a client

for educational purposes.

98 3D Art & Design

In these nal steps well
learn how to extract
Material ID passes and
use them in
postprocessing along with
some useful techniques
of turning your raw
rendering into a quality
nal image.

Render layers together

with Material Index pass

14Save the outputs

Checkmate Blender, Cycles (2012)

To extract Material ID, switch to Compositing Nodes. Hit Cmd/

Ctrl+A and add an ID Mask node from the Convertor group. Connect it to the
IndexMA slot in a Render Layers node. Add and connect a Viewer node for a preview and
change the Index number to view masked material. Colorise each mask and merge them
together using a Color Mix node. To save the masked output, plug in a Composite instead of
a Viewer node and save the image in the rendering window. You can revert to the raw
rendering by plugging the Composite node into the Image slot in the Render Layers node n.

Apply the fnishing touches


The final steps

Make selections and final adjustments within Photoshop

render tim
3,200 x 2,00 :


1 Select the layer

2 Use Magic Wand tool
3 Click on the element

4 Select background
and hit Cmd/Ctrl+J
5 Hide unwanted layers

15Enhance the rendering

Now move to Photoshop.

Start by importing the raw rendering and Material
ID image and merge them. To generate a selection, use
the Magic Wand tool on the Material ID image, switch to
the rendered image and hit Cmd/Ctrl+J. This will save the
selection as a new layer that can be freely modied and
adjusted. After adjusting all of the materials, paint some
light rays and create mood by using a standard brush o.

16Gain an aerial perspective

By using a Z-Depth
pass right from Blenders node editor we can create
some perspective. Objects in the background will have a
tint similar to the colours of the sky and overall
illumination. A Z-Depth pass wont support the alpha
transparency applied on leaves for example, so apply
carefully so as not to generate any bordering issues p.

17Colour grading

but not least is the
colour grading. I used various
adjustment layers, starting
with Curves and two Color
Balance layers to create both
warm cold tints and masked
them precisely. Next I added
a Vibrance layer to control
the images saturation. Final
touches involved creating an
additional Exposure layer to
brighten up the foreground
slightly and one more Color
Balance layer for the nal tint.
Last I merged everything
together and applied a Smart
Sharpen lter to enhance the
overall detail q.


Even though this whole

tutorial was separated
into three quite big
chapters, were sure you
can appreciate that a lot
more could still have been
added. I trust you
understand it was quite
challenging to cover every
single aspect of the image
weve created here, but
even so, I really hope that
with this series many of
you have been inspired
to try Blender for
yourselves. Best wishes
and happy blending!
3D Art & Design


Architectural visualisation

Create superior interiors

Vintage bedroom 2012
Take your arch-vis skills to the next
level, using 3D and 2D techniques to
create a dramatic bedroom interior
Eugenio Garcia Villarreal is a 3D generalist who
focuses on environments and product shots. Hes also
the co-founder of D10Studio

Artist info

3D artists explain the

techniques behind
their amazing artwork

Eugenio Garcia
Username: artecnl
Personal portfolio site
Country Mexico
Software used LightWave 11,
Photoshop, ZBrush
Expertise Eugenio is a 3D artist
specialising in environments,
texturing and product shots. He
uses a combination of 3D and
2D techniques in his work

his tutorial will show you how to create an interior

bedroom scene, focusing on texturing, cloth
simulation and lighting. Youll learn techniques I
have developed throughout my career as a 3D artist,
including basic modelling using essential LightWave
Modeler tools, and the best way to nd good textures with
complementary maps, such as Bump and Displacement.
Well also focus on lighting and how to make warm scenes
with contrast to achieve a dramatic mood. Well also tackle
the compositing process, exploring some of my favourite
techniques to ne-tune details, using colour correction,
masks, textures as well as simple matte-painting techniques.
Id like to thank Alejandro Tello, a talented artist at
D10Studio who helped me with the nal colour correction.

100 3D Art & Design

This scene is inspired by vintage-style
bedrooms that heavily feature antique
materials such as worn wood, exposed brick
walls and aged paintwork. The idea behind this
project is to capture an image with a dramatic
mood through careful texturing, efective cloth
simulation and atmospheric lighting to create a
warm, lived-in environment.

Research and sketch

Explore the perfect shot for your scene

01 Start with a sketch


I use basic 3D shapes to

create a quick 3D sketch. This
will help me with the nal
compositing later on, as I can
touch up this 3D base in
Photoshop to add objects and
atmosphere. Along with an
initial sketch, this will give us a
solid base for the project a.

Create superior interiors

Bed and lamp OBJ models

plus MTL les
Tutorial screenshots
LightWave shortcuts PDF
Also with the disc:
High-quality 3D book models
courtesy of

Software used in this piece




Be practical
When I model objects for
a still image I try to add
details but not too
many, as I can do this
later on in Photoshop. An
example is the curtains: I
completed a simple spline
drawing, extruded in Y,
subdivided it and that
was basically it. Ill can
use the Liquify tool in
Photoshop to create the
organic cloth folds. With
time-saving tricks like
these you can be practical
and nish the job in a
fraction of the time, with
all the same results of 3D,
with respective limits.
A Create a basic sketch to nd the
right composition
b Models are kept very simple, as
shaders and textures will
improve them later
c The Spline Guide helps you to
bend, twist and change scales

02 Time to model

In my workow I tend to use basic box

modelling, cylinders and primitives. For bed clothes I use
subdivided box planes. For the bed and window decoration I work
with Spline Guides using the Rail Extrude tool. Its also a great idea
to reuse old models when you can, such as the petrol lamp and the
radio in this scene. For the chair I follow a simple spline and
box-modelling workow b.

03 Move to LightWave Modeler

I always use the

Spline Guide in the Modify tab, as its great for bending
objects, stretching and twisting. Rail Extrude, in conjunction with
the Spline Guide, is also a great time-saving tool. I use the Bandsaw
tool to subdivide along with the Knife and Bend tools. Using
shortcuts is a big help learn them if you want to save time. Youll
nd a PDF of my top shortcuts supplied with this tutorial C.
3D Art & Design


Architectural visualisation

Get stuck into modelling

Find your own working method with LightWaves Modeler tools

04 Use the Rail Extrude tool

I model the bed using

splines. This is a great trick in LightWave, as you simply
draw the pattern and use the Rail Extrude tool to extrude a cylinder.
Remember to use only the front face of the cylinder. I put the spline
in a background layer and the face at the beginning of the spline,
then simply click on the bent tubes. I repeat this for all the patterns
of the bed frame d.

05 Research your textures

I always recommend using texture sites most of them have a

free quota of textures. Personally, I have a membership with, which gives
me a quota of 100MB of textures a day. This is more than enough for a single 3D artist so I suggest
you give it a look. For this scene, I choose a basic brick texture, a couple of wood maps, white plaster
and some cloth textures. These are only small textures, as well make the magic happen later when we
get into Photoshop e.

06 Tile your textures

When you nd a nice texture, you

may discover that it wont make useful tiles to cover the
area you want to texture. A good way to get around this is to use
the Ofset tool in Photoshop, which youll nd in the Filters tab.
Simply make a vertical and horizontal ofset to create a good centre
for the seams of the texture. You should nd that by using the
Clone Stamp tool you can get
rid of the excess seams. Move
the Ofset tool again and try to
use a round brush with your
Clone Stamp tool for really
precise results f.

d The Rail Extrude is an incredible

time-saving tool
e helped me
with the texture hunt for this
particular scene
f Photoshops Ofset tool is the
key to success for tiled textures

Eugenio Garcia Villarreal

Eugenio Garcia Villarreal is an artist living

and working in Mexico who taught himself
3D techniques by reading tutorials and
watching video guides. Hes now the
co-founder of D10Studio, a digital agency in
Mexico, and he boasts a degree in Graphic
Design. He loves art, illustration and cars,
and specialises in environments,
texturing and product shots.

102 3D Art & Design

Detectives Ofce LightWave, Photoshop (2011)

This was created for issue 28 of 3D Artist magazine.

The scene is based on a stereotypical old detectives
ofce. It involved a lot of 3D modelling and post work

Real de Catorce LightWave, Photoshop (2008)

Created after Eugenios travels to Real de Catorce, a

town in Mexico, he wanted to capture the incredible
mood of the desert sunsets he saw there

Create superior interiors


Play with
For a long time contrast
has been used to make
images more interesting,
as it helps the eye to
explore the complete
image. Plain light is your
enemy! The use of good
contrast is eye-candy, as
it can be applied to light,
dark and colour
temperature, as well as
the concentration of mass
objects too. With this
scene I use contrast to
create depth and a warm
environment. You can
experiment with this in
3D using linear grading
lights. Textures will help
with this a lot too.
g UV texture sheets make the
texturing job very easy


h Youll need a lot of patience with

ClothFX, but in the end youll
have great results

UV texture sheets This is an easy task. Before

running the cloth simulation, we need to UV-map the bed

sheets. I basically create a box with lots of subdivisions, then use
the basic planar texture UV-mapping. I export the EPS le too, so I
can work on it later in Photoshop. This will facilitate you when you
run the simulations and export a transformed object. The sheets
will look great with folds and a decent texture g.

08 Basic cloth simulation

i I bring in all the depth

information with Photoshop,
desaturating and playing with
the levels

j Experiment with diferent focal

lengths to get the right look

LightWaves ClothFX can

often cause several headaches but dont worry, you just
need to nd that sweet spot with all the variables. Its like polishing
a rough model. All I do is use the ClothFX tool with a rectangle
thats the shape of a mattress to run the simulations on. I make
around 40 simulations until I nd a nice one simply select the
object and save the frame you like as a transformed object, and
youre done. You now have your blank sheets. The best part of all is
that theyre UV-mapped and ready for the textures and
Displacement maps h.

09 Use Displacement maps

I create a black-and-white conversion in the brick texture

map, then add a Gaussian blur. This will make a good Displacement map combined with the
detailed sharpen texture. This is in the Deform options in the Properties tab on the wall object. Apply a
sub-patch to the wall in Modeler, then in Layout you can increase the subdivision level. I add 60 to the
Sub-level to get nice details in the map. Clone the wall plane four times to get the full efect. To avoid
freezing frames you can add the subdivision level increase in the render, not in the GPU display i.

10 Composition and camera setup

Since I already
have my sketch, I just move the focal length of the camera
to 35mm. I want to make the chair and window my main objects,
so I move them to get a nice distribution. Good contrast in light/
temperature and distribution is needed. The brightest parts of the
image are less crowded and the dark areas have lots of objects j.

NY Street LightWave, Photoshop (2011)

An image created for an old project, inspired by the streets of

New York. This one was completed after around four days of
modelling. The cab is the only model not created by Eugenio

3D Art & Design


Architectural visualisation

Let there be light

Lets render, colour correct and finish up our scene

11 Set up the scenes lighting

As mentioned, contrast is
the key to a good image. I use basic area lights in this scene,
putting one in the window position and enlarging it to get the same
size. I also add a Linear Mode to the light with 300% Intensity and
enlarge the gradient. VPR is a good way to see the increase of the
light in real-time. Youll nd FPrime is also a handy real-time tool k.

12 Add textures and shaders

I use the main textures

combined with shaders mostly preset in LightWave. For the
bed I use a simple black shader with Reections at 15%. The oor
is reective too, so 15% gives a good-looking glossy nish. The
wood on the columns and furniture has a Bump map at 200% to
get a nice, rough texture. The bed has Bump and Color maps too
and all the books are sourced images of simple boxes. You can
later touch up the complete scene to get more texture details l.

13 Sculpt in ZBrush

I create two objects in ZBrush: the

glass sculpture and the cookies. I export an OBJ base mesh
from LightWave Modeler and import it into ZBrush, subdividing
the geometry and using standard brushes to sculpt. For the cookie
object I use a crumpled Alpha with the Standard brush, combined
with the Move tool. For the sculpture, I use the Drag brush to apply
patterned shapes. I later export all to LightWave, with a high
polygon count m.

k Linear light helps to create nice
contrast in the scene

l Surfaces with no texture can be

given 3D shaders

m ZBrush is a great program it

can help a lot with organic and
sculptural objects

Keep it

104 3D Art & Design

In 3D we usually prefer to
be as clean and perfect as
possible, but we also
need to see the nature of
objects. Its the little
imperfections that make
an object real, such as
burnt marks in a wooden
plank, aged efects on
walls, rounded, cool, worn
objects and so on. Just try
to imagine the story of
every object and what
may have afected it over
time. Take the oor for
instance: think about how
many people pass over it,
where they put their feet
and work out where the
worn textures should go.
This will make your work
even more believable.

Create superior interiors

Render and post work

Give your image a boost in these final stages

14 Colour correction

Opening the render in Photoshop, I

adjust the levels and experiment with the values. I nd the
raw render a little plain, so I focus on getting more contrast and
take out some of the reddish tone. Next I use HDR Toning on the
image, make a photorealistic pass and put that layer over the
colour-corrected one. I change the opacity and set it to Overlay
mode. To nish this stage, I mask the HDR-converted image and
use a Round brush to bring out the light details, such as reections
and areas of contrast n.


eation tim

7,534 x 3,304:

15 Matte-painting techniques

Well bring some extra

details into the scene, such as the red fabric on the top of
the shelf, crumbs from the cookies and so on. A cracked texture on
the white wall is also added in Overlay mode in Photoshop. Plants
outside are textures that are overexposed to match the light o.

16 Final details

Little details are added now, using the

Dodge and Burn tools to make more contrast. I use the Burn
tool behind the beams and at the edges of the image. Im trying to
mimic the efect of being in a dark room and suddenly entering one
with a strong source of light. When this happens you only can see
limited aspects of the dark spaces. Some glows are also added with
a large round brush. I add this on a top layer, so I can easily
transform its scale p.

17 Colour correction and HDR ltering

As in the
previous stage, I make another pass of photorealistic HDR
toning now. Using masks to bring more details in, I put some
yellowish colour in the light source and nally sign the image. This
project has been a great exercise in exploring light and texture. I
hope youll be able to apply these skills to your own projects q.

Render setup
For the nal render I use LightWaves
rendering engine with Adaptive Sampling set
to a level range of 12-12 with Classic
Reconstruction lter and a low-discrepancy
Sampling Pattern. The radiosity is Monte
Carlo with three bounces in the nal render.
The nal resolution of the image is 7,534 x
3,304 pixels, rendered using F9 and saved as
32-bit TGA les.

n Try to get some nice contrast at
this stage it will be the base of
all the nal details

p Use your Transform tool to

increase the size of the glow,
setting a warm tone

o You could add details innitely,

so you need to focus on the
primary ones for times sake

q HDR Toning is a great tool if you

know how to combine it with
your base image
3D Art & Design


Architectural visualisation

Tutorial les:
Tutorial screenshots

Design interactive interiors

Discover a few of Roald Hyer-Hansens tricks for
creating interactive interior scenes with Unity

very once in a while artists should take

the plunge and give up their favourite
tools. Tasks that were once so easy to
solve will become incredibly hard to complete,
forcing your brain to come up with new
solutions for all sorts of problems. This is really
what this tutorial is about: learning the
possibilities of a limited tool namely the free
version of the Unity game engine.
Having used the professional version of this
excellent engine for the last ve years, I have
learnt how to complete tasks in a moreadvanced way. Previously dull and at-looking
scenes instantly get a massive visual boost just
by adding a couple of image efects and some
nice-looking, light-mapped global illumination.
Sloppy and poorly optimised models receive
the Umbra Occlusion treatment, which means

106 3D Art & Design

that they will run silky smooth, even on your

mobile device.
This way of working can be excused in a
hectic work environment with looming
deadlines behind every corner, but what would
happen if your favourite tools suddenly
disappeared? What would you do if Tool A
was no longer accessible and your beloved
Tool B was nowhere to be found? How would
you react if your workow was turned upside
down? This very scenario is pretty much what
Ill be covering.
Lets start by comparing the limited free
version with the feature-packed professional
edition of Unity. Unfortunately, most of the
features aimed at artists are stripped from the
free version of the engine and the few features
that are left are pretty limited in terms of visual

delity. Gone are all the handy image efects

and real-time shadows are efectively disabled.
Lightmapping is still there, but without the
more advanced global illumination, and with its
bouncing photons and bleeding pixels. You can
also kiss goodbye to visible Normal maps in
lightmapped scenes, as the Directional
lightmap feature is greyed out. Optimisationwise, both Umbra Occlusion and the mighty
Proler are taken away, but thankfully we still
have the Level of Detail functionality. Youre
probably thinking this all sounds pretty drastic.
Is it possible to create something visually on a
par with the Pro version with all these powerful
features taken away? It certainly is, but it will
require some workarounds, clever thinking and
a lot of patience. So lets see how far we can
take this.
As this is a Unity-focused tutorial, I wont go
into detail about creating assets, but one
important thing to keep in mind when
preparing these is the addition of a secondary

Design interactive interiors

UV channel. This will be used to store
lightmap information inside Unity and it will
save you a lot of time later in the process.
Unity can generate secondary UV channels
for you during the import, but if you want
complete control I suggest spending some
time creating these yourself. I also suggest
making a separate low-resolution collision
mesh for the sake of optimisation. Unity
can generate collision geometry during
import too, but this will be based on the
imported mesh and will afect the
performance of your project.
Being limited to only the core tools in
Unity can actually be a good thing. Not only
do you have to change the way you work,
but you have to come up with alternative
techniques to solve problems. The lack of
global illumination makes it extremely hard
to create nicely lit scenes, but a custom GI
rig can certainly do the trick to solve this.
For this project the rig was made using a
bunch of dummy objects that were
snapped to the vertices of a dome in 3ds
Max. In Unity these dummy objects are
then given a shadow-casting Point light
component. By tweaking the Intensity,
Range and Color of these, a surprisingly
usable GI solution can be made. Combined
with coloured lights used to fake colour
bouncing in the scene, this method
appeared to work incredibly well.
With no way of faking the image efects
found in the Pro version, getting the most
out of the materials was a priority in this
project. For added depth, most of the
textures were given an Ambient Occlusion
pass inside 3ds Max. Some Normal maps
were also generated, but since the free
version of Unity doesnt support Directional
lightmaps, most of the Normal map detail

Find your inspiration

The main source of inspiration for this tutorial is Bookbox Loft, a
modern apartment by mode:lina (www.modelina-architekci.
com). Be sure to ask for permission before starting a project like
this. I was given the go-ahead by mode:lina, which meant I
could start the project with peace of mind. Using various
reference photos from the website to build the assets in 3ds
Max, I mainly used traditional box-modelling techniques
together with some spline modelling for the walls and wooden
mouldings. Most textures have been hand-made or mixed with
the excellent free textures from

a Even without the

advanced features,
the free version of
Unity can produce
nice visuals

b A fake GI setup

makes it possible
to create realistic
lighting in the free
version of Unity

c Careful attention

to details can have

a stronger impact
than a bunch of
image efects

disappeared when Lightmapping. To solve

this, most of the objects were given either a
Bumped Specular or a Reective Bumped
Specular material. These Reective material
types work very well with Normal maps. By
carefully tweaking the Alpha channels of
these textures, they can end up looking
pretty convincing.
Since the free version of Unity isnt
capable of antialiasing, sharp and jagged
edges can make your eyes bleed. These will
always be visible when running the game/
simulation, but in screenshots we can get
rid of them. By using a custom script we
can render out high-resolution screenshots
from the camera and when we downscale
them back to a normal size most of the
nasty edges will be smoothed out.
All in all, you get more than you pay for
with the free version of Unity. It certainly
lacks most of the cutting-edge features
found in its big brother. However, by
thinking outside of the box and coming up
with new methods Ive enjoyed spending
time with the little brother for this project.
3D Art & Design


Architectural visualisation


Import assets into Unity In

Lets push the limits of the

free version of Unity

Unity, importing geometry and

other assets is a matter of dragging and
dropping from either Windows Explorer or
Finder into Unitys Hierarchy panel. For this
project well be sure to import all textures
prior to the geometry, as Unity can
sometimes struggle to locate these if done
the other way around. Somehow, Unity
imports objects with a Scale Factor of 0.01,
so changing this to 1.0 makes our scale
correct. For this scene we also need a
Skybox and a First Person Controller, so
Ctrl/right-click in the Project panel to import
these using the Import Package option f.



d Exporting the

entire model as
one chunk isnt
always the best
way, but somehow
it worked ne for
this project

e Creating custom

collision geometry
will make your
CPU happy

f Scale, automatic

secondary UVs
and collision
geometry can all
be found in the
Import settings

g The Skybox does

not emit any light,

as its only there
for the visuals

h Using a simple GI

rig, we can
produce at least
some semirealistic lighting in
the scene

i With the lighting

setup used here,

even the interiors
corners get nice
and even shades

108 3D Art & Design

Prepare to export Before

exporting your models to Unity, you

should make sure the scale is correct.
When Lightmapping your models, you
should have a second UV channel assigned
for the best results. This is not strictly
necessary, as Unity can do this
automatically for you during the import.
However, you will nd that completing this
manually will both speed up the modelimport process and optimise the lightmaps.
Often it can be necessary to adjust and
clean up the lightmaps after a bake, so if
you want full control, custom secondary
UVs are a must d.


Add collision geometry When

making models for videogames

and interactive media in general, every
frame counts. Youll nd that creating a
separate low-resolution model to act as
collision geometry will denitely make for a
better and smoother experience. For this
scene, around 30 regular boxes did the job,
which meant that instead of calculating the
distance to thousands of triangles every
frame, the First Person Controller inside
Unity would only have to calculate a couple
of hundred maximum e.

Ambient colour and the

Skybox element Strangely

enough, the default ambient colour in Unity

is set to grey. This will make your scenes
very at, so by going to Edit>Render
Settings this can be changed to a darker
value. In the Render settings we can also
choose a regular sunny Skybox. Getting the
geometry in the scene is just a matter of
dragging the models into the Hierarchy
panel or straight into the scene view itself.
Its recommended that you use the
Hierarchy, though, as the geometry will be
placed directly in the centre of the scene
based on the world position the geometry
was exported from g.


Let there be light With the

apartment geometry in our scene

its time to brighten it up a little, so rst well
create a Directional light by going to
GameObject>Create Other>Directional
Light. This is basically the sun and will often
set the general mood of the scene. As the
free version of Unity doesnt support global
illumination, well use an old-school fake GI
setup. Use a prefab for the indoor lights,
combining a regular Point light and a lamp
model exported separately. Making a light
prefab like this will certainly speed up the
lighting of the scene, as the changes made
to one light can be transferred to all the
other prefabs h.


Lightmap the scene When all

the lights are placed in the scene,

its time to perform some lightmap magic.
The rst thing we need to do is mark all the
geometry we want to use in the lightmap
calculation as Static, which in this case
means pretty much everything except the
collision geometry. Next we open the
Lightmapping window, accessed through
Window>Lightmapping, setting the Quality

Design interactive interiors

Use Cubemap Maker
For the reective surfaces in the apartment, all the Cubemap
Textures are generated using the excellent Cubemap Maker
plug-in. This free utility makes it very easy to create Cubemap
Textures for the various rooms in the apartment. All I need to do
is place a Cubemap Maker prefab where I want the reections to
be calculated from and then press F12 during Play mode to
capture the Cubemaps. Usually creating so many custom
Cubemaps is an example of overkill, but for smaller scenes like
this one they add some much-needed realism. The plug-in can
be downloaded from
to Low and the Resolution to a very low
value (5) for quick test bakes. When we
nally nd the perfect mix of fake GI,
sunlight and indoor lighting, we can boost
the resolution, get a cup of cofee and wait
for the nal bake to nish i.


Adjust the materials When we

have a nicely lit scene, its time to
dive into the world of materials and
shaders. The reason we do this after
Lightmapping the scene is because well be
creating some Cubemap Textures based on
the diferent rooms in the apartment. These
Cubemap Textures will give us nice
reective surfaces, so they should be based
on a scene that is properly lit. By default, all
imported materials in Unity are plain
Difuse, but for this scene most of the
materials will be changed into Reective
and/or Bump Specular surfaces j.

Create a custom GI
rig in 3ds Max
To create a custom GI rig we only need
a half sphere and plenty of dummy
objects. After creating the sphere and
removing the bottom part, its just a
matter of snapping the dummy objects
to the vertices of the sphere. When all
dummies are in place, these should be
parented to the sphere before exporting
to FBX. In Unity the next step is to
disable the Mesh Renderer of the
sphere, select all the dummy objects
and give them all a Light component
with a Shadow Radius of 2. By adjusting
the Scale of the sphere, as well as the
Range and Intensity of the lights, we
now have a fully functional GI rig.


The rst steps To be able to

walk around in our scene well use
Unitys standard First Person Controller. By
dragging the Controllers prefab into the
Hierarchy, we are ready to take our rst
steps inside the apartment. By default, the
Walk Speed and Mouse Sensitivity are a
tad too high, so tuning these values down
will give us nice uid motion. For this
particular scene, the FPS camera was
lowered a bit, the jumping was disabled and
the Radius of the Capsule Collider was
scaled down considerably k.


Remove lightmap noise Even

though the custom GI rig seemed
to work pretty well, it did produce some
visible noise in the lightmaps. To quickly x
this, we can open up our lightmaps with
Photoshop and use the Surface Blur lter
found under Filter>Blur>Surface Blur. Now
we can really see the benets of our
secondary UV channels, as the UV islands
in our lightmaps are nicely arranged and
easy to modify l.


Export the scene With our

scene pretty much nished, we are
now ready to show it of to the rest of the
world. Unity can export to a multitude of
formats by opening the Build Settings
(File>Build Settings). Exporting the project
as a Unity Web Player seems to be the
perfect option if you plan for the project to
be shared with others. Using a simple
script, we can also capture super-highresolution screenshots of our project and
send these straight to the printing press.
We can also opt to scale them down again
for some fake antialiasing m.

j Using Cubemap

Textures can
result in nice
reective surfaces

k We can use the

standard First
Person Controller
to enter our scene.
This is a good way
to scrutinise detail

l Lightmap UV

islands being
cleaned using the
Surface Blur lter
in Photoshop

m When exporting

the scene as a
Unity Web Player,
it can be viewed in
a web browser

3D Art & Design


Architectural visualisation

Plant & buttery models

(.max format) with maps
Ivy Generator preset (.ivy)
Video overview (.avi)

Learn to create you

r ow
plants for enriched n photorealistic
arch-vis scenes

Artist info

Easy-to-follow guides
take you from concept
to the nal render

Pawe Podwojewski

Software used in this piece

3ds Max

110 3D Art & Design




Personal portfolio site
Country Poland
Software used
3ds Max, V-Ray, Unfold3D,
Expertise Pawe believes his
strongest skills lie in lighting
and compositing

Build unique arch-vis assets

Build unique
arch-vis assets

The main idea is to create a plant model in a few
steps that will add extra detail to your arch-vis
scenes. The skills covered are designed to help
you build your own reference library of assets to
use time and again in your scenes and give them
a unique touch. To keep things efcient I will be
using techniques in 3ds Max and with plug-ins
that are available for free online where possible.

Urban Survivor 2012

Create a plant model that can be easily reused in archvis scenes to enrich your environments
Pawe Podwojewski is an architect and CG artist, specialising in architectural visualisations

n this tutorial you will learn how to create realistic-looking plants with simple tools that will
enrich your arch-vis scenes and bring a unique touch to the nal output. We will go through
planning the model and learn how to model, shade, render and nally retouch our image. We will
also take a quick look at basic particle systems for extra details.

References and inspirations

Choose your references, prepare photos and establish a concept

02Create a base for future textures

Try to shoot leaves in orthogonal view on an

evenly lit surface. Make sure you dont have any strong
shadows this will be very helpful when creating the
textures in the later steps B.

03Key elements in the scene

01Shoot the mood

Creating nature in 3D is a great challenge, which makes it crucial to focus your early
stages on nding good references. We strongly recommend grabbing a camera even if its on your mobile
phone or another device and shoot photos. This will give you a much better understanding of the subject and you
will notice much more detail than when looking at images on the internet a.
a Create your own references. By shooting your
own photos you will remember more detail

b Shoot your references in

orthogonal view

c Create detailed textures by scanning

key elements

Once you
have all your necessary photographs you can
prepare extra detail for the key elements. In this case,
the leaves will be in our focal point. We have taken two
samples of leaves and made a simple scan. Using
Photoshop in the next steps we will create all our
relevant maps. Good quality images will let you render
the created models even on close-ups, which may be a
very good way to frame your architectural scene and
focus the viewer on certain parts of the image c.
3D Art & Design


Architectural visualisation

Model your assets

Start the modelling with simple shapes then move to the details

Begin the
modelling with
simple geometry

The stalk
after unwrapping
Create several
copies of the leaf
for a more random
and natural look

04Plant structure modelling

Lets start this step with a plane and a texture showing your
plant reference. Weve used splines to build the base structure. This is a crucial step that will
determine the nal plant appearance. Please be careful to work in real-world units to keep the proper
scale of elements. Its very important for physically-correct light distribution while rendering and
rening the scene with Particle Flow. Try to build a low-poly mesh and keep the MeshSmooth as a
modier. This will let you easily edit the model in the next steps when you decide to change, for
example, the composition. Relatively low- or mid-poly models will be easier to use in more complex
scenes and will also save memory while rendering. Remember, your workstation processing power is
always limited and we are working on details that should be easy to use and not stress your GPU d.

05Leaves and stalks

For unwrapping the stalk well use

the Unfold tool. This is a simple and easy-to-use interface
for the unwrapping process. Well build the leaves in full geometry,
because without Opacity maps the leaf will render faster. This is
also important because we want to add extra details with a Particle
Flow system, so the particles in this case will stay exactly on the
leaf surface. In the case of using an Opacity map and plate
geometry leaves, this trick might not work and some of the
particles will possibly stay outside of the leaf. Start the model with
a low-poly mesh. Make sure to use modiers to create a couple of
copies of the same leaf for a more random and natural look ef.

Prepare the UVW

template for
future textures

06Extra leaf details and unwrapping

While aiming for very realistic efects, we may

want to add some splines underneath the leaf to create veins. To do this, select the main
edges of your veins in the low-poly model and detach to shape. Add the Normalize Spline modier and
copy the modiers we added in the previous step to the leaf. This will guarantee the spline will
perfectly t the leaf surface. Once you have the model complete, go back to the editable poly level and
add Unwrap. Go to Edit mode, select Planar mapping, pack the UVW and choose the render UVW
template from Tools. This will be the template we will use in Photoshop for texture creation g.

Shoot your own references

Working with your own photos has a huge advantage. You
can choose exactly the details you want for model creation.
However, sometimes its impossible to shoot what you
want. In these cases there are very helpful resources you
can nd online, such as CG Textures (www.cgtextures.
com) and Shutterstock (

Pawe Podwojewski
An architect by profession and 3D artist
by passion, Pawes designs and
concepts are inuenced by architecture
from various industries, including
retail, residential and commercial and
urban planning. In 2009 he started, an online service that
provides training for CG artists in the
form of video tutorials and workshops.

112 3D Art & Design

Underwater Hotels 3ds Max, V-Ray, Photoshop (2011)

Waterdiscus an underwater hotel. Pawe is the architect
behind the design and rendered concepts

Diving Centre 3ds Max, V-Ray, Photoshop (2011)

A concept sketch created for the Underwater Hotels
project in 2011

Build unique arch-vis assets

Get realistic and natural effects

Make detailed leaves quickly and easily

Once the
leaf models are nished we can
spend time placing them on the
plant. In this example we have
spread the leaves manually. To
prevent them from looking too
similar you can use a simple FFD
3 x 3 modier. A couple of mouse
clicks will rene your general
model look. On some leaves we
also want to add some dust and
seeds, which we can do using the
PArray particle system. Create the
PArray object and choose the leaf
model on which you want to create
particles. Play around with the
particle type, amount and size until
youre happy with the result. Set
the particle percent for the
viewport display to 100 to be sure
of the result. You can decrease this
value later to increase viewport
performance. This is also a simple
way to create water droplets h.

Try using Particle Flow

for extra details like
water droplets and dust

08Level of detail (LOD)

While working with detailed

geometry we should keep in mind not all elements will be
equally exposed. Smaller elements will be less visible and also
require less detail. To be sure youre heading in the right direction,
render a couple of previews; in this case the top leaves are much
simpler than the larger ones on the bottom i.

Choose the geometry

leaf type according to
size and exposure

Use shortcuts
When you really dont
have time and you
desperately need a plant
model, use the free Ivy
Generator (www. By
adjusting the settings, you
can achieve naturallooking plants in seconds.
j A quick plant creation using the
Ivy Generator
k Play with MassFX and create a
realistic ground

09Use shortcuts

In some cases well need to create a

bush or tree quickly. If youre not experienced with
software like Onyx or GrowFX you may want to use the free plug-in
Ivy Generator developed by GuruWare. This small plug-in lets you
quickly create typical ivy, but also when you play a bit with the
settings you can create great-looking plants. You can have a close
look at our settings by checking out the supplied preset in the
tutorial les. More importantly, you can create your own leaves
and use them with this plug-in too. This feature enables you to
create unique models fast j.

10Final details
Housing in France 3ds Max, V-Ray, Photoshop (2012)

A housing project in France by Nadau Lavergne studio located in

the Unesco-protected zone

Good-looking plants need a proper ground, so well create real geometric

branches. First we need mid-poly branches that can be scattered on the ground. We want
them to collide, so to create this simulation you can use MassFX in 3ds Max. Be sure to create a couple
of branches and then add the simulation to a few elements at once (otherwise you may cause 3ds Max
to crash). In the Settings of the Modify panel, you can choose a preset for the material. Also make sure
to choose the Mesh type as Original. This will make the calculation longer but also the efect will be
much more convincing. Details like bugs and butteries may also make a nice touch k.
3D Art & Design


Architectural visualisation

Shading and textures

Add some visceral detail for greater realism

11Stalk shading


Stalk material is very specic.

To create a physically correct
shader, choose VRayFastSSS2. The
light should travel through the
stalk, the same efect we can see
on human skin. This solution
makes sure we get similar results.
Since the stalk is pretty well
exposed, the decision is simple.
When you look at the shader in the
Material Editor youll see you can
choose from a bunch of presets l.

While painting textures,

note that the resolution
has a huge impact on the
nal efect. Its best to use
a tripod while shooting
images for crisper
reference. This will
enhance not only the
Difuse maps, but also the
conversion into
Displacement and
Normal maps. For
creating Normal maps,
you can use a free
Photoshop plug-in that
you can nd in the
Developer Zone on the
NVIDIA website.

12Paint leaf textures

Now well prepare our

UVW templates from earlier. Open
a template in Photoshop and t
scanned leaf images or
photographs. Be careful at the
edges, paint a little outside the
template to avoid strokes on leaf
borders while rendering. Once the
Difuse map is ready, create one
more for translucency and one for
the bump and reections. For the
displacement well paint a custom
map to increase the visibility of the
leaf veins m.

L We use the VRayFastSSS2

shader for translucent objects

m Paint extra Displacement maps

for higher-quality results

13Leaf shaders

Leaves are also a good

example for the VRayFastSSS2
material. To speed up rendering
well use translucency in the
default V-Ray material. Note you
need to add a Color map that will
afect the bottom part of the leaf
in the Translucency channel.
Usually it will be a slightly
brighter map than the Difuse
map. You can use a Color
Correct map to tweak the Difuse
map straight in 3ds Max. Enable
Translucency in the Material
Editor. Use a hybrid model with
Thickness set to 0,002m n.

14Light the scene


114 3D Art & Design

Well follow this scheme and use a

V-Ray dome light as the main light source. Inside the dome
well use a texture from CGSkies ( with a similar
atmosphere to the reference. Note that the dome light produces
realistic light rays and is very accurate. Its most likely youll receive
a little noise while rendering with low settings, but you can be
almost sure that no splotches will occur o.

Build unique arch-vis assets

Scene setup and final retouching crea5tiohours

Its time to set up the final scene

n tim
Resolution e
4,200 x 2,80 :

Now lets set up the

VRayPhysicalCamera. This camera enables you to control
the light in the same way as a real one. With the most interesting
features we can add motion blur and depth of eld. You must be
careful with sampling to keep decent rendering times. Please be
careful to select the Depth of Field box as well as the Motion Blur
and Bokeh efect. In Bokeh, change the Bias to 0.5. This makes the
bokeh circles brighter on the edges. Play around with the focal
distance until youre happy with the results. Work on a simple
shader to test the DOF and speed up rendering times p.

15Set up the camera

With physical DOF its much harder to work with masks in Photoshop
since a lot of elements are out of focus and the edges are blurry. What we can do in this case is
basic colour correction by tweaking the colour balance and contrast. Its best to use Curves for this
purpose. Use the Raw Reection Render element with Reection Filter as a mask to better control the
amount of reectivity on the leaves and other selected objects. Also use the FastSSS2 channel to
increase the translucent efect on stalk. You can add some noise for extra photorealism at the end r.

17The nal retouch

The rendering setup
is pretty simple. Use a GI Irradiance map and Light Cache
for secondary bounces. Use antialiasing as a default area lter and
linear colour mapping with Gamma set to 1.0. For better details use
the Adaptive DMC image sampler. The benets are especially
visible when you have a lot of tiny elements in your scene
(branches, in our case). Thinking about retouching, we should add
some extra channels like Raw Reections and Reections Filter. In
the nal steps well control the intensity of reective surfaces. We
use DOF inside V-Ray so masking with wire colour or multimatte is
now much more difcult q.

16Rendering and extra channels

Save time by using a

great composition
A good composition makes life a lot easier for CG artists.
When we plan a shot correctly we can drop lots of details
and at the same time convince the viewer about tons of
work that had to be invested to achieve such a result. Mind
the level of detail that should change on each ground. Think
about framing elements that may enhance the shot and
also link the viewers focus on a certain point on the image.

n Create leaves with translucency.

Achieve a photorealistic look
and decent rendering times
o A simple lighting setup with only
one dome light
p You have the option of playing
with depth of eld and bokeh
using the VRayPhysicalCamera
q Think about render elements
that will help you while in the
post-production stage
r Render elements are helpful
while nal retouching
3D Art & Design


Architectural visualisation

Artist info

Easy-to-follow guides
take you from concept
to the nal render

Sonia Foltarz
Personal portfolio site http://
Location Gdynia, Poland
Software used Photoshop
Expertise Sonia specialises in
computer graphics and concept
art. She loves drawing cartoon
character designs in 2D

116 3D Art & Design


My idea is essentially an
iceberg that combines
both architecture and
nature in an abstract way.
Re-creating this in 3D is
going to be quite a
challenge, but the nal
results should make it look
even more fantastical!

Fantasy arch vis

Fantasy arch vis

concept design
Breaking the ice 2012
Sonia Foltarz is a student in Poland currently exploring
her concept-design skills to build a portfolio

his concept is about combining architecture and

nature in a very abstract way. The design breaks the
rules of physics and rational thinking I doubt an
underwater iceberg building could ever actually exist but
thats what makes it so unique and mysterious. Its a great
challenge for a 3D artist to take on!

I nd it quite difcult to get a perfect icy look when depicting

an iceberg, so for this specic efect I use observational skills
and experimentation to create textures in Photoshop that work.
Another difculty I encounter while working on this concept is
showing the depth of the interior of the iceberg. Youll need to
play around with colours and diferent levels of opacity.

Create a concept
Define your ideas in Photoshop

Always imagine your 2D art from

a 3D artists perspective so you
can get the right shapes and
angles of the details


Research & make sketches To begin, I search for

lots of iceberg photos on the internet and decide how
I can present the project to be as visually tremendous as
possible. After a little trial and error, I decide to go for a
front-on view. Thanks to this adjustment I dont need to
change the sizes of windows and other small elements
because everything is more or less at the same angle. This
gives a clear view of my project for the 3D artist to follow a.


Find the right colours We need to realistically

colour our iceberg. I nd it useful to take a piece of
ice to see how it looks in diferent surroundings. Then in
Photoshop, I divide all levels and layers using foundation
colours, which later on help me develop the depth of my
piece. The dark-blue tone helps the perspective and
demonstrates the complexity of the interior the iceberg b.

Search for the best ways

to express your thoughts
in your concept art. Its
crucial to provide the 3D
artist with a clear idea of
the shapes and textures of
the things presented in
your artwork
Try to create your concept from
other views (front, profile and
angled). This is especially useful
when your project is complex and
overloaded with details. This helps
the 3D artist create it as
precisely as possible

a Make your sketch engaging and

clear for a 3D artist to follow

b Experiment with colour to gain

the ideal depth of your artwork

c Use opacity and light colours to

create a perfect glossiness


Lighting & particles Lighting is the hardest step in

this whole process. Ice has a specic glossiness that
makes it look somewhat translucent, so Im using a wide
range of custom brushes and white paint to help me form the
details of windows, stairs, columns and a fountain. I later
experiment with the opacity of the diferent layers of my
lighting and nally get an icy look that Im happy with c.
3D Art & Design


Architectural visualisation

Artist info

Easy-to-follow guides
take you from concept
to the nal render

Pawe Podwojewski
Personal portfolio site
Location Gdask, Poland
Software used
3ds Max, V-Ray, Photoshop
Expertise Pawe specialises in
lighting, compositing and
optimising scenes

Software used in this piece

3ds Max



Sonia created lots of quick
drawings in search of the best
concept. The nal sketch was
a fusion of a few very diferent
ideas that she explored. The
concept looks very complex at
rst glance and shows lots of
details, which is why its crucial
to plan your 3D project from
the beginning especially the
modelling stage.

118 3D Art & Design

A crystal shader and model

A Photoshop le with the
basic render elements
Tutorial screenshots

Fantasy arch vis

Fantasy arch vis

3D illustration
Pawe Podwojewski is an architect with a strong
background in CG

his tutorial will show you how use 3ds Max, V-Ray
and Photoshop to build a scene from a supplied
concept. Following the art provided by the designer, we
will create an abstract iceberg structure that combines
architecture and nature. This fantasy structure will be an
exciting challenge, because the irregular forms and complex
geometry will compel us to nd ways to optimise our scene.
Well use Normal Bump maps to enhance the impression of
detail in our architectural elements, saving time, poly count and

Plan your project

Problems &
The composition of this
concept sets the ground
on one level, which means
we have far fewer
elements to build the 3D
impression with than in a
regular architectural
scene. We need to nd
other elements to build
our atmosphere and to
give of the solid
impression that a 3D
render should provide. If
not, the render will be just
a normal, at picture. I
decide to focus on the
shader, lighting with
volumetric efects as well
as adding a couple of
elements in the
foreground to better
describe the distance
between the viewer and
the ice structure.
Modelling ice isnt that
simple in 3ds Max, either.
We dont have precise
sculpting tools and the
poly-modelling method
would take forever. A
reasonable way is to adjust
some modiers to speed
up the process, while
keeping interesting results
and getting close to the
concept. Procedural maps
and displacements will
enhance the model.

memory. Because 3ds Max doesnt have dedicated sculpting

tools, we will also use a couple of tricks and scripts to make
things go smoothly. Fractured surfaces can be achieved with a
MaxScript and simple modelling tools will enable you to work
inside just the one major software.
To add a strong atmosphere to the nal image, well explore
volumetric lights and environmental fog. To nish up, correct
use of render elements from V-Ray will help us out in the
post-production stage in Photoshop.


Begin to work from the concept piece

Prepare the scene The initial stages of this project are crucial, so we need to divide
the concept into parts to simplify the workow. I decide to focus on the main shape of
the iceberg, the interior arcades and the spiral staircase. Making a plan and a list of elements
will help you to get the job done and not fall into limbo. Start with simple shapes such as a
couple of polygons, to try to t the scale and shape to the iceberg concept a.


Find the best scale Analyse the concept and look at the single elements. Our main
elements are the iceberg, interior arcades and spiral staircase. To achieve the best
results when rendering, we need to properly scale the scene to get a physically correct
response from the rendering engine. Its not easy to judge scale when working with an
abstract concept like this, although the arcades can give us an idea of what scale we should
use. For instance, assume that one level of arcades will have a height of four metres b.

a Start with simple geometry
to get the right scale
following the concept art

b Look at elements you are

familiar with from reality to

nd the right scale

c Consider the composition to


better understand the

merits of your view


Set your camera

Setting the camera

up at an early stage will help
you nd out how much will
actually be seen. Later on we
can adjust the level of detail
to the view. The concept
shows the iceberg from a
frontal view, which is a nice
angle that exposes lots of
details. Unfortunately, for a
3D scene it wont be easy to
get a great 3D depth
because we cant divide the
scene into grounds
(foreground, midground,
background). This means
that all the elements will
appear equally important in
the shot and the lighting will
have a minor impact on the
space-perception c.
3D Art & Design


Architectural visualisation

Begin modelling
With the planning done, we can now build the main elements of our scene


Carve out the ice Once we have dened the

correct scale, its time to develop the main
structure. I build simple geometry to keep the dimensions of
the concept and on the top of the model I add a
MeshSmooth modier plus a Displace modier. For the
Displacement map I use a Noise Procedural map. Creating
distortion will break the light rays nicely and provide the ice
efect later on. To add extra detail I use the Push/Pull tool
from the Editable Poly panel. Using a graphics tablet is very
handy at this stage, as this part is very similar to a simple
sculpting process. Now its time to focus on the edges and
the exposed top element d.


Add the arcades

The other
important elements to focus
on are the arcades. We have
plenty of them visible in the
concept sketch, so I start by
modelling one module in
high detail. After a rough
calculation, the scenes total
poly count will be at around
100 million, so to combat
this I use VRayProxies to
spread the modules, or
optimise them. I nd
optimised geometry better
because theres more
control in the nal model
and the opportunity to
adjust every single element,
if needed e.

Use VRayProxies
Scenes with plenty of elements usually mean trouble. Using
more RAM means longer save times. Also problems with
the viewport will often result and cause you issues. There
are solutions that will let you avoid all this trouble, though, if
the scene is suitable.
In cases where we deal with lots of elements that are
copied and scattered all over the scene, like trees or the
same type of detailed windows, we can use VRayProxies. A
proxy in its simplest term is a preview of a mesh that is
saved outside the current le. Whats important is that the
mesh, while rendering, will be loaded only once even if in
the viewport you have billions of proxies. The only
disadvantage is that the preview of the VRayProxy is not as
accurate as regular geometry, so to change the proxy you
need to edit the source geometry rst and export the mesh
as a proxy again. From the other side, when you wish to
change all the elements at once, all you need to do is load a
diferent mesh and its done!
VRayProxies have given artists a lot of freedom. Since
these options were added, the creation of grass, pebbles,
whole forests and more has become much easier, enabling
artists to strive for far better results.


Mapping & Normal Bumps Once the arcade

model is complete, I unwrap it and render the
Normal Bump map. You can do this very simply by rendering
the object without GI and saving the V-Ray Normals render
element. I then simplify the model using the Optimize
modier and rebuild some elements, like the pillars and
windows, into much simpler geometry. I apply a shader to
the low-poly model with the rendered Normal map as a
bitmap under the V-Ray Normal Bump. Thanks to this action
I can save millions of polygons, while keeping a decent level
of detail at the same time. Also, I nd rendering times are
much improved. So, with the concept angle, distance from
the camera and a planned resolution, I am sure this level of
detail will be good enough f.

d Use modiers to add details

in a procedural way. This will

make the process fast and
far more efcient

e Create a single model of an

arcade to scatter inside the

iceberg structure

f Create Normal Bumps to

save memory and speed up

the rendering time

120 3D Art & Design

Fantasy arch vis


Scatter the arcades Its now time to multiply the

modules of arcades along the iceberg. Set the pivot

point somewhere in the centre of the iceberg and use the
Array tool to instance the arcades with 360-degree rotation.
Please remember that instanced elements will not increase
the le size, which will speed up the saving process. I repeat
this step a couple of times, changing the pivot point for each
level to t to the iceberg shape. To nish, in places where the
ice element is open, simply delete the surplus modules g.


The spiral staircase The concept shows there is a

communication system between levels with spiral

stairs. Keeping in mind we have an abstract visual, I decide to
use a stock stair element from the Create menu, not paying
much attention to the correct scale or even whether the
stairs will reach each oor. Once I have the general shape of
the stairs ready (I choose a closed type of stairs), I apply the
FFD 2x modier. Selecting the control point on the bottom, I
scale them down with the Scale tool to taper the entire shape
and adjust the radius to the icebergs dimensions h.

Fracture &
When working with
architectural visualisation,
in most cases we dont
need much destruction in
our scenes. Most likely our
clients will require a clean
environment, but there are
situations where some
damage can be expected.
3ds Max is a very powerful
tool for this and in recent
versions weve been given
the MassFX simulation
system, which enables a
very quick and easy way to
collide rigid bodies.
RayFire and FumeFX give
advanced smoke and
fracture efects, although
for most arch-vis stills,
simple scripts will also do
the job. Today,
workstations are very
powerful, but its crucial to
keep scenes optimised. Its
very easy to go too far with
details and for the
geometry to lose focus on
the atmosphere. The
battle between light and
shadow is what makes
images truly unique.


Give your
structure space

At the very beginning of this

project I knew the shot
wouldnt be easy to sell in a
3D environment, because
the composition would make
it far too at. The concept
looks really exciting as a 2D
painting, but its now my job
to also make it vivid and
alive in the third dimension. I
agree with Sonia that some
foreground elements will let
the viewer better judge the
distance and perceive the
depth of the nal image. The
iceberg is oating in a vast
ocean, so its interesting to
add some broken ice oating
around. This gives the
viewer information about the
camera angle and
perspective, giving the
structure the chance it
needs to really show of its
3D depth i.

g Use Array to multiply the

arcade modules

h Use a stock stair element in

3ds Max to add the
communication system, as
seen in the concept

i Create extra ground

elements to gain better

spatial performance

j Apply some fractures to the

ice using MaxScripts


Fracture the ground Creating fractured elements is usually a challenge. I could

complete this task manually, but again time is always precious so I decide to dig out
some handy scripts. This time Ill use a script called Fracture Voronoi (www.scriptspot.
com/3ds-max/scripts/fracture-voronoi), which can be found and downloaded for free from
ScriptSpot. The rst step is to create a plane object, then set the dimensions to t the camera
angle and canvas size. Set a reasonable segment count for the plane and run the script. First
copy the code from the ScriptSpot site, open the MaxScript window, paste the code, save the
script on your drive, then hit the Run Script button and choose the previously saved le. A
pop-up window will appear with your script options, so set the element count to divide the
selected object into as many pieces as you wish j.
3D Art & Design


Architectural visualisation

Bring in light & shade

Focus on the shaders, lighting & atmospheric effects


Apply some
environment lights


Use ice shaders The ice shader is key to this scene,

as it will obviously get applied to all the elements. I
prepare two types of shaders: one for the general iceberg
shape and the second for the arcades. The arcade shader will
be exactly the same as any other, except for an added
Normal Bump created at the very beginning to add extra
detail, as well as to keep the poly count low. The ice shader
has 100% Reection, with Reection Glossiness set at level
0.9 with Fresnel efect and IOR changed to 12. Refraction is
totally transparent. Additionally, I add a foggy blue colour
and turn on Translucency mode for the soft water k.

122 3D Art & Design

Lighting is not an easy step

in a piece like this. The
glassy ice shader needs to
reect the environment in
order to highlight the shape
details. Photography rules
have solutions for such
scene types and recommend
a black or white environment
with proper black or white
side reections. I decide to
go a little further and engage
the VRayEnvironmentFog for
volumetric-lighting ray
efects. The main light
source for direct rays is a
VRaySun. A high amount of
environmental fog is set to
100m, which produces a
sort of vacuum environment
broken by the light rays l.

Motion in
still images
Still images have obvious
limitations: we can only
view the scene from a
certain perspective and
we have no power to look
around the details. The key
is to bring life to the image,
so the viewer remains
attracted to the focal
points that the artist
intended to expose. This
means less work can be
applied in the artwork, but
the impression will be the
opposite. Motion in
images with walking
characters and moving
vehicles can bring a lot of
information about world
structure, physics, time
and can also provide
information out of context.
Taking our iceberg as an
example, the extra ying
pieces of ice make us feel
we are dealing with
vertical movement. Its just
a captured moment, but
also provides clues about
what could happen in the
next second. This is all
about telling a story and
the quality of the image or
the techniques may play a
secondary role, if the shot
is planned well.


Particle efects

To represent broken
ice ying around the scene
Ill create a blizzard system.
Set the Particle Type to
Triangle and adjust the
Speed to Camera Shutter. If
the speed is too high, the
particles will be blurry. The
broken ice surface needs
some debris pieces, so using
MultiScatter I spread three
types of crystals regularly
across the whole surface m.

k Create an ice shader with a

fog efect to better achieve
the depth of the elements

l Create light rays with

V-Rays environment fog

m Use particle systems for

creating dynamic detail

Fantasy arch vis

Post-production & compositing

Move into the rendering & post stages to finalise your scene

Find the
right lighting


Choose your renderer Im going to use V-Ray as

the rendering engine. Balancing the time-and-quality
ratio, I choose the Light Cache and Irradiance map as the GI
algorithm. I need to remember that in post-production Ill
add a couple of main render elements, like RawRefraction,
RawReection and WireColor. At this stage I know the RGB
pass will not be the main one used while compositing. The
environment fog can also be saved with an Atmospheric
pass. Combining all the elements on a diferent layer brings
me to the nal result. Please be sure to increase the
subdivisions for the fog; in this case 24 works well n.


Post-production sketches Usually, rendering tests

are enough to give you an idea of where youre

heading with a nal image. Because in this case only the
combined passes are present before the nal output, I render
a sketch shot during the process to see if all the pieces will
work together. The presented post-production set enables
me to decide which colour scheme I should go with for the
nal production. Perhaps this is duplicating the work, but
either way it gives me more control over the concept o.


Prepare the PSD le After creating the postproduction sketches and nal rendered passes, I start
to organise the layers. On the very bottom lands the
RawReection pass, which becomes my base. Above, I add a
masked-out Atmosphere pass, placing the rays and light
around the iceberg and setting this to Screen mode. Using
WireColor on the very top for a quick selection will help, but
keep this invisible for the nal save. Use Calculations and the
ReectionFilter pass for creating the mask, which can be
used to control the Transparency and Reection levels of the
ice, combined with the RawRefraction pass p.

Build atmosphere with

good lighting efects is
very important. You can
achieve them in your
rendering software, like
the volumetric light rays
created in this tutorial, or
you can apply similar
efects in some scenes
using Photoshop plug-ins. I
recommend the Rays
plug-in by Digital Film
Tools (www.
Remember: well-balanced
images are friendlier on
the eye, while too many
colours in your scenes
may be distracting. In my
workow I try to nd a
leading colour for the shot.
So on the top of the layer
stack I place a Color
Balance adjustment layer
to make the colour range a
little more even.
n Try to save diferent render
passes for the postproduction process

o Test diferent post-

production options to decide

on the best workow

p Organise the render

elements in one PSD le

q Paint bubble efects with

Scattering brush options


Build the water &

add some efects

Water bubbles are painted

using a round brush with
Dynamics and Scatter
options enabled in
Photoshop. Again, using a
tablet gives you lots of
freedom and better control
while painting. Try to create
black layers on the very top
of the stack. Paint blue
circles with a large, soft,
round brush and set the
mode to Soft Light or Screen.
This is how you can create
glowing bowl efects, which
will add more atmosphere to
your image q.

3D Art & Design


Use our step-by-step guides to achieve what is,
for many, the ultimate goal in 3D art and design
126 50 tips for ultimate 3D


Fool the eye and wow your viewers

with our top tips from industry pros

132 Learn to create

photoreal 3D

Find out how to re-create a

photorealistic model of a ladybird

138 Achieve fantastic 3D


Create a realistic 3D model of your

favourite object

143 I made this Sphynx Cat

How Pavel Kondratenko created his

incredible artwork

144 Visualise realistic products

in modo
Achieve photoreal renderings using
modos Pixar Subdivision Surfaces

149 Gallery Taha Alkan

Ive always liked

pictures of the macro world;
I love the sense of scale and
incredible levels of detail

A look at Tahas photoreal work

150 Make realistic food

Achieve realistic textures, materials

and lighting

155 Gallery Rod DeWeese

A perfect photorealistic environment

156 Model and render a

photorealistic watch

Produce a realistic render of a watch


124 3D Art & Design




3D Art & Design




Fool the eye and wow your viewers with our top tips from
industry pros on how to achieve realistic 3D images
Realism is often the ultimate goal of the 3D artist; to render something as close to life as possible and
showcase your individual talent as well as the power and potential of CGI software. Here we compile
a selection of tips from pro 3D artists to help you create your most realistic images ever.

HDR image maps and

photorealistic models courtesy
of CGAxis




Eldorado. At the beginning I wasnt really

sure what would be the hero of the shot. I
was thinking about a tennis ball, golf ball,
pack of cigarettes, bottles and so on, but
in the end one little toy car won
Marek Denko

126 3D Art & Design

Ultimate 3D realism
Good textures and materials make the
model more expressive, bad ones destroy
even the most gorgeous geometry
Dmitriy Glazyrin


Get your project of to the best start

during this crucial stage


Its extremely important to have a lot

of references and I request
constant references (from photos to
real objects) whenever a new job or update
arrives in the office. Jacinto


The best criteria [when sourcing

references] is the resolution of
photos. It is very important to see the
details of an object in the photo that way
you dont waste your time trying to
understand it. Denis L


Not using references may not give

you enough information about the
scale of the objects in your scene In
my opinion scale is the most important aspect
of creating realistic images. Denis O


I like to have at least one side view

and a three-quarter view. Even better
would be if you had access to the real
objects themselves, to either take pictures of
or have next to you while modelling. Emre


Its a matter of finding the right

balance between a low and
high-poly mesh [initially]. For the
basic model I use Maya, then I switch to
Mudbox for the details and normal maps. I try
to keep the mesh topology flawless based on
quads and loops. Massimo

Marek Denko

Website: www.
Bio: Marek fell in
love with computers
in 1991 with his rst
Atari 800XL. In
2007, together with
Peter Sanitra, he
established the
creative studio
NoEmotion (http://

Dmitriy Glazyrin Denis Lebedev

Website: www.
Bio: One of the
founders of Ujean &
Glazyrin studio,
Dmitriy has worked
with a range of
creatives, including
retouching studio
Platinum FMD, and
has obtained a series
of awards.

Website: http://
Bio: After forgetting
his childhood
passion for drawing
for many years,
Denis returned to
the art world and
began exploring the
many possibilities of
3D art in 2009.


Website: www.
Bio: Jacinto
graduated as an
architect in 2002. In
2007 he radically
switched profession
and has now been a
3D arch-vis artist for
ve years.


Website: vema3dart.
Bio: Currently
working at Cryptic
Studios in California,
Denis is an
environment artist for
videogame projects
including Star Trek
Online and
Neverwinter Nights.


Website: www.
Bio: Pawel has been
involved in the
development of
designs and
concepts in the eld
of architecture for
various industries. In
2009 he started CG
WORKSHOP online.

Massimo Righi

Website: http://
Bio: Massimo is a
freelance 3D artist
based in Italy, often
working in
collaboration with his
wife Silvia Puli. They
are often involved in
various projects
within the games and
lm industries.

Emre Salihov

Website: www.
Bio: Emre is a
22-year-old artist
from Sweden. As a
child his favourite
toys to play with
were LEGO cars. He
claims he found his
calling in life when
Autodesks Maya fell
into his hands.
3D Art & Design



Textures and materials are a very

important stage in creating realism in
work, [and] probably the longest
one Good textures and materials make the
model more expressive, bad ones destroy
even the most gorgeous geometry. Dmitriy


There are two main types of textures:

custom-made and tileable
textures. Perfect texture should have
a good resolution, good colour depth and
details based on the purpose of the texture
in the scene. Marek


I try to custom texture everything

[using] a lot of different custom
brushes in Photoshop allows me to
do this. This doesnt mean I dont use textures
I find on the internet, but I do use them
carefully. Denis O


For [texturing] hard-surface objects, I

use 3ds Max and Photoshop and for
organic, ZBrush and Photoshop. In
any case, Photoshop is an indispensable tool
for creating textures, both at the stage of
texturing and [post work]. Dmitriy


Creating a simple light setup before

you start texturing is a very good
idea I always have one key light
where my main light source is and then,
depending on the model, one or two rim lights
and also one fill light that doesnt cast any
specular. Emre


The textures used to light a scene

should be saved as high dynamic
range images (HDRI). This allows
you to control the exposure and luminance at
any stage while rendering. Pawel


The [most] useful texture maps are

Color, Specular, Bump and Normal
[though if you are texturing] fur,
sometimes you dont need to create normal
maps or you only need to create them for the
visible mesh. Massimo

128 3D Art & Design


From rigs to shaders, lighting is vital for realism


Lighting will get your project 80 per

cent of the way there with some
experience you will understand more
or less what you can fake later on [but] dont
worry about the richness and contrast of the
colours. It is easier to crunch them in post with
colour correction. Emre


I tend to keep lighting as simple as

possible It is really important to
study your renderer of choice and
how it relates to your main program (3ds
Max, Softimage, Maya and so on) and
understand its potential. Denis O


The right lighting shows all the small

details youve modelled [so] it is
useful to use images (pictures and
photos) where you can see beautiful lighting,
to analyse it and take note of it. Denis L

Pawel Podwojewski

Choose and apply efects to your

models for the greatest realism


Its important to build shaders and

lighting in an organised way. Make
sure the same group of lights will be
instanced so you can easily adjust all of the
lights at [once]. Shaders should be built with a
colour-correction plug-in used for textures. In
most cases this will enable you to adjust the
shaders without 2D texture editing. Pawel

15 The best lighting software

A rundown of the experts choice for the perfect setup

[V-Ray] is a quick renderer with easy-to-use tools. You have a virtual camera, which has
the same options as a real one. Sometimes I check the settings of the camera on the
reference images (you can check it in Image Properties) to get an idea about physical
conditions and [then] apply them to the VRayPhysicalCamera. Dmitriy
If you are doing one-man projects and want quick, accurate and good results, then
V-Ray is what I would choose. I like mental ray as well but it requires lots more
preparation and clicking of buttons to achieve what you want. Emre
I prefer to light in 3ds Max and mental ray. mental ray is a really powerful renderer
with some pretty easy-to-tweak options. Also, 3ds Max comes with a pack of arch and
design materials for mental ray with a couple of presets that are easy to change. Denis O
V-Ray is the best. Sometimes I use HDR images, other times the VRaySky method,
sometimes just a semi-sphere for the sky with only a sphere light. Jacinto

Student Housing. Project

designed by Pawel for
Nadau Lavergne studio,
located in Bordeaux,
France in area under
UNESCO protection
Denis Osmanbegovic


Image by Jacinto Monteiro Metro Cbico Digital

Dmitriy Glazyrin


House. Using mental ray,

this full scene took four
hours to render

Ultimate 3D realism


Studio lighting and lighting

environments is very different To
simplify the environment modelling
you can make low-poly objects, or simplify
the plane to stretch the texture of the mask.
Creating the environment in layers means the
lighting will work properly with different
angles and camera lenses. Dmitriy


Sometimes I use HDR images to light

my scene. If the HDR image is a
good one, the lighting just looks
incredible (and more credible). Colours and
reflections are rich and you also have more
freedom in post to tune the image based on
those colours. Marek


For my main [lighting] I dont use

HDR images so often because its
difficult to handle that type of light
source with fur, but I [sometimes] use it in
render passes to get realistic-coloured
reflections. Massimo


CGSkies ( and

Peter Guthries HDRI lighting setups
have made the 3D community very
happy lately, and each day more and more
artists are using it in their normal workflow.

Massimo Righi

TGV Station. This architectural project is

located in Ourense and includes
a TGV station, hotel and an ofce block
surrounding all these buildings
Green Frog. Modelled in
Maya, the depth of eld and
background were rendered
with mental ray

Its easy to believe youre done once

youve rendered out, but the funs
just starting


Render elements are very useful and

save a lot of time in postproduction,
especially when working with
animated sequences. With passes you can
easily change any elements in your image
without re-rendering. Denis L

27 Realistic render passes

Learn the process used for this professional project

Pawel produced this image as part of his concept design for a

student housing project by architectural studio Nadau Lavergne.
In his experience, utilising render passes means you have more
scope and exibility with your image: During the production you
may nd the render channels very handy while applying changes
or [additional] details to your image. This is particularly useful
when working to a clients brief where the needs of the project
may dictate such changes.
Pawel takes us through his render passes for this window
view, which is especially interesting for its use of lters to get the
reections on glass elements exactly right. He uses psd-manager
from Cebas ( to organise his passes, nding it
the fastest way you can imagine [it] automatically saves your
layers into a PSD format [and] additional masks can [then be
added] manually while editing the image. I can recommend it for
Photoshop lovers.


You only get [some] of the beauty

render straight out of the rendering,
the rest comes in when you start to
composite it together with V-Ray it is very
easy to render out with passes and you can
also render out each light as a separate pass,
which can be very useful. Emre


I would say that V-Ray Z-Depth is the

most important pass [for
hyperrealism]. It can add better
mood, depth and postproduction depth of
field to the image The biggest danger for me
would be to go too far so I avoid doing heavy
postproduction. Jacinto


A solid Beauty pass where I can see

my image almost done when I
render it is the better way As extra
passes I use Z-Depth, masks, sometimes
extra light passes and when there are
effects like smoke or fire, they are always
rendered as a separate pass. Marek


You need to rely on your experience

to know if a result is right or wrong.
Very common mistakes appear while
using Z-Depth [passes]. It is a very handy
technique that can save a lot of rendering time
[and] such effects may enhance your image
but when applied in the wrong way can also
kill the scene. Pawel

a Pawel used V-Ray for a

range of passes that add
detail and atmosphere.
Each pass had the same
settings as this RGB render
b We added a lot of detail
in postproduction compared
to the raw render glass
reections have been
controlled using [more]
specic passes
c We used some channels
to add efects and other
ones as selection masks. For
example, the Reection
lter will be a selection [on
the] Raw Reection pass
d For reection and
atmospheric passes you can
try out the Screen blending
mode to quickly key out the
black tones

e The Refraction lter is

the colour by which the raw
refractions are multiplied
f A handy pass for quick
changes, you can alter the
colour of reections and add
glows with Wire Color

g Sometimes it is much
faster and easier to add the
desired [background]
elements in postproduction,
but to speed things up I
often use the Z-Depth
[pass] to control the DOF

h An additional clay render

of the window scene
3D Art & Design



Emre Salihov

Lighting Ford E Bike. Emre

advises using as few lights
a possible work with one
light at the time. NUKE
is Emres compositor
of choice


I find that using a node-based

compositing program such as NUKE
[makes bringing render layers
together] much easier. I dont do any fancy
blending, I just use overs and plusses.
Occlusion is a good example. Emre

Woodworker. The carpenter was

shot on a Canon Mark II, with the
wood chips and car modelled in
3ds Max. The stand was made in
ZBrush with nal compositing
completed in Photoshop



Seamlessly integrate 3D renders

with 2D elements for realistic scenes


When I create an environment [for

compositing] I usually like to
matte-paint it [in Photoshop] using a
mixture of photographs and retouching. I
must have in mind what everything should
look like so I create it based on the [renders]
lighting. Massimo


Objects that [are] lit in a way that

dont match the scene will obviously
look fake [so] we [need to] enhance
the lighting using different blending modes
and paintovers. It is crucial [at this stage] to
use colours we find in the final scene for better
integration. Pawel


[When compositing] you can

convert the image to a monochrome
version. When the colour does not
distract you can compare the brightness of
shadows and light, the environment and the
models, and seek the similarities. Then bring
the colour back and get the desired result with
the shaders. Dmitriy

130 3D Art & Design

The nal touches are to

add detail dust, light rays, ying
leaves, sparks and dirt a variety of
small details that ll the picture
Dmitriy Glazyrin

34 The ideal combination

Dmitriy Glazyrin shares how he went about
compositing his incredible image Woodworker

Dmitriy carefully analyses his own work to

make sure the result is as realistic as possible: Often a side
view helps to see the defects and bring an objective judgment

As far as Dmitriy is concerned, the art to seamless

compositing requires a few main ingredients: The key
factors are the well-detailed model, the right light and
the materials.
Light sets the mood of the whole picture, he says,
and cites it as the deciding factor for embarking on a
compositing project. I use a picture to create the basis
for future models or nd a reference by the light I like
then you achieve the ideal combination of objects. To
achieve this ideal combination, Photoshop is Dmitriys

software of choice. In handling 2D objects [it is] the

clear leader. Some use video compositing software
such as After Efects or NUKE, but in my opinion for
static [images] it makes no sense and is more
complicated [than it has to be].
Attention to detail, observation and analysis are
key, but Dmitriy advises not to go it alone: Put a
picture of your work online and show your friends, as
the more feedback you can get, the closer you will
come to the ultimate realistic composite.

Pawel Podwojewski


It is necessary to establish the real

behaviour of the camera as precisely
as possible. Set the depth of field,
anti-aliasing and choose interesting lens
parameters. If you take any picture from the
internet its often possible to get the
information about the lens and the
parameters, so use this when placing the
camera in the scene. Dmitriy

Dmitriy Glazyrin

The wrong settings for the Z-Depth

pass wont allow you to make depth
of field [so] use the Tape tool in the
Helpers palette in 3ds Max. [Also] some
passes can have rough edges and, in the
postproduction stage will have a bad visible
contour. For this it is better to use the
Multimatte render element in V-Ray instead
of Object ID. Denis L

Denis Lebedev

Ultimate 3D realism

Its Going to Rain. I wanted to show an

authentic landscape with the post-Soviet
realities. I wanted to train myself to a
higher level, Denis L says

Massimo Righi


Dmitriy Glazyrin

The key steps [in the compositing

process] would be preparing masks
and selections, placing 2D elements
in our composition and integrating them with
the original image, and finally the colour
correction. Pawel


Matching perspective and colour

balance are the most important
parts [of compositing]. My advice
would be to avoid fish-eye photographs to
match your 3D arch-vis work. My experience
was a bit frustrating! Jacinto


The most important thing is [getting]

the right perspective and lighting It
is great when you can shoot the
objects in a studio because you can apply the
virtual camera settings to the real one to
obtain a perfect match. Pawel


Compositing is a matter of taste,

[but] my feeling is that if a rendering
is looking good without an
environment then its ready to go for
compositing. The first test is always getting it
right on a neutral background. Massimo


[For adding photographic characters

to CG scenes], having high-res
people is important. Then a lot of
curves, colour balance, shadow, motion blur
and saturation changes should be made in
order to make them realistically fit. Jacinto


Poor composition is unlikely to affect

the realism [of a piece]. It may have
impact on the overall impression of
the picture, but after all, the camera can be
bad for the composition of the picture, though
[still be] quite realistic! Dmitriy


Sky is such an important object in the

light and material system, [so] try to
avoid replacing it [at the compositing
stage]. I render skies straight from 3ds Max
for the most realistic results (at least for
exterior scenes). Jacinto

Denis Osmanbegovic


Complete your image with last-minute adjustments for maximum impact


For me ten per cent or less is done in

postproduction I [adjust] Curves,
Levels, Color Balance and its
important because my raw renders always
need colour and light correction. Jacinto


Many artists make their final renders

to a very high quality, so often the
post work takes about five per cent of
the time It brings some additional control to
make your work a little better. Denis L


For postproduction I prefer

Photoshop while working with 3D
stills and After Effects for animations.
These two work well for compositing as well
as postproduction. Photoshop can handle
huge files and compositions, assuring a quick
and stable workflow. Pawel


Each image even from the same

project will require a different
amount of postproduction work. In
my case the average [time dedicated] will be
around 20 per cent. Pawel

The most important thing is colour

correction in Photoshop. I use it on
the whole image and separate
objects using masks. I always work with a
copy of the layer and use Levels, Curves,
Selective Color and Color Balance
adjustments. Before each touch I create a
snapshot in the History palette, and then after
[I do the same] to compare the result. Denis L






About ten per cent of my final [effort]

goes into postproduction. I tend not
to spend a lot of time adjusting the
raw render since I try to get the desired results
straight out of mental ray [but] I think it
depends on the artist and the scene itself.
Sometimes you can have a final image
without any postproduction. Denis O
You can get the ideal result by
rendering but, on the time side, it
[wont] be comparable with working
in Photoshop, [which] can correct most of the
render and [do it] much faster. Dmitriy

i Lunchtime. As he renders all of

his animal characters in Maya,
Shave and a Haircut is
Massimos go-to for fur

I think too much postproduction may

stylise the image but not necessarily
make it more realistic. Some of the
real-world effects though, like [adding] image
grain or chromatic aberration can be a nice
and quick touch towards a photorealistic
image style. Pawel
Very soft lens distortions may be a
good idea to increase the realism.
You may think most viewers will not
notice this but, believe me, our brains do. It is a
perfect situation when you feel something is
natural without knowing why! Pawel

j Interior Loft. An interior that

Denis O made to practise an
image that seems open but
feels packed with stuf

k Student Housing. A project

designed by Pawel for Nadau
Lavergne studio, located in
Bordeaux, France
3D Art & Design



Artist info

3D artists explain the

techniques behind
their amazing artwork

OBJ les, textures, presets for

modo, a ladybird ZTL plus
tutorial screenshots
An exclusive UVLayout
Hobbyist software trial

Ive always liked pictures

of the macro world; I love
the sense of scale and
incredible levels of detail. I
also particularly enjoy
using bokeh efects with a
large depth of eld.

Software used in this piece




Dmitry Denisov
Personal portfolio site
Country Moscow, Russia
Software used
ZBrush, Photoshop, modo
Expertise Character
modelling, texturing and
technical visualisations

Simplicity is the key!

From experience, I understand that in the modelling and
retopology stages it is very important to understand what
direction and ow polygons are. To better understand
polygon ow I recommend you draw topology onto your
model. Try to make the most of polygons with the same
size and equal to the square. If you want to know how
perfect your model is, look at the Density Grid and
compare all its diferent parts.

132 3D Art & Design

Learn to create photoreal 3D

Learn to create
photoreal 3D
Macro ladybird shot 2012

Learn how to re-create a photorealistic model of a ladybird

Dmitry Denisov is a 3D modeller working on game-dev and character projects

n this tutorial I will show you how to

create a photorealistic image of a
ladybird using modo, ZBrush and
Photoshop. We will discuss modelling
techniques, topology, UV mapping,
sculpting, texturing, applying difuse and
normal maps, lighting settings and the nal
post-processing of the image.
Ill begin by showing you how to create a
simple model using DynaMesh in ZBrush
and then retopologise in modo. Youll learn
how to use Replicators to create convincing
water drops and air particles. Well also
cover how to build a real-world camera,
setting up the focal length, aperture and
bokeh efects.
Finally, youll learn the basic aspects of
composition, photorealism and other
details that can make a nal image far more
expressive. This tutorial assumes that you
are familiar with basic skills in modo and
ZBrush, because we will talk only briey
about the functions of these programs.
Finally you will learn how to work with
the components of the image and fully
utilise render passes. Colour correction will
be reviewed in detail and we will also look
at how noise can improve images.

Model the ladybird

Begin with ZBrush DynaMesh in ZBrush

01Create a simple sphere

After using Convert to

DynaMesh, with a medium resolution from 64-80, you can
very quickly sculpt the basic form of the body and other parts of
the ladybird. If you have references (front and side views) you can
import these into the Viewport for better modelling accuracy. Use
the Move and Clay brushes to create the basic form of the body,
head, eyes and legs. If your geometry is very stretched, hold Cmd/
Ctrl+LMB on an empty area to refresh your geometry with
DynaMesh. You can also use simple primitives to model the legs.
The point is to create a basic form with a medium resolution and
sculpting detail. Remember this is a sketch at this stage we dont
need a super-detailed image A.

02Use GoZ to move the mesh to modo

I recommend you rst draw the topology on

your model and then create the retopology. Add a new mesh and set focus on it. Go to the
Topo tab, then go to Tools>Pen and create the rst quad on your model. As we will very often use a
Topology Pen, its best to set up a hot key. Hold Shift and drag LMB to extrude the edge; you can also
extrude vertexes. Please focus your mind on topology and try to feel the polygon ow. Always
remember that its better to have a polygon as a quad do not stretch polygons and keep all quads the
same size. Try to use this rule and the results will be very accurate and comfortable for sculpting. If you
nd topology terms difcult to understand, as well as retopologising in modo, please take a step back
and draw on your topology using PolyPaint, and then apply Symmetry once more B.

A DynaMesh and the ready ladybird model with retopology
B Good retopology. Blue lines show a polygon ow
C Presets of the water drops and a very simple leaf mesh

03Create the environment: leaves and water drops

This is a very simple part of our

scene. Add a plane, divide it as shown and use the Bend tool. Remember, you only need a part
of the main leaf, so you dont need to create all of its parts a simple form is the key. Well also need
leaves in the background to create an atmosphere and to show the scene with depth of eld. Arrange
the leaves in such a way that you achieve a small bush. Remember that all of your leaf planes must
have a small amount of thickness C.
3D Art & Design



Create realistic textures and materials

Begin UV mapping the model using modo
ladybird detail

04Unwrap your model

To obtain your UV map, use the

Unwrap tool. Were using this tool as its perfect for
working with organic models such as
creatures and critters. For the Unwrap tool
we need to specify the Edge Flow (cut). Its
always useful to imagine how you will cut
your model beforehand, as getting it right at
this stage is vital. Our main task here is to
obtain a high-quality map with multiple
pieces and to get the minimum stretch.
When your UV map is accomplished you
need to package it. Try to do it on one UV
map but use the U/V Tile Ofset value
equal to 1 or 2. For example, pairs will be
0-1, 0-2, 1-0 for each texture D.

07Create materials in modo

Well use the Standard brush

with Alpha 07 or 23 and Spray
options to create surface noise.
Theres nothing special here;
simply create a couple of
subdivision levels and sculpt
them. You can also apply
surface noise to your model
and relax it with the Morph
brush. After that we need
normal and cavity maps to
adjust the realism of our model.
In our case we will use Multi
Map Exporter because our
model has UV ofset. Now we
have both normal and cavity
maps we can move to the next
step: setting up the right scale
for the model using the
Absolute Scaling tool E.

06Create textures

Use the Export UVs to

EPS function to create a UV
wire. Open the EPS le in
Photoshop with 4,096 pixels.
First look at reference images
and imagine the structure of
your painting. Get a red or
orange base colour, then add
surface noise for a better look.
Well paint on modo procedure
textures, adding black and
white areas as indicated by
your reference images. Do not
paint with Symmetry on
because we need the model to
be unique. Try to add further
points with diferent layer
styles and layer blending
modes for various results F.

We need three main materials for the ladybird, leaf and

water particles. The structure of the ladybird contains: Difuse, Specular, Normal, SSS and
Procedure maps and textures. You can see the Tree Material settings for the ladybird and leaf. Use a
Material preset for the water particles. Moving to fur, duplicate all of your parts for the legs and body
and move to the meshes. Use the Reduction tool if your geometry has high density. Go to the Paint tab
and Hair Tools tab, then use hair guides and click on the mesh. Refer to the screenshot provided for the
settings. We need to stretch our guides on the joints and the top part of the body. Add a fur material
and move it to the top of the Shader Tree. This is very important because we will manually set Render
options for the fur. Again, refer to the screenshot for the fur settings; I recommend Monte Carlo G.

134 3D Art & Design

D The Unfold tool with cutting
edges and UV packing set to 0,
1, 2 values
E ZBrush sculpting using brushes,
alphas and normal baking

F Textures for the ladybird,

difuse and cavity maps
G The main parts of the materials,
the fur settings and their
placement on the mesh

UV mapping with UVLayout

UVLayout also has a powerful pack of options that allows
you to place all of your parts inside diferent UV values:
Step 1: You can use UVLayout as a standalone program or
as a plug-in. Open the ladybird mesh in modo and run the
UVLayout script. In the menu go to Type>Poly and
UVs>New. Click Export to UVLayout.
Step 2: The navigation and hot keys combination is the
same as in Maya: LMB for rotating, RMB for zooming,
MMB for pan. In the Display options in the Up option
choose Y. Move your cursor to the edge and hit C to make
a loop. This is called cutting, which is required when
unwrapping the model.
Step 3: Select all cut edges, move the cursor to a diferent
part and hit Enter (Separate) or Shift+S (Cut). This lets you
cut or separate the model comfortably. When youve
nished, you need to put all these parts in the UV Editor.
Hold D and press 1 to move to the UV Editor.
Step 4: Move your cursor to a separated part and hold A
until you like the result. You can also use Shift+F to atten
the separated part better. Open Pack, choose Best Quality
and click Pack All. Dont forget to activate Tile UV!
Step 5: Hit 3 to see your unwrapped UV model. If all is
okay, click Send and in modo click Import From UVLayout.

Learn to create photoreal 3D

Lighting and particle effects

Create a lighting setup and add particles to the scene

08Work with Replicators

To add water drops, copy

your leaf polygons to a new mesh and triangulate them.
We need to delete the bottom part of a water drop particle mesh.
So delete the polygons under the legs, and the few that are deepest
under the body, and then add a cube and smooth it. This will be our
rst water drop, so scale it on the Y-axis a little. Do the same again
but use a diferent size and add a Replicator. Create a new group
and add the water drop meshes to this group. Choose water drop
meshes 1 and 2, and then hit 7 and move the Center position to the
bottom. In the Replicator settings, set Prototype to the group name
and Point Source mesh with leaf triangulated background
polygons. See all the Replicator settings in the screenshot H.

09Air particles

Create a new group, call it air particles,

and then add a very small sphere to your scene. Make an
air particle mesh and apply a plane. Divide it a couple of times with
fractals, select all the polygons and then press Back. Select all the
points and turn on Noise Fallof with a 3-4% Scale. Move the
points to up and down to make a randomised efect. In the new air
particles material set No Difuse and turn on Luminosity to white
and value 1. Now in the Render Preview you can see particles with
bokeh efects I.

H The Replicator placement and

settings used
I Placing air particles
J The HDRI map
K Volumetric render pass with the
settings used

lighting &
camera settings

Weve taken a preset HDRI

image from Luxology content.
In the Environment tab add a
new image with an HDRI. Use
the Projection Type as Light
Probe with Projection Axis Y,
then use rotation to get a big
composition result. To improve
placement in GL Reection, use
Environment. Add a Minimum
Spot of about 6-7 in order to
texture. This brings some
interesting blur to the image.
With HDRI lighting we can
capture beautiful global
illumination lighting and
self-shadows in our scenes.
This map will also be visible in
the water droplets to give us
great results. Create a new
render camera and place it in a
position that you like. Were
using about 150mm focal
length and 6 Iris Blades. This is
essential in order for the bokeh
efects to work efectively J.

Use randomness in your

composition to get even
more realistic results

11Add a volume light

Add a directional (main) light source and place it in accordance with the
HDRI map. All you need to do is gather specular and difuse reection to one point. Place it over
the ladybird and turn on Volumetric Efect. This efect will be rendered separately from the main stage,
as it will be much faster K.

In the water drops Replicator settings use a Render Density

of about 20-30%. We dont need too many water drops
because that will make our picture too heavy and more
difcult on the point-of-view composition. Randomness is a
very good solution for creating a good composition. Also,
use the Seed option to get a good result. You can apply
Vertex as a particle, but the particles wont be aligned with
a background surface, so Im applying Use Polygon as a
Source Mode. For even better composition you can add
water drop presets and manually place them on leaves.
3D Art & Design



Rendering and post

Adjust render settings and make passes
Dmitry Denisov

Currently working at the Kaspersky Lab as a web

designer, Dmitry explores 3D as a hobby, spending most
of his free time experimenting with various projects

Portrait of a man
ZBrush, modo (2012)

One of Dmitrys favourite

themes is head modelling

12Set up the render

Organise your Shader Tree and create groups for all the models parts.
Remember that you can always add a Render Output for each part to help you in postproduction. Choose all textures, set None to Antialiasing and Texture Filtering to Nearest. This is
important as it gives more sharpness to our textures. Use Indirect Illumination type Monte Carlo and
change Indirect Rays to 1,024. Set Antialiasing to about 256 or 512 samples, Mitchel lter, Renement
Shading to 0.1, Renement Threshold to 0.3 and Ray Threshold to 0.01. Turn on DOF, set FStop to 8,
Iris Blades to 5 and Edge Weighting to 50%. Check the screenshot for all the settings. This will be a
rst render pass with nal colour and AO, but without Specular and Reection passes L.

13Add bokeh efects

We need to get another

render pass with Reection and
Specular only. In the Render
Camera change Edge Weighting
to 98%. Never use maximum
values, but rather 98.954, as
this gives an interesting result.
The value of 98% creates a
real-world bokeh efect. Now,
lets render our Specular and
Reection passes M.


L The main render and various

camera settings
M Bokeh settings
N The Volumetric Light pass
O The main render passes

Sunday morning Photoshop, modo (2012)

P Combining air particles and

volumetric light

The inspiration for this picture came from the Pixar movie, Up

Q Chromatic aberrations

14Render volumetric light and air particles

To Windows 7 After Efects, modo (2010)

A still from the movie created for a Kaspersky Promo for Windows 7

136 3D Art & Design

Choose the main shader, click RMB and set

the Fog type, enabling us to render only volumetric lighting. You can also add diferent types of
noise to Volumetric Density to get an interesting result. Try to nd the optimal value of samples to get
a suitable quality: 256-512 tends to work well. In Environment, set Visible to Camera to None. In
Render Camera Settings I recommend using Edge Weighting with 50-70% to create a nice bokeh
efect. Next, select the air particles group, isolate it from the scene and render it. These will be small
particles with a bokeh blur applied N.

Learn to create photoreal 3D


15Compare render passes in Photoshop

Now we have a nal Difuse pass with all the

lighting, AO, reection, specular, volume light and air particles included. First duplicate the
Color passes and blur them. Use this layer as a clipping mask for the AO pass, making our selfshadows much more interesting. Next add specular and reection to produce a bokeh efect and use a
blending mode to merge the two. Control the strength of these efects by adjusting the layer opacity.
Remember you can decrease the strength of each pass by tweaking the Opacity or using Adjustment
Layers. For example, you can duplicate the Color passes, blur and append them as clipping masks to
the Reection or Specular pass with Opacity set to 15%, and an Add blending mode O.

17Colour correct the image

16Even things up a bit

Now we need to add some volumetric lighting and air particles.

Above all the layers apply your volumetric light, set to the Screen blending mode. An Add
blending mode can give you better colours, mixing with the background layers. Adjust the Opacity and
Adjustment controls to afect the layer strength P.
To get a higher-quality result we can use
layers for each mesh and manually add
them to the compositing program

For colour correction I

recommend using a solid colour (blue) with Screen blending
mode and Opacity at about 20-30%. This gives us a nice tone and
atmosphere. Duplicate the image, atten all the layers and go to
the Channel palette. Choose the Red channel and move them by
one or two pixels to the left and bottom. Duplicate this layer to your
main scene, put it on top and set the blending mode to Color. Youll
be able to see chromatic aberrations. To add a magical look to the
scene, hit Cmd/Ctrl+Opt/Alt+Shift+E and duplicate this layer.
Finally, add some blur, set the blending mode to Screen and nish
up by decreasing the Opacity to 10-15%. And youre done! Q


creation ti rs
3,000 x 3,80 :

3D Art & Design



Software used in this piece

3ds Max

mental ray

138 3D Art & Design


Achieve ultimate 3D realism

Rolleiflex camera 2011

We take you through the main stages

of creating a realistic 3D model of this
traditional camera


Eric Cain
Username: cain3d

Eric Cain is a 3D artist specialising in modelling and visualisation

selected this camera as a portfolio production piece
while I was a student. I originally selected this subject
because I liked the modern interpretation of the original
vintage Rolleiex camera, and felt the unique design would
make for an interesting project. But it quickly became an
experiment in realism.
When people knowingly look at 3D art, they often spend
their time looking for aws; anything that gives away the
fact that its a 3D production. If they dont know its a
production, their eyes will still often notice anything that is
out of place, especially if the object is well-known.

Easy-to-follow guides
take you from concept
to the nal render

Artist info

Achieve ultimate
3D realism
I began to make that the focus of the production, I wanted
to create the camera and have it look as lifelike as possible.
There is a huge industry in commercial art, which many feel
is less creative than original art, but the skill required to
create 3D images so accurately that they can pass as real, is
just as artistic as any other.
This tutorial will take you through my workow and
design process from start to nish for this camera
production. We will go through modelling techniques,
applying UVW mapping, texturing, lighting and nally the
postproduction stages.

Personal portfolio site
Country United States
Software used 3ds Max, mental
ray, Photoshop
Expertise I am a 3D artist
working in modelling, texturing
and lighting. My passion is
visualisation and postwork. I
want to make things look as
realistic as possible, and thats
all in the details!

Know your subject

Start with planning and basic modelling
gather reference

Spending time to nd the right

reference is extremely
important. You cannot create
something from your memory.
Its not the overall shape or
general details of an object that
make it look convincing, its the
subtle details, the ones that are
normally not captured in your
memory. Its easy to get excited
about a new project and jump
right in with little or no
reference, but in the end this
results in a lot of reworking, or
an object that does not truly
reect what you were trying to
create originally a.

a Gathering as much

02Build the model

reference material for your

project as possible will
ensure the greatest realism

b Modelling each part to a

precise scale is essential for

the nal render

The entire model needs to be built to

scale with all proportions being accurate to the actual
real-life camera. Anything of in scale is easily noticeable. When
working on the double bayonet, I started by creating a 72-sided
circle, highlighting 1/6 of the total circle and deleting the rest. I then
modelled out the detail in that section of the bayonet b.
3D Art & Design



Logos, texturing and lighting

Customise the logos and textures for your model

03Find symmetry

modelling that 12-sided
section of the bayonet, I used
symmetry on the X-axis to create the
full 1/3 section (24 sides). Then,
using the Symmetry Rotation tool, I
duplicated twice more, reverting the
top bayonet shape back to the
original 72 sides. The next step is
using symmetry on the Y-axis to
create the bottom bayonet, again 72
sides. This completes the base for
the double bayonet on the front. Of
course there are many more things to
model but this is just to illustrate the
importance of working smart.
Planning your process will really help
you see opportunities to use
shortcuts, such as symmetry c.

04Create text

To create the text for

the brand name on the front of
the camera I started by
choosing Create Splines. I
picked Text, then found the font
that matched the brand name.
A Bevel modier was applied,
then a FFD4x4x4 modier. The
FFD will let you move the lattice
points to get the curve we are
going for. For the rest of the text
plate I modelled around a
cylinder to get a perfect
half-circle using Edge Extrude.
Once that was done I used
Symmetry to mirror over the
other half on the X-axis d.

Be resourceful
Many people have a
morning routine, perhaps
cofee and a paper. My
routine is checking my
favourite online 3D sites
and forums for the latest
news in the industry, new
techniques, inspiration
from the work of other
creatives and so on. Being
a 3D artist requires you to
be both proactive and
resourceful. In 3D there is
so much to learn and the
industry is constantly
evolving, so you cannot
rely on a class or a book to
teach you all you need to
know, and you can never
stop learning. You have to
be able to research, nd
tutorials, experiment and
gure out how to solve
diferent problems and
apply new techniques
with each new project you
work on. Also, you have to
be open to criticism.
Without feedback how
will you be motivated to
keep pushing yourself to
the next level?
c You can use symmetry to
build the front structure

d Adding the recognisable text

is key to adding realism

e Apply the Turbo Smooth

modier to all your surfaces

f Create a screenshot

template for Photoshop


05Place wires

After having
everything blocked in and all
the locking loops in place, its now time
to start applying the Turbo Smooth
modier to everything. Depending on
the distance from the camera, you can
sometimes set the Iterations at 1 or 2,
but because this is a very close shot,
everything has three Iterations applied
so we will not see any faceting e.

06Apply UVWs

The next
stage was adding UVW
mapping to the capture lens. Since the
text around this lens is straight on, we
can select Planar under the Parameters.
Make sure you are looking at your object
in the front view, and not the perspective
view, to take your screenshot. This
screenshot will serve as the template for
the next section, as you move this
element into Photoshop f.

140 3D Art & Design

07Create text and symbols

Once in Photoshop, I used

the Text tool to generate the branding/test details. I then
wrapped that text around the viewing and capture lenses to mimic
the reference images. As the lenses are black and the text is white,
I used the same image for both the difuse and the alpha/mask g.

Achieve ultimate 3D realism

08Make textures in Photoshop

When looking for textures to apply to

your model you will mostly only need to visit the
well-known texture sites. Sometimes, though,
youll come across something that isnt so
common. When this happens, dont be afraid to
just create a new texture of your own. This was
the case when I was making the texture for the
shell of the camera. The original Rolleiex camera
shell was made of leather and then replaced with
a plastic for this newer model. The plastic is made
to resemble the leather from the original.
I brought a reference picture into Photoshop
and drew over it to get a few of the shapes. I then
took those shapes, rearranged them and lled up
the sheet to be used as a Bump map h.


render tim
5,124 x 2,939:

09Apply the texture

After creating the

texture in Photoshop, you can
then move it into 3ds Max to
create a plastic mental ray
material. After several tweaks
from the preset material
parameters I was able to get the
plastic to achieve a matte
appearance with the reection
quality I wanted. Under Special
Purpose Maps there is a Bump
Map slot, this is where I put in
the bump texture I created. I
adjusted the amount to .18 to get
the desired height of the bump
on my model i.

g In Photoshop you can use

i Bring your new textures into

h Photoshop is also very

k Adding a HDR image brings

the Text tool to add detail

useful for making textures

3ds Max and adjust to suit

even more quality realism

Consider the optimal

angles and lighting for
your model

10Lighting and camera angles

I rst nd where I think will be the best place to shoot from,

set my 35mm camera into place and make sure to lock it in. To emulate a real-life studio
lighting, I used two target photometric lights. They emit light from the rectangle shape, which I sized to
scale with my camera. To create this setup I rst researched studio lighting to make sure I would get a
real-life studio look. My other light is a Skylight that I used to run my HDR image through j.

Attention to detail
When creating real-life objects in 3D, its extremely important to focus on the details at all
levels of the design and production. The original block-out must be sized and scaled correctly
and the smallest details have to be included in the model work. Textures are also key, so it
wont matter if the model is perfectly clean, if the textures dont look real then the efect will
be lost. The lighting and staging help to create the nal trompe loeil!
The whole goal of realistic 3D art is to create something that looks like a photograph.
When I was in school at the Art Institute of Dallas, the senior modelling instructor, Micheal
Eudy (aka Polygrinder), always said, Your work is only as strong as your weakest part. This
really taught me that you have to show the same care for creating a small background
element that you would show when creating the hero piece. You cant skip over even the
smallest detail! Getting most things right wont prevent the viewer from nding the one aw
you didnt x, so its worth spending some extra time to work out the kinks.

11HDR image lighting

This step changes the entire mood

and feeling of the scene by using diferent HDR images. The
HDR image is used as a light pass in both the Skylight and the
Environment map slot. This one pass does not give all the light
youll need, only an environmental feel. Render the other lights as
separate passes to give you more control in post should you want
to adjust the light colour or brightness k.
3D Art & Design



Final rendering
Bring your model to life with postwork
Eric Cain

My passion for art started at a young age and my eye for

realism and detail was always apparent, whether I was
drawing comic book characters or gure studies. I only
made the transition into 3D art about three years ago
while getting my degree in Media Arts and Animation.
But as I moved from 2D to 3D, I simply changed the tools I
used to create my art.

12The Ambient Occlusion pass

The Ambient Occlusion (AO) pass is an important step to

create realism, and is one of my favourite passes. The AO pass gives us a Dirt map that helps us
see where light would be naturally occluded. I typically make two AO passes: one with larger Spread
and Fallof than the other. The rst is a general shadow map showing where all the darker areas are on
the model, and the other is only to show extremely dark areas like ne crevices. I then use this in
Photoshop as a multiplier layer in postproduction with a low opacity l.

Los Angeles Country Museum of Art 3ds Max, metal ray,

Photoshop (2012)

I chose to create the LACMA scene because I wanted to create a

whole environment. I was drawn to the intricacy of the staircase and
loved the lamps as a focal piece.

13The Z Depth pass

I used the Z Depth pass to create the auto-focus look that a real camera
would give when taking a photograph. I wanted to achieve a very subtle auto-focus with a slight
blur efect to draw attention the camera. Under Render Setup, add Z Depth and make sure to have
Elements active. Choose your minimum maximum Depth for the focus area. To get an absolute
amount without having to render, you can get out the Tape Measure under the Helpers menu and
measure it from your camera m.

l Make an Ambient Occlusion

pass for accurate shadows

m A Z Depth pass adds the

Low-Poly 1930s Air Compressor 3ds Max, 3Point Shader,
Photoshop (2012)

The challenge here was to create a low-poly model that appears to

be high-poly. This was achieved by maintaining a strong silhouette
that matched the original streamlined design.

14RGB Matte pass

I created an RGB matte

pass to isolate each material on
the model, making it easy to
select each material in post for
masking and adjusting, such as
using blue to isolate the shiny
metal parts. To create the RGB
matte pass you should use the
Material Editor window to
create a standard material for
each colour. Then under
Self-Illumination you need to
check the Color box and use
pure RGB colours. Disable Final
Gather and use the
Environment and Efects
window to turn of the
Exposure Control n.

142 3D Art & Design

quality of a real-life camera

n The RGB Matte pass isolates

each material for masking

o Make nal adjustments to

get the best possible result

15Final composition

The last step is to layer together all of

the above passes in Photoshop to create the nal product.
This can be done in many ways, constructing your own layer stack.
I keep all the originals on the bottom in case I need another
duplicate. I keep my masks (RGB) folder open so I can control and
select them quickly, the lighting passes and HDR images are next.
Next, the adjustment layer folder is the most important in the nal
piece. You have all the options to change anything around, colours,
saturation, exposure and vibrance can really give your piece a new
feel. The AO folder is on top of that, with Opacity at 6-20%. Last
add your Z-Depth, Vignette, and a small amount of noise o.

3D Art & Design


To create hair
I used the Shave And
A Haircut Maya plugin. For the growth of
the hair, I copied the
geometry of the cat,
removed the parts
where I didnt want
any hair and also
created a Density
map in ZBrush

To make the skin appear realistic I painted

nine different textures. The main colour I painted
in ZBrush and added some detail with Photoshop.
I blended Displacement and Cavity maps with the
main colour to create variation
Website www.texelstudi
Software used ZBrush, May
Bio Pavel specialises in mod for
texturing and creating sha es
lms, commercials and gam

Pavel Kondratenko




Software used in this piece

The main point of this work was to study the SSS material in mental ray
and to model wrinkles in ZBrush. The modelling part was rather quick. I
mainly used ZBrush, including retopology work. Afterwards, all the
models were imported into Maya where I set up the lights and the default
materials for the skin, eyes, fabric and gold. The last step in 3D was the
creation of the fur on the cats body. To achieve this I used the Shave And
A Haircut Maya plug-in. The nal composition was made in Photoshop.

Sphynx Cat 2012

I created the wrinkles in ZBrush by

painting a mask on the cats body, to which
I applied the Inate deformer
twice and a little correction
with Smooth and Dam Standard
brushes. For small wrinkles, I used the
Standard brush with an Alpha

Incredible 3D artists take

us behind their artwor

Artist info

Realistic product visualisation in modo


Visualise realistic
products in modo
Luxurious Fountain Pen 2012

Achieve high quality, photoreal renderings using modos Pixar

Subdivision Surfaces, built-in assets and environment lighting
Wojciech Portnicki is a 3D artist who specialises in product visualisation and hard-surface modelling

his tutorial will provide an insight

into my workow for this elegant
fountain pen. It was modelled as
part of my personal portfolio. I wanted to
achieve something detailed and realistic.
Over the next few pages I hope to walk
you through the whole process of creating
the image: from modelling the pen nib, to
applying UV, texture creation, simple light
settings, tweaking the camera, and nally
to the render settings.
To get really smooth results with
geometry well be using Pixar Subdivision
Surfaces (PSub). The benets of using
PSub is that it ofers great features, such
as Rened Edge Weighting and smoother
surfaces with vertices holding more than
four edges (which we normally avoid, but
sometimes its acceptable).
Well also use one of modos greatest
features: built-in assets. Youll see how
easy it is to get great-looking materials
and lighting with just a few clicks.
Meanwhile, Illustrator and Photoshop will
be used for texturing.
While the modelling of the pens upper
part is not covered in the tutorial, or in the
nal image, its essentially a 20-sided
cylinder with three indents at its base, so
you could add it to your own version if you
feel inclined.

Begin the modelling

Start out with a 20-sided cylinder

01Cone-like cylinder

I always like to start my modelling with the parts that look hardest to model that way,
its always downhill from there. When you look closely at the nib its just a cylinder curve-sliced to the desired
shape. Start of by dragging out a 20-sided cylinder. The dimensions of my original mesh were out of scale (1,400mm
tall and a radius of 190mm) but dont worry about that now, you can scale it down later on. Select the bottom ngon and
scale it uniformly to 220% on XYZ a.

02Use the Curve Slice

In Left
view select the Curve Slice tool
(in the Mesh Edit tab). Draw a curve
through the nib. In Wireframe view youll
see the tool has produced extra points in
our geometry to hold the curvature of our
slicing. We dont need these points as
well be Subdividing the mesh so it cant
have ngons. Go to Info & Statistics,
expand Vertices By Polygon, hit + next to
the 2 value then Delete. All the unwanted
vertices are gone. Now delete the extra
polys were left with B.

03Flatten the sides

a Its often best to tackle the hardest bits rst

on a task that way everything gets easier as

the project progresses

b Time to delete the unnecessary polygons.

Head to Info & Statistics to do this

c Use the Edge Extend tool or the Pen tool to

give your nib a tip

144 3D Art & Design

Grab three
polys on each side of the mesh.
Hit R for the Scale tool, set the Action
Center to Local and use the blue handle
to atten the surface of (ensure your
Negative Scale is unchecked).
Now hitting Alt/Opt+C, add three
edge loops in the middle section and one
at the bottom. Draw out a circular shape
for the tip and connect it to the base
mesh. You can do it by using the Edge
Extend tool or using the Pen tool C.


Visualise realistic products in modo


Textures, modo project les

(also EPS and AI les for the
patterns), high-res renders

Artist info

Easy-to-follow guides
take you from concept
to the nal render

Software used in this piece



Reference is very important when it comes to re-creating

real-world objects in 3D. Were not doing a specic pen
model, but we want it to look real. I often start with
browsing image searches online for pictures I like and
compiling them into a reference folder. From what Ive
gathered up I then work out a couple of design choices I
like: old-style ball nib, gold and silver sections, plus
geometric engravings.

Wojciech Portnicki
Username: Wojtek
Personal portfolio site
Country Poland
Software used
Illustrator, Photoshop, modo 501
SP6 (64-bit)
Expertise Product visualisation
and hard-surface modelling
3D Art & Design



Cut, bevel and thicken

Refine the shape of your pen nib
Wojciech Portnicki

I'm a 27-year-old graphic designer with a passion for 3D.

I try to incorporate renderings into my workow as
often as possible, creating advertising illustrations for
my clients. I always seek out opportunities to do more
and more 3D in everyday tasks. My goal is to join a
professional 3D studio some day.
1 Million PLN Credit
Card modo 501,
(late 2011)

I did this illustration of

a prestigious credit
card with a 1M PLN
credit limit for a private
bank. Its the rst, real
metal credit card in
Poland. The magazine
ad said How much
does 1,000,000 PLN
weigh? Just 27.5
grams. The illustration
was delivered in less
than two days modo
handled it like a champ.

04Cut a hole in the nib

The three edge loops we created will be used to hold a circular

shape of a hole in the nib. Create a new mesh layer and in Front view draw an octagon and
place it between the new lines. Hit W for the Move tool, use Snapping for Background Geometry
Constraint and move your shape back until it ts nicely to the nib. Cut it from its mesh and paste it to
the nib layer. Delete the polys around our hole poly and Bridge the edges of the shape and the hole D.

spine edge

Give your pen

nib an edge
by bevelling
its spine

Now select the edge

running down from our
hole all the way to the
tip. Hit Edge Bevel
(with a Round Level of
0) and give it a small
bevel. Select the
created polygon row,
the hole poly and last
hit Delete E.

Retro Tickertape modo 501, Photoshop (2011)

My rst major modelling task. This tickertape was made for an

online line of credit calculator. The tape coming out of it was
animated in Flash, printing out the result of the calculations. In order
to achieve the proper reections, I built a small room around the
tickertape with walls textured using photos of an actual banks ofce.

100 PLN Bill modo

501, Photoshop

Another illustration for a

bank. It shows a
symbolic 100 PLN bill,
made up of small green
globules a symbol
taken from the banks
logo. This fun technique
is especially
straightforward with
modo Replicators and
Surface Generators. The
illustration was used for
outdoor campaigns.

146 3D Art & Design

06Thicken your mesh

While in Polygon mode hit the Thicken tool (in the Basic Tab).
Thicken your mesh inwards by a value you think is best for a fountain pen nib F.

Visualise realistic products in modo


Tweak the model

render tim
3,200 x 2,40 :

Sharpen your edges and add detail


07Radial fallof to round the tip

We should round of the pens tip because now it has

become at. To do this there is no better way than the radial fallof. Play with it until you get
the shape you desire. Dont worry if theres very little geometry to shape the tip with. When you hit
Shift+Tab it all smoothens out. Also, set your mesh subdivision level to 3 or higher G.

Loop Slice to
sharpen edges

Select the loop of polys running

on the edge of the nib and add
two extra loops (Alt/Opt+C) to
sharpen the edges. Switch to
PSub (Shift+Tab) to see the
what efect is made H.

d Add extra details to your pen

nib, such as the hole in the

middle, with three edge loops

f Use reference images or a

real-life pen to help determine

the mesh thickness

g Heres a tip for the tip: use

Radial fallout to round it.

Experiment a little to get the
end result you want

09Model the remainder

Use the Loop Slice tool to

sharpen your pens edges

Think about
Think beforehand about
your mesh in terms of the
proper topology. You need
to have enough polys in
places like the centre of
the nib, to properly hold
the shaped hole. When it
comes to drilling holes in
surfaces in Subdivision
mode, it comes down to
this: draw a shape with the
same number of edges as
the hole that its going to
sit in. Only then will the
Bridging work.

Create the other parts of the

pen. To do the plastic part that sits inside the nib, just
follow the rst steps of modelling the nib itself. Just make it smaller
so it ts inside. The upper part is basically a cylinder with a couple
of indents I.

10Sharpen edges with Edge Weighting

Now using
Loop Slice add an extra loop in the nib and then using the
Edge Extrude tool drive it into the mesh (so theres a nice indent
between the golden and silver part of the nib). While in PSub mode
(Shift+Tab) use the Edge Weight tool for all the edges you want
sharper. In Vertex Map view you can see the changes made while
edge-weighting J.

i The upper part of the pen

isnt in view but can be built

with a 20-sided cylinder and
three indents

j Adding an indent between

the gold and silver sections

with the Edge Extrude tool
can provide a nice feature

3D Art & Design



Final touches
Apply materials, lighting and rendering

12Add details with a custom bump map

11UV creation: Unwrapping

To texture our pen properly we need a nice UV map. Go to the

UV tab and create a new, empty UV map for your mesh. Select an edge loop running along the
side of the nib and also the edge we created for separating its gold and silver parts. Now use the
Unwrap tool (set to Group Normal). This should result in a pretty clean UV map to work with K.

Select all
the polys on your nib you want to be gold and create a new
material (M) for them. Do the same with polys that will be silver.
Now drag and drop the default Gold and Silver materials (from
Assets) inside the gold and silver areas on your model. You can
add your own black and white images to these materials and use
them as bump maps. Be sure to use your UV, I used some default
Illustrator patterns for my nib engravings L.

Experiment with diferent

lighting techniques
Lighting is a major factor here. Often a modo artist may like
to light their objects with luminous polygons. In this case
lighting the object with only the Reection Rays from the
environment (with Global Illumination turned on) turned out
best for me. So keep in mind theres more than one way to
get the same efects; regular modo lights, luminous polys
and Environment Lighting.
k Its time for texturing. Create a
nice, clean UV map for your
fountain pen nib

l For added realism, apply details


13Environment lighting with Global Illumination

If youre happy with your model and your materials, its time
to set the camera for your shot and light your pen. With this
particular project it was super easy. After trying many diferent
light setups I was most satised with a default 3 Point Beige 01
Environment from modos Assets. I only used Reection Rays with
the GI turned on. I unchecked everything else from my
environment. If you choose to you can add a secondary
environment that is only Visible to Camera and set up a suitable
colour gradient for your render background M.

14Depth of eld and render settings

A very slight
depth of eld efect for your camera is a nice touch to the
nal render, but it involves some more tweaking of the Render
Settings. What youll denitely need to do is crank up the
Anti-aliasing samples and the blurry reection rays in the material
settings for the Gold and Silver materials. Also lower the
Renement Shading Rate to 0.1-0.3px. Lower the Shading Rate to
0.1-0.5px for your Base Shader. This should help with the noise
resultant from the Depth of Field camera setting N.

148 3D Art & Design

such as engravings to your

custom bump map. This
particular design was created
using Illustrator

m Your lighting setup and

environment doesnt have to

be overly complicated. A
default 3 Point Beige 01 was
used here

n Applying a depth of eld efect

to your nal composition can
really enhance your image

Artist info


Taha Alkan
Username: tahaalkan
Personal portfolio site
Country Turkey
Software used Maya, ZBrush,
mental ray, Photoshop

Work in progress

3D Art & Design




Artist info

Easy-to-follow guides
take you from concept
to the nal render

Yasin Hasanian

Software used in this piece


Two ZBrush brushes

150 3D Art & Design



mental ray

Personal portfolio site
Country Iran
Software used
Maya, ZBrush, mental ray,
Expertise Yasin specialises in
modelling, texturing, shading
and rendering. He works in the
game and lm industries and
has a passion for character art.

Make realistic food

Make realistic food

Aroma 2012

Achieve realistic textures, materials and lighting for a tasty digital dish
Yasin Hasanian is a CG artist and freelancer

roma was a great opportunity for me

to challenge myself and expand my
skills. Rather than sculpting my usual
freaky creatures, I decided to have a go at
creating realistic-looking food.
This tutorial will be divided into sections: the
rst will look at gathering references and briey
discuss the modelling stages. Since the main

drive of this guide is texturing and rendering, we

will look at these in a little more detail before
moving to the compositing stage.
One of the main challenges of this project was
to ensure I captured the right mood for the scene.
If you look at food photography, youll nd that
the camera focus plays a big role in close-up
shots particularly in dreamy bright scenes

where you have lots of light pouring in or light can

be distinguished from other properties.
In terms of software I used Maya for scene
setup, ZBrush for sculpting, mental ray for
rendering and Photoshop for texturing and
postproduction. However, the ideas and workow
covered in this tutorial can also be applied to
other packages.

Build a concept
Find examples to inform your works realism

02Search for detail

Since I was trying to make the piece look as convincing as possible I

found a lot of fruit-related references. I tried to observe any surface qualities I could nd of
strawberries, seed orientations, peaches, scatterings of light and so on. From there I roughly planned
the pipeline b.

01Gather references

The rst thing you always need to

do is gather references for your work. Without them you
are relying on your imagination. When it comes to creating
something that is photorealistic, you need to have those references
to ensure you capture everything correctly. The risk is always
getting something wrong and because you are dealing with an
object that people are used to seeing, the errors jump out
immediately. Photorealism isnt a forgiving form!

The plan
My inspiration originates
from how elegant
close-up shots of fruit or
other food can be. Usually
fruits treat light in
diferent ways. Some
absorb light, some reect,
some refract and most
combine all these at once.

03Start to model

The modelling
stage was a pretty
straightforward process.
Hard surface objects were
created in Maya whereas
natural ones were
sculpted in ZBrush. For the
strawberry I decided to
create a few seed brushes
in ZBrush, which are
included on this issues
disc. You can use these
brushes to stamp seeds
onto the surface of the
strawberry on a diferent
layer and they can save a
lot of time c.

a References are your friend

b Use detailed references of
fruits that display good
surface qualities
c Working in ZBrush
3D Art & Design



Let the lights in

Get the right tonality and a suitable mood
Yasin Hasanian

Im a 21-year-old CG artist who also works as a

freelancer. I got attracted to CG almost six years ago
and since then I havent let it go. Aside from personal
works I have worked on TV advertisements, TV series,
movies and also games. I study computer science and
my ultimate goal is to work for the top companies.

04Set up the scene

Because this image

was meant to be a stillframe, I
didnt need to make the most
of the Decimation Master
plug-in thanks to the help of a
normal map. Nonetheless
some objects, for example the
cake sponge, only have both
normal and displacement
maps. In some conditions you
may experience viewport
slowdown after importing
some high-res geometries. To
overcome such issues you can
always export high-res
geometries as a MI (render
assembly) le format and treat
it as a render proxy d.

Say Cheese to The World Maya, ZBrush, BodyPaint 3D,
Photoshop, mental ray (2010)

The inspiration for this came from a painting I found by chance. I

used Shave and a Haircut and p_HairTK for the fur. There are
roughly 13 million hair prims divided into ve hair systems.

I Used to be a Hero
Maya, ZBrush,
mental ray,
BodyPaint 3D,
Photoshop (2012)

Maya was used for

scene setup, ZBrush
for sculpting,
BodyPaint 3D for
texturing, Photoshop
for texturing and
compositing and last
rendering was done
in mental ray.

05Edit lighting

Before I actually began texturing models I

created a temporary lighting setup to get the overall mood
for the scene, because it renders much faster and more efciently.
The rst thing to manage was setting up the scene, meaning
applying all the normal or displacement maps if applicable. All
objects were given mia_material_X_passes as no other shader can
beat them in accurate behaviour. Usually I keep the lighting setup on
a separate render layer which has a grey material (mia_material)
override in order to adjust lighting later more easily e.

06Use the linear workow

Miss Mutation Maya, ZBrush, mental ray, Photoshop (2010)

The model is Ophelia Overdose. Maya was used for the base mesh
and scene setup, ZBrush for sculpting, Photoshop for texturing and
nal touches, mental ray for rendering and compositing in NUKE.

152 3D Art & Design

After setting up the scene

the most crucial factor not to overlook is LWF (linear
workow). In the recent versions of Maya there are LWF features but
I can never get them working the way they should. Its best to assign
a lens shader to the camera and a gammaCorrect node to any
textures or colour swatches (RGB channels). Regarding shaders and
lights, even blackbody or cie_d nodes produce RGB values rather
than Kelvin Color Temperatures therefore they need to be gamma
corrected if they are connected to the colour input of any node f.

and some
In order to get a decent
look for the cloth piece I
decided to simulate it
with nCloth by simply
colliding the dish to the
cloth. After that I took it
to ZBrush to add
high-frequency details,
such as the vertical
pattern and pitch fuzz
pores. One thing to bear
in mind about the
peaches is that there is
another layer of
geometry around them.
This represents the
water coat layer on any
wet surfaces. That layer
also maintains the
curvature at the contact
areas to catch nice
highlights. To create
that layer, in ZBrush I
combined all medium
resolution peaches
together and sculpted
the layer in a way that it
could represent a water
shell around them.
To handle objects
that need some sort of
surrounding, repeating
pattern, I often use
Radial Symmetry. Later
when Im satised with
the look I add another
layer and deform the
object to suit the piece.
This method usually
saves a lot of
headaches, not to
mention time.

Make realistic food

Add textures
Complete your lighting, move to materials and shading

07Turn on the lights

Going back to the lighting stage, the

scene has an IBL node with a suitable HDRI image for the
environment and a blurred version of it for nal gather. I also based
my camera angle upon the IBL node orientation in the scene. Aside
from the IBL casting nal gather I created two key Area Lights in
places where they can be regarded as light sources in the HDRI
image. Matching these key lights with the light sources in the
image is essential, because with close-up positions where you
have so much white reection the viewer expects to see some
difuse contributions g.

08Edit environment efects

Portal lights are connected to Area Lights to focus FG rays. If

you dont check Use Custom Environment, the program will automatically sample the
environment colour that the camera sees by default unless its given a diferent environment look-up,
so not checking it is preferred in this case. These lights also emit photons, as its a close-up interior
shot, to provide even more decent light bounces h.

Shader setup
Note that when you plug SSS shaders in to mia_materials, the difuse weight is exactly the
same as that of the SSS shader. To get best results, turn of any specularity feature on the
actual SSS shader because that is supplied by mia_material. As I said earlier, be aware that
any colour values must be gamma corrected. However, remove those nodes in the images to
reduce the complexity of the networks you are viewing.
Whenever I deal with objects that have cracks, dips, pores, wrinkles or other
imperfections, I switch my model to the highest level and create textures based on the mask
and ambient occlusion. Both of these will come in handy with texture painting, clearly and
easily dening shapes.
In order to achieve the pitch fuzz efect on a suitable object, such as the piece of cloth, I
applied a high-frequency displacement map to simulate pores at render time. In this case I
chose to use displacement maps because light can interact with them much better than with
bump or normal maps. Also dont forget to amplify roughness in mia_material on particularly
rough objects.

09Begin texturing and shading

Almost all the models

were textured in Photoshop and the rest in ZBrush. The
maps I prepared for the objects were mainly colour, gloss,
reection, bump and normal maps. For the strawberry object I
created a mask separating its seeds and later used it to separate
the seed shader from the rest of the strawberry with the help of the
mix8.Layer shader (
shaders/c/mix8-layer-for-mentalray). Therefore it consisted of
two shaders, one for the esh and one for the seeds. The mia_
material shader for the strawberry esh had an SSS shader plugged
into its additional colour i.

d Final assembly of the models

e The scene lighting setup

h Settings of the Area Light on the

left side, including its plugged
portal light on the right

f It doesnt matter which lens

shader is used. The crucial
factor is the gamma values

i Textures and shaders used for

the strawberry with a bit of help
from mix8.Layer

g Two soft Area Lights plus an

IBL. The key light is on the left

j Cake sponge textures. Some of

them were polypainted

10Cake sponge and peaches

Many cake pieces had an SSS shader plugged into them to

make them look more convincing. For instance, the cake sponge has epidermal and subdermal
maps, dictating it to get more saturated and reddish the more light leaks inside. There are four diferent
types of peach slices scattered around the center, each of them has its own textures to add some
variations to the rendered image. Each peach slice is consisted of two parts: shell and esh. Knowing
that, I used mix8.Layer for them as well to separate the two parts. Both esh and shell have their own
SSS shader setup j.
3D Art & Design




nder tim

Render setup

Resolution e
1,232 x 1,400:

Finalise the look development and render

11Add jam shading

12Render pass options

To have maximum control over

the look of the nal image I rendered it in passes in a single
EXR le. Separate the SSS pass to front, middle and back to have
maximum control over it. When you are trying to get a realistic 3D
image, check the 32-bit Full Float output otherwise you will not be
able to get nice burnt highlights in postproduction owing to the fact
that hot spots in 8-bit or even 16-bit images cant be tweaked to
bleed into another colour without crushing down the shadows l.

Now its time to explore

the jam shading. Technically
speaking jam is a refractive/
translucent type of material, so
it lets light through but only to a
certain extent. To do this I
activated Use Max Distance
under Advanced Refractions
and gave a darker red colour to
gradually fall into the material. I
also used translucency to make
it seem more believable. In
addition to jam shading, to
obtain some variations in its
dryness or wetness I created a
glossiness map and added it to
the shader k.

13Avoid shortcuts

my experience you can
achieve burnt highlights by
either not following the LWF,
with the help of lens shader
(that doesnt grant you the
freedom you have in post) or
tweaking light and material
attributes too much. As a result
its best to render out 32-bit
images. We see those
highlights in so many situations
during our day, its best to have
them in our work as well.
Simply play with the image
levels and experiment m.



Composited SSS







Its necessary to observe objects in reality as much as you
can and work from their surface properties for inspiration.
Notice how dirt in diferent climates changes and where
scratches occur on varying surfaces. This way you can
extend your knowledge to create new stuf yet have it look
convincing and real because it draws from genuine sources.

l Render passes. The composited SSS pass is the combination of front,

middle and back SSS passes which were rendered out separately
The composited image is
brought into Photoshop as
an 8/16-bit image to be
retouched further

14Begin post work

Having the passes, I

went into NUKE to do a simple
composite because Photoshop
is poor at handling 32-bit EXR
les. After that I sent it to
Photoshop to complete the
nal touches. Usually
postproduction for me is where
I can bring the image to life. I
try to capture the desired mood
as much as possible. This
doesnt have any specic
formula, just try anything that
works for you, come back to it
after a day, ip it and x the
aws you nd n.

k Sometimes translucency is very
sensitive to light changes. As its
a fake approach, often it
requires experimentation

m Even after adjusting levels the

8-bit image still cant get close
to the 32-bit. You can also see
render settings here

It wasnt possible to cover everything in this short tutorial,
so I basically tried to demonstrate the key stages of the
process. I hope you have grabbed something from this
tutorial to take forward in your work.

Progress of the post work

from left to right

154 3D Art & Design

15Go to postproduction

The goal was to achieve a

lush image with vivid colours. In
post the main jobs were
sharpening, colour correcting,
adding DOF with the help of a
zDepth pass, placing some
chromatic abberations, including
grains, rening a few shapes,
painting out a few aws and so on.
To intensify the light brightness
thats coming from left I screened a
gradient to the whole image o.

Artist info


Rod DeWeese

Rod worked for eight years in the

landscape architecture industry
before pursuing freelance work

Username: RDeWeese
Personal portfolio site
Country US
Software used
3ds Max, mental ray, Photoshop

Work in progress

This image was created for a contest by the Gnomon Workshop.

Its something I had wanted to do for a while but never got around
to, so the contest was the perfect excuse to do it. By the way, I took
Rod DeWeese, Old World Alley, 2012
second place in the competition!
3D Art & Design



(LWO les)
Tutorial screenshots

Model and render

a photorealistic watch
This masterclass will introduce a workflow to
help you model and render a Rolex wristwatch

his tutorial will focus on the

production of a photorealistic
render of a wristwatch. Workow
is always important to avoid back-tracking
and repeating steps as much as possible.
Part of what will be specically looked at is
the process of completing the work with
the best tools for the job. In this case well
use LightWave for modelling because its a
rock-solid polygon modeller. Breaking out of
a simple LightWave workow even
though it has a good renderer well step
into other software to render.
Why move out of LightWave, you ask?
Well, as simplicity isnt always a good
reason to limit your options, its important
to understand all the tools you have at your
disposal, and when to use them.
As well as LightWave, I often use
Luxions KeyShot Pro and the Bunkspeed

156 3D Art & Design

Pro Suite. You can grab trials for these from

the respective websites: www.keyshot.
com/try and
software/trypro. Both are very capable and
very fast rendering solutions, which for
many projects provide a much faster
turnaround than LightWave alone.
Taking that into account, the basic
workow well cover is the setting up of
reference images and the modelling of the
watch. Modelling will include the assigning
of surfaces ready for shading. This requires
some consideration with regard to the
model going into the third-party renderers.
This is because the surface assignments
will dictate how the model is editable within
the other renderers. There is also some UV
mapping to do.
Once all the work is done in LightWaves
Modeler, our workow will split. For

Final render of the Rolex

Yacht-Master II in
24-carat gold

Ambient occlusion render

pass of the Rolex
Yacht-Master II

Model and render a photorealistic watch

Its all about the
materials you use
The thing with CGI is that no single
aspect is going to hold up on its own.
Creating a stunning model is part of the
requirement, but no matter how good
your model is, on its own it will have little
impact beyond showing you can model
well. Dress it in poor textures and
shaders and itll render up being a
disappointing mess. More often than not
there is no complete shortcut to
shaders. You can build a library, but
often they will be to a greater or lesser
degree shot-specic and need tweaking
each time you use them.

continuing work in LightWave, we will start

working on shaders, which may mean
starting by loading up a library preset or
starting from scratch. There are texture
maps to create for the watch face as well.
For rendering in KeyShot or Bunkspeed,
we have a little extra work to do. Neither
renderer will import LightWave LWO les,
so we need to translate to a compatible
format. This can be either OBJ, FBX, or
Collada (Bunkspeed only). My personal
experience with LightWave is that the FBX
exporting works well and will export
animations with reasonable success,
though some parenting can cause issues
along with the use of sliders. LightWaves
OBJ exporting isnt great and my preference
is to use Deep Exploration. This enables the
exporting of an entire scene as an OBJ,
which seems to be the best compromise
for most situations.
Whichever method you use, its worth
pointing out that it represents pretty much
the end of any LightWave input to the end
result. This means you need to be really
certain that your modelling work is nished,
that all your surfaces are correctly assigned
and all required UV sets have been created.
Failure to do so can see you needing to go
back to LightWave to do further work, and
efectively write of a lot of time spent
working on the model in KeyShot or
Bunkspeed. Not only that but youll also
have to spend time copying and pasting
shaders onto the newly re-imported assets.
This isnt the end of the world, but it can
become frustrating quite quickly.
Once your model is imported into
KeyShot or Bunkspeed, the workow from
this point on is pretty much the same.
Although the shader congurations are a

a With the backdrop

set up we can
begin the basic

B Modelling is

completed and
geometry frozen
for rendering and

little diferent, there are distinct parallels

between them.
The common factor with all the options
covered here, is that you will spend a fair
amount of time tweaking and rendering.
LightWave now has VPR, which is a
real-time updating render preview. This can
be a real help when working with shaders
and is very similar to both the other
renderers, though they are much faster and
more responsive.
A workow consideration that might not
apply to everyone is compatibility with
CAD systems. LightWave can handle OBJ,
Collada, and FBX, but these dont directly
help with CAD. The other two go a step
further. Bunkspeed ofers a free plug-in for
use with various other software systems,
with Pro/E being one of the main ones in
CAD terms, but it requires a licensed copy
of Pro/Eand not everyone will have a
licence for it. KeyShot also has the native
ability to load Pro/E les, keeping all the
sub components and hierarchies intact.
This is a very nice tool to have at our
disposal, and a big consideration if you deal
with CAD assets a lot.
Having looked at the workow
considerations, lets check out an overview
of creating the asset to be rendered, and
then the processes involved in rendering it
in three diferent renderers.

01Prepare to model

First you need to nd a suitable

reference to use as a foundation for the basic modelling
process. In an ideal world we would have side and front views of
a wristwatch. Although decent-enough front views are easy to
nd from a Google Images search, I couldnt nd a decent side
view for this Rolex. My reference is plentiful enough for the job,
though, and I can gauge the depth of the watch, so its not the
end of the world. With the front view set as the backdrop, basic
model blocking can now begin A.

02Freeze the model

We have quite a complex

watch to model, so for rendering in close the SubD
levels need to be quite high. I nd even for rendering in
LightWave it can be benecial to freeze the model, as it saves
LightWave having to freeze the model each time at the point of
rendering. Not only that, but for rendering in KeyShot or
Bunkspeed PRO, the model needs to be frozen anyway. Just be
very sure that you have completed all modelling and UV
mapping before doing so B.
3D Art & Design




Set up the scene For this

subject matter, a typical scene
doesnt need to be complex at all and for
the main render featured here, its not. I
have three light cards arranged cylindrically
around the watch, which I have set as
unseen by radiosity. Their purpose is just
for reections. An HDRI map in the texture
environment plug-in provides the lighting.
Ive used one of Doschs Chrome Studio
maps set to 90% Intensity. However, any
with good light and dark contrasts would
work well for our purposes C.


Arrange your shaders The

screenshot for this stage shows

you the major settings for the 24-carat gold
shader. When it comes to shaders you may
wish to remain relatively old-school and
keep use of nodes is minimal when it can
be. Never make it more complicated than it
needs to be! In the case of the gold shading,
its not the most complicated thing to do
and really comes down to getting the colour
right along with the balance of difuse and
reection. Provided is the full LightWave

158 3D Art & Design

shader collection used in this Rolex

Yacht-Master II model D.


Render the scene A few years

ago you wouldnt have been

tempted to render something like this in
LightWave. All the reections and
refractions added to radiosity would have
made render times prohibitive. LightWave
11 has made things faster and simpler. All
the major rendering-related settings are
now in the Render Globals panel. For this
scene, shading and light samples can stay
at 1. Also, interpolated GI isnt the fastest
option, so with it turned of, GI set to Monte
Carlo and the RPE set to 4, were good to
go. I usually keep the adaptive threshold at
0.01 for nals. Minimum Samples on the
camera are kept low, but maximum
samples need tweaking for your scene E.


Export and render

There are several options available

for getting geometry out of LightWave and
into KeyShot or Bunkspeed Pro. My
favoured method is Right Hemispheres

KeyShot or Bunkspeed which

one is the best for me?
The thing to remember is that they are only renderers, so in this
example neither can replace LightWave completely. There are
also some key diferences to each that are worth being aware of.
First, there is the power for rendering. KeyShot primarily uses
your system CPU and RAM. No matter how fancy and high-end
your video card is, the most itll be used for is bloom and vignette
efects. Bunkspeed, however, enables you to specify the use of
system resources for rendering. It can use your system CPU,
your video card GPU, or a hybrid mix of both. This is great but
you are restricted by how much memory your video card has.
Deep Exploration. The main reason is that it
can read a LightWave scene, including
animation, and enable you to export to
Collada and FBX. This is great if you want to
render an animated sequence outside of
LightWave. It also makes it a snap to export
any frame of the scene as an OBJ le. As a
user, you will rarely render sequences
outside of LightWave, so OBJ is the way to
go. LightWave will export Collada natively,
but for reasons not entirely clear, the le
sizes are in excess of ten-times the size of
those from Deep Exploration F.

c A simple scene

with an HDRI map

is all well need

D Shading in

LightWave try to
keep it simple

E Major render

settings in
grouped together

F Using Deep

Exploration to
export the watch

Model and render a photorealistic watch


Import into either KeyShot or

Bunkspeed On account of their

similar product specs and pipelines, there is

not a great diference in how you get the
model into KeyShot or Bunkspeed. Both
ofer you options as to how the object will
be organised after the import has
completed. The default options work well in
both cases, giving you a separate entity for
each material from LightWave. This means
its worth giving consideration to this when
surfacing the model in LightWave to avoid
restrictions later. If any applied texture
maps are placed in the folder with the OBJ
le, then both renderers will load the
textures in while importing the model G.

G Import options for

both KeyShot and

H Working on the

model in KeyShot

I Working with

shaders inside
of Bunkspeed

J Adding realism

through grading


Begin shading and rendering

in KeyShot

Once the model has imported, shading is

where the workow gets quicker compared
to LightWave. You can simply drag and
drop materials, environments and
backplates from the library right onto the
model in the main window. The materials
can be tweaked and saved as new library
items, but for the major part the presets are
great as they are. If you dont require
renders in excess of your active screen
resolution, you can simply save the preview
render. If you need high-resolution output
then the ofine render can be used for
nished output H.


Alternative shading and

rendering in Bunkspeed Pro

After importing into Bunkspeed Pro, as with

KeyShot, you start by dragging and
dropping materials onto your model. The
library of supplied materials, environments,
and backplates is enough to cover most
requirements. Parts of the model can be
hidden to gain access to parts otherwise
blocked from drag-and-drop operations.
For rapid turnarounds without
compromising quality, its a great tool to
use, even if its not exactly cheap I.

Pitfalls with LightWave radiosity

When you render using radiosity with LightWave, its best to throw your
assumptions aside. When rendering this scene, using interpolated Final
Gather would seem a logical way to go. Interpolation after all is lling in the
blanks between dened ranges. However, by switching of Interpolation and
using Monte Carlo instead, along with some other tweaks to the settings
such as a low RPE setting along with shading and lighting samples, the
render times are brought down from in excess of 16 hours to under 3.5
hours. This is worth remembering when using LightWave if you are
rendering in it.


Grade your renders There is no

doubt that the results that can be

obtained from LightWave, KeyShot and
Bunkspeed are fantastic, but one of the
biggest mistakes to make is to assume that
the process ends there. I nd just adding a
little chromatic aberration and noise to the
image is enough to take away the clean CGI
look. Also adding a colour tint to make it a
little less neutral is a great way to achieve
this. With the aid of a depth pass, you can
also add depth of eld, which is pretty
crucial for LightWave renders, as rendering
DOF in LightWave is still prohibitive of your
precious time j.

3D Art & Design


Whether theyre realistic or fantastical,
develop your environments with our tutorials
162 20 steps to better


Improve your terrains from concept

to completion

169 I made this Rue de Seine

Viktor Fretyn talks through his art

170 Underwater landscapes


Create a realistic underwater scene

175 Gallery Dennis Kaya

Taking a look at Neon City

176 Create a desert landscape

Blend 3D & matte painting techniques

to produce a Mars-like landscape

181 I made this Under the

Southern Highway
A bleak yet beautiful scene

182 Create trees in Unity

Get to grips with Unitys Tree Editor

184 Futuristic cityscapes

How to create a floating city

190 Sculpt beautiful terrains

Create picturesque terrains in Unity

192 Design an epic Vue



Key steps to building an epic


197 Gallery Lee Griggs

We look at Lee Griggs spooky scene

From planning to
rendering and postproduction, you will learn
all the techniques
160 3D Art & Design


Lighting can make or

break a scene, whether its
a realistic, fantasy, surreal
or sci- landscape

3D Art & Design



20 steps to better

The concept for this image came from wanting to

create a piece dedicated to a person who lived below my
apartment, who suffered from Alzheimers disease
Toni Bratincevic is a senior environment modeller at Blizzard Entertainment in the
Cinematic department. Hes a self-taught 3D artist with almost ten years of
professional experience
his tutorial will cover the making of Consumed, focusing mostly on my personal
approach to the modelling process. I will show how basic modelling is done in 3ds Max
using some simple techniques, and how ZBrush is used to sculpt the character and additional
objects featured in the scene.
To finish up I will quickly go over some procedural texturing techniques to add dirt layers on wood
and will show you how V-Ray RT can be used to set up lighting in an interactive way.
Im using ZBrush primarily as my sculpting tool, but I also often rely on its texturing and UV
unwrapping tools, as well as its geometry optimisation tool, Decimation Master. So lets begin!

162 3D Art & Design

20 steps to better environments

Artist info

3D artists explain the

techniques behind
their amazing artwork

Toni Bratincevic
Username: InterceptoV
Personal portfolio site
Location California, USA
Software used
3ds Max, Photoshop, ZBrush,
V-Ray RT
Expertise Toni works with
environments professionally,
and is currently focusing on
character modelling in his spare
time to introduce more variety
into his portfolio

Find screenshots of Tonis

detailed edits, including his
render settings

3D Art & Design



Software used
in this piece

A basic concept for this

image was drawn on
paper with pencil a few
years ago. It was just a
simple sketch that
captured the general
idea. I later added colour
in Photoshop.

Start the layout and modelling

Establish the scene and create models for the environment


Scene blocking After gathering my various pencil sketches together, I set up the
basic layout of the scene and stage the camera. This step takes me around ten
minutes. Im not wasting time keeping topology clean and making good UVs. At this point Im
starting most of the objects from a simple box and using poly-modelling tools like Cut,
Extrude, Bridge and Connect. Im aiming to model all objects that will serve as starting points
for the high-poly modelling. Its also during this stage that I dene the basic camera position
so that Im building the scene based on what I see. I will also establish the basic composition
during the process a.


Basic lighting Next I establish the overall lighting of the scene. Although some

artists tend to create lighting in later stages, I usually decide to work on it as soon as I
create the layout. Lighting along with camera view will dene what parts of the scenes are
more visible, what will be in focus and what I should concentrate my time modelling and
texturing. This basic lighting is done with a couple of V-Ray area lights. One light uses a
warmer tone and serves as a primary to illuminate areas where the character should be, while
others are used as ll lights with cooler colours b.

164 3D Art & Design

a Simple objects to stage the

scene and build the layout

b The basic lighting setup to

check which objects are
more in focus

c Models from the layout are

exported into separate
assets for detailing


3ds Max



V-Ray RT

Always be
The rst steps are usually
the most important when
creating an image
especially one that is more
complex. These are the
stages where everything is
established in a broad
sense: the composition,
distribution of objects,
forms, basic light setup
and colour correction for
the nal image. Its
essentially a simplied
draft version of what the
end result will be. After
this point its just a matter
of being patient and
detailing all the objects,
textures, materials and
light to bring the image to
the nal version. If you
dont feel comfortable
with the layout youve
completed and you cant
imagine it as a nal work,
then try starting from
scratch and beginning
everything again in a
diferent way. Imagine this
process as paving the way
to the nal product after
which you only need to
take steps forward!

Organise assets I prepare separate les and

model objects for the scene. The fridge, which in

layout was a simple re-modelled box object, is exported to a
separate scene named Fridge_V01_01.max where I can
re-model and detail the object. The layout model of the
fridge is positioned to t the layout scene but when I export
this placeholder object into the new scene I reset all the
transformations so its positioned at the origin where I did all
the re-modelling. I merge this model back into the original
scene and align it to the layout model of the fridge C.

20 steps to better environments

Detailed modelling
Re-create your models from the initial layout to perfect the level of detail



Pose the character Although my original layout

Shape rocks

didnt have a character, in the later stages I decide

to add one. My intention is to sculpt a character in ZBrush, so
I create a base suit model in 3ds Max, starting from a box
and using standard Edit Poly tools. If youre using ZBrush, a
base model can also be created simply using ZSpheres. After
completing an unposed base model I use the Move, Rotate
and Scale tools with Soft Selection active to position the
character in the scene. I make the helmet completely in 3ds
Max. It has a totally clean topology since I use a
TurboSmooth modier on top of the model to achieve
smoother surfaces d.


Sculpt detail with ZBrush I export the base

character model into an OBJ format (using the

ZBrush preset). In ZBrush I merge the OBJ, subdivide it a
couple of times and, using brushes like Move, Clay Buildup,
Smooth and Dam Standard, I sculpt all the wrinkles and
details on the suit. Once Im done sculpting, on the rst level
of subdivision I use UV Unwrap in ZBrush to create simple
UVs for the character. I could export back to 3ds Max on one
of the lower subdivision levels of the objects and create a
Displacement map. This time I choose to export the highest
level to keep all the details Ive sculpted, since with
displacement you always lose some sculpted details e.

In ZBrush I start
with a Cube3D made into a
mesh by pressing Make
PolyMesh3D. I subdivide it a
couple of times while having
Smooth turned of for the
rst two levels of
subdivision. After that, using
the hPolish, Clay Buildup,
Pinch and Dam Standard
brushes, I sculpt a couple of
variations of stones that I
use around the scene. UVs
are also done in ZBrush
using the UV Master tools. I
use the Decimation Master
plug-in for ZBrush to
optimise meshes and reduce
mesh complexity. Once the
objects are decimated I
export them as OBJ les and
merge them all into a 3ds
Max le where I can
continue texturing f.




Set dressing Objects used for set dressing are relatively simple to model. Some of
them are created by drawing a prole curve and using the Lathe modier to revolve it
around its axis, like a few bottles and a teapot. Other objects are created from a simple box
and extruding and cutting the mesh to make the shapes needed. At this point I also create
simple UVs using the UVW Map modier with box mapping. These objects are later merged
into the original layout scene and distributed around the image to add complexity where
needed g.

Tear of the light box panel To peel the light box

panel above the clock Ive developed a simple
technique. Once the panel is modelled and textured I make a
duplicate of the same object and apply a Subdivision
modier with a value of 0.2. After that, I convert it back into
Edit Poly object and cut areas where I want the peeling paint
to appear. Then, using Soft Selection and Move/Rotate tools,
I move the inner edges of the mesh so it looks like its peeling
from the original object h.
d The character is modelled
and posed in 3ds Max

e Sculpt the character from

the base mesh

f Rocks are made in ZBrush,

including the base mesh

g Objects for set dressing

created in a separate scene

and later scattered around
the base scene

h More details for the top

light panel are added by

copying the original object
3D Art & Design




Model the clock Before I even start modelling the

clock I already know that it will be geometry thats

repeated radially, so I just have to model one part and copy it
around seven times to get a complete shape. Because of this
I model only one part that covers 45 degrees and later copy
another seven elements around its axis point. The nal frame
is merged into one object and shared vertex points at the
edges are welded. The frame of the clock is started as a
prole curve with the Lathe modier, plus some additional
modelling. The round gears inside the clock are created using
modied cylinder curves to get nice shapes and are
converted into objects using the Bevel modier i.


Create cobwebs All the cobwebs around the scene

are made using free scripts from http://jokermartini.

com/2012/05/09/cobwebs. I pick the scene area where I
want to have a cobweb, create a couple of polygons that are
placed on top of the surfaces where webs will connect and
then select these polygons in order. I save a selection for
these polygons because it takes a lot of tries to get the right
result. Next I enable Radial Mesh in Editable Spline and apply
small Noise and Displacement modiers on top of everything
to add some randomness to the shapes of the strands in the
web. As for the options, I use Type Order for main strands,
and Radial for substrands. I also set Subdivisions to 4,
Number of Substrands to 6 and Random Gaps to 50% j.


Break up wood Areas where I want broken wood are

modelled using ProCutter. I decide what parts of the
objects to break and detach them from the originals. A plane
is then made with a high level of subdivision, like 100 x 100.
Its placed perpendicular to the wood object and, using Move
with Soft Selection, is shaped to dene the base form of the
cut. After that I apply a Noise modier to the cutting object
(plane) and change the settings to deform only in axes
perpendicular to the wood object. Using ProCutter tools on
the base wood object, I pick the plane object as a Stock
Object and play with settings to get a clean cut. For a better
distribution of polygons I turn on Make Quadrilaterals and
convert everything back into Editable Poly objects k.


Model with displacement While most of the objects in the scene are created using

standard modelling tools, to add small stones around cabinets I use a 2D

Displacement map with a water level feature. I do this by adding a Displacement modier
with a map to a simple plane object and set the water level in the Displacement map to
0.5cm. This cuts the object where the maps value is lower than 0.5, while leaving the rest of
the displacement visible. This plane is then copied and placed around the scene to bring in
additional details. Depending on its position in the scene, parts of that at displaced plane are
deleted to t objects behind them l.

2D Displacement in V-Ray?
Although nice efects can be achieved with 3D Mapping
Displacement mode in V-Ray, whenever I can I try to use
the 2D Displacement feature, which is much faster and
more predictable. It can also produce more detailed
displacement than the other two methods, and is especially
useful for surfaces that are relatively at like a grass eld or
tileable ground covered with small stones. The limitation of
2D Displacement is that it can only use Displacement maps
that are based on the UV space of the object, which means
3D textures like noise cant be used. In this case the 3D
method is the only way to go.

166 3D Art & Design

i Model only one section of the clock and

k The ProCutter compound object is used to

j The cobwebs are made using a free script

l 2D Displacement is used to add geometry

copy it seven times to get the full shape


break the wood boxes around the scene

details over the scene

20 steps to better environments

Texture the scene

Use procedural techniques with bitmaps to texture your environment


Wood textures For the wood I use a tileable texture

in combination with a Vertex map to add dirt. Using
the Vertex map modier applied to an object, I paint with
black where I want dirt to appear. Inside the material
assigned to that object I add a Composite map in the Difuse
channel and use wood as a rst layer. In the second layer I
add a dirt texture, change the second layer to Multiply and
set the Opacity to 80. As a mask for the second layer I use
another Composite map. In the rst channel I use a Vertex
map and in the second I put a Black-and-White map, setting
the channel to Overlay. This gives me all the exibility of
using a Vertex map to paint dirt directly on the objects
around the scene, while still using only one material for all
these objects m.


Texture the fridge The fridge texture is created by

The power
of procedural
While painted bitmaps can
be used to produce ne
details on objects, its not
efcient to paint every
single texture for all
objects in the scene.
Because of this, a lot of the
time I try to use tileable
textures with additional
dirt layers placed in a
procedural way to
randomise the visual
appearance. To achieve an
greater level of texture
complexity, I rely on these
maps: Noise Texture,
Fallof, V-Ray MultiSubTex,
Composite and Cellular.
m The procedural approach
using the Vertex Paint
modier to add dirt

n Fridge textures painted in

Photoshop. A scratch
mask is used to mix the
aluminium material in the
VRayBlendMtl settings

o Paint textures for the back

wall. I bake an Occlusion
map for contact points

p The clock material is a

combination of three
diferent materials

painting all textures without using any procedural

techniques. Using UV tools in 3ds Max I can create nice
non-overlapping UVs. A screenshot of these UVs is brought
into Photoshop where I paint 4,000 Difuse, Reection,
Glossy and Bump maps. I also paint a Scratches Mask map,
which is used to blend two diferent materials in 3ds Max
with a VRayBlendMtl. The base material is the one using the
textures I painted, while the coat material is a simple one,
similar to aluminium, which uses the mask I painted in
Photoshop. This mask is also used to create a Negative
Bump map for the aluminium material n.


Detail the back wall When focusing on the back


wall I bake an Occlusion map to gure out where the

contact points are. Doing this makes it far easier to paint
textures later when moving to Photoshop. To bake I create a
VRayLightMtl, put a VRayDirt texture inside the Color map
of that material and set a proper Radius value for the
VRayDirt texture. This is then applied to the back wall and
baked using the 3ds Max Render to Texture feature. In the
Render To Texture menu, I select the VRayCompleteMap
element and bake a 4,000 texture directly into File. I use
this in Photoshop as a base where I paint Difuse, Bump and
Reection maps. One thing to keep in mind while baking
Occlusion maps is to have good non-overlapping UVs that
are arranged inside UV domains o.


Clock material To detail the clock object I use three

key materials that are mixed together to get the most

efective look. To mix these materials I use a VRayBlendMtl
with a base material set to a metallic copper. The second
one is set to a more difused green material (the more
oxidized areas of the metal). The third and nal material is
highly reective and used to add scratches on top of the
previous two materials. For Material Mix maps I bake an
Occlusion map from 3ds Max and use that Occlusion map
in Photoshop to rene it into a nal Mix map. Based on
occlusion intensity, I paint both Mix maps. Where its more
occluded I add extra dirt into the rst Material Mix map so
that it looks like its more oxidised. However, in areas
exposed and not occluded (white) I add more scratches for
the second Material Mix map p.
3D Art & Design




Lighting and rendering

Reso n time
5,000 lution:

Use V-Ray RT to light the scene quickly and efficiently


Lighting with V-Ray RT Before the nal stage of

modelling and texturing changes, I use V-Ray RT to
lock down lighting in the scene. For the Active Shade render
engine I set V-Ray RT. To make everything more interactive,
in the Active Shade Render menu I do a material override of
the scene with a classic grey VRayMtl. I change the Viewport
from Standard camera view to Active Shade. Once the scene
is translated and I start to render on screen, I can tweak
lighting, add new lights and modify the intensities and
colours of lights. After every change, V-Ray RT renes the
image, instantly showing the efects of changes q.

Raw render
or postproduction?


Physical camera V-Rays camera is used instead of

the classic 3ds Max camera. I decide not to use
exposure inside the VRayPhysicalCamera, which is on by
default. Instead, exposure is added in the V-Ray Color
Mapping menu in Render Settings. I use a Cubic method with
a 0.05 value to get a nice distortion around the image
borders, which gives a more dynamic composition to the
scene and looks more natural. Depth of eld is also used in
the camera to get a nice blurred foreground. I always use
DOF in the camera for still images because it gives better
image quality than doing it in the post-processing phase r.


Rendering in V-Ray I render with the Adaptive


DMC sampler with Subdivisions set to Min 1 and Max

10. An Irradiance map is used as the primary bounce for GI
while Lightcache is used for secondary GI bounces. The
Irradiance map is set to High and I use Ambient Occlusion
set to the default value. For Lightcache I use Subdivs set to
1,500. In the Render Settings menu I set Global Subdivs
Multiplier to 4 to get decent sampling for glossy reections
and DOF. All render tests are done in 2,000 resolution while
the nal image is rendered in 5,000 s.

Although I prefer to make

the nal render as good as
possible, trying to get a
perfect image out of 3ds
Max would consume a lot
of time, since for every
single modication I would
have to render a new
image, which takes a
while. Because of that, I
dont bother getting a
great-looking image from
3ds Max and instead
focus on doing
compositing in Fusion
where I can tweak colours
in a matter of seconds.
q V-Ray RT is used to make
quick changes to the
scenes lighting

r Testing V-Rays camera

with diferent distortion

values. For the nal image
it is set to 0.05

s Settings for the nal render

(screenshots supplied)

t Fusion is used for colour

corrections on the raw

OpenEXR-rendered image


168 3D Art & Design

Final compositing The nal image is rendered in OpenEXR format so that I dont
lose any information from the colour values, like TGA or PNG formats do. This is
then taken into Fusion where I apply several colour corrections to get the values I want. I also
use masks in combination with colour corrections to darken parts of the image in the
foreground while areas around the clock and the character are corrected to be more visible
and to attract attention from the viewer. While doing post work I tend to ip the image often
to get a fresh perspective. The nal image is actually a ipped version of the original t.

I made this Rue de Seine

Artist info

Incredible 3D artists take

us behind their artwor

Viktor Fretyn
Country Hungary
, V-Ray,
Software used 3ds Max
ed in
Bio Viktor is a 3D artist bas
Budapest, Hungary

Software used in this piece

Rue de Seine 2012

I was always in love with this city, so I wanted to create
a series of scenes from diferent locations, all in
diferent styles and all with a little comedic relief. So
far this is the rst image of this series and I hope Ill
have the will power to go on, as it took me six months
just for this one image! I really dont feel like starting
all over from scratch on another scene right now

3ds Max



Try not to use

[from] experience
its so easy to nd
a cool look with a
plug-in and use
the same trick on
all your images.
Its better to
do everything
manually, for me. I
feel more
in control!

Always try to do something original. Even if its

not perfect, its always better to appreciate
something original than a perfectly clean image
thats a copy Nowadays there are quite a few
studios and artists with a distinctive style
3D Art & Design



Software used
in this piece



A Add a single-blade plant

and animate its wind
parameters to give it a slight
curve at zero seconds
Free full copy of Vue 9
Frontier, worth $99, courtesy
of e-on software and
Full Vue Scene with materials,
atmosphere, render settings
and all objects included.

170 3D Art & Design

B Animate the wind

parameters again, this time at
three seconds to the
maximum curvature you want
C Add a standard terrain
and use the Old Rock material
as displacement to create
overhangs and caves

Underwater landscapes

Aquatic Vue

Create idealistic and realistic underwater environments in Vue

Conrad Allan is a freelance environment artist and matte painter

n this article well be covering

advanced techniques for creating
scenes in Vue. While well be
building an underwater scene, the
techniques youll learn are easily
transferred to many other, aboveground creations in the software. First
well be preparing a plant to use as our
seagrass where well use the animation
phasing to make the plant look like

theres a current flowing through. Next

well look into using terrains in a unique
way to get rock overhangs in our ocean
scene for coral to grow on and fish to
swim through.
Veterans of Vue will understand
rendering underwater scenes in it has
always been a challenge. The ocean
material is easy enough to set up
initially, but render times can often be

huge and lighting settings sensitive.

With the advent of Vue 10 came a new
physical water system. It meant
relearning the entire water-rendering
experience. Hopefully by the end of the
article we will have removed the
shroud in your understanding of the
new physical water system.
Were covering a lot of elements and
have a lot to get through, so buckle up.

Artist info


Easy-to-follow guides
take you from concept
to the nal render

Conrad Allan
Personal portfolio site
Country Australia
Software used Vue
Expertise Using World
Machine to create highly
realistic terrains for projects
and creating environments in
Vue for matte paintings and full
3D animations

Set your scene

Prepare for the animations

02Timeline and grass bend


01Animation preparation

We need to
prepare a grass le before we can use it in
our main scene. Add an Acacia Tree Seedling
plant and turn on the Timeline (F11). You can
cancel out of the animation wizard, but this wont
help us. Make sure your current time is set to 0
and drag the wind control (the blue triangle next
to the plant) so it is just out of its middle point a.

Now we have
our initial plant and animation start
position, move the Time slider to 3 seconds and
drag the blue triangle even further to create our
maximum bend in the grass. Make sure to drag
the triangle in the same general direction, as we
dont want to have the grass bend back on itself or
turn in a diferent direction.
Next, go to 6 seconds on the Time slider and
copy the initial frame setting to the end. With the
plant selected, hit Cmd/Ctrl+Shift+B to open the
Animation toolbox and set the Repeat Mode to
Loop. Finally save your object as a VOB le b.

03Create the base terrain

Open up a new
scene and add a standard terrain. Well
need to smooth it out by using the Difuse and
Wind erosion efects.
Were going to take a diferent approach to
normal for creating our underwater terrain. Load
the material Old Rock and in the Bump tab, enable
Displacement. If you render now youll notice the
terrain should look something like the image for
this step. Now is a good time to play with the
depth of the bump to increase the displacement
and the smoothing slider. Try setting the Depth to
0.4 and Smoothing to 50% c.
3D Art & Design



Advanced ecosystem distributions

Create and control the plant life of the sea floor

04Coral ecosystem

On the terrain weve just added,

edit the material and add an ecosystem layer. On this
add two types of aquatic plants: Red Coral and Anemone,
increasing the presence of the Anemone to 2. In the Density
tab, turn of Decay Near Foreign Objects and turn the
Density up to 100%. Depending on the size of your scene
youll need to turn down the overall scaling (in the next tab).
For this scene it is set to 0.095. Turn the maximum X
variation to 1.3 to give some variation in the sizes of
instances. Finally in the Presence tab, change the Maximum
slope to 45 degrees d.

05Basic seagrass ecosystem

Add another
ecosystem layer, ensuring it is below the previous one
in the list. Add the animated grass object we created earlier,
setting the Scale to 0.8 and Density to 100%. For scaling, set
the Overall Amount to 0.5 and the Maximum rotation to 0
degrees. We need all our instances to line up. Also, change
the Direction From Surface to 50%, this will make the
instances tilt a little with the terrain.
Finally, ensure the Presence tab of this layer is set to the
maximum. For the desired efect we want this grass to
appear at all heights and slopes e.

D The settings we used to create

the variations in scaling of the
coral ecosystem
E The density settings for our
seagrass. The distribution
fractal is created in step 7
F The Animation Ofset tab
enables us to create sweeping
currents through the grass
G The distributions cause the
grass animation to ofset. This
will look more realistic under
our ocean

Problems and solutions

Dealing with ecosystems can sometimes be time consuming. If youre trying to get your
distribution patterns correct, increase the scale of your plants temporarily. This will save you
time when populating as there wont be so many instances. I try to avoid using dynamic
populations because they tend to take longer on the rst render than their static
counterparts, but using a static population will use more RAM so be aware of this. Make sure
to only populate ecosystems you need to work on, saving your memory and test renders.
This segment of the tutorial covers a lot of advanced techniques. As such, you should
check how your ecosystem looks at each stage, this will help you learn more about the
efects as well as ensure youre on the right track. Each scene is unique, youll have to check
the scale of your fractals as they may be too big or too small.
If in doubt, check the scene le on the disc for reference, youll be able to cross check your
scene with mine.

H Using a hyperblob, we can
create brain coral by controlling
and ltering a standard
density fractal
I Mix materials to create brighter
areas at the tips of the coral
L By setting the lighting model to
Global Radiosity we can control
it better
M In the Sky, Fog and Haze
settings we can control the light
to darken areas of our image

172 3D Art & Design

06Create currents

To control the grass to simulate

sea currents, head into the Animation tab and tick
Variable Time Ofset. Set the Time Ofset Range from 0 to 6
seconds and Number of variations to 60. Tick the Loop
Animation Phasing box. Now we need to set how the current
appears, so click on the lightning icon next to the Random
option to bring up the Function Editor. Here, replace the
Constant Node with a Noise Node and set it to a Perlin noise
with 0.5 scale. Again, depending on your scene, this scale
may have to be tweaked f.

07Distribution of seagrass

Currently our seagrass

will appear everywhere on our terrain. We dont want
this. In the Density tab, tick Variable Density and edit the
function. Add a Noise node and set the type to Sparse
Cracks. Change the Scale to 3, Wavelength to 3 (X,Y,Z) and
the Crack Width up to around 0.22. This will create big
sweeping black lines for our ecosystem to grow on. Add a
Smooth Threshold lter and edit it to make the black values
stronger. Accept these changes and back in the Density tab,
ip the lter horizontally. This will make the maximum
density occur in the black values instead of white. Finally, in
the coral ecosystem above this ecosystem layer, set the
Repulsion from layer to 50% g.

Underwater landscapes

Ocean and lighting

Atmosphere and ocean setup for lighting


render tim
2,828 x 3,88 :

08Brain coral displacement

Add a sphere to your scene

and Ctrl/right-click on the Create Metablob Object
button to create a hyperblob. Enter the material and in the
Colour & Density tab load the Soft Spots fractal preset. Change
the lter to a Multi-hill fractal, which will create the high, smooth
ridges. Set the Overall Density to 4.5. We dont want holes in
our sphere so tick Use Distance Field and set it to 10%. This sets
the deepest point to be 10% engraved into the sphere h.

09Create materials for the coral

Next, jump
over to the Hypertexture Material and load a
mixed material with Old Rock and Old Limestone. Enable
Inuence of Environment and change the settings so that
the limestone material appears on the at, higher surfaces
of the sphere. Itll require a little tweaking but the result
should be that the white limestone is on the top ridges of
the Coral i.

10Optional details

Create animated sh using a

transparent terrain to control
height displacement

11Add the ocean

We now have our scene pretty much

complete with all of the elements present.
Before we get the lighting right and
change our atmosphere, we need to add
an ocean (top-left button). Double-click
on the Water plane and check both
Displace Water Surface and Underwater
Caustics. Next go into the Material Editor
and on the Default Water layer in the
Transparency tab change the Depth to
12 metres and Anisotropy to 0.80. This is
all we need to do here k.

If you want to add a bit of life to

the coral system, repeat step 1 but this time with a
sh species of your choice and, instead of animating the
wind, animate the rotation about 15 degrees and back.
Once you have the le exported and have added a terrain,
make the material fully transparent and add an
ecosystem. On this ecosystem, follow steps 5 to 7 to
create the same kind of distribution for the sh. Once
populated you can move the terrain to get your sh into
smalls caves in the terrain and also erase certain areas of
sh where you dont want them to appear j.

When you come to

render your nal image,
youll most likely have
trouble with the noise in
the water, but there are
several diferent settings
which can be tweaked to
improve the quality. If you
are not worried about
rendering time, crank the
quality of your water
material layer to 4. Using
depth of eld and
distance blurring will help
immensely. As water
difuses light so much,
distant objects can look
great if theyre blurred out
and will also enable you
to keep render times low.
Post efects software
like Photoshop, Lightroom
and After Efects have
some fantastic options
for reducing noise in
specic areas. Using
third-party programs in
this way means you can
get your image out of Vue
quicker and into another
piece of software for
xing. Just remember
youre not limited to one.

13Sky, fog and haze

12Atmosphere and lighting

time to dive into the Atmosphere
settings. Firstly, change the Lighting
model to Global Radiosity. Bump down
the Sky Dome Lighting Gain to -0.10, this
is so we avoid ooding the scene with
light. Change the Light Balance to around
60%, as this again will help control where
our light is coming from a little more.
Last, in order to ll out the dark areas,
bump the Global Radiosity Gain up to 0.5
or 1.0 depending on your preferences.
This will cause light to bounce onto other
objects and will pick up the diferent
colours rather than being at light l.


Enabling Underwater Caustics for

the water creates strong light rays

While these settings dont occur

in real life, they will certainly afect our lighting in Vue.
There are many tweaks here so check the image or the scene
le for more options. We want to increase the Fog and Haze
to around 20% and 5% respectively to block more light.
Change the Aerial Perspective to 10, increasing the
atmospheric scale to fade more of the background m.

The key to realism

Dont rely on your imagination to come up with realistic

nishing touches. Study underwater photography and
really try to analyse what makes it look that way. Learn
where the imperfections are in the image: that is the key to
realism. It is all too easy to have clean images in computer
graphics so try to reproduce the quirks of photography.
3D Art & Design



Final touches
Depth of field and render settings
Conrad Allan

I started my career as a structure modeller for

architects. I then discovered Vue and fell in love with
the quick results I could achieve. From the very
beginning I strove to separate myself from the crowd
and achieve the highest level of realism I could with
pure 3D scenes in Vue. More recently my work has
begun to focus on matte painting for various elds.


Halo: Faith Vue, Photoshop (2011)

This was made for an independent short lm, Halo: Faith. It is a

frame from the nished trailer that aired late 2011. It was made
mostly inside Vue with Photoshop colour corrections, compositing
efects and addition of the live-action soldier.

Change the
material mapping
for the cylinder to
World-Standard, as
this will give
variations when we
duplicate the cylinder.
We need to improve
the bump for
Hypertexture Material.
In the Bump tab
change the Bump to
-25. Finally, duplicate this object so
there are a couple of iterations on the left and right
of your image frame and at diferent distances from the
camera. Each instance should look diferent o.


need to add some framing to
our scene. To do this, add a
cylinder and Ctrl/right-click
on the Metablob icon again
to create a hyperblob.
Accept the change of
material, well use this as our
default material. In the
material Colour &
Density settings,
enable Use
Distance Field, set
it to 95% and the
Overall Density to
2. This will take
some tweaking
depending on your
particular version
of the fractal n.

Use Z-depth
post rendering

16Add a depth of eld

Underwater photography is
not generally strong in depth of eld
or focal efects, but if used properly,
the depth of eld will add a nice,
slight distance blur.
To do this, select the camera and
change the Blur to 7%. Make sure to check the Focus
distance as this will set the origin from where the depth of
eld will begin processing p.
Alpine Matte Painting Vue, Photoshop (2011)

A matte painting made in a few hours with Vue and Photoshop.

If youre applying depth of

eld in another software,
check your Z-depth
before nal rendering.
Currently in Vue, any fully
transparent object will
still appear in the
Z-depth. It makes sense
because youll want to
have the ocean material
(for instance) included in
your Z-depth. However, if
you have chosen to add
sh in step 10, your
terrain will block other
Z-depth details. To get
around this, hide the sh
terrain from the render
(which will hide the sh
too) and do a second
render just for the
Z-depth. Disable the
lighting and materials so
you dont waste time
when rendering.

17Final render settings and options

Costa Rica Vue (2010)

Created as proof that the book Realism In Vue, for which I was the
editor in chief, teaches some great techniques.

174 3D Art & Design

Now were
nally ready to begin our render. To speed up render
times well be using a custom version of the Preview Render
settings. Select User settings in the preset box and load the
preview URS le. Check Enable Super-Sampling and also
Depth of Field, setting the algorithm to Fast Hybrid 2.5D with
1 or 2 passes. In the Anti-aliasing area check all four boxes
and click the Edit button. Change the Texels per ray to Min 3,
Max 8 and the Quality to 60%. Finally, set your resolution
and hit render q.

n The basic displacement

material with a bit of
customising does well here
o Create a hypertextured
cylinder with a worldstandard mapping to frame
the scene
p For depth of eld settings, set
the Blur to 7% and make sure
to pick a focus distance
q With custom render settings
we can focus our render time
where we need it

Artist info


Dennis Kaya

Dennis is a 32-year-old 3D
generalist working at Cadesign
in Aarhus, Denmark
Personal portfolio site
Country Denmark
Software used 3ds Max, V-Ray,
Mudbox, Photoshop

Work in progress

This is the type of scene I wanted to create for years. My initial idea
was to create a present day or futuristic scene, but as I started modelling
the character I changed my mind and made this scene, which is
Dennis Kaya Iversholt, Neon City, 2012
inspired by New York in the 50s
3D Art & Design



Create a desert
Mars Desert 2012

Artist info

Easy-to-follow guides
take you from concept
to the nal render

Eugenio Garcia
Username: artecnl
Personal portfolio site
Country Mexico
Software used
LightWave, ZBrush, Photoshop
Expertise Eugenio is a texture
and environment artist with
experience working in the
advertising industry. He is a
co-founder of D10 Studio.

176 3D Art & Design

Software used in this piece




Blend 3D and matte painting techniques to produce a landscape

reminiscent of the Red Planet
Eugenio Garcia Villarreal is a graphic designer and 3D Director at digital media agency D10 Studio

his image was inspired by the landscapes of Mars and

deserts on Earth. The mix of diferent arid
environments enabled me to expand on the tonal range
and structures in the scene. I added an element of natural
greenery to provide a contrasting colour and shape it
represents the moment a plant found its way to the surface in a
deadly environment.
Over the next few pages I will share my workow and
techniques for producing the nal image using a mixture of 2D
and 3D techniques. This approach meant I could produce a
commercial-quality image while working to a tight deadline.

My toolset included LightWave for the basic geometry,

ZBrush to get a base mesh for the nal rocks in the image and
then Photoshop for the nal integration of the base image and
textures. I also included some matte painting techniques to add
to the overall efect.

Films and comics such as John Carter of Mars and Roger
Dean landscapes, plus Earth-based deserts and the Red
Planet itself, inspired this scene.

Create a desert landscape


Before you embark

on a project such as this, its
always worth searching for diferent
desert types, moods and light. Search
engines such as Google and stock
photography sites are useful. The
diferent colours and shapes help to
provide inspiration for the initial sketch.
Another recommendation Id make
is not to limit your research to one
particular source or site other
mediums such as television
documentaries, games and movies can
also help inspire your projects. NASA
has a great stock library of reference
images you can browse through (www. Even photographs of famous
places such as the Grand Canyon can
be a great help A.



02Sketch out a concept

Its important to digest all your

reference material before you tackle the rst sketch. Use
this stage to try to nd a good composition I prefer to put my
main feature to the right, rather than the left or the centre of the
workspace, but experiment and see what suits you.
Throughout this point in the process you should test out colours,
block shapes, add and delete stuf to get a composition you like b.

a The main references for the

image combining elements
from Earth and Mars

B The initial sketch. Notice

the nal image has slightly

diferent details
3D Art & Design



Build your environment

Start shaping the elements to occupy your scene

04Move to ZBrush sculpting

As I mentioned, I made the basic shapes in the LightWave

modeller. I then exported the OBJ les and imported every piece into ZBrush. While Im not
an expert user of ZBrush, I understand the basic sculpt tools which is all you need for this piece. Import
some jagged rock alphas to achieve nice detail in the objects. First subdivide them all, then use the
Move tool, Drag and Rock brushes to create the canyon walls, mountain and rocks.
To save time I only created ve diferent objects then cloned some of them throughout in the layout.
This is a very practical approach since I knew I was planning to do a matte painting on the 3D base d.


03Use 3D blocking

I used simple shapes to reproduce

the composition I created in the sketch. I used an 18mm
camera in the LightWave layout and built simple shapes of the
main canyon as this is the most prominent of the models.
Everything was completed with box modelling, later subdivided in
faces. Here the lighting is a simple distant orange light at 150% c.

Basic box modelling, exported in OBJ,

is turned into canyon walls

05Add stones and particles

A good way to achieve

little pieces of debris or stones is to use the Spray Point
tool in the modeller. The next step is to have a good amount of
points, later change the scale in Y axis to have all points in the oor.
Use the Box Modelling tool and do a subdivision (metaform). Later
on you can use the Noise or Jitter tool to get a random stone.
Next go to Point Clone Plus in the Multiply tab. Here you can
clone the stone based on the Points Cloud you made. Tweak the
values of Scale and Rotation to get random stones e.

layout object

Since this is a matte painting

base, we only need the
high-resolution objects with
simple red rock texture. Export
everything from ZBrush to OBJ,
with level 5 of subdivision.
Only replace the proxy
objects with the ZBrush
exported objects, already saved
as an LWO. By previewing the
render with FPrime (a great
plug-in to work in real-time
rendering) arrange objects,
change shapes and rotate
objects to get a nice
composition. Meanwhile, the
water is created with a simple
plane and a water shader f.

Eugenio Garcia Villarreal

Im a 29-year-old graphic designer, with

nine years of experience in digital art.
Reading tutorials in magazines and online
helped to hone my 3D skills. I later applied
this knowledge by creating environments
for web campaigns, providing me with
invaluable experience. I then co-founded
D10 Studio a motion graphics and web
design studio.

178 3D Art & Design

Desert Gas Station LightWave 3D 10 (2011)

Classic B Movies, old gas stations and the work of

Mauro Scardini inspired this image. I wanted the nal
result to be a complex environment.

Laundry Room LightWave 3D (2009)

This is an old image made for a client. It was used on an

animation for a web-experience site; the goal was to
create a Seventies-style laundrette.

Create a desert landscape

Use photo
sources to
add realism
Its always best to gather
as much reference as you
can. If you are creating a
canyon then its important
to check out lots of
high-resolution images to
get an idea of the details
that make up the
environment. Everything
from dust, fog, plants,
colour and shape of the
rocks, diferent colours
according to the daylight
and colour of the shadows
can make the diference
between a realistic and an
unrealistic scene. Once
you have the background
knowledge, use it to put
your own spin on the
landscapes features.
Dont forget you can
also experiment with
diferent textures and
shapes. At this point in the
process you can crop the
base 3D mountain to have
a better composition.
Always mirror your image
to get another point of
view and you will notice
some faulty details that
you didnt before.
Another approach is to
ask for feedback from your
colleagues or friends.
Their opinions will bring a
fresh perspective on your
work highlighting things
you may not have
considered before. If you
become tired from
working on one particular
area take a break, go for a
walk and get away from
the screen. It will ensure
your mind is refreshed,
enabling the creativity to
ow a little better.

light and

To achieve
the lighting you want, use a
distant light tinted to orange at
150%, enabling you to get a
nice exposure. The render was
done in FPrime with Monte
Carlo Radiosity at 100%. Use
the Backdrop gradient to get a
suitable atmosphere of colours
bouncing on all the geometry.
For this project doing a
large-scale render (10,000 x
3,500px) enables you to add
little details in the matte
painting stage. It also means
you can crop parts of the image
if you need to redo the
composition for any reason g.

Heres the main arrangement in

the LightWave layout

08Hunt for textures

you have the nal render, the
next task is to get nice textures to use
in the nal matte painting. These are
easily obtained from CGTextures
( Since were
creating a Mars-inspired desert
landscape well need mostly red,
jagged rocks. Some are used in modes
and others are colour-corrected to
match the render colours. Use masks
and grunge brushes to give
natural-looking edges. While on the
site, look for good sand, water,
caustics and sky textures h.

C Simple shapes according

to the sketch are good
proxy objects

e Transforming random

points in diferent stones

saves a lot of time

G This is the basic light

setup: a distant orange

light at 150%

h The main textures used in

this image

j The nal sky, altered to

suit the landscape

The initial 3D base


09Start to polish the base 3D

Guanajuato Alley
LightWave 3D

Guanajuato Alley is
one of my rst
images combining
3D and 2D
techniques. Inspired
by the old colonial
city in Mexico, it
was created with
techniques and
simple UV mapping.

Now is the time to x the details youre not entirely happy

with, such as the sand shapes. Tweak this with a simple brush where the sand is dispersed.
You will later replace it with a real sand texture, the brush is simply used as a guide for the nal texture.
For the rocks I used a jagged rock texture that was colour-corrected to match the image. I then
applied red dirt textures to create the dust and make a more realistic foreground i.

10Look to the sky

The original sky was made using base colours of the render, but I decided
to change it to a greenish colour later on. It is composed of real photography of an afternoon
sky in Overlay mode to have a nice fusion. The moon is a simple texture with Screen mode, masked to
show only one side it was later cloned to have the two-moon efect j.
3D Art & Design



Final retouch and render

Add life to the scene with plants and water


render rs

water and

Now its time to

apply the images collected in
the texture stage, with
Photoshop modes. Add a
caustic image in Overlay mode
and add little details in the rock
borders to see the water level.
A Soft Round brush was
used for the waterfall and the
cloud of water rising from its
base. For the plants create a
creeping vine shape with a
similar, basic brush. Once you
are totally happy, add a shadow
to x the position. For the
plants leaves use a texture
modied in shape, cloned with
rotation and light changes
according to its place in relation
to the sun.
To nish, add a layer under
the plant layer and make the
contact shadow according to
the suns position with a Soft
Round brush l.

11Detail sand and rocks

A plain dunes texture was used

for the sand. Some of the dunes were from the base 3D
image applied by a procedural texture, the mask technique was
used for the close-ups. Overlay textures of rocks were used for the
boulders and mountains. A jagged texture in Multiply mode helped
to add a little more detail according to the scale and distance k.

Overall thoughts
Once your image is nished, a good way to get feedback is
to use forums and 3D gallery sites. Try not to take criticism
personally instead use it to let you grow as an artist.
Remember to do what you enjoy too.
k Comparison of the base 3D
model and the mix of
textures and this base

Use Photoshop to
add your winding
plant textures

n You can get nice details

using photolters and the

HDR Toning pass
The brushes used in
the retouch process
while working with
a Wacom tablet

HDR Toning Pass, photorealistic

setting. Overlay mode at 53%

13Begin to retouch

Now we can work on ambient details, such as fog, to add depth, detail and
emphasise the scale efects. Adding some clouds in the ground helps make some sand storms.
To achieve this efect simply add some volumetric light on the top-left side, use the Selection tool with
a white colour combined with the Overlay mode and Gaussian Blur m.
The nished image

= Result

14Make more corrections

Play with the reds and

yellows to get a more saturation on the objects in the
foreground and less on the efect on the background. Use the
Color Burn tool to add highlights to the edges of the rocks and
mountains. For contrast you might like to do a HDR Toning pass.
With a mask bring some of the rock highlights to the surface n.

180 3D Art & Design

15Finish image details

Once youre happy with the nal result, atten the PSD. Mirror the
image again and add more highlights with the Burn tool. Use the Sharpen tool on some
foreground rocks to get a nice crisp efect. Now your Mars desert should be complete o.

3D Art & Design




The whole scene was created as

models. No photography [was] used
all modelling and texturing was done
in Autodesk 3ds Max 2012


Software used in this piece

Ive tried to capture some sort of greyness of life. As a man gets older
and older as he starts to burn down, slowly. Tired of the world and its
ridiculousness, looking around and seeing things that Ive never noticed
or needed to notice before as life goes on day after day and the priorities
of everyday life are changing. Just for the record, this is not meant to be
some sort of protective image of mothers or old architecture, but the
coalition/composition of slightly contrasting elements that do exist
together and create special places.

Under the Southern

Highway 2012,
Website www.marekden
Country Slovak Republic
Software used 3ds Max
V-Ray, Photoshop
Bio Marek founded NoEmot
Studio in 2007

Marek Denko

I used VRayEnvironmentFog
directly in the render, so the
render time was a little higher,
but it was completely worth it.
No extra plug-ins were used

I rendered with the great Chaos

Group V-Ray renderer. Colour correction
was done in Photoshop

Incredible 3D artists take

us behind their artwor

Artist info



The Freehand tool

Create trees in Unity


efore the Tree Generator was

introduced in Unity, the only way to
populate your virtual worlds with
trees would involve a lot of manual work
using external 3D applications or
dedicated tree generators. Not only would
this complicate the main workow, but
some of that software costs a lot more
than a handful of Unity licences. With the
release of Unity 3.0 though, this has
changed, as the main coder behind the
generator joins forces with the Unity
developers to include the powerful Tree
Editor into the Unity engine.
Not only is the Tree Editor fully
implemented in the Unity editor, but it also

182 3D Art & Design

works seamlessly with Unitys own Terrain

engine. This means you can create dense
forests with diferent types of trees
without even leaving Unity. For textures
and leaves you will most probably use an
external 3D and image application, but
other than that most of the work can be
done in Unity.
For this small tutorial we will guide you
through the creation of a simple birch tree.
It has a pretty basic structure and should
be quite easy to create using the Tree
Editor. You can create pretty much any
tree type with this tool, but some types
will require more time and patience. The
creation of custom mesh leaves and

For added control over shape and

placement of the tree branches and
leaves, the Freehand tools really come
in handy. Using these tools, you can
quite easily move and rotate the
branches and leaves to your liking. The
Freehand tool also enables you to draw
the branches as splines, which can
speed up workow and lead to some
really interesting tree shapes. Just
remember that once you start using
these tools, you cant go back and
adjust the procedural settings of your
node without losing your freehand edits.
It is therefore a good idea to create a
main tree base rst and work on cloned
copies of this one for freehand edits.

branches will often take some time but, as always with 3D work,
patience is king.
As the Tree Editor is node-based, the main workow evolves
around the creation and connection of nodes. These nodes have
their own separate settings and can either be adjusted using
numerical input, sliders or by applying curves. At rst these
curves can seem a little daunting, but once you understand the
basic principle behind them, you will start to wonder how you
managed to work without them. Not only do curves give you full
control over the placement of leaves and branches, but you can
also use them to control scale based on their placement on the
branches and so on.
The Tree Editor has its limitations though and cant, in its
current state, be compared to dedicated programs such as
SpeedTree. As it comes free with Unity, the Tree Editor is still an
extremely powerful addition to the toolset and the more time you

Create trees in Unity

spend with it, the more impressive your

results will be. This tutorial wont cover all
of its features, but will hopefully give you a
glimpse of what this tool can do. On
mastering these simple techniques, you
will be able to apply them to your much
larger projects.

01Create the tree base

Trees are
generated by going to the top
menu bar and selecting GameObject>
Create Other>Tree. We now have a tree
trunk in our scene and the Tree Editor is
open in the Inspector panel. Before we do
anything else, we should also add a
capsule collider to our tree in the
Component>Physics>Capsule Collider
menu. This is not only good for collision,
but it also makes it easier for us to set the
height of the tree. In this scene were also
adding a human reference model for
realistic measurements A.

02The new tree editor

node-based, the Tree Editor is
extremely intuitive. By selecting nodes
from the Node view, we get access to their
individual settings such as Scale, Materials
and Distribution across the trunk or
branches of the tree. The root node also
gives us access to advanced quality
settings such as leaf translucency, shadow
quality and ambient occlusion. Most of the
settings are curve-controlled, which
means more power and control Bc.

03Add branches

Lets add some

branches to the trunk by selecting
our trunk node and clicking the Add
Branch Group button below the Node

view. A branch appears on the trunk, but
lets add a bunch more by increasing the
frequency and changing the Distribution
mode from Random to Whorled. This will
place the branches in circles around the
trunk and we can choose how many
should be in each circle using the Whorled
Step slider. We will also use curves to
control the Distribution, Growth Scale,
Growth Angle, Crinkliness and the Seek
Sun settings d.

more branches,
twigs, and leaves

Our base tree

is pretty much done, so now its
time to add some twigs and leaves.
Selecting the newly created branch node,
we will add both branches and leaves to
this node the same way we did in the
previous step. For this tree we will use a

textured mesh for our leaves, as this tends to be more realistic.

For trees to be used in the distance, textured billboards could be a
faster option e.

05Bring in further textures

Selecting the trunk and

branch nodes, we can now drag and drop our desired
bark material onto the Branch Material slot of each node. For
added ufness, we will also add a leaf node to the outer-branch
node. The twigs will be added as a leaf node on the main trunk
and are using a simple mesh as geometry. We will also do some
minor adjustments to the Scale, Distribution and Growth Angle of
the leaves and twigs f.

06Alter Wind Zones and nal tweaks

Our tree is
pretty much done, but we can still do some nal
adjustments by transforming the individual branches and leaves.
Before doing these nal tweaks though, we should always save a
master version of our tree and work on copies. For this tree, some
of the branches are moved around and edited for a more random
look. Finally, we will add a Wind Zone to our scene by clicking the
Create Wind Zone button found in any of the nodes g.
3D Art & Design




Artist info

Easy-to-follow guides
take you from concept
to the nal render

Floating City 2012

Neil Maccormack

A conceptual 3D illustration for a oating futuristic city, complete

with landing platforms and foliage
Neil Maccormack is a freelance 3D artist from the UK living and working in Geneva, Switzerland

Personal portfolio site
Country Switzerland
Software used
LightWave, Photoshop
Expertise Neil says his greatest
strengths lie in composition,
scene setup, lighting, modelling
and digital painting

his tutorial will demonstrate how to go about creating a large-scale sci- scene, using LightWave 11 for the main
3D part and then Photoshop as the post-production and painting program.
The idea is to create a conceptual design for a oating city and then model, texture, light and render it all out ready
for post-production in Photoshop. We will add in other 2D elements along the way with some basic matte-painting
techniques and make nal retouches to complete the scene.

Composition, layout and scene setup

How to compose a scene and find the best angle

01Establish your composition

Creating a
large-scale scene can seem daunting at rst,
but as long as you stick to some basic rules then it
neednt be. First of all, know your layout format. I was
working within the restrictions of the magazine
pages, so I knew the dimensions of the image would
be portrait rather than landscape. Second, I always
try to frame the image using something to draw the
eye to a focal point, so make sure you decide where
you want the eye to focus. Finally, try to create depth
in the image by placing your objects in such a way so
that they fall back into the image, giving depth and
retaining the interest of the eye a.

b A background
is painted in
Photoshop to
use as a
Nothing but
basic brushes
and a few
overlaid texture
images are
used for this

02Create the background

Next is to
decide on the background of the image. As
this is to be a oating city I know the background will
be the sky, but rather than just use images of clouds, I
want to create a painting in Photoshop that is
moodier and slightly more stylised. I create a basic
painting, using a muted colour palette and some
overlaid textures, to paint the image at the
dimensions required. I then take this into the
LightWave Layout to start setting up my scene b.

03Scene setup and layout

Start by setting
the camera options to the same dimensions
as the background image. Im using some placeholder
or low-res objects from my personal asset library to
make some test renders to gure out the best angles
and placements until Im happy with the overall
composition. Normally this process takes some time,
and many renders are done in low resolution to nd
something suitable c.

184 3D Art & Design

a An early
attempt to
create the right
using some
basic geometry

c At this stage it
isnt necessary
to do too much
modelling: use
low-res objects
and renders to
nalise your
basic layout

Futuristic cityscapes

The concept for this
image is to design a ying
or oating city with
water and forest features.
We will be aiming to relay
a sense of gargantuan
scale and futuristic design
in the nal illustration.

Software used
in this piece


3D Art & Design


Futuristic cityscapes

Time to get modelling

With the composition complete we can now begin the modelling stage

05Basic city modelling

The city modelling is done in a similar way to the platforms. I use the
platforms in a background layer as a guide and create a at poly, which is then divided into
uneven squares using the Knife tool. Squares outside of the boundary of the platform are deleted and
the others are then bevelled up to create the buildings. These bevelled buildings can then be knifed
horizontally and vertically to create random sections, which can then be highlighted and bevelled
again. The more times you can do this the more geometry can then be generated, and the more detail
you will appear to have e.

04City platforms and structures

Knowing that the

city itself will be based on platforms, I start to model them
in LightWave, using the Pen tool to create basic at structures.
Once I have these complete I can then bevel the polygon outwards
and, using the Knife tool, begin to cut some extra lines in the poly to
Smooth Shift out and create some bulk on the platform. The
platform, once done, can then be mirrored in the Y-axis to create
the full structure d.

06Detail the city

Just having the basic buildings isnt

going to be enough, so its important to have one or two
hero buildings to stand out and break up the city. I use a very
similar method as before: with a singular start polygon and
subdividing a few times to create more geometry. If you can do this
for three or four diferent buildings and place them on the same
layer, they can really begin to make the city feel realistic f.

d The platform nished of with

some extra bevels and Smooth
Shifts. Its not necessary to
create super high-res geometry
basic polys will be enough
e The more randomly these
buildings can be bevelled and
cut, the more realistic they will
appear in the nal image

f Here you can see some of the

hero buildings that were
modelled, as well as some roof
Nurnies added in
g I create three diferent layers of
trees to avoid repetition. Repeat
the process, remembering to
use a diferent poly and UV map
each time

Normally I like my images to have a certain style or look,
but in a studio environment this isnt always possible. In
early versions of the image I tried to use diferent skies and
diferent cloud images before deciding to paint my own.
Existing cloud and sky images have an advantage of there
already being an evident light source (the sun) so you can
match the 3D lighting with that of the background image.

186 3D Art & Design

07Add some trees

There are many ways to model trees, so in order for this tutorial to be
usable in versions other than LightWave 11, Im going to map tree images to at polygons.
Again, with the platforms and buildings in the background layer, I use the Spray Points tool to create
points where I want the trees to be. Each point will then represent a tree. I create a very simple at poly
and a planar UV map for this poly and, with the points in the background and the poly in the
foreground layer, I use the Point Clone Plus tool to create the trees. We now have multiple tree objects
all cloned so we can texture them using one UV map g.

Futuristic cityscapes
08Basic texturing

The texturing for

the city buildings is really
quite simple. Divide the city
up into three or four
diferent surfaces, and for
the main body of the polys
simply cubic-map an image
of some industrial
containers as the base
texture. Repeat this layer in
the Difuse and Bump
channels. For the platforms,
use an image of a dirty,
leaking wall and again
cubic-map them in all three
channels, as mentioned
before. The trees have
actual Images of trees
mapped to them using the
UV maps created before.
Then, once brought into
Layout, well create a
black-and-white version of
the tree texture to use a Clip
Map in the Object
Properties. This way
LightWave will only render
what the Clip Map leaves
behind on the poly, which in
this case is the tree h.

Clip Maps
Creating trees using the Clip
Map process can be an easier
low-poly alternative to using
actual tree objects. Keep an
alpha image of your tree
texture available to map to
the object properties in the
Clip Map section. Alternate
ways could be instancing in
LightWave 11 or using a point
cloud and then clip-mapped
hypervoxels to create the
various foliage.

09Scene layout

Now that we have

the majority of the
modelling, we can go back
to our basic scene setup
and start to bring in our
higher-res objects. Because
its easier to work with
models in layers, make sure
you separate your
higher-res objects into
layers and then parent them
in the scene once you have
imported them. Also
remember to colour code
each object to make
selecting them easier. If you
clone layers to have multiple
copies in the scene you can
organise them easier i.

h In LightWave 11 there is also the

option to create trees using the new
Instancing system

i The scene layout. Note the

colour-coded objects that are all
parented correctly

10Light the scene

Lighting the scene

isnt too complicated in this
case. By default I tend to
use an Area light as my
main light source. I then
tweak the colour and
strength of the light to suit
the scene. Ive positioned
the light to shine through
the gaps in the higher city
platform to the lower, as this
creates some interesting
areas of focus between the
lit and shaded parts. In this
case I nd the orange
sunset light colour
highlights the objects well
and really helps to create
the mood I want j.

My full lighting setup

complete with volumetric fog
(again set to the same as the
background), the GI setup
and the Area light values
3D Art & Design


Futuristic cityscapes

Progress the scene

Prepare the scene for rendering and post

Neil Maccormack

I set the
Image World environment to
be the same as the
background image. This way
the colour of the bounce light
takes on the colour of the
sky, which is what happens in
reality. Try to adjust and play
with the brightness and
ofset the background image
for diferent results.
Alternatively, if you have a
sky HDR image, use it as the
Image World source instead
of the 2D painting. As long as
the image matches the
background pictures lighting,
it will give great results k.

Neil is a 38-year old freelance artist from the UK living

and working in Geneva, Switzerland


A conceptual piece
for a clif-based
landing port.
The same methods
in this tutorial were
used for this piece,
including the same
lighting and
methods for
creating the

Here is my full GI setup. Notice

that I activate the Viper window
to check the brightness

12Render the image

Once we have everything

set up in the scene, were ready
to render. I always post process
a render, so at this stage I am
not too concerned if the colours
are not perfect, or if my lighting
is slightly of. I edit the camera
properties and change the
Resolution to 100% and the
Samples up to 20. I can also add
some Irradiance Fallof, which
gives the image a slightly darker
edging and helps the
composition. If I need diferent
render passes I can add the
compositing bufer export that
will export these for me l.


Sometimes using GI at
all isnt an option due to
high render times.
Alternatives can be to
fake the illumination by
creating a light dome of
luminous polygons all
facing inwards, with the
background mapped as
a texture. As this scene
isnt animated you can
cache radiosity, so you
dont have to render it
every time.

Osaki LightWave, Photoshop (2012)

A design for a oating ship. Neil wanted to frame the image by using
near-camera objects to create a natural frame. The foreground
objects dont need to be too detailed here, as the eye doesnt really
concentrate on them; its simply a way to highlight the focal point

Trans LightWave, Photoshop (2012)

A futuristic design for a mobile war machine. Neil used Photoshop to

create the background and a simple ground poly object to catch the
shadows, showing the integration between 3D and 2D

188 3D Art & Design

13Prepare for Photoshop

I normally save my render as

a Photoshop native le or
PSD. This should natively
have the Alpha embedded as
a separate channel

With this image there isnt really much to do before postproduction, but one thing to look out for is to ensure your nal image has an Alpha map when
rendered. The Alpha map is very valuable in Photoshop as it will enable you to select certain parts or
objects of the image that you can paint or alter in Photoshop without disturbing other parts of the
image. Once you render out the nal image in LightWave you can save the Alpha map separately from
the Image Viewer window just to be sure you have this m.

Futuristic cityscapes

Perfect your post-production

Use Photoshop to process the 3D-rendered image

0+ hours

tion tim
Resolution e
3,000 x 3,80 :

layers can be altered
without harming the
original render

14Colour balancing and tweaking

To kick of the post-production I Sharpen the image

once and add the Noise lter. I then create a new group of adjustment layers to tweak the tone
and value of each colour until Im happy with the results.
For me (and my style), I like to include a layer to slightly lower the vibrancy and saturation of the
image. I also like the image to be lower in these values to give a grainier, more sci- feel. The other
layers are colour adjustments, a colour channel and a slight gradient layer to boost the contrast n.

15Matte-painting techniques

Next I begin to add in

some extra 2D elements to the image to really take it to the
next level. I use some images of waterfalls to integrate with the
image, just selecting the water and copying and pasting onto my
image. I can then tweak the contrast, colours and shadows to
match my picture. I then overpaint using a simple Scatter brush
with some foam and falling water. The clouds are added using a
simple Soft Round brush in the lower and mid part of the image,
each time selecting colours from the image itself to use as the
cloud colour. Lights on the buildings and aerials are also added with
a small square brush as well as the white-painted birds o.

16More colour correction

With the nal image I still

want to tweak the colours even more by giving a warmish
(redder) right side to the image and a cooler (bluish) left side to the
image. This will help the viewer read the image from right to left. I
add two more layers both with Layer Masks to do this and set
the red layer to Color Dodge and the bluish one to Hue. This will
slightly subdue the colours on the left side and slightly warm and
enhance the colours on the right. Overlaying with photos of metal
is often a good way to change the mood of an image. Play with the
Opacity and Layer Mode until you nd something that ts p.
l My full GI setup shows the
camera properties and
compositing options

p After going through many

variations, I nd these two
colours work well

o I add in one or two extra trees

using the same methods as the
clouds and water

q The nal two sun layers are

added over the other layers, so
that they are all afected

A little sunshine
Sun rays can be done in your 3D package. LightWave uses
Volumetric lights in order to do this. The process involves
cloning your 3D scene, matting everything in black and
enabling the Volumetric light so you only render the light to
a black background. This can be composited over the top
in Photoshop or your compositing package.

17Final touches

To completely nish the image I want to add in a couple of sun rays in the
middle of the image to try to show the sun shining from above, through the gaps in the
platforms. I paint these rays with a large round soft brush in yellow then set the layer to Divide, which
turns them a slightly bluish hint which works quite well but isnt enough. So I duplicate the layer and
reduce the second layers opacity slightly to portray the efect q.
3D Art & Design



Sculpt beautiful terrains

How to create picturesque terrains in Unity

reating realistic terrains in Unity

isnt rocket science, but as with
most 3D design work, it will take
some time to get right. Not only are
reference images important, but having a
library of good-looking trees, rocks,
textures and other props is crucial to get
impressive results. A tablet is also handy
for terrain sculpting.
Sculpting basic terrains in Unity couldnt
be easier, though, as the built-in terrain
engine ofers sculpting features similar to
those found in programs such as ZBrush
and Mudbox. The limitation in Unity is that
you can only sculpt the terrain in its
vertical axis, as the core system is based
on greyscale heightmaps. This means you
cant sculpt caves and other concave
features, and in heavily distorted areas of
your terrain you can experience some
texture stretching. With this in mind
though, a good workow should start with
sculpting the main terrain features using
the basic sculpting tools and then adding
fancy details such as rocks, clifs and
custom-imported 3D objects last. This is
usually how its done in game engines
nowadays, but hopefully well see some
major improvements to this technology in
the not-so-distant future.

190 3D Art & Design

Just as important as sculpting the basic

terrain geometry is painting quality
textures onto it. These textures should be
as tileable as possible and the fewer you
use the better, as they tend to slow down
the process by adding drawcalls to your
scenes. You can also blend these textures
together, so in theory four core textures
could give you plenty of variations.
Not only limited to sculpting and
painting textures, the Unity terrain engine
also enables you to paint trees and detail
objects such as grass and rocks onto your
terrains. These objects are automatically
added to the terrain systems level of detail
calculations, so this makes creating dense
forests and detailed landscapes a breeze.
Creating terrains based on real-world
data is also possible by importing
heightmaps into Unity. This is an
invaluable feature if youre making a game
or scene that needs to be as accurate as
possible, as it can produce some
extremely realistic results.
Clever users of Unity can add to its
core features by writing their own plug-ins,
and since the terrain engine has been
lacking some major ones such as normal
maps and river/road generators, there are
quite a few free and cheap ones out there.

A quick search on the Unity Asset Store and Google will give
you access to some of these features, adding to the already
robust toolset.


Creation and setup We create the terrain base object

by selecting the Terrain menu and choosing Create

Terrain. We now have a terrain object in our scene, but before we
start sculpting we need to adjust the terrain objects base settings
using the Set Resolution menu. This is basically where we set the
physical scale and resolution of terrain, textures and heightmaps.
I suggest playing around with these settings to better understand
how they work a.

Sculpt beautiful terrains

Importing External
Terrain Data

A quick and easy way to generate

realistic-looking terrains is to import a
greyscale heightmap from dedicated
terrain generators such as Terragen,
World Machine or Geo Control. These
programs are extremely powerful and
can generate some incredible terrains
methodically, based on complex
mathematical algorithms. When
importing these into Unity though,
using Terrain/Import Heightmap-Raw,
you must make sure the
measurements of your Unity terrain
matches the external terrain. Not
paying attention to this minor detail is
guaranteed to give you unexpected and
imprecise results.

02The Terrain Component

Selecting the terrain object in the

scene gives us access to all the various
terrain tools and some important terrain
settings. This is where we dene which
textures, trees and detail objects to use
and, depending on the tool, this is where
we choose which brushes to use. There
are 20 built-in brushes, but we can also
add our own custom brushes. The terrain
settings are mostly used for optimisation
and controlling the nal result b.

03Initial sculpting

Picking the
Raise/Lower Terrain brush, we can
now start sculpting our terrain and, based
on the brush settings, the terrain object
can slowly be shaped to our liking.
Pressing Shift while sculpting lowers the
terrain and adjusting the opacity afects
the strength of the brush. To be able to see
depth and details in our terrain better, its
also a good idea to add a shadow-casting
light in our scene c.

Textures/Add Texture button. The rst

texture we select will cover the entire
terrain, so in this case we will select a
grass texture to begin with and then paint
over with other textures later on. A skybox
is also added in this step d.



Add textures With the main

features sculpted, its time to add
some textures to our terrain. Selecting the
Paint Texture tool in the terrain
component, we can now add the textures
we want to use by hitting the Edit

Apply details Selecting the

terrain and choosing Place Trees
in the Terrain Component, we can now
add trees using the Edit Trees/Add Tree
button. All the trees should use the Nature
shaders to be able to work properly, and

they should preferably be made into prefabs with a simple

capsule collider. We will also place some rocks and grass in our
scene using the Paint Details tool and nally add a small lake
using the standard Unity water e.


Final polish Our scene is now nearing completion, but

lets add some fog and clouds in the distance and a
couple of image efects for added realism. Fog can either be
added as an image efect or by going to the Edit/Render Settings
menu. Adding a blue tint while playing around with the fog
opacity can add to the realism. For this scene were also adding
some minor colour correction, bloom, lens vignetting and a sun
shaft efect f.
3D Art & Design



Vue 10 Frontier
Free terrain and materials
from D&D Creations
Tutorial les:
The atmosphere le Drea
used in her scene:
Abandoned_atmo.atm plus
tutorial screenshots

When I rst saw some
top-down reference
photographs of ruins and
clifs overgrown with
vegetation, I had a
specic workow in mind
to get the best results in
3D using Vue.

192 3D Art & Design

Design an epic Vue landscape

Design an epic

Artist info

Easy-to-follow guides
take you from concept
to the nal render


Drea Horvath

The focus in this scene is an old ruin in a natural, picturesque

environment. The image depicts the discovery of forgotten places
Drea Horvath is a 3D landscape artist

hen I was assigned to write this tutorial, I was

happy to learn that it would be based on a lush,
rocky environment from a top-down view. I
love creating environments from a birds-eye view, so a
concept came to me quickly.
This tutorial will illustrate the key steps to building an epic
landscape. From planning to rendering and post-production,
you will learn all the techniques I use. Ill describe how
terrain is generated as well as how I set up multi-layer
material distribution, achieve realistic lighting, optimise
materials for greater believability and shorter render times.

Throughout the tutorial youll notice that Im using

commercial products to build the environment. Dont worry:
the tutorial focuses on methods that can be applied to any
kind of content you have in your library. For example, grass
from AsileFX is my personal choice, but Vue ships with
several kinds of grasses you can use without having to
purchase extra items. Well focus on EcoSystem
manipulation, atmosphere and lighting settings, render
setups, optimisation, material tweaking and so on. All of this
is important when it comes to building scenes in Vue,
regardless of what content is used.

Username: Drea
Personal portfolio site
Country The Netherlands
Software used
Vue, Photoshop, Filter Forge
Expertise 3D artist Drea
specialises in creating detailed
and realistic landscapes using
Vue. She has particular strengths
when working with atmospheres
and lighting

Software used in this piece




Initial steps, terrain and materials

Set the foundations of this large-scale environment

02 Control material distribution

03 Assign your proportions

01Choose your terrain

Ive chosen the Eroded Canyon terrain from my

(D&D Creations) Canyon Terrains for Vue pack, as it perfectly ts the scene
(available online at This detailed terrain has a curvy
riverbed and steep, highly eroded clifs. The shape is based on a procedural terrain
created in Vue using the terrain fractal with Canyon and Strata lters. The erosion
was added using the World Machine 2 terrain generator (
com). You can nd the terrain supplied with this books disc (also found at With the terrain loaded, I nd a
spot with a clif wall that looks iconic enough to be in focus with the ruins. I can then
add my ruin components (a model purchased from next to the
wall and adjust the camera angle to suit a.

a A distant shot of the spot

on the terrain where the
ruins will be placed

The terrain has three layers of material:

in the riverbed we have a wet, sandy area; the
clif walls are sandstone; while the at surfaces
have a green, mossy material. Before loading
these, I set the material distribution with the
help of highlighting the materials with diferent
colours so I can see and control the distribution
easier. First I set the terrains material to Mixed
Material: material 1 becomes the riverbed;
material 2 becomes the rest of the terrain. I set
the Distribution dependent on Altitude (100%)
only and set the Mixing Proportions to 72% b.

Next I select the second material and

change it into a Mixed Material; its second
material becomes the moss layer. This time the
material distribution is dependent on Slope
(100%) only. The Mixing proportions are set to
31%. After setting up the distribution, I can load
materials: a darker sand from the RealSand pack,
our own sandstone material (supplied) and Grass
n Rocks from the Clifhangers product by Mark
Lawson. You can nd Marks products on
purchase.php?item_id=11447 c.

b A shot illustrating the rst

steps of controlling
material distribution

c The highlights show how

the materials will be
distributed in the scene
3D Art & Design



Add some vegetation

The next few steps will focus on EcoSystems manipulation

How to
Realistic lighting is one of
the most important
factors in a scene.
Lighting can make or
break a scene, whether
its a realistic, fantasy,
surreal or sci- landscape.
Even if you look at the
most surrealistic image
possible, if the lighting is
bad it can make you
question what youre
looking at. The Global
Radiosity lighting model is
the only model that
perfectly imitates realistic
lighting with indirect light
and colour-reected light.
This means the only light
source you need to use to
light up the whole scene
is the Sunlight.
D How the scene looks after
loading materials and water
e I paint the EcoSystem onto the
rocks using the new EcoSystem
Painter in Vue 11
f Settings for the roots layer of
the EcoSystem on the ruins
g Settings used for the Variable
Density of the bush layer in the
Function Editor

194 3D Art & Design

04Add a murky river

Before getting fully

stuck into Vues EcoSystems
feature, lets quickly discuss
some tricks for handling water
in Vue. After loading water
into the scene, I tweak the
material to make it look more
like a river youd nd in a
canyon. Check out some
reference photos for examples
of this, as there really is a
distinction to be made. Try
using a physical water model
with a darker-brown
Absorption colour and a
light-brownish Scattering
colour to help it t the
environment. The Depth
where the light can reach in
the water is set to 6.2 metres.
I increase the Highlight
Intensity to 84% and
Highlight Size to 80%. To
nish I change Highlighting to
81% Anisotropic D.

05Overgrown clif

I set up the EcoSystem of the clif in

the middle. On the clif wall (sandstone material) I use
three layers of ground-covered EcoSystem: a layer of long grass
from AsileFX Grasses (, a layer of hanging
roots also from AsileFX plus a layer of small eld-grass
plants. Due to the scale of the terrain, even Dynamic Population
isnt an option, so I apply the EcoSystem Painter on the clifs to
distribute the foliage manually. I set the Direction to 100%
Perpendicular and due to the steepness of the clif I also enable
360-degree Population e.

06Populate the ruins

The goal of the grassy

groundcover EcoSystem is to help the clif and ruins
blend together. This is an efective way to unify the whole scene
and draw the viewers eye around all the details. On the ruins I
use a similar EcoSystem: a layer of the same long grass plus a
layer of hanging roots. The grass layers direction from the
surface is set to Perpendicular, while the roots are set to
Vertical. The Density of the grass is set to 100%, while for the
ruins its set to 93%. Before populating, I make sure I set the
Slope Inuence to 100% f.

07Insert bushes

Since I want the bushes to grow on at

surfaces only, I add this layer to the mossy material. In
this EcoSystem I use three shrubs from Xfrog (http://xfrog.
com). To achieve realistic distribution I tick Variable Density and
load the grainy fractal. To save resources, I use Dynamic
EcoSystem Population. On the leaves I set the Highlight colour
to white, increase the Highlight Intensity and make it duller. In
the Efects tab I set Backlight to 100%. To speed up rendering I
reset the Bump map and disable Caustics g.

Design an epic Vue landscape

Lighting & atmosphere

Take a few steps to shed realistic lighting and atmospheric effects

Use static
plants for


08Global Radiosity

Now its time to add some

atmosphere using the Light tab. The rst step is to
enable Global Radiosity, with Indirect Skylighting and Optimize
for Outdoor Rendering ticked. I set a low Gain value of 0.4 and a
very dark-greenish Bias colour (RGB 21, 25, 23). To get efective
contrasts I set Light Balance towards Sunlight (90%). The
ambient light comes entirely from the sky, providing a realistic
and rich ambience h.

09 Atmospheric efects

In the Sky, Fog and Haze tab

of the Atmosphere Editor, its vital to enable the
Volumetric Sunlight option. This is essential to achieve realistic
lighting. With higher Haze (30%) and Fog (50%) levels I can
generate subtle rays where the terrain blocks the sunlight. Its
also important to set a dark Haze tone, since particles in our
atmosphere are dark. The Glow Intensity is set to 56%,
Scattering Anisotropy to 0.4 and the Aerial Perspective value to
5.77 to give more depth to the scene. Finally, Quality Boost is
set to +8 to avoid noise i.

Professional versions of
Vue ship with a huge
library of detailed
SolidGrowth plants and
you can also browse
hundreds of other plants
available for purchase, like
those on the Cornucopia
store: www.
These are prefect for
distance shots, but due to
lower-quality Alpha
mapping on their leaves,
theyre not suitable for
close-up views. This is
why many studios pick
static plants, such as
Xfrog (
or SpeedTree (www. models.
However, you cant edit
them in Vues Plant Editor
and they tend to render
very slowly.

After tweaking the atmosphere its time to take

a few steps to speed up the rendering process
without any virtual quality loss

10 Add some low fog

I want a sparse, low fog layer over the river in the background, so to
begin I add a stratus cloud from AsileFXs Spectral v2 Clouds Low Altitudepack. I set the
Altitude to 27m and the Height to no more than 75m. I increase the Detail amount and the
Altitude variations, then set the Density to 29%. In the clouds Material Editor I set the Volumetric
colour to white j.


Get ready to render After tweaking the atmosphere to a point where it can be considered

ready, its time to take a few steps to speed up the rendering process without any virtual
quality loss. In the Atmosphere Editor I reduce the Lighting Quality to -0.5, then open the clouds
Material Editor and in the Lighting & Efects tab disable all four options. In the Light Editor I also
reduce the Shadows Softness Quality to -1 k.

h Settings in the Light tab,
activating Global Radiosity in
the Atmosphere Editor

j The cloud and cloud material

settings being tweaked in the
Atmosphere Editor

i Settings used in the Sky, Fog

and Haze tab of the
Atmosphere Editor

k Settings in the Light Editor

Shadows Softness quality is
set to -1 for quicker rendering
3D Art & Design



Rendering & post-production


We can now take our final steps to finish up the work

ation t

3,000 x 3,80 :
pixels 0

12 Render settings

After going through the usual

optimisation steps ensuring the lighting is exactly how I
want it and so on the scene is ready to be rendered. In the
Render Options I select User Settings and disable Depth of
Field, as this isnt something we need for this particular project. I
set the Advanced Efects Quality to 40%. You may think this
sounds low, but with the right atmospheric settings its enough.
Of course, feel free to go your own way and see what works l.

13Anti-Aliasing and rendering

l A screenshot of the render
settings used in this scene
m A screenshot of the
Anti-Aliasing settings
applied to the scene
n A screenshot illustrating
the Photoshop Levels and
Curves adjustments
o See how the settings on the
left changed the image?

Since the scene needs

to be rendered for print in a large resolution, I choose to
use a soft Anti-Aliasing method, with Min 3 and Max 9 Subrays
per pixel. With these settings we save a lot of detail and, due to
the low Subray count, the rendering process is quicker. With
these settings applied I dont need Texture Filtering, so I disable
it. The scene was rendered in a little less than 19 hours at a
resolution of 3,000 x 3,800 pixels. I used a single machine with
an i7-2600k CPU and 16GB DDR3 RAM m.

14 Post-production in Photoshop

When a render is
done, I always load the image into Photoshop for a little
post work. With this project I adjust the contrast, make the
highlights more powerful with Levels adjustment layers and
further enhance the image with Curves. To help the vegetation
look more realistic, I slightly saturate the green and yellow tones
on the leaves n.

Post-production enhancements
Its a never-ending controversy among Vue users whether to use any post work on renders
or not. In my opinion, what counts is the end result and the process of creation is not
supposed to stop when the picture is rendered. Tools such as Photoshop dont just enable
you to enhance your render, as you can use them for xing minor issues as well. For example,
in this scene I used the Clone tool to cover some areas with grass. I also use this a lot to hide
oating roots, x materials and artefacts on rocks, or to remove sharp lines where two
materials meet. Its possible to x these issues in Vue, but leaving some xes for post work
saves a lot of time.

196 3D Art & Design

15Filter Forge tweaks

If you want to give a really nice

boost to your renders, Filter Forge (
is a perfect choice. I mostly use the Dreamy lter on my images,
because it provides more control over the highlights, contrast
and colours. I dont want the highlights too strong in this project,
because that way Ill lose details in the background. However, I
still want to make the atmosphere more powerful to give a real
impact and complement the piece. To do this, I set Highlight
Coverage to 9, Highlight Strength to 57, Highlight Radius to 100
and Dreamy Colors to 35. This gives a bit more contrast and
vibrancy to the overall efect o.

Artist info


Lee Griggs

Lee works as a technical author

at Solid Angle, producing
documentation and tutorials
Personal portfolio site
Country Madrid, Spain
Software used
Maya, ZBrush, Arnold

Work in progress

3D Art & Design


Inject some movement into your 3D projects,
whether on land or in the air
200 Model vehicles for

Use basic modelling theories to build

up a car's assets


206 Rig vehicles in Maya

Create the rig for the car you've made

212 Texture a realistic vehicle

Create a texture for a stealth plane

214 Model a luxury car

How to master a vehicles presentation

219 I made this Black Drone

Nick Kaloterakis marries vehicle and

environment design in style

220 Sculpt a space vehicle

A space-opera-inspired mash up of
different vessels

226 Create vehicles with opensource software

Design impressive sports cars using

free software


198 3D Art & Design



The more you have to

feed the eye, the more
wow factor it brings


3D Art & Design



Model vehicles
Sunbeam Rapier Mark IV

200 3D Art & Design

Model vehicles for animation

Software used
in this piece

Tutorial les:
The project_rapier folder
consists of Maya scene les
and reference images
Video references
Tutorial screenshots

Artist info

Easy-to-follow guides
take you from concept
to the nal render

Jahirul Amin
Personal portfolio site
Country UK
Software used Maya
Expertise Jahirul is an expert
animator and rigging genius
About When Jahirul isnt
teaching computer animation
at the NCCA at Bournemouth
University, hes running an
independent animation and
design studio to provide various
solutions for his clients needs
3D Art & Design



his tutorial will run through modelling

a classic car, namely a Sunbeam
Rapier Mark IV, while focusing on
hard-surface modelling techniques.
Throughout the process were going to stick
to basic modelling theories such as using
quads and achieving evenly spaced faces. The
latter enables sculpting in Mudbox or ZBrush if
you need to, while also reducing the risk of
stretching textures. There will also be an
insistence on creating plenty of bevelled edges.
This is in order to stick closely to real-world
examples and avoid a at CG version of reality.
I must give huge thanks to Graeme Jenner
( who has
kindly allowed me to use his beautiful portrait
of the Rapier being reproduced here. I also
used an Oxford Diecast model to have a
physical reference, as well as numerous
images and videos Ive found online to help me
piece the model together. The more
information you gather, the less guesswork you
have to do inside Maya. If youre looking to
model vehicles, planes, buildings and so on,
then do check out for
more inspiration.

To briey explainthe process, well rst draw

over the reference to get a basic topology
before hitting CG. This is mainly
preparatorywork that will stand you in good
stead later on. In this tutorial the draw-overs
provide the image planes in Maya and act as a
rough guide as you block out the model. The
further we progress, the more we have to rely
on our wits and intuition to get a good edge
ow. Just as with a drawing or painting, well
block out the major forms to provide a solid
foundation before going anywhere near ner
detail.The elements of the car are all
modelled separately, as they would be in the
real world, which makes it easier to rig for
animation if needed. The good news here is
that you only have to model half a car, as you
can mirror it over.
One piece of advice that Ill leave you with is
not to be afraid to abandon ship. By this I mean
that if something isnt working, dont be scared
of scrapping it, putting the kettle on and
starting again. The time lost trying to rework
and tweak a section thats got of to a bad start
can be huge and soul-destroying, whereas
second-time-around edits can be quicker.

The Rapiers of the Sixties were built by hand and
therefore have an almost organic look to them. This ts
in perfectly with my modelling techniques of manually
pushing each point around to get things feeling right.

Dont be afraid to abandon ship. If

something isnt working, dont be scared of
scrapping it and starting again

Model from references

Set up your guides for accurate modelling

01 Bring in the reference


Always draw guide lines
over the references in
Photoshop to help match
up the position of the
front, side and top images
in Maya. Make sure that
all the planes are the
same size to ensure the
references input to Maya
are at the correct scale,
otherwise your references
will be randomly sized.

202 3D Art & Design

Create a new scene and

navigate to the front orthographic view. Reset the camera
by going to View>Default View in the viewport Panel menu. Now
go to View>Image plane>Import Image and select referenceFront_
v1.tif when the Open screen pops up. Open up the Attribute Editor,
check Use Image Sequence, then take the Alpha Gain down to 0.4.
Move to the side orthographic view and set it to Default View.
Import referenceSide_v1.tif and give it the same settings as the
front image. Do the same for the top view, loading in
referenceTop_v1.tif as the reference. Once all three reference
planes are in, check that they line up in the perspective view. Push
the Center attributes of each image plane along their
corresponding axes so theres plenty of space to model in the
centre of the world space a.

02 Use back & front references together

Now the reference has been set up in a manner that

enables us to switch between the original image, the topology
draw-over and a coloured draw-over, indicating the separate
pieces. This will provide the optimal level of accuracy as we
progress, ensuring our model is believable. Set the Animation
Range Slider to go from frames 1 to 6. Now if you scrub between
frames 1 and 3 you will view the front of the car and frames 4 to 6
will reveal the back. To rotate the model to match this, create an
empty group node by hitting Cmd/Ctrl+G. Rename the group
car_grp and set a key at frames 1 and 3. Now scrub to frame 4, put
a value of 180 in its Rotate Y channel and set another key. Every
object we create (excluding lights) will be placed in this group so it
follows our reference correctly b.

03 Block out the base

Go to Create>Polygon Primitives
and create a plane. Under its inputs in the Channel Box,
take down its Subdivision Width and Height to 1. Now position and
orient it against the side of the car. Go into Edge mode and use the
Extrude tool found under Edit Mesh to begin blocking out the main
base. Use large shapes to ll out the silhouette as much as possible
with as few polys as you can. Personally, Im a big fan of edge
modelling, but I see no reason why you couldnt use a boxmodelling technique to rough out the form if preferred c.

Model vehicles for animation

Block in & continue modelling

Build up your cars assets to complete your model

04 Continue the blocking

Now you can proceed to

block out the base in the front and top view. Remember to
check your model constantly in the perspective view. At this stage,
youll probably nd that the reference does not line up completely.
If this is the case, I prefer to decide on one key image, in which I will
line everything up and the remainder of the images will act as more
of a loose guide. As well as extruding edges I also like to use the
Insert Edge Loop Tool found in the Edit Mesh menu tab. As long as
the model is in quads, this will cut through cleanly. As you add
more and more details, make sure you keep the faces of a similar
size to one another d.

05 Use Duplicate Special

To reduce our workload and

get a better impression of the cars proper shape, lets
mirror the model over. First, activate Translate and hit the Insert
key (or hold the D key) on your keyboard to be able to edit the
position of the pivot. Now hold the X key on the keyboard and
grid-snap the pivot to the X plane in the front view. Hit Insert again
to come out of Edit Pivot mode. Next, go to Edit>Duplicate Special
(Options) and set the Geometry Type to Instance, Scale in X to -1
and hit Duplicate Special. As we go through the modelling of the
car, we will be using this method many times e.

Lights,camera, reaction!
a Bring in your key reference
b Free up some working space by
pushing aside the reference
c Extrude the edges to rough out
the base
d Add more detail to the base
e Make sure you centre the pivot
on the X plane before
duplicating the model
f Block in the door and roof using
the Edge Extrude method
g Extrude a face along a curve to
quickly form the window rims

Its worth setting up some lights in the scene as you go, so

that you can see how the surfacesof the model and
components react to light. I throw in a few spotlights, which
stay in place and are used as ll lights. I also add one
directional light, which will be my key light and will have
shadows turned on. Every
now and then I change the
direction of the key light to
get a feel for what is and isnt
working. Another tip is to use
Viewport 2.0 with Ambient
Occlusion turned on and of.
This indicates how well
objects are juxtaposing by
revealing the harsh shadows.

06 Model the door & roof

Start blocking in the door

and the roof panels. Again, I begin each piece with a
single plane, then extrude or add edge loops for more detail. To
get the ow between the separate elements working, hold down
the V key to point-snap the border vertices of the door and the
roof to the main base. To nish, use Duplicate Special to mirror
the geometry over f.

07 Add window rims

To get the window rims in place,

draw a curve using Create>CV Curve Tool. Holding the
V key again, point-snap each CV to a vertex of the window and
the base of the car. Next, create a polygon cube and shrink it
down to be similar to the size of the rim. Now place it at the
beginning of the curve you have drawn and activate Face mode.
Select the face thats adjacent to the curve and also Shift-select
the curve. Go to Edit Mesh>Extrude, increase the Divisions to
around 20 and the extrusion should grow along the curve. Shape
the front and side window rims with the same technique g.
3D Art & Design



Layer on the details

Give your vehicle some windows & bumpers

08 Place some windows

Once the window rims are in,

create some windows using polygonal planes as well as
inserting the front window frame. As you move around the model,
continue to check the car from all angles, smooth out the ow of
the edges and keep the model as clean as possible. At this stage I
select all the geometry and go to Edit>Delete By Type>History.
Deleting the history frequently will keep our scene le nice and
light. You can also delete the curves used to create the window
rims, as the link-up between them and the polygon faces has now
been broken h.

09 Apply
& bumpers

To create the bonnet, select a

range of faces from the main
base of the car where the
bonnet should be situated, then
go to Edit Mesh>Duplicate
Faces to make a copy of those
faces. This enables us to get
the ow between the main
base and the bonnet working
well. Add some tight edges
around the border of this new
piece to add some solidity and
depth to the bonnet. For the
bumper, begin with a default
cube and insert edge loops to
match it to the reference image.
The bumper can be duplicated
onto the cars rear i.

your tyres
11 Attach
& hubcaps

10 Insert lights & grills

At this stage the initial blockout is acceptable, though tweaking will

continue and well begin to add some of the key details that make this car distinct. For the
headlight, select some faces at the front and extrude them into the car. After some point-pushing to
get this region as round as possible, place a semi-sphere into the cavity. Further basic polygon cubes
can be shaped to form the Rapiers eyelids and some tight rims around the headlights to sit them in
more realistically. The grill and indicator lights can also be pushed from simple shapes such as
cylinders, cubes and spheres that are rened by adding edge loops or extrusions. To get them to sit
ush against the front of the car, use a lattice deformer from the Animation panel. With the lattice
points you can quickly and efectively reshape the mesh j.

When you cant see the

woods for the CG trees
I nd that the number of parts created in this kind of
modelling process can make your workow feel awkward,
as they simply get in the way. Using Isolate Select enables
you to hone in on the areas required. You can nd this
setting under Show in the viewport Panel menus.
Additionally, using layers lets you show and hide objects to
achieve the same efect.

Although they may look pretty

complex, the hubcaps are very
quick to create. First shape a
cylinder and delete all the faces
other than the top, then add
extra edge loops to help dene
the areas that will need pulling
out or pushing back. These
sections can then be extruded
out and the entire model can be
smoothed using the Mesh>
Smooth tool. Select a row of
faces, disable Keep Faces
Together under Edit Mesh
and perform another extrude.
This time, scale in the faces in
X and Y and extrude the new
faces inwards. Finally, to get
rid of the roundness of the
detailed areas, add two edge
loops around the recessed
areas. The tyre is created from
a torus shape and under its
inputs you can use the Section
Radius to help block out the
initial shape k.

h The upper body of the car

blocked out
i Create the bonnet and both of
the bumpers
j The beginnings of some details
k Progression of the hubcaps
l Form the wings of the Rapier
m Add some depth to the base and
the roof

204 3D Art & Design

n Bevel the door, as well as rear

elements of the car
o Keep adding further details

Model vehicles for animation

Add your finishing touches

With a little bevelling & polishing well have ourselves a rich model

12 Create the wings

To build the distinct wings of the

Rapier, extra edge loops are needed. As we dont want all
the edge loops to cut through the side of the model, well use the
Split Poly Tool. Extruding out from the back of the wings also
enables us a base to sit the rear lights on. Adding a tight edge in the
region helps to hold the unique shape when its smoothed. Next
you can hollow out the boot, as it would be in a real car. This will
also enable us to sit the boot door nicely into the cavity and create
a believable tight shadow in between the surfaces l.

13 Bevel the base & the top

Now that we have our main

forms in place, we need to start adding some solidity to
them and layer on some thickness. To do this we need to bevel the
edges of the components. Begin by adding tight loops around the
main base and the window frame, then extrude out the outer
edges and pull them in. The metal rims around the window frames
will also need a bevel added to them. Leaving them without one
either makes them too at in Unsmoothed mode or too rubbery in
Smoothed mode. For the roof, select all the faces and make a large
extrude inwards. This enables us to use the depth of the roof to rest
the side windows against m.

14 Bevel the door


Continue to bevel the

door and the bonnet of the car.
The lights at the rear and the
majority of the metal work
around the car can also have
their edges bevelled. This helps
the light hit the edges and
create nice highlights, adding to
the realism of the model n.

Check your Normals

Once the model is complete and one side has been
mirrored over to the other, using either the Edit>Duplicate
Special tool or Mesh>Mirror Geometry, you will need to
check that the Normals are facing outwards. Its important
to do this so that the surface can be afected by lights
correctly. Youll spot when the normals need inverting as
the surface will appear black. To view the normals, select
the mesh and go to Display>Polygons>Face Normals. If
they are pointing inwards, you can invert this by going to
the Polygons menu and activating Normals>Reverse.

15 Finalise the model

To add some richness to the model,

its important to add the ner details, such as the strips
running along the model and the logo on the door. We can also use
some simple geometry for the side mirrors, as well as model the
window wipers and the door handle. Once were happy and have
tweaked to our hearts content, we can delete the duplicated side.
Again, use the Duplicate Special option to create the missing half,
only this time set the Geometry Type to Copy in the Options box,
or use the Mirror Geometry tool found under Mesh. If you are
using the Duplicate Special tool, youll need to combine the
individual halves by going to Mesh>Combine and then merging the
centre vertices that are sitting on top of one another o.
3D Art & Design



Rig vehicles
in Maya
Sunbeam Rapier
Mark IV 2013

Jahirul Amin is a freelance rigger, animator and an

associate lecturer at the NCCA in Bournemouth

Artist info

Easy-to-follow guides
take you through the
creation process

Jahirul Amin
Personal portfolio site
Country UK
Software used Maya
Expertise Jahirul is an expert
animator and rigging genius

206 3D Art & Design

Tutorial les:
Maya scene les
Video tuition
Tutorial screenshots

Rig vehicles in Maya

The nal rig

3D Art & Design



n this tutorial well be creating the rig for the

Sunbeam Rapier, which was modelled in the
last tutorial. The scene les youll need to follow
the tutorial can be found with the disc or
downloaded from
The way I tend to approach rigging an inanimate
object is to see the model as a character, or part of a
character. Once the model and rig are in the hands
of the animator, they will begin to give the model life
and personality. As a rigger, Im already imagining
how that something is going to move.
Basically then, were going to treat the car as one
big reverse foot setup with a few bells and whistles
thrown in for good measure. The car needs to tilt
and shift in a similar way to a foot, so the pivot
points will be arranged in the same sort of fashion.
A good rig is one that is t for purpose, by which I
mean it will be able to perform in the way required.
During the tutorial well be adding a good few
automated controls to help the animator, while also
enabling the controls to be disabled so the animator
can work on top. Essentially, the rig should provide
the animator with the freedom to work as they
choose and push the rig as far as desired.
Lets consider some of those bells and whistles.
Well add a device to automatically rotate the
wheels with the translation of the car. Another
control will bring the kind of jitter that youd expect

to see as a car drives over a cobbled street. Well

also need to have the car follow a path. Finally, well
give the animator the chance to add drag to the car.
Just to reiterate what I feel is a crucial point: the
animator will be able to disable all of the automated
controls and animate by hand, if needed. Aside
from automated controls, well add a number of

Move objects into place

Throughout the rigging process, it will be important to
make sure our objects controls and locators are correctly
placed. On many occasions, we will need to match the
pivot of one object to another. To do this, I like to use point
constraints. First select the object of the position you would
like to match, Shift-select the object you want to move and
go to Constrain>Point (Options). Uncheck Maintain Ofset
and hit Apply. Once the object is placed, delete the
Constraint node living under it in the Outliner to break the
connection. You can do this for orientation also, if need be.

pivot locators around the car to enable us to tumble

and rock it from the wheels upwards. Well
additionally give it suspension.
To create our rig, well use a range of connection
methods; for example constraints, expressions, the
Connection Editor and the Hypergraph. And that
should be enough to unleash your inner geek.

A preparatory sketch of the intended rig

Check the suspension

Establish the correct levels for the car

01 Create the suspension

We will start by working on the front passenger suspension.

Create four locators by going to Create>Locator. Rename them fpSuspensionBallA_loc,
fpSuspensionBallB_loc, fpSuspensionBallParentB_loc and fpSuspensionPlate_loc. Now position
fpSuspensionBallA_loc to the same place as fpSuspensionBallA_geo. Next move both
fpSuspensionBallB_loc and fpSuspensionBallParentB_loc to the same place as fpSuspensionBallB_geo.
Position fpSuspensionPlate_loc at the front end of fpSuspensionPlate_geo. Now select
fpSuspensionBallA_loc, then Shift-select fpSuspensionBallB_loc and go to Constrain>Aim (Options).
Set the Aim Vector to 0, 1, 0 and hit Apply. Select fpSuspensionBallB_loc, Shift-select
fpSuspensionBallA_loc and again create an Aim constraint. This time set the Aim Vector to 0, -1 and 0.
Now parent fpSuspensionBallB_loc under fpSuspensionBallParentB_loc. Select
fpSuspensionBallParentB_loc, Shift-select fpSuspensionPlate_loc and go to Constrain>Aim. Make sure
Maintain Ofset is turned of and set the Aim Vector to 1, 0 and 0. Now Parent Constrain
fpSuspensionBallA_geo to fpSuspensionBallA_loc, fpSuspensionBallB_geo to fpSuspensionBallB_loc,
fpSuspensionPlate_geo to fpSuspensionPlate_loc and nally fpSuspensionRodE_geo to

02 Include the spring


208 3D Art & Design

Turn on Snap to Points and

go to Create>CV Curve Tool (Options). Set the
Curve Degree to 3 Cubic and begin creating a curve from the
top to the bottom of the spring, snapping a new CV on each
vertex. Once the Curve is created, turn of Snap to Points,
rename the curve fpSuspensionSpring_curve and go to
Modify>Center Pivot. Now scale the curve to t into the
centre of the spring geometry and then go to Modify>Freeze
Transformations. Now turn on Snap to Curve, make sure you
are using the Translate tool and either hit the Insert key on the
keyboard or hold down the D key and move the pivot to the
topmost point on the curve. Now go to Create
Deformers>Wire Tool. Select the fpSuspensionSpring_geo
and hit Enter on the keyboard. Select the
fpSuspensionSpring_curve and hit Enter again. Now, if you
scale the curve in the Y axis, you should afect the geometry.


Rig vehicles in Maya

03 Squash & stretch

Go to Create>Measure Tools>Distance Tool. First click at the root of

the fpSuspensionSpring_curve and then click again at the end. Using Snap to Curve, make
sure the locators are sitting right at each end of the curve. Rename the start locator
fpSuspensionStart_loc and the end locator fpSuspensionEnd_loc. Also rename the Distance node
fpSuspension_dist. Parent fpSuspensionStart_loc under fpSuspensionBallA_loc and
fpSuspensionEnd_loc under fpSuspensionBallB_loc. Select the fpSuspension_dist and hit the down
arrow on the keyboard to pick-walk to its shape node, fpSuspension_distShape. Now go to
Window>Rendering Editors>Hypershade and within the window click Graph>Add Selected to Graph.
Next go to Create>General Utilities>Multiply Divide and rename the new node fpSuspension_md.
Select the fpSuspensionSpring_curve and go to Graph>Add Selected to Graph to bring it into the work
area. Now connect the distance from the fpSuspension_distShape into the Input1X of the
fpSuspension_md. Copy the same value that is in Input1X into Input2X and also set the Operation to
Divide. Finally, connect the OutputX from the fpSuspension_md into the scale Y of the

Define the controls

All of the controls will be made out of NURBS curves,
enabling controls to be easily editable in Component mode.
Please note well: once your control has been correctly
placed, only edit its shape in Component mode. Every
control will be grouped to itself twice to create a small
hierarchy. The top node (_ofset) will be used to position
and orient the control. The next level down (_sdk) will be
used to drive automated attributes, such as the jitter
efects. The lowest level is the control curve (_ctrl), which
the animator will use directly.

04 Add some spin control

To nish of the spring, Parent Constrain both the

fpSuspensionSpring_curve and the fpSuspensionSpring_curveBaseWire to
fpSuspensionBallA_loc. Now create a locator and rename it fpTyreSpin_ctrl. Group it to itself twice by
hitting Cmd/Ctrl+G, rename the topmost group fpTyretSpin_ctrl_ofset and the group below
fpTyreSpin_ctrl_sdk. Use the _ofset group to position the control at the centre of the tyre. Now select
fpTyreSpin_ctrl, Shift-select fpSuspensionBallParentB_loc and go to Constrain>Parent. Select
fpTyreSpin_ctrl, Shift-select fpTyre_geo and again go to Constrain>Parent. We will use the Rotate X of
the fpTyreSpin_ctrl to spin the tyre only.

05 Create the main tyre control

Create a NURBS
circle and rename it fpTyre_ctrl. With the control
selected, hit Cmd/Ctrl+G twice to create the control hierarchy.
Rename the topmost group fpTyre_ctrl_ofset and the next group
down fpTyre_ctrl_sdk. Select the fpTyre_ctrl_ofset node, position
it at the same place as the fpTyreSpin_ctrl but then pop a 0 into its
Translate Y channel so it sits under the tyre. If you need to edit the
shape to make it more easily selectable, go into Control Vertex
mode and edit its shape. Now parent fpTyreSpin_ctrl_ofset under
fpTyre_ctrl. To tidy things up, select all the locators, the suspension
curves, the fpSuspension_dist and the fpTyre_ctrl_ofset then hit
Cmd/Ctrl+G. Rename this new group fpSuspension_rig_grp. In
the same manner, create the suspension setup and controls for the
remainder of the tyres. Create a NURBS circle and rename it
fpTyre_ctrl. With the control selected, hit Cmd/Ctrl+G twice to
create the control hierarchy. Rename the topmost group fpTyre_
ctrl_ofset and the next group down fpTyre_ctrl_sdk. Select the
fpTyre_ctrl_ofset node, position it at the same place as the
fpTyreSpin_ctrl but then pop a 0 into its Translate Y channel so it
sits under the tyre. If you need to edit the shape to make it more
easily selectable, go into Control Vertex mode and edit its shape.
Now parent fpTyreSpin_ctrl_ofset under fpTyre_ctrl. To tidy things
up, select all the locators, the suspension curves, the
fpSuspension_dist, the fpTyre_ctrl_ofset and hit Cmd/Ctrl+G.
Rename this new group fpSuspension_rig_grp. In the same
manner, then create the suspension setup and controls for the
remainder of the tyres.


01 The position of the locators

for the suspension

02 The curve and the wire

deformer for the spring

03 Setting up the squash and

stretch of the spring

04 The basic setup for the tyre

spin control
05 The hierarchy for the main

tyre control


3D Art & Design



Rig the main body

Continue to set up the main controls for the body of the car

06 The main controls

Using the CV Curve tool with its Curve degree set to 1 Linear, draw a
square around the car. You can use Snap to Grids and draw down from the top view to get a
clean rectangular shape. Rename the control main_ctrl. Create another control using the CV Curve
tool. This time make it a unique shape that can be easily read as a path follow control. Rename the
control attachToPath_ctrl. For both controls, make sure their pivots are at the world centre and then
go to Modify>Freeze Transformations. Parent main_ctrl under attachToPath_ctrl. With attachToPath_
ctrl selected, hit Cmd/Ctrl+G and rename that group main_ctrl_ofset. Create another rectangular
control in the same manner as the main_ctrl but make it larger. Rename this control globalSRT_ctrl
and with it selected, hit Cmd/Ctrl+G twice. Rename the topmost group globalSRT_ctrl_ofset and the
next group down globalSRT_ctrl_sdk. Parent main_ctrl_ofset under globalSRT_ctrl.



07 Adjust the body control

Create a new NURBS circle

and rename it body_ctrl. Group it to itself twice, rename
the topmost group body_ctrl_ofset and the next group down
body_ctrl_sdk. Select the body_ctrl_ofset and position it so its in
the centre of the car. Parent Constrain mainBody_geo_grp under
body_ctrl and also parent all the xxSuspension_rig_grp nodes
under body_ctrl. Next parent body_ctrl_ofset under main_ctrl.

08 Add pivot locators

Create six locators and rename them fPivot_loc, rPivot_loc,

dPivot_loc, pPivot_loc, fWheelPivot_loc and rWheelPivot_loc. Position the fPivot_loc and
rPivot_loc at either end of the car and at the centre of the X plane. Position the dPivot_loc and pPivot_
loc on the outside of the tyres, either side of the car. Position fWheelPivot_loc and rWheelPivot_loc in
between the front and rear tyres and centred to the X plane. Zero out the Translate Y on all the
locators so they sit cleanly on the Y plane. Next parent rWheelPivot_loc under fWheelPivot_loc.
Parent fWheelPivot_loc under pPivot_loc. Parent pPivot_loc under dPivot_loc. Parent dPivot_loc
under rPivot_loc. Parent rPivot_loc under fPivot_loc. Then parent fPivot_loc under main_ctrl and
nally parent all the xxTyre_ctrl_ofset groups and the body_ctrl_ofset under rWheelPivot_loc.


09 Bonnet, door & boot

Create three new controls and call them bonnet_ctrl, pDoor_ctrl,

dDoor_ctrl and boot_ctrl. As before, group each control to itself twice to create the _sdk
and _ofset nodes. Use the _ofset nodes to place the controls. When the controls are placed, Parent
Constrain bonnet_geo to bonnet_ctrl, pDoor_geo to pDoor_ctrl, dDoor_geo to dDoor_ctrl and
boot_geo to boot_ctrl. Take all the _ofset groups for the controls and parent them under body_ctrl.



10 The jitter control

Create a new control curve and name it autoJitter_ctrl. Dont create the
_sdk and _ofset setup for this, as it will just be a placeholder for some custom attributes.
Position the control above the body_ctrl and parent it under the body_ctrl. Highlight all the Translate,
Rotate and Scale attributes in the Channel Box and go to Channels>Lock and Hide Selected.

210 3D Art & Design

Naming conventions
Before beginning a project, I like to establish some naming
conventions that will be used throughout. This will help
ensure consistency as well as clarity for all involved. Here is
a breakdown of some of the naming conventions used in
this tutorial:
geo = geometry, ctrl = control, loc = locator, grp = group, f =
front, r = rear, d = driver, p = passenger.

Rig vehicles in Maya

Use automated attributes

Give your animator some toys to keep them happy

11 Add extra attributes

Select the main_ctrl and go to Modify>Add Attribute. Create an

attribute called tyres and set its Make attribute to Displayable. This will act as a Divider. Now
create an attribute called autoSpin, set its Make attribute to Keyable and give it a Data Type of Integer.
Set its Minimum value to 0, its Maximum to 1 and its Default value to 1. Add another attribute and call
it frontWheelsTurn. Make it a Data Type of Float and leave its Min/Max parameters empty. Create
another Divider and call it dragAndPivot. Now create the following attributes with a Data Type of Float
and leave the Minimum, Maximum and Default values empty: frontDrag, rearDrag, sidePivot,
frontWheelPivot and rearWheelPivot.


12 Apply auto-jitter attributes

Select the autoJitter_ctrl and go to Modify>Add Attribute.

Again, youll need to create a Divider attribute and call it masterCtrl. Next create two attributes
called speed and size with a Data Type of Float and a Minimum value of 0. Another Divider next, this
time called bodyRock followed by another two attributes called bodyRockSpeed and bodyRockSize
with a Data Type of Float and a Minimum value of 0. Continue to create the following Dividers:
bodyTilt, bodyUpDown, bonnet, boot, dDoor and pDoor. In between each of those Dividers, create the
following attributes using a Float Data Type with a Minimum value of 0: bodyTiltSpeed, bodyTiltSize,
bodyUpDownSpeed, bodyUpDownSize, bonnetSpeed, bonnetSize, bootSpeed, bootSize, dDoorSpeed,
dDoorSize, pDoorSpeed and, nally, pDoorSize.

13 Set up the tyres

Select the fpTyre_ctrl and go to Modify>Add Attribute. Call the attribute

spin and give it a Data type of Float. Leave the Minimum, Maximum and Default values empty.
Next highlight the Rotate X attribute in the Channel Box and go to Channels>Lock and Hide Selected.
With fpTyre_ctrl still selected, go to Window>General Editors>Connection Editor. Now select
fpTyreSpin_ctrl and click Reload Right. Connect the spin in the left column to the Rotate X in the right
column and do the same for the remainder of the tyres.




14 Achieve automatic wheel spinning

To have the
wheels spin automatically with the forwards and
backwards translation of the car, go to Window>Expression Editor
and create the expression that you can nd on the disc at the back
of the bookazine.


15 Drag, pivot & auto-jitter expression

To set up the
drag and overlap, create the expression found on the free
disc at the back of the bookazine. Load it up and nd the PDF le
that contains what youre looking for. Afterwards, create another
expression for the jitter attributes, which can also be found on the
disc. Rename this expression autoJitter_expr and you should be
good to take the car out for a spin. Happy rigging!

06 The main controls in place

07 The body control with its

pivot at the centre of the car

08 The locators used for the

pivoting of the car

09 The door, bonnet and boot

controls in action

10 Locking and hiding the

transformation channels for

the autoJitter_ctrl

11 Use custom attributes to add

drag and pivot

12 Further custom attributes for

automated jitter efects

13 Using the Connection Editor

to control the spinning

animation of the tyres

14 This is the expression you

need to create the automatic

spinning of the tyres when the
car is translated

15 These are the expressions

used for the pivot and jitter

controls. Find the image on
the disc for more detail
3D Art & Design



A simple model of a B-2

stealth plane to challenge your
texturing skills in MARI

Texture a realistic

Create a quick texture for a stealth plane

and maintain a flexible workflow in MARI

ARI is a relatively new

software, but its quickly
becoming the new standard
for texture artists in the industry. I use
it almost every day at work and it has
now become an essential tool in my
texturing workow.
Its designed to work with a vast
amount of textures at high resolution,
enabling artists to focus on the artistic
process without having to worry about the
technical issues of working with an object
with multiple UV tiles. MARI is very
similar to Photoshop for certain aspects:
you can directly import PSD les since it
uses the same blending modes in its
shaders, and most of its image-editing
tools and lters will be very familiar to
Photoshop users.
Even though texturing with MARI feels
very easy and uid, it remains very
important to plan what you want to
achieve before even opening the software.

212 3D Art & Design

The risk of having too much freedom is

that you can quickly get lost in the
process. The rst thing that every texture
artist should create is a well-organised
library; a place to keep all the reference
images (generic and project-related) and
the textures that they can directly use and
project onto the model. It takes some time
in the beginning but its totally worth it,
since it prevents you from having to leave
the software and look for more references,
losing you time and concentration.
Its also very important to keep the
workow as non-destructive as possible,
especially if youre part of a team where
other people rely on your work. Its also a
huge time-saver, since its hard to predict
what your client or supervisor will ask you
to modify next.
The most efcient way to proceed is to
analyse the texture you want to re-create
and divide it into layers (or channels, in
MARI), so you can have a lot of control on

the diferent aspects of the colour. If you keep things separated it

will also be easier to reuse those layers in the creation of the
secondary maps, such as Bump, Displacement and Specular.
In this tutorial well discuss how to create a quick texture for a
stealth plane and how to set up MARI in order to maintain a
exible workow.

Texture a realistic vehicle

your UVs and

texture references

import all the references and the textures
well be using into the Image Manager, so
that everything is one click away. To get
the most out MARI, always make sure that
every piece youre about to texture has
some UV co-ordinates. MARI is designed
to work with multiple UDIMs: in this
tutorial well use ve tiles a.

Mind the Paint Bufer

MARI projects all the painting and
images you create onto the geometry
through a Paint Bufer. The Paint Bufer
works like a transparent plane where
you paint and edit your textures before
baking them to the mesh and its UVs.
Its very important to set an
appropriate resolution of the Paint Bufer
before starting work. If youre working on
4k textures but youre using a 1k Paint
Bufer to project your painting onto the
geometry, you will end up with some
very low-resolution bakes. Before or
after you paint on it, you can also move
and stretch it using the Transform Paint
Bufer tool.

02Add a base colour

For the base colour of your

vehicle, create various Masked Constant Colour shader
modules. I then create diferent Scalar channels and use them to
mask the at colours in the shader. In this way everything remains
quickly editable, if needed. To create a quick colour variation and
make the base more interesting, add a Fractal Noise shader
module and blend on the other layers in Overlay mode with an
Opacity of 60% b.

03Bring more detail

MARI gives you the possibility to

create a vertex-based ambient occlusion very quickly;
you can then use the result as a mask or bake it to a channel.
Here well use it as a channel and multiply it on the other layers.
To create a higher-frequency colour variation, add a Tri-Planar
shader module to project a metallic pattern seamlessly onto the
geometry. Use a Hard Light blending mode to mix it with the
other layers c.


Use lines and Decals To add the lines, create

a new Black channel and set it to Screen. Then switch

to the top orthographic view and paint them by Shift-clicking
all the corners in this way MARI will create only straight
strokes. For the other Decals, create a 4K map in Photoshop
with all you want to project in it, and then use the Paint Through
tool to project them on the mesh. Once thats done, make sure
you copy and mirror the right side to the left side in the UV space,
to speed up the process d.

05Apply displacement

more control of the displacement,
instead of drawing lines in MARI, create a
new channel, ll it with a 50% grey and
then use the Camera-layered Painting
Unproject function. In this way MARI
creates a PSD le with a screenshot of
your viewport and sends it directly to
Photoshop. Create the displacement lines
using paths and reproject them onto the
model using Camera-layered Painting
Project from the same menu. You can also
preview the displacement in the MARI
viewport using Displacement or Bump
shader modules e.

06Bring in a specular map

Having all the colour components

already separated in layers, its easy to
create a Specular map. Duplicate your
shader and use the components that weve
already created to generate a black-andwhite map. In particular, reuse and
contrast the Fractal Noise and the
Tri-Planar modules. If you want you can
add other non-colour-related channels to
enhance the interest of the shading f.
3D Art & Design



Jaguar xkx concept
The objective was to design a concept car inspired by the
Jaguar E-Type, and give a rebirth to the original brand
Hussain Almossawi and Marin Myftiu A graphic designer and architect
respectively, both 3D and car enthusiasts

Artist info

Easy-to-follow guides
take you from concept
to the nal render

Hussain Almossawi
Marin Myftiu
Username: mossawi09
Personal portfolio site
Country Bahrain/Albania
Software used
3ds Max, V-Ray, Photoshop
Expertise Hussain is a graphic
designer and currently
completing his masters degree
in Industrial Design at the
University of Alberta. Marin is
an architect in his nal year at
the Polytechnic University of
Tirana. They both have their
diferent interests, but what
brings them together in this
project is the love of 3D and
cars. Together they have been
able to come up with a great
collaboration for you to follow.

214 3D Art & Design

Software used in this piece

3ds Max



resentation is always a key factor when

you want to sell an idea; sometimes a
great idea can be presented poorly while
a bad one can seem greater than it is. This
tutorial will guide you through the preparation of
modelling a car, and then how to present it in the
best way. The aim is to have a great design with
smooth presentation, to pay of for all the hard
work on your car, or any other model.
As we progressed through the various stages
of the design, we found the unavoidable need to
transform our concept-creating, modelling and
presentational skills to a level that would reveal
the full boldness and innovation of the original
idea. As we were developing some nely detailed
geometry, a more direct vertex editing was
required, as well as recursive checks and test
renders, just to see how every aspect of the
model behaved in diferent lighting conditions.

01Inspiration and brand study

As part of the analysis, we

wanted to get diferent views of the lines of the E-Type Jaguar
and then see where those lines could lead. In Photoshop, a side view of
the car was placed on the bottom layer and on a second layer several
path strokes followed a.

Model a luxury car


02Design the rims

Several sketches were done for the rims, but

directly playing with simple functions such as scaling and moving
points on circles began to give the most satisfactory results, with an
X-shaped inner part. This emphasises both a sense of raw power and a
gentle pulse of energy b.

03Prepare the blueprints

The nal sketches, together with the

path analysis were then combined into sketches of the main
orthogonal views and subsequently cleaned up to blueprints in Photoshop.
Those blueprints were subsequently used in 3ds Max to aid with the
modelling stage c.
3D Art & Design



Set up the model

Bring out the true beauty of your car

04Model the jumping jaguar

A straightforward approach was followed in

modelling the leaping jaguar logo. Vertices were extruded
around the silhouette and along all the contours that were
relevant from the backdrop image. Every single line was
raised or lowered accordingly. In the end the faces were
formed, followed by a nal adjustment d.

05Find the best camera angle

Finding the
best angle to render your car in can be a tough
challenge, you could be doing your creation an injustice by
rendering it at a bad angle. Place three cameras at diferent
heights, and animate them to revolve around the car,
rendering at very low quality which will give you a good idea
of the best angle(s) to work with e.

Work with complex geometry

There were several challenging aspects we faced during
diferent stages, but none more so than dealing with the
undened geometry. During several steps of the
development, we found that using standard editing tools
just wouldnt yield the desired geometry. When modelling
an existing vehicle you can rely on precise blueprints and
countless pictures to help you decide the best techniques,
but when building from scratch this is mostly not possible.
To tackle this we manipulated geometry vertex by vertex
and face by face.


Rendering in high quality can

always be tempting, but at a really
low quality gives you a good sense
of how things are looking

06Set up the lighting

Lighting could get quite

tricky and complicated. Create a simple backdrop
to your car with a smoothed corner. Place V-Ray lights
above the car, one in front and one in the back, to make sure
it is completely covered. Experiment with having more than
one light plane around the car f.

07Bring out some details

Since this car is

going to be rendered in a dark studio scene to bring
out its curves and lines, some important details can be
missed out. You can use as many additional lights as you
wish, pointing to certain details, but excluding all the other
objects to prevent them from lighting up g.

216 3D Art & Design

Model a luxury car

08Render in V-Ray

in high quality can always be
tempting, but using a really low quality to
give you a good sense of how things are
looking and turning out is a big time-saver.
Setting your Image Sampler to Fixed with
low values, and lowering all the sample
sizes on your Materials, Lights and Render
settings speeds things up when you come
to testing h.

09Add materials

The main
matte material for the car was
made using a V-Ray Blend Material. The
main idea is using the base material and
coat material, with similar settings, but
having slight diferences in the reective
settings, to enable the light to spread
better on the matte nish i.

Hussain Almossawi

I am 23 years old with lots of passion and love for 3D. I

always try to keep an eye open for things being done by
others, thats what inspires me and makes me want to
move on and explore all kinds of different things in the
3D world. I run alongside my brother.

Color Revolution 3ds Max, V-Ray, Photoshop (2011)

In collaboration with Anthony Giacomino. We came up with words

to base the typography on and a scene that would t the word. The
type has more of a frozen look and its placed in an icy, cold
environment. The idea also depicts new and foreign colours being
introduced to the scene. This was created for Intrinsic Natures
latest online exhibition, Experiment 11.

Love Potion
3ds Max,
Photoshop (2009)

10Work with diferent passes

Working with passes is essential to

postproduction as it gives you much more freedom to make quick changes
and adjustments. Render Elements is one way, but we were after a unique look where
we could have some sharp reections mix with our matte nish. Rendering the car
with both materials and overlaying them in Photoshop worked well j.

A poster that
visualises the
metaphor of love
being medication for
the ailing heart. This
poster was selected
as a Daily Deviation
on deviantART on
28 March 2009.
A lifetime without
love is of no
account, love is the
water of life, drink it
down with heart and
soul! Rumi.

3D Art & Design



Add atmosphere
Time to give your car that finished shine

lights are sometimes the
trickiest to create. Often
they just dont get the right
kind of exaggerated
reections to make them
stand out in a studio
environment. We used
about ve passes over the
original render, along with
the reection on the cover
by adding a gradient to
make it stand out more k.


brake lights in the back of
the car were repainted in
Photoshop with a much
stronger red. The
reections on the side
windows where smoothed
out, and some of the cuts
where cleaned up if they
had any noise. Exaggerating
some parts and making
everything crisp is essential
for presenting your work l.

The mood of the scene is one of the most important elements; it

needs to ow very well with the lighting on the car to add a greater
sense of realism
overall scene



render time
4,000 x 1,304:

The mood of scene is one

of the most important
elements; it needs to ow
very well with the lighting
on the car to add a greater
sense of realism. Using
diferent radial gradients
in Photoshop at diferent
opacities on the oor and
backdrop created a nice
sense of harmony that
matched the lighting on
the car very well. A slight
tint of the backdrop colour
can also be added to the
car to match the new
scene colours m.

Marin Myftiu

I am a freelance designer and architect

with experience in architectural, interior
and product design. Also competent in 3D
modelling and rendering, my
experiences include graphics design,
programming and journalism.
Recently I have become more and more
interested in car design, studying
current trends and trying to anticipate
future ones in personal, commissioned
and competitive projects.

218 3D Art & Design

SKIN Blender, Photoshop (2011)

Inheriting the most distinctive morphology of the

Renault 4, SKIN tries to go one step further than
other retro designs by preserving the main
silhouettes of the car. The piece is interpreted using
current Renault design trends.

VW PASSAT S-Revision 2 Blender, Photoshop (2011)

Revision 2 of the Passat S model tries to carve a distinctive
visual character for the Volkswagen Passat name. I am
taking the previous project towards a more rened
geometry, while also taking into account hexagonal trends
in vehicle design.

3D Art & Design


The Black Drone was a project assigned to me back in 2010 to

illustrate the latest technology in autonomous engineering and design.
The environment was a crucial part of the project to bring the
secrecy and mysterious vibe with a futuristic feel!

Black Drone 2010

mental ray


Software used in this piece


Website www.kollected.
Country Australia
tal ray,
Software used Maya, men
Bio Nick has worked in the his
industry for 12 years. He
own design studio in Syd

Nick Kaloterakis

Detail, detail,
detail. In my experience
the more you have to feed the
eye, the more wow factor it
brings and makes a huge
impact at the end result

I used Maya for hard-surface

modelling and textures, mental ray for
lighting in a physical, accurate scale
and for rendering (HDRI with mib_
ray_switch). Photoshop was
used for the nal comp and
colour correction

Incredible 3D artists take

us behind their artwor

Artist info


Sculpt a space vehicle

Ballade of the Lucanus 2012

The result is a space-opera-inspired mash up of

vessels, all created using the same workow
Istvan is a digital artist and illustrator based in Geneva, Switzerland

Artist info

Easy-to-follow guides
take you from concept
to the nal render

Personal portfolio site
Country Switzerland
Software used ZBrush,
Photoshop, Illustrator, Vue
Expertise I use 3D as a way to
create nal artwork; Im not
necessarily specialised in any
eld, I tend to switch between
techniques and software to
create the objects I need to
nish my illustrations.

220 3D Art & Design

Three ZBrush brushes

Three videos showing the
hard cut method, Group
Loops method plus masking
and texturing techniques
One .vue le (the planet) and
a PSD of the nal composition

n this tutorial well create an insectinspired battleship; a vehicle that ows

through space curled into itself like a
cocoon, but when attacking opens up its
wings and gigantic claws.
Remember, even though were making a
battleship here, the method described can also
be used to model a whole host of other types
of vehicles, buildings, weapons and more.

Once youve secured the skills, youll be a

hard-surface sculpting master in no time.
Before even opening ZBrush, always think
through the details of the project using photo
references. In this case, try to imagine the
universe where a concept like this would have
evolved. Try to set your objectives in context.
Here were not thinking about specic designs
for a battleship, just about the details imagine

Sculpt a space vehicle

The hard cut

The hard cut method consists of
modelling using only Clip brushes.
Activating BRadius (Cmd/
Ctrl+Shift+ Spacebar and click on
BRadius) enables a very powerful
tool to create shapes with a
hard-edged look. But be careful: if
you want to achieve the efect of
an insects shell, you shouldnt cut
randomly. The cuts should look like
those of real insects. For example,
the cut lines of the abdomen are
often repetitive, becoming
increasingly tighter as they
approach the body (such as on the
abdomen of wasps). So for this
concept, we must achieve the nal
shape of the battleship without
forgetting the strong lines found on
real insects.

Software used
in this piece

youre looking at an image so closely that you can

understand all of its detail without having to see the entire
image in full. This process enables us to dene our needs:
the techniques well use, the outlines to be used in ZBrushs
ShadowBox, the textures and so on. It also helps to get your
references rmly in your mind which in this case includes
the anatomy of insects and the functions of a battleship.
Once this ground work is set, we can then start work in
ZBrush, remaining open to interpretation as we create.





The concept originated with a mothinspired battleship model that I originally
created to ght in the game EVE Online.
Based on its success I decided to create
other battleships using the same
workow, to start a small eet!
3D Art & Design



Lay the groundwork

The Group

Watch the details but dont worry about the battleship yet!
Use photo references to decide what
techniques to employ and how they
should best be used

Group Loop

01Key points and references

Hard cut

The battleship is going to

have the resemblance of an insect. We will model using the
hard cut method, which will be described in the following steps. In
this way we can replicate the hard-edged look of an insects shell.
We will also use ZBrushs Group Loops method to create the parts
of the ship that will resemble legs and antennae.
Ive chosen an insect species that has extraordinary features as
our focus: the Lucanus, Britains largest known terrestrial beetle.
This insect has huge claws and a thick and sturdy look. Using these
distinguishing features helps us dene the function of our
battleship: a lightly armed ship thats strong and capable of
inicting heavy damage a.

02Set up a base outline

I begin by drawing a basic body

of the ship in Illustrator. The le is
supplied as a tutorial le with this issue. Basically, you just rough out
silhouette images for the front, side and top views and then export
the le as a JPEG. We can then use the image to create the base
form using ShadowBox in ZBrush. You can also design the wing
shape in Plan view. Well use these shapes with the Make 3D
function of the Alpha menu in ZBrush (covered in Step 5) b.

The Group Loops

method can easily create
structures that look like
insects legs or pipes. On
the Lucanus battleship, I
use this method for the
claws and for the tubes
that run along the
surface of the ship.
I create a web frame
using ZSpheres and
export it as a new tool
with Adaptive Skin. I
then go to
Tool>Geometry and
click on Group Loops.
This creates divisions
between each branch of
the frame. Group Loops
have the same
Polyframe, so I simply
select a Polyframe and
modify it with the Inate
deformer and Inate
balloon. See the
supplied video le for
Group Loops.

Transforming vehicles
The Lucanus has two modes: an attack mode with open wings, deployed weapons and a
threatening appearance, and a cocoon mode where the ship is curved into its shell. This
makes it strong and stealthy. As the attack mode is fully open, its easier to start by creating
the battleship in this mode and then fold it into a cocoon after.
To switch to cocoon mode, I move all loose items (wings, clamps, weapons) with the
Transpose tool to the nearest surface of the battleship. I then use the deformers
(Deformation tab) on exible areas like the wings so that they curl around the ship. I nish
the placement of the wings with the Move Elastic brush.

03Model the battleships body

The rst thing to do is load in your textures which is the

image weve exported from Illustrator. Create a ShadowBox in medium resolution, around 512
pixels. In the Texture tab of the Tool menu, apply the previously loaded image as a texture to your
ShadowBox. Then, in the Masking tab, create a Mask By Intensity so that the texture of the ShadowBox
is used to retrieve the mask. We can now disable the ShadowBox and start working with the hard cut
method dont forget to Activate Symmetry in X on the Transform menu at this stage c.

222 3D Art & Design

04Sculpt some elements

With an interesting basic

shape established, we can add the elements of the
battleship: reactors, weapons, shells and any other specic parts
such as claws, in the case of the Lucanus. For this, we append
(SubTool tab) a simple object that well distort using the Transpose
tool to achieve the volume needed. Then model the object using
the hard cut method.
For the claws, append a ZSphere and create a frame that we
work on using the Group Loops method. Finish the look with some
hard cutting, so that they integrate well with the other elements d.

Sculpt a space vehicle

Hard-surface modelling
Pick from several tools to produce consistent results

Give a sense of dimension

In space, there is no atmospheric efect. Its difcult to distinguish if your
object is a small battleship placed in the foreground or a huge one
located thousands of miles away. Its therefore important to add in one
or two elements that illustrate your battleships size. Ive added doors to
the sides of the Lucanus to show that the vehicle can also carry
numerous other vessels.
You can also help readability by overlaying elements: if the reactor
ame of a small spacecraft passes in front of your battleship, your mind
will interpret that the battleship is located on the background, and is
therefore much larger.
B Create the basic shapes
in Illustrator so we can
build variations with ease

d At this stage the basic

structure of the
battleship is complete

g If we hide the battleship,

the pipe structure should
bring up its outline

c Load the image as a

texture into the
ShadowBox provided

e Wings are not totally

at, so give them a
slight curve

h Retopology can help you

get more accurate and
lighter objects


05Create the wings

For the wings, once again use the image created in

Illustrator. Loading it as an alpha enables us to extrude it through the Make 3D
tab of the Alpha menu. Work on the wings using the hard cut method to make them
look like the other elements of the battleship. Append the wing to the battleship and
dene the point where it must be attached. Use this anchor point to precisely position
the wing with the Transpose tool and add some curve with the options on the
Deformation tab (particularly SBend, SSkew and Twist) e.

06Modify the battleship with a rig

The claws and mouth arent open

enough, so use the rigging function to distort all the SubTools in one step. Use
the Transpose Master plug-in (ZPlugin menu). Activate the option ZSphere Rig and click
TPoseMesh. This creates a ZSphere with a ghost of the battleship. Create the rig with the
ZSpheres and then go to Tool>Rigging and click on Bind Mesh. Move the ZSpheres to
change the geometry of the battleship, then go back to Transpose Master and
TPose>Sub. Transpose Master will apply the changes to each SubTool in just one step f.

The rig in the

battleship will distort
all SubTools together

07Add detail with pipes

Append a ZSphere inside the battleship and create

a web frame (with X Symmetry enabled) by going in and out of the battleships
surface. This adds density to some key points the junction between the body and
claws, for example and highlights the strong lines of the battleship. Once the basic
armature is complete, turn of X Symmetry and add some more pipes. Then use the
Group Loops method to nish the look of the structure g.

08Retopologise the model

The jaw area should be more detailed, but

we dont want to subdivide the entire model. So instead, well
retopologise. Open a new ZSphere, select Rigging in the Tool menu and click on
Select Mesh to open the battleship as a ghost. Then go into the Topology options
and click Edit Topology. Create the new topology directly on the model and, when
the new jaw is ready, go to Tool>Adaptive Skin and then Make Adaptive Skin.
We can now increase the polycount of the new part and nish up with the
Group Loops and hard cut modelling methods h.
3D Art & Design



Texture your vehicle

0+ hours

Create fine detail using custom brushes

09Add detail with the MicroMesh tool

We want
the new jaw to be lled with a bunch of circular saws. The
MicroMesh function in ZBrush is perfect to obtain many recurring
items without weighing down your model. Open the new tool we
created, select only the part where you want the saw detail and
hide the rest of the object. Now create a new SubTool from the
visible section normally it should look like a skin that is placed just
above the model. In the Geometry tab, click on MicroMesh to
select the object that will replace each polygon of the mesh i.
The size of the MicroMesh
object depends on the size
of the polygon it replaces

tion tim

Image resolu e


each part of the model with the
Mask By Smoothness function
(Masking tab) with a low range
and a high fallof. This will mask
a thin line along the edges of the
model. Then, with the Grow,
Blur and Sharpen Mask options,
widen the mask until it becomes
thick enough around the edges.
Then use the Inate deformer
(Deformation tab) to slightly
lower the unmasked parts into
the structure. This gives us a
structure in two levels that can
be textured independently with
your brushes j.

,000 x 3,500

with custom

We can now
use custom brushes (supplied)
to add detail between the two
parts separately masked. The
contour will be made of rigid
plate steel and the inside will be
made of thin strips. The wings
should look like they are made
of small plates that slide when
they close. For all these details,
use the default brushes in
ZBrush (mostly in the Scales
and Pattern directories).
Choose one where the ow
matches what youre looking
for and change the Alpha to
images created in Illustrator or
Photoshop (les supplied) k.

12Add matter with Noise

Use the Noise function to give

matter to small parts of the ship. Noise is not as realistic as
custom brushes for objects that have large at surfaces (like
wings) but it is very efcient and fast for small objects such as
pipes. In the Surface tab (Tool menu), click on Light Box>
NoiseMaker to bring up the Noise presets and then select the one
that comes closest to what you want. We want to add rust to the
pipes, so I choose Noise04. From the Surface tab, click on Edit to
customise the noise efect l.

Create a
mask with

13Use a background as an environment map


224 3D Art & Design

Create a LightCap so your battleship is well integrated in the

nal image. I make the background for this illustration using Vue,
since it enables planet rendering as well as spherical rendering to
use as environment maps in ZBrush. In ZBrush, in the Background
tab (Light menu), load your environment by clicking on Texture.
Make sure the framing of the environment is the same as the
background of the nal illustration, and click the LightCap button
(the Reect option must be enabled). The LightCap just created is
editable as a MatCap from the Material menu m.

When I change my object

mask with the Grow,
Sharpen and Blur mask
functions, the corners
between the edges can
be rounded and I may
need a sharper result.
I Print Screen my
model from above and
from below (by disabling
the perspective). I can
then paste the screen
grabs into Illustrator and
draw my mask on top. Ill
then export the image to
use as an Alpha with my
Mask tool. This method
takes a little longer, but
the result is more
accurate. Furthermore,
if I have to clear my
mask, it will be easier to
recover it.

Sculpt a space vehicle

Render in ZBrush
Use BPR to capture lots of vessels for a space opera mash-up!

Lucanus: 1/5


Lucanus: 5/5

Lucanus: 5/5

Lucanus: 2/5

Moth: 3/4

Moth: 2/4
Moth: 4/4

14Render several battleships

We want to create a
scene with several starships, but ZBrush doesnt enable
BPR with multiple objects. There are several possibilities to
overcome this drawback, however. The easiest way is to merge the
nal battleship and append it several times on the same tool, but
that requires a powerful computer.
Instead, make a BPR of your battleship and, in Photoshop, put
the render on your background, estimating where to place the
second most important battleship. Go back to ZBrush for the BPR
and repeat the operation as many times as necessary to gather all
the ships you want for the nal illustration n.

Group 1

Group 2

Group 4

Group 3

With light

I want the hull of the battleship to reect the lights from the
reactors of small starships that revolve around the main
ship. To do this, I realise a BPR with the NormalRGB
MatCap included in ZBrush. Once in Photoshop, I can then
create a Radial Gradient placed on the light source (the
reactor of the small starship). I select a colour range on my
NormalRGB render (Selection>Color Range) by clicking on
a point that should have a reection. I add a mask to my
gradient with this selection. This way the gradient will
appear only on the faces pointing in the same direction.

Merged nal
illustration with
all corrections
Lights and

First group of

Second group of

Third group of


background with
colour correction


Without light

Use your Normal map in


Lucanus: 3/5

Group 5

Gradient and

Planet extra

The nal composition Equalise your composition to

achieve a balanced outcome between your starships.

However, when theyre moved, even slightly, it can distort their
perspective. If the integration seems wrong, go back to ZBrush to
render it from the new location.
After some back and forth between the two programs, youll get
the desired result. A simple technique to check that your
composition works is to ip the image horizontally in order to
check it as a mirrored image. Once in reverse, all the errors of
perspective will become obvious. If after this little test everything
seems okay, turn to the nal stage of the image o.


Vue background

the nal

Choose the
nal look for your image,
deciding whether it will be cold
or warm, fuzzy or sharp, dirty
or clean. Add a few layers of
real photographs to give a little
substance to the image (dust,
starry background, lasers,
ares and so on). The
Distortion tool, like Puppet
Warp in Photoshop, is very
useful to give curvature to the
trails of reactors, for example.
Once the composition is
complete, atten the image,
nalise the colours and perfect
the general appearance using
Photoshops post tools p.

j You can get diferent types of

structures by playing with the
Mask options
k Add the nal details with
custom brushes
l The Noisemaker creates organic
matter on small objects
m The background of the nal
artwork and the associated
environment map
n The rendering time can be
optimised by lowering the level
of subdivision for the small
background vessels
o Each group of battleships should
have a diferent size for even
better readability
p Here is a map of the nal
composition with all the various
types of layers
3D Art & Design


Plus tutorial screenshots

Create vehicles with

open-source software

Learn to create impressive sports cars using free software

ts good news for open-source software

lovers; a new version of Blender is ready
for download! Version 2.64 features
many important innovations, including a
new mask editor, new nodes in compositing
(box mask, colour correction, re-route and
more), colour management (Blender 2.63
only supports two colour spaces, linear and
sRGB) and scene loading optimisations for
Cycles renders. A new non-progressive
integrator has also been added and
panoramic sh-eye cameras, new mesh
tools and sculpting improvements are now
available. So before you begin this tutorial,
download the new free version from www. now.
Creating a car with 3D software is a
challenge as there are many details to keep

226 3D Art & Design

in mind to get good results. The high-beam lights, for example,

require accurate modelling. This is particularly true with the inside
of the vehicle, otherwise the reections will look unrealistic.
Proportions must be as accurate as possible, so its essential to
have good reference images. Ideally youll use a blueprint with all
the views of the car (front, rear, side and top), but often these les
are not easy to nd, especially for newer car models. If you dont
have blueprints, make sure that photo references are well aligned
and that the diferent views are exactly the same size if necessary,
re-size them with the free image editor, GIMP (
These images will be placed as a background image one for each
view so make sure they are perfectly centred.
While modelling, well use Blenders modiers to simplify work.
The Mirror modier will be used a lot and will enable us to do half
the work by taking advantage of the symmetry of the car. The most
important rule to follow is the KISS principle (Keep It Short and
Simple). We must not forget to KISS, so during the modelling never
add more vertices than needed as the mesh will become

unmanageable and each new change could

become a disaster.
To reduce the use of RAM and the
workload of the video card, its important to
use diferent layers. For this project, well
place the wheels, body, interior and stage
with the lights on diferent layers. The
design of the car is full of soft lines, so well
use only the vertices needed and let the
algorithm of subsurface do the work for us.
Once a piece is nished and the result
satises us, its better to put the subsurface
of the Viewport to a minimum level.
For all the pieces that have a radial
symmetry (such as the wheels), well model
a single slice and then clone it with the
modier spin. Its important to give the right
thickness to the body of the car, otherwise

Create vehicles with open-source software

it will look toy-like. For simple pieces well
use the Solidify modier; for more complex
objects well extrude edges by hand.
Its very important to save often,
especially before making a radical change.
Backups use space on the disk, but they will
enable you to save valuable time.
Another very important aspect is the
creation of good car paint, as luxury cars
have three-layered paint with iridescent
reections. Our car-paint material will
consist of a Difuse shader mixed with a
Glossy and another Glossy material that
will simulate the iridescent reections.
Chrome or shiny materials are composed of
a Glossy shader with a diferent roughness
index and two colours blended.
We want a car with a racing look to it, so
were going to add a stripe on the hood and
the side. Lighting is also crucial: well use a
big ll light on the car, two front lights (one
with warm light and one with cold) and a
series of emitter oors that will inuence
only the reections of the car paint.
Well use a three-quarter view of the car
with the headlights turned on as the main
image because it gives an overall
impression and is a good way to emphasise
the beauty of the car. During rendering well
save glossy reections, ambient occlusion
images and, with the node editor, create a
JPEG with the reections generated by the
headlights. These images are then
combined in GIMP.

Blenders node compositor is good, but using graphic-editing

software like GIMP makes post-production work more uid and
immediate. The nal image is balanced with an AO layer and glossy
reections added to give more detail to the shadows and to
emphasise reections where needed. The very last edit well make
is the addition of a lens are on the high-beam light. This adds an
eye-catching ash to the result.

Create a sports car in ten

simple steps

01Blender windows

The rst
step is to set the reference images
in various windows. Open your reference
photos (supplied on the disc) in GIMP and
make sure they are horizontal and aligned
with the oor. Enable the rulers in GIMP
and cut the images so that the height and
width of the car are the same in the front
and rear view. It would be nice to have a
picture from the top, but if you dont have
one we will need to study the diferent
views to understand the structure of the
car. Youll nd reference images are
supplied with this tutorial, so theres plenty
to work from d.

a The nal render.

Lens are was
added in
using the free
software GIMP

b In this wireframe

render the
subsurface level
has been reduced
to make the
mesh structure
more evident

c A wireframe

render of the
interior view

d Reference setup

3D Art & Design


Model the tyres
Well use two modiers to model the
tyres in Blender: Array and Curves. From
the top view prepare a slice of the tyre
with a tread pattern, apply the Array
modier to obtain copies, add a Bezier
Curve of the size of the tyre and use it as
a base object for the Curves modier.
Now apply the modier and extrude the
side vertex until you have the correct
width of tyre.

02Model the wheels

the side view, add an empty
section at the centre of the wheel, move the
cursor to the empty area (Shift+S then
select) and add a circle. The wheel has ten
spokes, so well use a circle of 80 vertexes
(three for each spoke and ve between
each spoke). Model a single spoke and
then, with the Spin modier, well create the
necessary copies. Remove the double
vertices and proceed with the extrusion e.

03Continue the wheels

another circle in the central part of
the wheel, scale the vertices to the centre

and extrude. Apply some extra cuts to
create the holes for the pins. To make round
holes, select vertices and hit Shift+Opt/
Alt+S. Enable Boltfactory in Blenders
Addons (go to File>UserPreferences>
Addons> Boltfactory) and place the wheel
axles. Well use a cylinder for the disc brake
and then shape the brake caliper. To model
the clamp well enable a Mirror. The holes
in the discs will be added with a texture f.


Model some tyres First,

create the prole of the wheel

then use the spin with the cursor in the
centre of the wheel as the centre of
rotation. We want the car to have a sporty/
racing appearance, so well use slick tyres. If
you want road wheels youll have to model
the footprint of the tyre and then bend it
along a circle g.

e Modelling the

wheels note the

empty centre

f Creating the

228 3D Art & Design

wheel interior

g Final modelling of
the wheel

h Be sure to follow

the curves of the

car as closely as
you can

05Add a bonnet and bumper

With the Mirror

modier active, begin to shape the bonnet and the
bumper, following the curves of the car as closely as possible to the
reference photo. Its better not to use too many points, as any
changes can make it difcult to maintain the soft curves of the car.
Occasionally turn on the level of the wheels and make a clay render
to check if your model contains errors h.

Compositing node editor benets

The node editor is another of Blenders very powerful tools that
has greatly improved in the latest versions. We could complete
all the post-production in Blender without using GIMP, but I
prefer to use the node editor only to create the layers and then
export them into GIMP. This way I have more control over the
areas to be processed (lights, shadows, sharpening, curves and
level adjustments). For our scene it will be used to create the
glare efect on the high beams.

Create vehicles with open-source software


06Sculpt the body

Using the
same procedure as the previous
step, well model the side of the car now,
including the rear bumper and doors. Be
sure to keep the diferent parts separate so
any changes that need to be made will be
far easier and save time. Right now its
important to create the shape of the car
the details will be added later. Once
youve nished the body, extrude the edges
of the meshes to create thickness and
activate the Subsurf in Viewport to check if

Texture advice
Textures can make a big diference to a
3D scene, meaning with a simple stripe,
our car has a racing look. I used the
symmetry of the car to unwrap the
model in a very easy way. Simply go to
the side view, select the parts of the
body and, in Edit mode, hit U then select
Project From View. This way I can
quickly apply the texture to the model.

the spaces between the pieces are right. As

you can see, all the parts are diferent
colours to highlight the various edges i.

07Add details

Now weve
nished the outer body, well add
more details including door handles, rear
wings, the plates, the front vent, the
exhaust system and front and rear lights.
The front lights are composed of a glass
with a mesh inside a reective material and
a spherical light. The rear lights are made of
small emitter spheres (LEDs) on a Reector
plane. The correct placement of these
elements is essential, so at this stage
paying close attention to your reference
material is vital j.

08Model the interior

On a
new layer well now begin to
model the interior of the car. Start from the
basic plan, then the central transmission
tunnel. Well model the seats in another le
and then import the mesh. Add the
dashboard, the gear lever, the rear-view
mirror and all the details on the inside of the
doors. Assign a red material to the interior,
apply black to the plastic and give grey to
the aluminium surfaces k.

09Set up your materials

will use Cycles as the render
engine, so rst open the node editor to set
the materials. The car paint will be a mix of
Difuse and Glossy shaders, both mixed
with a Glossy with violet hues. Wheels and
aluminium details are a Glossy material. For
the seats well use a red velvet with a black
reection. The plastic material is a mix of
two Difuse and a Glossy shader with a
Noise texture as a Bump map l.

10Time to render

assigning the materials, well create
the scene for rendering, using a classic
studio setup with a rear plane and
three-point lighting. The plane will be

slightly shiny to give reections on the oor. The upper ll light
doesnt inuence the Glossy channel, so well use other lamps only
for glossy reections. The front lights are both warm and cold lights
to make the image less at. Well need extra channels for the
post-production stage, so go to the Layer menu and enable the AO
and Glossy direct channels. After rendering, open the image, the
Glossy channel and AO pass in GIMP, and overlay them to obtain
the nal result m.
i Car body meshes
j Mesh details
k Detailing the

interior elements of
the car

l A map of the

car-paint material

m Use a simple setup

for the lighting

3D Art & Design


Get to grips with 3D animation with these
practical step-by-step guides
232 Learn to animate a
bouncing ball

The essential first steps of animation

236 Realistic character rigging

The creation of a joint structure for a

biped character

240 Learn to animate a walk cycle

Take the basics of 3D animation a few
steps further

244 Animate a character

lifting weights

Add realism to your animations

248 How to animate a jump

Make your animation move from point

A to point B in style

252 Animate action moves

Put all you've learnt into action with a

540-degree tornado kick!


230 3D Art & Design



Joint placement is
the most important part
of creating a rig

3D Art & Design



Maya scene les

Video reference
Final animation render

Learn to animate a
bouncing ball
Jahirul Amin guides us through the essential first
steps of animation: the bouncing ball

his tutorial is going to be the rst in a

series that will take you through the rst
steps of animating in CG. Well be using
Maya but the same principles and techniques can
easily be transferred to whichever package you
prefer. To begin, well focus on setting foundations:
introducing tools such as the Graph Editor, Dope
Sheet and Motion Trails. Well then go through a
workow, using these tools to animate a ball.
The main outcome of this rst tutorial is an
animated bouncing ball. Its an exercise that may

232 3D Art & Design

initially seem simple but is an invaluable rst step.

The bouncing ball demands an adherence to
some of the key principles of animation, namely
timing, spacing, weight, squash and stretch.
Also, the motion created by the ball may be
seen as a somewhat primitive precursor to a
moving character, making the bouncing ball
exercise a useful preparation for a walk cycle.
Finally, the exercise will help you get used to some
of the animation tools in Maya such as those
mentioned above.

As with all animation, getting good reference is

the essential rst step. Watch how diferent kinds
of balls drop and bounce, compare the behaviour
of the diferent balls and see Newtons laws of
motion in action. Record the balls bouncing watch
them on repeat. You can then take your footage
into the fabulous and utterly free and open source
Kinovea (, break it down and
draw over it to get a feeling for the key poses,
timing, spacing, the way the balls lose energy and
so on.

Learn to animate a bouncing ball


Use Newtons Laws of Motion

for animating CG

Its essential to note that while observing

reality is vital, its not absolute reality that
youll need to re-create in CG. Bizarrely, a
totally faithful mimicry of reality actually
looks unreal. Youll need to push the poses,
as whats imperative is that the movement
looks and feels right, not that its
mathematically correct.
I personally nd that before beginning to
animate in CG, planning on paper really
helps. The organic nature of paper and
pencil lends you complete freedom to plan
and explore ideas. The rig, however well
created, will always be something that you
will have to work around to maximise its
potential. However, this can feel like a
restriction on your creative freedom.
Then its time to take it all into Maya or
your preferred package and get animating
in CG. Regarding a general approach to
animating, I like to rst block in the Golden
Poses, making sure that the poses are clear
and readable for the audience. I then move
on to getting the timing right. Finally I rene
it again and again.
As this exercise uses a ball, rather than a
character with arms and legs, well break
down the process into rst working on the
translation of the ball, then the rotation, and
lastly adding squash and stretch. Squash
and stretch, by the way, is something that
can be overused; it is important that the
audience feels it as opposed to actually
seeing it.
To animate the bouncing ball, were going
to keep our animation curves in Spline
mode, though Clamped is also ne. The
reason for this is that we need to see the
transitions from pose to pose and the arcs

that are created. Having smooth, clean arcs

adds uidity and keeps things moving as
naturally as possible.
As mentioned before, one of the tools
that youll meet during the next ten steps is
the Graph Editor. This tool is a visual
representation of each keyed attribute and
the interpolation between keyframes, and
though it may at rst seem intimidatingly
complex, get to know it and itll be your
best friend for life. The Graph Editor enables
you to do a million and one things from
shifting keyframes to cleaning up motioncapture data. It enables you to do these
tasks in often the most efcient way
possible, so its well worth getting past its
perhaps distractingly technical appearance
to nd its inner charm.
A second tool well look at is the Dope
Sheet, which would be called the Exposure
Sheet in 2D. Its a device for shifting keys
around to rework timing so it comes in very
handy when blocking out a shot.
For this exercise Ive provided a ball rig.
Its pretty simple, but youll nd it will be
able to do what you need it to do. Theres
no sense complicating a rig; it needs to be
t for purpose. I recommend having a quick
play around with the rig to get comfortable
with it before beginning the exercise.
As a last point before we get going, I
would really advise you get feedback on
how your animation is looking throughout
the process. A fresh pair of eyes can help
you to identify areas that may need
reworking. If no fresh eyes are available,
leave your work for a while, refresh your
own eyes, and then compare your work
again with your all-important reference.

An object at rest will stay at rest and a moving object will keep
on moving in the same direction and at the same speed, unless
something comes along to change that uniformity. F= ma, or in
other words, when a force acts on a mass, acceleration is
produced. The degree of that acceleration will depend rst on
the magnitude of the force that hits the object, and second on
the mass of the object being hit. For every action there is an
equal and opposite reaction.

Let the balls bounce!

01Animation preferences

Open up
the scene le and go to
In the Preferences panel highlight Settings
and change the Time to PAL (25 fps). I work
primarily in PAL but you will need to adjust
your settings in accordance with your
regional requirements. Next highlight
Animation and change the Default in tangent
and Default out tangent both to Spline. Next
highlight Time Slider and change the
Playback Speed to Real-time [25 fps]. When
changing your animation time units, you will
nd that Maya will either compress or
expand your current Playback Range, hence
the importance of checking these settings
before you start animating. Set the Start
Time of your Playback Range to 1 and the End
Time to 80 D.

A A nal render of

the ball bouncing

B Arcs are beautiful,

so try as much as
you can to
incorporate them
into your work

C A screenshot of

my referencing
process using the
free Kinovea

D Make sure your

ball animation
preferences are
set accordingly as
your rst priority
3D Art & Design




Set the keys When setting the

keys its important rst to move

to your desired frame, move/rotate the
object and then set the key. To set a key,
you can hit S on your keyboard. This will put
a key on all the attributes in your Channel
Box as well as a notch on the Timeline.
There may also be occasions where we
would only like to key specic channels. To
do this, we can highlight an attribute in the
Channel Box, Ctrl/right-click it and pick Key
Selected. We can also key all the Translate
attributes solely together by hitting
Shift+W. The same works for Shift+E for
the Rotate channels and Shift+R for the
Scale channels E.

E Setting keys on all
the individual
channels enables
you to have less
clutter in the
Graph Editor

F The Playback

controls are as
youd expect, but
try to use the
shortcuts to be
more efcient

G The Graph Editor

will be your best

friend, so get used
to using it

H For a quick tool to

shufe around
your keys, use the
Dope Sheet

234 3D Art & Design

Playback settings Now, on the

bottom-left of the screen, you will
see the Playback controls. I nd it more
efcient to use shortcuts, so here are some
useful ones. To play your animation you can
hit Opt/Alt+V. If you place your mouse
pointer in the Viewport, you can also scrub
through the Timeline by holding down the
K key on the keyboard and click-anddragging in the Viewport. Holding down
Opt/Alt and pressing the comma or
full-stop on the keyboard will also enable
you to scrub frame by frame. Another
useful shortcut is to go from keyframe to
keyframe. To do this, make sure the object
has some keys on it and press the comma
or full-stop on your keyboard F.


The Graph Editor For this stage

its essential that you have a third

mouse button enabled. To open up the
Graph Editor, go to Window>Animation

Editors>Graph Editor. Navigation in the
Graph Editor is the same as in the 3D
Viewports. Use Opt/Alt and the third
mouse button to pan, then hit Opt/Alt
again and Ctrl/right-click to zoom in and
out. On the left you will see the object you
currently have selected and all the channels
that have keys on them. Running up the
vertical we have the value of the attributes,
while the horizontal displays the time. Make
sure you have the Move tool activated and
select a key. By clicking the third mouse
button and dragging you can reposition that
key in both value and time. You will also
notice that two tangent handles are
editable for each key, enabling you to easily
control the spacing and behaviour of the
movement while preserving your timing G.


The Dope Sheet Open up the

Dope Sheet by going to Window>

Animation Editors>Dope Sheet. Again,
navigating in here is the same as the Graph
Editor and the 3D Viewports. With the
Move tool activated, you can highlight any
of the keys, and with the third (or middle)
mouse button drag them to rework the

timing. You can move keys on individual

channels as well as globally by editing the
top-most notch. By holding a Ctrl/
right-click over a key, we have another heap
of editing options such as Copy, Cut and
Paste. To save you having to drop down to
the Timeline to play or scrub through your
animation, you can hold down K and drag in
both the Dope Sheet and the Graph Editor
for playback H.

Even timing
When blocking out a shot, I always
time out the poses in multiples of two
frames. This enables me to have the
ability to go in and add a breakdown
pose bang in the middle of my two key
poses. For example, key-pose 1 will be
on frame 1 and key-pose 2 will be on
frame 17. They are 16 frames apart so I
can go in and add a breakdown pose at
frame 9. We can then go in and add
two further poses between frames 1
and 9 (frame 5) and frame 9 and 17
(frame 13). When it gets to the nal
clean-up of the animation, the timing
may alter, but I nd this a good start to
the initial blocking stage.

Learn to animate a bouncing ball

For this
exercise Ive
provided a ball
rig. Its pretty
simple, but
youll find it will
be able to do
what you need
it to do


Lets Get Bouncing! Begin by

making sure there are no keys on
the ball. If there are, you can either delete
them in the Graph Editor or hold down Shift
and drag in the Timeline to create a red
selection window. You can then hold down
a Ctrl/right-click and pick Delete. Well start
by working on the up and down movement
of the ball. Go to frame 1 and translate the
BALL_Move_Rotate_Ctrl around four units
up in the Y channel. Highlight the Translate
Y in the Channel Box and key just that
channel. Then go to frame 13 and put a
value of 0 in the Translate Y I.


Include more bounces Next

move to frame 23 and translate the

ball up in the Y channel to a value of 2.3
and back to 0 at frame 33. Continue to do
this until you have quite a few bounces. For
each bounce, I make sure that it takes the
same amount of frames to go up as it does
to come down. This will provide bounces
that are even and arcs that are clean. I also
reduce the amount of frames that it takes
for each bounce by two, to give the feeling
that upon each contact the ball is losing
energy. When you have all your bounces,
your animation will look pretty weightless.
If you open up the Graph Editor youll see
that the curve looks a little like the Alps
mountain range, but you should also be

able to see how this curve relates to our

keyframes in the Viewport J.


Apply weight In the Graph

Editor, select all the keys on the
curve and go to Keys>Free Tangent Weight.
Next select all the keys where the ball hits
the ground and go to Keys>Break Tangents.
This will enable us to manipulate one side
of the tangents without afecting the other.
Now edit the shape of the curve, so as we
approach the frame where the ball makes
contact, we get a sharper drop. By doing
this we are changing the spacing to give us
more weight and impact, and our mountain
range now looks more like the Loch Ness
Monster. You can also create a motion trail
to check your arcs: select the BALL_Move_
Rotate_Ctrl and go to Animate>Create
Motion Trail (Options), set the Time range
to Time Slider and the Draw style to Line. If
youre using Maya 2012 or 2013, you can
also use the Editable Motion Trails tool,
which is like having the Graph Editor in the
3D Viewport K.


Include rotation Lets now get

this ball moving in the horizontal
axis as well as adding some rotation to it.
Go to frame 1 and set a key on the Translate
X channel for BALL_Move_Rotate_Ctrl. Go
to the last frame of your animation,

translate the ball over in the X and set

another key. Play back the animation to
check that you are happy with the distance
it travels. To add rotation, using the same
control rotate the ball in the Z axis. For the
rst few bounces, I know that I will be
adding a small amount of squash and
stretch later so I make sure that the ball
lands on its poles. This enables me to get
clean deformation without the texture
stretching in an odd manner. You can also
add some subtle roll back on the ball so
that it feels slightly more natural l.


Squash and stretch Reveal

the Ball_SandS_ctrl_layer to
make the Squash and Stretch controls
selectable. Add some squash on the rst
few contact poses by pushing and pulling
the controls either side of the ball.
Remember not to go too wild with this as it
can be easily overdone. Then go through
and add some stretch as the ball goes in
and out of the contact poses. When the
ball is at the apex of each bounce, there
should be no squash and stretch acting
upon it, so make sure the controls all have
a value of zero at this point. As the ball
stretches, you also want to make sure that
it is doing it along the arc. Use the
BALL_SandS_Rotate_Ctrl to help orient
the controls to do this m.

I Add the rst two

poses for our

bounce animation

J This curve shows

the result of our
key settings

K Add more impact

by editing the
diferent tangents

l Apply some

rotation and alter

the motion trails to
view the arcs

m Some subtle

squash and stretch

can always add
more to your
animation when
its required
3D Art & Design



You will nd a host of scene les

as well as two videos

Realistic character
In this tutorial we will cover the creation
of a joint structure for a biped character and
its importance in getting good deformation

a A rendered image
of a series of
poses using the
nal rig

b A draw-over to

help gure out

where to place the
diferent joints

c The rig in a quick

pose using IK
handles to keep
the feet planted

236 3D Art & Design

oint placement is the most

important part of creating a rig. The
majority of a characters deformation
comes from the translation and orientation
of joints, so without good joint placement,
you could be setting yourself up for hard
work later on in the form of shape xers to
remedy local problems. The idea is that the
better your joint placement, the simpler,
cleaner and more efective the whole
process becomes.
This tutorial will explain how to create
the skeleton for a biped character. We will
mainly be focusing on joint placement, but
throughout the process we will be adhering
to some key rigging principles. So by the

end of the ten steps, you will be able to

create skeleton structures for any realistic
biped character, though the concepts can
easily be transferred to other types of
characters such as quadrupeds or more
cartoon-like characters.
When considering realistic characters,
its vital that our rigs are based on anatomy;
we are trying to replicate the articulation of
the human body, so anatomical reference is
the key to believability. There may be
occasions where we stray away from the
reference for example, we will reduce the
number of joints in the spine the reason
for this is to simplify wherever possible,
without sacricing credibility. In the scene

les provided, there is a skeletal structure

that has been placed within the body to
help position the joints, which is a
technique that is very useful, whether
rigging realistic or cartoon characters.
At the outset planning is essential, so its
a good idea to take front and side images of
your model and sketch over them. Think
about the following questions: How many
joints are there? Where should they go?
What kind of spine do you need? Will you
need any shot-specic rigs? Be as thorough
at this stage as you can.
For this particular example well be
creating what is known as a broken
hierarchy rig. The body will be divided up

Realistic character rigging

Add twist joints?
2/3 x neck

2 x thoracic
2 x lumber joints
hierarchy rig
FK spine
(maybe add an
IK spline later)

Maybe add
rib joints?

FK/IK legs
and arms

into segments, namely the torso, neck and
head, arms, legs and nally hands. The
body will later be fused together using
orient and point constraints. The reason for
this approach is rst to make the rig more
manageable and more easily editable,
simply because each part is smaller and
separate. Also, by having the ability to turn
the weighting of the orient constraints on
and of, we can play more freely with the
behaviour of each segment, which can
produce interesting results.
Throughout the process we shall be
setting ourselves some guidelines to
maintain consistency in the rig. First, it will
be desirable to have the Rotate Z as the
forward-driving motion for each joint, using
the Orient Joint tool. By so doing, the
animation curves on the graph editor will be
easily understood by an animator. Second,
to position the joints, we can translate in X,
Y and Z for the parent joint of the joint
chain, but for all children joints we will only
use the Translate X, which is also the length
of the joint. To rotate the joints, we will use
Joint Orient in the Attribute Editor in order
to keep the Rotate channels and Translate Y
and Z at 0, enabling an easy passage back
to the creation pose. Last, its advantageous
to use naming conventions, as these will

help others to read and navigate through

your scenes more easily. For example, we
will use the sufx _jnt for all joints and _geo
for all geometry. Although we will, for the
majority of the time, try to stick to these
guidelines, there will be times when we will
have to bend these rules also. One example
will be for the positioning of the scapula
joint. As we will want to maintain the
orientation values for this joint, we will
translate both the parent and the child joint
to position it.
A nal point with respect to joint creation
is to ensure that joints are drawn in
orthographic (front, side or top) views, but
are positioned in all views including the
perspective. This technique will help
achieve correct placement and will also
enable joints to be mirrored over more
accurately, saving time later on.
For this tutorial, we will only be creating
the skeletal structure for the rig. This initial
step can be developed by adding a control
rig with features such as FK/IK blending
and reverse foot setup, which will make it
more suitable for animators. The rst step
of the tutorial will be to focus on the torso,
as it is the central and main driving force of
the character and therefore needs to be as
accurate as we can make it.

Let the rigging commence

01Create the spine

Open up scene le and, in

the Animation panel, navigate to the Skeleton>Joint Tool. Go
into the side view and create a ve-joint chain that follows the
curvature of the spine starting from around the belly button.
Rename the joints from the root to the tip, as follows:
spine_a_jnt, spine_b_jnt, spine_c_jnt, spine_d_jnt and spine_
end_jnt. Select spine_a_jnt and go to Skeleton>Orient Joints
(Options), set Orientation to XYZ and Second World Axis to +Z.
Make sure Orient Child Joints is checked on and hit Apply. Select
the spine_end_jnt, go to Skeleton>Orient Joints and set the
Orientation to None d.


Root and hips Using the Joint tool, create a single joint in

the side view and hit Enter. Rename the joint root_jnt and
increase its Radius in the Channel box to make it larger. Holding
down the V key, point snap the root_jnt to the same position as the

3D Art & Design




d A side view

for the spine

e Highlight the

independent spine
and torso

f A perspective

and side view of

both the neck and
jaw chain

g A breakdown of

the arm and

clavicle chain
positioned using
Joint Orient and
Translate X tools

h The scapula joints

in position

i Checking the

behaviour in the
orientation of the
leg joints

j Creating the
nger joints

spine_a_jnt. Next go back into the Joint

tool and create a two-joint chain for the
hips. You can point snap the start of this
chain to also begin at the root joint.
Rename the new chain hip_jnt and
hip_end_jnt. Using the Orient Joint tool,
change the orientation of the hip joint so its
Positive Z rotation opposes the spine
rotation. Parent spine_a_jnt and hip_jnt
under root_jnt e.


Neck and head In the side

view, create a ve-joint chain for

the neck and head. Begin the chain by
holding down the V key and point
snapping to the spine_end_jnt. You
should draw three joints for the neck, one
for the head and an end joint. Rename the
joints from root to tip: neck_a_jnt,
neck_b_jnt, neck_c_jnt, head_jnt and
head_end_jnt. Again, in the side view,
create a three-joint chain for the jaw.
Rename these joints: jaw_a_jnt, jaw_b_
jnt and jaw_end_jnt. Use the Orient Joint

Avoiding Gimbal Lock

Gimbal Lock is the result of two axes sitting on top of each other
and therefore both producing a similar rotational result. To see
the efects of this, double-click the Rotate tool to open up its
settings and change the Rotate Mode to Gimbal. Select the l_
upper_arm_jnt and rotate it in negative Y. You will nd that the Z
and X axes overlap as we have gone into Gimbal Lock. With the
l_upper_arm selected, go into the Attribute Editor and change
the Rotate Order to ZXY. Orient the arm again and you will nd
that you no longer hit Gimbal Lock using the Rotate Y.

238 3D Art & Design

tool to make their behaviour consistent to

the spine. Parent the jaw_a_jnt under
head_jnt f.


Arm and clavicle Move into

the front view and create a
four-joint chain starting close to the
centre of the body, travelling down the
arm to the wrist. Rename the joints: l_
shoulder_jnt, l_upper_arm_jnt, l_lower_
Arm_jnt and l_arm_end_jnt. Use the Joint
Orient and the Translate X of each joint to
position the arm correctly, making sure to
check in all views. Also, in the front view,
create a two-joint clavicle chain using the
geometry as a guide. Rename the joints:
l_clavicle_jnt and l_clavicle_end_jnt.
Once both chains have been positioned,
make sure to set the Orientation to XYZ
with a Second World Axis of +Z in the
Orient Joint tool. Select the l_arm_end_jnt
and set its Orientation to None using the
same tool g.


Shape the scapula Select

the l_shoulder_jnt and duplicate

it. Translate it back slightly onto the
scapula geometry and delete the elbow
joint on that new chain. You should now be
left with a two-joint chain. Rename them
l_scapula_jnt and l_scapula_end_jnt. For
the scapula, we want to leave the
orientation as it is so we can drive it using
the l_shoulder_jnt. To position it, just
translate both joints to sit within the

scapula geometry. Parent the l_scapula_jnt
to l_shoulder_jnt. Now select spine_end_
jnt and duplicate it twice. With both
selected, hit Shift+P to bring them out from
their current hierarchy. Rename the two
joints l_shoulder_root_jnt and r_shoulder_
root_jnt h.


Leg joints In the side view, create

a ve-joint chain starting at the

femur bone and ending at the tip of the
toes. Rename the joints as follows: l_
upper_leg_jnt, l_lower_leg_jnt, l_ankle_
jnt, l_ball_jnt and l_toes_jnt. Move into
the perspective view and move the l_
upper_leg_jnt into place. Again, using the
Translate X and the Joint Orient of each
joint, translate and orient the joints into
position using the skeleton as a guide.
Select l_upper_leg_jnt and use Skeleton>
Orient Joints with the Orientation set to
XYZ and the Second World Axis set to +Z.

Realistic character rigging


Cleaning up the rig

Its important that should anyone else need to continue with the
rig that they are able to understand how things have been
structured and set up. I like to create groups for each section of
my rigs. For example, we could group together root_jnt and
neck_const_jnt and call that group torso_rig_grp. We could
also select both leg chains and group them together, calling that
group leg_rig_grp. We could then take these new groups and
group them all under one group and call that rig_grp.

k Component By
Type and Local
Rotation Axes

l The Mirror Joint

settings used

m The weighting
for the orient

Select the l_toes_jnt and use the tool again, only this time set
Orientation to None i.


Hands and ngers Select the l_arm_jnt and duplicate

it. Un-parent it from its current hierarchy and rename it:

l_hand_geo. Duplicate l_hand_geo and use Translate X to slide it
towards the end of the palm. Rename the duplicated joint: l_hand_
end_jnt and parent it under l_hand_jnt. Go into the top view and
draw a ve-joint chain along the pinky nger. Rename the joints: l_
pinky_a_jnt, l_pinky_b_jnt, l_pinky_c_jnt, l_pinky_d_jnt and l_
pinky_end_jnt. Use the methods mentioned earlier, position and
orient the joints into place. Once the pinky nger is done, duplicate
it and replace the word pinky with ring. Again, position and orient
the joints to sit in the ring nger geometry. Do this for all the
remaining ngers j.


Thumbs In the top view, draw a four-joint chain

along the thumb and rename the joints. Position and
orient the joint into place. To curl the thumb inwards using only the
Rotate Z, we will manually edit its orientation. In the Status Line
toolbar, click the Select By Component Type button. Then Ctrl/
right-click over the question mark icon (select miscellaneous
components) and check Local Rotation Axes. You can now select
the thumb joints and, using the Rotate tool, orient the joints
manually. When you are happy with how the thumb rotates
using only the Z axis, click the Select By Object Type button to

come out of Component mode. Now

parent all the nger and thumb _a joints to
l_hand_jnt k.


Mirror the joints Select l_

upper_leg_jnt and go
Skeleton>Mirror Joints (Options). Set
Mirror across to YZ, set Mirror Function to
Behaviour, search for: l_ and replace with: r_
then hit Apply. Repeat this step for l_
shoulder_jnt, l_clavicle_jnt and l_hand_jnt.
Parent l_shoulder_jnt and l_clavicle_jnt
under l_shoulders_root_jnt. Do the same
for the right shoulder. Select neck_a_jnt
and duplicate it. Delete all the child joints
and rename the single joint neck_const_
jnt. Parent neck_a_jnt under neck_const_
jnt. In the Outliner, select spine_end_jnt, hit
Cmd/Ctrl, select neck_const_jnt, go to
Constrain>Point then Constrain>Orient.
Now select l_hand_jnt and duplicate it.
Delete all of its children and rename that
single joint l_hand_const_jnt l.


Constraints continued Parent

l_hand_jnt under l_hand_const_jnt.

In the Outliner select l_arm_end_jnt,

Cmd/Ctrl-click l_hand_const_jnt and then
go to Constrain>Point then Constrain>
Orient. Next select l_shoulder_root_jnt,
duplicate it and delete all the children.
Rename the joint l_shoulder_const_jnt.
Parent l_shoulder_root_jnt under l_
shoulder_const_jnt. Select spine_end_jnt,
Cmd/Ctrl-click l_shoulder_const_jnt, go to
Constrain>Point and then Constrain>
Orient. For the leg, select l_upper_leg_jnt
and duplicate it twice.
Delete all the children in both new joint
chains to leave two single joints. Rename
them l_hip_jnt and l_upper_leg_const_
jnt. Parent l_hip_jnt under hip_jnt. Parent
l_upper_leg_jnt under l_upper_leg_const_
jnt. Select l_hip_jnt, Cmd/Ctrl-click l_
upper_leg_const_jnt, go to Constrain>
Point and then Constrain>Orient. Make the
exact same alterations for the right-hand
side of the rig. Finally parent the skeleton
geometry to its relevant joint. Give
everything a last check over to ensure
everything is correct, then you should be
ready to test out the rig m.
3D Art & Design



Maya scene les

Video reference
Image reference
Final animation render

Learn to animate
a walk cycle

Jahirul Amin guides us through the creation of a walk cycle

in Maya, although the principles apply to other software, too

his time, were going to create a walk

cycle. Well be using the principles of
animation that we looked at in the bouncing
ball animation exercise, and take them a few steps
further no pun intended. Once again, were going
to be using Maya, but obviously feel free to use
whichever software package suits you best.
Last time we met the Graph Editor and in this
exercise itll be our main tool. We also used motion
trails and theyll be used here to check for arcs and
gure of eights at diferent points of the body. Well

240 3D Art & Design

be focusing on timing, spacing, weight shift, drag

and overlap. All the principles of animation
identied by the Disney masters in the Thirties will
be in action here, which is why the walk cycle is
such a valuable exercise to learn well.
The creation of a walk cycle may seem relatively
simple but its deceptively tricky. We have many of
the same issues that we faced with the bouncing
ball here too, but now we have to contend with
limbs, a head and a neck. How all these parts work
together as a single unit is of huge importance.

Moreover, I suppose because we are used to

seeing people walk every day, a clunky walk cycle
sticks out like a sore thumb.
So in order to get it right, as ever, the rst step is
to gather good reference. Watch people walk;
watch kids toddle, the elderly hobble; watch skinny
legs stride and watch stout legs waddle. Walk
around the house yourself. Work out how many
frames are needed to take a step. Get a feeling for
which parts of the body are leading and which are
following (for instance, the arms will follow the

Learn to animate a walk cycle

movement of the torso). Gauge how and
when weight is transferred from one leg to
another. Look for the subtle details such as
the slight bob of the head, as these small
points add such depth to the nished piece.
For this exercise we have kindly been
given permission to use reference material
from Endless Reference (www., which is a treasure
trove of reference for animators to work
from. As with the bouncing ball exercise,
weve taken the footage into Kinovea
( to break down and
analyse. Youll nd a stack of videos and
images that have been supplied with this
bookazines free CD.
When youre studying the references,
look for key poses that can then act as a
guide for your walk cycle. However, please
bear in mind that these poses should be a
guide only and by no means should they be
set in stone. Reference cannot be followed
100 per cent, as the camera is only a
representation of the real world. You may
nd that the poses will need to be pushed
further in order to produce a walk that
actually looks natural or that is
aesthetically pleasing. As an animator,
you have to go in there, make your
selections and feel whats real behind the
reference. Use your instincts and
experience to set the poses.
Moving on to the process more directly,
so as to simplify working from reference,
weve taken a few images from Kinovea into
Maya and used them as a backplate. In
doing so, there is no need to switch back
and forth between two diferent
applications, which makes life easier.
Well be using pose-to-pose animation,
although if you prefer to go straight into
Spline mode then do whatever suits you.
Its really important to make your work as
organic as possible in order to keep things
interesting. Either way, well be working to
ensure that each pose is clearly readable.
Additionally, well want to bring contrast
and change to every pose, because if poses
are held the result can be a jarring staccato
efect. Think about whats leading and
whats following the poses should be set
working from the root outwards, as
whatever you alter in the root will afect the
rest of the body.
Once your poses are in place, you can
move on to splining the keys and going
through the rening process. Again, rening
will have to be from the root outwards.
Please dont leave the computer to decide
how its going to transition from pose to
pose, as the result will be poppy and lack
weight. Youre going to have to go in there
and manually rene each curve. There may
be times when you need to work frame by

frame to get your curves moving well. For
example, well be using IK for the legs to
keep them planted on the oor, but the
disadvantage of IK is that it works in a linear
fashion from A to B, so no arc is created. As
a result, theres no choice but to go in frame
by frame and create some arcs. Fear not,
though, the arms will be easier: well use
forward kinematics, which uses rotation, to
create some natural arcs. As you rene,
dont be too precious about making
changes; sometimes you can delete whole
sections and re-work them to produce
some delectably clean arcs.
Before beginning the animation, be sure
to check your Animation Preferences.

Again, we will be working in PAL (25

frames per second) and as were operating
pose to pose well also set the Default Out
tangents to Stepped. You will nd this
setting under the Tangents tab in the
Animation category. This will hold each
pose until we hit the next key without any
interpolation between. Throughout the
process make sure the arms are in FK mode
and the legs are in IK mode. For this walk
cycle every step will take 12 frames, making
the full loop 24 frames.
For this tutorial were using BoxBoy,
rather than an enveloped mesh, to enable
us to see more easily how each body part
moves independently.

A A nal render of

the contact pose

from three
diferent views

B Analysing your

reference is the
essential rst step

C A screengrab of all
the key poses
created for the
nal animation

3D Art & Design



Walk this way

01Bring in the reference

Open up
the supplied scene le: 00_ and lets begin by bringing in
our reference. Go to the Panel bar on the
Viewport and create a new camera by going
to Panels>Orthographic>New>Side. In the
new cameras Panel bar go to View>Image
Plane>Import Image and select frame1.jpg
from the Source Images folder. Next go to
the Attribute Editor for the camera and
scroll to the imagePlane1 tab. For Display,
check Looking Through Camera. Go down
to Image Plane and check Attached To
Camera and then turn on Use Image
Sequence. Translate the camera out of the
way from the main action and split your
layout into two panes side by side, enabling
you to work with your reference D.

02Contact pose

For the contact

pose ensure the hips are evenly
spaced between the legs. To translate the
hips use the root_ctrl and to rotate them
use just the hip_ik_ctrl. For the front leg use
the Roll attribute on the leg_ik_ctrl to roll
the front foot onto its heel. Use the same
attribute on the back leg to rotate the foot
onto its ball. Slightly rotate both feet
outwards so they dont end up doing the
march of the penguins, and add rotation to
the hips to favour the forward leg. Work
your way up the spine to get the angle of the
shoulders contrasting with the hips. Add the
swing of the arms to oppose the legs and
indicate the efects of drag and overlap in
the hands. Create this pose at frame 1 and
25 and create its opposite at frame 13 E.

03Use a passing pose

Now move
to frame 7 to create the rst passing
pose. The front leg should now be directly

242 3D Art & Design

beneath the body, straightened up, and the

bodys weight should shift onto the side of
this supporting leg as well as slightly moving
up. Have the back leg coming through and
add some drag in the toes, using the Toe
Wiggle attribute on the foot control.
Straighten up the spine as well as the hips
and shoulder. This will give a nice contrast
going from the C-shaped spine in the
contact poses to the straight spine in these
passing poses. Next rotate the arms down
to the side, working from the shoulder down
to the hands. Once happy, create the
mirrored pose at frame 19 F.

04Add a down pose

Go to frame 4
for the down position. Have the
hips go down as the weight is taken onto the
leg and make sure the forward foot is at on
the oor. Use the Roll attribute on the back
foot to bring it onto its toe ready to come of
the ground. Add more drag to the hands as
they try to catch up with the rest of the arm.
Use the reference images as a guide but
push this further if you wish to do a more
exaggerated walk. Again, we need to mirror
the pose at frame 16 G.


Move to an up pose Step to

frame 10, translate the root slightly

up and add some roll to the back foot. Dont
push the root up too much here as it can
look forced and unnatural. We dont lift too
much of the ground but again this will be
down to your personal taste. Add some
rotation to the hips to favour the forwardmoving leg and do the opposite in the
shoulders to get that contrast. Add some
drag to the toes of the forward-moving foot,
then create its opposite pose at frame 22.
Make sure we only have 24 frames on the
timeline now as frames 1 and 25 should be
identical. We dont want to view the same
frame twice as we play back H.

Playblast away!
Playing back your animation in the
Viewport is never the best way to
check for timing. Depending on how
heavy the scene is, it may play too slow
or too fast. A Playblast will create a
quick video of your animation, enabling
you to view it at the correct speed.
Throughout the animation process,
from blocking to the nal polishing
pass, its vital that you Playblast your
animation often. To do so, hold the right
mouse button over the timeline and
click on Playblast. You can also bring up
the Frame Count to give you an
indication of the Viewport playback
speed. To do so, go to Display>Heads
Up Display>Frame Count.

D Taking reference

directly into Maya

can be more
efcient than not

E An illustration

highlighting the
areas of focus

F Notice the weight

shifting to the
supporting leg

G The weight comes

down as the foot
catches the body

H The back leg

moves forward,
ready to get into
the contact pose

Learn to animate a walk cycle

through and delete any curves that have no
inuence whatsoever. These will be the
curves that are totally straight I.

07Rene from the root


Go to
Preferences and highlight Animation in the
left column. Go to the Tangents tab and
change the Default Out tangents to either
Spline or Auto. Whenever we add a new key
now we will get the interpolation in the
curves. Now we start rening and again
well start at the core and work our way out.
Use your Graph Editor as much as possible
from now on and massage each curve. We
want to end up with hips that create a gure
of eight as the bodys weight shifts from one
leg to the other. At this stage you should use
motion curves as much as possible. Select
the hip_ik_ctrl, go to Animate>Create
Editable Motion Trail and use it as an
accurate guide to create transition from one
leg to the other J.

08Move down to the legs

Currently for the legs it takes

four frames to have the foot completely at.
To add more impact and weight, take the
Roll attribute to 0, two frames after the
contact pose. Also add some delay in the
toes to slap down around a frame later.
While the foot is at on the oor, its also
important to make sure it translates back at

06Step on to spline

Select all the

control curves in the Viewport and
open up the Graph Editor. Go to View and
turn on Innity. Select all the curves in the
Graph Editor and go to Tangents>Spline.
With the curves still selected, go to Curves>
Pre Innity>Cycle and Curves>Post
Innity>Cycle. If you hit Play now, your
animation may look pretty oaty and also
have quite a bit of popping happening. If you
look at the tangents of your curves as they
come in and go out at frames 1 and 25,
youll notice that they can be pretty sharp in
places. This will all need to be smoothed out
by editing the tangent handles to enable the
loop to work smoothly. You can also go

a constant speed. This is to help reduce the

slipping and sliding of the foot should we
end up moving this character through space
as opposed to on the spot. Again, use
motion trails to create decent arcs and if you
have to, go in and animate frame by frame
to do so. The legs can be the trickiest part to
get right. Make sure that you spend time
here to iron out any severe popping and get
the co-ordination between the hips and the
legs right K.

09Work up to the spine

the spine to work well shouldnt
take too long. We mainly want to focus on
getting the movement clean without any
jerkiness. Take out the majority of the key
frames that are not adding too much and
really smooth out the curves. Also add
some twist to oppose the hips and gradually
increase the amount of twist to propagate
up the spine. Moving to the neck and head,
add delay to these parts so they feel as if
they are always playing catch up. An easy
way to do this is to take the keys for the
neck and head and shift them back two
frames. Select the keys for the head and
shift them back a further two frames L.

10Adjust arms and hands

Start the
rening process from the shoulder
and work your way to the hands. Select the
controls and create the motion trails to help
you make those arcs that naturally occur as
we rotate our joints. Add some subtle
movement to the ngers so they dont feel
rigid. Shift keys back to add delay to the
lower arm and the palm. This makes the
walk more uid and less mechanical. From
this point its a case of going through again
with a nal level of polish. Check each curve
for every control and ensure the transition in
and out is smooth. This will reduce any
popping as the cycle loops. Finally, the basic
backbone of a generic walk should be there
so try giving it some personality M.

Getting personal
By the end of the tutorial you should
have a fairly generic vanilla walk. From
here, you can start adding in some
personality, because as Samuel L.
Jackson would say: Personality goes a
long way. See what happens if you
bring the feet up higher on the up pose.
Does it make the character feel
angrier? What happens if you reduce
the swing on the arms and rotate the
head lower? Does he seem depressed?
Go ahead: experiment a little and make
your walk a Royale with Cheese!

I Cleaning and rening the

L Try to get the shoulder to

J Focus on getting the arcs and

M Capture the natural arcs that

curves will give us much

smoother results
gures of eight

oppose the hips to give you

plenty of contrast

occur in the human body

K From the contact to the roll of

the ground, try to make the
speed constant

3D Art & Design



Maya scene les

Image and video references
Final animation render

Animate a character
lifting weights

Jahirul Amin helps us add realism to animations

in Maya, although any software can be used

n this tutorial, were going to be looking at how to

create a believable interplay between a character
and a heavy object, to convey a sense of weight.
Our character is going to lift a heavy ball from the oor
and place it on a plinth. Not an everyday activity, I grant
you, but if you want any character to interact with its
environment open a door, make a cup of tea, then sit
down and read a copy of your favourite magazine
youre going to have to be able to master the ne art of
animating weight. Here well be using Maya, but the
same techniques can be transferred to a 3D package of
your choice, so youre not conned to one program.

244 3D Art & Design

First well consider the physics behind what were

trying to achieve. Well look at the centre of gravity of
an object and a character and see how the latter shifts
during their interplay. Well also revisit Newtons Third
Law of Motion, which states that every action has an
equal and opposite reaction. Well then as ever
move to the essential step of gathering and analysing
good references. After that itll be time to block out the
key poses.
Sorry to disappoint, but we wont be seeing too
much of the Graph Editor this tutorial as by the end of
the animation well have keyed in poses every 2-4

frames in order to help transitions from

pose to pose and to add subtle detail. This
is something that the computer cannot
achieve by itself. This is simply the way the
exercise is approached here, however. Its
by no means the only way to skin this
particular cat, so please nd your own
preferred way and try diferent methods.
The centre of gravity, as youll all
remember from school, is the average
position of weight distribution in an object
or character. In this exercise the balls centre
of gravity will be its geometric centre, while
the centre of gravity for our friend Box Boy
at the beginning of the animation when
hes standing upright will be around the

Animate a character lifting weights

height of his box belly button. However, as
Box Boy lifts the ball, the centre of gravity
shifts but has to remain over his base of
support, otherwise in reality hed fall at on
his box bottom. So, to get a successful
animation that conveys the lifting of a
heavy weight, we will have to demonstrate
an understanding of how the centre of
gravity travels. This ground work will ensure
that we can achieve the most realistic
results possible.
We also need to keep Newtons Third
Law of Motion in mind. If every action has
an equal and opposite reaction, then in
order to move a heavy object, the force
exerted on the object must be greater than
the force exerted by that object. The ball in
our example is very heavy, therefore the
efort exerted by Box Boy must be seen to
be very great in order to convey that sense
of weight.
Now to the all-important gathering and
analysis of reference. Once you nd solid
reference, watch it over and over again to
get a good feel for the motion of the body
and the mechanics of lifting a heavy weight.
Analyse the arcs in the back and the
wave-like motion that runs from the hips
and up the spine as the weight moves
upwards. Observe how the weight is taken
not just by the arms, but by the whole body.
Note which parts lead or follow.
Observing power-lifters is extremely
useful, as those guys really know what
theyre doing when it comes to lifting. Rob
Orlando from Hybrid Athletics (www. has kindly allowed us

to reproduce his material. It provides invaluable reference and you

will nd it accompanying this tutorial for your benet. See the
subtleties involved in this great exertion: watch the hands shift
around the ball in search of a strong grip and observe the feet
shufing to attain better balance. These small details add such
texture to the nal look. However, always bear in mind reference is
a guide rather than a template, as the proportions of the character
are going to be diferent.
For this exercise, as in previous tutorials, reference footage was
taken into Kinovea and drawn over (please refer to the supplied
les). The yellow drawings indicate the key poses that well want to
make clear throughout the animation and will be part of the rst
pass when blocking out the shot using the pose-to-pose method.
The red drawings show the breakdown and in-between poses that
will then come with the second and third passes with the curves
set to Spline.

As we get into the animation process,

consider the crucial roles of spacing and
timing when creating the illusion of weight.
In lifting a ping-pong ball, spacing would be
large and timing fast, as the efort is
negligible. In this exercise, to create a sense
of weight, the precise reverse will be true.
Spacing will be tight and timing slow. Keep
weight consistent as the ball travels
upwards or the illusion will be broken.
Carefully consider how youre going to
approach the animation before you begin.
Will you constrain the ball to the hands or
vice versa? We need to determine what is
leading and what is following. In reality the
ball will be following the hands but
technically it would be easier to constrain
the hands to the ball. As we want the
freedom to have the hands to be on and of
the ball and dont want to be faced with
the hassle of setting keys on the extra
attributes for the constraints well simply
parent two locators to either side of the ball
and point-snap the IK hand controls.
Break up the motion as you animate, as
the body doesnt move as one lump mass.
Have the spacing diferent on the hands, for
example, so one hand leads quicker than
the other. Vary the tempo and delay some
movement, as this will reduce any twinning
of the poses where the left and right look
mirrors. Remember to use your references
as a guide only and push the poses further
if you wish to achieve a cartoon-y efect.
Constantly ask yourself if your pose is clear.
So were ready to start, once the admin is
out of the way. Well be working in PAL
(25fps) and as were beginning pose-topose well set the Default Out tangents to
Stepped. Also, were going to be putting all
four limbs in IK mode because itll enable us
to edit the position of the hips and spine
without afecting the hands.

a Final render of the

key poses

b Analysing and

drawing over the

reference image

c The control rig

used throughout
this tutorial, which
you are free to
experiment with
3D Art & Design



d Take your

references into
Maya to view

e Animating to

camera enables
you to cheat

f Loosen up the
character and
make it seem
more relaxed

g Consider the

centre of gravity of
the character

h Think about which


Time to get heavy


Take in the reference Open up to nd the Box Boy

rig, a sphere, a pillar and a ground plane.
Put the pillar and ground plane on a layer
called environment so we can show and
hide them if needed. Go to Panels>
Orthographic>New>Side to create a new
camera and call it referenceCam. With the
camera active, go to View>Image Plane>
Import Image and select
atlasStonesREF_000.jpg from the
referenceImages folder. Under Image Plane
Attributes, edit the Display to Looking
Through Camera and also check Attached
to Camera. Now translate the reference
camera away from the main scene and
have the view as a oating window by going
to Panels>Tear Of d.


Set up the camera Go to

Create>Camera>Camera and
rename that new camera renderCam.

246 3D Art & Design

Position it and when you are happy with the

view, lock all the Translate and Rotate
attributes. This will be the view that we will
mainly work with to check our animation
and also do all our playblasts from.
Although we recommend checking the
poses from every angle, working with a
camera will also enable us to cheat some
things to get stronger silhouettes if needed.
For example, the arm further away from the
viewer is slightly distorted, which was a
deliberate move to get a better silhouette.
Now go to View>Camera Settings and turn
on Resolution Gate. This will help you frame
your animation as well as make it clearer
what is in and out of the shot e.


Weight it up Begin by loosening

up the main character and
breaking away from the default T-pose.
Add some weight to the initial stance by
moving his weight to one side, relaxing the
ngers and adding some curvature to the
spine. This is the rst pose the audience will

part is leading or
following moves

Expect the
unexpected: using
Anticipation lets the audience know
that something is about to happen.
Before a pitcher releases the ball, he
pulls his arm back. A car rolls
backwards ever so slightly before it
pulls away. In essence, anticipation
ensures that your point wont be lost as
the audience will be ready.

see so lets make sure it has some interest. Start adding in the rst
set of key poses, using the reference as a guide to help with the
timing. Analyse how one hand moves faster than the other and
observe the slight roll of the ball towards the character as he begins
to weigh up the challenge f.


Move it down As he moves down to get closer to the

ball, think about where his centre of gravity is. Move his
hips out to help his balance and stop him from toppling over.
Once you have him at his lowest point, really wrap his body
around the ball and get the strongest C shape through the spine
that you can. Spread his knees to really bring the ball closer to his
hips and get both holds rmly below the ball. Remember the
principles of the bouncing ball exercise and consider this to be the
squashed pose that will nicely contrast the big stretched pose
coming up g.

05Move up slightly

Before you make Box Boy lift the

weight up, slightly lower him, then begin the up movement,
leading with the hips, working down the spine and running down
the arms. Keep the ball close to his chest but also straighten the
arms to help sell the weight of the ball and the efort needed to

Animate a character lifting weights


move it. Were translating both IK hand

controls and the ball together, while setting
keys so as not to cause any oatiness
between them. Having him rest the ball
on his knees will also help to reinforce the
idea that this is a heavy ball. Try to bend the
legs as much as possible to again contrast
the straight legs of the approaching
stretched pose h.


The push of So, with the ball

resting on his legs, we should now
be ready for the nal push. You could also
reorganise his feet slightly to show the
audience that he has to redistribute his
weight to manage this large mass on his
legs. Once his hands are rmly placed,
again lower the body slightly and really get
his hips under the ball before moving up to
anticipate this big move ahead. Add
contrast by switching from the C-shaped
spine to a U-shaped spine and begin to use
the legs to help lift the ball by straightening
them out i.


Wave motion With the hips

leading and pushing the ball up, we

now want to create a wave-like motion
running up the spine that rolls the ball up as
opposed to purely lifting with the arms.
Really arch the spine backwards and

Squash and stretch

As I animate, Im constantly thinking of
when to add squash and stretch, as
wise use of these two concepts adds a
great deal of interest to a piece by
varying its form. In this exercise the
squash is when the character bends to
pick up the ball. The stretch is when the
ball is at its highest point. In both these
examples, the character isnt physically
squashed or elongated as its not a
cartoon feel Im after. Both poses form
a nice contrast to the default standing
pose by taking the body to its limits.

straighten the legs, slightly lifting them onto

the balls of the feet. Were really using the
entire body now to get this ball up, so we
can bring it down onto the pillar. This
should be the pose where the body is at its
most stretched. Were using this broad
shape, while before we used the small
squashed pose to really add contrast and
texture to the animation. Also, think about
the line of action. Is the pose clear, strong
and well-dened? j


Add the breakdown poses At

this stage, the timing should be

rmly set and the animation reading well. If
not, I recommend you re-jig the poses until
you are happy, as it will be more difcult to
make broad changes later. Next, open up
your Animation Preferences and change the
Default Out tangent to either Spline or
Auto. Select all the controls, open up the
Graph Editor and convert the Stepped
curves to Spline or Auto. Now go through
the entire animation again, adding in the
breakdown poses. Here you can add further
anticipation to the poses if needed and also
start delaying parts of the body k.


Check your arcs When

checking the arcs, start at the hips

and work your way out, as most of the
motion for the entire character will feed of
from there. Bear in mind that any changes
we make to the hips will generally have a
knock-on efect to the rest of the body. As
we are using Inverse Kinematics for both
the arms and the legs, it will be important
to check our arcs, as IK will have a linear
interpolation from one pose to the next.
Also, check the arcs created by the ball
itself and make sure the path of action is
clean. To do this, select a control and go to
Animate>Create Editable Motion Trail l.


Clean up and nish the animation To keep the hands

rmly on the ball, create two locators and hold down V on
the keyboard, point snapping them to the hand controls wherever
they need to hold the ball rmly. Parent these locators under the
ball geometry so they follow the ball correctly and then point snap
the hand controls to these locators. This helps reduce the odd
sliding that can occur. When dealing with the hands, try to keep
them fairly close to the ball almost penetrating if need be.
Sometimes its better to penetrate the ball rather than have the
hand slightly oating of it. Last, add some rotation to the ball so it
feels as if it is being rolled up the chest with more conviction.
Happy animating! m
i Alternate the

arc of the spine to

add contrast

j Capture the

wave-like motion
of the body
during the lift

k Convert the

interpolation of
your curves from
Stepped to Spline
as you add poses in

l Use the tools to

check your arcs

m Check to see if

the hand intersects

the ball

3D Art & Design



Maya scene les Scripts

Video references Final
render Reference images

How to animate
a jump

A giant leap for geek-kind: Jahirul Amin

helps you animate a jump

n this tutorial we will be creating a jump

animation. This will involve acquainting
ourselves further with many of the principles of
animation that weve been looking at in recent
tutorials. The jump itself will only last a few
seconds, but achieving that brief movement in
CG will necessitate a sensitive and skilled
handling of timing, spacing, weight, drag, overlap,
moving holds, squash, stretch, anticipation and
arcs. As a result, its a great exercise to ex your
animation muscles.
Before the fun starts we need to go through the
admin. Im working in 25 frames per second using
Maya, although the same techniques apply to any
3D package of choice. Second, I will begin the

248 3D Art & Design

animation process using the pose-to-pose method,

so my Default Out tangents are set to Stepped in
my Animation Preferences. Third, I have the legs
set to IK to enable us to have the feet planted on
the oor, but the arms set to FK to take advantage
of its naturally occurring arcs. Theres an issue with
the FK arms, because as we are using rotations at
some point we could hit gimbal lock. This is where
two axes sit on top of each other, leading us to lose
one axis.
If you want to do your best to minimise this
sticky situation, get familiar with arm rotation to
work out which rotation is going to work best. For
what its worth, Ive set my rotate order as ZXY on
the upper arm control. Last but not least, as far as

admin goes, we have very kindly been given

permission to use and tell you about the fantastic
bhGhost onion-skinning tool created by Brian
Horgan. Please check it out with his other
impressive tools at
As usual, at this point in the tutorial, Im going to
wax lyrical about the beauty and importance of
getting good reference. Unfortunately we werent
able to reproduce the reference used in this article.
However, do take a very good look at Eadweard
Muybridges Human And Animal Locomotion (1887)
and there is reference aplenty on the net. During
this exercise more than any other, I found myself
getting up out of my chair to replicate the
movement and jumping across the rug myself.


See the forest and

the trees
Getting an animation like this right is a
time-consuming process. Sometimes
you may feel like you havent moved on
very far at all and no forest is visible for
all the darn trees. However, a simple
solution is to save multiple les
throughout the process. This means
youll be able to compare your before
and after shots and perhaps give
yourself some pleasant surprises.

Prepare to lift of


Loosen things up Open up 00_

D Get him a little

more prepared for

the occasion

E The squashed and

stretched poses as
Box Boy lifts of

F What goes up
must always
come down

G The landing

squashed pose

250 3D Art & Design (supplied) to nd the Box

Boy rig and a rough environment. The
environment is in a layer called
environment_geo so we can show and
hide it if needed. Lets create our rst pose
and make the character a little more
comfortable. Relax his arms and ngers,
add a slight angle to his hips and oppose
that angle in the shoulders. Move his hips
to rest slightly over one leg and rotate his
head so it seems as if he is looking at the
gap in front of him. Also, put a slight angle
in his feet and bend in his knees otherwise
theyll feel too tense D.

get a huge C-shape running down the

spine, up the neck and head, then swing
the arms out as we prepare to push him of.
For the stretched pose, try to straighten the
leg and start bringing those arms through.
Have the back straighter, as this will
produce a nice contrast to the C-shaped
squashed pose E.


The apex & landing Once he is

of the ground and in the air, try to
think about what is leading and what is
following. Rotate the core (here, the hips)
as you would the bouncing ball and think
about how the speed of him reaching the
apex of the arc should be the same as the
speed of him coming back down again. As
a result, the spacing should be more
bunched at the peak of the jump and

spread apart further either side of the apex

as he pushes of and lands. Delay one leg
and ofset the arms slightly so we dont
have any twinning issues. At this stage you
can already start to indicate the efects of
drag on the ngers and toes as he begins to
fall, if you wish F.


Make a safe landing As he

lands, have him go down as you

would squash the bouncing ball. Really
compress his body to take the impact and
push the spine into a strong C shape to
once more contrast with the previous
stretched pose and its straight spine. Going
from these bigger to smaller shapes and
back again will also add to the appeal of the
animation. Really push these early poses,
making sure they are as clear as can be.
Spend time making your poses fully
readable and, if needed, create a playblast
and draw over it in Kinovea (www.kinovea.
org) so you are not restricted by a rig G.


Create the squash & stretch

poses Now we will create the

rst two of our extreme poses: squashed

and stretched. Begin with the former by
really compressing his body down. Try to

How to animate a jump



Rework the timing So far, if we

follow the timing set by our

bouncing ball animation, everything will be
a bit too fast. Since we are using Stepped
mode, we can easily go into the Graph
Editor or the Dopesheet and start pushing
these keys around in order to re-time the
shot. When you are all set, select all the
curves in the Graph Editor for every control
and go to Tangents>Auto or Spline. Also go
to Window>Settings/Preferences>
Preferences and change the Default Out
tangent to Auto or Spline in the Animation
tab. If you hit Play now you may have quite
a at, weightless animation H.

H Re-time the

animation using
the Graph Editor

I Adding some

anticipation will
enable the
audience to
prepare for the
action theyre
about to see

J Arcs are

stunning as well
as naturally
occurring make
sure you manage
to get them in

K Hiding parts of
the geometry
can help you
focus closely


Anticipation & weight Once

the main poses are in, we can start

adding some anticipation. Place a key
between pose A and B, then slightly lift the
character up on the balls of his feet. Have
him bring his arms up also, ready to swing
them back into the extreme, squashed
pose. Then, as he lands on the other side of
the jump, push him down further than the
squashed pose and as his hips lift up have
his spine continue to go down. The
opposing action here will help soften the
potential rigidity of him standing up as one
lump mass I.


Arcs, arcs & more arcs

At this stage, we should really start

thinking about getting our arcs as clean as
possible. Again, well work from the core
outwards, as changes to that region will
have a knock-on efect on all four limbs and
the torso. Try to mimic the parabola that we
would expect to see on a bouncing ball. To
help with this, select the root_ctrl and go to
Animate>Create Editable Motion Trail.
Once you have the hips worked out, move
to the feet. As they are set to IK, you will
most probably need to set quite a few more
extra keys to reduce the linear transition
from one key to another. This will be
created by default J.


Focus in on areas

Animating the entire character at

once can sometimes become
overwhelming and xing one area can lead

L Use the tools to

check your arcs

M Just a small

movement can
help keep the
character alive

to issues in another. Having the ability to
hide parts of the geometry can really help
you focus on the areas that need cleaning
up. For example, you may want to get the
spine working well without viewing how the
arms are afected. Then you can unhide the
arms and focus on them, knowing that the
spine is how you want it. If a Hide/Unhide
feature is not part of the rig, you can
generally achieve the same efect by
selecting the geometry that you want to
hide and go to Create>Sets>Quick Select
Set. You can then easily nd that geometry
in the Outliner and hit Cmd/Ctrl+H to hide
the pieces. When you want to reveal them
again, select them from under the set in the
Outliner and hit Shift+H K.

Motion Trail a vertex

When we create a Motion Trail on a
control, we want to make sure that its
creating the trail from the correct place.
For example, if we make the trail for the
hips, it will work ne as we want it to
happen from the controls centre.
However, if we create it on the foot
control, we dont get the right result. As
we use the Roll attribute on the foot, the
geometry actually pulls away from the
control and so the trail is incorrect.
Luckily for us a colleague of mine,
Constantinos Glynos, has kindly created
a Python script, CG_VertexMotionTrail_ (supplied), that will enable you to
create a Motion Trail on a selected
vertex. I like to view the arcs being
created in places such as the tip of the
ngers or the end of a toe, so this tool
enables me to do that with more
accuracy and condence.

the path of action. Also add some drag and overlap to the toes
as they go through the jump. Then on the land, have them slam
down in a couple frames to help bring some weight and impact to
the landing L.


Use moving holds Right now, when our animated

character hits his nal pose, he stops dead. This really
appears very CG, so to reduce this well add a Moving Hold. To do
this, copy the same pose another ten frames ahead, then make
some minor changes but try to have the movement ow in the
direction of the pose before. If the arm is swinging from left screen
to right screen, continue that movement from left to right. I have
made this quite subtle, but feel free to experiment and see what
works best for you M.


Drag & overlap To make the

jump more uid, lets apply some

drag and overlap. Start by adding some
delay to the spine, neck and head. Ofset
each section by a couple of frames and you
should quickly get a more natural-looking
animation. Work your way down the arms
to the hands. For this exercise Ive also
added drag to the ngers so they ow into

3D Art & Design



Tutorial files:
Maya .ma scene files
Video Reference .mov
Final animation render .mov
Reference images to use in Maya
CG_VertexMotionTrail_V2 script

Animate action moves

Hong Kong GUI: weve bounced, walked, lifted and jumped,
so lets put it all together in a 540-degree martial-arts kick!

rapping up our lessons on

animation (see the previous
tutorials for more helpful guides,
including walk cycles and weightlifting), we
should now feel brave enough to experience
the creation of an action move. In this case, the
tornado kick.
This 540-degree move, practised in
Taekwondo and other martial arts, sees the
body at its nest. It is, without doubt, a very
challenging piece to animate, but itbrings
together the work that we have already done to
a pretty impressive crescendo. Theres so much
here: timing, spacing, anticipation, weight, path
of action, arcs you name it! The poses are very
dynamic and there are opposing tilts between
hips and shoulders, as well as twists in the spine.
We will be using the principles of the bouncing
ball, which we covered on page 232, so our
timing for this piece can be established using the
ball as the hips of this character. However, the

252 3D Art & Design

obvious addition of limbs not to mention the

spin will give us plenty to get our teeth into.
As ever, the initial work must be devoted to
reference. There is an abundance of excellent
reference online, so when you nd some
examples that you like, make sure you analyse
them over and over. Its a very complex move
and youll need to focus carefully on weight-shift,
the spacing of the feet as they move through the
air, as well as the natural arcs and ow.
Listen to martial-arts trainers online talking
about the move: how weight shifts and which
parts of the body lead and which follow. I guess
youll always be against the clock when
animating, but its always worthwhile doing the
prep, as once youve started the animation
process, having to go back on yourself is even
more time-consuming not to mention
dispiriting. Make use of free tools such as
Kinovea ( to make
your life easier.

In previous lessons Ive encouraged you to try

the moves youre intending to animate. However,
in this case it may not be such a wise idea if
procreation interests you in any way. So in place of
this Ive provided some 2D reference that can be
taken into Maya (supplied). This is essentially a
series of loose drawings using a stick man, which
can mainly be used to gure out your timing.
When it comes to the poses, these can be pushed
further to make the whole piece more dynamic
and appealing. In the drawings, the key poses are
in red and the breakdown poses are in green. The
images also each have a frame number to help you
work out where to put the initial poses although
this rough timing can very likely change.
Because theres so much going on in this piece,
it becomes imperative that we decide which
kinematic mode the limbs will be in, before
starting. You should nd arms fairly
straightforward to animate. The hands do not
make contact with anything, but only follow the

Animate action moves

think opting for IK legs results in less
arduous reworking.
Now lets get the admin out the way so
we can start animating. Ill be working in
PAL (25fps) and as Im animating using the
pose-to-pose method to begin with, Ill set
my Default Out tangents to Stepped.

Kick of!

01Use references

Open up 01_ (supplied) to nd Box Boy
in his default pose. Lets start by bringing in
our reference so we can work alongside it in
Maya. Go to Panels>Orthographic>New>
Front to create a new camera. Call this
referenceCam and in the active viewport
go to View>Image Plane>Import Image and
select frame_01.jpg from the Reference
Images folder that accompanies this
tutorial. Under Image Plane Attributes, edit
the Display to Looking Through Camera
and also check Attached to Camera. Now
translate the reference camera away from
the main scene and set the view as a
oating window by going to Panels>Tear
Of d.

02Add key poses

a A nal render

including some of
the key poses

b Its all in the arcs!

c A further

breakdown of the
key poses in the
nal animation

d Pre-planning your
animation can
save all the
guesswork later
on in the process

motion of the rest of the body, so forward

kinematics will enable us to use the
naturally occurring arcs. Your decision
about the legs is harder, however. Your rst
and last poses have the feet in contact with
the oor, which would suggest IK, while the
fact that the legs often follow the hips
suggests FK. If we opt for IK, well have to
add the natural arcs that are provided
bythe FK mode and manually move the
controls to enable the legs to follow the
rotation of the hips. Whereas if we use FK,
well be obliged to counter-animate the
legs, as any changes to the hips will result in
sometimes undesirable changes to the legs.

A third option would be to use FK/IK

blending, but if there are no features in the
rig that enable us to match the positions
and orientations of one mode to another,
this could lead to popping. Of course, you
could wing it and do it by eye, but Id advise
against this.
My decision is to go IK, as my major
priority is to get the feet touching the oor
without having to counter-animate. The
price of this decision is having to force the
arcs and getting the legs to follow the hips,
even if it means sometimes animating the
legs frame by frame. You have to weigh up
your own personal pros and cons, but I

Ill now scroll

through the timeline and put in all
the key poses using the red images from
the reference as a guide. Im mainly looking
to ensure I put in all the contact poses for
the feet as they shufe around, to get a
better balance. Ill also want to make sure

3D Art & Design



that they are following the translation and

orientation of the hips as the body spins. At
this early stage I want to make sure I get
some interesting and strong poses
happening, as well as to play with opposing
lines, such as those created by the hips and
shoulders and the reverse C-shape in the
spine. At this stage, try to consider which
body part is leading and which will be
following. Later on we can think about
delaying some body parts to loosen the
move up e.


Insert breakdown poses For

the second pass through Ill start

adding in a breakdown pose between each
key pose. Adding these poses will enable us
to better anticipate how the animation will
look when we transition from Stepped
tangents to either Spline or Auto. As the
character is spinning and we are working
with the legs in IK mode, well also start
creating the arcs that we can then nesse
later on in the process. Focus on the path of
action for each limb so they ow from one
frame to the other without any sudden
popping. We can also begin to indicate
principles such as drag on the hands and
toes, as well as anticipation of the
movements to come f.

04Get the timing right

Once all
the main poses are in, Ill go
through and create a playblast of the
animation. My main aim here is to check
that the poses are clear and readable or if
the action is too fast, too slow or possibly
just right. I like to stand back from my
monitor when doing this, as I think it reveals
quite a lot that we just cant see with the
screen right in front of us. In doing so, I nd

254 3D Art & Design

that in my animation I need a few extra

frames on each spin, as they occur too fast
and cause some popping especially when
the legs cross for the rst time. To add the
extra frames, I select all the controls and
open up the Dope Sheet, which you can
nd under Window>Animation Editors. In
the Dope Sheet Summary bar at the top I
grab all the keys that I need to move along
in order to give me the extra frames and
push them to the right g.

05Work from the core

Once you
are happy with the timing, select
all the animation controls and convert the
tangents in the Graph Editor from
Stepped to Auto or Spline mode. As always,
I begin from the core outwards when
rening, so my rst port of call will be the
hips. For this move Im mainly using the
root_ctrl for translating the character up,
down and rotating him, then the hip_ik_ctrl
to get some extra rotation in the hips, if
needed. I start by going through and
deleting any keys that are not doing much
for the animation or are adding too much
noise. We can then go through and try to
mimic the motion and arc we would
expect to see on a bouncing ball. Also,
you can add extra keys if you need to get
the arcs owing well in other areas, as
Box Boy shifts his weight about.
Remember, its all in the hips, so getting this
as rened as possible will be crucial for all
the other elements h.

Tools & scripts

I am using the bhGhost tool,
created by Brian Horgan, which can
be found at
This is what I will use to check how
one pose leads into the next
through the blocking stages. To
check the arcs of a selected vertex,
I use CG_VertexMotionTrail_V2.
py (supplied), created by
Constantinos Glynos. By default,
Maya doesnt enable you to
motion-trail a vertex, but this tool
will do just that.

when the legs are in the air. Be sure to
create motion trails not on the controls,
but on a vertex on the model, such as the
ankle or the end of the foot. This will
create an honest representation of the arc
being created by the legs swing. Also, as
the feet will be pivoting from the toe or the
ball, its important that when this happens
there is no popping. I like to create a locator
at the point where the foot will pivot from,
then use that as a guide to position and
orient the foot. If the foot slides around, we
will lose believability in our animation i.

e The many key

poses used in this

complex shot

f The various

breakdown poses
to nish the initial
blocking process

g If the animation is

not clear and

readable, look at
retiming what you
currently have

h Work from the

core outwards,
implementing the
principles applied
to a bouncing ball

i Focus in on the

arcs and check the

movement when
Box Boy pivots

06Adjust the legs & feet

In this
move the big arcs will be created
by the legs, so as I am working in IK mode
for them I will most probably end up setting
a key on nearly every frame, especially

Animate action moves


Some people will sometimes frown
upon the use of reference and will tell
you that a good animator should be
able to work without it. However,
everyone from the early Disney
pioneers to the brains behind Avatar
have used reference. Whether its
photographic reference that you will
draw beside, or mo-cap reference that
you can take into a 3D scene
whatever will get you to your goal in the
most-efcient manner and give you the
best results, do it. Be exible and in the
words of the mighty Bruce Lee: Be like
water, my friend.


Animate the spine, neck and

head Were starting to work up

the torso, so as all the upper limbs are

children of the spine well start there.
Again, begin by cleaning up the curves and
getting rid of any keys that arent helping.
Push the shoulders and hips to really get
some striking poses from the opposing
lines. Also, add twist to the torso, orient
the chest in one direction, the hips in
another and the head in a third direction.
This will add further interest to the poses
and make them more dynamic. Try to delay
the neck and head slightly, making sure the
path of action on the head is smooth and
clean as it swings j.

08Work those arms

dealing with the arms, I like to
work on them separately as I can really
ne-tune one arm without the other
distracting me. I use selection sets to hide
some of the geometry and focus on those
arcs once more. Although the arms will
follow the torso, we will still need to go in
there and clean out some of the poses as
they may be jittery in places. Also, make
sure to edit the spacing, as in some
instances we will want to ease in and out of
the key pose to reduce what could be some
very quick movement in a small number of
frames. This applies, for example, when the
right arm reaches the peak of its move k.

drag & break up the


At this stage I want to

make the motion as smooth as can be, as
well as begin ofsetting some parts so we
dont come to the nal pose and hit it as
one lump. Ill delay the arms by a couple of
frames from the spine and in the odd
frame. Ill then push the lower arm further
back than naturally possible to really help
sell the drag. Ill delay the hands and also
really push the ngers back to help sell the
path of action that theyll be following. To
loosen up the approach to the nal pose, Ill

make sure the arms hit the pose a few

frames later and also have one arm hit the
nal pose a frame or two before the second
arm does l.

10Keep on moving

As we hit
the nal frames, well want to keep
the motion and the character alive. To do
so, we can employ the technique of using
Moving Holds. For the hips, the upperbody and arms, Ill add a small amount of
motion, continuing through to the nal
frame of the animation. Its important to
keep this motion, moving in the direction
that the body is travelling. The change in
movement from the nal pose to the
nal frame may be barely noticeable,
but the diference between subtle
movement and no movement can be huge
to the naked eye. Finally, good luck and
happy animating! m.

Show & tell

I like to focus on a particular aspect
without my mind being side-tracked.
For example, when cleaning up the
spine, I dont want to look at the arms
or even the legs. To help, I use selection
sets. Simply grab all the geometry that
you want to hide and go to Create>
Sets>Quick Select Set. By the end of
the animation I have a selection set for
each part of the body. To select the
geometry in the set, either go to the
Outliner and open the specic set you
want to hide/reveal or go Edit>Quick
Select Set to pick the group.
j Use contrasting

l Add some drag to

k Work on each arm

m Apply a subtle

shapes in the torso

and be more
dynamic by adding
strong twist poses
individually and
further rene
those naturally
occurring arcs

the hands and

ngers to create a
exible and
natural animation

amount of motion
to the nal frame
to keep the
character alive
3D Art & Design