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Practical inspirat r the 3D community

Create your own CG short anim



Animal Logic discussess the unique

challenges of crafting The
T Lego Movie 2

Modelling for production and games


Create an intricate Japanese helmet
We just throw
things together in
LEGO Digital Designer, time
and then manipulate
them in Maya to play!
Kristen Anderson
Art director on Lego Movie 2
Page 50

Artem Gansior, of Blur
Studios, reveals how to
create rope Page 74

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Rob Hodri, Patrik Karlsson, Ryan Kingslien, Liudmila
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industry veterans, such as DNEG’s Andrew Gordon, Also this issue, we put an anticipated piece of
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This issue’s team of pro artists…

VFX journalist and regular 3D Artist Italian 3D artist and concept designer, French artist, Vincent, has worked in
contributor, Ian, talks to the Animal Emiliano, reveals how to use Blender’s the games industry since 2010 and is
Logic team about how they brought the new real-time renderer, Eevee, to create now a texture environment artist at
Lego Movie 2: The Second Part to the big a short animated feature, using his own Ubisoft Québec, in Canada. He shows
screen. Turn to page 50. Spectre to demonstrate on page 58. how to create hi-res props on page 66.
3DArtist username N/A 3DArtist username N/A 3DArtist username N/A

Artem works as a character artist at Jonatan is a self-taught CG artist born Turn to page 84 to read about this cool
Blur Studio creating characters and and raised in Argentina. You can folllow workstation: Chillblast’s Fusion Turing
props for cinematics and games. He his tutorial to master making stunning RTX 5000 Core i9 Pro 3D Editing
demonstrates how to create stylised architectural visualisations using Workstation with Intel’s latest 12-core
rope in 3ds Max on page 74. Blender on page 78. processor is a beast of a workhorse.
3DArtist username N/A 3DArtist username JoniMercado 3DArtist username N/A

David is CG supervisor at Method Shotgun Software founder Don Parker Patrik is the principal character artist /
Studios. He recently oversaw work on discusses the importance of keeping craft director who recently completed
Aquaman, the superhero smash hit your eye on the bigger picture, creative work on Anthem, a new game from EA’s
from director James Wan. To discover flow and collaboration for artists. Turn BioWare studio. Turn to page 24 to read
the challenges he faced, see page 92. to page 96 to read his insights. his top tips on getting into the industry.
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What’s in the magazine and where

News, reviews
& features
12 The Gallery
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24 Anniversary special: Top ten secrets
Industry professionals share 100 tips and
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to the next level
50 Everything is awesome, again!
Animal Logic discusses the challenges fastidious from
in creating its latest brick adventure,
The Lego Movie 2: The Second Part
a creative point
65 Technique Focus:
of view about
Quel layering texture
Freelance artist Neeraj Menon talks
about the post-production process in after texture
creating his striking image John Rix on the texturing
84 Review: Fusion Turing RTX 5000 for Lego Movie 2, Page 50
Core i9 Pro 3D Editing Workstation
Orestis Bastounis powers up Chillblast’s
latest hardware offering
94 Technique Focus: 50
Art director Tsubasa Nakai explains the How you can achieve better
texturing process he used to create his artistry through collaboration
stunning photoreal portrait
98 Technique Focus:
Find out how digital artist Yulia Sokolova
modelled her stylised image using ZBrush,
Maya and d Substance
S bt Painter
P i t

new GPU
generation What’s new
meets 96 88 at FMX 2019?
latest SUBSCRIBETODAY! Get the Turn to
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Make stylised rope for production 74 58 Create your own CG animation in Blender

The key is that The Pipeline

58 Step By Step:
you make sure your Make a short animation using
skill shines through Blender Eevee
Emiliano Colantoni helps you to get
in your work to grips with Blender 2.8 and the
real-time renderer Eevee
Patrik Karlsson on how
to make it in the games 66 Step By Step:
industry Page 24 Make hi-res props in
Substance Designer
Vincent Derozier explains how
to create props for use in games
using displaced materials
74 Step By Step:
Create stylised rope for
Follow Artem Gansior’s tutorial
to make stylised rope using 3ds
Max and Unfold3D
78 Pipeline Techniques:
Create photorealistic arch viz
with Blender
Jonatan Mercado returns with a
tutorial on effective ways to render
in Blender

ISSUE 131 The Hub

88 Community News
FMX returns at Stuttgart this April:

NEXT Find out who’s heading there and

about the trends that will be
discussed this year

90 Industry News
Discover the VES Awards winners,
Polywink’s new Animation for
ARTIST AT EA VANCOUVER, iPhone X, Outpost’s new work ethic,
SCULPTS A SPECIAL DRAGON how Ziva Dynamics have gone
academic and more!
92 Industry Insider
ON SALE David Cunningham
We chat with Method’s CG

12 MARCH supervisor about the studio’s

work on Aquaman
96 Opinion
Visit the 3D Artist online shop at Don Parker
CG supervisor David Cunningham Shotgun Software founder
on Method’s work on Aquaman for back issues, books and merchandise discusses the importance
92 of collaboration
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I was very inspired

by the work Weta
Workshop did on
The Planet of the
Apes movies and
wanted to create a
Björn Arvidsson
primate of my own. I wanted to focus
Björn is currently working as
a character artist at the newly
on learning XGen and
founded Embark Studios in
Stockholm, Sweden.
rendering in Arnold,
Software ZBrush, Maya,
but most importantly
Arnold, Photoshop on conveying a
Work in progress… mood and trying
to tell a story
Björn Arvidsson,
Ape, 2018

Alexander Svanidze
Alexander has been in game
development for 15 years,
working as a lead artist and art
director for studios like Pixonic.
Software 3ds Max 2018,
V-Ray 3.60
Work in progress…

When I was an art director

at Pixonic I wanted to have
a Samurai robot in our ‘War
Robots’ game, but it was out
of our game design scope.
That was back in 2013. After
I moved to Barcelona in 2016
I’ve decided to model one for
my portfolio
Alexander Svanidze,
Samurai Robot, 2019
This project was inspired
by Frank Frazetta’s Conan
the Destroyer and took
three months to sculpt in
ZBrush, and I used KeyShot
for rendering. I started
by modelling the whole Farzad Maleki
360-degree scene from the

painting using low-poly Farzad is a CG character artist

in Sydney, Australia, originally
objects. Then I divided the from Iran. His passion is 3D
sculpting and converting
scene into different zones paintings into 3D models.
Software ZBrush, KeyShot
to allocate enough polygons Work in progress…
to that area. I used many
sub-tools to create the
complexities, and then
reduced the polygons
to decrease the size
of the project
Farzad Maleki,
Conan the Destroyer, 2019
Mythology, history
and classic art are great
sources of inspiration
for me. I think of the
environment as an
extension of a character.
For this project, I wanted a
mystic, classic composition
to match the character’s
mythological roots
Korosh Ghanbarzadeh,
Demon in the Mountain, 2019

Korosh Ghanbarzadeh
Korosh’s speciality is characters
and creatures. He has been
involved in numerous projects,
from books and film, to
animation and video games.
Software ZBrush, Unreal Engine
Work in progress…

This artwork is my look-
development project at Gnomon.
Here, I have tried to match Sergey
Kardakov’s Hunter concept as
much as I could, while adding
some of my own designs to
approach realism in my artwork.
I really liked the story-telling in his
image: Every object in this scene
stands to tell a story. To balance
realism with stylisation was my
main goal for this project
Jimeng Li,
Hunter with Puppy, 2018

Jimeng Li
Jimeng has a background in
traditional oil painting and
illustration, with a Master in
Fine Arts from RIT, New York.
Software ZBrush, Maya, Mari,
Substance Painter, V-Ray, XGen
Work in progress…

In depth

Mohsen Hashemi
Mohsen is an architecture and
art enthusiast with ten years
experience. He works at his
own independent studio in Iran.
Software 3ds Max, Corona
Renderer, Photoshop
Work in progress…

From a technical
aspect, I tried to show
the appropriate lighting
and mood in the best
way and also keep the
shaders as realistic
as possible with the
natural departure setting
of the camera
Mohsen Hashemi,
Dark Side of the Room, 2018
Credit to Evermotion, Bertrand Benoit and Ramon Zancanaro for some 3D models
Making a realistic composition in
the scene is a technique that
requires a lot of practice. Some of
the rules can be learnt while others
can only be achieved by trial and
error; you should observe the
frame buffer canvas to get the
best possible result.


Analyse different lighting setups
to decide which one best suits
your story, what gives the correct
mood and what will catch the
eye of the observer. If you have
seen something in a movie or
photograph that you think could
work in your image, definitely
use it as a reference.


Using the natural setting and effects on the camera helps give realistic results. You Post-production doesn’t need to take ages. You can reach really good result in the
can make some elements really pop by adding additional lights facing the camera frame buffer canvas quite quickly, and simply add some colour correction in post.
DOF and IRIS to give more definition to certain areas of the image. (Thanks to Evermotion, Bertrand Benoit and Ramon Zancanaro for some 3D models.)

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Anthem image courtesy of BioWare

Whatever your skill level, this 24-page special CG tips guide will help
you to unlock your creative potential and hone your talents

ith the size of the 3D industry to focus time and effort when refining your
growing year on year, it’s more work and techniques to perfect your art.
important than ever to make sure Together, they provide 100 tips to transform
your work stands out from the crowd. And to your CG work into something truly impressive.
stay at the top of your game you need to be This collection of tips and tricks will help you
proficient in a wide variety of skills. However, to focus on what’s important in the CG you’re
finding that extra something to help you get your creating: for one piece it might be the balance
foot in the door or give you the exposure you of colours that sets the work apart, for another,
want can be a challenge. the composition might be the key to success,
So, for our special ten-year anniversary issue, while in the case of arch viz, it might be the
we’ve collected a huge range of tips and tricks way that the reflections are handled that
from industry professionals to help you ensure really strikes the viewer.
that your work is of the highest standard. You can also discover top ten hardware
Over the following 24 pages, CG veterans innovations that have helped to shape the
BioWare’s principal
character artist including DNEG’s head of animation, Andrew CG industry on page 34.
and craft director, Gordon; BioWare’s principal character artist and Whether you specialise in games, animation,
Patrik Karlsson –
responsible for craft director, Patrik Karlsson; Weta Digital’s top arch viz, building environments or creating visual
Anthem’s Exo suits modeller Myriam Catrin; and anatomy guru and effects; or whether you’re into modelling,
– shares his tips on
getting into games ZBrush trainer, Ryan Kingslien, give their top ten texturing or lighting, the advice given here is
on page 30 tips explaining how to avoid clichés, and where guaranteed to take your work to the next level.



Albert Valls Punsich and Damient Penoit share techniques for building beautiful worlds


CG environment modeller

Keep the modelling, texturing and
shading at the same style and level of
detail for all the assets of your scene.
Always use a hero asset to define these
values at the beginning of production, and
use it as a guide throughout the process.

One of the biggest tricks is creating a set
dressing library by producing a bunch of
reusable assets to decorate and populate
your scene, in order to add realism.
Simply take your base models and apply
small modelling and texture changes to
create completely new and different ones
to feed your library.


There is no other way to start working on Make the image tell the story. Create an This is the most important step of the
a CG environment. If we skip this step or illustrative sketch or photo-bashing using production process. Create primitive
we try to make it quicker, we will pay for it all the cinematographic techniques that models to adjust the proportion and
later in production time by being slower, you have within reach. Work on the shape of the assets in our scenes. Watch
vaguer and much less focused. Take your silhouette, depth of field, lines of action, out! It’s a common mistake to start
time to create a full research library for camera shot, colours and base lighting. By working on final assets before completing
the project, and the early effort will make taking this approach, we make the this, and then having to redo it later. Make
all the difference. viewer’s eye land where we want it to. sure you have perfect blocking.

Senior generalist at
Industrial Light & Magic

When you’re doing the layout of your
future project, I strongly recommend
using World Machine for open worlds.
It’s the easiest way to create fantastic
landscapes and bring them into your
favourite 3D app. You can find lots of
good tutorials on YouTube, and it’s nodal,
fast and already UV mapped!

I like to link my dome light rotation to the
HDRI horizontal rotation for a quick
lighting setup. It enables me to quickly
change the direction of my lights and
upgrade my scene atmosphere. Do it
with the Wire Parameters in 3ds Max
using the Animation, Wire Parameter
dialog. Click Vraylight>Zrotation>
SceneMaterials, then HDRI Horizontal
Rotation and finally Connect.


If you’re using 3ds Max, Forest Pack is When you’re using ZBrush for At the end of your scene assembly, when
your best friend. Create each pack, such environments, the Trim Smooth Border everything looks good, always convert as
as grass, cobble stones, rocks, trees and and Mallet Fast brushes are your best much as you can into VRayProxies. Your
so on separately, and then copy and paste combo. Use with a square alpha and a RAM will thank you for that, and you
the ones where you want more density. sharp brush (set intensity to 100 and might be very surprised to see that you
Being able to tweak them independently focal shift to -100) and they will enable divided your render time by 1.5 or 2! But
will help you to bring much more variation you to create very nice rock shapes, use it with caution, because you’re losing
to your scenes. destroyed walls or damaged ruins. your stack history.



Head of animation at DNEG
GESTURES BETTER DNEG’s Andrew Gordon shares his techniques for stronger animation

It’s important to understand the area
a character is gesturing in. Is it inside the
body space, outside, near or below the
face? What is the story point? Does it
read? Does it need a large open gesture,
or is it meant to be a secondary element?
Look for areas to change between gesture
spaces – contrast is a great tool.

When in doubt, throw it out! Often it
makes sense to just do nothing. I’m not
saying don’t move the character, but look
for moments to tone down the animation
or find other things to do besides
gesturing. In live-action films, some of
the most powerful moments are subtle.
Animation does not need to be overdone.

Animation is designed movement, and
all sorts of paths of motion exist in a
character. You have to design movement
to fit the scene. Sometimes the design
of movement in animation is overdone.
Focus on how your gestures move
through space. Look for ways of making
it feel physical but also beautiful to watch.

Texture and timing is important. Contrast:
show something tense, relaxing, or a loose
Images courtesy of DNEG

gesture changing into a quick move. Break

up the enemy of animation: eveness.
Gestures can be even, but always having
eveness is boring and uninteresting to
watch. Think about where can you put a
punctuation on a gesture.

A cliché used to be a genius idea, but it In animation I love the idea of using things
was used over and over until it turned into to gesture with. You are trying to make
the worst idea; an idea that everyone things in animation look spontaneous.
knows and has seen. Some common ones Gesturing with props feel real. An
in animation are neck rubs, points, W animator needs to find ways of squeezing
gestures. If you’re going to use a popular the entertainment out of scenes – just
gesture or cliché, do it a different way. don’t overuse or overspice the shot. Use
Find a way to make it yours. it as something to accent a scene.

Every part of a character can gesture, so
let’s just think about the ways you gesture
if you can’t use hands. If you had to tell a
story using just the head, what do you do?
How do you describe things? What angles
does your head take? When you animate
head gestures, start simple and polish.
Take into account the weight of the move.

There are many ways to study gesture.
Make it a habit to plan your work. Look at
people other than yourself. Look at actors
who are similar to your character. “Good
artists copy, great artists steal,” claimed
Picasso. The trick is to not steal from other
animation. Always take from life and make
it the essence of what you referenced.

The biggest mistake is just too much. Less I’m interested in interaction – the ability
is more. Another is to not polish it well. It’s to move cloth, hair, etc. Capture tools
important to make gestures feel like they could be useful for gestures; a hand pose
have weight and physicality. Understand capture, a way of moving the character
that we’re trying to create characters that that might be easier than manipulated a
have a truth to them. A toy, a bug, a rig... I want to see animation that pushes
superhero – each will gesture differently, acting ideas in different ways. Be original,
and will have its own language of gestures. entertaining and true to the character.



Patrik Karlsson and Ben Erdt share tricks and techniques for making it in the games industry

Principal character artist/
craft director, BioWare

This is the first thing a potential new
employer/client looks at, so it is very
important. There are so many things to
consider when making a good portfolio,
but the key is that you make sure your
skill shines through in your work. Other
important aspects are that you can
handle a variety of tasks and be flexible.

You can have the best portfolio in the
Anthem image courtesy of BioWare

business, but if you don’t have your work

out there and promote yourself you might
end up being invisible. Posting your work
on key media outlets and sharing it with
others who can forward it on can be the
difference between you getting the job
and somebody else.


Talent doesn’t always get you the job. Every project and task is special. I believe Doing art at home or school is different
Most of the time you will have to work in a that you can’t make your best art if your from working in a professional studio.
team, so you have to be able to get along heart is not in it to some degree. Handling deadlines and outside stress
with others. This means communication, Ultimately you must care about your while producing your very best is not easy.
morale and drive must be there. When craft. A willingness to learn from others You need to be clever in adapting and
having your interview, those aspects will and push yourself forward and upward is tackling things. There will be mistakes, but
be some of the key things people in the not only important for yourself at the it’s part of learning, and the important thing
room will be looking for. workplace, but also in your life in general. is the willingness to learn from these.

Senior character/creature
atist at Blizzard

Making games is a team effort, so being a
team player who communicates is vital.
Be proactive and reach out to co-workers.
For example once you’ve prepared a low
poly of a character, contact the rigging
department to understand their needs.
They’re colleagues you deliver your work
to within the character pipeline.

Especially for personal work, I enjoy
collaborating with friends. A former
co-worker and friend of mine is a very
talented rigger and always looking for
new challenges, so we decided to work
together on personal projects to improve
our skills. Collaborating with people can
give you a push when trying new things.


In this industry it’s extremely important There’ll be a point in production when When you send files to the next
to set up contacts and stay in touch with most assets and characters are integrated department, make sure you keep your
people. The junior artist or student and it’s time to optimise and fix bugs. You scenes clean. For instance certain naming
colleague you work with today might be could also be asked to write asset briefs conventions are required for rigging
a team lead in a big studio in the future or feedback sheets. Sculpting characters departments, as they have tools and scripts
looking for someone to join. Maintain is a small portion of the pipeline, so be that iterate through your scene. Organise
contacts as they might be the beginning prepared for non-creative tasks like LODs, your scene, name objects accordingly to
of a great opportunity in the future. optimisation, integration, texture polish. make life easier for colleagues.



Top 3D modellers Liudmila Kirdiashkina and Magdalena Dadela explain technical and artistic
techniques that will supercharge your character modelling

Freelance 3D artist

A Lattice deformer enables you to
smoothly deform a high-density mesh
without having to adjust each vertex
manually. You can also use Soft Selection
with a high radius and Move/Rotate/
Scale tools to transform a specific part
of the mesh.

When making curved hard-surface When modelling hard-surface objects, it
objects, it is sometimes better to use is important to keep geometry smooth
NURBS modelling rather than polygon and clean, especially at the edges and
modelling, as it could be easier to modify junctions. Occasionally, change scene
geometry with the help of curves and CV lighting and use shaders with high
points. You can convert NURBS to specular level, so that you can spot any
polygons afterwards. distortions or unevenness in the surface.


Start modelling by blocking out simple I make a quick 3D sketch in ZBrush as I reuse some of the meshes that I created
primitive shapes. Try not to jump into too a guide and export it to my modelling for my previous personal projects. It
many details at the beginning. It is better application to build a clean geometry. could be a good time-saver to create
to refine your geometry gradually, Creating a preliminary 3D sketch is useful a library of the frequently used small
keeping all the elements at roughly the if you don’t have a 2D concept and want details like various knobs, bolts, tubes
same level of details. to model something on the fly. and latches.

Senior modeller at Framestore

Always use references. Even if you think
you know what something looks like
you’re probably only halfway there. When
creating your own concept make sure you
ground it in reality so that your audience
can relate to it.
If you want to model characters, make
sure you study anatomy and always think
about the internal structure of the body
first. Consider the outside as something
that wraps around what’s inside. This will
give your characters significantly more
depth and realism.

Check your silhouette regularly. In ZBrush
If you’re just starting to model characters,
you can simply press ‘V’ and switch to a
make it a habit to model faces with
black material, which will help you judge
eyeballs in place, and remember that
your work against a lighter background
eyelids are not just flattened circles but
quickly. Rotate the model often and zoom
overlap each other. This will make your
out to make sure that the proportions and
faces more lifelike.
shapes are working.



Freelance technology
Milestones in computer hardware have had a huge effect on the world
journalist of CG, with improvements in visual quality, interactivity and accessibility

There was a time when a graphics card’s
only purpose was connecting to a 2D
display, leaving 3D processing to compete
for CPU resources with everything else
that was running on the computer. That It’s a testament to the ubiquity of USB that
all changed in 1996 with the 3DFX you may not consider its importance in the
Voodoo accelerator card, which gave rise 3D industry. But the ability to plug any
to today’s powerful graphics cards. peripheral, storage device or accessory
into any port on any computer in the world
and know it will work makes computers
more simple to use, and it is a hardware
GPU feature no artist could live without today.
There were big ramifications for the CG
industry when someone realised the growing
power of graphics card hardware could be
used for more than just real-time 3D
acceleration. Cuda and OpenCL run specific
general processing tasks across a GPU’s
parallel hardware, which is great for plugins
and filters in all kinds of design apps.

Parallel processing – running two
The HD revolution ushered in three computing tasks simultaneously – once
innovations in display hardware: flat required a computer with two separate
screens; widescreen aspect ratios; and physical processors inside it, which was
much higher pixel counts. Each boost messy and expensive. In 2005, Intel and
in resolution, from 1080p to 4K and AMD introduced processors for general
soon 8K, improves image quality and PCs with two processor cores in a single
precipitates a rethink of how our work chip, and later increased this to four, six
is rendered and presented. or more cores, improving rendering times.

A killer app for VR may be yet to arrive,
SOLID-STATE but the availability of high-quality,
STORAGE affordable VR headsets such as Oculus
Rift is still a breakthrough for 3D. No
The shift to using fast flash memory longer are we restricted to seeing a 3D
rather than hard disks for an operating world via a 2D window on our desks, but
system and applications has made that world can come alive and interactive
a huge difference to overall computer in a way that truly does feel magical.
performance, with considerably faster
load times. If you store your 3D project
and all its assets on an SSD, editing will
be much smoother and quicker too.

The 3Dconnexion SpaceMouse is a
pointing device that attempts to work in
3D – a concept that hasn’t taken off yet
but still has potential. The PlayStation
Move controller and even Microsoft G-SYNC /
Kinect could fit into this category – a
reminder that 2D pointing and clicking
may lose its monopoly on interaction.
Adaptive sync technology is a hardware
solution to a problem most of us are
unaware of. A computer renders frames at
a variety of frame rates, but displays are
THE traditionally fixed to 60fps. The result is an
ugly ‘tearing effect’. Adaptive sync displays
INTERNET match the display refresh rate to the
computer, so animation becomes smooth.
The internet counts as a hardware
innovation, as it has made a huge impact
on the evolution of computer design and
continues to transform how we use them.
It’s humbling how we can send work
around the world in microseconds, and
that the potential of internet technologies
has still to be fully realised.



Jonathan Benainous, senior texture artist at WB Games and Rob Hodri, senior environment
artist at id Software, share their expertise on working in games

Senior texture artist


The Height map is the key to
accomplishing good game materials. All
the information extracted to create the
Normal, the Albedo, the Roughness maps
etc. relies on the completion and polish
of the Height map. With current game
engines, height is mostly used for
blending materials and needs to be set
with a realistic scale to get great results.

As a game artist, working iteratively from
large to smaller shapes is fundamental.
It’s true for materials, but it’s also true
for modelling and level art. Creating
a block out, with grey box assets, is
always the first step in the completion
of any environment. Then, once your
composition is working in the big picture,
start to iterate and add more details layer
by layer.


The approach to texturing depends on the Working hand in hand with modellers and While working in Substance Designer,
type of game. If it’s a first-person shooter level designers is mandatory when creating components in multiple
you’ll have to add Detail maps to your big creating the environment. Discussing the sub-graphs will greatly help you to
surfaces to keep consistency in the texel best techniques, making breakdowns and organise your materials and the structure
density, as players can be close to every organising your UV Layout together will of your main graph. When you work as
asset. If it’s a third-person game, focus help you to share the same vision. part of a texture team, it becomes easy
more on the overall surface and diversity. Defining the amount of textures, which to open up files to extract and share
Texture IDs are limited by objects in pieces are going to use tileable materials, elements such as leaves, pebbles,
real-time engines, so compromising how many trim textures are necessary, branches, etc. Working this way will
between visual and performance etc. all needs to be decided together to speed up your creation process and
elements is important for the frame rate. have a seamless workflow. production rate.

Senior 3D/environment
artist, id Software


Gameplay and playability should always Master one 3D package first. Get good
have priority over art and composition. at modelling both HP and LP, understand
That’s why it’s important to have artists how UVWs work, composition, colour and
involved early in the blockout phase. lighting. Later, focus on what you enjoy
Working with level designers is key. Colour most; that can be hard-surface modelling
and lighting serves both aesthetics and like weapons or vehicles, sculpting
level design. Bright, saturated colours often (terrain, skulls), texturing, writing scripts
lead the player or differentiate areas. and plugins or shaders (technical artists).

As an environment artist, focus on the It is not only your artistic skills that are
overall scene, composition and layout. important as an environment artist. Try
Your first read looks at silhouettes and to understand how the engine you are
shapes, your second read is about adding using works. Texture streaming, LOD
props and details, and the third read is the system, memory, draw calls, poly count
little high-frequency things the player limitations – all those things need to be
sees close up. Easy-to-read layouts are kept in mind while you are working on an
very important for multiplayer levels.. environment scene.

The preparation phase is important. If
you don’t have a concept to rely on,
gather reference images, prepare some
quick modular proxy meshes and
assemble them in the game editor. Think
about what parts need to be a unique
mesh and where you can use modular
kit pieces.



Olivier Bucheron and Richard Yot share tips on using lighting to add some extra allure to the
natural elements and achieve the desired mood in images

Co-founder and master of
creation at Bisous Production

Use Octane’s Path Tracing mode, which
enables you to have a physical GI. With
physical rendering engines, it is
particularly important to work well with
textures since materials reflect light
according to their physical properties.

The way you’re going to light up your 3D
scene depends a lot on the mood and
feeling you want to create. Once you’ve
worked out the ambience you would like
and lit it appropriately, you have to test,
test and test again to find the right
settings to match your idea.

Find some small visual details, such as
luminous materials – on the character in
particular – and use light to emphasise
them in a way that creates visual hooks
and balances the image.


Use an environment HDRI to brighten As it is an outdoor scene here, the first Finally, for details that can’t be managed
shadow areas that are too dark when step is to place a sun and orientate it easily or precisely in 3D, you have to
created by the sunlight, so that details are properly to create the mood: a bright post-produce your image in Photoshop.
visible. Doing this will project HDRI midday sun with short shadows doesn’t You might want to enhance the contrast of
colours into the scene and add details in bring the same sensations as a warm the entire image or on some little details,
reflections, which will enrich materials sunset and stretched shadows. This will delete (or add) artefacts if needed,
and details and bring a natural, realistic have an impact on the highlighting of the highlight specific areas and so on.
look to the image. elements that we want to focus on. Photoshop is your friend for these tasks.

-------------------------------- USE CONTRAST
Illustrator FOR FOCUS
Draw the viewer’s eye to your character’s
face by making sure the area with the
most contrast in the entire image is on
their face, creating a powerful focal point.
Desaturated and diffused lighting can
help to establish a subtle and low-key
mood. Natural light from a window or
an overcast sky is perfect for creating
this kind of understated look.

Use unnaturally coloured lighting to
suggest a surreal or dreamlike world
for your characters to inhabit. In the
example, the sky is white rather than
blue, which helps to create the
otherworldly atmosphere.

Using carefully positioned cast shadows,
you can create dramatic lighting that
either reveals or conceals key aspects
of your image and helps to tell your story.
In the example, the shadows reveal what
the character is looking at.



Digital artist and
CG anatomy trainer Ryan Kingslien shares his mastery on how to create convincing ZBrush sculpts

The key to creating great work is a simple
equation: garbage in = garbage out.
I learned this from sculptor Richard
Macdonald. If you want to create quality
work, start with quality material. In
Richard’s case, instead of using regular
life models, he works with world-class
athletes. I use PureRef a lot.


Mastery is not magic. It’s process. Use
the process the masters use and you’ll
produce great results. People think they
need to take class after class and learn
tool after tool. The truth is they’ll grow
faster if they slow down and take their
learning deeper. Learn the ‘way’ masters
use tools instead of just learning the tool.

It’s ugly – until it’s not ugly. Get over it.
Get over the sob story of ‘I should be
better’. Get over the drama of ‘I’m not
good enough’. Commit yourself to doing
the daily work. It will be beautiful in its
own time. Stop rushing your greatness.
Let it be who it is and by ‘it’ I, of course,
mean you!

Art is learned. It’s not genetic, or some
magical potion. Some have more talent,
some have less. Success doesn’t come by
accident, nor is it measured in the small
ways you might be thinking about now.
We all have the ability to be successful as
artists but we don’t all build the capacity
to achieve it. Success is built – daily.

Start with a base mesh. This gives you In order for the next few stages to work, At this point, we’ve created a basic shape
a blank structure to start with. This gets we need to bring the level of realism up that has some of the specific character
you the essential structure of the cheek, by painting the eyes. Use simple spheres we want, and it’s now time to add in the
orbit of the eye, muzzle of the mouth and in ZBrush and just paint the iris and pupil pores. Make sure that you’ve crawled
horse shoe shape of the jaw, as well as the in using Polypainting. A great alpha to over the surface of the model with the
dome of the cranial area. Remember, the use to help paint the striation in the iris rake brush before doing this. You want
basic structure of a human doesn’t is Alpha 05 and Alpha 34. Then make to have as much detail as you can in there
change much, otherwise you would be sure to assign the Toy Plastic material to before you go into tertiary forms like
sculpting a different species, so start the eye subtool. Also, don’t forget to paint wrinkles. For this sculpt, I used a process
with a generic human structure and you’ll the caruncula lacrimalis! that’s documented on’s
make your life much easier. Mine is site under their multi-channel texture
a modified version of one I got from packs. It uses a really cool workflow and
Hossein Diba’s class he taught with me. leverages Photoshop’s Puppet Warp
feature to line up the Albedo and
Displacement maps for fantastic results.

Start with specifics. What does the nose Now it’s time to shift to a different tool: PUSH
look like? Is the nose small or large? Does the Rake brush. I had the good fortune of
it droop down or lift up? Is the chin large putting the Rake brush into ZBrush when Finally, it’s time to push it! You’ve been
and round, or small and pointy? Are the I worked at Pixologic, but I have a new and staring at this thing for days, and that has
eyes small and beady or are they large better one at In made you too close to it. You’ve got to
and soulful? Is the face tall and thin or this stage your job is to crawl the surface give it that last push and stretch into your
is it short and wide? Is the front of the of your model and work to create more discomfort zone. All your future growth is
face flat or does it project forward like of the specific ‘character’ of the face. there. I looked for more specific lines and
a pyramid? At this point your tools are Instead of focusing on the cheekbone half-tones to establish a deeper, more
Dam_Standard brush, the Standard brush you’ll dive deeper to focus on the authentic sculpt. For example, in the final
and the Clay Buildup brush. The key palpebromalar groove, the malar mound, piece I added what I call the associate
to the Clay Buildup brush is to set the five different fat pads of the face, the jugal groove and broke up the lateral
Brush>Depth>Imbed to 5. You’re goal is eight lines of the face – whatever helps cheek fat more. This final sculpt only had
a soft generalisation that resembles your you create more ‘character’ and dive an hour of extra sculpting, but it looks a
target but isn’t locked down yet. deeper into the specifics of the face. lot better. That’s what happens when you
build the foundations right.



VFX industry professional
Rainer Duda demonstrates how to develop scenes in Houdini
and university lecturer using his homage to retro sci-fi with modern VFX elements

Before you jump into your favourite
software package for digital content
creation, think about the energy in the
shot you want to create and whitebox
with simple shapes. Work with
benevolent composition of primary,
secondary, tertiary shapes and include
resting areas for the viewers’ eyes.

Make use of simple shapes and tickle the
details out of it. The walls are subdivided
grids. You can use a Voronoi Fracture
node in Houdini, in combination with
clustered points from a volume as point
input to fracture mosaic-like patterns,
which can be randomly extruded by using
a Poly Extrude node.

Hard edges on surfaces usually look
unrealistic. There are multiple solutions to
achieve round edges. The easiest is to use
a renderer that supports the rendering
of round corners, like Arnold or Redshift.
There are also OSL functions that work
on the normals in the shader to achieve
a round-corner look during the rendering.


Enhance flat lighting by adding shading Add geometric detail. The image contains Create points on circuit boards with a
details. Many extruded mosaic areas are some circuit objects connected by Scatter node, and give points attributes to
based on quads. You can group quads powerlines. The circuit boxes are placed indicate which circuit element belongs to
facing away from the extrusion. Create a using the Copy to Points SOP node in them. Make sure the scatter point of the
gradient in the shader with parameters to Houdini. Use extruded quads/faces to respective circuit core element is included.
control the colours and intensity of the scatter points for the additional geometry. By appending Add SOP nodes it’s easy to
interpolated values. Give each face a visible Add attributes like style or fraction to connect points with the same attribute
gradient but rotate each by 45 degrees. randomly spread various circuit elements. name by using the option polygon.

Let the room tell a story by adding ageing
effects on some circuits, which will be
repaired by drones. Decrease the lighting
effects on the aged circuits and add a
volmetric atmosphere. Create a destination
area behind the camera position with just a
few details. Scenes don’t need many words
– the viewer’s imagination tells the story.


There are multiple ways to create The geometry that holds all the circuit As the texture atlas with the circuit details
the circuit power connections on the elements must get a proper material, is based on greyscale information, it can
previously connected powerlines. One is including a working texture. It is wise to be used with adaptive tesselation to add
by using the Wire SOP node, but a better create a texture atlas made out of quads, displaced mini circuit lines in front of the
idea is using the Sweep node, which gives where every quad holds a greyscale camera, giving the viewer more detail. It’s
more artistic freedom – especially at the pattern of circuit lines on a circuit board. important that the texture atlas follows
material creation side, including tileable This can be used as overlay for the base the rules regarding primary, secondary
and procedural textures. colour variations in the shader. and tertiary shapes with resting areas.



Texture experts Myriam Catrin of Weta Digital and Quixel’s Wiktor Öhman offer their best
advice for producing stellar texture work

Senior texture artist NON-DESTRUCTIVE
at Weta Digital
Organise your work in a non-destructive
manner. Think about compositing. Work
PLANNING with the colour revealed or hidden by a
IS KEY dependant mask (Alpha) and keep filters
live to tweak independently. You can
Always start with a clear idea. Take the re-use Alphas or share them in channels
time to gather your references (art like displacements, speculars, or separated
concepts, photos) to know exactly where additions like dirt, dust or oil traces.
you want to get to. When you know the
look you want to achieve, even if you don’t
have all the details, you’ve done half the
work. I consider this the most important SIMPLICITY
tip for any texture artist. IS BEST
Keep your organisation and your thinking
simple. Choose one reference or art
BUILD A TEXTURE concept and run with it. Have a limited set
LIBRARY of references so you don’t try to mix too
many of them. That doesn’t mean your
Organise your tools: take the time to create textures won’t be complex or rich.
your own tileable pictures (mask and Simplicity is the key to being able to
colour, displacement) and stencils to paint tackle visual complexity in your work.
through or triplanar projection. Take
photos, scan materials. Choose with
purpose; it takes time to build a texture
library, but it will ease your workflow and
help you to make something special.

Work from broad features and finish with
fine features at the end. Start on your
textures from mid-distance (large) then get
closer and add details (close-ups). Render
your textured asset regularly from far away
to very close to assess correction priorities.
A lot of details with no features will look
busy. It has to look good at every distance.

3D artist & art lead at Quixel


The environment shown here was a very We can start off by placing the building
impractical but incredibly fun and planes and other primitives in a way that
educational project. It consists mainly of draws the eye of the viewer to where we
real-time displaced primitives in Unreal want and creates a noticeable parallax
Engine 4. I can recommend this type of effect. Feel free to place light sources as
environment to anyone who wishes to well. I used lights as a way to guide the
work on their composition and colour eye from the top-right to the bottom-
skills, as it’s rather quick and easy to do. middle of the scene.

As well as the facades that I made for
the project, I also created a number of
props, for example, I made the barrels,
crates, wheels and so on. These are
also tiling textures applied to primitives,
such as planes, cubes and cylinders.
The crate, in particular, was a rather
fun prop to create.

It would be a good idea to have a number
of references or mood boards ready for
the detailing and colouring of the
textures. The base textures in my scene
here are quite saturated, which helps
them stand out in the night-time colour
scheme: bright reds, vibrant oranges and
crispy blues.

The facades and all the other textures
were created in Quixel Mixer, using a
combination of hand-painting and
material blending. I started the textures
by creating Base, Height and Normal
maps, which I then detailed and coloured.
Working with only Height and Normal
made it easier to block out the scene.



Patric Verstraete of Nanopixel and Sérgio Merêces of Merêces Arch-Viz Studio share their
techniques for creating jaw-dropping architectural visualisations

Creator of high-end 3D
visualisation at Nanopixel

Thanks to Davey Verpoucke and Ashley Van Iseghem. All images are copyrighted and all rights are reserved to Nanopixel

The ‘rule of thirds’ is one of the first

things that photographers learn, so this Watching and studying films is always
could help you to create a balanced and the best way to do this. The best directors
interesting image. The rule of thirds use camera angles that communicate the
identifies important parts of the image emotion they are trying to achieve.
that you should consider as the key story Experimenting with different white
elements in your frame. balance settings on your camera can
inject varied colour casts into the images
you create.


Depth of field or blurred background is There are less obvious effects that you
one of the easiest ways to increase the can use on your render to enhance your
realism of your renders. Almost every real overall realism. A good example is
photograph has it. Even when you take a adding dirt or grit to your textures and
picture with your iPhone it focuses on models to make your project more
something. Sometimes you can just realistic. Adding a bevel or chamfer
barely notice it. But it’s always there. modifier to every edge can help you too
(or use the material equivalent like
vrayedgestex in a bump slot). Look at
the objects around you, everything has
TEXTURING at least a very small bevel. Whenever
AND SHADING you hear that your renderings aren’t
interesting or believable, it’s very likely
Shading is the most important step in that some of the small details are
creating something believable. It’s what missing. We are used to seeing so much
determines how your surfaces appear. It detail in the outdoor environment that if
shows your clients how soft, reflective or you miss the small things your client will
flexible it might be. All of your materials notice their absence.
should have some level of reflection and
have maps assigned to their glossiness USE XREFS / XREFS
and reflection slots. OBJECTS/ PROXIES
Try to keep your scenes clean and light
and use a combination of these. Each has
their own advantage. You will only be
using one set for all the data that you are
referencing from the same file. So if you
reference ten versions of the same object
in the scene it should only require one set
in the memory.

Digital artist and founder
of Merêces Arch-Viz Studio

The modelling is really important to
optimise all the geometry that will be
made part of our project, because later
this will have an influence in the render
time and will help to avoid render errors
in the end. I recommend using the plugins
from SiNi Software, which are really good
for optimisation.


Many artists don’t pay attention to this For the lighting and mood it’s really The postproduction of your image is the
part, but it’s a step that is vital to make important to get real-life references most important stage to achieve high-end
your image stand out. You should ensure and recreate them for your scene as results. Use all the tools that you have at
that your image has depth; you can accurately as you can, and always use hand to tone and improve the image
achieve this with fog or dust. Let people HDRI high-resolution images to get the colours. I recommend using the Magic
see that your image has weather; you can best realistic illumination results for your Bullet Looks and Topaz plugin for
do this by adding wind effects with falling mood. Also use a few render previews Photoshop, and test the default
leaves, rain or snow, or in summer with different type of HDRI maps to help Photoshop LUT effects, which instantly
images, with birds flying, or a breeze. you find the best fit. gives a better look to your image.

Lego Movie 2 images copyright © 2019 WARNER BROS. ENTERTAINMENT INC.


Everything is
MetalBeard, Batman,
Benny, Lucy/Wyldstyle
and Ultrakatty find
themselves in strange new
worlds throughout the film

hen writers and directors Phil Now Lord and Miller are back as the
Animal Logic Lord and Christopher Miller producers and writers of The LEGO Movie 2:
shares the secrets brought The LEGO Movie to the
big screen in 2014, they and
The Second Part, with Mike Mitchell stepping
in as director and Trisha Gum as co-director.
of its design, CG production studio Animal Logic
changed the game in terms of mixing complex
Animal Logic also returns, having continued to
refine its artistry and technology across the
and effects for computer animation with a hand-made LEGO projects. For this latest instalment, the
its latest brick stop-motion feel.
Indeed, the movie closely channelled popular
studio continued to make leaps and bounds in
how it brought bricks to life. 3D Artist spoke to
adventure, The ‘brickfilms’ – fan short films produced with real some of the key Animal Logic artists about the
LEGO bricks. To keep that sense of realism, the newest developments.
LEGO Movie 2: CG animation created by Animal Logic for that
The Second Part first film and subsequent releases maintained GLITTER, GLITTER EVERYWHERE
the same articulation restrictions of the physical The 2014 LEGO film happened largely in the
LEGO characters. Much of the world was made mind of Finn, but this time events unfold in the
only in the scope of what could have been imagination of his younger sister Bianca (whose
crafted with actual bricks, too, despite being DUPLO characters made an appearance at the
entirely digital. end of the first movie). That provided Animal


Lego Movie 2 images © 2019 WARNER BROS. ENTERTAINMENT INC.

We had to pay
special attention
on the detailed look
of glitter and how it
responded to light
Emmanuel Blasset
Animal Logic CG supervisor

Logic – which created feature animation for

The LEGO Movie 2 predominantly out of its
Vancouver studio – with a whole new set
of locations and characters to create.
One particular new challenge in the design
of these Bianca-influenced worlds was adding From the initial storyboard phase to final, we take a look at how Animal Logic crafted
glitter. This was both glitter embedded into a single scene in The LEGO Movie 2: The Second Part
LEGO bricks themselves, as well as into clothing.
“We wanted to play on the feeling of a tactile
world and the idea of an arts and crafts world,”
says Animal Logic art director Kristen Anderson.
“There was this whole idea of glitter stickers
as well, which we put not just in characters
themselves, but also in the set.”
Inputting glitter into bricks was a major
challenge, according to CG supervisor
Emmanuel Blasset. “You would think from a
distance that glitter just sparkles and therefore
should be easy. In our macro-photographed
01 Storyboard In this scene, Rex
Dangervest and Emmet (both voiced
by Chris Pratt) find themselves in a jungle.
03 Animation Animal Logic’s
animators now utilise the layout
pass to explore how the characters should
world, everything we create can be seen very The storyboards help flesh out the main story move and behave in the scene. Importantly,
large onscreen across hundreds of shots. We beats and, when edited together, give a sense animators have to abide by a stop-motion-
had to pay special attention on the detailed look of timing and pacing to the film before style feel, keeping to the restrictions of the
of glitter and how it responded to light in very animation commences. articulations of traditional LEGO mini-figures.
complex environments.”
It also proved challenging to make glitter
funny, according to FX supervisor Mark
Theriault. “There’s a shot where these cannons
shoot and it’s supposed to just be a lame display.
It had to look limp and dull. And then there was
a star that barfs glitter. We went through 30
iterations to try and find the funniest barf.”

Not only was there loads of glitter but initially
also a lot of dirt, as seen in Apocalypseburg, the
02 Layout With early models of the
characters, layout artists at Animal
Logic reference the storyboards to take a
04 Lighting Glimpse, Animal Logic’s
proprietary path tracer, is used for
lighting and rendering in the scene. It’s here
post-apocalyptic wasteland that has emerged first pass at how the scene should be staged. that the mood of the shot can be tinkered with.
after the invasion of the DUPLO characters. To Their layout communicates where the Shader overrides can be implemented here,
distribute that dirt, Animal Logic relied on its characters should be in space, and also too, to do things such as make clean bricks
Spawn tool. It enabled artists to weather, age helps with timing and pacing. dirty, or add decals.
and ‘dirtify’ the original landscape in a significant

Glitter was a new major
addition to some of the
characters, based on the
fact the film is influenced
by the imagination of
Bianca, Finn’s sister

way by letting them sprinkle things – even down

to individual grains of sand, dust and dirt – on
their CG sets.
“Our sets are made up of individual pieces,
and there are characters and vehicles and all
those kind of things in it,” outlines CG supervisor
John Rix. “What we had to do was come up with
a technique where, after that was all combined,
we could then distribute all of the dust particles
across the entire area. It was done semi-
procedurally; the dirt was cast onto the surface,
and algorithms enabled it to bunch up more
where it got to corners and to be a little sparser
in open areas.”
“It’s one of those things,” continues Blasset,
“where you could approach the challenge
manually and place every little grain of dust.
While looking great, it would also drive artists to
insanity. Instead we use procedural techniques
and equip artists with a palette of tools enabling
them to describe, from a high level, densities and
projection areas – not too dissimilar to the way
you would tackle grooming for a character: for
instance you don’t place individual hairs. So it’s
about the ability to give a broad directability, yet
retain full control for certain areas that need
special attention.”
For Queen Watevra
Wa’Nabi, Animal Logic
had to augment its 2D FABRICATING FABRICS
approach to facial
decal animation Another of Animal Logic’s proprietary tools
called Weave, used for cloth simulation, was
extended on The LEGO Movie 2 to enable many
of the new characters to have different kinds of

Animal Logic’s
path tracer
Glimpse went
on the film in
order to render
more complex
and characters

Every single one

of those [glitter]
explosions is hand-
Sweet Mayhem
evidenced the
sculpted in LEGO
glitter that Animal
Logic had to insert Digital Designer
into mini-figures
and bricks Mark Theriault
Animal Logic FX supervisor
EVERYTHING IS AWESOME, AGAIN! The film includes an
‘in joke’ about the role
of Chris Pratt (who
voices Emmet and Rex
Dangervest) as a
raptor carer in the
Jurassic World films

Rex Dangervest and

Emmet emerge from a
jungle environment

Life continues, this

time in Apocalypseburg.
The location required
weathering, dirt and a
Lego Movie 2 images © 2019 WARNER BROS. ENTERTAINMENT INC.

general dystopian feel

fabrics in their costumes. In addition, the studio FACING ANIMATION development of Animal Logic’s in-house path
retained a stop-motion look to the fabric, as it The LEGO movies include classic 2D-style trace renderer, Glimpse. Among the
did for the general animation of the characters. animation of the decals on characters’ faces; developments were improvements in shading
A feature of real stop-motion fabric can be the Animal Logic extended its toolset for facial to provide for physically based iridescence
property known as ‘boiling’, where pieces appear animation in this new movie to enable the (including in the character Sweet Mayhem’s
to move as they are bumped in-between frames introduction of these faces across a series hair), more realistic rendered lens flares and
during animation. “I really wanted to capture of multiple bricks. That is because several depth of field (instead of being done more in
that,” notes Theriault. “What I ended up figuring characters, such as the giant DUPLO constructs compositing), and several optimisations of the
out was that, if I created digital hands of a sort and Queen Watevra Wa’Nabi, had faces that renderer to make it work faster. Helping to push
in Houdini and ran a 300-frame sim for every floated around from one brick to another. the Glimpse developments through were
single frame and pinched the fabric, it looked “The queen has a lot of moving bricks that can development lead Michael Balzer and senior
extremely accurate.” be in any position at any time,” notes Rix. “The rendering programmer Luke Emrose.
“Meanwhile,” adds Theriault, “another artist, face has to be on the right bricks at the right
Markus Bruland, put in a ton of work figuring time, and projections have to all be trimmed EXPLOSIONS, BRICK STYLE
out exactly how to get fabric ‘water’. We had appropriately. So it doesn’t look complicated Developments such as Glimpse have helped
fountains of running water, and that’s all made onscreen, but from a mechanical point of view Animal Logic to realise the LEGO movies in
of fabric. We had to work out how we could it was. From an animator’s perspective we made unprecedented detail, while retaining the ability
get fabric to flow like water and also have a it simple for them to do their work.” to keep everything at ‘brick level’. Even when
stop-animation feel. It’s never on ones and it’s required to craft an explosion – which typically
never on twos. It’s on ones, threes, and sixes all GLIMPSE GETS GREATER look ‘fluidy’ or ‘smokey’ in other films – the
at once. Every frame kind of jitters and moves Enabling many of the advancements for studio ensured that bricks were at the centre
and looks very, very real.” the second LEGO movie was the further of everything, and went even further this time.

Animal Logic CG supervisors Emmanuel
Blasset and John Rix discuss the
incredible detail the studio achieved

TOOLS: “The tools themselves to place the

textures are not anything out of industry
norms,” says Rix. “It’s just that we’re
fastidious from a creative point of view
about layering texture after texture after
texture to create all the warpage, the
New and old
characters join the chipped edges, scratches, fingerprints and
fun in this sequel all those kinds of things. It’s just layered up
in our shader. We have proprietary shader
technology to make the shader – we can’t
use the industry standard ones as we’re
using our own internal render, so our tool to
build the shader network is also proprietary.”


of surfaces have become expert in injection
We’re fastidious moulding,” adds Blasset. “They know not
from a creative point just how the process works, but also how
to pick up every little imperfection from the
of view about layering manufacturing process. Whenever we have
to model a new brick and surface it, they use
Take, for example, explosions related to Sweet texture after texture magnifying glasses to really look into the
Mayhem. These were achieved with procedural
replacement animation. “Every single one of
after texture individual detail – exactly where the mould
line was for the injection, where the injection
those explosions is hand-sculpted in LEGO John Rix points were, how the various details look.
Digital Designer (LDD),” says Theriault. “We Animal Logic CG supervisor They really love investigating all those little
built them in LDD, and then we just did details to make it all as realistic a depiction
replacement animation like you would with as possible.”
stop-motion films. We’re not just taking an For large explosions, Animal Logic also
explosion and converting it to bricks. We’re modelled what it called ‘mega bricks’, which WEAR AND TEAR: “We try to layer the
actually sculpting each frame of the brick and were essentially giant LEGO bricks made out of history of the bricks and the love that the
triggering it so it feels more like stop motion.” smaller LEGO bricks. “They’re ten times the kids would have had to play with them for
FX artist Clementine Lo also realised that LDD scale of a normal brick and ten times the amount so many years, so micro-scratches,
files revealed how bricks are connected, and she of bricks”, Theriault reveals. “The modelling abrasions and fingermarks are a big part,”
wrote a new tool that could accurately tell department created an entire library of these explains Blasset. “We always amaze
simulation software what these connections amazing mega bricks, and we re-wrote our tool ourselves looking at the big posters and the
meant. Theriault explains, “If you had two plates for the brick conversion so that you could marketing artwork that is produced at 10,
of LEGO and they were connected by two studs, convert a LEGO converted object into these 20, 30K, and we see all these details come
that’s obviously weaker than if it’s connected by mega bricks. There is an explosion in the movie out, including the serial number, the patent
six studs. Clementine built glue networks based where each brick is made up of about 1,000 number that we embed in every individual
on the connections the actual model would bricks, so in total I think it’s something like 10 brick. It’s pretty impressive when we get
have, so when things broke they broke at weak million bricks. It’s a really massive explosion that a chance to see that.”
spots, with correct clustering and grouping.” we kind of converted in an abstract way.”

Lego Movie 2 images © 2019 WARNER BROS. ENTERTAINMENT INC.

New developments
in lens flares and
depth of field
were built into
Animal Logic’s
Glimpse renderer
for the film

THE ART OF geometry and actually created a three-

dimensional colouring book. That’s all traditional
ART DIRECTION animation, actually drawn on paper.
“After we did that,” continues Theriault, “the
Art director Kristen Anderson discusses
colouring book throughout the movie grew.
her approach, including the tools she
Colouring books and crayon drawings now pop
uses to get designs up and running
up throughout the film. That was a pretty cool
thing, to know that we all physically drew frames
for the film.”
Indeed, this approach was indicative of
Animal Logic’s approach to The LEGO Movie 2,
I try and present which was to input a hand-crafted feel as much
as possible, despite the high-tech CG on show.
small camera moves Theriault himself went to great lengths in order
to ensure that even the most fantastical LEGO
as early as possible, shots could still be somewhat achievable with
The main tool I used was Maya. I also just
played around a bit in LEGO Digital Designer
just to bring the real LEGO bricks.
“There’s a shot where there’s floating bricks,
[a free-to-download tool from LEGO]. It’s
actually really powerful for a little freebie
set to life and those floating bricks form Sweet Mayhem’s
ship,” he says. “People will watch that and they’ll
program. We just throw things together in
Kristen Anderson go, ‘That’s not stop motion. That can’t be done
there, and then manipulate them in Maya.
Animal Logic art director in real life.’ But I took a LEGO model, and I
In Maya I get in and move things around, realised that if you lace fishing line through the
and I try and present small camera moves as COLOURING BOOKS, CREATIVITY LEGO model and pull the fishing line, it makes
early as possible – just to bring the set to life, AND MORE TACTILE TECH the pieces pop off. I laced every single piece of
because you can present a whole series of Colouring books also feature in the film – a look the model as I built it, and if you pull the string
stills, but it won’t really mean much to the that was championed by Theriault. “I created it pops the brick off.
director until they can feel like they’re in that a colouring book shader, rendered it in Houdini, “Then I bought a fish tank, put the model in
environment. So just the smallest camera and then printed it on the colour printer at work. the bottom of it, filled it with water, swirled the
move you can bring always helps. I printed colouring book lines on paper and then water around and pulled the fishing line, which
We also do paint-overs on top of stills. handed out a bunch of colouring book pages to made the bricks pop off and swirl around. Then I
And, early on, we do sketches on everything. people. The director coloured some. Trish, our played it in reverse, so all the bricks float in a big
Sometimes I’ll have a sticky note, or co-director, coloured some. I coloured a bunch cloud and then reform the ship.
something that is really a scrap piece of too. The effects team coloured a bunch. “I wouldn’t allow anything in this movie to be
paper. I’ll take a photo of that, and there’s “Then I took those pieces of paper and done if we couldn’t physically do it in the real
your design! scanned them back in with the colour printer world. There are things that I don’t think people
at work, and then re-projected it back onto the will believe, but we have proof for everything.”

Expert advice from industry professionals, taking you from concept to completion
All tutorial files can be downloaded from:

Make a short film
using Blender EEVEE
Get to grips with Blender
2.8 and the real-time
renderer EEVEE, to
create complex projects

ast year I made a short film called Spectral: In this
breakdown, we will analyse the basic steps for making
a short film, from the initial phase up to the post-
production phases. We will focus on using the renderer
EEVEE, which enables us to experiment with and handle
this type of project in a new and innovative way.



01 The concept As the title of my project suggests,

Spectral describes a reality where humankind as
we know it doesn’t exist anymore. What remains is
the iconographic spectre outclassed by an out-of-control
technological growth. The storytelling structure has been
developed from initial draft sketches and keywords. From
this beginning, the rest of the world of Spectral is
subsequently defined.
Spectral, 2018 02 Set up the scenario Once the theme and the style
have been defined, a graphic section of the camera
path is created to get an idea of the overall scene scale, and
Italian 3D artist and concept to help decide how to further split the work. After an initial
designer with over 15 years of analysis, this short film will be divided into six main scenes,
experience for clients such as
Fox Networks Group Italy, enabling a clearer assessment of the assets required to
Turner and Discovery Media. complete the project.
Blender 2.8 Beta, Blender
2.79, Inkscape
Learn how to
03 Block the structure After defining the structure, the
scene blocking is created. This step will, later on,
help to define the camera layout, and it is also important

• Analyse the concept because the overall spaces, as well as the action areas, are
• Plan out the scenes defined here. This step will help to limit the risk of errors in
• Create a cinematic camera the following steps.
• Set up PBR materials for
real-time rendering
• Set up the post-
processing effects The dawn of a new era
• Optimise EEVEE When you create something with few resources and
• Post-produce the little time available, often the phase that suffers most
final rendering
is pre-production. In this sense, Eevee is innovative
Concept because it enables you to test what you have in mind
I’ve always been fascinated in real time and then manipulate it until you reach the
by rendering in real time,
and with the introduction desired result. To begin, you only need a draft, a sketch
of Blender 2.8 and its new and a structure of the concept, and from there you can
real-time renderer, I decided
to experiment with it on a create with the same flexibility that you have when
sci-fi short film. you manipulate a block of clay.


• Tutorial screenshots
• Video tutorial

By using Eevee, it is possible
to deliver changes in terms of
topology or appearance, and
to instantly evaluate the impact
on the final shot
04 Use the collections To manage a complex work,
it is essential to optimise and order the different
deliverables. Blender 2.8 is an excellent tool as it has now
introduced ‘collection’ – a layer-based system that easily
enables the user to organise scene items. In the creation
of Spectral, this feature has proved to be an essential tool
to continuously keep the scenes tidy and clean.

05 Create a cinematic camera movement The camera

movement for Spectral is a single long shot to
give the viewer the perception that something living is
experiencing this journey themselves. The first difference
experienced with this approach is how the workflow
changes into a single stream, giving us the chance to
evaluate in real-time DOF, volumetric effects, reflections,
refractions and many other subtle effects. This presents
the chance to visually assess the render details of the
scene assets and to immediately define their priorities in
the shot. By using EEVEE, it is possible to deliver changes
in terms of topology or appearance, and to instantly
evaluate the impact on the final shot.

06 Pushing the DOF In Spectral I could take

advantage of EEVEE’s capabilities to focus more on
the creative aspects, rather than on the technical ones. For
example, the DOF here is used in a strange way: Firstly, it
helps to quickly identify those geometries that don’t
require a high level of detail, so you can bring in low-poly
models where needed to better exploit hardware
resources. Secondly, it helps to create a sense of confusion
in the viewer, to align with the mood of the short film.

06 07
07 Modules are the way After the blocking and layout
definition phases, environment and final props
modelling takes place. To reduce the modelling time, the
assets here are designed as repeatable modules. This
approach enables you to create a large number of scenes
quickly by duplicating the module to a satisfying level of
detail. The modelling technique adopted for most of the
models here is the classic box modelling. Procedural-driven
bevels and split edges are used to add further detail to the
models, using the native modifiers that Blender provides.

The importance of structure

Many of us create by starting with an idea that then
turns into creative chaos, so it is essential to define
a structure in order to keep your project in shape.
The fundamental points of this structure are theme,
reference and final. Theme: to be clear about what
we want to talk about. Reference: defining the visual
imagery in which we want to immerse the viewer, or
our point of view on the topic. Final: how the story will
end, in order to have our ‘lighthouse in the fog’.



Music is vital to short films

For Spectral, the music was the key to getting started
and you should always have it in mind when creating
projects like this. You could start by choosing music
similar to the concepts and themes you want to
create. It doesn’t matter that it’s not the final piece
of music – it will still help to give rhythm and body to
the images and their succession. Futhermore, the
composers on your project will then have a basic
structure from which they can start working.

08 Metaballs modelling Another interesting aspect

in use in this project is the utilisation of metaballs
to rapidly prototype an industrial robot arm. I think that
metaballs in Blender should be redesigned and revived,
especially when you consider that this modelling approach
is making a return (for example, Cinema 4D R20
volumetric modelling has been reworked using OpenVDB).

09 Set the texture projection Almost all the texture

projections have been computed by using triplanar
mapping, avoiding to manually generate UV sets in order

to maximise the automation process. This is pretty nifty as

it enables you to share the same material on meshes with
different topological structures. The remaining projections
were created using planar mapping and are used on
information boards.

10 Design the infographic In order to have a continuity

of style, a table of infographics patterns and logos
are created and later inserted into various scenes of the
short, for example, in the split room and cocoon scene. To
make these graphics, I use Inkscape, which is an excellent
open-source vector graphics editor.

11 PBR material setup After the modelling phase, it’s

time to move onto shading and lighting. Here, I used a
PBR-based approach to define the appearance in Spectral,
using the principled shader for all the materials. For
example, the shader used for the terrain in the initial scene
is based on a set of textures from Texture Haven (a site
that provides free textures to generate photogrammetric
materials). The sole changes adopted in material definition
here are to colour-correct the albedo and Roughness map
to achieve a more interesting result in the overall mood.


12 15

12 Setting up the lights After the shading phase, the

different scenes are lit, mostly using area lights and,
less frequently, spot lights to create interesting volumetric
effects, as can be seen in scene three of Spectral. Thanks
to the screen space reflection, which delivers reflection
based on the frame view, emissive panels are used here
to simulate interesting reflection effects.

13 Set up EEVEE To maximise the render quality, all

EEVEE functionalities are enabled. This is achieved
by flagging the different options in the Render tab on the
right side of the interface. Here we can find all the different
post-processing effects that make EEVEE one of the most
powerful real-time rendering engines. An additional feature
available in EEVEE is the option to grade the colour as if
images were generated in Cycles: this feature makes it
possible to use the Filmic colour space, applying a tone
map capable of rendering a balanced image that has the
right contrasts, with no highlights or overexposure.

14 Set up the volume One of the most important

post-process effects is volumetric lighting, which
enables us to create complex and realistic effects regarding
volume lighting simulation. In Spectral, it has been used
pretty frequently, especially in the initial sequence, where
a dense fog appears. In this specific case, the volumetric
effect worked to emphasise the shot narration.

15 Optimise the scene After setting up EEVEE, you

should carry out a render test. This will optimise the
output by finding the right balance between sampling
quality and speed. Regarding the rendering time, Spectral
completely renders in almost six hours, with an average
value of five to eight seconds per frame. The rendering
time increases only in cases where a high DOF effect has
been used in the frame.

Beyond the limits

The creation of Spectral was a very interesting
challenge for me. Blender EEVEE performed well; and
this short demonstrates the power of real-time
rendering and EEVEE’s ability to emphasise and push
the creative possibilities of every 3D artist to the limits.


16 Ready for post-production After the rendering phase is completed, the whole
sequence can be imported into After Effects to start the finishing phase. The
post-processing effects that come with EEVEE give a final-frame appearance that’s pretty
near to a composited frame, especially when compared to those obtained out of the
beauty pass of classic rendering engines. The ability to insert volumetric and optical
effects and edit them in real time also helps to considerably reduce the look-dev phase. Emiliano Colantoni
Emiliano is an Italian 3D artist and concept
designer with over 15 years of experience.
His works range from illustration to digital
sculpture and through to video direction, and
they explore the relationship between man and
machine, nature and technological progress.

Wasp Bot, 2015

Blender 2.76
In this illustration, I tried to create a science fiction
character inspired by the insect kingdom.


The Gabber, 2017

Substance Designer
I tried to create a futuristic vision of a gabber in this
illustration using Substance Designer.

17 Using external resources To realise Spectral, various external resources have been
used, including PBR textures from Texture Haven and a 3D element from a kitbash
from Jama Jurabaev. In addition, a few sculptures obtained from the Scan the World project
12, 2017
Blender 2.78
have been utilised for the sanctuary shot. Finally, with regard to the plugins in the final In this illustration, I created a futuristic dead pilot.
shot, Graswald has been used to generate a plant and subsequently duplicated.

64 All tutorial files can be downloaded from:


Neeraj Menon
Neeraj is a freelance artist working
Incredible 3D artists take us behind their artwork in Pune, India. He works as a comic
colourist and concept artist with
POST PRODUCTION This was an experiment to see how much of the clients worldwide.
character design process I could finalise within 3D. I was able to reach Software ZBrush, Marvelous
about 80 per cent of the final look by the render stage. I wanted to get as Designer, KeyShot, Photoshop
close to my initial sketches as possible. The finished model was rendered
using one of the standard indoor HDRi environment lighting setups. Qhel, 2018


Make hi-res props in
Substance Designer
Suji bachi kabuto,
Discover how to create props, like this Japanese helmet, using
2019 displaced materials and sculpt shapes directly in Substance Designer

T 03
French environment artist, his traning will cover how to build a Japanese Create the nose bridge Create a paraboloid
Vincent, started working helmet in Substance Designer. This prop is going shape and subtract a gradient axial to crop in it.
in the games industry in
2010 and is now a texture to be composed of a simple 3D shape, on which we Directional warp it and mirror it. To smoothen it, create a
environment artist at Ubisoft will apply high-definition materials with displacement. The clamp blur using a blend and a histogram scan as a mask.
Québec, in Canada.
UV unwrap will set up the material structure, which is Improve the overall volume by clamping the height with a
Software going to be broken down into main graphs called Helmet, level, slightly moving the mid value. Then add a transform
Substance Designer, 3ds Mask, Props and Neck, as well as sub-graphs. Those (to move it horizontally) and a mirror to obtain the final
Max, Marmoset Toolbag 3
secondary graphs will contain tools or little height parts, shape of the nose bridge. Use a transform with no tiling to
Learn how to such as knots, and be instantiated in order to save time. place the nose in the middle of the mask that we drew in
• Create atlas materials
All the main graphs will handle Height maps first, from the previous step.
• Sculpt volumes in
Substance Designer general to particular, before creating the Albedo and
• Generate HD models Roughness maps to become a full PBR material.
with displacement
The idea behind this project
was to create an iconic and
01 Set up the project Start by creating the helmet in
3D in simple shapes, and unwrap your UVs. This 3D
model is going to be the base on which we will apply our
challenging art piece, a
Japanese helmet, or kabuto. materials. The different parts of the Japanese helmet will
I wanted to practise volume be in separate graphs for the helmet, mask, neck and
creation in Substance
Designer, using tessellation props. In Substance Designer, create a new project with a
to create a high-resolution separate graph for each part. Each one of these graphs will
model with atlas materials.
need to be created using metallic roughness in 2K and 16
bits at a minimum. In the material edit option of each
graph, activate the tessellation and scale to see your
updates on the graphs as you work.

02 Draw the mask In the Mask graph, create an SVG

node as a new resource, select it in the explorer
view and set its quality to 1. Using the pen in Path mode,
draw half of the mask silhouette. If you want to round up
a selection, you can use an edge detect and clamp it with
a blend. Mirror the result, then use a non-uniform blur to
enhance the mask volume. Be careful to set the Samples
and Blades options to the maximum to avoid artifacts.
Clamp it with an auto level and blend a slight bevel in.
Multiply to add some thickness to the shape. Don’t forget
to add an opacity output to isolate the elements you are
working on.
Shape blender
When you blend two volumes in Max mode,
subtract your previous volume from the one you’ve
just combined. It isolates the outer part of the volume
you max-blended. Now clamp it with a histogram
scan and add an edge detect to select the outline.
Blur that selection, and you now have the mask of the
YOUR intersection of your two volumes. Go back on to blend
FREE max step, blur it slightly, and blend it with itself
according to the mask you have just created. That way
DOWNLOADS you can smooth the intersection of two separate
• Tutorial screenshots elements and have something that feels less artificial.



Again, using levels will

help you to adjust the value
intensity and, consequently,
the position of the
different elements

04 Merging the nostrils As in the previous step,

create a simple shape representing a nostril, and
mirror it. Blend it in Max mode with the nose bridge to
obtain the full nose. Now blend the nose and nose bridge
onto each other in subtract mode, clamp it with a
histogram scan and use edge detect to select the nostrils
and nose bridge intersection. Blur the nose and blend it on
the non-blurred version according to the selection you just
created. This setup will enable you to create smooth
intersections. Now blend the nose and the mask together,
using Levels to control the placement of each element.
05 06

05 Create the cheekbones and chin Use simple

shapes, and subtract them from each other or
draw in SVGs to create the cheekbone silhouettes. Use a
Non Uniform Blur to enhance your volumes and play with
the asymmetry option to give it a direction. Mirror the
result to create the two cheekbones, and use a level to
clamp it. Blend the result on the mask with the nose.
Create the chin the same way, starting with a simple
silhouette, and enhance it with a Non Uniform Blur, bevel
and subtracted shapes. For the chin, trapezoid transforms
can come in handy to get an interesting shape.

06 The mouth Create a capsule shape using shapes or

SVG, which we will can deform using directional
warps and trapezoid transforms to create the mouth
silhouette. Bevel the result and subtract it from the mask.
In a separate SVG, draw every tooth, and bevel/blur those
to enhance their volumes. Blend it in Max mode with the
mask to put the teeth inside the mouth. Again, using levels
will help you to adjust the value intensity and,
07 08
consequently, the position of the different elements.

07 The hairs Using two separate SVGs, draw the hairs

for the mask sides. Bevel those in positive and
negative values before blending them together with a low
opacity. Isolate the hairs silhouette with a histogram scan
and use Non Uniform Blur, playing with the asymmetry to
darken the bottom. Now blend the result in and multiply
the hairs to give a direction. To pinch the volumes, plug it
in a Mosaic greyscale (Samples 16, Intensity -0.25) with
a slightly blurred version as a mask.

08 Fine details Now that all the structure is here, we

can add furrows and holes by creating separate
shapes with transforms or SVG and subtract those from
the mask. It will create places where we can later add knots
and metal nails. We can also slightly multiply Grunge maps
or slope blur the overall mask to add an extra porosity that
will greatly help the surface definition. To clean or simplify
a noise before applying it, you can slope blur it on itself; it
will create interesting porosity results.


09 Neck layout Using shape intersections with

transform, directional warps or an SVG, draw the
neck structure. It really depends on your design and the
UVs of your 3D model. Use a negative bevel to provide
thickness, then a bevelled edge detect to obtain a simple,
thick edge. Finally, create separate elements like nails or
stitches, which you can then place by hand with transforms
and blend in Max mode on the neck, playing with levels to
adjust their position.

10 Varnish surface Isolate some part of a Perlin Noise

using a Histogram Scan. Non Uniform Blur it (int 5,
Ani 1, Asy 1, Angle 90, Samples 16, Blades 1) with an invert
version as a Blur map. Use Edge detect to inflate the
selection, and blend it using Add mode with a vertical
squeeze clamped Perlin Noise. Non-uniform blur the result
with itself to push it slightly (int 5, Ani 0.5, Asy 0.5, Angle
270, Samples 16, Blades 9). To finish, blur the result and
blend it with a low opacity on the neck lines to obtain
a varnish surface.

10 11
11 Knots In a separate graph called ‘Vertical-Knot’,
create a shape that will be instanced to decorate
the neck. Create a gradient, make it tile vertically, rotate
it 45 degrees with Safe Transform, then multiply a vertical
gradient on it. Blend it in Max mode with a mirror version
of itself, and enhance it with a level. Transform it with
only vertical tiling and a slight blur. This height can be
duplicated, warped and stacked to create different versions
of knots in different graphs.

12 Neck decoration Drag and drop your knots into the

Neck graph to instantiate those. You can place them
by hand with a non-tillable Transform or with a tile sampler
using the pattern inputs. To bring more variety to the neck,
create metallic nails that are round or star-shaped. Any
empty spaces can be filled with metallic props like nails or
rings to decorate parts of the helmet.

13 The helmet The helmet is the simplest graph,

composed of two horizontal trims at the top and
bottom and vertical ones for decoration. It can be created
by hand with SVG or automatised with a tile sampler. To
give more rhythm and credibility we can add simple
parabloid shapes like nails. For the medium shapes, simply
slope blur some cloud, and add it subtlely on the height
with a low opacity. Some porosity can be added in the
same way using Grunge maps.



14 Props graph, drawing the maedate Create a new

graph called ‘Props’ and set it up like the Mask,
Helmet and Neck graphs. Create an SVG to draw the
maedate – a sort of decorative crest. Draw each part with
a different greyscale value. Use a clamped edge detect to
isolate the silhouette. To achieve a good thickness, first
create a positive bevel then a negative one, and blend those
together with a low opacity. Finally, clamp it with a level
to tone down the range value of the height. After this, place
the crest on the right part of the material to optimise
texture space.

15 Maedate polish Create a new SVG for one part of

the crest to work on separately. Use edge detects
to create concentric lines. Bevel the result at 0.02 and
multiply it to use on top of the crest height. Repeat the step
for each crest petal. This way you will control the number
and thickness of the furrows on your shapes. Along the
crest, create a long tiling line at the top to map the helmet
rope, then on the bottom left corner make a little grid that
will be mapped at the top of the helmet.
15 16

16 Create the knot Combine a rectangle shape and

a disc to create an inverse U shape, or draw it in
a SVG. Use an edge detect to draw the outer line, and
then remove the bottom part to open the shape. Next,
transform your paraboloid to directional warp the bottom
of the shape until the extremities almost touch. If you
want to smooth your silhouette, use an edge detect,
clamped with the previous step. Enhance the volumes
of your shape using a Non Uniform Blur, clamped with
a Level, and then lighten the bottom part of your knot
with a gradient blend at 0.4 opacity.

17 Knots interlacing Using the same technique,

create a small, secondary knot that will interlace
with the big one at the bottom right corner. By hand, using
a non-tillable transform node or Splatter Circular, place four
instances of that knot so they interlace with each other.
Do not hesitate to place the four knots and then go back
to adjust your knot shapes. Using a hand-placed paraboloid
in multiply could help you to adjust your knot placements.
To inflate your volume a bit you can use a Mosaic greyscale
or Slope Blur, and plug a slightly blurred version of your
volume as a secondary input.

To achieve a good
thickness, create a positive
bevel then a negative one

2D image as a guide
Substance Designer enables you to use transparent
2D images as a guide. It really comes in handy when
you want to achieve a specific shape. In order to
do this, go into the 2D view and click on the top
left button called Background Image. Upload your
reference or concept, and you can even play with
an opacity cursor to see more or less clearly. It will
help you to fit with your design, follow a shape, curve
with accuracy and iterate faster.


18 Main cord and hanging parts Create a vertical gradient and squeeze it with a
non-tillable transform. Using a tile sampler, or by hand with Transform, create a
tiling horizontal gradient that tiles six times. Use it in a Directional Warp to deform the
vertical gradient you created earlier. Now blend this deform gradient with a mirrored and
slightly offset version of itself. Enhance the volume with a Level and blend it with the knots.
Using the same technique, create hanging decorative parts and place those under the Vincent Dérozier
knots. Then create some simple shapes to use as a metallic ring to finish the knot. Vincent is a French environment artist. He started
working in the games industry in 2010 and is now
a texture environment artist in Canada. His most
recent role was as an environment material artist
on Assassin’s Creed Odyssey.

Assassin’s Creed Snake Kit, 2018

3ds Max, ZBrush, Substance Designer
This prop is a modular snake made for Assassin’s Creed
Odyssey. The head was sculpted in ZBrush while the body
was done entirely in Substance Designer.


Cliff Slates recipe, 2018

Substance Designer
Cliff Slate material, done entirely in Substance Designer.
The cliff and clutter are from two different graphs, put
on tessellate geometry and rendered in Marmoset.

19 Albedo and roughness maps For the albedo and roughness maps, simply create
solid colour and grey values, slightly darkening the valleys and lightening the peaks.
Then, using the Dirt and Dust generator, create a simple mask that will drive the patina of Assassin’s Creed procedural sculpts, 2018
Marmoset Toolbag, Maya, ZBrush, Photoshop
your surfaces. Be sure to add your opacity mask in the basecolor alpha channel using an A material sculpt completed during the production
RGBA Merge if you plan to export your maps to Marmoset. Pay attention to your normal of Assassin’s Creed Odyssey, where I was responsible
and height synchronisation to avoid tessellation artifacts when using it. Height values that for the architectural materials.
are too intense or noisy will result in weird deformations.

72 All tutorial files can be downloaded from:

Expert advice from industry professionals, taking you from concept to completion
All tutorial files can be downloaded from:

3ds Max, Unfold3D

Create stylised
Character artist and
rope for production
generalist, creating
characters and props
for cinematics and games.
Brush modelling is hugely popular in the CG
industry, but sometimes artists need to get back
to basics, fix something and not simply redo
03 Finalise the shape To get the shape that you
want, you’ll need to add one more Ripple modifier.
To do this, you can simply copy the first ripple and paste it
everything all over again. In this tutorial, we will make into the Modifier Stack – but be sure that you don’t make
a rope using 3ds Max and fix the shape without damaging an instance copy. The previous ripple will mix with the next
the silhouette and form. This approach is great for one, and it will give you a nice result. Check that the values
production and animation, as well as for game models. decreased by half in the second Ripple modifier. It should
look like this: Wave Length 50, Amplitude 1-10 and

01 Spline The first step in creating the rope is with

three lines, like you find in a plaited pigtail hairstyle.
First of all you will need to turn on snap mode and then
Amplitude 2-10. After that, rotate the Ripple modifier
to 90 degrees on the z-axis.

create a spline with 20, 30 or 40 points. You will get a

better result if you set each point to each step of the grid.
After that turn on ‘Enable in Renderer’ and ‘Enable in the
04 Moving and welding The next step is pretty
straightforward to do but requires accuracy. Copy
the spline in the z-axis two times, and you should see the
Viewport’, and then set the value in the spline settings shape like a pigtail hairstyle. Of course, this length might be
window. I started by working with 20 points. too short for the rope you want, so if that’s the case, then
YOUR you can simply convert it all to editable poly and collapse

FREE 02 Proper waves Assign the Ripple modifier and
set Wave Length 100, Amplitude 1 -20, Amplitude
2-20. It will give you nice waves. Then move the Ripple
everything (right-click and Collapse all). It is important to
delete all history from your object – use Reset XForm to help
you with this. Now you are able to attach pieces. Copy them
modifier to the centre of the scene (bottom of the spline) and then weld the endpoint. Don’t forget to delete caps from
• Tutorial screenshots
and rotate at 90 degrees around the z-axis. the ends.

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01 02


Sometimes artists need to get

back to basics, fix something and
not simply redo everything all
over again



Alternative methods
There are a few other ways to create the same rope,
for example, create IMM brush for ZBrush, and use
ZSpheres instead of splines.

We can also change the mesh

after adding the PDB modifier.
Scale it down, rotate or model it.
It’s a pretty useful method to keep
everything editable until the end

05 Create a main path Now it’s time to create

a circle spline with a knot and use it as a path for our
pigtail from the previous step. Start with a circle spline from
the Shapes tab – just a usual circle, nothing special. Then
convert this shape to the spline with right-click>Convert
to>Editable Spline. Now we’re able to manipulate the points
and lines inside the spline. Also, chamfer one of the points
and delete the line between. It will give us two ends, which
will be attached to the knot spline.

06 Create a knot shape There are two ways to

create a knot shape. The first way is to use simple
splines, moving points and lines. However, I usually use the
torus knot from the Extended Primitives tab, with settings
like this: P to 2, Q to 3 and Sides to 3. It will give you a nice,
simple knot. Convert it to editable poly, create an edge loop
and turn it into the shape. Then delete the knot mesh.

07 Creating an entire shape We have the main

path spline and the knot spline. All we need to do is
to attach the knot spline to the main spline. But before this,
rotate and move your knot spline and delete two segments
to make it a knot shape. Attach it to the main spline and
weld the endpoints. Now our path is done.

08 Path deform So how we will turn our pigtail

around our character? It’s easy – just use the
standard Path Deform Binding modifier. Select the pigtail
mesh and pick a path (the main spline). The first time you
do this it will give a bad result. To avoid this issue, click Move
to Path and change it to the z-axis. After that, change the
stretch and rotation for a better result. We can also change
the mesh after adding the PDB modifier. Scale it down,
rotate or model it. It’s a pretty useful method to keep
everything editable until the end.

09 12


09 Match the character After scaling down and

playing with the settings, there’s still a chance to
change the main path, because it is editable spline. Move the
spline to the character and move points and segments. Fix
the knot shape a bit and control the tension.

10 Adding details Now it’s time to add two big lines.

I used a simple spline for this. Just create two shapes,
convert them to editable spline, match the proper forms
and use the Visible in Viewport button. After that, turn
everything into editable poly. This way it is much easier for
modelling and also for simulations.

11 Merging Before sending the mesh to unwrap and

animate, I usually delete all unused caps that will never
be visible, especially caps after converting splines to the
mesh. They will cause a lot of problems at the UV stage,
so don’t forget to clean up the entire mesh. Also, the PDB
modifier can’t be collapsed in the usual way. Instead, use
‘Collapse to’ after right-clicking on the Modifier Stack. Finally,
attach detail pieces to the main rope.

12 Unwrap I really like Unfold3d, and it’s easy to create

UVs for this rope. Just select a loop along the entire
surface on each tube and click ‘C’ to cut and ‘U’ to unwrap.
After that, make all the pieces rectangular as much as you
can. Use the Rectangularize button for this to get great
results that will help during the texturing stage.

After that, turn everything

into editable poly. This way it is
much easier for modelling and
also for simulations

Braided hair
There is a nice free script available that will help you to
avoid the modelling stage. ‘Braided hair’ by Reza Asaie
helps to create nice pigtails with controls.

All tutorial files can be downloaded from: 77



Create photorealistic
arch viz with Blender
Self-taught CG artist born here are some secrets to producing photorealistic a realistic result, making light pass through the fabric
and raised in Argentina. renders of architecture with Blender that we will and project the shadows of the patterns of the curtain.
Jonatan is a Blender
enthusiast who is developing explain in this training. We’ll delve into some No object or texture in the world is safe from
himself as a freelancer. concepts and will see how to make materials in Blender’s imperfections; objects are in contact with other objects
Node Editor, rendering them based on their physics. and with us. That’s why we will also learn to add scratches,
No texture in the real world is composed of a single spots, dust and particles to our textures so that we have
material – all texture is an imperfect mixture of different reusable nodes for other projects. To be able to reuse all
components – so we will start working with masks and these nodes, we will learn how to generate groups of
textures in greyscale that will enable intelligent mixing editable and completely customisable nodes.
and full control of shaders. I’ll also explain the lack of 90-degree angles in the real
Once we have our assembled textures we can world, and we will solve this either with a destructive bevel
understand how to use nodes such as the Color Ramp or by using the Bevel Modifier. We will also add lamps in
node to control the contrast and the weight of each value the portal’s format to help the Cycles rendering engine
that’s mixed. This will help with precise control over what to calculate the direction of the light.
we want to show in the final render. When making a photorealistic render, it’s important to
In previous versions of Blender, we used the Geometry remember that what we have to imitate is how reality looks
YOUR node and its ‘pointiness’ option to work on the edges of through the lens of a camera and not how our eye sees

FREE the models. This method enabled us to add textures to

our models because, like in the real world, objects usually
reality. This is why we will be adding chromatic aberration
to our final render in post production.
DOWNLOADS have worn textures at the edges. However, in the newer
• Tutorial screenshots
version of Blender, we can use the Bevel node to identify
the edges. We will use this to texture a curtain to obtain 01 PBR texturing The Principled BSDF combines
multiple layers into a single, simple node. It is based

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01 02

on the Disney principled model, also known as the ‘PBR’

shader, making it compatible with other software. This is the
node you will be using the most to texture your models. I use
the metal/roughness workflow that uses the base colour,
Metallic map and the Roughness map. You may add optional
maps like the AO and Height map into the workflow. Then
you have Normal, Emissive and Transmission maps, in case
you need them.

02 Basic masking It is usually a good idea to mix the

base colour image texture with another colour or
texture using a non-colour data image. In order to achieve
this, we need to use the image that will be used as a mask
and connect it to the ‘fac’ on the Mix node. Also, depending
on the value embed on the mask, we need to connect the
base colour image texture to the first or second colour
socket of the Mix node. When we are using an image as
a mask, we need to remember that black is the Mix node’s
first socket and white is the second socket.

03 Advanced masking There are several ways to

have extra control of any mask we create in Blender.
Having learned the initial concept of the ‘fac’ socket in the
Mix node, we can apply this knowledge to add the Color
Ramp node and tweak the contrast between the blacks and
whites or zeros and ones. Squeezing the contrast will let
us discover every piece of detail in the texture image.
Multiplying two greyscaled image textures with these
example masks will enable us to use both masks for our
purposes. Multiplying black and black or black and white will
give us black as the result, and white will be the result of
multiplying only white and white.

04 Bevel node In previous versions of Blender, the

well known way to isolate object edges to use as
a mask for the worn edges effect was the Geometry node,
using the ‘pointiness’ socket. In Blender 2.8 there is the new
Bevel node. This node will enable us – with a bit of vector
maths help – to isolate the edges so we can use it as a mask.
We need to subtract the ‘normal texture coordinate’ from
the Bevel node. We can then use the ‘value’ socket with
a Color Ramp node to enhance the contrast. In order to
achieve a better result, we can multiply the Noise Texture
node with the Vector Math node. You will get a worn edges
mask that you will can place in a colour mix fac and have full
control over edges.



05 Curtain texturing A well modelled curtain can

make an interior look much better, but if it’s not
textured properly it can drag the render down in terms
of realism and lighting. It is indispensable when making
a curtain and balancing the diffuse surface with the
translucent aspect. In the Node Editor you need to add
a basic greyscaled pattern that you can use as a translucent
mask, a height value for the Bump map and a mask to mix
the colour you want the curtain to have. When you use
fabrics in your scene, play with the sheen and clearcoat
values in the Principled shader, as this may improve the look
of the material.

06 Imperfections I’ve found that a lot of arch-viz art

lacks realism and appears soulless, with no mood
at all. Most of the time it is due to the extremely clean
surfaces on every single material in the scene. That’s why it’s
important to add in imperfections. At this point, we know
the theory of the nodes’ behaviours. Everything will be
greyscaled maps, colour ramps and colour mixers. We need
to use the imperfection mask combined with the original
Height map of the texture. We should also multiply it by
the roughness information: doing this will affect the entire
texture behaviour with the Imperfection map. This example
contains a single Imperfection map, but feel free to use as
many as you like.

07 Node groups When working to tight deadlines,

it’s important to optimise your time. Redoing the
same materials every time you have to produce a wooden
floor will steal a lot of your creativity and refinement time.
That’s why creating node groups while you work is a good
idea. In order to get a node group, press Cmd/Ctrl+G on the
selected nodes and choose which values will be available in
the collapsed group for you to modify quickly, without having
to enter into the group every time. In the example on the
right the strength of the Bump node is chosen.

08 Importance of Bevel There are few 90-degree

angles in the real world. This basic premise will be
of huge importance when you are recreating the real world
in 3D software. When we create a basic and primitive shape
like a cube form in any 3D software such as Blender, you
will get an unreal, sharp object. This is where bevels come
in: We can use a destructive way to create bevels on the
objects in edit mode with Cmd/Ctrl +B or use the non-
destructive approach with the Bevel Modifier. You can see
in the lamp holder how the bevel generates a thin reflection
on the lit side.

09 12

09 Portals Cycles is not the perfect render engine for

interiors yet. A lot of development has been done
recently to this render engine, but there is still much more
to do. That’s why today there are several ways to help it to
calculate the light direction and light bounces. Portals are the
most important tools for interior rendering with Cycles. This
resource has an easy approach; just add an area lamp and
select Portals under the settings of the lamp, and then you
need to position the portals to cover the space where the
direct or indirect light is coming from.

10 Filmic Filmic adds a more photorealistic view to

transform your renders. According to the writer
of the script, Troy Sobotka, Filmic does two things: it
compresses the scene’s referred linear radiometric energy
values down to the display/output referred range, which
is known as a transfer function or tone mapping; and it
compresses the gamut for high-intensity values. As colour
ratios increase in intensity, highly saturated ratios tend to
be resistant to transfer function compression, which tends to
result in unnatural imagery, with some regions feeling
appropriately over-exposed and others lingering behind. You
will find this option available on render under the Color
Management tab in the view transform table.

11 Chromatic aberration Lens imperfections and

distortions are very important to sell the final render.
Nevertheless, every choice you make from now on is
an artistic decision. I found chromatic aberration to be
mesmerising; this effect is actually a failure of a lens to focus
all the colours to the same point and is caused by dispersion.
As it’s caused by dispersion, you need a Lens Distortion
node in the compositing area. In increasing the dispersion
value, you’ll have noticeable chromatic aberration, but use it
sparingly; use too much and the result becomes unnatural.
In the example you can see a 0.007 dispersion value, but to
make the effect barely noticeable, I use 0.002 or less.

12 Vignette Beside composition and framing, there

are several ways to drive the viewer’s eye to the
centre of the image and keep their attention inside the
frame, exploring the frame and translating the focus from
one point of interest to the next. One of the more common
ways to do this is using the vignette effect. You can achieve
this effect in many ways in the compositor; my way is to add
a simple Ellipse Mask node, which can be found under the
Matte menu, and then blur it with a Blur node located under
the Filter menu. Multiplying the image with this blurred
ellipse will create a vignette effect.

All tutorial files can be downloaded from: 81

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Industry experts put the latest workstations,
software & 3D printers through their paces

Chillblast Fusion Turing

RTX 5000 Core i9 Pro
3D Editing Workstation
Nvidia’s new GPU generation meets Intel’s latest 12-core processor

vidia’s Turing-based Quadro RTX series since Chillblast has once again picked a
has finally arrived with the Quadro RTX Fractal Design Define R6 case. That’s no bad
4000, 5000 and 6000 looking set to thing – these cases are quiet, spacious and
dent the wallet of 3D animators everywhere. unobtrusive. On the inside, Chillblast has
Mainstream and mobile Quadros are bound done an impeccable job installing the water
to follow but for now, Chillblast has been quick cooling and managing the cable mess for an
off the mark in sending us a next-generation incredibly clean and professional build.
workstation packed with high-end hardware, When you’re going with a £2,000 graphics
including a Quadro RTX 5000, to showcase card, 64GB of memory is about right and
what these cards can do. a CPU that hovers around the £1,000 mark.
That also applies to the Intel Skylake-X Core There’s plenty of storage, and you can
i9-9920X processor, which launched in late customise the specification however you
2018. It’s a 4.5GHz 12-core, 24 thread chip, please when ordering.
and another component that makes a suitable Despite the new ray tracing hardware, we
companion for an expensive Quadro in a suspect that for now, most animators and
typical high-end workstation configuration. artists will use a Quadro RTX for 3D in the
We covered the basics of Turing last issue usual way. So we’re closely examining the
with the Nvidia GeForce RTX 2080 gaming degree of performance improvement the new
card. With the professional-grade Quadro Quadro RTX offers over 2016’s Pascal cards.
RTX 5000, along with an increase in Cuda In some tests, we saw a 100 per cent
core count over the P5000, from 2,560 to performance improvement over the Quadro
3,072, which promises better everyday 3D P5000. LuxMark OpenCL scores have
performance, the memory has been upgraded doubled, placing Nvidia ahead in an area that
to GDDR6, with bandwidth seeing a massive is traditionally dominated by AMD. The same
increase from 288GB/sec to 448GB/sec. is true of Cuda performance in ArionBench.
The card has 8GB of GDDR6 memory, with Comparing SPECviewperf 13 scores, the
four DisplayPort 1.4 outputs, each capable of Quadro RTX 5000 doubles the scores of the
4K at 120Hz, or 8K at 60Hz. There’s also a P3200 in Lenovo’s P52, and achieves about
single USB-C port, a possible bet on USB-C 50 per cent better scores than in AMD’s
monitors becoming a thing in the future. Radeon WX8200.
Most interestingly, there’s also new custom CPU results are equally impressive, but
ray tracing hardware that earns the Quadro’s compared with alternative chips, offer
RTX name, with 48 of these ‘RT’ cores, along relatively slim improvements.
with hardware for AI processing, called If your current rig is getting a bit long in the
‘Tensor’ cores. tooth, now is definitely the time to upgrade,
It’s uncertain whether Nvidia’s approach with a new level of performance possible with
to ray casting and shading will become an the Quadro RTX cards and new workstations
industry standard. To take advantage of the such as the Chillblast Fusion. But it’s less clear
hardware currently, you need an Nvidia card if your system is more up-to-date.
with RT cores, and an up-to-date version of Like most things in life it’s a question
V-Ray. Code support is through Nvidia OptiX, of budget and necessity. If you’ve recently
Vulkan, or DirectX. shelled out on a new system, you may not
But as with two other Nvidia proprietary need to worry about upgrading just yet.
technologies – Cuda and G-SYNC – being The ray tracing hardware, improved
locked into one manufacturer’s hardware is performance and new features are all
restrictive, and remains a niche feature until tempting prospects, but this is not the
the audience reaches a critical size. same leap forward over the previous
Going to the rest of the workstation, it generation that we saw two years ago.
needs little explanation. It may look familiar, Orestis Bastounis


MAIN Familiar on the outside, cutting edge on the inside

BOTTOM LEFT Showcasing the latest high-end

hardware, this workstation is a serious investment

BOTTOM RIGHT We’d only recommend a Quadro RTX

5000 in a high-end workstation

BELOW The case is quiet and spacious, while on the

inside, the cable management is nice and tidy

If your current
rig is getting a bit
long in the tooth,
now is the time
to upgrade

Essential info
Price £4999.99 (inc VAT)
Graphics card Nvidia Quadro RTX 5000
Memory 64GB
OS Windows 10
Processor Intel Core i9-9920X

Value for money

With a powerful processor and graphics capability,
Chillblast’s new Fusion workstation cuts render times

The inside guide to industry news,
VFX studios, expert opinions
and the 3D community

FMX brings
together the left and
right brain of the
industry in just the
right way
Jan Pinkava,
Creative Director of Google
Spotlight Stories

088 Community News

FMX 2019
Find out who’s in the lineup of
speakers heading to Stuttgart, for
this year’s conference

090 Industry News

VES Awards
Discover the VES award winners,
Outpost’s new work ethic and more

092 Industry Insider

Method’s CG supervisor shares his
insights and work on Aquaman

096 Opinion
Don Parker
Shotgun Software founder discusses
88 the importance of collaboration
To advertise in The Hub please contact George Lucas on 01225 687311 or 87

Jan Pinkava, creative

Rob Bredow will take director of Google
FMX 2019 attendees Spotlight Stories, will
behind the visual and join FMX to discuss an
physical effects of Solo: important aspect of this
A Star Wars Story year’s theme

FMX 2019 announces its

speakers for annual conference
Leading figures in the community are heading to Stuttgart, Germany for the conference

MX has announced a host of industry stalwarts reveal how opportunities with startups and established
for its 2019 edition, which will return to Stuttgart, studios are combining the expertise of animation
Germany from 30 April to 3 May. The confirmed professionals from different continents to find new
speakers at the conference include Jan Pinkava, creative ways of bringing animated stories to a global audience.
director of Google Spotlight Stories, Shelley Page Discussing the track, Page says, “Groundbreaking
of DreamWorks Animation, and Rob Bredow, head animation and VFX production has now migrated from
of Industrial Light & Magic. traditional bases in Hollywood and Europe to all corners
Pinkava will give a keynote in line with this year’s of the globe. The N.E.W.S. track at FMX will focus on new
theme of ‘Bridging the Gap’, discussing his work at the projects and new studios recently established in locations
interface between art and technology. After working on A from Asia to Europe, and South America to Russia.”
Bug’s Life, Toy Story 2, Monsters, Inc. and Ratatouille for Rob Bredow will take the stage to talk about the visual
Pixar, Pinkava is now at Google Spotlight Stories, and physical effects in Solo: A Star Wars Story (on which
exploring immersive and he served as visual effects supervisor
interactive storytelling across Pinkava will give and co-producer) as well as the
mobile and VR. Having previously business side of the VFX industry.
earned a PhD in Theoretical
a keynote in line with As executive creative director and
Robotics and an Oscar for his this year’s theme head of Industrial Light & Magic, he’s
work on Pixar’s short film Geri’s responsible for the creative strategy
Game, he is perfectly placed to of ‘Bridging the Gap’, and global operations of the company.
discuss this timely topic.
Shelley Page will curate a new
discussing his work Furthermore, Bredow has been
announced as the first speaker for
track called ‘N.E.W.S’., which will at the interface the ‘Studio Insights’ track, which is
explore the workflows of
animation professionals across the
between art being curated by Dave Gougé, head
of marketing and publicity at Weta
globe. This series of talks will and technology Digital. This track will focus on topics

FMX provides a platform for
professionals and students
to network and share insights
on art and technology

ranging from production, changing business models

and new forms of content creation. Each of these topics
will be discussed in a conversational format throughout
the four-day event.
FMX 2019 will present a special ‘Highlights of
SIGGRAPH’ session with a focus on deep learning for
computer graphics. The topic is beginning to make
significant impacts across all areas of computer graphics
and is fuelling advances for a diverse range of tasks,
such as cleaning up noisy images, generating texture
and creating lifelike and directable animation. A tutorial
presented by computer graphics pioneer Andrew
Glassner, of The Imaginary Institute, will cover a broad
overview of the basic concepts, ideas and overall
language of deep learning.
Announcements for the FMX Forum continue, with the
likes of KeenTools, Avid and Chaos Group confirmed to
have booths at the ‘Marketplace’, while Animal Logic,
Axis Studios, Illumination Mac Guff, Recom and Scanline
VFX will be part of the ‘Recruiting Hub’.
Young producers or animation and film production
graduates can apply to participate in ‘Animation
Production Days 2019’, free of charge. Hosted by FMX
and the Stuttgart International Festival of Animated Film,
the goal is to connect newcomers who want to develop
FMX is a non-profit
their own project ideas with experts in the industry. event, organised by
Tickets for FMX 2019 are available from Animationsinstitut
at Filmakademie
Early bird rates are in place until 15 March 2019. More Baden-Württemberg in
information and a full programme can be found at Ludwigsburg, Germany

Get in touch… @3DArtist


ArtFX wins
at the 17th
VES Awards
School takes Outstanding
VFX in a Student Project
award for graduation film,
Terra Nova
French VFX school, ArtFX, won the
Outstanding Visual Effects in a Student
Project category at this year’s VES
Awards. The title was bestowed on
the 2018 graduation film, Terra Nova.
The VES Awards
recognise the ArtFX was the only French school
outstanding visual nominated and it was the only school
effects work
of each year and without professional experience as an
the artists who admissions prerequisite – meaning
created them
among the four films nominated in the
Outstanding Visual Effects in a Student
Project category, Terra Nova was the only

DNEG honoured film created by students who had not yet

worked as professionals in VFX.
Terra Nova was created and directed

with VES Awards by a team of four students; Thomas

Battistetti, Mélanie Geley, Guillaume
Hoarau and Mickaël Le Mézo. They
were assisted by three student
The VFX house brings home two awards for specialists on the same five-year Digital
Arts programme; Cindy Libbrecht,
its work on First Man and Altered Carbon Dorian Perceval and Alex Brossard.
The film explores the conquest of
DNEG won two awards in February at the 17th industry here at DNEG, and our team, alongside the South Pole through the eyes of the
annual Visual Effects Society Awards in Beverly our investment in bespoke technologies, allows famous explorer, Robert Falcon Scott.
Hills, California. VFX supervisors, artists and us to deliver on the fantastic vision of the studios It tells the story through a mix of
crews, who were named in seven nominations we support. live-action sequences, filmed in front
overall this year, took home awards for their work “I would like to thank and congratulate every of a green-screen background, with CGI
on First Man and Altered Carbon. member of the global DNEG team – these award environments and FX simulations.
Namit Malhotra, global CEO of DNEG, had wins are only possible due to the combined work
this to say about the win: “Our focus is always of everyone involved. Recognition by the VES is
on finding better ways to help storytellers capture especially important to us, as it is from our peers,
the imagination of their audiences. We have who know just how hard we all work to deliver
some of the best creatives and technicians in the these incredible experiences.”
First Man won in the Outstanding Supporting
Visual Effects in a Photoreal Feature category.
Other winners… Altered Carbon won Outstanding Effects
This year’s award for Outstanding Visual Simulations in an Episode, Commercial, or
Effects in a Photoreal Feature was awarded Real-Time Project, and it was the largest TV
to Marvel’s Avengers: Infinity War. project ever undertaken by DNEG when the
Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse swung its studio began work on it in 2017.
way to victory in all four Animated Feature The studio has previously taken home eight
categories. Childish Gambino’s Pharos won VES Awards including last year’s awards for
Outstanding Visual Effects in a Special Outstanding Supporting Visual Effects in a
Venue Project. A full list of winners can Photoreal Feature for Dunkirk and Outstanding You can watch Terra Nova via the official ArtFX
be found at Created Environment in a Photoreal Feature for YouTube channel, along with a making-of video
Blade Runner 2049.

HAVE YOU HEARD? Allegorithmic has announced 20 new sportswear fabrics for Substance Source:

Outpost offers Outpost delivered
approximately 1,800 VFX

uncapped leave shots in 2018 across projects

that included Jurassic World:
Fallen Kingdom

The new holiday policy is believed

to be a first for the VFX sector
Outpost has announced the introduction of Life
Time, an uncapped holiday policy for its employees.
“Within Outpost our strongest attribute is our
culture, and for that to be effective the focus has
to be on people,” says Outpost’s talent manager,
Leanne Loughran. “Entrusting freedom around
holiday and taking away a rigid allowance only has
positive effects internally and fundamentally feeds
back into our culture.”
Outpost founder and CEO, Duncan McWilliam,
adds: “We endeavour to make the working life of
all of our artists better. By opting to remove the
restrictions of a capped holiday policy, we are giving
our artists more control over their work/life balance,
so they feel they can take time off if they need to.”

Polywink boosts Ziva Dynamics goes academic

facial animation New education programme
offers character creation tools
New solution uses the Unity behind The Meg and Venom
ARKit Remote for high-quality
facial animation on iPhone X Ziva Dynamics has launched Ziva VFX
Academic, making its character sim software
Polywink’s new Animation for iPhone X more accessible to students and researchers.
automatically generates the 52 blendshapes For $60 (£46) a year, users can harness the
needed to use the iPhone X as a powerful and tools used in non-commercial projects.
accessible mocap device. It works for any “With Ziva VFX Academic, students will
character and morphology, from photorealistic be able to afford the latest advancements,
3D models to stylised characters, preserving helping them build skills that will increase their
the user’s topology. The Unity ARKit plugin marketability after graduation,” says James
enables anyone to animate their 3D characters Jacobs, CEO of Ziva Dynamics.
in real time and save the animation data Ziva VFX Academic licenses come with
afterwards. Developers can also animate 3D the same access and support as other Ziva
models live in the Unity Editor using ARKit face products. Licenses are open to any accredited
tracking. Discover more at institution, student, professor or researcher. Ziva tools are used byy the likes of Sonyy Imageworks,
g ,
Visit Pixomondo, Mackevision, DNEG and Scanline VFX

Software shorts Bringing you the lowdown on product updates and launches
Pixotope Clarisse iFX 4.0 Forest Pack 6.1.5
Norwegian technology and The latest update to the 3D The latest version of iToo
creative services company, The and VFX creation tool introduces Software’s scattering plugin for
Future Group, has unveiled a new the Transform Manipulator, 3ds Max enables users to see and
software suite, Pixotope. It enables users to designed to speed up set dressing and layout edit Forest objects live during IPR renders. The
create virtual sets and AR experiences with work. Users can also now constrain scene items effect of a randomisation can now be previewed
cinema-quality, real-time graphics, working with to any animated geometry with deformation without triggering a re-render. A free Lite version
single- or multi-camera productions. Pixotope is on. Isotropix has also announced a range of of Forest Pack is available, or alternatively the
available now as a subscription service, for more new pricing options, which can be found at full version can be purchased for 220 Euros.
information visit For more information, visit

DID YOU KNOW? Unity has released 300 free automotive and transportation materials. Visit


The CG supervisor discusses
Method’s work on Aquaman
Job title CG supervisor
Location Vancouver

avid Cunningham started out as a CG generalist ten
Website years ago and got his first big gig working on Happy
Biography David is an Feet Two as an FX technical director. He’s held roles
Australian CG supervisor and such as FX lead, FX supervisor and, for the last few years,
technical director working in
Vancouver. He’s been CG supervisor at Method Studios. He recently oversaw
working in animation, VFX Method’s work on Aquaman, the superhero smash hit
and post production for
around a decade, with the last from director James Wan. “Method VFX supervisor Craig
eight years being focused on Wentworth and I had worked together on a previous
feature film visual effects
and animation. project and had a good relationship,” Cunningham
Portfolio highlights explains. “I set up a number of workflows on that show,
• Ant-Man and the Wasp and Craig was happy to let me design how we were going
(2018) to attack our sequence on Aquaman.”
• Thor: Ragnarok (2017) The sequence in question is known as ‘the well of souls’,
• Guardians of the Galaxy
Vol. 2 (2017)
an underwater set piece that included Aquaman himself
• King Arthur: Legend of the (played by Jason Momoa) and a gigantic sea creature.
Sword (2017) Water is notoriously tricky for VFX artists, and the
• Avengers: Age of Ultron prospect of creating an entirely submerged sequence
required plenty of planning on Method’s part. “We would 01
• Mad Max: Fury Road (2015)
put together layouts of our entirely CG environment in
• Jupiter Ascending (2015)
Maya, and playblast with depth fog turned on, along with
• Edge of Tomorrow (2014)
• Happy Feet Two (2011)
a blueish tint,” recalls Cunningham. “The result gave us
a pretty good insight into how the lighting in general should
behave in our underwater environment. ”
Everything needed for the sequence was modelled in
Maya before being textured in Substance and Mari. Look
development was then completed in Houdini and Mantra.
“Most of the decayed, mossy, grimy look was created
procedurally in Houdini and Mantra by our skilful look dev
artists Jin Ji and Yuri Serizawa,” says Cunningham. “Our
model and layout teams worked in sync to bring the assets
together in one major layout, with our layout artists (led
by Jon Bragado) making bespoke adjustments.”
Cunningham also explains how they achieved the
underwater environment’s unique look and feel: “Lighting 03
lead Sergio Pinto and senior artist Dan Rankin developed
beautiful moody light rigs in Houdini, and a number of
artists contributed to the distinct look across different THE QUICKENING
shots. Volumes were rendered in key areas of brighter light
to assist in giving a sense of light falloff and depth. This was
Cunningham and his team were tasked
then utilised by our compositing team, who took all our
with creating a psychedelic, 700-frame
render layers and made them look even better.”
shot called ‘the quickening’
Aquaman’s hair posed another challenge. The incredible ‘The quickening’ shows a journey through Aquaman’s
effect seen in the film was created by Method’s creature mind’s eye. “Effects artist Thomas Cant whipped
FX team. “The crew, led by Mayur Samant, did an up the fibres of the iris and the volumetric clouds
awesome job of responding to notes from the client and we traverse through in a matter of days,” says
creating a natural, flowing look to the hair,” Cunningham Cunningham. “Over a few weeks, Thomas and
states. “Our groomer, Jordan Soler, made multiple XGen talented generalist Chris Herrick pulled all of the CG
grooms until we decided on the perfect one, then Mayur elements into place. Chris look-developed all of the
and his team took that and simulated it in Maya’s nHair.” creatures, animated the camera and laid out the shot.
Method’s work on Aquaman stands out as a technical The two of them made sure their work coalesced so
achievement in a film that’s packed with CG wizardry. we had perfect light integration between emissive
Cunningham asserts it was a team effort from beginning to threads, volumes and creatures. It was a mammoth
end: “We had an outstanding crew, and their hard work is task, and all of the CG was owned by those two.”
what brought our sequence to life on the big screen.”

Water is notoriously
tricky for VFX artists, and
the prospect of creating
an entirely submerged
sequence required plenty
of planning



05 06 01 Jason Momoa was captured in

rigs that simulated underwater
movements. Method’s artists
later replaced much of his
performance and added the
CG environment

02 Method works on high-end

feature films, advertising, TV,
video games, immersive
media and motion graphics

03 The chase sequence was

overseen by Method VFX
supervisor Josh Simmonds

04 Cunningham has previously

worked for Framestore,
Animal Logic and zSpace

05 Method has facilities around

the world: in LA, New York,
San Francisco, Vancouver,
Montreal and Melbourne

06 Information on Method’s
projects can be found at


Tsubasa Nakai
Tsubasa is a director and
Incredible 3D artists take us behind their artwork CG supervisor working
in Japan.
In order to create this beautiful CG woman, I tried using Multi-channel Faces texture from Software Maya, ZBrush,
Photoshop, Mari,
The technical goal of this project was to express the fine details. and XGen really helped me Substance Painter
to achieve this. I projected a Multi-channel Faces texture to the model, with a Photoshop UV workflow. You
can see how to do this here: Anemone,2019


Achieve better artistry

through collaboration
Shotgun Software founder Don Parker discusses the importance of creative
DON PARKER flow and collaboration for artists
VP and GM, Shotgun
Software, Autodesk

B uilding 3D content, whether for animation, expansion of the cloud has dramatically reduced the
games, VFX or immersive, rarely happens in barrier to entry for working in this way.
a vacuum. You might be working on the next A solid pipeline can help a team of one do the work
mega-blockbuster or building a student short film, of 20, a team of 20 do the work of 60 or a team of
but the chances are there is someone else providing 200 do the work of 600, and so on. When we started
feedback, and probably a team of others working on thinking about solving collaboration problems for
the project with you. artists over 15 years ago, the idea of productising
Bringing stories to life in 3D takes a team. Teams pipeline and production management seemed
can move as quickly and nimbly as a school of fish, or unimaginable. Every studio had its own way of doing
can get caught up in bottlenecks and traffic jams that things and protected these methods as closely
get in the way of making good art. In a team of any guarded trade secrets. Over the years we have
size, artists might end up investing valuable creative worked with the most creative minds in CG
time doing non-creative task management work, animation, games and visual effects, to identify
which can cause friction when a project is under the patterns and best practices and build community
gun. The best creative team runs in a way across artists of all stripes interested in
that enables artists to remain 100 per moving the industry forward more
cent focused on being creative, efficiently. Working with hundreds
always with an eye on the of studios around the world
bigger picture rather than has enabled us to codify
siloed in one individual best practices, making it
task. Having a pipeline more possible than ever
in place from the start before to offer
enables any team out-of-the-box
member anywhere pipeline tools without
in the world, on any dedicated R&D
device, to spin up resources.
and stay creative. When you talk
Connecting on that about pipeline to a
level builds fluidity room of artists, eyes
into the way that may start to glaze
people collaborate and over. When you tell an
truly helps to unlock artist that they can spend
creative potential, keeping Teams connecting their whole day in their
better enables far more
artists in flow. efficient production creative tool of choice,
While pipelines help artists without having to go into a
connect to each other, it’s of equal spreadsheet, search through email,
importance that they connect to dig into a file system or migrate out of
supervisors and the entire production team as Maya or Nuke to get their job done, their eyes
well. When everyone on the production team is light up. My personal vision has always been to make
connected, they can pivot quickly and chase new working in production more joyful and take the grind
Images courtesy of Shotgun Software customer Arx Anima, Vienna

ideas as a story evolves. In production, there is out of it. Thanks to the cloud and so many other new
always a drive to work faster and iterate with more enabling technologies, the future is looking very
frequency. This is especially true for online content or bright indeed.
games, where worlds and story can be adapted to
incorporate or build on anything, from culturally
relevant news events to the latest viral sensations. The best creative team
Creative agility is essential for making that happen,
and while having the right tools is part of the
runs in a way that enables
equation, you need to be connected as a team artists to remain 100 per
working towards a shared creative goal.
Ensuring that both the tools and teams are cent focused on being
integrated and in sync helps to eliminate the blind
spots that prevent people from working together
creative, always with an eye
in this creatively agile state. The introduction and on the bigger picture
Yulia Sokolova
Yulia’s a Russian freelance
Incredible 3D artists take us behind their artwork artist and tutorial
instructor based in Spain.
Software ZBrush,
When working on a personal piece in ZBrush, I prefer to start from a DynaMesh sphere instead of using Maya, Substance
a ready-made base mesh. Apart from being good anatomy practice, it helps me to push the shapes to the Painter, Marmoset
extreme and play with the proportions without any boundaries. Don’t be afraid to exaggerate some parts
of your character, but remember to maintain a good balance between large, medium and small shapes. Samurai, 2019
9000 9001