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Practical inspiration for the 3D community
the best versiON Yet?
Issue 110
Digital edition
Illumination on rerigging the beloved henchmen
4R8’s top
new features
Page 22
Cki Vang
Software ZBrush 4R8, Affinity
Designer and KeyShot
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hen Pixologic released
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including ZModeler, which quickly
became the mainstay of any
ZBrush artist. The surprise
announcement of 4R8 over a year
later sent a lot of us into a frenzy
– if Pixologic couldn’t wait to show off new features in
version ive, then what did we have in store with 4R8?
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questions with the release of 4R8, and we’re very much
excited by what’s been added. We spoke to some of
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the incredible beta users for ZBrush 4R8 to ind out
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used the new tools to create awe-inspiring art. It’s over
on page 22.
Elsewhere in the mag, we’ve jetted to Saint
Petersburg, Russia to discover how Wargaming
re-creates its historically accurate game assets, and we
go behind the scenes on the animation for Despicable
Me 3. We also speak to Dr. Sébastien Deguy, the
founder and CEO of Allegorithmic, about what’s
coming next for the company. We’ll also learn how to
create creature head concepts in ZBrush and master
procedural forest environments in 3ds Max. Enjoy!
Carrie Mok, Editor
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© 2017 Future Publishing Ltd
ISSN 1759-9636
This issue’s team of pro artists…
We were awed by Josh’s incredible
Surgeon render when we irst saw it, so
we asked him kindly to explain just how
he iterated his complex models and lit the
character in KeyShot on page 44.
3DArtist username vercingitorix
Animal anatomy instructor Tony has
returned this issue to talk head concepts
for creatures and walks us through
creating our own hair brush. Make sure
you check it out on page 52.
3DArtist username tony_eight
The last of our exclusive tutorials from
Creative Assembly, senior character
artist Vincent runs through his processes
for rendering game assets for video with
V-Ray. Don’t miss it, it’s on page 58.
3DArtist username vincentch20
Mark takes us on a Blender-to-Substance
Painter journey as we learn how to take
an asset from Blender and texture it with
the Allegorithmic tool. Read his tutorial
over on page 62.
3DArtist username markmasters92
Having presented at conferences like
SIGGRAPH, GDC and more, Joshua has
taken to writing this awesome guide on
creating grungy windows with Substance
Designer. You can follow it on page 68.
3DArtist username N/A
ZBrush master artist Pablo Muñoz
Gómez was a beta user for the latest 4R8
release. Find out what he thought of the
newest features, including real-time
Booleans on page 78.
3DArtist username pablander
Giving Wacom’s latest tablet addition, the
Wacom Intuos Pro, for a spin this issue is
Paul Champion. He takes the device and
the Pro Pen 2 through the processes of a
typical 3D artist on page 82.
3DArtist username Rocker
With the new release of ZBrush, we’ve
sent ImagineFX alumni Rob Carney to
interview some of the fantastic beta
artists on their favourite tools and how
it’s changed their worklows on page 22.
3DArtist username N/A
Paul is iToo Software’s training manager
and he’s given us this essential guide to
populating a scene with procedural
scattering tool Forest Pack Pro and 3ds
Max. Find it over on page 72.
3DArtist username N/A
What’s in the magazine and where
News, reviews
& features
12 The Gallery
A hand-picked collection of incredible
artwork to inspire you
22 ZBrush 4R8: The Best Version Yet?
We talk to the beta users of Pixologic's
latest release to ind out all about the new
features they can't live without
30 Illuminating Animation
Trevor Hogg goes behind the scenes on
Despicable Me 3 with its director and
animation director
38 Rebuilding History:
World Of Warships
3d artist journeys to Saint Petersburg to
revisit Wargaming to ind out how its art
team maintains polycount while building
intricate and historically accurate models
78 Review: ZBrush 4R8
Beta user and all-round ZBrush master
Pablo Muñoz Gómez takes us through the
latest release
80 Subscribe Today!
The Gizmo enables me to create multiSubTool models with more ease
Save money and never miss an issue
82 Review: Wacom Intuos Pro
Should you trade in your traditional art
worklows for a £330 tablet upgrade from
Wacom? Paul Champion inds out
Ara Kermanikian on his favourite new
ZBrush 4R8 feature Page 27
Zbrush 4r8
98 Technique Focus:
Sci Fi Speedster
James Lin reveals how he utilised speed
modelling techniques to inish his helmet
bust in ZBrush
Model concepts in
Zbrush and create
custom brushes
Save up to 20%
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Turn to
page 80
for details
create parametric
render assets in
V-ray for an
in-game video
The Pipeline
44 Step By Step: Render a
high-poly character model
with KeyShot
Discover how to iterate quickly and
light in KeyShot with Josh Rife
52 Step By Step: Model
concepts in ZBrush and create
custom brushes
Tony Camehl returns with another
spectacular ZBrush concept guide
58 Step By Step: Render assets in
V-Ray for an in-game video
Vincent Chai presents this exclusive
tutorial from Creative Assembly
62 Step By Step: Build a
steampunk weapon in Blender
Take an asset from Blender and
texture it in Substance Painter
68 Pipeline Techniques: Texture
industrial grime
The animation gets
more polished and
reined as we start to
know who the minions
are more
Master grungy window materials in
Substance Designer
72 Pipeline Techniques: Create
parametric environments
Get creating procedural forests with
Forest Pack Pro for 3ds Max
Kyle Balda on the experience
of the animation team on
Despicable Me 3 Page 33
The Hub
86 Community News
The Rookies 2017 winners have
been announced!
88 Industry News
VR Theatre debuts at SIGGRAPH,
plus FaceBuilder beta is out now
90 Industry Insider
Dr. Sébastien Deguy
Allegorithmic's CEO tells us why
Substance has gone numberless
92 Project Focus:
The Red Turtle
We ind out how 2D and 3D were
integrated in the Studio Ghibli ilm
industrial grime
render a high-poly
character model
with Keyshot
Visit the 3D Artist online shop at
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94 Industry Insider
Sid Harrington-Odedra
The Mill's CG lead talks his most
complex body tracking project yet
96 Readers’ gallery
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Have an image you feel passionate about? Get your artwork featured in these pages
Create your gallery today at
Dawid Piechowski
Dawid is a freelancer who
specialises in hard-surface
modelling, lighting and shading
Software 3ds Max, Octane,
Substance Painter
Work in progress…
I wish for everyone
to find something for
themselves in this project.
Some will appreciate the
scene illuminations and
the materials, and the
others will like the topnotch cars equipped with
recognisable equipment
Dawid Piechowski,
Porsche RSR, 2017
Christian Leitner
Christian is a 3D modeller and
recent graduate from the
Animationsinstitut, Germany
Software Yeti, Mari, ZBrush,
Arnold, Maya
Work in progress…
This picture of sexy
January is just a little piece of
our diploma project –
'Creature Pinup' calendar. The
idea is that you have to take
two different elements, which
in our case are 'pin-up' and
'creatures', mix them together
and there you have it –
the Creature Pinup, a pinup
calendar customised for our
industry. If you want so see
more of the calendar, head
Christian Leitner,
Creature Pinup – January, 2017
Konstantin Gubry
I tried to show a
thoughtful old man
looking inward. At this
age, a person does
not care about the
vanity of this world,
and therefore the old
people are beautiful
Konstantin was born in Moscow
and has been working with CG
since 2014
Software ZBrush, Mari, Maya,
XGen, Arnold, Photoshop
Work in progress…
Konstantin Gubry,
Old man, 2017
I created this
image to practise
speed sculpting
hard surfaces and
quick rendering. It
was an amazing
exercise of placing a
reduced quantity of
details, focusing more
on the shape and
having a lot of fun!
Antoine Di Lorenzo,
Omega warrior, 2017
Antoine Di Lorenzo
Antoine is a junior character
artist from France, and a
New3dge art school graduate
Software ZBrush, KeyShot,
Work in progress…
Javier Wainstein
Javier is an industrial design
student at the University of
Buenos Aires, and an avid
lover of interior design
Software 3ds Max, V-Ray
Work in progress…
I imagined a kind of
restored industrial
building, such as
a showroom or
apartment, in which the
furniture would be
shining along with the
contrast of the semiabandoned building
Javier Wainstein,
&Tradition scene, 2017
In depth
Mohsen Hashemi
Mohsen loves to be the best,
and likes to strive until he can
ind a worthy position
Software 3ds Max, Corona
Renderer, Photoshop
Work in progress…
It was my first
experience using my
pure feelings to create
my artwork. All the feelings
and mood for this image
come from my instinct
Mohsen Hashemi,
The Second Chance, 2017
I’ve put some inconsistent
elements together, such as warm
and cold light and black and white
construction. Sometimes
contradictions are lovely
Mohsen Hashemi,
The Second Chance, 2017
rigHT It’s a vital part of
visualisation to consider the
colour scheme in our artwork.
Jumping from a very hot colour
to a very cold colour might be
applicable. As you see in the
picture I use this colour scheme
to provide a homey mood.
rigHT It’s always important to
transfer the feeling and mood
of an artwork to your observer.
In this case, I transferred all of
the cold feeling that I made
from the outside of the villa
with the warm feeling that I use
inside. Using simple lighting is
always the best way to create a
fantastic result.
ABOVE The only way that I
could show the piece in a hot
and cold environment was to
use very comfortable shaders
and colours to create a homey
bedroom. As you can see I just
used simple material, not a
sophisticated one.
LEFT I always use the golden
ratio; having a good frame always
helps to make a mesmerising
render. Good framing also helps
to guide the eyes to the right
lines of a picture and not miss
any detail.
Stephen Anderson
Character modeller, Avalanche Software;
Toy sculptor, Hasbro
Vichar BN
Departmental director, Technicolor India
Daniel Bystedt
Senior character artist,
Goodbye Kansas Studios
Ara Kermanikian
Concept designer
Pierre-Olivier Lévesque
Character artist, EA Motive
Pawel Libiszewski
Art director, Flying Wild Hog
Victor Marin
Concept artist/digital sculptor
Lucas Cuenca
Concept, modeller & texture artist,
Double Negative
Madeleine Spencer
Creature & character designer
Matt Flesher
Digital artist & project sculptor, Fisher-Price
Cki Vang
Freelance 3D concept designer
The astonishing surprise release of the
industry-standard sculpting tool takes
virtual clay to a whole new level…
R Page 78
Guardian 2.0 by
Cki Vang
Brush has long been the go-to tool for 3D
artists wanting a natural way to sculpt
models. Its breadth of tools and intuitive
workspace genuinely makes it easy to start
modelling as if you were working with real clay in
your hands. Using highly customisable brushes
you can shape and texture your virtual clay,
adding huge amounts of detail and receiving
instant feedback as you sculpt. It’s the speed and
accuracy of the tool that’s made it an industry
standard amongst character designers, games
artists and more. And with ZBrush 4R8 taking the
reins of Pixologic’s release schedule before the
next release – version 5, we see a host of new
features aimed at making your sculpting worklow
even quicker. And what’s more, the release is a
free upgrade to all registered users!
And who better to show you what ZBrush 4R8
is capable of than the talented beta testers who
have helped shape the app – and in the process
utilised some of the amazing new features to
create some truly stunning imagery, of which
you’ll see over the following pages. Let’s take a
look at some of the new features of the new
release, why the beta testers loved them, and how
they can help you create stunning 3D sculptures
in double-quick time…
The number-one feature on the lips of pretty
much every ZBrush 4R8 beta tester was Live
Booleans. Boolean operations are of course a
staple of 3D modelling, but as powerful as they
are, they often require a lot of trial and error to
get your unions, subtractions or intersections
just right. ZBrush 4R8 changes this – and the
worklow improvement Live Booleans offers is
hugely impressive. As well as using Live
Booleans with simple SubTools, you can use
the system with any model in ZBrush –
Subdivision models, DynaMesh models,
Dynamic Subdivision models, ZModeler
topology and Decimated topology. Regardless
of polygon count you can see a real-time
preview of the resulting mesh when combining
multiple sculptures together. You can even
sculpt on your models while previewing
Booleans. And if you ever lose the model
you’re subtracting or joining on your
workspace, just hit the Polyframe button to get
it back. Naturally, once you’re happy with the
Boolean, you’re only a single click away from
converting the real-time preview to geometry.
This environment enables artists to
experiment in ways never seen before,
whether working on hard-surface models or
organic high-poly sculpting. It’s a hugely
exciting development. As Matt Flesher says,
“When you combine Live Booleans with some
of ZBrush’s other tools, such as Array Mesh,
they become a hugely versatile combination
Silvana Guns by
Lucas Cuenca
for creating and exploring complex forms
quickly and non-destructively.” Cki Vang also
loves the new feature, “Live Booleans is my
favourite tool so far, extremely powerful and
easy to use. You can combine any SubTools
thanks to the preview, which helps me to
visualise quickly what I want to design.”
Vector Displacement Mesh brushes are pretty
special, especially for character designers. In
true Pixologic fashion, it’s pretty easy to create
a brush – there are a number of templates you
can start with. What these brushes enable you
to do is quickly create complex models from a
library of objects. You can create brushes for
instance that will quickly add a nose to your
characters – complete with all the details
including overhangs – by clicking and dragging
on a surface. Sure, it takes some setup to
create your brushes, but once you have a
library of objects, through perhaps cloning and
editing a number of meshes, it can really speed
up your character design worklow. In almost
no time you could have a huge library of a
number of different ears, noses and other
features (including variations – say, mouths
open to varying degrees) which you can
quickly apply to a model without sculpting
every time. Super cool, right?
“My favourite feature in 4R8 has to be the
Vector Displacement Mesh brushes,” says
creature and character designer Maddie
Spencer. “I love using them to kitbash models
and I also ind they work particularly well when
sketching to introduce the ever-elusive digital
‘happy accident’.”
“Out of all the excellent additions in this
release of the VDM (Vector Displacement
Mesh), the Chisel 3D brush is one of my
favourites,” says Vichar BN. “Being a sculptor,
the highlight for me was the software’s ability
to mimic the feel of real clay, wood carving and
oil painting and experience the real traditional
way of sculpting.”
When you combine Live
Booleans with other tools,
they become a hugely
versatile combination
Matt Flesher
Clay render
by Vichar BN
“At irst glance you think, ‘Okay, it’s just a
standard manipulator tool,’” says an excited
Matt Flesher, referring to the new universal
manipulation tool within ZBrush that’s an
alternative to the Transpose Action Line. “But
Pixologic can’t just do ‘standard’. Like every
other aspect of ZBrush, it has packed a load
of power and usability into this new tool. The
ability to manipulate multiple SubTools
Multiple Zbrush features were used
to test everything as much as
possible side by side. in this piece we
can see Array Mesh, boolean and
surface noise all working together.
An iMM brush was used in
conjunction with the new boolean
system to create small details. At the
end, the different polygroups inside
the subtracted booleans were used to
apply different Keyshot materials.
A lot of the secondary pieces were
built using Array Mesh as radial
instances simultaneously with the
boolean system.
Pierre-olivier Lévesque utilised many of the
new features in 4r8 to create this stunning
sci-i image. the new Live boolean feature was
top of the list for creating the intricate details in
this epic character illustration.
Every topology, from hard to
organic surfaces, were created inside
Zbrush using the ZModeler, the
Gizmo and the deformers.
4r8: THE
The BesT
Version YET?
Artist stephen Anderson’s favourite feature of
the new release is – perhaps unsurprisingly
– Live booleans, thanks to the lexibility it
offers artists. Anderson used Live
booleans to great effect in this
‘Fishbot’ illustration – along with a
combination of polygroups,
Zremesher and ZModeler for
the topology.
using a combination of polygroups,
Zremesher and ZModeler, Anderson
was able to quickly obtain clean
topology for the overall shape. From
there, he created bevels to reine the
edge shape on the base forms.
Anderson created the base
forms using DynaMesh and
the Clip/trim brush. basic
move and transpose/Gizmo
manipulation techniques gave
him the basic form he wanted.
by controlling the polygroups,
Anderson was able to quickly apply
materials inside of Zbrush for clean
and eficient application in Keyshot.
the bevelled holes were created using subtractive
booleans. Anderson liked being able to create a
simple shape to get quick and accurate results. he
then used a combination of the new and old tools to
get all of the shell separations the way he wanted.
simultaneously without a trip to Transpose
Master is worth the price of admission alone.
Add to that the ability to precisely position the
Gizmo to your part or world centre, not to
mention all the new deformers attached to
the gear icon, and you have a powerhouse of
a new tool!”
Enabling you to quickly scale, move and
rotate your models, the Gizmo 3D is generated
by default in the centre of the selected
SubTool. But you can manipulate your object in
the screen space, by hovering over the white
area of the Gizmo 3D. What’s more, at the top
of the Gizmo you have seven icons. There’s
Customise, enabling you to open primitives
and deformers; Sticky mode, which snaps
Gizmo 3D back to its original position after
manipulating a model; Go To Unmasked Mesh
Center, which will snap the Gizmo 3D to the
centre of your unmasked mesh; the Home icon,
which snaps the Gizmo 3D to the centre of the
ZBrush world; and the Reset Orientation icon,
which resets the Gizmo 3D to the world axis.
Both of the latter can be further manipulated
using the Lock icon. The inal icon is the
Transpose All icon, enabling you to move and
manipulate all SubTools at once – handy for
making global changes. You can of course
affect only a few SubTools using modiier
keyboard shortcuts in combination with Gizmo
3D. For Victor Marin the new Gizmo tool is
“the best method to navigate in the canvas.”
Mech modelling maestro Ara Kermanikian
agrees that Gizmo 3D is one of the most
important – and useful – features of the new
release. “As much as I love the new Live
The Gizmo enables me
to create multi-SubTool
models with more ease,
speed and accuracy
Ara Kermanikian
Boolean feature for iterative design,” he says,
“I have to say my favourite new feature is the
Gizmo because it enables me to create
multi-SubTool models like the mechs I make
with much more ease, speed and accuracy.”
What’s also fantastic about Gizmo 3D is
how customisable it is. Using the Preferences
palette you can determine the Gizmo 3D size,
whether tool tips are displayed, and even
completely change the look and feel of the
tool. You can create your own custom Gizmos
using the Gizmo 3D template in Lightbox. It’s a
simple process to do so – the template walks
you through the process, and all you have to
do is edit the ile. Essentially Gizmo 3D offers
you a completely new way of manipulating
your models – and one that you can completely
customise to your individual needs.
Lazy Mouse has always provided a precise way
to draw smooth curves and add any kind of
detail to your ZBrush models, and the second
iteration of the tool takes things a lot further
by adding a relatively small feature. Using the
new LazySnap function you can now snap to
the last stroke, with no break in the design –
Zbrush 4r8 has revolutionised worklows,
says the senior character artist
What would you say is your number-one
favourite new feature in Zbrush 4r8?
My favourite feature is deinitely the Live
Boolean feature. Although there is a bunch of
other cool features, it’s really the one that I will
have the most use for in the future.
And how has this helped you create better
work than before?
The Live Boolean feature has made it so much
easier to create hard-surface models. It’s
fantastic to be able to create complex shapes
in a non-destructive worklow. It is also very
easy to iterate changes on the model and
replace Boolean objects, which gives the user
more room for being creative. By creating
geometry with the CurveTubeSnap brush
and using the resulting geometry as a
subtractive Boolean, you can now create cuts
and lines in the mesh that are normally pretty
complex to create.
how has Zbrush 4r8 improved your
sculpting worklow?
The Vector Displacement feature for creating
new brushes works very well. When it came to
creating overlapping lizard scales it was quite
the hassle in earlier versions, but now it is
working very nicely.
Another great sculpting feature is that you
can now make straight stroke lines with a
consistent height and depth. You can access
this feature by irst creating a morph target in
order to deine the original shape of the mesh.
Then you can press Shift just after you have
pressed down with your Wacom pen, and the
stroke is now done as a line. This feature is
really handy for me since I enjoy doing hardsurface characters.
Pix-01 Systems
Blaster Pistol
by Matt Flesher
What else do you love about the release?
The new deformers that are available via the
3D Gizmo is a great new addition to the toolset
within ZBrush. Now it’s so much easier to
control and deform dense geometry.
In the next ZBrush, I’d love to see
an addition of real-world units consistent
with Maya so that there is a more seamless
transition moving from ZBrush to other
3D applications.”
Stephen Anderson
by Victor Marin
Z-Astronaut by Victor Marin
I would really like to see a folder-like
system for all SubTools, where the user could
hide or move multiple SubTools at once.”
Daniel bystedt
It might not be the sexiest feature,
but what I am really looking for is better
SubTool management. The ability to create
Boolean stacks within the SubTool palette in
4R8 is a good start, but especially with all the
extra Boolean parts we’ll all be creating now,
we need an actual folder structure to
organise and sort our SubTools.”
Matt Flesher
ZBrush is one of the most unique 3D
software out there right now. Meanwhile for
the future, I would love to see some illet
appearing on those Boolean connections,
and of course something like that Exoside
plugin to help with managing large amounts
of SubTools.”
Pierre-olivier Lévesque
In the next version of ZBrush I would
love to see more developments in the way we
can generate and export difference maps.”
Madeleine spencer
I think that ZBrush is an amazing
software but I would like to be able to import
multiple UDIMs and cameras – that would be
a huge help for us in ilm VFX pipelines.”
Lucas Cuenca
Robot – ZBrush4R8
beta testing
by Daniel Bystedt
Mantis Mech – Mars 2nd
by Ara Kermanikian
ZBrush 4R8 is all about a
super combination of tools
that take hard-surface
modelling to the next level
Lucas Cuenca
you can stop, rotate the model, then continue
the brushstroke exactly where you left off
without breaking your pattern. In short, it
opens up loads of possibilities for doing line
work around a model with very little hassle.
You can tweak the snap distance settings to
your preference.
“The new Lazy Mouse 2.0 is amazing,”
enthuses Double Negative’s Lucas Cuenca.
“And overall I think that ZBrush 4R8 is all
about a super combination of tools that take
hard-surface modelling to the next level.”
Creating 3D icons, logos and text may not be
the irst thing that comes to mind when you
think of ZBrush, but the 4R8 release brings
some nifty tools so you don’t have to leave the
application to add this kind of detail to your
sculptures (or indeed if you want to simply
create a logotype directly within the app). You
can create 3D text in real-time, or use an SVG
ile to create your own logo for placement on
any surface in the app. Combine this with the
new Live Boolean system and you can create
quick engravings and embosses, with full
control at all times.
The ZBrush Lightbox now gives you the ability
to quickly access your iles worked on in
previous ZBrush sessions. What’s more, the
new Go To Folder option enables you to
navigate your complete ile system directly
within the Lightbox. There’s also a number of
new starter projects and materials included in
the 4R8 release.
Enlightened one
by Vichar BN
• Alpha Streaks – random alpha brush strokes
• Alpha 3D – convert any shape or sculpture
into a 2D alpha
• Brush Magnify with pressure sensitivity
• Plug-in updates – better integration with
Photoshop and 3D printing
• Sculpteo link – instant online 3D printing
• Better UI – numerous interface tweaks
• Language support: English, Chinese
(Simpliied), French, German, Japanese,
Korean and Spanish – and you can switch
between languages at any time. It is also
possible to create your own custom translation
that can be shared with others.
All images: Illumination and Universal Pictures
Director Kyle Balda and animation director Julien Soret reveals the
secrets to animating a retro villain, adding in futuristic visual effects and
rerigging minions for Despicable Me 3
ithin seven years, supervillain gru and
his hapless pint-size minions have
transformed themselves and the
worldwide box ofice by earning $2.6 billion.
Despicable Me 3 keeps the streak alive by adding
an additional $450 million within the irst 11 days
of release to the coffers of Illumination
Entertainment and universal Pictures. Key to the
commercial success is mainstay producer,
director and actor Pierre Cofin who started the
franchise in 2010 with Chris Renaud. this time
around Cofin is supported by director Kyle Balda,
who was responsible for the spinoff Minions,
co-director and production designer Eric guillon,
and animation director Julien Soret, both of whom
have been involved with the Despicable Me series
since the original cinematic sensation.
a cornerstone to the storytelling is the
character arc of protagonist gru who goes from
being a selish supervillain to a caring and socially
Despicable Me 3
continues to follow
the adventures of
supervillain-turneddoting father Gru
The movie features voice
talent from the likes of
Steve Carell (Gru/Dru),
Kristen Wiig (Lucy) and
Trey Parker (Balthazar)
responsible family man. Complicating matters for
gru even further in Despicable Me 3 is a botched
assignment to capture a former child tV
star-turned-criminal mastermind, which leads to
him being ired as an operative of the anti-Villain
league. then there is the matter of gru
discovering that he has a twin brother. “the scale
of Despicable Me 3 is much bigger than the other
movies,” notes Despicable Me 3 director Kyle Balda.
“typically, we will have an animation crew of 65
people but for several months we were up in the
nineties for Despicable Me 3. at certain points, it
felt like the entire animation department for
Illumination was working on act 3. that was
because we were animating a big city, there are
complicated scenes going on, dance ighting and
crowds of people – it was the only way to get it
done. In terms of the overall pipeline or the way
we attacked the movie, that was on the same
template as the other ones.
“the other side of it was the continued
development of the characters we have seen
already, like lucy and gru,” notes Balda. “How do
the hardest
thing was trying to
ind the balance of the
brothers’ relationship
Kyle Balda,
we take them to a place that audiences haven’t
seen before? also, we had to integrate new ones
such as the villain Balthazar Bratt [trey Parker].”
another major cast addition is Dru [Steve Carell],
the sibling gru never knew he had. “the hardest
thing was trying to ind the balance of the
brothers’ relationship. How do they relate to each
other? How does bringing such a big character
like Dru into gru’s world keep the balance and
entertainment of it?” Julien Soret, the animation
director for the project, enjoyed the brotherly
challenge. “We had the opportunity of playing
with two characters that look exactly the same
[gru and Dru] and make them different with their
animation. Sequences like Bratt’s lair heist was
challenging and fun to do as we used their
physicality to achieve their mission. You can tell
how different they are just by watching how they
manage to climb up the wall or sneak into the
laboratory; that was deinitely fun to animate.
“Voices are the essence of the acting of the
characters,” remarks Soret. “We are animating on
the deinitive voices so all the richness, nuances
Despite looking similar,
the animation team
ensured that twin
brothers Gru and Dru
had contrasting
We had to rebuild the
rig for the minions to get
better deformation on the
body, arms and overalls
Julien Soret,
Animation director
and contrast that the actors are doing in their
vocal performance help us a lot for the animation.
Steve Carell, Kristen Wiig and trey Parker have a
large spectrum of emotion and a lot of appeal in
their voices, so it was a real pleasure for the
animators to work with their voices.”
the signature yellow-coloured henchmen have
also been given an upgrade over the course of the
four ilms. “Yes, we had to rebuild the rig for the
minions for Despicable Me 2 and also for Minions,”
remarks Soret. “this was in order to get better
deformation on the body, arms and overalls, and
also to make their faces more appealing. We
used the same improvement on the minions in
Despicable Me 3.” the multiple cinematic
appearances of the clueless miniature beings
have had an artistic impact for the animation
team. “most of our animators had experience
working on them,” observes Balda. “the
animation gets more polished and reined as we
start to know who the minions are more. they’re
quite simple as characters, as these goofballs, but
we do learn that they have this sentimental and
“One of the irst drawings that [co-director and
production designer] Eric guillon had done of
Dru and gru together looks close to what we
have now in the movie,” reveals director Kyle
Balda. “But we did do an exploration which
was a departure from that. Spy vs Spy in Mad
magazine is a big touchstone for us – that kind
of graphic, black-against-white strong
silhouettes. as we were exploring Dru’s
character we weren’t thinking of him as a
supervillain or superhero. We wanted to igure
out his relationship with gru.”
“We knew that he had to be different than
gru,” states animation director Julien Soret.
“So, it became obvious to give him the
opposite characteristics as gru; Dru is
optimistic, extroverted and playful. after this
milestone, Steve Carell gave us a strong
interpretation that was following this thin line
of characteristics that makes the [two
characters] different, but still look alike – a
characteristic of twin brothers.”
“Dru started out having all of these
advantages that gru didn’t have,” explains
Balda. “He grew up in an opulent place. When
gru arrives [in Freedonia], he is feeling
insecure about the fact that his brother has all
of this stuff and beautiful hair. We were playing
with this idea that Dru would be more of a
show-off. He would be wearing a fur coat and
more bling. But we found the more vulnerable
part of Dru’s character: like gru, he wants
validation from his parents. all Dru wants to be
is a supervillain like his brother was back in the
day. gru had redeemed himself in the eyes of
his dad. It made more sense to go back to this
graphic yin and yang thing with the black-andwhite outits that they are wearing.”
all images: Illumination and universal Pictures
Expanding upon the overarching theme of
family is the revelation that Gru has a twin
sibling named Dru
It’s more in the character
development side of things
where a lot of the changes
have come about
Kyle Balda,
intimate bond with gru. there’s a love-hate thing
going on between them. It’s more in the character
development side of things where a lot of the
changes have come about.”
Some animation tests were required. “We had
an interesting sequence to build with the lighting
and visual effects mixed with the animation,”
states Soret. “gru is brieing Dru on how to get in
Bratt’s lair. [the entire] interface was made in
visual effects, like in Minority Report, so we had to
make the character mime as if he’s manipulating a
real interface. this was something we have never
done before.” Bubble gum is also effectively used
as a weapon by Balthazar Bratt. “the visual
effects team had given us so much to choose from
in terms of the textures and styles,” remarks
Balda. “We tried lava-style bubble gum. Eric
guillon, who was a co-director and the production
designer, gave us these circular shapes to give that
feeling of elasticity, such as when lucy jumps and
lands on it, and credibility as the bubble gum
becomes like a bungee cord later on when the
girls are being saved from the building. the more
technical thing were the consequences of it. the
big-scale bubble gum caused buildings to
crumble, the ground to be lifted and all of the
water dripping from the raised ship.”
the inal battle between Balthazar Bratt and
gru takes place on a different continent to Dru’s
mansion located on a ictional European
mediterranean island known as Freedonia. “there
is so much reference to los angeles in terms of
what the Sun looks like here. We would probably
get criticised from los angelinos about which
direction the Hollywood sign faces, but those
were creative liberties taken to make a more
interesting story. the place where the artists had
the most fun is Bratt’s lair. all of his control panels
The movements of
Balthazar Bratt was
determined by his love
of dancing to music
from the Eighties
Balthazar uses the
power of ginormous
balls of pink bubble
gum in his citytakeover plans
along with using bubble gum as his weapon
of choice, Balthazar Bratt is adorned with the
wardrobe and attitude of michael Jackson
and Prince. “We were trying to avoid a
straightforward bad guy who twists his
moustache and does bad things,” states
Despicable Me 3 director Kyle Balda when
discussing the former child television star
seeking revenge for his show being cancelled.
“[Instead we gave] true motivation as to what
is making him do these things, but also with a
little bit of ridiculousness to it. Balthazar Bratt
is such an icon of the Eighties and has a lot of
these cheesy Eighties references. He’s stuck in
the past and has this mullet haircut.
“Pierre Cofin, Eric guillon and I are children
from the Eighties so these were nostalgic
references for us… His key power weapon is a
keytar which was [commonly found in]
Eighties pop bands, but then how do you
weaponise it for an Eighties-style villain? We
had all of those signatures around but also
needed for them to feel like they’re all coming
from one spirit and motivation.” music and
dancing plays a big role in the performance of
Balthazar Bratt who likes to play and move to
the classic songs from the Eighties as he ights.
“What we did in animation preproduction was
to look for the character’s way of moving,”
states animation director Julien Soret. “at the
end of that exploration, we found out that in
order to anchor Bratt in the Eighties, we had to
make him do his actions and dancing like [he
was] in the Eighties. that helped us a lot in
deining his way of moving.”
there were a couple of songs that the team
knew they wanted to use, “Bad [by michael
Jackson], because he is a villain and it’s such a
great song,” states Balda. “that was one of the
irst things that we tried as a temp song. We
laid Bad up against that scene and built the
scene towards the song. another one is take
On me by a-ha and that comes from the fact
that at the studio we’re all animators, and if
you’re 12 years old in the Eighties that was the
irst music video which had any kind of
animation or rotoscoping in it, so that made a
big impression on me. the song is a wink to
the inspiration that it gave us back then.”
all images: Illumination and universal Pictures
Playing upon childhood nostalgia served as
the basis for Eighties villain Balthazar Bratt,
who was voiced by trey Parker
A key element in the
creation of this sequel
was the continued
development of the
film series’ muchloved characters
The movie features an
overarching theme of
family, especially with Gru
discovering he has a twin
brother that his mother
kept secret!
are based on these old stand-up arcade-style
videogames. there’s a lot of stuff that people in
their mid-forties will appreciate.
“the lines are so blurred now between
live-action ilms and fully animated ilms,” notes
Balda. “When you watch a marvel ilm, like The
Avengers, there’s so much animation in that and
audiences don’t necessarily know where the live
action stops and the animation starts. these were
things that couldn’t have been done in the last 15
years. From a director’s point of view, it’s liberating
to know that you can go in any direction you want
to.” the movie’s climatic battle was an epic
accomplishment. “the third-act action
scene was the most technically challenging in
terms of staging and cinematography.” Soret
agrees, “the ending of the movie was challenging
as we had many characters on the screen and
very tight deadlines. In order to inish in time, we
divided the scenes in many layers so we could
share the work between many animators. We
managed to inish in time with 15 animators
approving one shot on the last day of production.
that was a huge achievement.”
Director Kyle Balda enjoys the performance
of the movie’s retro-obsessed antagonist. “the
stuff that I am most excited for audiences to see
is Balthazar Bratt, our new villain.” two particular
scenes stand out to Soret. “I really love the
sequence where gru and Dru pretend to be
each other, followed by agnes in her room with
gru trying to explain to her that unicorns don’t
exist: they are really strong comedic and
emotional moments.”
We divided the scenes
in many layers so we could
share the work between
many animators
Julien Soret,
Animation director
3D Artist stops off in Wargaming Saint Petersburg to explore
the evolution of World Of Warships’ design and to provide an
insight into the meticulous work behind digital restorations
aving an eye for detail isn’t just a point of
pride for the artists of Wargaming saint
Petersburg, but a prerequisite for the role.
it’s been just two years since the launch of World
Of Warships; in that time, the title has not only
established itself as something of a success story,
but harnessed its content and art assets to act as
an ever-evolving archive for naval aicionados too.
to support this, the Wargaming design process
has become quite unlike any other. it is driven by
a deep-rooted desire to sweat the details. World
Of Warships is seen internally not only as an
ever-evolving game that lets players across the
globe battle it out in some of history’s greatest
vessels, but as a way of preserving those ships
for future generations to study and enjoy.
And that means – perhaps more so than for any
other videogame studio in the world – that the art
team is given an unprecedented amount of time,
resources and trust to hone their craft and lex
their considerable artistic muscles. 3D Artist
makes the trip out to Wargaming saint Petersburg
to get an insight into a production pipeline that
values precision above all else.
Nautical engineers and quality
assurance personnel are embedded
alongside artists to preserve
historical accuracy and quality
“Most people don’t realise the amount of time it
actually takes to build one of our ships, what it
takes for them to be so historically accurate – or
even all the research and the background work
that must be completed before our artists can
even begin work,” Artur Plociennik, the executive
producer responsible for bridging the gap between
the art and design teams, tells 3D Artist. but that’s
why we’re here: to get a sense of the research,
time and passion that is poured into each and
every one of these historically accurate 20thcentury vessels. “you could argue that anybody
could make a replica model of a ship – and take
their sweet time doing it,” says Plociennik, “but
to actually have the expertise so that it turns out
to be believable and viable? that’s something
really unique to this team.”
And you know what, he isn’t wrong. one
thing becomes immediately apparent as we begin
touring the studio and speaking with the staff:
there’s more to this project than mere historical
re-creation. What’s impressive is that each ship
completed and made live on the World Of
Warships servers isn’t just another job well
done – representing an impressive proiciency
to make the ships as
accurate as possible, we
have to get the materials
Vladimir Gremitskiy,
Head of art
and understanding over basic production tools
such as Maya, Photoshop and Quixel – but years
of a life. “there’s basically one artist assigned to
work on each ship,” says Anatoliy nepochatov,
a senior 3d artist at the studio with over a dozen
warships in his portfolio. “they will come to know
that ship better than any other; they will put
a piece of their soul into its design.”
“one of our destroyers, the smallest type of
ship class that we have and also the least detailed,
is around two months of production time in terms
of man hours,” Plociennik conirms, noting that the
larger ships – some of which can range anywhere
from 100 to 150 metres in size – will take far
After the ship has been
assembled, a UV map needs
to be created, with Wargaming
using UVLayout for this
longer. “For the carriers, cruisers and battleships it
is more like six to eight months. you can imagine
that research time can take anywhere from one
month to a year as well.”
it doesn’t matter whether you are preparing
a render for a university assignment or getting
ready to build a ship for what could indeed be
the most pedantic player base in videogames:
research is one of the most important aspects of
the production pipeline. With artists responsible
for taking charge of both modelling and texturing
these vessels from start to inish, the devil is
certainly in the details. From the shape of the hull
to the implementation of the ire-control and
weapon systems, right down to the placement
of chains on the deck and areas of rusting on the
exterior, the artist must know and understand
all of these intricacies before they can even begin
getting their hands dirty in Maya.
“to make the ships as accurate as possible, we
have to get the materials irst-hand,” head of art
Vladimir gremitskiy tells us. “the best way for
us to get the best reference for our ships is
archives. We have to visit or contact national
archives in the countries of the ships that we are
Players would sacriice
everything to get the
historical pillar right…
so we have to as well
Artur Plociennik,
Executive producer
working on.” gremitskiy notes that should the
original blueprints be unavailable, the studio has
nautical architects on-team capable of rebuilding
them from scratch using photo reference
materials and schematics should they need to.
given the amount of time it takes for an artist
to complete work on a ship, we wonder aloud
whether there is such a thing as having too many
references – conscious that it can be all too easy
to become lost in the annals of history. there may
have been a language barrier, but it got a laugh
from the group. “in our line of work there is no
such thing as too many references!” gremitskiy
exclaims, laughing still; members of QA and
design nearby shake their heads dutifully. We get
a sense that there is a tension between the art
teams and those responsible for integrating the
game systems, but Plociennik explains that such
a dedication to accuracy is part of the appeal of
the game, and all the development departments
understand this. “We have quite a vocal
community of players, many of whom are
interested in the historical part of warships –
they would sacriice everything to get the
historical pillar right… so we have to as well.”
once the meticulous research has been
completed, that’s when the real work begins.
Anatoliy nepochatov explains that once the
materials have been studied and assembled, an
artist will begin on what he calls the blueprint
stage. this involves setting the digital blueprints
(usually between 20 to 30 in a scene) into Maya,
in an effort to ensure that the principal structural
features of the ship line up and measure to the
scans. From there, work on the model begins as
everything always does, says nepochatov. “For
me, it doesn’t matter what i am doing or building:
you will always start from a box or a cylinder. if
we’re talking about a hull or a super-structure on
due to the nature of World of Warships,
there are some restrictions the art team
have to be aware of as it sets about
building these ships
one of the ways Wargaming has been able to
ind and maintain such a success in the market
is not only down to its incredible free-to-play
model – incentivising smart and constant
purchasing from players – but because of the
huge variety of machines its games can be
played on. From World Of Tanks to World
Of Warplanes and World Of Warships, the
company is eager to bring historically accurate
vehicles across land, air and sea no matter
what type of computer a player has. in fact,
we’re told, it was only recently that Warships
left devices running Windows XP behind.
this, while impressive in its commitment to
servicing players, offers a set of challenges for
the art team, particularly when it comes to
texturing and rendering ships for live service.
“our main restrictions come from the PCs that
our games are working on,” conirms head of
art Vladimir gremitskiy. “We can make the
ships as beautiful as we want, but that doesn’t
matter if nobody can see or play the game.
this where our main poly count and texture
restrictions come from.”
When you take into account all of the
reference objects within the ship, that poly
count limit is approximately 300,000. And
that isn’t nearly as much as it sounds when
dealing with machines of this size or stature.
but there is a beneit to such a goal: it keeps
the artists focused on authenticity, stopping
them from wanting to make small visual
improvements to the vessels. After all,
anything built in real life will have laws.
“First of all we can look at any historical
photos to know that a ship isn’t as perfect as
it could be,” says senior artist Anatoliy
nepochatov. “Maybe there’s some stuff on
the deck that could be put in a perfect row…
we can do it, but it wouldn’t be accurate.
that’s why it’s good to have some restrictions
in the process.”
While one artist usually builds
a ship, in some instances more
artists will assist if production
needs a fast turnaround
it might look
impressive, but it’s
actually quite simple. it
all starts with a cube
Anatoliy Nepochatov,
Senior 3D artist
a german destroyer, for example, it might look
impressive, but it’s actually quite simple. it all
starts with a cube.”
the hull itself is a compound object, crafted in
Maya to align with the schematics – although this,
we’re told, can take a signiicant amount of time.
“the schematics are never perfect,” nepochatov
continues. “it can take a lot of time to adjust these
features.” thankfully, the studio has found a few
shortcuts to help speed up production once the
initial craft work has been completed, taking some
of the strain off of artists looking to re-create
these ships with 100-per-cent accuracy.
Wargaming’s object manager is essentially a
huge library of different assets and elements from
other ship classes that an artist can reuse. it’s the
elements many ships have in common, such as
“the main and secondary weapons, ire-control
systems, and anchoring equipment,” says
nepochatov. “We can load these various
elements into the ship scene as reference
objects, signiicantly shortening production time.”
nepochatov notes that re-creating each of the
2,000-plus objects that make up one ship every
time would be, as he puts it, “ridiculous”.
once the artist feels conident that the ship is
ready to move on to the next stage of modelling,
the time-consuming texturing process begins. it is
split into two parts: technical and artistic. in the
technical stage, artists will work to ill in any gaps
that they were not able to implement in Maya
due to polygon limitations. “it’s approximately
300,000 polygons. it sounds like a lot, but if you
talk about a huge battleship, it is nothing,” says
nepochatov, explaining that the way the artists
will work around modelling restrictions is by
“texturing some of the elements that are either
too small to model or too small to see. Pieces such
as rivets, air grates, welds and langes. if a ship is
riveted, for example, there will be thousands of
them that need to be put in place… thankfully,
we can just paint them on using Photoshop.”
the second part of this process sees the
near-inal ship move through a texture pipeline,
with Quixel studio used to paint in lourishes such
as rust, scratches and leak stains to give the ship
the inal touch of authenticity, resembling their
real-life counterpart as closely as possible.
With Wargaming intent on having the most
accurate 3d models in the world, a strict
quality-control process has evolved. When the
model is inished up, the team circumvents
rendering it out straight away: instead, it exports
the model and its texture maps from Maya and
into Wargaming’s proprietary big World MMo
game engine. it’s here where all the pieces are
welded together, giving the artists the opportunity
to see their model in the proper environments
and illumination before the QA teams, nautical
engineers and military veterans pass over it
for inspection.
truth be told, the process sounds gruelling.
Why, then, do the artists at Wargaming saint
Petersburg commit so many months of their lives
to these single-ship projects? “Passion. it’s all
about passion,” nepochatov beams. “i really love
working with ships, i love vessels from my youth.
i saw Titanic when i was seven years old, and it
wasn’t that boring romantic story that i fell in love
with, but just the ship.”
that passion can be seen and felt across the
entire studio. it’s a team with a passion for history,
eager to please the millions of players. there’s
a certain level of technical skill required to handle
these digital restorations, and Wargaming has
turned it into an artform. And that, we’re told, is
something the studio is intent on maintaining as it
continues to build, improve and expand World Of
Warships in the future.
“to an extent, our dedication to historical
accuracy it comes down to personal pride,” says
Vladimir gremitskiy. “but on the other hand, we
know that [our players] are naval nerds and they
expect for things to be speciic – they whine on
forums if it isn’t… the last thing we would want
is to go to war with them over it.”
300,000 polygons
sounds like a lot, but if
you talk about a huge
battleship, it is nothing
Anatoliy Nepochatov,
Senior 3D artist
Building a Better Battleship
head of art Vladimir Gremitskiy on the evolution of Wargaming saint petersburg
has the pipeline changed or evolved in the last
two years?
We’ve had some changes in the pipeline from the
initial stages in development to the way that it
exists today. For example, we used to irst create
the hull, then the objects on the deck and then the
textures themselves. now it’s more complicated:
we are aligning all of the blueprints in a 3d
modelling program irst, for example. We are
working on more artistic effects and extra
lourishes. the pipeline has only gotten longer!
Why stick with maya for World Of Warships?
When Wargaming formed around 2003, we
chose Maya for all our tasks and animations.
We have scripts that we have built up over time; it
would be dificult to replace them.
are there any new tools that you aren’t using
as a company that you would like to?
From an artistic perspective, it’s really hard to
tell what software would be useful and what
wouldn’t. For example, we could use the software
that the real nautical architects use, but it would
be really hard to use by our team and therefore
wouldn’t be so useful… it might be too complex.
there is no software out there that would
let us make ships with one click, so we will
always have to do it manually. but we always
have internal technical artists working at
creating scripts to make our lives a lot easier,
such as a script that creates an anchor, barrels
or chain links.
is it dificult for the artists to let the ships go
out to sea, after spending so many months
working on them?
no, i think they are okay with it because they
always have another one to start on straight
after [laughs].
Expert advice from industry professionals, taking you from concept to completion
All tutorial files can be downloaded from:
The Surgeon, 2017
Maya, ZBrush,
KeyShot, Photoshop
Learn how to
• Create compelling renders
• Speed up your
high-poly worklow
• Tell a story using mood
and colour
• Achieve more believable
render results
• Light scenes using multiple
HDRIs in KeyShot
• Composite renders
in Photoshop
• Create and strengthen
visual focal points
I chose this beautiful concept
by Aaron Beck because it
immediately stood out as
strange – full of this odd, alien
allure that felt fresh and
interesting. It was also sure to
provide ample opportunity to
learn pipelines and new
approaches through varied
software, as well as a chance
to explore worklows outside
of the normal constraints of
my standard day-to-day as an
environment artist.
Render a high-poly
character model
with KeyShot
Learn how to iterate quickly on complex models while having full control
over creating captivating and powerful results in KeyShot
n this tutorial, we’ll cover a variety of techniques for
improving render quality in KeyShot, as well as approaches
to increase modelling speed and eficiency when working
with complex characters. Instead of a character tutorial for
real-time output, or something that prescribes conventional
baking pipelines, we’ll look at what goes into creating a killer
single-image presentation, similar to cover art for games or
ilm. The skills taught in this tutorial will help you recognise
how to cater your pipeline to your speciic output, stay within
a reasonable project scope and install stop-gaps in your
pipeline so that you can iterate quickly – all while staying
nimble enough to have control over the mood and focal
points of the inal presentation.
Maya for shapes Planning for eficiency in the pipeline
at the start of a project is always beneicial. A great
way to speed up any model-heavy project is to divide the
modelling into two phases: foundational shapes and details.
This pipeline ends up being very similar to the popular
ProBoolean and DynaMesh method.
The purpose of the irst phase is to rely on standard highpoly modelling in Maya to quickly obtain the overall shapes and
edge thicknesses for each piece. At this stage, the goal is to
build out the main shapes, and to capture any modelling that
would be faster in Maya than in ZBrush. Basic cut-ins and
transitions for hard angles are handled here as well, allowing
for consistent and less cumbersome edge control.
Detail in ZBrush Once a shape is modelled for a
silhouette, it graduates to the detailing phase.
Duplicate the piece in the Maya scene (to preserve the
pre-smoothed version), smooth as needed and bring in to
ZBrush. For many pieces, as shown here where the main body
of the mask connects to the ilters, the process involves pulling
two smoothed pieces into ZBrush, and DynaMeshing them
together into one SubTool before detailing. This enables
smooth, easily controllable connections between complex
hard-surface shapes, without compromising any of the
intended component quality. After DynaMeshing at a
resolution suficient to maintain edge idelity, the detail pass
can commence. This involves using masks and alphas to
generate detail, create edge intrusions and build more
interesting connections between pieces.
Assemble in ZBrush Once a piece has been detailed in
its own ‘scene’, it graduates once again to become a
SubTool on the larger character, where it is attached to the rest
of the model. At this stage, a lot of educated decisions about
where to detail existing pieces can take place. This enables you
to see where the silhouette begins to fall apart, which, in turn,
informs the creation of new pieces or edits to existing SubTools.
It’s best to work in the scene with the entire character so that
deciding what to detail comes from seeing the big picture, as
opposed to hyperfocusing on a single piece. This habit will
always save time, and render results that are more cohesive.
• Tutorial screenshots
Build to the camera angle At this point, it’s important
to decide on a inal camera perspective, and lock your
KeyShot project to it. This enables you to focus within
parameters, so that you can really push details where needed.
It’s critical to do more silhouette tests to ind the most
interesting composition, and to really prove out that the shapes
are strong and readable. During this stage, you can make
decisions to improve the composition by adding extra lenses to
the sides, adding wires to reinforce the shape of the body and
deciding where to focus on complex hardware intersections.
Set up materials in KeyShot Once you’re satisied with
the level of detail, it’s time to start material breakouts.
Generally, it’s a good idea to start with as few materials as
possible in order to maintain readability. For the Surgeon,
glossy, white plastic is the primary material for the hardsurface pieces, with brushed nickel insets for attachments.
This is the same rough material breakout of a lot of modernday medical equipment, making these natural choices for the
primary materials. Dark rubber and steel are used on ilters,
wires and fasteners in order to add life to the emerging look,
which is still very sterile and ‘medical’. If there’s nothing to
offset the ultraclean materials, things begin to look like a
commercial render, which is not the intention here.
Add simple mesh detail As the Surgeon came
together in KeyShot, it was obvious that some of the
mechanical ilters on the mask were still lacking material
breakup and detail. KeyShot Bridge was used to export pieces
that needed additional detailing back into Maya. In the case of
the side ilters, simple geometry caps were built into the fronts,
as well as clamp details to transitions. The front ilter was
rebuilt to differentiate it from the smaller, ancillary ilters. The
simple meshes were imported into KeyShot as a single object
with multiple material IDs. The results look complex, when in
reality they were quick, inal touches. In some cases, selecting
components of pieces and assigning different material IDs
allows for material breakup without unnecessary modelling.
Emphasise the focal points The material pass is a
great opportunity for you to emphasise focal points. By
virtue of the ixed camera, you’ve likely already established
which parts of the model should be the focus, and which are
less important. For the Surgeon, the primary focal point is his
upper mask and optics areas. Throughout the character, this
has the highest conluence of varied materials in close
proximity, and that’s intentional. Later, this area will be
enhanced by compositing additional texture detail. Another
tactic for maintaining focus is to use lighter-value materials on
the outer pieces, while using darker materials on receded
sections. Examples of this can be seen where the strap
underlies the neckpiece.
Managing SubTools
By maintaining versions of each piece – one presmoothed, one pre-detailed and one detailed – it’s
easier to ix pieces that need more attention as the
project evolves, and the character comes together.
It’s useful to be able to refer back to versions of pieces
throughout, especially as the end composition comes
together in KeyShot.
avoiding ‘false details’
Learning how to avoid reliance on ‘false details’ during art
iteration is vital for environment art, but also applies to
character renders, where the image lives or dies on its
readability. False details are any metals, high-frequency
textures or overly relective materials that introduce a lot
of screen-space relections. These elements can be
misleading in analysing models, as they can prematurely
trick you into thinking that your model complexity is
suficient and balanced, when in reality, your eye is
simply trying to parse the noise.
As sections of the character are imported into
KeyShot, each is assigned a basic clay shader to ensure
that the composition is still interesting enough on its
own. Keeping the materials simple at this phase
facilitates decisions about where to add complexity, and
where the detail is truly suficient and complete.
Your art will hold up better over time if the details are
true, static and intended, while using relections and
renderer details as a layer of polish.
Decals in KeyShot Since KeyShot’s decal system is
amazingly user-friendly, it’s very useful for illing the
gaps in areas that need additional detail. Each decal is worked
up in a basic TGA output from Photoshop. Once decals are
built, there are some tricks to help with believability. First,
create a 5% opaque duplicate of the decal, and apply a lowintensity halftone ilter. Next, create a low-intensity Gaussian
blur duplicate. Overlay both, and be sure to also pull these into
the alpha channel. The purpose of this is so that as KeyShot
processes the image, the edges of the decals will sit, especially
on clean surfaces, much more naturally. As a rule, decal values
should never go fully black or fully white; yes, that old digital art
adage is still important!
Decal cohesion and storytelling Using decals as a
method of detail addition is great, but it’s also
important for believability. For this character, each
manufacturer decal was built with the narrative in mind. The
demarcations, designations, fonts and shape language were all
planned out to be consistent, so that the pieces looked like they
belong in the same universe. One level above manufacturer
graphics are the corporate logos. While the protective shells
may be manufactured by one company, and the optics
assemblies were created by another, all were uniied by the
overall MedSync corporate visual aesthetic. By investing some
thought into building consistency into the graphic design, the
results feel more believable.
Render settings If you’re going for a single shot as your
presentation, it makes sense to familiarise yourself with
render features. Unlike some of the more complex renderers
like V-Ray or Vue, KeyShot is optimised for usability. It contains
lighting presets that are worth experimenting with early, as
these will prescribe not only how the image lights, but how
quickly you can iterate. Another great feature is the ability to
tell the renderer how much time or how many samples you’d
like it to dedicate to your image. This is useful when trying to
maintain quality without needing to dive into manual sliders.
I’ve found that excellent results can be achieved by manually
setting Maximum Samples to 500, and letting it run.
Keeping values in the
background consistent with how
your subject is lighting is key to
selling believability
Convey the mood Now that the assembly and materials
are in place, start to consider the mood of the inal
presentation. Thankfully, the subject matter in this case lends
itself to a feeling of the ominous, and the alien. Several render
tests were done with different HDRIs in KeyShot. The purpose
of these tests were to explore the extremes, and ultimately
nail the intended mood: sterile, corporate detachment. Blood,
stains and the backdrop seat it in a grounded, modern-day
medical environment. Try to achieve the overall mood of
the image through lighting and tone before relying on a
background. If the intended feeling can be achieved before
supplementing the render, the end result will be stronger.
Furthermore, working to a background early can be very
distracting when trying to dial in the tone.
Dual HDRI lighting Start by establishing your key light
HDRI – the primary light source that provides clear
readability for the subject, and establishes the overall mood.
Once you’re happy with the results, save the scene and wipe
out the lighting. Take notes on the render, paying special
attention to where details on the model are lacking, and how
the lighting is complementing or ighting the focal points. If the
HDRI isn’t bright or contrasting enough, metals will suffer from
a lack of relected details. From a fresh scene, explore a
complementary HDRI that highlights the details you’ve
identiied as lacking from the irst render. This is not another
primary light source. Instead, it exists to bring out details that
were lacking from areas in the initial render. A longtime
co-worker and veteran artist, Ryan Hawkins, who has a lot
of experience in industrial design, taught me this approach.
Examples of his amazing work can be found at
Work with a background When colour balancing, it’s
useful to mask out the background. Doing colour work
on the subject only enables you to assess the model
independently, which makes tuning to the background far
easier. If you tune the entire image at once, shifting background
colours can inluence your eye too much. When you’re ready
to consider the background itself, start by identifying key light
sources in the primary HDRI. Note their position and colour.
Try to build your background with these elements in mind.
Keeping values in the background consistent with how your
subject is lighting is key to selling believability.
adjusting PBR values
A common mistake in modern PBR pipelines is adjusting
colour values by eye. If values are too low, powerful
lighting functionality of modern-day renderers like UE4
and KeyShot’s GI functions won’t work well, and will give
you results where lighting dies out in darker areas. It’s
always best to rely on PBR material values where
possible, and to keep an eye on the darker areas of any
environment, character or render as you work.
Try to achieve the
overall mood of the
image through lighting
and tone before relying
on a background
All tutorial files can be downloaded from: 49
Photoshop composition This phase is reserved for adding details that neither HDRI could
provide. For the Surgeon, this phase is where creating relections in the lenses
(appropriate to the lighting), and KeyShot’s clown pass to isolate and value correct key pieces
took place. Be careful during this phase to constantly zoom out, so that as you adjust, you’re not
hurting image clarity. During the composition, it became apparent that several of the darker
materials were too dark. Since the KeyShot camera was locked and the scene saved, it was easy
to go back and increase the values of these materials, enabling them to take more lighting. After
an updated render, these sections were composited back into the image. This resulted in an
improved value range.
Josh Rife
I am currently environment lead at Boss Key
Productions. In my spare time, I focus on expanding
my toolkit and learning new techniques.
Elysium ‘Crowe’ Rifle, 2014
Maya, ZBrush, Photoshop, Marmoset
Crowe’s rile from the ilm Elysium with underslung
grenade launcher and automated tracking optics systems.
Payphone, 2013
Maya, Photoshop, UE3
This image was a PBR study from a broader series of
game props.
Final presentation To start, add a 2% uniform noise layer to emulate ilm grain, in order to
get rid of some of the ‘rendered’ look. Too much will degrade image clarity on high-end
displays, so use with caution. Do some tweaking in Curves/Hue/Saturation, while being mindful
of the histogram. It’s important to maintain a wide value range so that the image holds up on a
variety of screen types. Lastly, it’s great to get into the habit of doing Color Balance tests. Color
Balance can enhance the mood, but is also a key step in inalising presentation. Tests
immediately showed that the colours in this project were too cool, lacking warmth to balance.
Adjusting greens and cyans out of the highlights, effectively neutralising key light colour, evened
things out. Conversely, shadows gained warmth, enabling the 3D shapes to read better.
Droid Hard Surface Study, 2012
This was a small sentry droid that was built as a subdivision
study in Maya.
Model concepts in ZBrush and create custoM Brushes
The flying monkey –
head designs, 2017
ZBrush, KeyShot, Photoshop
Learn how to
• Render in KeyShot
• Photobash
• Design the face of a creature
• Paint fur
• Create custom
Photoshop brushes
The idea is based on a
ictitious client who wants to
create a movie about lying
monkeys, and the assignment
is to create an evil-looking
lying monkey.
Model concepts in
ZBrush and create
custom brushes
Discover photobashing techniques and how to make custom brushes.
Learn how to design head variations for creature concepts
his tutorial is all about designing the head of a creature
based on the description from a ictional client. We are
going to give thought to the silhouette of the head of a
lying monkey and discuss how to garner various ideas. You
will also learn tips and tricks on how to quickly and easily
create the head with the help of references. Most of the time
we will be working with photoshop where you will also learn
how to generate your own brushes. this will help you to make
the fur look more realistic.
Work on the pose We should keep in mind that
creating a beautiful and detailed head concept is
not too important at this stage. time is money, and the faster
you work the more satisied your client will be. accordingly,
the head won’t have any details. We position the monkey in a
way that enables the head to look directly at the viewer. the
details will be added later in photoshop with the aid of
photographs of real monkeys.
What the client requires First of all, we have to read the
description of the creature that has been provided by
our ictional client. it is a good idea to take notes while reading.
Description: ‘the required creature is set in the mythology/
fantasy genre. the ilm, which will be produced later on, deals
with lying monkeys in a ictive world. it is your task to design
the head of a lying monkey that looks evil and cunning, but is
also able to do good deeds at the same time.’
Create the monkey head in 3D it is important for the
client to see various design ideas of the face/head of
the creature so that they can choose the best one. the reason
for the importance of a good head design is that, irst of all, the
viewer wants to lock eye contact with a character. after that
they observe the creature as a whole. With this knowledge we
can think about the species of monkey: the langur offers a wide
visual scope that enables us to create an evil but good-looking
monkey. now we can start with the head design in ZBrush. of
course you can take the 3d model of the monkey that is
included with this tutorial.
• Hair brush
• ZBrush ile
• PSD iles
• Tutorial screenshots
Model concepts in ZBrush and create custoM Brushes
Assign material in KeyShot now it is time for
rendering. as mentioned earlier you can use the
model of the monkey that is provided for this tutorial. We
render the monkey head in Keyshot and for this we use the
ZBrush-to-Keyshot Bridge. in Keyshot you can assign different
materials and textures to the model. Furthermore, you can
experiment with hdr images until you are satisied with light
and shadow.
Portrait render in KeyShot in order to render a portrait
in Keyshot there are some helpful tricks to achieve a
better end result. the irst step is to alter the perspective from
35 to 100 and to get as close to the face as possible. the next
step is to open the camera menu/tab, go to position and
orientation>twist and enter 90. Your viewpoint spins
automatically to the angle of 90 degrees and now you have
more space to zoom in on the face. once that step is done, you
can render the image as a pnG at 3,800 x 2,465px.
Photobash techniques for concept art after
rendering it is time to work with photoshop. But before
that we should search for high-quality hd images of monkeys
that we need later on for the photobashing. Free hd images
are available via Google or Flickr, but pay attention to the
copyright. as soon as we have enough hd images, we can
start off with cutting the parts that we need for our concept.
the end result is an unpleasant-looking puzzle.
Blend jigsaw seamlessly together in this step you will
learn how to merge the cut-out parts seamlessly with
the aid of brushes. the hard round and soft round brush as
well as the clone stamp tool will sufice for this. another
helpful tool is the Match color plugin that adjusts the colours
of different images.
alternative methods
of course you can start off with the actual design of the
monkey head in photoshop. creating the head in 3d
provides a basis that can help us with orientation. of
course there is more than one method, for example we
could use a sketch or photograph of a monkey as a basis.
With the aid of this basis we are going to develop the
inal concept of the head. in the end, the most important
thing is to create a professional concept of the head in
the appropriate amount of time to satisfy the client.
Polypainting fur in ZBrush
another option to quickly and easily achieve an idea of
the lying monkey is to paint fur directly in ZBrush. this
way you can see whether the concept of the black fur
looks good or not. alternatively, you can create fur in 3d
directly in ZBrush with the aid of the FiberMesh tool.
afterwards you can render it in Keyshot, but this takes
time and it is harder to make alterations. in order to work
eficiently it is a good idea to use layers in ZBrush.
Decide on the design after merging the cut-out
image parts, we can think about the silhouette of the
face’s fur. this contributes greatly to the design of the monkey.
the description from the ictive client says that the monkey is
able to do good deeds. Because of this we are going to add the
colour white; this way the contrast between the white fur of the
face and the black wings becomes more apparent and it
frames the face of the monkey.
Create a custom brush With a custom brush we can
paint fur as realistically as possible. First of all, we
create a new document with the measurements 1,024 x 1,024
pixels. then we create a new layer and draw three dots in
different sizes. after opening the menu edit>deine Brush
preset, a new window opens and we can name the brush. this
way we can alter the brush with the tool Window>Brush
according to our needs.
Adjust the brush We are going to modify the brush
with the aid of the Brush tabs according to our concept.
under the Brush tip shape tool we can change the roundness
up to 42% and the angle up to 9 degrees. after that we open
the shape dynamics tab and change the control function from
off to pen pressure. once that is done, we open the transfer
tab and change the control ield from off to pen pressure and
raise Minimum up to 31%.
Model concepts in ZBrush and create custoM Brushes
Add texture to the fur after creating our own fur brush,
we can now begin painting the fur of the face. in step 8
we painted a silhouette around the face, and now we can
continue working on this silhouette. With the aid of the
clipping Mask function in photoshop, we can lay the image of a
monkey directly onto the silhouette in order to get a better idea
of how the fur or hair acts. then we are going to use our own
fur brush to paint the fur.
The Liquify tool after inishing the face’s fur, it strikes us
that the silhouette of the face with the white fur doesn’t
look quite as good as before. of course we don’t have to start
from the beginning again because photoshop provides a very
helpful tool called liquify. With this tool we can quickly change
the silhouette without having to start over. You can ind the
tool in the menu Filter>liquify.
Use Camera Raw Filter We are slowly nearing
completion, but we still have to pretty up the concept of
the monkey. For this step we open Filter>camera raw Filter.
now we can change the temperature and also try out some of
the functions until we are satisied with the thumbnail. We
conirm the changes and they are added to our layer.
searching for HD images on the web
When we are searching for good, high-quality pictures
we should pay attention to one or two things. as already
mentioned, we can ind pictures via Google or Flickr and
should keep an eye on any copyrights that will affect their
usage. in Google we can change the size (6MB or larger)
of the images but can also search for certain usage
rights/licences. if you have the opportunity to make your
own pictures, that is deinitely a better option than using
pictures from the internet. last but not least we should
consider one last thing: we need pictures with as little
light as possible, and images with shadows or an
overcast sky are better.
Blur to focus one of the last steps is to blur the picture in order to direct the focus to the
face. We are using the Gaussian Blur function which can be found under Filter>Blur>
Gaussian Blur. in addition to that we are using the Blur tool which grants us more control over
the blur. this way we can set the subordinate images in the background and feature the face.
Tony Camehl
Since I was a kid I was always interested in creatures
and aliens. I became passionate about extraterrestrial
creatures after watching Star Wars: Episode I – The
Phantom Menace, and after graduating from school I
taught myself how to create aliens from outer space.
Young Arnodyr, 2016
ZBrush, KeyShot, Photoshop
this arnodyr study was created after i inished studying
deer anatomy, and i wanted to create something similar to
the centaur species.
Abandoned Creature Design, 2017
ZBrush, KeyShot, Photoshop
this is a creature design concept for my personal project
called abandoned – after all. i used different textures in
Keyshot to quickly create this ‘look’ under its skin.
Add chromatic aberration as a inal step we can add a chromatic aberration as a little
add-on to our image, helping it look more like a real picture. For this we have to duplicate
the last layer. With a double-click on the irst layer a new window opens. under channels we
deactivate the blue channel. do the same thing for the second layer but this time deactivate the
red channel. in order to make the chromatic aberration effect visible we have to move the last
layer to the right or left until a red and blue edge around the monkey appears.
Abandoned Creature Design 2, 2016
ZBrush, KeyShot, Photoshop
another creature design concept for my abandoned project.
these huge creatures destroy large cities on earth to make
room for their own alien structures.
All tutorial files can be downloaded from: 57
Halo Wars 2 Frontend
Background Videos,
3ds Max, Substance Designer,
V-Ray, After Effects
Learn how to
• Export Substance Designer
material to 3ds Max/V-Ray
• Light in V-Ray
• Render game assets for
ofline rendering
The idea was to create a series
of background videos for the
front-end menu and showcase
units from the game.
microsoft, 343 industries, and Halo Wars are trademarks of the microsoft group of Companies
RendeR assets in V-Ray foR an in-game Video
Render assets in
V-Ray for an
in-game video
Learn how to create game assets using 3ds Max, V-Ray and Substance
Designer with Creative Assembly’s senior character artist
• Tutorial screenshots
ne of my tasks on the Halo Wars 2 game was to
create a series of background videos for the front-end
menu. 3ds max was used because it’s the main tool
for our art team and V-Ray was chosen as the renderer due to
its quality and simplicity.
the character team had created dozens of in-game units,
but they weren’t designed for ofline rendering. this tutorial
shows my process from start to inish, from game assets to
inal videos.
Choose unit’s posture the irst step was to choose
groups of units that looked good next to each other
and so made sense to be presented as a group. We did a lot
of planning in the early stages to get this right. in this example,
i’ll go through the spartan, Warthog and scorpion group as
they looked great and are very iconic to microsoft’s Halo
franchise. Unit poses were extracted from maya by scrubbing
through the timelines in our game animation, then imported
into 3ds max as fBX.
Animatic and composition the selected units were
brought into 3ds max along with the background from
environment art. then the camera was animated, aiming for
pleasing compositions and low between shots. following this
i then exported animation previews from the max viewport to
show to the art director for approval.
Texture with Substance Designer With a similar
pipeline that we use for the game, we re-created a
multi-material blend with more details (tailored for our
medium close-up shot instead of an Rts camera view), and
used input maps that were already baked game models, for
texturing. our input maps are Colour id, ambient occlusion,
normal, Position, Curvature and World space normal.
RendeR assets in V-Ray foR an in-game Video
Convert textures to V-Ray in substance designer,
we can convert our physically based (metallic/
Roughness) material to V-Ray with the BaseColor/metallic/
Roughness converter node and select V-Ray as target.
V-Ray material We used a V-Ray material and
assigned the correct textures map to diffuse,
Relect, Rglossiness, fresnel ioR and Bump. since we are
working with a linear worklow, make sure gamma of ioR,
glossiness and normal map is at override to 1, fresnel
relections are ticked and unlocked and BRdf is set to
microfacet gtR (ggX).
Ground Dirt pass with V-Ray Blend Material to make
the units more grounded in the environment, we go
back to substance designer and export a ground dirt mask.
the aim here was to simulate dirt from the environment on the
characters. Baking with one axis mode gave a better result for
ground dirt. in V-Ray, use spartan V-Ray material from step 5
as the base of V-Ray Blend material. Create another material
that matches the environment ground for the Coat material,
then work on the ground dirt mask as the Blend amount.
Background units We used the same substance
designer-to-V-Ray worklow for all other units in the
shot, and a render turntable to make sure the material works
well in most angles.
Marine’s skin there were only two different marine
models in the game: male and female marines. for the
shot we needed to make them look different, so that they
weren’t just clones. face textures were projected with the
photo source in substance Painter, then colour corrected as
separate maps to be used with VRayskinmtl. the inal maps
for the faces were shallow texture, medium texture, deep
texture, Primary Relection texture, secondary Relection
texture and normal map.
Image-based lighting in 3ds max, i created a V-Ray light and selected dome as the
light type. i then enabled ‘Use texture’ and assigned V-Ray HdRi to the slot. We chose
an HdRi with magic Hour lighting and spherical as the mapping type. these choices gave us a
nice lighting and atmosphere to the shot, and the HdRi was now visible in the relection. then a
VRaysun was added to the scene as the main light source with shadow casting.
Vincent Chai
I started in the games industry as an environment
artist, then moved over to character art for Halo Wars
2. I have always been fascinated by classical paintings
and sculptures and feel that digital sculpting gets me
closer to those great masters I have always admired.
The Guardian, 2016
ZBrush, 3ds Max, V-Ray, Substance Painter
a personal project exploring the worklow from substance
Painter to V-Ray.
I am the Penguin, 2014
ZBrush, 3ds Max, V-Ray
fan art of the Penguin character in tim Burton’s Batman
(1989). i love the world and mood he created for the movie.
Render and composite after completion of the lighting pass, we rendered every
sequence for all cameras with an output size of 1,920 x 1,080. We used the eXR format
with VRayZdepth, VRayselfillumination and multimatteelement. the sky (and ‘the ark’) was
rendered to a separate layer for compositing. finally, we imported our output image sequences
into after effects for compositing, colour correction, contrast, depth of ield and chromatic
aberration to achieve the inal look.
Grizzly Tank (Halo Wars 2), 2015
3ds Max, V-Ray
High-poly model conceptualised and created for Halo Wars 2
following the new design of the scorpion tank.
All tutorial files can be downloaded from:
Build a steampunk weapon in Blender
Steampunk Weapon,
Build a steampunk
weapon in Blender
Learn the process for creating a steampunk-style weapon from start to
inish with Blender and Substance Painter
Blender, Substance Painter
Learn how to
• Model a weapon
• Texture with
Substance Painter
• Light and render with Cycles
I wanted to create a
steampunk-style weapon
that felt unique, but also
felt like it it within that
world and aesthetic.
he vast world of steampunk is a fun and exciting style
to explore, full of gears, pipes and of course, steam. in
this tutorial, we will be creating a steampunk-style gun
in Blender and substance painter. there is a sense of freedom
and challenge that comes with creating a weapon in this style.
You have the freedom to either create a truly out-of-thisworld weapon, or maybe one that is a little more grounded,
with a steampunk lare. the choice is up to you. throughout
this tutorial, we will be going through the process of modelling
the steampunk weapon in Blender, from the blocking stage to
the inal model. after that, we’ll bring it into substance painter
and discuss the process of adding textures and materials to
our gun. we’ll bring everything back into Blender and do a
quick render, using various techniques for effects, and discuss
how to bring in textures from substance painter to Blender.
Block in the model the irst step of the process is to
begin blocking in the model. the goal here is to stay
rough and work loose. You’re not trying to create beautifully
crafted meshes, but rather igure out the overall shapes and
silhouettes for the weapon. this is really the time when you
can experiment, play around and ind something that speaks to
you. working with simple cubes and cylinders inside of Blender
is really all you need to establish a strong base and silhouette.
Add the barrel details with the basic shape of the
barrel and muzzle modelled out, the next step is to
begin adding further steampunk-style details. we’ve created
the basic barrel details at the top and bottom of the barrel,
almost like a cage. this could be pieces of metal, but instead
we are going to model pieces of wood that are bolted together.
this is a stylistic choice and its within that steampunk style.
You can see that we’ve added a few other details to the barrel,
including three cylinders at the middle and base of the barrel.
right now they don’t look like much, but once we get into
texturing we will be applying a mesh-like texture to them, so
that these portions of the barrel appear to be ventilated in
case of overheating. Just like with the muzzle, many of these
pieces have a simple bevel applied to ensure that there aren’t
any harsh 90-degree angles on any part of the mesh.
Model the barrel once we’re happy, the next step is to
begin creating the inal model. start with the barrel
end of the gun and work back to the stock. one of the great
things about the steampunk style is that it can be really
exaggerated or cartoony. so, for this, we’ve sized it up and
created a blunderbuss-style muzzle, which really its with the
steampunk aesthetic. we also want to bevel prominent edges
on the barrel so there aren’t any harsh 90-degree angles,
which can look ugly at render time. You can bevel the edges by
irst selecting them, and then applying the Bevel modiier.
• Blender model iles
• Substance Painter ile
• Tutorial screenshots
Build a steampunk weapon in Blender
Add the pipe system with a steampunk style there’s
typically going to be pipes and gauges, so with this
model, let’s add a series of them at the bottom of the barrel
that acts as part of the energy source for the gun, and a way to
power the weapon. we’ve created a few gauges toward the
base of the barrel that the pipes connect to. once textured
these will have various readouts on them, like charge level,
temperature and the like. we’ve also created a series of pipes
that connect to different places on the barrel. the large
pill-shaped cylinder at the bottom of the barrel is going to be
the holding tank for the power source. the pipes were created
with cylinders with a vertex count of 20.
Model the ammo drum First create a cylinder with 24
vertices for the actual drum for the ammo. then
create another cylinder with ten vertices, which will act as the
cutout for the hole in the cylinder. You’ll want to snap the
ten-sided cylinder to be lushed with the edge of the ammo
drum, and size it up roughly to how large you would want the
hole in the cylinder to be. You can duplicate it ive times around
the cylinder. next, add in four extra edge loops that match up
with the sides of the small cylinder, and snap the extra vertices
you created on the ammo drum to each side of the cylinder.
this creates a circular shape on the ammo drum that matches
the shape of the ten-sided cylinder. we are using the small
cylinder as a guide, so when the vertices are all snapped you
can delete the small cylinder and extrude the faces inward. You
can also see we’ve created extruded details on the outside of
the ammo drum, just for a little more interest in that piece.
Create the ammo drum casing now that we’ve
modelled the ammo drum we will need to create the
casing; this includes the large metal piece that connects the
ammo drum to the barrel of the gun, as well as some smaller
details. For the connecting piece that the ammo drum sits
inside, we used a cylinder and extruded out the detail for the
top and bottom. we also added a detail plate around the drum
that is going to be a gold accent, as well as the small cylindrical
piece that is placed between the insets on the drum. we also
added in the shells or bullets that sit inside the drum.
Model the stock For the stock, i knew i wanted to
avoid something that looked too modern. a lot of
inspiration was taken from your typical pirate lintlock pistol.
the main shape of the stock was already established in the
blocking stage, so this process was mainly adding in more
geometry and inalising the shape. we’ve also added a detail
piece on the back of the stock and the middle, which are going
to be leather grips for the stock. the extra leather pieces were
created quickly by selecting the faces on the stock itself and
extracting them to create new pieces of geometry. that way,
they already match the shape and form of the stock.
Make the trigger and trigger guard the trigger guard
also takes a lot of style cues from older weapons. to
create the basic overall shape, a single polygon plane was used
and extruded to create the curve. once the shape is
established, add the thickness to the trigger guard. Finally, the
trigger is the last thing to create, and that is a very simple mesh
to make. However, we’ve created a metal plate piece that
connects the trigger to the stock itself. this way it appears that
there is an actual mechanism inside the stock, rather than just
having the trigger sitting right on top.
Model the inal details we can start to add inishing
touches to the model such as bolts, screws and rivets.
we will create four different types of bolts placed throughout
the model. there’s the larger bolt to be placed along the ring
around the front of the barrel, then the small rivets with the
indentation will be used for the wood and leather. the lat-head
screws will be used for a lot of the metal pieces. Finally, the last
rivet is a simple half-sphere shape that will be used on some of
the pipe pieces, and for details for the ammo drum. we’ve also
created very simple lightbulb shapes.
UV unwrap the model Blender’s uV unwrapping tools
are robust and provide a relatively stress-free worklow.
when it comes to laying out your uVs, you want to make sure
you are giving the important or most prominent areas of the
model the most uV space. so, for instance, we know the stock,
barrel and the wood on the top and bottom of the gun will need
more uV space, since these are very prominent features of the
gun. we could try and it all the uVs into one single layout;
however, even if we were to create a 4k texture, things would
start to get very tight, and we wouldn’t be able to get as much
detail as we’d like in the texture. so, in this particular case, we
are going to split the gun into several texture sets, which we’ve
colour-coded in the image provided. these separate colours
will be their own texture set.
Bring the model into Substance Painter with the uVs
set up inside of Blender, export the model as an FBX or
oBJ (we exported as oBJ), and import the model into
substance painter. substance painter automatically splits your
model into their separate texture sets, based on the materials
you applied to each object in Blender. with the model
imported into substance painter, the next step we need to take
is to irst bake the additional maps for our gun in textureset
settings. we will want to bake out all the additional maps and
make sure the output size is correct. For this, we used the
output size of 4,096 for the 4k texture. if you have created
multiple texture sets for the gun, as mentioned in the previous
step, choose the ‘Bake all texture sets’ button, as many of the
tools within substance painter need the information that these
additional maps provide.
Texture the gun the texturing process is very much
about layering on details. start with a base material in
substance painter and then build upon that material one layer
at a time, adding dirt, edge wear and rust until you get the
result you are looking for. For many pieces of the metal or steel
on the gun, the military metal smart material was used. the
wood for the stock used wood american Cherry, which was
then modiied. You can ind the inal substance painter ile
included with this issue, where you can see the texture sets,
materials and various techniques used.
Bring everything back into Blender with the release of
Blender 2.79 and the new principled BsdF shader, the
process of taking the asset back to Blender from substance
painter is fast and painless. You can see the very basic node
setup in the image. keep in mind we are utilising Blender’s
Cycles rendering engine. it’s important to note that the textures
we exported out of sp are as follows: Color, metallic,
roughness and normal. with those textures plugged into their
corresponding inputs for the principled BsdF shader, you’ll get
a shader that matches sp.
Build a steampunk weapon in Blender
Light the scene First make sure you have Cycles enabled. we’re using an Hdr and an
extra area light for speciic highlights. Go to world properties under the surface tab and
select use nodes. select the tab next to Color, choose environment texture and plug in the
Hdri. we applied an emission shader to the objects in the bulb, as well as the large pill shape.
we also turned on transparent background. For this render, we are using the Filmic Blender
add-on, which you can ind online. the Color management in scene settings is set to the Filmic
add-on, with look set to Base Contrast, exposure set to -2.839 and Gamma to 1.402. now we
are going to add a few sparks or electrical current effects to the energy sources.
Mark Masters
Mark made an impact in the industry early on working
for Digital-Tutors as an internal instructor, as well as
Steelehouse Productions as an animator/3D artist.
He works as a remote animator for Mad Snow Studios
and continues producing courses for Pluralsight (DT).
Intro to Rendering with Cycles, 2016
this three-hour course on gives an
introductory look at rendering with Blender’s Cycles
rendering engine.
Introduction to Working with Materials
in Blender, 2016
this in-depth course on covers the ins and
outs of working with Blender materials and the node editor.
Create sparks and inish the render to add inishing touches, we are going to create
spark effects around the energy sources of the gun. to do this we gathered a few images
of lightning and spark effects from online, and put them on a black background. after creating a
few simple planes we uV unwrapped them, and adjusted their uVs to match each of the
different effects on the texture. using the node setup in the image, we created lat, transparent
spark effects that we can place around the bulbs to create the effect. once we are happy we can
bring everything into photoshop or use Blender’s compositor to add a bit of a glow to the sparks
for that inishing touch.
66 All tutorial files can be downloaded from:
Creating Assets in Blender, 2016
this is a course on that covers the entire
process of modelling, uV mapping and texturing an asset
entirely with Blender.
w w
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Our experts
subsTance designer
The best artists from
around the world reveal
specific CG techniques
Joshua Lynch
Joshua Lynch is a
senior environment/
texture artist and has
contributed to multiple
triple-A projects
3ds Max,
Forest Pack Pro
Paul Roberts
Paul is an experienced
3D environment artist
and educator working
as training manager at
iToo Software
or this tutorial we will be taking a look at the worklows
and techniques used for creating this grimy window. Keep
in mind that a lot these worklows and techniques can
also be applied to a wide variety of materials and surface
types. In fact, whether I am creating a tile loor, rocky ground
or brick wall, the worklows and nodes discussed in this
tutorial are what I turn to for those types of surfaces and
more. Additionally, this type of worklow is very friendly for
any current PBR game art pipeline. The main reason for this is
that everything is PBR compliant, which we will go over in the
coming steps. One more thing regarding pipelines: this
worklow is completely non-destructive and highly adaptable.
Any artist can go back and make any kind of adjustment, from
the amount of window panes, the types of windows, how
glossy those windows are, how much grunge, the colour of
the paint and so on. Not only that, but a wide variety of
window types can be made from this one setup, which not
only saves time for the artists on the loor, but helps to
keep the look of the windows very similar, which has a
pleasing effect and creates cohesion across the windows.
Let’s jump right in!
Create the ‘brain’ Starting off the industrial window
material in Substance Designer I will use the Tile
Sampler node. From this node I will get a Multi Value Grayscale
map which I will leverage throughout. I’ll also create a Tile
Generator node that has similar settings and will use the
Gradation pattern. This will enable us to achieve a great tilt on
the windows, which will add a lot of life to them when the light
rolls across the surface. I will plug the Multi Value Grayscale
map into an Edge Detect to create initial masks and gain
separation between the glass and painted metal framing.
• Tutorial screenshots
Establish windows and metal framing Using
Uniform Color and a Blend node I will give initial value
to the height map. I’ll plug the mask created from the Edge
Detect node in the irst step into the Opacity of the Blend node.
Next, I will also use the Bevel and Curve nodes to create the
painted metal framing. The Bevel node will create a nice ramp
that we can then plug into the Curve node, which we will use to
give a reinforced and structurally sound metal shape. I will plug
the output from the Curve node into the Blend node with Add
Linear as the Blending Mode.
Add window pane details Glass windows are
rarely lat, as there is typically a bend or slight
undulation to the surface. First, I take a blurred version of the
glass mask and plug it into a Blend node with the Blending
Mode set to Screen. This gives a rounded bend to the panes.
Additionally, I take the output of the Tile Generator node
with the Gradation pattern to create the slope effect, plugging
the Gradation map into a Blend node with the Blending Mode
set to Subtract. Both of these steps help to break the pane’s
rigidity and force the light to shift as it rolls across the surface.
Add patterns We can add features such as
rounded dots or wavy patterns. Doing this will give
unique surface qualities to speciic panes of glass and will add
more visual interest. I created the dots using a Tile Sampler
node and the wavy pattern was created using a Perlin Noise
Zoom node. Each of these patterns were applied using a mask
derived from the Multi Value Grayscale created in Step 1. I plug
the Multi Value Grayscale into a Histogram Scan node to
isolate speciic panes of glass. Feel free to throw in a Histogram
Shift node to randomise the Multi Value Grayscale map.
Minding the height and normal map
When creating a material inside of Substance Designer I
ind it beneicial to work with the height and normal
maps irst. I will more often than not start off the height
map from a mid-grey value of 128. This gives me a lot of
room to add details, but more important than that, it
gives me a realistic place to start. Depending on the
material you are creating, the height map may not need
much depth change. I ind that doing this and keeping my
Normal Map node strength anywhere from 8 to 16 will
yield more accurate results.
Ground the glass with sealant In the reference
images there was a sealant used to seat the windows
against the framing. Adding details like this add a soft breakup
to the rigid painted metal and glass. First I use a Bevel to create
a small ramp and a noise setup. I plug this in to a Blend node set
to Subtract. Then I use the Directional Warp and Slope Blur
Grayscale nodes to create the sealant. The Directional Warp
node will help offset the noise so that each pane of glass has a
different look. The Slope Blur Grayscale node will provide a nice
layered look, as though the sealant was pressed and oozed out.
Simple material deinition pass At this point the
height and normal maps are well established and I will
do a simple material deinition pass to bring some life to the
surface. For the industrial windows I am using a Spec/Gloss
worklow. Dielectric surfaces have a specular value of 59. For
the Gloss map I used the following values: glass (245), painted
metal (147) and sealant (65). The albedo values are glass (55),
painted metal (154) and sealant (191). For each portion I
plugged Uniform Color nodes into Blend nodes along with
masks connected to the Opacity of the Blend node.
Storytelling on the window panes For starters a
glass albedo should be on the darker side, as this will
create a nice contrast when the light hits the surface. I wanted
to create windows that look aged and are cloudy. To do this I
added surface details such as vertical streaking and smudges in
the albedo and gloss. Additionally, I added stains that are lower
opacity in the albedo but do not appear in the Gloss map. This
way, when the light rolls across it looks like the stain is behind
the glass. Having details like this adds a lot of dimension and
gives the glass some perceived thickness.
Storytelling on the metal framing Like the
windows, I wanted the painted metal framing to look
like it has aged. With painted metal I add faded spots to show
discolouration as well as rust spots. The discolouration came
from noises and an edge-masking technique was used for the
rust. I also wanted to show collected dust on the lip of the
frame. I did this by using the RGBA Split node. I isolated the
green channel and used that to create a mask for the dust.
Final touches At this point I am pretty happy with
how the glass looks but I think I can squeeze more out
of it. I decided to add surface scratches and chips to the glass to
make it feel more used and weathered. These are subtle details,
but they help to add believability. I also wanted some to feel
cracked so I used the masking worklow I discussed earlier to
selectively place cracks on a few of the window panes.
Leveraging the Multi-Value
grayscale map
Almost all of the materials I create inside of Substance
Designer have a Multi-Value Grayscale map. Simply put,
it is one of the most powerful assets to have when
creating a material. It can have a major impact on so
many aspects of the creation process. This map helps
control everything from the initial pattern setup through
the Edge Detect node to randomising noise via the Multi
Directional Warp node. If set up correctly, it can act as
the brain centre of the entire graph.
70 All tutorial files can be downloaded from:
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he best systems are easy to adapt. clients can be ickle,
changes will always need to be made and deadlines are
never as far away as we would like. in these situations, a
parametric system that enables you to change a single
element to update the related parts of a whole scene can save
signiicant time. in this tutorial we’ll look at a technique to
create procedural islands inspired by the scarif environments
of Rogue One. in the inished system, raising an island above
the waterline automatically creates textures, spawns
thousands of high-poly trees and bushes, and even places an
occasional thatched hut. Along the shoreline pebbles and
rocks appear, and waves ripple against the sandy beaches.
To achieve this we’ll make extensive use of Forest Pack Pro,
a procedural scattering tool for 3ds Max. The setup uses six
Forest Pack Objects: one each for the large palms, the small
palms and bushes, the rocks, the pebbles along the shoreline,
the underwater plants and inally the thatched huts. each one
uses a very similar methodology: irst scatter geometry based
on the altitude of the terrain; next, remove scattered objects
from any unwanted areas; then deine the distribution
pattern; and inally, randomise the geometry, transforms and
textures. The slight differences in each of these stages
enables the six Forest Objects to work together as a uniied
ecosystem. Let’s start by looking at how to set up the scene’s
geometry and materials.
Set up scene and terrain The technique for creating
the land and water is very straightforward and takes
advantage of the procedural nature of 3ds Max’s Modiier
stack. There are two planes, one atop the other. The lower
plane is the terrain, and the upper is the ocean. All that’s
needed to create an island is to use 3ds Max’s Paint Deform
tools to raise the terrain up through the water layer. To apply
materials, the terrain has a uVW modiier applied aligned to
the Y axis. This is used to apply a Gradient Ramp map that
creates masks to divide the terrain into different materials
based on altitude. Thus we can automatically apply different
textures to the sea bed, sand and jungle.
Create the water material A standard V-Ray
material with refraction and relection is used to create
the water material, with noise in the Bump map slot to create
small waves. Where this material gets interesting is the ability
to create ripples around the island (or any other object)
automatically using a combination of a VRayDistanceTex map
with a Gradient map. To do this, create a Gradient Ramp with
alternating black and white bands. change the Gradient Type
mode to Mapped and add a VRayDistanceTex map to the
source Map input. Any object added to the Objects list in the
VRayDistanceTex map will deform the gradient pattern on the
water to follow its perimeter. For more variety, noise applied to
the Distance parameter will help to add more natural variation
to the ripples.
Limit scatters by altitude All six Forest Pack
Objects are applied to the terrain, but we don’t want
them to cover the entire area. Forest Pack‘s surface>Altitude
Range>Top and Bottom parameters enable you to limit the
scatter based on the terrain height. By adjusting this for each
Forest Object we can stack and overlap them so that the ocean
loor is covered in seaweed, the shoreline has pebbles, the
beach is interrupted by rocks and the top of the islands sprout
bushes, trees and huts. For more advanced effects, falloff
graphs can be used to control scale and density. in this scene
they are used to create the banding effect visible in the pebbles.
Apply a Gradient Ramp map that
creates masks to divide the terrain
into different materials
• Tutorial screenshots
iToo Software
Distribution and clusters The geometry for this
scene is a mixture of custom models and objects
sourced from online libraries, with only two to three variations
for each object type. Forest Pack’s geometry settings enable
you to adjust the probability of each object appearing in the
scatter. The scatter pattern is determined by a black-and-white
map: a white pixel creates a tree and a black one creates a
space. Though it’s possible to use custom maps, in this
example only the built-in Distribution map presets were used.
Forest Pack also includes a helpful clusters feature that
enables you to group together objects of the same type with
settings for cluster size, shape and noise. This was used to
scatter the small palms and hedges and is perfect for
simulating natural growth patterns where plants propagate in
surrounding soil.
Remove unnecessary scattered objects some
areas don’t need plants even though the terrain is at
the predeined altitude. They can be removed by adding several
types of exclude item to the Areas List. A simple open spline is
used to remove trees from the train line, and a closed spline
removes them from the landing pad in the foreground. When
several Forest Objects overlap, you can use one to remove
trees from another. in this scene, the thatched huts and rocks
are used to remove trees and hedges, and for inal reinements
you can use Paint Areas to add or remove geometry exactly
where needed.
Randomise geometry to disguise repetition
Very few variations of object are being scattered, so
we need to randomise them to try to disguise any obvious
repetition in the scene. The easiest way is to use Forest Pack’s
randomised Transform tools to shufle the Translation, Rotation
and scale. Generally, the default settings work well for most
situations; the only exception in this scene were the boulders,
where the maximum scale is increased to 800% to turn some
of them into rocks.
Forest Pack also includes a map called Forest color that
enables you to randomise and tint the bitmaps on a perelement, per-instance basis. This has the ability to create a
huge amount of randomised geometry reacting to changes in
terrain. Remember, any time spent manually changing an
object that could have been automated is time wasted!
Buildings can be parametric too!
The building in this scene was created by distributing
architectural components along splines using Railclone,
a procedural instancing tool. There are two Railclone
systems used for the buildings, one for the inner
structure and one for the pods that cling to the sides.
The inner structure is randomised per spline so that
some loors will have a glass facade, and some will have
structural metal.
For the outer pods, as well as randomising the
geometry and textures, the system is divided into three
types of object by applying material iDs to the splines.
Material iD 1 adds the vertical pods, Material iD 2 adds
large pipes around the base and Material iD 3 adds the
loating jetties, on top of which sit small buildings. To
adjust the skyscraper, all you need to do is edit the
splines and the whole system updates, like the islands.
74 All tutorial files can be downloaded from:
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6 September!
V-Ray hybrid Advances
gpu Rendering
First unveiled at the GPU Technology Conference in Silicon Valley, V-Ray’s new hybrid
rendering technology adds CPU support to its NVIDIA CUDA-powered GPU renderer
RendeR with All YouR Computing poweR
Now with V-Ray Hybrid, artists will have greater lexibility to
render a scene using GPUs, CPUs or a combination of both.
And the rendered images will be identical, regardless of
hardware. This allows artists to use any and all computing
power, from high-performance GPU workstations to CPU
render nodes.
“GPU rendering is on the rise, and V-Ray Hybrid solves
two important issues that could make it even more
popular,” said Vlado Koylazov, Chaos Group co-founder. “It
lets artists use all of their existing hardware, and it gives
them a fallback solution if they run into GPU RAM
limitations. This makes GPU rendering a more practical
solution for a much wider audience.”
mAking it eAsieR to switCh to gpu RendeRing
Tomas Wyszolmirski is the studio director at Dabarti Studio
outside Warsaw in Poland. He has been using V-Ray Hybrid,
inding the choice refreshing for all kinds of quick internal
jobs, as well as those more pressing time-crucial projects.
The ‘Mars Rover’ project was a quick but challenging piece
which depicts a highly realistic view of the harsh environment
of the red planet with its dim orange light washing in from
every direction. “We started the ‘Mars Rover’ project two
and a half weeks away from Christmas when the job was to
go live, and so then the whole production was really tight,” he
explains. “Thankfully, the rendering times were very quick.
The render times were three minutes per frame on the V-Ray
render nodes.”
“We use boosted high-end gaming GPUs like 1080ti and
TitanX at Dabarti,” says Wyszolmirski. “We do this because
they have quite a decent amount of memory; 11GB or 12GB is
perfect for us. We can it 95% of scenes we produce on this.
And if we can’t, it is possible to render it with the Hybrid
Engine. We used the new features quite heavily like Aerial
Perspective and Adaptive Lights as well. Running it all
together like a production stress test, all the renders ran well,
there were no issues.”
‘Salt And Pepper’ was an internal project for Dabarti
Studio. An experimental visual to render out photoreal
peppercorns and large grains of rock salt. “We developed a
tool for capturing textures and wanted to test it out,”
Wyszolmirski explains. “The imagery is all rendered on a
GPU on the beta version of V-Ray 3.6. We’ve worked with
V-Ray since it began, and with GPU for about three years
now. We were early adopters of V-Ray GPU because we
went full scale CPU to GPU, and there’s no going back!”
“Everyone loves the speed of GPU rendering because it is
also three to four times cheaper to render, and way faster as
well, but it’s also faster to work with in terms of creating the
scenes and creating the shaders, so you’re not only saving
time on rendering, but also in preparation of the shot itself.”
As CPU machines are ready to be replaced, V-Ray Hybrid
can help ease the transition to GPU rendering, while
continuing to take advantage of existing CPU resources.
Additionally, if there is an empty PCIe slot on a workstation
or render node, adding a GPU can give it a radical speed
boost without replacing the whole machine.
“There are some very cool optimisations in V-Ray GPU,
like on-demand textures which makes it possible to render
truly huge amounts of textures,” says Wyszolmirski. “I was
able to it close to 400 textures on 8GB of memory, including
150 textures that were 6K wide. You could use those
textures for printing up billboard advertisements. This is
‘crazy-impressive’ to me!”
V-RAY hYBRid BenChmARks
To measure the speed boost of adding CPUs to the
GPU mix, Chaos Group Labs benchmarked two scenes
from Dabarti Studio.
Benchmarks were run on a powerful Lenovo P900
workstation with 40 logical CPU cores, 128GB RAM, and two
NVIDIA Quadro GP100s.
2 Intel xeon E5-2687W v3 3.10
40 logical CPU cores
128 GB RAM
2 NVIDIA Quadro GP100 w/
16GB each
7168 CUDA cores
gpu CoRes Vs. Cpu CoRes
While V-Ray Hybrid can render on CPUs and GPUs
simultaneously, CPU cores and GPU cores are not the same.
For example, a GPU with 2560 cores is not simply 320 times
faster than an 8 core CPU. To determine the actual speed
difference, real-world benchmark tests are required.
sCene 1: mARs RoVeR
Mars Rover
1920 x 1080
0.01 noise
gpu only
Cpu only
gpu and
13% faster
than GPU only
gpu only
Cpu only
gpu and
25% faster
than GPU only
sCene 2: sAlt And peppeR
Salt and Pepper
1920 x 1080
0.01 noise
For these scenes, the addition of CPUs helped reduce render
times by 13% and 25%. It’s a welcome speed boost, rather
than leaving these powerful CPUs idle.
mARs RoVeR: With the use of V-Ray Hybrid, the render times for this scene was reduced by 13%
BReAking the gpu RendeRing memoRY BARRieR
Memory limitations inherent to GPU computing have always
been a fundamental challenge when rendering on GPUs.
With recent advances to V-Ray GPU, Chaos Group has
reduced overall memory usage by up to 70%, and up to
700% through On-demand Mip-mapping, an intelligent way
to automatically resize textures. Since textures consume the
most memory, solutions like these will radically increase the
size and complexity of the scenes artists and designers can
render. Now with V-Ray Hybrid, if a particular scene won’t it
within GPU RAM limits, it can still render on CPU.
In addition to memory-eficient software developments,
V-Ray is now the irst commercial renderer to support
NVIDIA’s powerful, high-bandwidth interconnect NVLink,
which allows video memory to be shared between
graphics cards. NVLink is now available in the latest
NVIDIA Quadro GP100 and NVIDIA Tesla P100 cards.
sAlt And peppeR: This scene had an incredible 25% reduction in render time thanks to V-Ray Hybrid
Industry experts put the latest workstations,
software & 3D printers through their paces
ZBrush 4R8
This latest upgrade improves workflows and
introduces a new set of powerful tools
f we had to describe ZBrush with a single word,
it would likely be ‘innovation’. Artistic freedom
is also right up that alley, but with every new
iteration of the software, novelty seems to be the
constant. The new release of ZBrush 4R8 aligns
with this legacy. It offers artists a fantastic set of
new tools and impressive improvements to
existing worklows.
Some of the most anticipated new features
were obviously real-time Booleans and Vector
Displacement maps. These are not necessarily
new concepts, meaning that the innovation in this
case comes in the form of helpful worklow
enhancements and the integration of features. The
real-time Booleans and Vector Displacement maps
are real game-changers in this new version of
ZBrush. However, these are not the only features
that deserve a special mention.
In 4R7, the Booleans operations were conined
to a somewhat cumbersome process involving
multiple steps. With 4R8 on the other hand,
real-time Booleans can easily become the new
standard for hard-surface modelling in ZBrush. Not
only do you have instant feedback and precise
control over what you are doing, but real-time
Booleans seamlessly integrate with other ZBrush
processes like Array Mesh, ZModeler or Dynamic
Subdivision, for full control of your model.
Talking about precise control in 4R8 is to talk
about the new Gizmo 3D. Although you can still
access the Transpose line, the new default for
scaling, moving and rotating is the more
streamlined Gizmo manipulator. This new tool is
not only very intuitive, but it is also loaded with a
series of very handy options. From the cog icon on
the left-hand side of the Gizmo, we now have
access to interactive primitives and the amazing
new deformers.
The interactive primitives from the Gizmo let
you insert and initialise geometric shapes from
within the tool you are working on. The new
deformers are simply amazing; they use a new
system of manipulators (coloured cones) to help
you deform an entire mesh in very interesting
ways. Once you get used to the way they work,
you’ll realise how helpful they can be and how you
can integrate them within your worklow. The
Bend Curve deformer, for instance, is a fantastic
way to manipulate FiberMesh clumps.
Another good use for the deformers is to utilise
the Bend Arc to wrap text around a curved surface.
Use the new 3D text plugin to create text meshes
in seconds and deformers to adjust their shape.
Vector Displacement maps, or VDMs, are the
next great addition to the latest version of 4R.
They are similar to alphas (in that they are loaded
into your brushes) but instead of using a greyscale
image to distort the mesh in one axis (depth), they
have information to displace the geometry in all
directions (X, Y and Z). Since they live within your
brush, they are also affected by the brush and the
stroke modiiers, enabling you to create very
complex effects with a single brush stroke.
Another great worklow addition to the brush
system in 4R8 is the IMM shelf. If you have
multiple VDMs in a single brush, the shelf enables
you to select one before you apply it.
A very cool aspect of both the shelf and the
Gizmo is the ability to switch between various
insert meshes to see which one looks better. With
any IMM brush, drag to insert a mesh, switch to
the Gizmo and then select another mesh from the
shelf. The mesh will update immediately and you
can keep selecting other meshes to ind the one
that best suits your model.
This update also improves on some other
less-obvious elements of the software, including
the UI and fonts scaling for HD monitors, the
masking and the continuation of depth stroke.
Pablo Muñoz Gómez
The real-time
Booleans and Vector
Displacement maps
are real game-changers
in this new version
of ZBrush
Main This character showcases the use of
VDMs and the Boolean features to create details
and reine shapes on an organic sculpture
BottoM lEFt Another great addition to 4R8 is
the ‘start group’ option within the SubTools,
enabling you to work non-destructively with very
complex structures
BottoM MiDDlE Using very simple shapes
and primitives, along with the Live Booleans, you
can create very intricate structures in minutes
BottoM RiGHt The real-time Booleans not
only provide instant feedback, but they are
very fast, even when working with dense
DynaMesh objects
BEloW With VDMs you can create detailed
maps to build entire scenes in just a few seconds.
This is a great way to iterate when you are
working on a new concept
Essential info
£550 / $795 (single user license)
Windows Vista and up, OS X 10.8 and up
(64-bit editions)
4GB minimum (6+GB recommended)
Value for money
ZBrush 4R8 is a fantastic update that makes the
gap between artist and technology even smaller
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Wacom Intuos Pro
Wacom Intuos Pro
Wacom’s latest offering may persuade you to trade
in your traditional pen-and-paper workflow for good
hen unboxing Wacom’s Intuos Pro
medium, irst impressions were a mix
between thoughts about how great the
tablet looks, and concerns over how long it will
stay that way before becoming marked, scuffed
and worn. In the box you’ll also ind the new
Wacom Pro Pen 2, a stand, four coloured pen rings
and a cable. Documentation mainly consists of a
couple of diagrams showing how to use the stand,
which conveniently houses both the nibs and can
be used to extract a nib from the pen. Lastly there
are samples of rough, standard and smooth
texture sheets. the sheets (sold separately) stick
to the tablet work area, replacing the existing
surface with a new texture, allaying fears of
marking the tablet. the backing is of the ‘peel-offand-throw-away’ variety, which is problematic if
you chose to peel it off to switch between textures.
It would prolong the pen nibs’ lifespan if the tablet
shipped with the default smooth surface applied.
Before use it’s necessary to install drivers and
irmware updates. once done you’ll want to open
a Wacom account then hop into the Wacom
Desktop center and ine-tune how the tablet
functions to your preferences. Ignoring the fairly
pointless set-up wizard, the other options provide
a wealth of useful customisation tweaks, including:
on-screen controls; orientation settings that are
ergonomically designed for left and right-handed
artists; touch settings for multi-touch gestures to
navigate around your project; and ExpressKeys
and touch ring functions, providing handy
shortcuts that during testing became preferable to
keyboard hotkeys for speed. It does take time to
adapt to the many features the tablet is capable of,
which underlines its suitability for professional use
and fast worklow.
The Medium version
sports a slightly smaller
physical footprint than
its predecessor and
yet gains a larger
active area
the medium version sports a slightly smaller
physical footprint than its predecessor and yet
gains a larger active area. Depending on your desk
size you could place it alongside your keyboard if
you prefer not to use the ExpressKeys and touch
ring. However, taking advantage of these
time-saving features and shortcuts is far more
productive. It’s also wireless, with Bluetooth 4.2
helping you to declutter your desktop and work
from your sofa.
the Wacom Pro Pen 2 is incredibly responsive
but feels slightly too sensitive with the default
settings. once set up, it does provide a very natural
feel when drawing concept designs, texture
painting and sculpting, and it performed well in
Photoshop, Painter, mari, maya and ZBrush during
testing, although that was after a few hours of
getting used to it. there is very little noticeable lag,
which can be a problem with cheaper tablets, and
the pen is comfortable in your hand for long stints,
providing superb pressure responsiveness and
giving you innate control and precision for
detailing. tilt recognition and 8,192 levels of
pressure come into play the more you use it and
is a noticeable gain compared to cheaper tablets
on the market. Being 13.2 x 8.5 x 0.3 inches and
lightweight it’s ideal for freelancers on the go,
and the battery life is reasonable, allowing for a
full day’s work.
the Pen’s stand however doesn’t grip the Pen
suitably and it’s prone to being knocked over easily.
It can be laid lat, but this doesn’t really solve the
issue. Inside the stand base you’ll ind the nibs; to
open it you have to twist the base, but there isn’t
much grip to make this an easy process and it’s
quite stiff to open until it has been more worn in.
Paul Champion
Main The Intuos Pro is a lexible tool for creative
projects and helps you work in comfort
BottoM lEFt The new Wacom Pro Pen 2 is
comfortable to hold for long periods of time, and
has impressive pressure sensitivity
BottoM MiDDlE The Radial menu in the Intuos
Pro means no more fumbling about trying to ind
the shortcut you need on your keyboard
BottoM RiGHt Fast access to settings means
you can customise as you work. Especially useful
when switching between applications
BEloW The extra keys on the tablet and the
buttons on the pen help you perform quick tasks
and minimise the need to switch between the
tablet and the keyboard
Essential info
Windows 7 and up (64-bit), Mac OS X 10.10
and up
USB or Bluetooth for wireless
connection to PC and Mac
Value for money
Without doubt a worthy purchase, but there are a few
niggles that Wacom could address
w w w. p h o t o s h o p c r e a t i v e . c o . u k
from all good
newsagents and
• Striking imagery • Step-by-step guides • Essential tutorials
Print edition available at
Digital edition available for iOS and Android
Available on the following platforms
The inside guide to industry news,
VFX studios, expert opinions
and the 3D community
When you’re fair,
people get back to
you again and work
again with you. My
favourite expression
is that ‘life is not a
zero-sum game’
086 Community News
The Rookies
2017 winners
Read up on the winners of this year’s
Rookies competition, with the largest
number of entries received to date
Dr. Sébastien Deguy,
CEO of Allegorithmic
088 Industry News
VR Theatre
Plus, how Foundry and J Cube’s
partnership has created an improved
Katana and Maya pipeline
090 Industry Insider
Dr. Sébastien
Allegorithmic’s CEO tells us what’s
in store for Substance Painter and
Designer and why they’re numberless
092 Project Focus
The Red Turtle
We talk to the director and VFX
supervisor of Studio Ghibli’s latest
ilm about integrating 2D and 3D
094 Industry Insider
Sid HarringtonOdedra
The Mill’s CG lead on his most
complicated body tracking work for a
Chemical Brothers music video
096 Social
Readers’ Gallery
To advertise in The Hub please contact George Lucas on 01225 687311 or
The latest images created by the community
Fishing For Happiness is based
on Seongmin Park’s concept
art and was created by Allan
Bernardo in his last term at
Gnomon School
The Rookies unveils winners
for its biggest awards yet
After reviewing the largest amount of entries that the Awards has received to date, the
panel of judges have released a winner’s roster packed with talent and creativity
his year’s Rookies – the international student awards
Martin Nabelek’s Off was awarded VFX Film of the Year.
sponsored by Autodesk – has received 8,725 digital
“Off was my bachelor’s graduation ilm,” says Martin, who’s
projects from 2,752 students in over 80 countries.
studying a master’s degree in Animation at Tomas Bata
“The task of selecting winners hit a new level of complexity
University, Zlín, Czech Republic. “I spent many months
this year,” says Andrew McDonald, co-founder of The
besides work and school doing research on my favourite
Rookies. “Not only did our judges review our largest amount
topics: space and philosophy. After many concepts I still
of entries to date, but they also reviewed full portfolios of
wasn’t happy with the ideas, until I heard Lorn’s fantastic
work, not just individual projects like other awards.”
track ‘Anvil’, which inally struck me with enough inspiration
Visual Effects Rookie of the Year winner Kevin Decatoire
to move forward.” From that moment the production went
is a graduate from the ArtFx school in France and is now
to four intensive months of full-time work. The astronaut
working on environments for Thor: Ragnarok at Framestore
was sculpted in high detail using ZBrush, then retopologised
London. At ArtFx he specialised in environments, letting him in TopoGun for an animation-ready low-poly asset.
work on different projects simultaneously. “I helped the
Next-Gen Games Rookie of the Year winner Robert Tran
team to deine a mood, the artistic
recently inished his second year
direction, doing storyboards, light
as a games artist at The Game
boards and concept art,“ he says. “Then
Assembly. “I had multiple projects:
I was in charge of doing the full shots,
a combination of 3D environments
from concept to compositing. For the
and 2D concepts focusing on my
full VFX shots, I needed to be lexible.
knowledge of design, mood and
That’s why everything was built in 3D;
composition, so each theme could
this also gives me a good base for a
complement each other. I approached
Alwyn Hunt,
future matte painting.”
all my projects with different
co-founder of The Rookies
People are genuinely
shocked when they
discover how amazing
the student work is
these days
A loating island inspired
by Robert Tran’s interest
in Japanese culture.
Rendering was completed
using Unreal Engine 4
Martin Nabelek rigged Off’s
astronaut using CAT in 3ds
Max; animation was created
using a Kinect v1
processes. For example, I used ZBrush to build my high-poly
assets for my Forgotten Island. For my 2D projects I mostly
used Photoshop as my main tool with a mix of 3D and
photobashing. I wanted each project to be able to stand
on its own and present a unique quality.”
LA-based Animation Rookie of the Year winner Allan
Bernardo recently graduated from The Gnomon School of
Visual Effects, and just completed an apprenticeship at Walt
Disney Animation Studios. “Fishing For Happiness is probably
the hardest (and the most fun!) project I have done at
school, because of the amount of work that it took. Four
characters and two variations of vehicles in a Twenties rainy
street environment in four weeks was tricky to pull off. The
most important thing when starting a project for me is
research and reference – lots of it. There’s nothing worse
than moving forward on any project without a road map.”
Devs Must Die is the young studio behind Skybolt Zack,
the Console and PC Game of the Year winner. The collective
of seven are Isart Digital Paris alumni, and Skybolt Zack was
their inal student project. Skybolt Zack is a fast-paced
arcade game. “It’s a platformer using a combat mechanic
inspired by rhythm games. It takes place in a postapocalyptic world inspired by Metal Slug and Advance Wars,”
explains Julien Jestin, game artist and co-founder.
“People are genuinely shocked when they discover how
amazing the student work is these days,” says Alwyn Hunt,
co-founder of The Rookies. “Even after all these years, we
are still constantly blown away with the quality and diversity
of new talent.”
Get in touch…
For this shot, Kevin
Decatoire exported
a simple terrain from
Maya to Vue and applied
displacement, then
rendered, exported and
projected in Nuke
Play the demo for Devs Must Die’s Skybolt Zack at
industry news
Studio toolset
will upgrade
Foundry tools
Foundry and J Cube form
exclusive agreement to
provide an improved
Katana and Maya pipeline
Song of a Toad
© 2017 Filmakademie
VR Theatre debuts
Presentations at the Computer Animation Festival also
showcased short films rendered in real-time
this year at siGGrAPH’s Computer Animation
Festival, 25 incredible submissions featured at the
electronic theatre and ten in the Vr theatre. the
shorts ranged from advertising, visualisation and
simulation to visual effects and game cinematics.
short ilms or visual effects reels from industrial
Light & Magic, Pixar Animation studios, weta
digital, Moving Picture Company and epic Games
were also shown. And for the irst time, festival
goers experienced the Vr theatre space with
morning and evening programmes throughout
Festival award winners
The winners of this years’ Festival are: Best
in Show – ‘Song of a Toad’ by Kariem Saleh
(Germany); Jury’s Choice – ‘John Lewis
Buster the Boxer’ by MPC and Dougal
Wilson (United Kingdom); and Best
Student Project – ‘Garden Party’ by
Théophile Dufresne, Florian Babikian,
Gabriel Grapperon, Lucas Navarro,
Vincent Bayoux and Victor Caire (France).
the conference week. Attendees also had the
opportunity to meet and discuss with directors
that featured at the electronic and Vr theatres in
Q&A sessions.
Computer Animation Festival director Pol
Jeremias said, “we are extremely excited about our
show this year. we will be presenting many irsts,
including short ilms being rendered in real-time – a
milestone for this festival – the introduction of our
Vr theatre, and perhaps most importantly, some
really incredible student work! when watching the
electronic and Vr theatre ilms, my hope is that
our attendees will become inspired by the
experience and leave with new ideas. the Vr
submissions we accepted push the boundaries of
storytelling and technology.
“Over the past two years, Vr has re-emerged as
an important and popular medium, and the projects
we are showing represent the next wave of this –
presentations that depict powerful new stories to
see, hear and experience. Accepted pieces range
from environmental documentaries to short stories
to music videos, and they will really give viewers a
sense of where Vr is going.”
A new partnership will bring the
Multiverse Studio toolset to the CG
production industry, providing an
expedited pipeline for moving iles
between Katana and Maya. Customers
will gain a commercially supported set
of MaterialX, Alembic and USD tools
uniied in every Katana and Maya
version and available for all platforms.
Foundry will resell Multiverse Studio as
interactive and batch licences that
activate both Katana and Maya plugins
and offer Alembic and USD support.
Berj Bannayan, partner and VFX
supervisor at Soho VFX, says, “We’ve
been using Multiverse here at Soho
VFX for over a year, for our Alembic
pipeline that incorporates Maya,
Houdini and 3Delight. It’s been
transformative for us, being used in
everything from The Shallows to Ben
Hur and Logan. The integration into our
existing pipeline has been
straightforward and we’ve been
outputting some positively giant
Alembic caches that we’re now
handling easily. It’s great stuff!”
Multiverse Studio enables fast data transfer of
layouts and geometry between applications
HAVE YOU HEARD? Real-time visualisation software for architects Twinmotion 2018 is finally coming this summer
begins numberless releases
Future releases of both
Painter and Designer will
be named after the current
year rather than version
Updates for Substance Painter and
Designer mark the introduction of a
more regular release cycle
beta out now
KeenTools launches innovative
solution for building human head
models using photos in Nuke
FaceBuilder is a new node in the KeenTools
plugins suite for fast and simple head creation
from 2D images. CEO Roman Belov explains: ”In
ive minutes, given ive photos, you can build a
perfectly itted model of a face, with proper
topology and UVs. You just set and drag points
on the model to the corresponding points on the
face, and the algorithm automatically deforms
the model to it the footage. To improve the
accuracy you may repeat the process from
other angles of view.”
Software shorts
Modo 11.1
the new bi-directional live bridge
connects Modo 11.1 and ue4,
enabling games artists to seamlessly
update entire scenes or elements including
geometry, uVs, Materials and Lights using one
computer or multiple networked together. Modo’s
modelling, uV mapping and baking toolsets have
also received enhancements.
Fabio Rossi
now stripped of version numbers, both releases are
available under the 2017.1 title. substance Painter
gains the integration of substance source into the ui
for artists to explore the online library while working
on projects. Also, 300 new customisable Alphas
and procedural patterns are available from the shelf.
Glow, drop shadow, Colour Balance and Correction
ilters have been added too. For substance designer,
‘phase one’ of a Baking revamp has initiated. Baking
times are reduced and to address speed, high-poly
meshes are now loaded only once and stored in
memory until the baker is closed.
Villard Inc. begins trading
New company caters for a broad
range of sculpting requirements
including creature production
and 3D-printed igures
recent startup Villard inc., based in tokyo,
Japan, caters for the market in bespoke,
high-quality digital sculptures. “we offer
various types of sculpting, including 3d-printed
igures, games, ilms and more,” says founder
and CeO Keita Okada. “we are planning to
create more dark fantasy-themed concepts and
sculptures in the future. Professionals with an
appreciation for sculpting, who love creature
design, are always welcome to work in
development with us.” with a freelance artist
background, Okada has won several awards,
including ZBrushCentral top row and has also
provided creature modelling for Bloodborne.
Lion is a concept model created by Keita Okada
Bringing you the lowdown on product updates and launches
RenderMan 21.5
V-Ray 3.6 for 3ds Max
Hybrid rendering is introduced to
circumvent GPu rAM limitations.
V-ray scenes can be rendered with
GPus, CPus or both, and nvidia nVLink supports
sharing GPu memory across compatible GPus.
CryptoMatte automatically generates id Mattes
and VrayLightselect gains Gi, relection/
refraction render element outputs.
Highlights include new artistic
controls for creating phenomenal
hair and fur, and innovations in
path-traced subsurface scattering to produce
amazing photorealistic skin and other soft
materials. Pixar’s next ilm, Coco, drove many 21.5
features and optimisations, such as enabling
scenes to allow tens of thousands of active lights.
DID YOU KNOW? Lenovo has announced ThinkStation P320 Tiny, the world’s smallest workstation
industry insider
Dr. Sébastien
Job title CEO of Allegorithmic
Location Paris, France
Biography Dr. Sébastien
Deguy is the founder and CEO
of Allegorithmic: creator of
Substance, the leading
texturing tools for artists and
designers. Now the same
concepts developed in his
doctoral thesis are used
throughout the world of 3D
creation, from 85 per cent of
triple-A game studios to
markets like VFX and
animation, industrial design
and architecture.
Portfolio highlights
• Substance
Designer 2017.1, 2017
• Substance
Painter 2017.1, 2017
• Substance Source, 2016
• Substance Painter, 2014
• BitMap2Material, 2011
• Substance Designer, 2010
• MaPZone, 2005
• ProFX, 2005
The founder of Allegorithmic on
why Substance is now numberless
and what’s in store for the future
e all know the name of substance by now, right?
this suite of tools has reinvigorated the games
industry and is used by the biggest game studios,
but that doesn’t stop indies from giving Allegorithmic’s
software a try. Allegorithmic’s MAt Contest has been a irst
for the company, and a huge success to boot, too. “We
received 1,200 entries which might be one of the biggest
contests in the digital art world and in the 3d media and
entertainment world,” says its CeO, dr. sébastien deguy.
there was a real diversity in entries, from seasoned game
artists to students and new texture painters. “the winner
used substance Painter for the irst time, and it shows that it’s
a tool that’s easy to pick up!”
Another part of the attraction to the tools is the payment
model, where everybody gets the same set of tools – no light
version, no non-commercial version, no restrictions. “When
we think about our users, we think of the big guys and the
small guys,” says deguy. “We don’t have light versions, it’s
the same product. We don’t like light versions, light versions
is like treating people as light people!”
Key to deguy’s core business principles at Allegorithmic
has been the idea of fairness that stems from his father, who
owned his own plumbing business. “i look back at it and i
think it’s one of the most important things when you want to
do business in a proper way. When you’re fair, people get
back to you again and work again with you. My favourite
expression is that ‘life is not a zero-sum game’.”
it’s not a surprise, then, that generosity is also a core value
for deguy, as he admits that in the past Allegorithmic may
have given ‘too much’ – making some of the product releases
unfair on the development process. One of the reasons that
substance Painter and substance designer have become
numberless in summer 2017 cycles back to this idea, “it’s an
unnatural and fake structure – the big releases. it’s like, should
we withhold and wait for this feature to go in a big version?
We wanted something that is fair and modular to our users
and that is fair and manageable to us too.”
next on the radar for Allegorithmic is the third substance
day of 2017. Also on the agenda is the substance Automation
toolkit that contains Python APis and documentation to help
with substance integration. it’s not a completely new product,
though it has been repackaged together for easier access.
in ive years time, however, substance may change
completely. “We’re having fun,” says deguy. “Growing this
fast is challenging. But what we really like is making products.
i’d like to see a more complete portfolio, to do asset creation,
what we can do for the left side of the pipeline, like
parametrisation, and more hybrid ways of producing content
– mixing textures, surfaces and meshes maybe, but also
rendering and visualisation, we’d like to improve on that, too.
And being more present in ilms and architectural work –
seeing substance in as many places as possible!”
SubStance for filmS
Assassin’s Creed already got some
Substance treatment, but what’s next?
“12 blockbuster ilms will use substance this summer,”
dr. sébastien deguy reveals when we met him at FMX
2017. One of the reasons behind the slow uptake of
substance in ilm prior to this, though, is the lack of
udiM support – indeed, double negative had to do its
own workaround on Assassin’s Creed. “From the start we
knew it was something we needed to tackle and we’re
doing it right now, it’s a lot of work and that’s the value
of Mari as well,” he admits. “it’s why it’s so popular in
movies because it’s capable of handling that amount of
information and we know it’s complicated. We are
adding that now to substance Painter. i would say in Q3
or Q4, we should have something that’s very capable
when it comes to udiMs.”
01 Allegorithmic is planning a book, featuring
high-resolution art from all of the winners of the
MAT contest. Image by Cheung Chi Chung
02 There were 30 winners of the MAT contest, hailing
from 16 countries. Image by Jonas Ronnegard
03 With 1,200 entries, the MAT contest was a
resounding success. Image by Alex Liu (left) and
Rogelio Oguin (right)
04 Substance Academy will be facing more of a push
from Allegorithmic in the future, with training,
books and certiication available
05 Allegorithmic employs 80 people and hires one
employee a week. Teams are autonomous, small
and work based on peer reviews
06 “It was supereasy for us to adapt to the PBR
worklow. We’d been ready for ive years by then,
basically,” says Deguy on how Allegorithmic has
taken advantage of the rise of PBR
project focus
The Red Turtle
How 3D and 2D were combined
for this Oscar-nominated
animation with Studio Ghibli
Location France/Japan
Project The Red Turtle
Project description Produced
in collaboration with Studio
Ghibli, this dialogue-less
animated feature tells the life
story of a castaway on a
deserted tropical island
populated by turtles, crabs
and birds.
Studio N/A
Director bio After being
passionate about drawing since
childhood, Dudok de Wit
studied animation in the UK
before working as a freelancer
in the advertising industry for a
decade. He began making his
own animated ilms in his free
time, and in 2000 won an
Academy Award for short
Father and Daughter. The Red
Turtle is his irst feature ilm.
• Michael Dudok de Wit,
• Jean-Pierre Bouchet, VFX and
compositing supervisor
hen we irst sit down with animator-turneddirector Michael Dudok de Wit, it’s in a rare
moment of calm in his schedule: he’s just come
back home to London after a promotional trip to spain, and is
bound for Bordeaux the very next morning.
ten years ago, his life completely changed when he
received a phone call most animators could only ever dream
of. It was from studio Ghibli in tokyo, and they wanted to help
support him in directing his very own feature ilm. the result
was this year’s critically acclaimed oscar nominee for best
animated feature – The Red Turtle.
“coming from creating shorts, I was just not used to doing
none of the animation myself, or being divided over so many
different tasks,” he begins. “At the same time, I remembered
how frustrated I was when there was a hierarchy and no room
to explore while working as an animator in London. every
animator is different with a unique approach and you have to
accept that as a director instead of trying to control it.”
using his extensive industry experience to his advantage,
Dudok de Wit decided to work with a small crew of less than
50 artists, and ensured everyone was in the same building
and lived in the same small town throughout the nine years of
production. they would all walk to work together in the
morning, then chat at the nearest café together at night.
Introducing 3D into The Red Turtle pipeline – which featured
everything from 2D charcoal drawings to Wacom cintiq psD
iles imported into tVpaint for animation – was not a choice
that was made lightly. “I’m an illustrator at heart, and I love
the personal imperfections that every animator will bring to
their work. With cG, I was worried we would lose that magic,
but I was very wrong,” Dudok de Wit reveals.
“Animating characters like turtles slowly rotating
underwater and swimming away with hand-drawn
techniques would very quickly get quite wobbly,” adds VfX
and compositing supervisor, jean-pierre Bouchet. “It
becomes really ineficient unless you introduce some cG.”
With 3D artist Dominique Gantois, Dudok de Wit, Bouchet
and the rest of the team began by modelling elements like the
turtle character in 3ds Max. the 3D animation was then done
by keyframing one drawing for every two frames to match the
2D animated work from tVpaint.
Next, textures such as the turtle shell were created in
photoshop for a simple uV, which was then passed on to the
art department who further reined line and shadow work
using the inaltoon for 3ds Max plugin. everything was then
exported as a pNG image sequence for compositing in fusion.
“We chose to use the fusion compositing stage to be able
to fully control every colour and material without having to go
back and forth into 3ds Max,” Bouchet continues. “We would
have up to 20 separate layers for elements such as the sky,
clouds and sea. We then had different layers for the
characters including shadow and line iles from 3ds Max,
and a colour psD texture. finally, we would add a slight
overall noise to the comp to avoid any of the elements
looking too digital.”
Jean-Pierre Bouchet reveals
Michael Dudok de Wit’s
one unbreakable rule in his
brief to the team as director
“Michael was a complete perfectionist,”
remembers jean-pierre Bouchet. “We
did ilm actors for the dificult scenes,
but only to study their movements and
things like the folds in their clothing.
rotoscoping was never allowed because
Michael wanted everyone to truly be
creative and explore without being
restricted to what rotoscoping was
telling them. He thought it made
animated work look too dead. We
started production by spending several
months drawing test shots on paper and
scanning it all in. We then waited about a
year to ensure the story was polished
before switching to doing most things
digitally using photoshop, tVpaint, 3ds
Max and fusion.”
01 “We paid a lot of attention to the shape of the
turtle’s shell to make sure that it would work from
every angle, and kept things as smooth as possible
with no bumps or wrinkles,” explains Bouchet
02 “In Fusion we adjusted the colour and the opacity of
the shadows according to the reference provided by
the art department, and used the particle system to
add a variety of effects,” tells Bouchet
03 To complete The Red Turtle, Dudok de Wit worked
with a small crew made up of artists from
established studio Prima Linea
04 Creating a realistic turtle character was aided
through rigging, which was used to stretch and
twist the shape according to the camera angle, thus
further synthesising a 2D look
05 For some scenes, like when the main 2D character
lifts up the 3D turtle, both 2D and 3D elements
were combined
industry insider
Sid HarringtonOdedra
Job title Lead 3D artist
Location The Mill London
Education BA in 3D Animation
at Swansea Metropolitan
University (2001-2005), plus
a ive month course trialled at
Escape Studios in London.
Biography Sid HarringtonOdedra joined The Mill in
2006, and is a highly
experienced CG lead based in
the London studio. Recently he
led the multi-award-winning
promo, Chemical Brothers
‘Wide Open’ as shoot
supervisor and LG’s ‘World of
Play’ featuring Jason Statham.
Portfolio highlights
• Three ‘Go Binge’, 2017
• Chemical Brothers ‘Wide
Open’, 2016
• Sky ‘Q’, 2016
• Call of Duty ‘Ghosts’, 2014
• BBC ‘God Only Knows’, 2014
The lead 3D artist from The Mill
talks working on VFX for The
Chemical Brothers’ music video
taying at one company for 11 years can be a rarity in this
industry, however sid Harrington-Odedra has worked at
world-leading content creation studio the Mill ever since
he secured an internship at their London base. “there’s
something about the environment that i really like,” he says. “i
enjoy working on commercials – as i generally prefer shorter
projects.” But when he learned one of his favourite bands had
entered the building, his ears pricked up. “i’m a huge
Chemical Brothers fan so i was really interested in working on
a music video for them. When directors and long-term
collaborators with the Mill dom & nic told me about the
concept, i fell in love with the prospect even more.”
that idea was a concept for a unique, elegant music video
for the band’s single Wide Open. in the video, a dancer,
played by sonoya Mizuno, gradually transforms into a mesh
model while performing. “the idea came from the directors,
they wanted to explore the idea of augmenting human bodies
with 3d-printed structures,” says Harrington-Odedra.
Working with a small team, Harrington-Odedra had his
work cut out for him. “there are a lot of different aspects
which were highly challenging,” he remarks. “One of the
things that comes to mind is that we were relying on a whole
range of cutting-edge technology working together, and if one
of them failed, then everything failed – it was a house of
cards.” the main challenge the team faced was matching the
VFX to Mizuno’s graceful performance. “trying to get the
body track working, in a position where it felt realistic, and all
the poses felt realistic, was the hardest part of the project,”
Harrington-Odedra reveals. “Anyone who has tried to do it in
the past will tell you it is extremely dificult. We had to have a
key body track for over 5,000 frames of the whole sequence,
which was painstaking. it effectively meant that we weren’t
able to cheat and it had to be just right.”
the effects in Wide Open were achieved using a cocktail of
different software. “it wasn’t a case of having a standard set
of tools,” Harrington-Odedra says. “We used Maya, ZBrush
and photogrammetry scanning to create cool shapes as well
as Marvelous designer for cross-modelling and crosssimulation. We also used Flame for the clean-up operation.”
Harrington-Odedra also enjoyed the freedom of the work.
“it’s fun to do the promo work because it’s where you get to
try new things, you can be experimental – which is exactly
what we did on Wide Open. We tested a suite of tools that
we wouldn’t normally test on a big campaign.”
though Wide Open has been a highlight for HarringtonOdedra, there is one other band he’d like to work with. [My
favourite project] will be Wide Open for a long time until, of
course, i get to do a video for radiohead,” he laughs. “That will
be my favourite video, it will be lifetime ambition: achieved!”
Sid Harrington-Odedra was speaking at the BFX Festival.
Tickets for this year’s Festival are on sale now and 3D Artist
readers can use the code FUTURE20 to get a 20% discount.
Landing a job in VFX can be tough,
however Harrington-Odedra is onhand to offer some expert advice
“Have an absolutely kickass showreel, put everything
you can into it and make sure it relects your current
ability. A lot of people who want to enter this industry
put together a showreel and pad it with three years of
university work – stuff you do in your irst year and inal
year are quite different in terms of quality. And if you’re
just interested in modelling, you don’t need to worry
about shading or anything about that. Concentrate on
the aspects you’re interested in.”
it’s fun to do the
promo work because
it’s where you get to try
new things, you can
be experimental
Sid Harrington-Odedra,
Lead 3D artist
01 “[Wide Open] is the most
complicated project I’ve done.
It’s only because the team was
extremely small, so I had to try
my hands at everything,” says
02 The 2D team were tasked with
cleaning up markers all over Sonoya’s
body, T-shirt and legs, as well as on
the walls
03 “What we would take away
from doing Wide Open is that
body tracking is extremely
dificult, and if we had to do it
again, we’d probably approach it
slightly differently,” discusses
04 The idea came from directors
Dom & Nic, who wanted to explore
the concept of human bodies with
3D-printed structures
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Images of
the month
These are the 3D projects
that have been awarded
‘Image of the week’ on in the
last month
01 Blood and Fire
by Rico Cilliers
3DA username
Rico Cilliers
Rico Cilliers says:
“I made this render in ZBrush,
Blender and Substance Painter in
order to test out some techniques
for creating crystal material. I also
wanted to sculpt a cool monster.”
We say: There’s so much aggression
to Rico’s dragon, and we love the
creature design of his head and how
the scales were modelled.
02 American
by Dmytro Teslenko
3DA username
Dmytro Teslenko
Dmytro Teslenko says: “This eagle
is my irst experience in bird
modelling and I’m very proud of my
job. I hope you like it too.”
We say: What a captivating photoreal
render from Dmytro! There are some
great damage textures on the eagle’s
beak, plus some detailed feathers
around the eye area.
of the
03 Joe
by Sina Pahlevani
3DA username
Sina Pahlevani says:
“Joe was created in ZBrush and
rendered in 3ds Max with V-Ray. I
like to hear people making their own
brand-new stories for Joe behind the
feeling they receive from him. So for
that reason I hold off on sharing my
own story.”
We say: From the beads of liquid
running down Joe’s face, to the way his
skin wrinkles, Sina has provided an
enthralling narrative with just a head
bust. This picture really does say a
thousand words.
04 Yummy!
by Caroline Ng
3DA username
Caroline Ng says: “I
created this 3D piece based on Gop
Gap’s illustration called Yummy! I
love creating semi-realistic textures
on stylised models, so that’s what I
focused on doing in this piece.”
We say: Such a tiny gnome character,
with a lot of heart! The proportions of
his stylised limbs are especially lovely,
and we adore the slight fur on his
clothes and his hair.
Dark Corridor by Tanaka Musewe
3DA username Tanaka Musewe
Tanaka Musewe says: “The aim of this image was to capture a
horriic and eerie scene that would just give you the chills. This
little girl walked down the wrong corridor.”
We say: Tanaka has created a creepy scene that wouldn’t be misplaced in a horror
video game! We love the lighting and the textures of the walls.
Baby Dino by João Fernando Maia
3DA username Jonfer Maia
João Fernando Maia says: “I started this little dude as a sketch,
but I decided to take it a little bit further and make him for a
cinematic concept by Corey Smith.”
We say: This cute little dinosaur has such a great mid-action pose. This is a fab
stylised model of a triceratops, with subtle lighting to bring it to life.
Umi No Ha (Blade of the Sea) by Brandon Hix
3DA username brandonhix
Brandon Hix says: “This image illed a primal need to tell an epic
story. I wanted to layer the composition in a way that continues
to reveal the narrative within as you look closer.”
We say: We think the depth of ield in Brandon’s complex scene is great, plus the
sunset reds bleeding through the image give it a really warm feel.
behind their artwork
SPEED MODELLING I sculpt using ZBrush and when it comes to speed
modelling, I try to approach it with a clear mind and not think of anything
specific. A good eye will always catch good forms and flows. A simple tip I
can give is make a mess: be as rough and fast with large brush strokes to
create forms, and once you have that everything else is a piece of cake.
Incredible 3D artists take us
Sci Fi Speedster,
Software ZBrush, Substance Painter
James is a passionate CG artist who
has just completed his studies and
looking to leave his mark by creating
memorable works of art
James Lin
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