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3D Artist - June 2018

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Practical inspiration for the 3D community
Tame your beast sculpts with Tony Camehl
Evolve Your
Page 22
Software ZBrush, Maya,
Mari, Mudbox, Arnold,
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Editor Carrie Mok
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Art Editor Newton Ribeiro
Production Editor Katharine Marsh
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Senior Art Editor Will Shum
Hussain Almossawi, Orestis Bastounis, Tony Camehl,
Paul Champion, Tanya Combrinck, Ian Failes,
Farid Ghanbari, Safwen Laabidi, Maggie Oh, Daniel Ripley,
Mark Smith, Oscar Trejo
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volve your textures this
issue with our seven
incredible Mari projects.
You can learn from pro texture
artists from the likes of ILM and
Ubisoft to discover new ways of
working with Foundry’s
incredible texturer on page 22!
We’ve also put our headsets
on this month to immerse ourselves fully in Ready
Player One. Ian Failes has spoken to ILM and Digital
Domain to find out everything there is to know about
the latest Spielberg film on page 40.
Meanwhile, Tony Camehl, one of the most exciting
concept artists emerging in the game art sphere, tells
us about his ZBrush creature workflows and career.
You can learn all about his techniques on page 34.
We’ve also headed into stylised character territory
with the brilliant Safwen Laabidi. He gives us his top
tips and explains how to render his Biker Chick
character in V-Ray.
If that’s not enough, we’ve also got tutorials on
KeyShot and medical visualisation, guides on Cinema
4D, an interview with Framestore about making the
Star Trek-inspired Black Mirror’s ‘USS Callister’ episode
a reality as well as reviews on the Renda G3-SWC
Ultra and the latest X-Particles release.
Enjoy the issue.
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Carrie Mok, Editor
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his issue’s team of pro artists…
Tanya has been speaking to some
incredible texture artists this issue to
bring you seven wonderful Mari
projects to learn from and be inspired
by. Read her feature on page 22.
3DArtist username N/A
Digital artist Daniel comes from a
traditional art background. His tutorial
on page 54 is a brilliant re-creation of
Game of Thrones’ Tyrion Lannister, with
hair created in Cinema 4D.
3DArtist username Rectro
An art director at 3FX Inc, Farid has
used his expertise to explain how he
used Cinema 4D, V-Ray and After
Effects to achieve medical visualisation
perfection on page 60.
3DArtist username Farid
CG artist and character designer
Safwen returns this issue to give us his
expert guide on shading a stylised
character with attitude. You can read
his techniques on page 46.
3DArtist username safweno
International product designer Hussain
lends us his product visualisation pro
tips this issue to discuss how to set up
lighting for a professional render. His
tutorial is on page 68.
3DArtist username N/A
Oscar has worked on a variety of
projects, from videogames to TV,
jewellery design and 3D printing. We
thought of no one better to teach us
about materials in KeyShot on page 72.
3DArtist username Heretic Templar
Mark has spoken to both the wonderful
Framestore about all things space for
Black Mirror and Motorsport’s Dean
Wright this issue. Find his interviews on
page 90 and 94 respectively.
3DArtist username N/A
Paul has covered all of the latest news
to hit the industry, from the latest
Substance Designer update to the
launch of Total Chaos and Wacom’s
newest product launch on page 86.
3DArtist username N/A
Taking the Renda G3-SWC Ultra out for
a spin this issue, Orestis takes a look at
the 4.5GHz clockspeed of the Intel
Core i9-7920X to see just how speedy
the processor really is on page 78.
3DArtist username N/A
What’s in the magazin
News, reviews
& features
12 The Gallery
A hand-picked collection of phenomenal
and inspirational artwork
22 Boost Your Mari Skills
It is important
to consider the
flow of the
muscles in the
whole body as
well as the
texture of the
dinosaur’s skin
Seven incredible artists provide expert tips
to help you upgrade your texturing
30 Technique Focus:
The Big Brother
Rico Suyang Wang walks us through
texturing the cat warrior
32 Subscribe Today!
Save money and never miss an issue
34 Taming ZBrush Beasts
Tony Camehl gives us his top tips for
creating fantastic creatures
40 Ready, Set, VR!
Keita Okada discusses
how he painted the T. Rex’s
scales with Mari
Page 29
Ian Failes talks to ILM and Digital Domain
about the VFX behind Ready Player One
76 Technique Focus:
Nikie Monteleone talks pattern creation
and detailing in ZBrush
78 Review: Renda G3-SWC Ultra
Orestis Bastounis speeds through with
this new PC from Overclockers
80 Review: X-Particles 4
Art director Farid Ghanbari gives us his
verdict on the new release
Excel with product
in V-Ray
98 Technique Focus:
The Gladiator 69
Bondok Max reveals his use of references
for this vehicle render
Discover Cinema 4D’s
hair system
Save up to 20%
Review: X-Particles
Turn to
page 32
for detaiils
Master medical visualisation
60 40
Ready, Set, VR!
The Pipeline
If you compare the
anatomy of a human with
that of a lion, both have the
same muscles and bones
46 Step By Step: Shade and render
a stylised character
Sculpt a unique model, use Ornatrix
and render in V-Ray
54 Step By Step: Discover Cinema
4D’s hair system
Tony Camehl
gives us his top tips for creating
incredible creature concepts
Page 34
Re-create a character using ZBrush,
Cinema 4D and more
60 Step By Step: Master medical
Top techniques from Farid Ghanbari
68 Pipeline Techniques: Excel with
product visualisation in V-Ray
Hussain Almossawi guides us
through professional V-Ray tips
72 Pipeline Techniques:
Learn to render materials
in KeyShot
Create unique clay studies
The Hub
Shade and
render a
84 Community News
The Rookies changes things up for
its eighth annual awards
86 Industry News
Total Chaos brings Chaos Group to
Bulgaria and Wacom adds new
products to the Cintiq family
88 Opinion
Maggie Oh
The ILMxLAB technical PM talks
motion capture in the fashion world
90 Project Focus
USS Callister
Framestore reveals the CG secrets
behind the alien creatures in the
Black Mirror episode
94 Industry Insider
Dean Wright
Visit the 3D Artist online shop at
96 Readers’ gallery
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creative video director
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Create your gallery today at
The inspiration for
this piece was the
amazing concept
by Gediminas
Pranckevicius. My main
aim in creating the
image was to give
myself the challenge of
re-creating the natural
look and appeal of the
character in his context.
It also turned out to be a
great opportunity to
learn new things like
XGen and Arnold
Cristian Bolivar
Cristian is based in Colombia.
He works in advertising and is
mostly focused on look dev,
lighting and grooming
Software Maya, Arnold ,
Substance Painter, NukeX
Work in progress…
Cristian Bolivar,
Hummingbird, 2018
The idea of this TTK project
originally came from a high school
assignment where I made a popup children’s book. I created some
kid characters in Halloween
costumes that could exist in
reality and Harpy is one of them.
After I discovered ZBrush,
I brushed up those characters
to make them look a lot nicer
Ryohei Takama,
project), 2017
Ryohei Takama
Ryohei has been learning 3D
sculpting to become a 3D
character artist, sculptor and
modelling artist since 2016
Software ZBrush,
Photoshop CC
Alternative render…
I wanted to develop
some more characters for
my portfolio and at the
time I was trying to eat
healthier and resist junk
food. The end result
reflects the temptations
that were on my mind
Design Lad,
Junk Food on the
Brain, 2017
Design Lad
Design Lad specialises in 3D
illustration, typography and
animation. His work is bold,
playful and colourful
Software Cinema 4D,
V-Ray, Photoshop
Work in progress…
Anna Fedyukina
Anna is a 3D artist and interior
designer from Lviv, Ukraine. She
has a master’s degree in design
and is interested in architecture
This image is a part of
the Red&Green bedroom project and was started
as a commercial interior visualisation. After the
project was finished, I decided to use this 3D
scene and play with new Corona Renderer
features. The goal was to achieve special mood
and artistic look with the Corona Interactive
Lightmix feature and materials settings
Anna Fedyukina, Red&Green, 2017
Software 3ds Max, Corona
Renderer, Photoshop
Work in progress…
Upon realising that I had been
stuck in the comfort zone of
realism, I wanted to try to create
something that was simple, bold
and possessed a very striking
ethos. Upon seeing the concept,
illustrated by Serge Birault, I felt
that it very well fulfilled those
criteria. The shape language was
very precise and stylised, as
opposed to being subtle and
realistic, so I figured that it would
be complex enough for me to learn
a lot from, and I definitely did
Donna Urdinov,
Military Girl, 2017
Donna Urdinov
Donna Urdinov is a character
artist who loves creating art in
all sorts of forms, especially
character-centric pieces
Software ZBrush,
Marmoset Toolbag 3
Work in progress…
In depth
Simon Barle
I drew a lot of
inspiration from old-school
fantasy titles like Diablo,
Doom, Warhammer and
He-Man for this
environment. I wanted to
do something that felt very
hostile and was filled with
smoke but still have some
colour in it
Simon is an environment artist
based in Stockholm, Sweden
Software Unreal Engine 4,
Substance Designer,
Substance Painter, ZBrush,
Modo, Photoshop
Work in progress…
Simon Barle,
Evil Lands, 2018
Using only a few modular rock
pieces with detail maps applied in
the shader, I was able to quickly
block out larger shapes and keep
the texture density more even
across the scene.
During the early blockout phase, I
wanted to set the tone quickly and
then start to build up my shapes
around that and gradually light the
scene more dramatically.
Even though the scene is pretty barren, I wanted to infuse some life into it in the
form of some hellish fauna. These plants also bring some colour into the scene.
Using a combination of ZBrush and Substance Designer, I could make most of my
materials in a nondestructive way and get new variations by adjusting a few sliders.
Used in productions like Game
of Thrones, Mari is a mainstay
for top texturers. Artists at
Weta, ILM, Ubisoft and more
reveal how to master the tool
enior texture artist at Industrial Light &
Magic Adam Elkins recalls a “collective
sigh of relief” from texture artists when
Foundry released Mari, on account of its
exceptional power and suitability for working
within a tight VFX pipeline.
“I have been using Mari for around seven
years now and have seen its toolset grow to
include some amazing features like advanced
layer blending, baking features and great
procedural nodes,” says Elkins. “The latter
feature is probably my favourite. I use Mari’s
procedurals everyday in my work, whether that
be for hard surface or organic assets, being able
to adjust textures non-destructively is essential.
Foundry’s strong connection with the industry
means that most of the large VFX studios have
adapted the software to suit their needs making
for some great proprietary features developed
Over the following pages you will read about
seven projects in which Mari was used to texture
everything from shiny metallic surfaces to
organic materials such as skin and hair. You’ll
pick up tips and techniques from some top
texture artists, learn how to experiment to
discover interesting new effects and explore the
software to get more out of it than ever before.
Learn how Weta Digital artist Tom Newbury textured a big mean giant
---------------------Artist at Weta Digital
The texture you are projecting
may not always have the regions
that you need from your
character. For example, if the
subject in your texture has hair,
you won’t have much real estate
for the scalp. I will create a
tileable swatch in Photoshop
using a small region of the
forehead close to the hairline,
which I then bring back into Mari
to tile all over the scalp.
When I do my first pass of
texture projections, I try to cover
large surface areas in a single
projection. This will reduce the
amount of seams and clean-up
needed at the end of the process
and it also allows me to get broad
coverage quickly in the beginning
of the texture process.
I usually use the large soft brush
that comes with Mari when
projecting skin. This can be found
under the Basic Brushes tab in the
brush palette. If I want a more
textured feel to the transitions in
the texture, I will also use the tRex
brush that is found under the
Organic tab.
To make sure you are getting the
most resolution out of your
projected texture, zoom in
relatively close to the geometry.
This will make sure you are
getting the most out of your paint
buffer’s resolution. If you need to
zoom out while projecting, just
increase your Buffer Size under
the Painting Channel in Mari 4.0.
Once you have finished projecting
all over your surface, make sure
to view your model in the flat
shaded view. This will make it
easier to see areas where the
texture may be stretching or
where hues don’t blend correctly.
I call this the clean-up process.
When projecting on a face, the
scale of the texture you are
applying is critical. Try and use
landmarks to make sure the scale
of texture is consistent to the reallife scale of the photo you are
projecting. For example, if I was
projecting on the side of the head,
I would line up the texture with
the corner of the eye to the edge
of the ear.
Experiment with Mari’s procedural nodes to get lots of results to play with
---------------------3D artist
22 4K
Can you tell us a bit about your background as
a CG artist?
I experimented a bit with early versions of
Maya and 3ds Max in grade school but my first
serious foray into computer graphics came
when I decided to take an elective course in
visual effects at the Florida State University
Film School. I was there studying biology but I
had such a good time learning compositing and
visual effects at the film school that after I
graduated I decided to pursue a Master of Fine
Arts in visual effects at Savannah College of
Art and Design (SCAD).
Since leaving SCAD, I have worked as a
freelance compositor, 3D artist and technical
director with clients in several countries to
create visual effects for international film and
television projects. In addition to my freelance
work, I am continuously working on personal
3D projects to advance my skills and
experiment with new techniques.
How did you approach the texturing of the
image above?
I began by breaking down the vehicle into its
various materials – such as rubber, fibreglass,
and metal – and created a layer group for each
material in each texture channel. Each layer
group received a layer mask in order to block
out the parts of the vehicle made from that
material, and this layer group mask was shared
to the corresponding layer group in each
channel so that a single mask could block out
each material across all texture channels. From
there I was able to start with a flat colour for
each material and gradually build up more and
more detail by adding layers to each material’s
layer group.
Can you give us a couple of cool tips for
getting the most out of Mari?
Use procedurals as much as possible! I used
the Tri-Planar procedural to get quick, seamless
coverage across the vehicle for things like
grunge map overlays as well as several Noise
procedurals for dirt and scratches.
I also utilised the Cube procedural to create
the headlight design and the Oil procedural to
achieve the heat-damaged, anodised look on
the bike’s engine metal. Experimenting with
Mari’s procedural nodes can get you a lot of
different, interesting results very quickly and
can make your project look better for it.
Are there any extension packs that you
particularly like and would recommend to
other 3D artists?
Mari Extension Pack 4 provides many useful
additions, the most valuable to me being the
extra procedurals and the edge wear
functionality. While I didn’t use the Extension
Pack on this project, I would definitely
recommend it to those looking for some extra
options inside Mari.
Improvise with other images to create the right look
---------------------CG generalist
Use references
First of all I studied
references to understand the basic
colour patterns in the animal’s skin.
I decided I couldn’t use real photos
of caimans to create the textures
and so I used things like rust,
concrete and old walls.
Create base textures
I created one image in
Photoshop for each colour pattern
that I identified in the caiman.
There’s one with a dirt-looking
yellow, one with dark spots that
looks like rust and a mostly grey one
that looks a bit like cement.
Apply the base
textures I projected the
yellow texture in all of the caiman’s
body as a base skin colour and
adjusted the curves to make it
orange at the top of the body. I then
applied the dark spots following the
patterns I saw in my references.
Use the displacement
I utilised the displacement
map to refine the textures, giving a
lot of contrast to the caiman and
making the borders of the scales
very dark. This image was used as
an alpha to apply the grey between
the scales.
Mari is great for materials, as well as the addition of dirt and grime
---------------------Senior texture artist at
Industrial Light & Magic
Can you tell us a little about your background
as a CG artist?
I began my career in VFX over a decade ago
now. While studying for a degree in industrial
design, I quickly realised it wasn’t the path for
me and after graduating I went to work for a
small advertising studio where I produced CG
assets and final renders for print.
From there I spent two years at MPC London
in their commercials department where I began
texturing using Mari, not long after its initial
release. Then I headed off to Double Negative
in London where I took a break from texturing
and spent a few years as a generalist working
on all aspects of the 3D pipeline. I have now
come back to texturing and recently took a
position as senior texture artist at Industrial
Light & Magic in Vancouver.
What do you like about using Mari?
I remember when Mari was released
commercially, there was a collective sigh of
relief from texture artists within the industry.
While there were (and still are) other methods
of texturing, the power of Mari’s UDIM
support, colour management and camera
projection make it perfect for working within a
tight VFX pipeline.
How did you approach the texturing in this
image in particular?
For this entry in ArtStation’s ‘Test Drive’
challenge, participants were given a preexisting design to texture. With this in mind, I
wanted to make my submission stand out and
decided to redesign the car by introducing
different material elements and therefore
changing the overall look of the vehicle.
I wanted to see a combination and contrast
of different textures that would help break up
the design graphically and make it more
visually interesting. To do this, I broke the asset
down into different materials – car paint,
rubber, metal and so on – and began texturing
those elements individually then applied these
base materials by masking each section. Once I
was happy with that, I started to work on the
details, decals, dirt and grime.
What is your advice for doing great texturing
work in Mari?
Explore. Once you have got to grips with the
basics, that’s when the fun begins. Explore all of
the different nodes and tools that Mari has to
offer. There is a huge toolset at your disposal
and I’d encourage new users to have a play and
see what approach works for you, whether that
be a traditional painting approach or something
based more on procedures and nodes. It’s great
fun seeing how other texture artists tackle an
asset and it’s interesting when you see
someone who uses Mari in a completely
different way to you.
Extension packs are worth it as they achieve excellent results in less time
----------------------Freelance texture
Work begins with the search for a
photo reference. You should not
rely solely on your own life
observations – you need to
improve on them with good
reference materials that have
been collected for a specific task.
These are the best assets I have
encountered; I have long enjoyed
using them while working at a
large company, and now they’re
available for a modest price. The
level of detail is excellent,
especially for creating things like
pores and wrinkles. They’re
available at
I really like working with Mari’s
nodes, as this way many
operations become clearer and
more flexible.
Be patient – we always want to
see quick results but this
tendency can interfere with your
process. Remember that Mari
can cache layers so you can
return to them later.
This package greatly simplifies
working in Mari, adds dozens of
procedural and adjustment
layers, as well as workflow
enhancements for management
layers, channels and projects. It
saves a lot of time. You can find it
You can save time and build up a library of useful tools for future projects
---------------------Texture artist
at Ubisoft
This project started with the need to find out how UVs react to different mesh
smoothing methods but it quickly turned into a personal project for me to work in
Mari some more and bring my textures into Arnold for volumetric lighting, rendering
and compositing.
I always say that 70 to 80 per
cent of anything can be
automated – and so can texturing.
I prefer spending a week on a
little node that does a lot of work
than doing the same thing over
and over again. You will always
end up painting for that final
personal touch but when
deadlines are tight, that little
gizmo will be useful. Export them
and make your very own library!
I used Mari 3.2v1 with Extension
Pack 4R1. This extension is crucial
to my workflow as it drastically
increases the ease and speed at
which I work in Mari. In addition
to this, I really like the subtle
grunge texture packs provided by
3D Collective. I am using that in
my Mari graph.
This project started with the need
to find out how UVs react to
different mesh smoothing
methods. However, it quickly
turned into a personal project for
me to work in Mari some more
and bring my textures into Arnold
for volumetric lighting, rendering
and compositing.
What I like so much about Mari is
that you can build a material from
the ground up. You are in full
control over what type of
information goes into your
Normal, Roughness or Diffuse.
Wait, you need a three-layer
packaged subsurface scattering
mask for a character? Easy! If
Mari doesn’t have the tools
natively, EP will.
Shaders inside Mari are very
useful to quickly look develop
your material. For this project, I
used the AiStandard to quality
check my textures before I
started the lengthy exporting
process. Beware of the height
variation parameters, though –
they’re more likely to crash the
software than to show the neat
end result you’re looking for.
I’m a big fan of the Node Graph
and I author all my materials and
texture setups in this system. You
can enable it in your preferences
but make sure you keep your
graphs clear and commented. I
like to use Radio Nodes to hide
connections, create Backdrops
with names and I change the
names of nodes to be able to
revise older work.
Make the best use of Mari and Mudbox to achieve high-quality models
---------------------Chief executive officer
at Villard
Create preliminary sketches of the
scales First, create the dinosaur’s basic
model with ZBrush. Even though the sketch is
supposed to be rough at this stage, it is important
to be conscientious and firmly consider the flow
of the muscles in the whole body as well as the
texture of the dinosaur’s skin.
Sculpt the scales based on
sketches Load models and textures in
Mari. You can directly paint textures onto the
model in Mari, which allows flexible and efficient
texture creation.
Use Mudbox to create Occlusion
and Vector Displacement Maps
The advantage of using Mudbox is that it can
handle far more polygons than ZBrush. By loading
and integrating models in MudBox, you can
export a beautiful map without any joints.
Paint the model When painting with
Mari, mask the line with Cavity Map
– you can paint gutters and scales gaps with
pinpoint. For conversion of various maps, use a
software called Knald that can generate various
textures from 2D sources.
Use Arnold when it comes to
rendering The advantage of Arnold is
that you can check various paths such as Specular
and SSS by switching items on the upper left.
Through changing the path settings, various paths
can be checked.
Rico Suyang Wang
Incredible 3D artists take us
behind their artwork
TEXTURING When I began texturing this project, I assigned the normal
and AO maps, which were baked from Marmoset, into Substance Painter,
along with others such as material ID, curvature and world normal
position. With real-time rendering, we can see the results and make
changes directly without waiting.
Rico has been in the art industry since
2013. He has worked on projects with
studios such as Kabam and DeePoon
VR and loves new technologies
Software Maya, ZBrush, Substance
Painter, Marmoset Toolbag
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28 May 2018
Tony Camehl gives us the lowdown of his
journey and provides his expert tips for
creating your own menagerie
inged monkeys, griffin hybrids and
an anatomically accurate pose of a
jumping fox – Tony Camehl has
sculpted them all. You wouldn’t expect it from
someone who initially studied business law but
Camehl is actually one of the most inspiring
artists to break into the world of creature
concepts today. “I have always been interested
in 3D since I was a kid and it felt natural to me to
learn 3D and ZBrush even before I picked up a
pencil and learned how to sketch animals and
creatures,” he says.
Camehl’s love for creatures began at home as
his parents have always had pets. “They had the
usual ones like dogs and cats, my grandparents
had ducks and geese as well so I kind of grew up
surrounded by animals. Even to this day, my
parents have got two wonderful and cute British
shorthair cats called Fips and Mickey. I learned
so much just by being around them and seeing
how they behave with each other – how they
play and sleep together.”
Camehl says that there is something that
draws him more to the study of animals than
most. “To be honest, I feel much more
comfortable when surrounded by animals than
being with humans. You never have that
pressure on you if you are alone in a room with
Camehl’s work
often centres
around animals
and creatures, like
this red cardinal
Tony Camehl teaches us how he uses ZBrush 4R8 and Photoshop to
create a quick red cardinal
your dog or cat. Your pets don’t expect you to do
small talk. They don’t judge you like humans do.
They deal with you the way you are and they
aren’t trying to change you into someone else.
So to make a long story short, I never considered
doing characters, robots or environments. My
true passions are only animals and creatures.”
ZBrush to Photoshop plugin In
ZBrush 4R8, we have that great new
plugin called ZBrush to Photoshop, which is
perfect for quickly sending basic renders to
Photoshop in no time. It is a great time-saver
and is excellent for showing quick concepts or,
in this case, to quickly have our polypainted red
cardinal crest available in Photoshop.
Find a interesting spot Finding an
interesting spot is kind of tricky. There
are a few different methods out there, like the
golden circle or the rule of thirds. We will use
the rule of thirds to get an interesting
composition. It is important that we don’t place
our selling point, the bird’s head, in the very
centre or on one of the crossing lines. We will
play around and see what fits best for this
particular composition.
Photobashing starts now After we
sent the polypaint model via the plugin
to Photoshop and find an interesting
composition, we now can start gathering
high-definition images from the internet and
cutting out the pieces we really need to lay on
top of our base. Photobashing feels like a doing a
jigsaw where we have to find matching pieces in
order to continue. We have to keep the
perspective and size in mind while searching for
good photos of red-crested cardinals.
Use your intuition Looking at the
current stage of our final red-crested
cardinal concept, something feels wrong.
Sometimes it helps to just trust your intuition,
which will tell us that the image feels empty. So
to fix this we have many different options and
now we will go with the least time-consuming
one. We just go and place more branches in the
background to populate it a bit more. Now it
feels more balanced and right.
At Massive Entertainment (a Ubisoft studio) in
Malmö, Sweden, Camehl is currently a creature
concept designer, working in 2D, sketching and
then moving onto 3D with ZBrush and KeyShot.
He got his start in the industry by being a
freelancer, initially working on smaller gigs like
book covers and on independent film projects.
“After I started creating my own creatures
based on existing IPs, the technical art director
at Massive Entertainment, Sebastian Lindoff,
saw my work on ArtStation and one thing led to
another,” he says.
This creature work included his variations on
Buckbeak, the fictional hippogriff from the Harry
Potter series, which Camehl completed a full
body pose of as well as three beautiful different
profiles of head concepts. One version features
stunning shimmering grey-blue feathers with
bright topaz eyes. Another is a more stoic
eagle-like concept with sleeker plumage.
On the other hand, Camehl has also studied
the realistic forms of mammals like African wild
dogs, lions, deer and more. Some of these have
taken the form of écorchés, which observe the
minute details of the animal’s musculature with
carefully and correctly placed annotations of
every single muscle name. Knowing animal
anatomy, he says, should definitely be a
requirement in his field.
“It is essential for any creature designer to
know the anatomy of existing, real animals. That
means for every artist who wants to work
professionally as a creature designer, 90 per
cent of your work will be researching existing
animals, their behavior and anatomy, and how to
draw or sculpt them to a realistic level. The
missing ten per cent is using your knowledge to
create believable creatures. So do your
homework – it will pay off and is worth it!”
One of the most notable things he’s learned
about sculpting animals is the similarity to
human anatomy, “If you compare the anatomy
of a human with that of a lion, both have the
same muscles and bones. Even the names are
the same. After I learned that there is no real
difference when it comes to the anatomy
between different animals – that only the shapes
look dissimilar – it became much easier to sculpt
and draw them.”
But Camehl doesn’t make a distinction between
modelling real animals or fantasy ones. “To be
honest I prefer sculpting or modelling both.
Being able to create real animals in 3D helps you
It’s essential for
any creature
designer to have
some knowledge
of anatomy
One version of a body
illustration of Harry
Potter’s Buckbeak
Knowing how
animals move
is imperative
Another of
It’s crucial to
work closely to
your references
Be sure to spend
time studying the
anatomy and
muscles of animals
An anatomically correct
langur monkey
Seven tips to help you get ahead when creating
incredible creatures in ZBrush
Transpose Line tool and Alt
If you ever struggle to create smooth
curves on your model, try the Transpose Line
tool while pressing Alt. For example, you
created that beautiful eagle in full flight but the
stretched wings looking stiff and straight.
Switch to the Transpose Line tool, draw it out
and while in move mode hold Alt on your
keyboard to start manipulating your model.
A render
profile of
one of
Gather reference images This
Do your homework It is
Build a basemesh It is up to you if
might be the most important step as
soon as you plan on creating something new
– everyone uses reference images and it’s
definitely not cheating. When it comes to
animals, it is also very important to watch a lot
of videos showing how the animal behaves
and moves.
absolutely not enough to just dive in
and do awesome artwork. Your very first step,
besides gathering reference images should be
doing your homework. What I mean by that is
try and learn as much about the subject as
you can: do anatomy studies, 2D action
sketches or 3D pose studies.
design fictional creatures and push them to an
almost real and believable level.”
And no matter the creature, Camehl will start
the same way, looking through his Pinterest for
references and browsing his animal boards. It’s
not just a few images saved, though. To date,
Camehl has 65 boards with over 78,000 pins,
meaning that he has a huge back catalogue to
utilise, “Mostly I am looking for interesting
behaviour or poses. I am not only looking for just
one photo but a lot of them from different angles
to get a feeling for the body in 3D space. During
the research step, I also watch a lot of YouTube
videos to help me get a feeling on how the
animal is moving, how it interacts with its
environment and so on.”
As soon as he is finished with his research, he
is either doing some quick pose studies in 2D or
jumping into 3D right away for sculpting. “I think
as an artist you should be able to do 2D as well
as 3D these days. Being able to quickly sketch
ideas using Photoshop or pen and paper is as
important as transferring these sketches into a
3D space using ZBrush or any other 3D
sculpting software,” he says.
Camehl mostly uses ZBrush, KeyShot,
Photoshop and pen and paper for his art.
Recently, though, he got his hands on Oculus
Rift and Medium, and saw some great potential
in creating great work quickly in the virtual
reality space. “It is just mind-blowing and it
definitely helped me [with my sketching]
because in Oculus Medium you literally are able
to ‘sketch’ in 3D space, which makes everything
so easy. It is a real time-saver to quickly sketch a
creature or animal and import it into ZBrush to
push it to a finished level.”
As for the future, Camehl is already looking
forward to what he can work on next. “There are
so many animals and creatures I would love to
work on. For example, I want to sculpt and learn
more about birds. I also really want to get into
dinosaurs and discover more about those
wonderful and sadly extinct creatures. My plan is
to sculpt and draw as much as I can during my
free time. The why is easy to answer – but my
time management is super bad!”
And finally, he has one piece of advice for
artists looking to improve their creature portfolio:
“It is as simple as it sounds – do your homework.
It is essential that you put the time and effort into
learning real animal anatomy, behaviours,
movements and so on. Be like a sponge and
absorb as much knowledge as you can.
“If you have difficulty going to the zoo, then
use photos and videos. Preferably try to find
places where you can interact with animals of all
kinds. Even with your pets. You will learn way
faster and a lot more that way than by just
studying photos.”
you want to build your basemesh
using ZBrush or another 3D application. It’s
important that you create a basemesh
because while you work on it, you are also
thinking about the underlying structure and
the muscles of your animal study.
Work in T-Pose For an animal
study or any imagninary creature, it
is good to first create a T-Pose version so you
can come back and do several different action
poses with it, saving you time.
Save time with a pop-up menu
Use polypaint Whenever you
To save time while sculpting, create
a custom menu with all the brushes you use,
the materials you like and the most important
functions like ZRemesher or Dynamesh. Once
it’s created, you can assign a custom hotkey to
it and whenever you press it, your menu will
pop up on the canvas.
create an animal study, make sure to
use polypaint to give it some patterns that
make it even more believable and real. You
can also use a combination of Spotlight,
textures and/or photos.
Ian Failes dives into
the real and virtual
worlds of Steven
Spielberg’s Ready
Player One with
Digital Domain
and ILM
All images © 2018 Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc.
hen people think of films about
virtual reality (VR), it is perhaps
1992’s Lawnmower Man that might
first come to mind. But now there is a new
project likely to be forever associated with VR
– Steven Spielberg’s Ready Player One, the
director’s take on Ernest Cline’s future dystopian
pop culture-filled novel.
And the movie adaptation is certainly full of
pop culture, too, as teenager Wade Watts (Tye
Sheridan) navigates the OASIS, a virtual reality
of the future where people in 2045 spend more
time than in real life. Watts, known as his avatar
Parzival in the OASIS, is able to imagine virtually
anything and this leads to all sorts of cinemainfused imagery, from Back to the Future’s famous
DeLorean to Jurassic Park’s T. Rex and even the
robot from The Iron Giant.
Among the visual effects studios helping
Spielberg bring this menagerie of imagery to life
– both in the OASIS and in a future version of
Columbus, Ohio – were Industrial Light & Magic
(ILM) and Digital Domain. The former handled
almost everything that was synthetic, while the
latter played host to the virtual production shoot
for the film, and then delivered visual effects for
the real-world portions of the movie.
Wade Watts
(Tye Sheridan)
surfs the VR
world of the
OASIS from
inside his RV
Among the many pop culture references in Ready
Player One are three standout films among
animation and visual effects aficionados
Director Steven
Spielberg on the
set of Ready
Player One
-------------------------------------------As Parzival, Wade Watts chooses the famous
DeLorean motorcar from Robert Zemeckis’
Back to the Future as his mode of transport in
the OASIS. Scenes involving the car were
filmed on the motion capture stage with a
wireframe version of the DeLorean built out of
steel mesh. “The DeLorean is such an icon
and such a fantastical thing from that era of
cinema,” says ILM visual effects supervisor
Roger Guyett. “You can only imagine the
effort and interest at ILM in constructing that
DeLorean for the movie, and trying to
understand the various design details, like the
flux capacitor, and trying to capture all of that
in our CG builds.”
-------------------------------------------Brad Bird’s beloved 2D-animated feature is
referenced in Ready Player One as part of a
thrilling battle scene involving the metaleating robot. “He is just such a fantastic
design,” notes Guyett. “So we had a lot of fun
with all of those things and trying to match the
style of the animation. We’d also research
how the robot would work in a more realistic
way, rather than just in the original movie. You
can also go online and see 100 different
versions of the Iron Giant, so it was like,
‘What’s the real one? How should it look in
this movie?’”
-------------------------------------------The T. Rex from Spielberg’s own VFX
game-changer Jurassic Park appears in his new
movie along with the giant ape from King Kong
and many other characters from ‘VFXthrough-the-ages’ films. At some point,
Guyett realised that many visual effects artists
at ILM had likely worked on the films that
Ready Player One references. “There are so
many iconic characters and whether you’ve
really worked on those movies or not, you
become very familiar with them,” he says.
“They’re all part of that DNA of the visual
effects world and that geeky, nerdy world that
we all exist in the visual effects world, too.”
All images © 2018 Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc.
Sixers in Sorrento’s Innovative Online Industries
and their virtual counterparts
Inside the OASIS, gamers and geeks seek to
solve a series of clues and missions to win a
game constructed by the online world’s late
founder James Halliday (Mark Rylance). The
clues come from comic book, movie and
videogame moments – that’s why you can
find so much pop-culture eye candy in Ready
Player One.
Constructing this imagery, along with the
digital avatars the ‘players’ inhabit inside the
OASIS, was a mammoth challenge. It
involved a significant motion capture shoot
that was done at Digital Domain, with previs
paving the way for how scenes were
captured, and proxy environments
constructed early to allow Spielberg to scout
the virtual set for the best angles and action
prior to the shoot.
As with a number of virtual production
shoots for recent films, the idea was to
approach the motion capture “just like a
live-action shoot,” asserts ILM visual effects
supervisor Roger Guyett. “You have whatever
you’re going to shoot that day, you scout that
environment, make some adjustments if
necessary and then start shooting on that
environment with the actors.”
That also meant that if the characters
needed to interact with key objects or pieces
of the set, some kind of set piece would be
built for the virtual production stage. “What
Steven did,” explains Guyett, “was shoot his
main coverage of those moments on the
virtual stage. He’d probably walk away with
70 or 75 per cent of the basic camera ideas
that he had.”
But, of course, the original shoot was
something that could be edited later via
changes in coverage, animation and shot
design. To do that, Spielberg employed a
‘v-cam’ – a virtual camera set-up where
scenes and takes were played back and the
director could alter things directly. “He’d go,
‘Oh, I need a close-up and I need a wide shot
here, or I think it would be cool if we did a
crane shot’,” notes Guyett. “We were loading
the CG environment in with the motion
capture and playing it back and you’re getting
additional coverage for those scenes. Slowly,
you’re building the movie up like that.”
Footage would be edited together as the
motion capture went on. It’s here that the
original previs would merge into postvis, and
where v-cam takes started forming part of
the cut. More v-cam takes could also be
Avatars from the
OASIS world
peruse humans
at work and play
Pretty much
anything can
happen in the
scene is part of a
Spielberg is no stranger to the world of visual
effects and he has made innumerable steps
forward in filmmaking technologies
-------------------------------------------To help visualise the neon-lit resort of Rouge
City, Spielberg enlisted ILM to develop an
on-set previsualisation system so that the
actors could be filmed on bluescreen while
the director could see an approximation of the
CG set in the viewfinder. Such systems are
now commonplace now but this was a leap
forward at the time.
Columbus, Ohio in 2045 is littered with ‘stacks’ of RV
trailers in a visual effects shot by Digital Domain
-------------------------------------------acquired to deal with any missing or extra
scenes that the creative process of making
the film brought up.
“Then,” adds Guyett, “when we got into
real post-production, Steven started turning
over sequences just like normal visual effects
shots. The great thing about this process is
that you have a version of a shot that includes
the camera move. Sometimes Steven would
say, ‘I wish that was further panned to the
left, or can we make these two shots run into
one another and just make it a continuous
beat?’ It was great to be able to make those
adjustments easily.”
Translating the mocap shoot into a virtual
world was certainly a major challenge for
ILM, not least because it required thousands
and thousands of assets to be built, often for
only brief appearances in the film. But the
visual effects studio was also required to
develop several incredibly high-resolution
assets in the form of digital human-like
avatars for Wade Watts’ Parzival and the
various characters he meets, including his
love interest Art3mis, or Sam Cook (played
by Olivia Cooke).
ILM has been at the forefront of digital
humans in recent times – for example with
Grand Moff Tarkin and Princess Leia in Rogue
One – but the avatars in Ready Player One
required a different approach. They had to
represent the feelings, desires, emotions and
insecurities of each player but since they
exist in the OASIS, they did not necessarily
need to be photoreal.
“We poured a lot of love into the design of
each character, and in trying to capture what
they were interested in,” explains Guyett. “At
the same time, we didn’t want to make the
OASIS just a completely parallel real world.
So if you became a character within that
world, you could have textured skin or more
fantastical elements, or you might have a
mechanised arm.”
“We were trying to make sure that each
actor’s avatar was the appropriate mirror of
their performance,” adds Guyett, “and
building elements of those actors into those
designs so that you really were reflecting
them as best you could.”
Outside the OASIS in Columbus, many live in
slums of RV trailers stacked high on top of
Spielberg partnered with Peter Jackson and
Weta Digital to bring Hergé’s comics to life
completely via virtual production. The main
actors performed scenes in a motion capture
volume while wearing mocap suits and
head-mounted cameras. Weta Digital then
crafted CG characters and expansive digital
environments, effectively producing a fully
animated film.
THE BFG (2016)
-------------------------------------------Re-uniting with Weta Digital, Spielberg
returned to the world of motion capture with
this adaptation of the Road Dahl story. A
continuation of Weta Digital’s past virtual
production prowess enabled the director to
rely on a simulcam set-up to visualise the
digital character, played by Mark Rylance in
motion capture gear, in both virtual as well as
real sets in many scenes.
The Iron Giant is
one of several
references in
Ready Player One
All images © 2018 Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc.
People prefer the
virtual OASIS to the
real world in Ready
Player One
each other and indeed, these are known as
the ‘stacks’. That environment was created
by Digital Domain, which also worked on
other set extensions, holograms and haptic
suit enhancements. Scenes with the
dilapidated ruins of RVs began as a partial set
build, with Digital Domain then crafting an
almost endless extension of the stacks. Part
of the challenge here for visual effects artists
was to ensure that the similar imagery did
not feel too repetitive.
“We ended up building enough pieces of
different geometry that could be rotated and
twisted in scale and moved around in order
to give the illusion of complete randomness
and infinite variation,” explains Matthew
Butler, visual effects supervisor at Digital
Domain. “Then we had to make sure that it
didn’t break the bank in terms of being able
to render, because we did break it and we
broke everything.”
At one point, the stacks are attacked by
drones and explode. Digital Domain built
those drones and then orchestrated a
complex effects simulation for the explosion.
“They were built to break apart in a certain
manner and follow specific RBD solvers,”
explains Butler. “They really did bend, yield,
twist and snap, and also ping and topple and
rip and shred – it’s not just a bunch of cubes
with simple rigid body dynamics.”
One of Digital Domain’s signature shots in
Ready Player One is a moment that follows
Watts as he dons a pair of virtual reality
Parzival in his virtual
DeLorean in one of several
dramatic chase scenes in
Ready Player One
Part of the challenge
here for visual effects
artists was to ensure
that similar imagery did
not feel too repetitive
goggles inside his RV and heads into the
OASIS. The shot gets extremely close to the
character’s face and it was ultimately realised
with a CG digi-double.
“Steven really wanted to get behind the
eyes of Wade, as it were, to tell the audience
what he was experiencing,” says Butler.
“Well, that was not physically plausible to
shoot practically, so we used a digital Wade
for a portion of time there in order to be able
to get us that close.”
“On set,” continues Butler, “I talked to the
camera and rigging departments, and we
worked out how we could get as much on
camera as possible of Tye Sheridan. The best
way turned out to be to forget the RV
completely so he was actually sitting on an
apple box on a bluescreen set and around
him was an orbital track rig.”
Sheridan performed the entire scene with
a camera getting as close as possible to him
but at a certain point this transitioned to
Digital Domain’s CG Wade model, complete
with macro-level detail of the actor’s skin,
pores and hairs. Scans were acquired via USC
ICT’s Light Stage.
Wade Watts takes on
the avatar of Parzival
inside the OASIS, a
motion-captured digital
character crafted by ILM
“We needed to get so close beyond the
macro photography of the physical camera,”
says Butler. “We had to model the surface
peach fuzz of the delicate hairs that you see
at that level. Extra detailed photography
gave us pore-level topography as well as
textural detail so that we could get it right in
between the hairs of his skin to be able to
pull that off.”
Time will tell as to whether Ready Player One
will become ‘the’ film associated with VR but
it was certainly considered a dream visual
effects project by those involved in its
making. It required both substantial VFX for
the real-world scenes and a dazzling array of
CG imagery for the OASIS. Both main
supervisors from Digital Domain and ILM
relished the opportunity to be a part of it.
“To get to work with Steven was amazing,
and I always enjoy working with ILM,” says
Butler. “I thought we were doing some
top-quality work and having fun doing it. So
it was an absolute blast.”
“It was quite an experience – very
rewarding, very interesting and very
challenging,” adds Guyett. “There were
certain moments at the beginning where we
were just looking at each other and going,
‘Wow, how are we gonna do this?’ And then,
slowly but surely, you start laying those first
bricks of the wall and you start making some
headway and you start putting this thing
together, but it was a gargantuan task.”
Expert advice from industry professionals, taking you from concept to completion
All tutorial files can be downloaded from:
Biker_Chick, 2017
ZBrush, 3ds Max, Substance
Painter, Substance Designer,
Mari, V-Ray, Ornatrix,
Learn how to
• Create a stylised character
with realistic details
• Sculpt
• Retopologise UVs
• Texture with Substance
Painter and Mari
• Shade a model
• Render with V-Ray
• Properly place lights to
highlight a specific area
on your character
Shade and render a
Discover how to mix realistic details with a stylised cartoon to create
your own individual and unique character
n this tutorial we’ll learn the techniques required to be
able to make a stylised character with very complex
details. From skin detailing to fabric and hair shading,
we’ll be covering the process of sculpting cloth without
using any simulation software in ZBrush and 3ds Max. We
will also discover how to use ZBrush polypaint and mix that
with Mari texture painting and then take everything to
Substance to further enhance the look of the skin and
create the tattoos. After that, we’ll explore how to create
the haircut from blocking the base in ZBrush and make the
actual hair in Ornatrix. Finally, we will do the lighting and
shading in 3ds Max and render in V-Ray.
This project started as a
practice of stylised characters
but when I delved further into
the details, I had this idea of a
badass biker with cool tattoos
covering her body. I changed
almost everything about her
to get to this result using
some real-life references of
female bikers.
Block out the main form Before starting the sculpt,
check some references to see how the character
could look and also what type of pose she will be in. After
finding everything we need, use a base mesh that you’ve
made of a stylised female and begin sculpting the basic
blockout. It doesn’t need to be anything special, just the
usual brushes flike Clay Buildup and Move, Standard and
Dam_Standard. To clean up the surface noise caused by the
Clay Buildup brush, use Trim Dynamic to polish and smooth
the surface without losing volume. If you use the Smooth
brush, you will lose the volume and the basic shapes. After
finishing the rough sculpt, split the mesh into four parts –
head, hands, legs and torso – so that we can use the
Transpose tool to pose the character without any problems.
Auto retopology wih ZRemesher When you work
on a character for games or cinematics, it’s usually
better to use ZSphere manual retopology or any tool of your
choice because you need specific topology for skinning and
rigging. In this case we’re using ZRemesher but we’ll have to
make some polygroups to control where we need the edge
loops. All you have to do is mask the part you want to group
and then click Ctrl/Cmd+W to group it. After cleaning
everything up using Polish By Polygroup, click on
ZRemesher while holding the Opt/Alt key. Keep in mind
though that you will have to check the Keep Group option
that way as it will remesh the object and keep the
polygrouping intact.
Edge flow for subdivision control Export the
ZRemeshed body to 3ds Max so we can add some
details and control the lip and eye edges better. Start by
removing the triangles and ngons from the unnecessary
places to prevent pinches later when we render the skin.
Now that you have the topology and quads, extrude the lips
inside a bit and add some thickness to the eyes. Add more
edge loops around those parts to get a sharper chamfer for
subdivision. Everything is now ready for us to start detailing
the sculpt in ZBrush without worrying about losing volume
when we divide.
• Tutorial screenshots
• Hair+V-Ray_hair_mtl file
Add displacement To add displacement to the
face, use Texturing XYZ in Mari and ZBrush. We
usually have three type of maps – primary, secondary and
microdisplacement – but we won’t do that here because it’s
a stylised character. Instead, we’ll only need the main
displacement. Export the mesh after unwrapping it in
ZBrush and use two different UDIMs, one for the face and
another for the body, to get a very high-resolution texture.
Also, don’t forget to split the face map up for the different
features. Do the same thing for the body because Mari will
crash if you try to paint a full 16k map. Since we already have
the body in ZBrush, import the painted texture from the
Alpha menu, go to Masking and click Mask By Alpha. Now
you can use layers if you want to decrease the displacement.
Go to Deformation for the Inflate tool and play with the
number as you see fit.
Create the jacket Everything about this project was
about learning more techniques and being better at
sculpting so we’re using the old workflow to extract the
shapes from the body. Adopt the same method we
employed to create the proper topology for the body using
ZRemesher. After that, take it to 3ds Max to add the edge
control like we did for the body. Now that everything is ready
for sculpting, check some leather jacket references and
some fold studies before starting to sculpt. For this, we are
mainly using the Dam_Standard brush with and without
pressing Opt/Alt as well as the Inflate brush on some of the
folds because the leather material has a specific look. Once
done, hit ZRemesher again and keep doing that until the
sculpt is completed with all of its details, including the micromemory folds. You can add some realism to the leather in
Substance Painter later.
Make some details For the zip, we could just use
the IMM Zipper brush from ZBrush but we want a
nondestructive workflow with more control so we’ll use 3ds
Max’s surface deformer to make the copies of the zip that
we modelled in 3ds Max. Then make it follow the chosen
surface by creating a simple plane. You can extrude it from
the border of the jacket where you want the zip to be by
creating a shape from both sides of that plane, and then
making a surface from those shapes using the NURB
modifier. Now make the zip with very simple box modelling,
copy it as many times as you need and attach them all. Add
the surface deformer modifier, pick that surface and you’ll
have a zip. For the stitches, do the same thing except only
use the path deformer following a simple shape. You can
also use the same workflow for the belt but it will be one full
mesh that follows a surface or a shape.
Anatomy before posing
Usually when working with characters in a pose you
have to be sure that your anatomy is on point and
correct. Even for a stylised character, anatomy is vital
and you have to check the proportions before posing
the character because after you get out of the T-Pose,
fixing the proportions in an unsymmetrical object will
be challenging and a waste of time – especially if you
are just starting out. Once you start getting used to
anatomy, you can practise your sculpting with an
asymmetrical pose.
When painting a displacement map, most people will
use it as is straight from the software to the rendering
engine. Most of the time you will pass it through
ZBrush to control the places that require less
displacement and also to add some more details. This
is because you can only use that map two or three
times before people start noticing that you’re using the
same texture all the time and your characters will have
different ages and different skin normally, so you
would want that personal touch to your displacement
to look more natural and unique.
Texture the skin Now that we have everything
ready to be textured, start with the skin. We’ll use
ZBrush first for the basic polypainting, follow some
references and colour palettes for the colour tones on our
faces. Use the Standard brush and change the alpha to get
different looks. When you’re satisfied with the result, export
the simple painting to Substance Painter in the form of a 2D
map. Now export the body to Substance Painter and add the
polypaint information. Mix it with the displacement map we
painted in Mari and then start refining the skin using some
fill and paint layers as well as the cool smart masks provided
by Substance.
Makeup and tattoos The makeup is very simple to
do – just add a new fill layer with a black colour
that’s just under 100 per cent black. Then black mask that
fill layer and use the lazy mouse in Substance Painter to do
the eyelashes – following some references, of course. Now
that the eyelashes are done, you can add less roughness to
the material to make them less reflective than the skin itself.
Before we create the tattoos, however, we need to gather
some references. We’re not going to make them from
scratch and it’s not the purpose of this tutorial so in this
project we’ll photobash some black and white tattoos, and
we can paint over them to add some specific words. We’ll
do the colouring ourselves using some gradient colours
because real tattoos have a blue tint, like you see in veins,
and that is usually caused by light bouncing off of skin,
giving it that colour.
Skin shading After exporting the maps from
Substance Painter, we’re not going to use them
straight away. First we need to adjust them in V-Ray with
some colour correction. For the skin, use the new V-Ray
alSurface shader – it’s pretty simple and doesn’t require a lot
of maps so we have more control over the skin’s look. We’ll
be using the base colour and the skin colour. For the other
two skin layers, it’ll just be the default colour with just a
couple of tweaks – that’s how accurate this new V-Ray
shader is. For the reflection map, employ the map from
Substance and mix it with the displacement map without
making it very obvious. For the roughness, adopt a simple
procedural map from 3ds Max called cellular and mix it with
the same map to get a glossy variation. Don’t forget to use
the GGX BRDF mode so that you have a reflection that
changes based on the viewing angle. As for the
displacement, just use the map exported from ZBrush as it
is but with a small adjustment in the output to avoid inflating
the geometry when it comes to rendering.
Texture and shade the clothes Now that everything
is in place and the skin shader is ready, try and make
a good-looking jacket and jeans. For the jeans, use a simple
jean texture and then take it to Substance Designer. Use a
filter to process it, make tiles and tweak the normals,
displacement, roughness and so on. Then take it to
Substance Painter to add the details and that way we can
add some damage to the colour and some variation in the
normal intensity. It’s pretty much the same for the jacket
except that we’re not going to use textures. Instead, we’ll use
a Substance downloaded from Substance Source – it’s a free
resource. Add some adjustments to it inside of the V-Ray
material to make it look more like fabric with some Fresnel
effects to get the frizzy look. For the leather, use Substance
Painter to get the effect by starting with a simple smart
material that looks like leather. Of course, since we have the
back details we can make further changes to it to make it
look a bit worn. It’s still a new jacket but we need to tell a
story behind our texture. As the character is a badass biker,
she must get into fights and so some dirt and scratches will
make it look awesome.
Block the hair in ZBrush Before you start working on
creating the hair, you have to figure out what type of
haircut you need. If we start using Ornatrix without any
ideas about the style and just start grooming, we will never
finish. Go to ZBrush and play with some curve brushes to
get the main look. We’re going to use the CurveTube brush
with a small modification under the curve modifiers on the
Stroke menu. We’ll change the curve to make it taller at the
end – that way, our blockout will look a bit more like hair.
Set up the main hair strands After we have our
haircut blocked out in ZBrush, export it into 3ds Max
and freeze it so that we will be able to work on the actual
hair without any problems with Ornatrix grooming. Before
starting, paint a hair map in Substance Painter so we can
control where we want the hair to grow from. Next, select a
small part of the head model – we don’t want to select the
whole head – and add the Ornatrix modifier. It’s worth
noting that even if you have a map to control it, it will be
heavy on your PC, so now that we have the small geometry
selected, add the ox guides from surface modifier. After
that, try to groom the guides to make it look like our
blockout mesh. Keep in mind that you shouldn’t try to
groom the guides with a high root count as that will make it
harder for you to control. Try to use a low count instead and
then work your way up until you’re happy with the look –
after that, you can add the ox hair from guides.
The key to realistic hair
One of the common mistakes artist make when
creating hair is not planning the hair creation steps and
the details – they just go straight to the software and
start grooming. Always separate your hair into many
groups to have control over each part and you need to
know the type and condition of the hair, too, as it’s
different from case to case. As for the shading, never
use flat colour with no hue variation as that will have a
big impact on the final result. Playing with strand
colour variation and roots darkness will add some
depth to the hair and your character.
Clothing creation
In most case when making clothes, I always use
Marvelous Designer or any simulation software.
That’s fine except it’s not necessarily a good habit to
have when you first start making clothes because
there is an anatomy to clothes just like for muscles.
Learning wrinkles, names and where tension happens
will make the simulated cloth look much better
because at game studios, or any studio, you will never
take the cloth made in Marvelous Designer and just
retopo and bake. You will always have to add better
details and fix problems. You will never know how
without doing fold studies and practising cloth
sculpting in your preferred software.
Add hair variations Now that we have the main form
of our haircut, try to add some hair variation – that’s
one of the most important parts of hair creation. In order to
make it look natural, we have to split it into different levels of
detail so we’ll do the same thing that we did in Substance
Painter and paint where we want the details to be. After
that, copy every modifier you added to the previous hair but
only those on top of the ox hair from guides – that way we
get the same hair property but a different look. We don’t
want different hair thicknesses as that will look bad when
we render. Keep doing this until you have enough hair
variation to get a natural look without losing the stylised feel
of the haircut.
Colour intensity variation Now we’ll go into
Substance Designer to create a basic greyscale
texture to represent different colour intensities in the hair.
Since we don’t want it to be too uniform, we’re going to use
an anistropic noise node. After that, add a blur_hq_
grayscale so that we don’t have a sharp transition between
different greyscale values. Next, plug it into a histogram
range node so that we won’t have any intense black or white
values. Now we’re ready to go to 3ds Max to prepare our
hair shader.
Prepare the hair shader For the hair shader, we’re
going to use the V-Ray hair material as it’s easy to use
and gives a pretty good result. First add a V-Ray map called
VRayHairInfoTex to the opacity slot. Swap the black and
white colours, and change the bias value to 0.1 – that way
the tip of the hair will fade out and that will help later with
the antialiasing. Then go to the colours and add another
VRayHairInfoTex map to the transmission slot in the output.
Keep it on this colour and set a dark colour for A. For colour
B, select a brighter colour – the same hue but a different
intensity. Keep in mind that colours A and B will not be just
flat colours as they’re V-Ray colours mixed with the texture
we made in Substance Designer using the V-Ray dirt map to
mix the two.
Colours A and B will not be just
flat colours as they’re V-Ray
colours mixed with the texture we
made in Substance Designer using
the V-Ray dirt map
Light the character When lighting your character, always try to have a purpose
behind your choices. If you don’t, you’ll just get lost and keep adding lights without
being satisfied with the outcome and not even know why it’s looking how it does. So for our
character we’re going to start by adding the first light on her right side. This will be the key
light and then we’ll start adding some more to highlight certain shapes and to separate her
from the background to make her hair stand out. Add a backlight on her left back side to
make her really pop and then use the reflection and the refraction filters to do some
compositing later when it comes to rendering. Also add an HDRI with a very low intensity,
too, for better reflection.
Safwen Laabidi
With over six years of experience, Safwen works in
research and developement at D-tek and is also in
charge of modelling, texturing and shading organic
and hard-surface modes.
Aiden sword, 2017
3ds Max, ZBrush, Substance Painter,
Marmoset Toolbag 3
This sword was first made for the character that I created
for the ArtStation challenge but I then started improving it
through textures and shading.
Viking Medallion, 2017
Maya, SpeedTree, Arnold
Created for a Viking warrior, I’m still working on the
character that this asset was made for.
Render and comp For the rendering we’ll use brute force for the primary engine and
light cache for the secondary one. The rendering type is bucket and for a sharper
render use the catmull_rom filter. In the image sampler, put 100 in the Max Subdivs and 1 in
the Min Subdivs and put 0.005 for the noise threshold. The lower you get, the cleaner your
render will be and the slower it gets. The reason for using the brute force engine is that it’s
better for rendering specific characters details with high-detailed displacement. People will
usually use an irradiance map and a light cache for arch vis and other projects. However, if
you have something that requires high sampling calculation in every part of the model, you
would want to use brute force. After we finish, we use the render passes like ambient
occlusion, reflection, refraction and so on. We then make our comp in Photoshop using
channel blending and some colour correction.
52 All tutorial files can be downloaded from:
Real time axe, 2017
Maya, SpeedTree, Arnold
This axe was made for a masterclass I held on Substance
Painter and this software is used for games.
Tyrion Lannister
Portrait Fan Art, 2017
Cinema 4D Studio, ZBrush,
Unfold3D, Substance
Painter, V-Ray, Photoshop
Learn how to
• Model organically
• Understand the importance
of UV mapping
• Layer hair using Cinema 4D
• Sculpt
• Work with perspective
• Texture
• Light
• Set up skin material
• Post work in Photoshop
The concept was to create a
portrait that reveals the tough
life of Tyrion Lannister using
an ‘old age’ dark setting with
warm tones that set the mood
for this piece.
Discover Cinema
4D’s hair system
Re-create a portrait inspired by Games of Thrones’ Tyrion Lannister
with a focus on realism and detail using ZBrush, Cinema 4D and more
or this fan art piece of Tyrion Lannister, we will break
down how the image was created. We will cover the
importance of edge flow when polygonal modelling
and how each step plays a role in the final composition.
We will also look at how certain tools can be used to speed
up your progress within Cinema 4D.
We will talk about the importance of clean UV maps,
and the exciting process of setting up the final scene with
its materials, lighting and composition. We will also explore
which order to progress though the material setup to
achieve balanced results, and how best to use the fantastic
hair system within Cinema 4D.
Finally, we will look at how we can get that final polished
look when working with multi-pass layers in Photoshop. A
project such as this primarily requires skills in polygonal
modelling and sculpting – however, you will also need to
develop skills and knowledge in basic anatomy,
composition, texturing and lighting.
Gather references When doing portrait work, the
first step should always be to gather plenty of
good-quality references. This is absolutely essential as it is
from these references that your decisions will be directed. If,
like in this project, you wish to model from a background
reference image, you’ll need ones that have a good front and
left-side profile. I used Photoshop to composite both
pictures together, aligning features such as the ears, eyes,
nose and mouth.
Model the head I always make sure that the
references are aligned to allow modelling in the
centre of the world space. I start by placing down the first
polygon for the eyelid using the Polygon Pen tool. This
method is used for ultimate control by extruding the edges
and making adjustments as I utilise a temporary reference
sphere as a guide for the eyelid curvature. I give priority to
edge loops around the eyes, mouth, jawline and ears. The
polygon count is kept as low as possible keeping in mind
that I will subdivide this model later on. The Grab tool is
essential to attain form fast while modelling.
Volume and detail After placing the essential edge
loops down, start to fill in the gaps with quad-only
polygons. Use the Grab brush to further tweak the volume
of the head. I use the Iron tool to relax selected polygons
before subdividing the mesh once. Having some anatomical
knowledge of the skull will certainly help a great deal when
you are considering how certain landmarks align to other
areas of the skull, such as how the bottom of the nose aligns
with the cheekbone. This informs you as to where the
volume should be in 3D space.
• Tutorial screenshots
• Cinema 4D hair files
I add some edge loops to retain
volume and I also like to make the
inner shell slightly smaller before
placing it inside the outer shell
object. I then rotate the eye
Create the eyes I make the eyes with two parts
forming the outer shell from a Hexahedron. The
standard sphere has poles, which is fine for the inner eye
forms, but the outer shell is best with no poles in the cornea
area for clean reflections. The cornea bulge is achieved by
using the Move tool with soft selection while the iris is made
from pushing in the centre polygons and extruding the pupil
inwards. I add some edge loops to retain volume and I also
like to make the inner shell slightly smaller before placing it
inside the outer shell object. I then rotate the eye three
degrees outwards.
Refine the details Now we start getting the eyelids
to fit perfectly to the eyes and then model the tear
ducts separately. I usually spend a bit more time moving
vertices around the tear duct area with the soft selection
enabled, also using the Grab brush. Select a row of polygons
from the lower inner eyelid to split from the geometry and
then extrude from the water line between the eyelid and eye
– this is essential for creating realistic eyes. The eyes get
looked at a lot so you need to spend time and make sure to
give a lot of attention to these details.
Model the clothing For the clothes, I start off with a
cube with two segments on the x, y, z. I make it
editable then delete half of it. It’s then added to a Symmetry
Tag, where I start to move the vertices using the Modelling
Brush tool in Smear mode. When I model anything, I always
make sure to shape the area I’m about to extrude from as
best I can because this will result in less shaping work later
on. Finally, I subdivide the mesh once and add extra loops at
the front before selecting and deleting one loop for the
opening of the jacket.
Get the perspective Before you start to sculpt, you
must set up the ZBrush Documents perspective to
match Cinema 4D’s, which is set to the reference image. A
portrait camera preset in Cinema 4D is 80 millimetres and
this is a good start. I get a front-on perspective screenshot
from Cinema 4D and bring this into ZBrush as a backdrop. I
then use this to aid in setting up the ZBrush perspective by
looking at how much of the ears I can see, or how long the
face looks. You don’t want to have a perspective mismatch
between Cinema 4D and ZBrush.
Symmetry and likeness
You’ll never find a face that’s 100 per cent
symmetrical – even some faces that appear that way
look like a completely different person when mirrored.
Don’t expect to get total likeness at the modelling
stage as we are working in symmetry using the
Symmetry tag. At a later stage I will apply asymmetry
in a nondestructive way by using Pose Morphs via the
Advanced/Target field.
Optimal results
Aim to keep all polygons quads, and square where
there are no creases needed. When sculpting, use the
edge flow that we have taken our time to add to
achieve a smooth sculpt, and this sets us up right from
the beginning. The polycount level should let most
expressions be made without subdividing the mesh.
UV maps should be optimal to get the best texture
quality and pixel space distortion-free.
Achieve the likeness The features of the face that
protrude furthest into space can be seen from the
side profile so start by getting this tweaked first using the
Move brush. Then it’s time to begin working from the front
by taking measurements from photo references. It’s
important to use the rule of thirds, which allows you to get
the differences from the ideal and then apply them to the
sculpt. I work with layers at all times and especially when
adding asymmetry. Remember: it’s paramount to rename
the new sculpt, otherwise GoZ will overwrite the current
model within Cinema 4D. It’s this new model that will get
used as a Pose Morph.
UV maps For UV mapping, I personally use
Unfold3D. I like to unwrap with symmetry to speed
the process up but on this occasion, our head model is
asymmetrical. As the asymmetrical sculpting is in a layer
within ZBrush, it can be turned off for this step. Once I have
done the UV mapping and have got it as distortion free as
possible, I update the model in ZBrush with the new UVs.
Then, after turning the Asymmetry layer back on, I run the
model though Unfold3D again to update the Asymmetrical
changes. The new UVs are copied to Cinema 4D.
Sculpt secondary details Sculpting detail is what
everyone wants to do in ZBrush and this is where
some of the most fun happens. I add another layer and
subdivide only to what I need to because right now I don’t
need millions of polygons. These are the secondary details
where I sculpt in the bigger forms such as deeper creases,
scars and imperfections. This will become the displacement
map later on. I usually keep the displacement and highfrequency detail maps separate until I set up the V-Ray
materials in Cinema 4D.
Texture the clothing I use Substance Painter to texture
the clothes. Using one of the leather smart materials,
adjust accordingly to achieve the look that you’re after. I also
use Substance Painter for the buckles and scarf in this
project. There is a nice preset to export all Substance
textures for V-Ray use and it’s very easy to set up a V-Ray
material. Each UV island needs to be 1:1 scale to other
Islands in order to get equal quality and this applies even
more so for UDIM workflows.
Sculpting detail is what
everyone wants to do in
ZBrush and this is where
some of the most
fun happens
Texture the head For skin detail, I used XYZ textures
and patched down segments in layers over a wire UV
template within Photoshop. For the colour diffuse, use
ZBrush by first projecting from a photo to give the tones.
Then colour-pick tones around the face and hand-paint it all
over until the original projection is gone. Bring in the skin
detail map, applying it as displacement to a layer, then apply
a cavity-inverted mask. I then filled the face with a darker
tone to help colour-match the skin pores.
Cinema 4D hair system The hair system in Cinema
4D Studio has many options that are well worth
learning in detail. I make multiple hair objects to get the best
control. The Hair brush tool has multiple modes such as
Move and Smooth, which are the two I use most often. To
curl the hair, I chose the Curl tool rather than adding curl in
the material to give me better control over the results. You
will need enough segments to use this tool. I use the colour
option in the basic tab for each layer to separate them
visually in the viewport.
Scene and lighting I use three area lights – a key, a
rim and a highlight. The key is almost front-on while
the rim is used to highlight the edge of the hair and
shoulders against the dark background. The highlight is a
very small light placed to enhance specular spots like the
eyes and face. I turn on one light at a time to adjust the
balance. For the best results, be sure to use real-world-scale
objects. Lighting and many other presets are set up on this
basis. I use the Scale Project command in the Edit menu to
scale the final model.
Shade and render I use V-Ray as my renderer and AL
Surface as my skin shader. I apply displacement first
with no SSS. The displacement and detail maps are
combined within Photoshop, kept in their own layers for
mixing balance. The Reflection is then set up, which reveals
how well the skin detail is showing. You need more detail
than usual as SSS can remove some of it. I use maps to
control the reflection strength, and then mix in the SSS and
diffuse to produce the final skin effect. Multi-pass rendering
offers more control within Photoshop.
Post-production work The multi-pass setup has each
light as a separate pass and the diffuse is contained
within the SSS layer. I use seven passes – SSS, Reflection,
Lighting, Key, Rim, Highlight and Hair. The main tools I
employ in Photoshop are Burn to add darker areas, Dodge
for highlights, Colour filters to add colour, Contrast, Levels,
slight chromatic aberration and Smart sharpen. I liken the
post-production process to mixing and mastering music
– mixing should be where most of the work is done while
mastering adds the polish.
Getting the balance
The whole process is about taking your time to do
your best in each stage. I fix problems as I see them
and it’s a balancing act to get all of the key areas to
play their part. When experimenting with settings, try
extreme values to see their effects and then mix them
back in. Lighting and reflection are key to surface
detail but your maps need to hold up well.
58 All tutorial files can be downloaded from:
Sperms and egg, 2018
Cinema 4D, X-Particles,
V-Ray, After Effects
Learn how to
• Create a medical rendering
• Use X-Particles and Cinema
4D to create many sperm
• Create a sperm shape with
a spline
• Use V-Ray Fog Box to
illustrate medical
• Set up lighting perfectly with
V-Ray for Cinema 4D
• Make medical rendering
more artistic
I was asked to create an
image for 3FX, Inc that was to
be published in the 2018
Medical Illustration Sourcebook,
so I came up with this
concept: sperm and egg.
Master medical
Learn the best way to render medical visualisations using X-Particles
and Cinema 4D with art director Farid Ghanbari
his tutorial will teach you how to create a medical
visualisation in the 3D world. Before starting the
project, we need to gather some references to make
sure that the sizes of the cells are scientifically accurate.
We will use Cinema 4D and X-Particles as our main tools
to set up the scene and learn how to use X-Particles to
quickly create hundreds of sperm in a nice shape without
dealing with each individual one. V-Ray will then be utilised
to light the sperms and egg with its powerful subsurface
scattering material.
Choose the subject The most important purpose of
a true medical illustration is to educate the viewer. It
must be clear and scientifically accurate, paying careful
attention to good design, organisation of content and where
you are leading the eye. It also provides us with a vast array
of subjects that we wouldn’t normally consider illustrating.
The real-life microscopic environments that exist in our own
bodies can provide inspiration for imaginative landscapes.
• Tutorial screenshots
• Animation of the medical
process in action
Create the egg To start the artwork, we need a nice
egg shape as a base. Make a simple sphere in
Cinema 4D and change the type from Standard to
Hexahedron to get an even displacement over the entire
egg. To add the details, you can easily put a displacer
deformer and add a C4DNoise to its shader tag. Play with
the noise type to get your desired details. You can also use
layers and mask your first noise with a second one. Sharper
details need more segments in your sphere parameters.
Make the sperm Since we have so many sperm, we
need a way to create them instantly. X-Particles
allows us to do that easily. First, we need an emitter and an
xpTrail to see the emitter paths. Second, we need an
xpFollowSurface modifier to conduct particles to the egg.
Play with the distance and pull to get your desired form. We
can also play with variation to add a little variation to it and
make it more natural. Spend enough time at this level and
ensure that you are getting the best result.
Work with xpSplineMesher Once we get the nice
follow path, we can start shaping the actual form of
the sperm.Thankfully, we don’t need to deal with polygon
modelling to do that and here you will see the power of the
X-Particles plugin. Just put an xpSplineMesher and set your
xpTrail as its source. It will create the geometry instantly.
From here, we just need to tweak the setting and play with
the SplineMesher spline curve to shape the sperm. You can
follow your reference outline and play with spacing value
and subdivisions to get the best result.
Add a little art to the science Because we are
creating artwork inspired by science, rather than a
purely instructional medical illustration, we want to go a little
further and make it more interesting. Of course, sperm in
real world have a defined tail length but to create some nice
details with thousands of tangled sperm tails, we can extend
this. We can stop it wherever we want by setting different
values on the lifespan on the emitter.
Create mood for the environment Inside a real
body, biological processes happen in total darkness,
but that isn’t very interesting. Our medical-inspired artwork
needs an environment that we can relate to. Here, to create
this mood the best option is the environment fog but to have
a better control of it we need to create a Fog Box to control
the amount of fog and its depth on the hero asset. This will
give your rendering a nice depth and pull out your main hero
to really emphasise it.
Secondary sperm As you may know, not all sperm
reach the egg and there will still be a lot of them
swimming in the fallopian tube after fertilisation happens. By
having those secondary sperm, not only can we make our
artwork a little more scientifically accurate, but we can also
bring more depth to it and make a better composition. So
according to our camera, we can put a few sperm pretty
close to the camera to make an intense DOF, and put some
far away behind the egg so that they will be out of focus but
still we can see them.
X-Particles plugin
The X-Particles plugin for Cinema 4D is one of the
best for creating particles and VFX. There are tons of
different modifiers and generators that allow you to
build whatever you imagine. We really recommend
you to spend enough time to learn all about this plugin
because it helps you handle your projects better and
provides you with a better pipeline. As you will see,
the reason that the sperm and egg image has such a
straightforward pipeline is because of this plugin.
V-Ray for C4D
If you are familiar with V-Ray for Maya or 3ds Max,
you will be comfortable with working with V-Ray for
Cinema 4D. The interface is pretty much the same.
Even if you are completely new to it, you will find it
very friendly and easy to use. There are also several
V-Ray materials but you can create most of the things
you need just with one single material called V-Ray
Advanced material. Everything you require – such as
SSS, refraction, reflection and bump – can all be found
in this material.
Start the lighting To start the lighting, it’s best to
assign a V-Ray Advanced material and leave it on
the default setting. We don’t want to mess with the
materials at this stage. This helps you focus just on lights
and make a better decision. Sometimes different colours,
reflection and specular can be distracting and slow down
the lighting process. As the first step, we just put a V-Ray
Dome light with low intensity to see the whole scene with
even lighting and no harsh shadows.
Key light, different experience The majority of the
egg and sperm will be illuminated by the key light
and so this light has the most critical role in our lighting.
Spend enough time playing with different angles and
moods. Set your render sampling to progressive with a
low-resolution image size to have some quick test renders
that you can compare with. We can also try various
directional numbers in the V-Ray light to have different
brightness and harshness of shadows.
Volume light The fog doesn’t work by itself but the
combination of the fog and one volume light could
make a stunning background. To establish that, create a
V-Ray spot light and put it behind the egg. You can keep
playing with this to achieve the best results. Inner and outer
angles play the biggest roles in getting a nice gradient in the
background. You can also add a little bluish or greenish tint
to your light to make it more interesting.
The colour palette Once we get a decent basic result
with our lighting on a simple grey material, we need to
assign colours to see how it works. At this stage, we
recommend that you add SSS to your materials, since it
affects the lighting a lot. You can play with the simple
colours to get your desired colour palette, then create details
like bumps, displacements and dirt. Because we are doing a
science-inspired project instead of a truly scientifically
accurate illustration, we can let our imaginations run wild
with crazy colour schemes. But knowing what colours your
subject would have in the real world can help create your
palette, and this will make your artwork more consistent and
easy to read.
Because we are doing a
science-inspired project instead of
a truly scientifically accurate
illustration, we can let our
imaginations run wild
Your best workflow
Having a workflow is key to be able to finish a project
on time. This could be different from artist to artist or
even project to project. Also, it is completely normal to
go back at some points to redo or tweak jobs that you
have done at previous stages. But try to keep the
project in your workflow and make it a
straightforward, linear pipeline. After the concept
stage, modelling, lighting, texturing and postproduction are the biggest areas in the workflow.
Rim light When you use Subsurface Scattering
Materials, the rim light is one of the key factors to
work on, just like the key light. SSS materials use the lights
that come inside them from the opposite side of camera
angle so try to put these in the best positions to achieve the
most satisfying scattering effect. You may need to play with
SSS parameters such as scattering radius, subsurface colour
and overall colour at the same time. Don’t forget to try
different tint colours on your rim light.
Final tune at lighting You will always need to redo
some work during the process, whether it be textures
colours, lights or even slight changes to the models and
positioning, and this is completely normal. At this stage, look
over your rendering and try to just tweak it to get the most
satisfying result from your vision. Turn your lights on and off
separately to see how they work with your scene.
Set up the render setting Thankfully, V-Ray for
Cinema 4D has made everything a little easier for
users – you just need to take the most care with your
sampling. For this render, use Bucket type for sampler with
0.004 Threshold. Set the Max Subdivision to 100 and put
the Min to 0. Don’t forget to enable Ambient Occlusion,
which comes under Indirect illumination. Since we have
created a V-Ray Fog Box, you don’t need to turn on the
Environment fog in your Environment tab.
Render passes To create your render passes in V-Ray
for Cinema 4D, you need to open the V-Ray
multipass Manager window from the main V-Ray Bridge
tab. Select your desired passes and make sure that they are
all checked. Now you just need to add a post-effects pass on
the multipass menu in your Cinema 4D render setting
window. Here we have created different object ID and the
Z-depth pass to have more control at post-production stage.
Making your own art
If you want to be an artist, you have to create art. Since
there are tons of CG work published online everyday
by all artists around the world, you need to have your
own style that can be be distinguished by others.
Sometimes this could be defined by your own colour
palettes, or it might be specific detail that you always
add to your objects. No matter what it is, it really
matters to be unique and remarkable. To enhance
your work, study the history of art and practise as
much as you can. You will see your own style develop
over time as you create more projects.
You will always need to
redo some work during
the process, whether it be
textures colours, lights or
even slight changes
Apply DOF Without depth of field, we would have a boring, flat image. In the real
world, we would only be able to see these tiny cells through a microscope.
Microscopes have a very shallow depth of field so in homage to that, using depth of field as
intensely as possible can help represent that. Here we have used Lenscare’s Frischluft plugin
in After Effects to achieve a nice depth of field. But no matter what software you prefer to
use, since you have an accurate ZDepth pass, you can use it in whichever application you
happen to be most comfortable with.
Farid Ghanbari
Born and raised in Iran, Farid has been a 3D
generalist and lighting artist for ten years. He is
now the art director at 3FX Inc in Philadelphia, US.
Bottles of Life, 2017
Maya, V-Ray, Substance Painter, Photoshop
The idea came to me when I saw some oil paintings on
Pinterest. They all had perfect lighting and were
eye-catching images with just some brush touches.
Post-production Since we did the most of the rendering in-package and we now have
a nice-looking result, we may need to do just a little colour correction but there are no
big changes in post-production. The only things we will add to our image at this final stage
are the clouds. For this, you can simply find some PNG files online and put them close to the
egg. Besides making your rendering more artistic, they will give an unexpected sense of
scale to surprise and delight your audience.
66 All tutorial files can be downloaded from:
Autumn, 2017
Maya, SpeedTree, SolidAngle Arnold
I came up with the idea of a fun, colourful, autumnal
scene and so I tried to create some abstract trees just
for a bit of fun.
9@ 0::<,: -69
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Expert advice from industry professionals, taking you from concept to completion
All tutorial files can be downloaded from:
Excel with product
visualisation in V-Ray
Hussain is an international
product designer based in
New York, working at the
Adidas Brooklyn Creator
Farm. His style is a
combination of modern,
minimal and futuristic.
• Tutorial screenshots
n this tutorial, we will be looking at a product
visualisation workflow. In this case, I will be taking one of
the toys that I have designed and explaining how to
render, colour and present it in an interesting way.
Designing the product is usually half the challenge but then
the way in which we present it to the world completes the
story full circle and can either elevate a product and take it
to another level or kill it and make it undesirable, even if it’s
a pretty cool design.
In this tutorial, we will be talking about some of the key
elements when it comes to rendering, the kinds of
materials to use, cameras, environments and choosing the
most interesting angles and views to render your product
in. I see all of these things as a recipe to a great and exciting
outcome to a project, whether it’s a car, bike, shoe or
anything else.
This tutorial will be short but it will cover the key points
that you can consider and start to apply when the time
comes for you to start rendering your own projects for your
clients or portfolio. I urge you to explore each tip further
and see what you can make out of it. For example, when
we are discussing lighting, every kind of lighting setup
could result in a different mood for your render. It could
feel vibrant and fresh instead of serious and dry.
In terms of software, the points covered are applicable
to any program but I will be using 3ds Max and rendering
in V-Ray, with the final touch-ups done in Photoshop. Enjoy
the read and let’s make some exciting work together!
Set up studio To start with, I usually go with a
pretty basic-looking studio set-up in most of my
scenes. I start off by creating my backdrop, a simple
L-shaped plane, curved or chamfered smoothly at its corner.
I tend to make the backdrop 100 per cent white or 98 per
cent black as they both look pretty cool at the completion of
the project. If I’m going with black, I try not to make it pure
black, though, so that I don’t completely lose all of my floor
shadows at the end. For this tutorial, we will be going with a
white backdrop.
HDRI lights HDRI lights will completely set the
tone and mood of what your finished scene will look
like. Every scene and render should give the viewer an
experience and feeling with a unique kind of depth using
reflections and shadows. HDRI is like using spices in food
– it’s often the secret ingredient. In 3ds Max, press 8 on your
keyboard to pull up the Environment window and load a
V-Ray HDRI Map in there of your choice. I strongly suggest
that you try out a few different maps and see how they look
roughly using V-Ray RT.
Camera composition There are two kinds of
shots that you want to think of – one is the overall
product, which will be your Hero Shot, and the other is a
detailed view where you close-up on certain parts to show
more details. A good practice is for you to navigate your
screen in Perspective view and when you feel like you have
the right angle, turn it into a camera using Ctrl+C. For the
Hero shot, I usually go with a camera angle that is on the
same level as the product or closer to the ground to
exaggerate its size and perspective.
Work on depth of field The depth of field is
one of the most important factors in any scene –
try rendering one with and without it and you can clearly see
the difference. It makes the scene look much more beautiful
and professional, focusing on the product and giving a level
of blur to the backdrop. I would sometimes put one product
in focus and its duplicate in the back where it gets blurred. In
your camera settings, turn on Enable Depth of Field and
place your camera target on your product. Play with the
Lense Breathing and Aperture settings to see the results in
your viewport by waiting a few seconds.
Add some details for realism Adding details
will always show another level of complexity to your
product and it doesn’t have to be something crazy. Once I
am done with a design, I like to go in and start adding labels,
texts, shiny patterns on matte surfaces and so on. In this
case, for example, you can see the ‘Space Explorer’ text.
There are also other details around its body with random
numbers, recycling and environmental labels, and a ‘Made
in…’ tag that makes it feel much more complete. I usually
apply these graphics by unwrapping my model and using a
V-Ray Blend Material.
Textures and environment surfaces Now
that we have our cameras, lights and studio setup,
we can use the same settings to apply an environment. The
environment should be another asset that adds a level of
complexity, tying in to the story of the product. In this
scenario, to make it interesting, I created a square plane,
applied a TurboSmooth with ten iterations to subdivide it
well, and then applied a displace modifier with a noise map. I
then applied a hi-res sand asphalt material, which made the
scene feel like it’s in outer space.
Render passes Go to your Render Settings
window and choose the last tab, Render Elements,
to add the Denoiser, Wire Color and VrayEdgesTex. The
Denoiser pass will give us an amazing collection of passes
that will allow us to control our reflections, refractions,
shadows and GI later in Photoshop. The Wire Color will give
you a pass with each element in the scene rendered in a
different colour, which is very useful for masking objects in
Photoshop. Finally, the VrayEdgesTex will be the Ambient
Occlusion, giving us our shadows. To make that work, add a
VrayDirtMap in its material slot.
Composite the passes At this stage, we will
Retouch in Photoshop Finally, on top of all the
start to transition to Photoshop. Export all of your
passes and take them into Photoshop to start playing with
the blend modes. It’s usually Screen, Multiply or Overlay
that work best and adjust their opacity levels. In this scene,
since his head is made of glass, I rendered the toy with and
without the top cover, just to get better colours on the brain.
Then, using my Wire Color pass, I was able to mask out the
Diffuse Filter pass of the brain without the cover and overlay
it on the original render with the glass cover. My favourite
method is to take the World Normals, desaturating it and
setting it to Overlay. The depth of your scene will be at a
much higher level with that one layer.
layers, create a Curves adjustment layer by clicking
on the circle at the bottom of the Layers panel. Slightly move
that curve around to give your scene more depth. Add
another Adjustment Layer for Hue/Saturation, and control
the saturation level of your scene. To give a nice touch of
detail, I would place an image of scratches or small dust
particles and overlay it at ten per cent.
My favourite method is to take
the World Normals, desaturating it
and setting it to Overlay
HDRI mods
If I create an HDRI map that lacks reflections, or
certain colours, I load it in Photoshop and add some
soft blurred squares as a way of putting soft boxes
into the scene. This gives some nice reflections. If you
do end up trying to choose between two maps that
give you either nice lighting or reflections, a nice trick
is to set the blend mode of one to overlay on top of the
other in Photoshop. To get the best of both worlds, use
it as one HDRI map.
70 All tutorial files can be downloaded from:
Discover another of our great bookazines
From science and history to technology and crafts, there
are dozens of Future bookazines to suit all tastes
Oscar is a 3D artist from
Mexico. Thanks to the power
of the internet, he has been
able to work for over sic years
in a variety of different
projects from videogames
and TV, to jewellery design
and 3D printing.
• Tutorial screenshots
• Fingerprint alphas
Learn to render clay
materials in KeyShot
lay renders are always useful – they’re the perfect
way to show details in a model without having to
focus on textures. However, I believe that they
sometimes tend to look a little on the boring side. The fact
that they’re meant to be simple doesn’t mean that you
can’t add your own recognisable style to make them stand
out from the crowd.
Some months ago I decided to challenge myself by
making a daily sketch with ZBrush. I didn’t care about the
topology or the texture – I was just focused on becoming
faster and better in my sculptures. But eventually I
encountered an issue: I had a lot of models but I hadno
time to create a new scene with a new material each time
that I wanted to render them. So I created a material that I
was able to assign to all of the models without having to
modify a lot of the settings.
In this tutorial we will create a material in KeyShot that
resembles a handmade sculpture and we will save the
material in the KeyShot material library so we don’t have to
go through the process every time we require the clay
material. We will start in ZBrush, where we will sculpt
some details that will help to give the handmade look –
however, this part is optional.
Prepare to sculpt First of all, if you’d rather not
sculpt anything into the model then you can jump
straight to Step 4 – the sculpting part that I will explain in this
step isn’t really necessary as it’s just so that we have a bir
more control over where you want the fingerprints to be
located. For sculpting those details, we are going to need a
mesh with enough subdivisions to create the desired details.
For subdividing your model, go to Tool>Geometry and hit
Divide (the hot key is Cmd/Ctrl+D). The number of polygons
is up to you here, but for this example I have used almost
three million. Once we have the subdivided mesh, we need
to save a Morph Target in order to sculpt details in a
nondestructive way. For this, go to Tool>Morph Target and
hit the StoreMT button.
Sculpt with alphas Now we can fashion the
details using the alphas that are included. In order to
work in a nondestructive way over the detailing process, I
prefer creating a new layer to have control over the intensity
by going to Tool>Layers and pressing the Plus button. Then,
using the Standard brush, with the stroke as DragRect and
loading a Lonefinger as an Alpha, I sculpt the fingerprints
where I believe they should be. Remember that the rest of
the model is going to be covered by a bump map with more
fingerprints so try not to abuse this. After you have finished
this, use the slider of the layers to adjust the intensity of the
details and the morph brush if you need to erase some parts.
Use surface noise To have more control over the
details of the fingerprints, we will use surface noise
– that way we won’t have to sculpt that much. After storing
the morph target, go to Tool>Surface>Noise. This will open a
new window with a preview of how the noise will look on our
mesh. On the bottom left, hit Alpha On/Off to load the
Blackfinger file – once you have loaded the Alpha, you will be
able to edit how it affects the mesh. Set the Mix Basic Noise
to 0 and then adjust the slider of Alpha Scale and Strength
and once you are happy with the result press OK, then Apply
to Mesh. You will need to have enough polygons to do this
– if it doesn’t look right, try adding one more subdivision and
Head over to KeyShot The easiest way to
export everything from ZBrush into Keyshot is with
the bridge. Go to Render>External Render and turn on the
KeyShot button. Another option is to export the file by going
to Tool>Export. Since the model is going to have a lot of
polys, this will most likely take some time, so the third option
is decimating the model before exporting it. To do this, go to
Zplugin>Decimation Master and press Pre-process Current.
Next, go to the same location and hit Decimate Current to
reduce the quantity of polygons even more. Lower the % of
Decimation slider and decimate it again. Once that this has
all be done, go to the tool menu and then export the file.
Inside KeyShot, use the Import button to load the exported
ZBrush mesh.
Set the specular First, assign a material to the
entire model. Hit M to open the material window
and then go to Plastic>Black Rough Plastic. Drag and drop it
over the model – it should turn black, making it easier to see
the specular. Now right-click the model with the black
material and go to Edit Material. Click Material Graph and
over the node canvas, right-click Textures and then
TextureMap to select the node and load the WhiteFinger
file. Right-click Utilities>Color to Number, and connect the
nodes in this order WhiteFinger>ColorToNumber>Specular.
Click Color to Number to change the image’s contrast,
blacks and whites. Hit C to see how the map will apply to the
model. By going to the Texture node, you will also be able to
change the size of it.
Set the diffuse For our diffuse, we will add a
curvature node. The negative curvature should be a
dark colour close to black to make the cavities that colour.
Zero curvature is the base colour and for this I used a dark
colour. For the positive curvature I used a brighter version of
the base colour. To add this node, right-click Textures >
Curvature and assign a colour to each of the curvatures. Hit
C while the curvature node is selected and play with the
Cutoff and Radius to make your desired effect. Finally, add a
Color Composite node by right-clicking Utilities > Color
Composite and connecting the Curvature to Source and the
C.Composite to the Diffuse of the main material.
Set the Bump Now we will add the bump to make
the Curvature node looks less intense. Right-click
Textures>TextureMap>BlackFinger. Connect the node to the
Bump slot. Selecting the final node and going to
Textures>Bump will allow us to change the intensity of it – I
usually use low values unless I want it to be more present on
the final render. Sometimes the size of the texture will be off,
especially if the model doesn’t have UVs. To fix this, go to
the Texture Map node and view the Size and Mapping
options. I recommend that the bump and the specular be
different sizes. If you want to make the curvature a little
more dominant, you can always go to its node and modify it.
Set the SSS The next step is to make the material
a little more translucent. Go to the final node and
under Material Type, select Translucent Advanced. The
material will change and we can now modify the colour of
the Subsurface. Under Translucency, the bigger the number
the more translucent the material and the stronger the
subsurface colour. Instead of having a diffuse, we have a
Surface map that is connected to our curvature. We need to
go back to the Color Composite and select a similar colour
to the main one in the Background slot. This node will allow
us to have control over how much Curvature versus
Subsurface we want in the material – the lower the Source
Alpha number is, the less the curvature will appear in the
diffuse and the more translucent it’s going to be.
Save the material Once we have the material,
we need to save it in our library. Press the Space
Bar to show the project window and then go to the Material
tab. On the top is the name of the current material, which we
can overwrite. Next to it is the save button – once pressed, it
will show us a window asking where we want to save it. I
chose Miscellaneous. Now each time we create a new
scene, we just need to go to the material library by pressing
the M key and drag and drop the new material over the
Importance of UVs
Although having UVs is not a requirement for this
tutorial, it definitely helps to improve the look of your
model – especially when using surface noise and while
adding the different textures in KeyShot. You won’t
have to tweak the parameters of the bump and the
specular as much. If this is the case and you have the
UVs, go to the Texture Map node and view the
Mapping Type. For models, the Without UVs box
usually works fine but in case your mesh has them,
change it to UV.
74 All tutorial files can be downloaded from:
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28 May!
Nikie Monteleone
Incredible 3D artists take us
behind their artwork
PATTERN CREATION I love creating patterns in my work so I thought a
chameleon would be a fun character to get really detailed with in ZBrush. I
hand-painted all scales in a mask and then used Inflate Balloon to extrude
the scales out. Before clearing the mask, I used Clay Polish to soften the
edges. Lastly, I used the Dam_Standard brush to define the cavity details.
Nikie Monteleone is a senior
surfacing artist at HouseSpecial and
is obsessed with all types of textures
and surfaces
Software ZBrush, Maya, Substance
Painter, Arnold Renderer
Industry experts put the latest workstations,
software & 3D printers through their paces
Renda G3-SWC Ultra
Overclockers’ new PC gets put through its paces to see if it really is
built for both games and 3D art
t’s a blurred line that divides gaming PCs and
workstations – particularly any intended for
3D art rather than engineering. In both cases,
performance is king, since all that ever matters is
throwing as many polygons and pixels across the
screen in the fastest possible time. For many of
us, particularly anyone in game development, a
single computer fulfils both roles as a production
environment and a personal gaming system.
The Renda G3-SWC Ultra, from veteran UK
PC supplier Overclockers, is a machine that
could perhaps be described as a hybrid that
combines a custom water-cooling loop and an
overclocked processor, more commonly seen in
a gaming PC, with workstation-grade hardware.
It has a 12-core Intel Core i9-7920X processor,
overclocked to 4.5 GHz, with a custom
water-cooling loop, paired with 32GB of DDR4
memory and an Nvidia Quadro P5000 graphics
card with 16GB of on-board GDDR5 memory.
Joining this tasty specification is a 512GB
Samsung 960 Pro M.2 SSD, extra 2TB hard disk,
800W Seasonic Power Supply and an AsRock
X299 Taichi motherboard, housed in a Phanteks
Enthoo Pro chassis. The memory can be
expanded, of course, which may be worth doing
if you’re constantly switching between design
applications, editing multiple detailed models in
high resolutions. Overclockers made its name
selling water-cooled PCs and overclockers
processors, with a custom water-cooling loop in
the Renda G3-SWC Ultra nearly entirely
comprised of top-brand EK kit, including the
reservoir and radiator.
Inside, the PC build is neat and tidy, as
expected, with plenty of space to spare in the
case – admittedly due to it being a little on the
large side. Thankfully, noise is kept to a
minimum as the case and radiator fans only
make a gentle whir when the system is running
under load. Overclockers tells us its standard
warranty is three years collect and return.
AMD’s 16-core Threadripper processor is still
fresh in our minds, as it made a showing in our
labs recently, delivering some record-breaking,
multi-threaded results. With Intel’s Core
i9-7920X, you lose four of those cores – but Intel
certainly has the upper hand with per-thread
performance. As we found in our tests, when
combined with the 4.5GHz overclock, this leads
to some great results.
The Renda G3-SWC Ultra gave us the fastest
SPECViewPerf results in all but two tests,
reaching 195 points in Maya, plus the fastest
Cinebench results we’ve seen and the fastest
3ds Max render times yet. In the case of
Cinebench, this is the first time we’ve had a PC
manage a 3D score of over 200 points.
It’s not all bad news for AMD. The sheet
power of Threadripper’s 16 cores, and the strong
OpenCL performance of Fire Pro cards, means
that its hardware retains the top spot in a few
tests, with over 3,300 points in the multithreaded Cinebench CPU render. But despite
having fewer cores, the Intel Core i9-7920X still
snaps at its heels with 2,900 points, delivering a
serious processing punch across the board and
not just in multi-threaded tests. It’s definitely
hard to not be impressed.
Unfortunately the price tag puts a
configuration such as this out of reach for
freelance artists who are just starting out with
their 3D career. However, in professional media
production environments with busy workflows,
this workstation will feel right at home.
Orestis Bastounis
MAIN The G3-SWC Ultra is enough to chew through
multithreaded software tasks with ease
BOTTOM LEFT It might not come cheap but RENDA has
hit the right spot with every aspect of the G3-SWC Ultra
BOTTOM MIDDLE We’re still waiting on a successor to
Nvidia’s ageing Pascal series of graphics cards, but the
P5000 puts on a great show here
BOTTOM RIGHT A 4.5GHz clock speed gives the
RENDA G3-SWC Ultra a real performance edge that
puts it at the top of our benchmark leaderboards
The PC build is
neat and tidy, as
expected, with
plenty of space to
spare in the case
Essential info
Intel Core i9-7920X 2.9GHz
8Pack Team Group Xtreem Edition 32GB
(4x8GB) DDR4 PC4-28800C16 3600MHz
Hard drive
Samsung 960 PRO Polaris 512GB M.2
Nvidia Quadro P5000 16GB GDDR5X
Value for money
It’s the fastest workstation we’ve tested, breaking
records in nearly all our tests. Worth every penny
Could Insydium’s latest release of the particles and FX
sytem revolutionise particles in Cinema 4D?
verall, when we say particles, many
plugins or even standalone apps come to
mind. But X-Particles is one of the best
out there for creating real-time simulations with
hundreds of various modifiers.
In a new version of X-Particles, there are
several mind-blowing features that could
enhance our production at a high level. We can
now simulate nicely accurate fire and smoke
with xpExplosia, but the best part is the ability of
interaction smoke with particles with the
Advection feature. You are finally able to shape
your particles around smoke.
Now, xpFluidFX allows you to simulate
stunning fluid dynamics on medium and large
scales. You have full control over the viscosity,
surface tension and all parameters to shape your
fluid as you wish. With XpFluidPBD, you are
allowed to create beautiful, artistic tendrils in
small-scale fluids. The amount of fun you can
have with this feature is endless.
The xpClothFX is an all-new dynamics system
with which you can create highly detailed cloth
forms fully integrated with all of X-Particles’
modifiers – and it’s much easier than you think.
The new xpFlowField also brings remarkable
custom velocity field effects into your workflow.
Particles can be conducted by splines, object
Tangents or even C4D shaders and the number
of abstract forms that you can create with this
field really is infinite.
Perhaps the best feature of X-Particles 4 is the
new fantastic xpSplineFlow, which behaves in
real-time and gives you control handles along
any spline. All of these can be adjusted
separately by position and scale, giving you the
power of control over your particles to art direct
the flow. The other fantastic new tools are
xpCirclePacker and xpCellAuto.
XpCirclePacker enables you to emit particles
without intersections. We have created a
beautiful corn (see the image to the right) with
this tool just by emitting particles. The speed
with which we achieved this is unbelievable
when you would expect a slow simulation
because of all spheres collisions. XpClothFX was
also a great pleasure to use as it was easy, quick
and fully integrated with modifiers. You can
control the wrinkles on cloth surface through
your base object segments and xpTurbulance.
We decided to mix several new features
together in one render to see how much this
new version could be handled practically. The
rendering was all very easy and pretty
straightforward with some of the new features.
XpExplosiaFX, xpCirclePacker, xpFluidPBD,
xpSplineFlow and xpVertexMap Maker had the
most important roles during the render process.
First of all, to create the abstract shape of human
body, we were able to easily use xpVertexMap
Maker to project the xpExplosia smoke form
onto our body object. Without this new feature,
it could have taken several hours to create this
abstract form. VertexMap Maker works great
with different options like VertexSpeed,
Polygons, Splines and textures, meaning that
you can use this stunning feature to create
hundreds of animated vertex maps.
XpCirclePacker worked amazingly to create
thousands of spheres with no interaction and
shaping the fluid around the character was a
huge pleasure with xpSplineFlow. There’s the
ability to adjust each controller separately as
well as adding or removing them with just one
click. XpFluidPBD had a nice smooth reaction
with the Turbulence modifier and it gave us
different details and tendrils with different
viscosity and exit pressure amounts.
To sum up, we can strongly say that the new
features in X-Particles 4 are really handy and
easy to use, which only accelerate your pipeline.
The software has also revolutionised the particle
systems in Cinema 4D – you have more power
to art direct your project and manage most of FX
you need in-package. So, download this
software now and start having endless fun as
you visualise your art and creativity.
Farid Ghanbari
MAIN XpClothFX is pretty fast and works great without any
trouble with all of the X-Particles modifiers. The simulation
time was really surprising
BOTTOM LEFT With xpCirclePacker you are allowed to
emit thousands of particles while dynamically avoiding
intersections. Sizes are adjustable by both minimum and
maximum value
BOTTOM MIDDLE XpCellAuto generates particles based
on three Cellular Automata Algorithms. Elementary mode,
Game of Life and Diffusion-Limited Aggregation
BOTTOM RIGHT This is a great ability in the new version of
X-Particles. You can simply project xpExplosia smoke onto
any object and create a nicely animated vertex map
BELOW Working with xpSplineFlow is a real pleasure as
there are fully adjustable controllers and they react in real
time. xpFluidPBD also provides a nice fluid shape by
adjusting the exit pressure and viscosity
Essential info
£540 / 616.09 / $716.36
Intel Pentium 4 or
Athlon 64 Intel Core 2 Solo
Cinema 4D version 13 and up
4GB minimum
Disk space
Value for money
Overall, it’s a fast, powerful plugin for particle
systems and the new features are very beneficial
w w
from all good
newsagents and
Print edition available at
Digital editions available on iOS and Android
Available on the following platforms
The inside guide to industry news,
VFX studios, expert opinions
and the 3D community
084 Community News
The Rookies
The Rookies Awards returns for its
eighth year, with entries open now
086 Industry News
Total Chaos
Chaos Group debuts its event in Sofia,
Bulgaria, and Unite 2018 announces
its schedule for the year
088 Opinion
Maggie Oh
The ILMxLAB technical PM tells us
how mocap was brought to London
Fashion Week 2018
We want to clear
up the confusion as
creative skills are very
different to traditional
business skills
090 Project Focus
USS Callister
Framestore takes us on board the Star
Trek-style Black Mirror episode
094 Industry Insider
Dean Wright
The Motorsport creative video
director talks to Mark Smith about
3D motor designs
Andrew McDonald,
Cofounder, The Rookies
096 Social
Readers’ Gallery
To advertise in The Hub please contact Chris Mitchell on 01225 687832 or
The latest images created by the community
Sponsored by Autodesk, The Rookies has
announced the call for entries to their global
competition and mentor programme
Welcome to the best
The Rookies Awards yet
It’s time to start preparing your entry because The Rookies has announced this year’s
call for submissions from the industry’s outstanding emerging talent
he eighth annual creative media competition is
need to display in their portfolios when applying for jobs.
back, and this time round cofounders Alwyn Hunt
We want to clear up the confusion as creative skills are
and Andrew McDonald are working to take The
very different to traditional business skills where you just
Rookies one step further by introducing online courses
take an exam to prove your knowledge. It’s a lot more
and an official certification review process.
complicated and needs clearer guidelines before it’s too
“Judging the awards highlighted to me why we need
late,” McDonald confirms.
some kind of certification process,” McDonald says. “I
The official categories for 2018 are: Feature Animation,
came across a recent honours graduate who had studied
Digital Illustration, Visual Effects, Game Development,
for five years. While reading the student’s bio you could
Virtual Reality, 3D Motion Graphics, Product
feel a sense of accomplishment and self-worth but it was
Visualisation and Architecture Visualisation, Film of the
actually one of the weakest portfolios I have seen to date
Year (Visual Effects, 2D Animation and 3D Animation),
and there was absolutely no chance that they were
and Game of the Year (Console and PC, Virtual Reality
industry ready.”
and Mobile). Since 2009, The Rookies has successfully
The goal of the official
helped to place 89 students in work
certification is to allow digital
across Asia, Canada, Europe, Oceania
artists access to a pathway that’s
and the US. Past highlighted students
designed to enhance their
have gone on to work on films like
credibility and career success
Wonder Woman, The Mummy and
through passing a review process
movies in the Marvel Cinematic
that is recognised by schools,
Universe plus AAA-level games such
employers and industry
as Hellblade: Senua’s Sacrifice, Far Cry
stakeholders. “It will provide all
and Middle-earth: Shadow of Mordor.
digital artists with a clear checklist
For applicants, The Rookies offers
Andrew McDonald,
cofounder, The Rookies
of industry-approved skills they
students a ‘stamp of approval’ as they
It will provide all
digital artists with a
clear checklist of
industry-approved skills
they need to display in
their portfolios
Submit your artwork
before 31 May 2018. The
competition winners are
due to be announced on
7 July 2018
Alvaro Claver was a
finalist in The Rookies
2017 VFX category
Allan Bernardo’s entry
won him the animation
prize in 2017
transition from school to production, enabling their work
to be seen and commented on by experts. Applicants can
also find out where they stack up against their peers and
become industry certified. “Young talent inspires us and
along with The Rookies, we’re excited to support the
great animation, gaming, visual effects, digital art and
virtual reality content the next generation of creative
professionals are creating,” says Amy Bunszel, senior vice
president of design and creation products at Autodesk.
Prizes for this year’s winners include internships and
scholarships. Weta Digital, Framestore, Method Studio,
NetherRealm Studios, Monolith Productions, Rewind,
Virtual Immersive, Trixter, Axis Animation, The Third
Floor, Monkeystack, CVDVFX, Halon Studios, Electric
Theatre Collective, Polygon Pictures, Ninja Theory, Plastic
Wax, Architecture Office and Greenhaus GFX are all
offering fully paid internships and training programmes to
some of the winners throughout Asia, Canada, Europe,
Oceania and the US.
Entries are now being accepted. To be eligible to enter
you must be 18 years or older and have attended a
certified higher educational training facility between
January 2017 and May 2018. “We are really proud of our
judging panel this year, which has a strong female voice
from amazing talent like Pavani Boddapati, a CG
supervisor at Weta Digital,” says McDonald. “We also
have the incredible John Howe joining the panel this year,
who is famous for his work based on the worlds of JRR
Tolkien,” says Hunt. Head to to find out
more about how to enter and the rest of the judges.
Get in touch…
McDonald and
Alwyn Hunt
founded The
Rookies to
creative talent
emerging from
Total Chaos will be the
perfect new event for
rendering enthusiasts
Unite 2018
Global reveals
Unity releases the dates
and locations for its
upcoming slate of
Unite Conferences
Chaos Group start
Total Chaos
Chaos Group bring together world-class CG
experts for Total Chaos
Chaos Group is launching a new premier event
for rendering called Total Chaos that will be held
in Sofia, Bulgaria, on 18-19 May 2018. Chaos
Group’s debut event will bring together experts
from architectural visualisation, automotive
design, games and visual effects with the goal of
combining art, craft and code tracks that
explores rendering in some depth.
New technology for V-Ray and Corona will
also be on display alongside special talks that will
be hosted by the teams behind V-Ray and
Become V-Ray certified
The opportunity to get V-Ray certified is
available for all attendees at Total Chaos
on 18-19 May. The hour-long exam will
have a series of true or false and multiplechoice questions, and you’ll need to score
at least 70 per cent to pass it. It’s
recommended that all those who want to
take the exam have at least one year of
experience using V-Ray.
Corona, which will demonstrate the latest
innovations including new features and
technology. Furthermore, lead developers Vlado
Koylazov and Ondrej Karlik will be presenting
their ideas on the future of rendering.
“We’re excited to host Total Chaos and open it
up to a worldwide audience. Bringing artists and
developers together in one place will provide a
unique opportunity to talk about the art and
technology of computer graphics. It’s a chance
for everyone to share ideas and get inspired,”
says Koylazov, Chaos Group’s cofounder and
chief technology officer.
The speaker list includes artists and
technology experts from Blur, Nurulize, Method
Studios, Intel, Porsche, Brick Visual, Blur and
more, an up-to-date list is available at bit.
ly/2pmBgp3. There are also hands-on
workshops and masterclasses that focus on
production workflows with early registration
advised due to limited class sizes.
Total Chaos tickets are available now and can
be purchased from the event website in either
Student, Professional or Masterclass form.
At this year’s Unite events, Unity will
demonstrate real-time rendering made
possible by Unity 2018, explore new
technologies and give a sneak peek at
what Unity will bring in the future.
“In 2018, we once again can’t wait to
get on the road and meet with
developers and creators, learning
together and making the world a better
place with more creativity,” says Brett
Bibby, vice president of engineering at
Unity Technologies. “We’ll be out in
force around the world offering expert
talks, instructional demos and curated
panels covering a full range of topics.
Whether it be creating content or
programming, performance or high-end
rendering, or innovating on the next
generation VR and AR experiences,
we’re excited to share this deep-seeded
knowledge with our community.”
Dates and locations are: 2-4 May,
Coex Convention Grand Ballroom and
Auditorium, Seoul; 7-9 May, Tokyo
International Forum, Tokyo; 11-13 May,
China National Convention Center,
Beijing; 19-21 June, STATION Berlin,
Berlin; 23-25 October, JW Marriott and
the Orpheum Theater, Los Angeles.
For more information about each event and to
book tickets, visit
HAVE YOU HEARD? ArtStation has launched Marketplace for artists to sell products from profiles and websites
Modo supports
Facebook 3D
Foundry and Facebook develop a
custom workflow for sharing Modo
3D assets to news feeds
Unreal Studio
opens beta
New tool eases artists from the
architecture, manufacturing and
design fields into Unreal Engine
Unreal Studio will feature Datasmith, a toolkit
for efficient transfer of CAD and 3ds Max data
into Unreal Engine, video tutorials, technical
support and 100 Substance materials.
“Datasmith simplifies bringing Unreal Engine
into architecture and design pipelines with
automatic lightmap and UV creation along with
scripted workflows to organise, optimise and
clean up geometry,” says Marc Petit at Epic
Games. The open beta registration is available
now at
Software shorts
Substance Designer
The spring release is aimed at the
VFX industry by introducing a
complete UDIMs workflow. Bakers now give full
support to UDIMs and the reworked 2D Viewer
gives real-time, high-res feedback to artists
during baking. Performance is improved too with
a partial core rewrite. Perpetual licences cost
$149 and rental options start at $19.90 a month.
Brandon A. McDonald
Facebook recently launched glTF 2.0 support to
enable content developers to create and share 3D
objects and VR content to their news feeds. With
glTF 2.0 compliance comes support for textures,
lighting and realistic rendering techniques.
The new partnership between Foundry and
Facebook has led to a custom workflow for Modo
artists to easily export Facebook-ready 3D content
and includes shader support.
Shane Griffith, senior product manager at Foundry,
comments, “Facebook 3D posts are an exciting new
way to share 3D content and one that Foundry was
keen to get involved in from the start.”
Wacom expands Cintiq family
Cintiq Pro 24 and Pro Engine
combine to create a modular
all-in-one creative studio
Wacom has expanded their range with the
mid-sized Cintiq Pro 24-inch pen display
featuring 98 per cent Adobe RGB colour
accuracy and an improved pen-on-screen
experience. A pen and touch display will be
available in May 2018.
The Cintiq Pro can be converted into a
high-performance workstation with Cintiq Pro
Engine, a compact Windows 10 computing
module featuring an Nvidia Quadro P3200
graphic card. Pro Engine memory and SSD are
exchangeable and can be upgraded.
“The Wacom Cintiq Pro Engine provides a
beautiful, easy-to-use solution for creatives
everywhere,” says Faik Karaoglu at Wacom.
T Cintiq
q Pro 24’s etched g
glass screen mimics the
natural feel of pen on paper while drawing
Bringing you the lowdown on product updates and launches
RealFlow |
Cinema 4D 2.5
The integrated version of fluid
simulation software for Cinema
4D gets a new visualiser for previewing,
adjusting and evaluating force-based daemons.
There are also three new Vertex Maps for
Vorticity, Age and Weight to add greater realism
and they can be previewed in the viewport in
real-time. A node-locked licence costs $795.
Cheetah3D 7.2
After a complete rewrite of the
movie import/export code,
Cheetah3D harnesses the
AVFoundation framework for faster movie
export with support for movie codecs including
HEVC and the addition of a ProRes workflow.
The unbiased render engine Falcon gains
support for IES lights and Filmic tone mapping.
Cheetah3D is available for $99.
DID YOU KNOW? The Ottawa International Animation Festival 2018 is accepting film entries until 25 May
Making real-time motion
capture fashionable
Technical PM at Lucasfilm’s
LiveCGX brought CG-enhanced improvisational performance to London Fashion
Week – and it was all controlled by the performer
little over a year ago, my manager pitched an idea
to me. He said, “Just hear what I have to say with
an open mind. If you’re not in, okay, but it’s
impossible to imagine you won’t be.” The result was
LiveCGX, which represents the first step towards a
completely new type of live performance – one that
connects real-time visual effects and human-driven
expression. It’s an evolution of Lucasfilm’s rich history with
technology and storytelling.
LiveCGX has the potential to be used for any film
franchise, as well as non-movie applications like sports,
music and fashion. The latter helped to shape our first
public deployment at London Fashion Week (LFW) and
the fashion and storytelling collaboration was with the
University of the Arts London: Fashion Innovation
Agency’s designer Steven Tai (steventai) via
Matthew Drinkwater and the GREAT
British campaign for 2018’s LFW.
Steventai’s Autumn/Winter
2018 fashion presentation
marked the global debut of
LiveCGX. It was used to
digitally transform the venue
as well as pieces from
steventai’s Macau-inspired
collection. On a giant LED
display in Durbar Court,
located in the Foreign and
Commonwealth Office in
Westminster, London, we saw
the setting transform in
real-time with elements from
Macau layered onto the environment.
While live models showed off steventai’s
latest Autumn/Winter collection on stage,
another model performed in a motion-capture suit. Her
avatar was visible within the environment on screen,
modelling two steventai-designed digital garments.
While historically much has been done with
sophisticated projection in highly choreographed
performances, what made this presentation unique was
that the digital elements were responding in real-time to
an improvisational performance. Rather than the digital
presentation controlling the performance, now the
performer was driving the presentation.
Microsoft Kinects were used to capture the depth buffer
of the people on stage and in the audience as we wanted
to real-time composite the CG elements and the live video
feed of Durbar Court. This allowed for convincing
interaction between the avatar and the models – they
could hug each other, look at each other and pass by one
another. Eric Landreneau piped the depth buffer into
Unreal Engine’s compositing module Composure to be
able to accomplish this.
Peter Malnai also devised a waypoint-driven traversal
system so that a CG character could auto-locomote
between waypoints without colliding into real-life objects.
The system was set up so that a gestural trigger started
the auto-movement, which was shown in the finale when
the avatar walked among the on-stage models.
The garments were created in Marvelous Designer with
cloth simulation in Unreal Engine. In Unreal, Omar
Skarsvaag simulated the movement and drapery of the
items of clothing. Yoon Kim and Mohammad Modarres
modelled and look-dev’d the Origin and Destination
garments shown in the presentation.
The environment enhancements were created by Ben
Nadler and Tommy Alvarez Rodriguez. Throughout the
show, the audience could see the environment change
from Macau’s jungle to Macanese neon signs.
We wanted to show that we could
transform both the environment and
garments in real-time.
Lucasfilm was extremely
fortunate to have access to the
ILM Chiswick Stage. Matt
Rank, Chris Jestico, Jack
Brown and Laura Millar
were all very helpful in not
only loaning us their set of
Vicon Vero cameras, but
also with the camera set-up
and testing at Durbar Court.
The Vicons were used to set
up a motion capture stage at the
show so that Vita Oldershaw, our
mocap artist, could drive the
performance of the avatar.
The next steps for LiveCGX will be to find
ways to explore letting audiences view the content through
handheld devices. We would like to get this sandbox
toolset into performers’ hands to create a unique
experience for their audience members.
We would also like to scale LiveCGX up to be part of a
live sports event or concert in a larger venue. Ron
Radeztsky is already planning a refined code architecture
that is scalable for deployment for events like this, and
we’d like to enhance the sandbox nature of LiveCGX as a
platform. LFW was exhilarating for the team and we would
love to continue our fashion collaborations in the near
future, as well.
ILMxLAB is Lucasfilm’s immersive entertainment division
based in San Francisco, California. Steventai, London
College of Fashion’s Innovation Agency and the GREAT
British campaign have collaborated with ILMxLAB to bring
this unique fashion presentation to life.
w w w. p h o t o s h o p c r e a t i v e . c o . u k
frrom all good
wsagents 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
USS Callister
Taking a look behind the scenes
of the VFX on Black Mirror’s
spacebound homage to Star Trek
Company Framestore
Location UK
Project description
Framestore worked on the
VFX on the Black Mirror
episode ‘USS Callister’,
including numerous
environments like those in
outer space, the USS Callister
spaceship, the nightmarish
CG Arachnajax creature, and
the many visual effects, matte
paintings and graphic
Biography Formed in Soho in
1986, Framestore is now a
Bafta- and Oscar-winning
creative studio that
specialises in a range of visual
effects, production, direction
and post-production services
for film and advertising
clients. It is notable for its
VFX work on blockbuster
films such as Gravity, Avatar
and the Harry Potter franchise.
• Russell Dodgson
VFX supervisor and
creative director
ver since its first episode debuted in 2011, Charlie
Brooker’s Black Mirror series has both wowed and
challenged audiences with some of the most
thought-provoking and visually striking stories on
television. Skilfully mixing aspects of sci-fi, thriller and
mystery with liberal sprinklings of Brooker’s trademark
acerbic wit, each standalone show puts its own spin on
issues facing society today, particularly with regard to the
unanticipated consequences of new technologies.
The show’s highly anticipated fourth season recently
opened with ‘USS Callister’, a story based around a shy
chief technology officer named Robert at a technology
company who had created his own virtual reality world
designed to look like a tongue-in-cheek homage to the
classic Star Trek episodes.
However, it takes a sinister twist when Robert – played
by Jesse Plemons, who television fans will probably
remember as Breaking Bad’s sociopathic child-killing hillbilly
Todd – finds a way to crew his fantasy ship with self-aware
digital ‘clones’ of his real-world workmates. His often
aggressive and brutal treatment of them – such as making
one character’s faces disappear – isn’t, shall we say, quite
up to Captain Kirk’s standards of HR compliance.
The episode has already been hailed as one of the best
of Black Mirror’s entire four-season run and having already
done some work on the previous season with the episode
‘Playtest’, when Framestore were asked to produce the
VFX for ‘USS Callister’, they knew they were getting into
something special.
“We were thrilled when we were asked if we could pull
off ‘USS Callister’, which would again be our largest VFX
undertaking by quite a large margin,” says creative director
and VFX supervisor Russell Dodgson. “Charlie Brooker and
[producer] Annabel Jones are such lovely people to work
with and when you do VFX reviews with them, you are
constantly reminded that everything is in service of the
story and the viewer.”
One of the toughest challenges for a creative team
working on this particular show was how to make
something a homage without completely ripping it off. It
had to evoke feelings of nostalgia without being an
out-and-out copy of the iconic programme that it was
trying to emulate. To get around this, the design of the ship,
for example, looked more like a conventional aircraft than
the unmistakable saucer and nacelle structure that
everyone knows to be the USS Enterprise.
“Our art department did a lot of very different concept
sketches and took quite some time to narrow in on a final
Charlie Brooker and Annabel
Jones are such lovely people to work
with… you are constantly reminded
that everything is in service of the
story and the viewer
Bringing the world of the USS Callister
to life meant bringing a distinct touch
of nostalgia to the bridge
Although the bulk of how the ship looked inside
wasn’t achieved by modelling, it still fell on the VFX
teams to make the physical sets sing by adding some
elements of realism.
Russell said, “For the glass and reflections of the
main windows, one of our lead compositors created
a setup using V-Ray for Nuke that created a
multi-layered reflection of an HDRI projected on to
the set geo. This meant that we had a lot of flexibility
to tweak this in comp.
“The interior set also had a variety of lighting
states, so we always had to have this in mind when
creating the colourful space exteriors. The last thing
we wanted was to create an overpowering colour
palette or a background that clashed.”
01 The aim of the episode was
to create an homage to
classic Star Trek
02 Framestore was excited to
work on another episode
of Black Mirror
03 The ship was designed to
look more like an aircraft
than a spaceship
04 The cast of ‘USS Callister’
05 ‘USS Callister’ has been
heralded as the most
cinematic episode to date
In a show that’s all about technology
and its impact on society, how do you
make the VFX serve the story, rather
than vice versa?
Black Mirror is a show perhaps like no other on British
TV in that, despite being all about the future and
trailblazing issues just coming to the fore, it often
views technology in a dystopian way.
With that in mind, the team were glad to be part of
a wider network of talented individuals to ensure the
story informed the tech, not the other way around.
Russell says, “The rest of the team is amazing,
they have an incredible production design
department led by Joel Collins, great editors and the
series attracts really strong directors and actors.
‘USS Callister’ was really blessed in this way as Toby
Haynes was a great director to work with and the
cast was fantastic.”
Star Trek is obviously a strong
influence, as in many ways it defines
the genre, but we weren’t trying to
make a Star Trek ship
06 There were a number of
sketches before the final
designs were agreed on
07 The USS Callister crew
land on planet Rannoch B
in search of Valdack
08 Framestore created the
outer space scenes as well
as the interior ones
idea,” says Dodgson. “Star Trek is obviously a strong
influence as in many ways it defines the genre. But we
weren’t trying to make a Star Trek ship – there is a bit of
Stingray in the design, some old American car shapes and
some Star Trek-style detailing. It is also a bit of a blend of
the cues you’ll find on military planes conceived in the
1970s, French curves and the greeble methodologies that
you’d find in sci-fi ships.”
For modelling the ship’s exterior, the team turned to a
firm in California that they’d collaborated with before,
which provided the initial build and texture for the ship.
Dodgson explains, “When working on something this
physically big with flowing lines, you really benefit from
precise control over your curves and NURBs give you that.
You need to be able to look along the line and see no kinks,
no inflections.
“With that in mind, our low-poly sketch model was
turned into a nice smooth polygon model so we could
re-create the plans as NURBs projections over the base
mesh, and have accuracy for all the features we needed to
add such as panels, channels, everything.”
One of the most striking pieces of VFX in the show was
the Arachnajax – a giant, insectoid creature that is
discovered by the ship’s landing party on an alien planet. It
turns out that this huge creature used to be a digital version
of one of Jesse’s old colleagues – from the marketing
department, in fact – but he’d given her a redesign after a
fit of rage in yet another sinister twist in the tale.
So how tough was it designing a creature that not only
looked alien, but also conveyed something of the helpless
victim trapped within too? Dodgson said, “The Arachnajax
was indeed all about character, and we wanted be able to
get across some relatively gentle emotion with it. However,
at the same time, she needed to come across as a horrible,
screaming monster that was designed for killing in
computer games. The main elements that gave us the light
and shade here were the small, Velociraptor-like arms on
its torso, the eyes and the tentacles. These became nice
devices for us to show its character and personality.”
He continues, “The tentacles were there for huffing and
the small hands could show fidgeting, conversational
gestures and subtle comedy, while the eyes helped us with
creating a sense of solemnness. All of this coupled with the
awkward movement, and the idea that she curls up a bit
like a dead spider when she sits down, gave us plenty to
work with.”
With projects like Thor: Ragnarok and Paddington 2 in its
portfolio, Framestore is no stranger to bringing impossible
creatures to life on the big screen as well as the small.
However, there’s actually very little difference between
working on the two, adds Dodgson.
He explains, “In both mediums, you approach creatures
from the viewpoint of how ‘featured’ they are and what
they need to do. You have to ask questions such as, how do
we want the rig to work? Does it need sliding, skin,
deforming muscles, fur? These answers inevitably define
how you approach it.”
Dean Wright
Creative video director Dean
Wright tell Mark Smith how he
brings motor racing to life
Job title Creative video
Location London, UK
Exeter College: Art
Foundation course
Bournemouth University:
Computer visualisation and
Biography Dean Wright is
creative video director at He
oversees the production of
creative video projects for
Motorsport Network
including visual effects,
motion graphics and series
branding. Prior to that he
worked on television, film and
advertising projects, with
stints as creative director at
commercial animation studio
Get Wright On It, and at
Nvizible where he worked
on Eddie the Eagle and
King Arthur.
Portfolio highlights
• Autosport Racing Car of the
Year, 2017
• Eddie the Eagle, 2016
• BB-8 in London (Personal),
• Williams FW37 Concepts
(Personal), 2015
• Mario Jumps Into Battle
(Personal), 2015
• Rapid Tech, 2015
• NHK Olympics, 2014
• The Pirates! Band of Misfits,
• Tree Fu Tom, 2011
• Primeval, 2008
ew sports inspire as passionate a fan following as
motor racing. Every detail of the cars, the tracks and
the drivers’ records are poured over, scrutinised and
discussed ad infinitum by a fan base for whom the devil is
always in the detail. But for those same fans, it’s also
arguably one of the least accessible sports. Touching the
hugely valuable cars, or even seeing them up close, is out
of reach to most.
So bringing those details to life, making them feel real
and capturing all the excitement of the grid in a way that
makes the fans feel truly involved is something the
motorsport industry and those covering it are harnessing
technology to make happen. One of the creatives at the
forefront of this new wave of 3D motorsport design is Dean
Wright. A visual effects supervisor for, the
job of his four-man team is to make it easy for fans to
visualise the things they might not otherwise see. From a
video of how air flows around a car to a rendered image of
a vehicle that looks like it’s been driven right into the office,
his team make it happen.
“Coming up with creative solutions to problems on a
moment’s notice is the daily challenge,” he says.
“Compared to working in movies or TV, which normally
work on monthly or at least weekly timelines, we are a
news outlet at the end of the day. That means most
projects are topical and very time-sensitive, so it’s about
finding the fastest workflow to get the message across to
our viewers as clearly as possible.”
The team rely heavily on tech such as Maya, Redshift
and After Effects for the bulk of the work – but it’s behind
the scenes with real engineers that makes the designs truly
sing. Wright says, “We worked with ex-Ferrari F1 head of
aerodynamics Willem Toet to produce our airflow
animations. A lot of the visualisation in this field you see on
TV is watered down or the visuals have come first, not the
technical. So by working with Willem and other experts like
him, we are attempting to bring more real principles of race
engineering to a broader audience.”
As technology advances, Wright says the future of the
motorsport design industry is going to be just like the sport
itself – all about speed, speed and more speed. He
explains, “Specifically in our field, I think we will be looking
at real-time or near real-time rendering solutions. With the
need for topical news coverage, being able to render out
quick-turnaround projects on the day of breaking news will
be a game changer. So investigating the use of game
engines such as Unreal or Unity is a definite consideration
for the future.”
So what advice would he give to anyone wishing to
follow in his footsteps? “Make cool personal projects!” he
says. “Many of the big steps forward I made in my career
were off the back of creating things in my spare time that
I wish I could be doing as a job. The passion you have for
those projects will show in the quality and with a bit of luck,
the right client or company will hire you to make more!”
How an animated movie made him
ditch his plans to become one of the
bean counters
Wright didn’t always seem destined for the
motorsport industry – nor, for that matter, the design
sector – until a heady mix of friendly advice and an
anime inspired by a legendary PlayStation game sent
him along a new path.
“Back when I was studying my A Levels, it was
either economics, which I was good at, or art, which I
wanted to do. Luckily, a friend of mine introduced me
to an art foundation course at Exeter College where
some friends showed me Final Fantasy VII: Advent
Children and I was blown away.”
Wright freely admits he didn’t have the freehand
design skills to excel as a 2D animator but found his
niche with 3D tech. “I loved working with computers
and seeing that film made me realise 3D animation
was the path for me.”
All images ©
Coming up with
creative solutions to
problems on a moment’s
notice is the daily
Dean Wright,
Creative video director
01 The team designed a car to appear in the
office of F1 analyst and illustrator Giorgio Piola
so he could talk fans through its features
02 A meeting with a legend – David Coulthard
was so impressed by the team’s work he
stopped by to say hello
03 Some of the finer details on the Ferrari
designed by Dean and his team
04 Design work truly brings the inner and outer
workings of the race car to life
05 A wireframe image of a Ferrari that looks
almost indistinguishable from the real thing
06 Harnessing technology has allowed the
channel to show how the physics of racing
really works
Images of the month
Here are some of
our favourite
3D projects
submitted on
in the last month
01 Mountain villa
by Nguyen Thành Vích
3DA username
vic nguyen
Nguyen Thành Vích
says: “This is a villa project from the
United States, bordering Canada.
The customer requested a snowy
environment among other things,
such as it being highly realistic and
artistic. I initially found this project
very difficult because I have never
painted snow and I have never seen
snow in Vietnam. Luckily I got
quick, great results from the
SnowFlowPro software.”
We say: Wow, for someone who has
never seen snow in real life before,
this is a great effort from Vích.
Outstanding mood, too.
02 Earthworm
by Massimiliano Lai
3DA username _m.v.l_
Massimiliano Lai says:
“This is a 3D remake of a concept
that was created by Alberto
Camara. The image summarises
the humour and the comic,
colourful atmosphere of Earthworm
Jim’s world.”
We say: It’s not easy to add so much
character and humour to a 3D
rendition of Earthworm Jim but we
really think Massimiliano has
achieved it. Fantastic!
03 Wasp 17
Dart Gun
by Emre Karabacak
3DA username
Emre Karabacak
Emre Karabacak says: “This wasp
dart gun is based on the concept art
of Michel Verdu, which I found on
ArtStation. My work usually focuses
on highly realistic guns and scenes so
I wanted to try something different to
challenge myself.”
We say: Emre’s Wasp 17 Dart Gun is
a brilliant piece and you can clearly
see the inspiration in his work. We
especially like the brushed metal
look paired with the plastic yellows.
04 Beautiful
by Pieter Léon
3DA username
Pieter Léon Vermeersch says:
“I wanted to make a cool-looking
building with a unique design. I
started designing the shape in 2D
first and then over the course of the
project I transitioned to 3D.”
We say: This minimal-futuristic
building from Pieter is set among a
great almost neo-dystopian
background. We love the contrast
of the sharp edges against the
curves of the mountains.
Create your own gallery at
behind their artwork
REFERENCES References are often the key to great artwork. Depending
on what you are working on or what you want to create, and before
getting to start in details of your design, keep the big picture in mind and
block out the composition. Ensure that you do not move onto the next
step until you’re completely happy.
Incredible 3D artists take us
The Gladiator 69, 2017
Software 3ds Max, V-Ray, ZBrush,
Mari, Quixel, SpeedTree, World
Machine, Photoshop
Bondok has been doing CG for
about seven years, working on
3D environments and lighting
Bondok Max
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