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3D World 233 - 2018 UK

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WELCOME
This issue, create a warrior!
We have a great selection of insights and
training this issue, from our giant Fusion
tips piece and a tutorial on modelling to
3D print. We also have a fantastic tutorial
from Victor Hugo, showing his process
for creating his stunning cover image. We
love it so much we are giving all of you a
poster to celebrate!
Rob Redman, Editor
[email protected]
SPOTLIGHT ON OUR CONTRIBUTORS
Pietro Chiovaro
Pietro is an Italian 3D artist who
creates 3D assets and environments,
and is currently working on an
open-source game.
pietrochiovaro.artstation.com
Vito LaManna
Vito has a following on YouTube for
his Fusion training, and rightly so! You
will find his fantastic Fusion tips piece
on page 42.
bit.ly/con-fusion
Oscar Juárez
Oscar is an archviz specialist, creating
in many apps. This issue he is back as
part of our Q&A panel, which you can
find on page 72.
www.fibrha.com
Dora R. Fitzgerald
Dora received an MFA in Film from
Columbia University and a Ph.D from
the University of Texas San Antonio.
She teaches visual language on page 26.
www.uiw3d.com
Tom Box
Founder of Blue Zoo, Tom discusses
the studio’s AnimDojo programme
to help budding animators level up
their skills, on page 86.
www.blue-zoo.co.uk
Mike Griggs
Mike Griggs is a 3D and visual effects
artist with vast experience across the
industry. On page 68 he explains how to
use Dome lights.
www.creativebloke.com
EMAIL
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CONTENTS
ISSUE 233
MAY 2018
FREE
Learn Squared course
on environment painting
in Photoshop.
See page 96
SHOWCASE Discover the best new digital art from the CG community, starting on page 8
FEATURES Exclusive behind-the-scenes access to the latest CG technology, film VFX and video game art
18 ANIMAL LOGIC: DOWN THE RABBIT HOLE
26 A PRIMER OF FILM GRAMMAR: CAMERA MOVEMENT
We chat to Animal Logic about Peter Rabbit’s adventures on the big
screen, and the VFX work that it took to bring him and his furry family to life
In the final instalment of our visual language series, we take a
look at the impact that camera movement can have on a scene
3D WORLD May 2018
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TUTORIALS Practical tips and tutorials from pro artists to improve your CG skills
TUTORIALS
48 CREATE THE VERTEX TROPHY
Discover how to make a
3D-printable awards trophy
66 BOOTCAMP:
WORLD MACHINE
Create bespoke landscapes
with ease using this software
68 BASICS: DOME LIGHTS
Achieve efficient, realistic
lighting with a Dome light
ARTIST Q&A
42 20 HOT TIPS FOR BMD FUSION 9
72 YOUR CG PROBLEMS SOLVED
Get expert advice from Vito LaManna on how to
boost your productivity and creativity with Fusion
Pro artists solve your queries
INSIGHT
84 THE LIFE AND TIMES OF AN
ANIMATRIK STUNTMAN
Nickolas Baric discusses the
world of performance capture
86 BLUE ZOO’S ANIMDOJO
We chat to the co-founders of
the online animation gym
REVIEWS
90 ADAPTABLE MALE FIGURE
34 CRAFT STYLISED CHARACTERS
56 19 TIPS FOR GREAT POSER ART
We take a look at this anatomy
kit from 3dtotal
Victor Hugo teaches us how to create his stunning
cover characters inspired by Celtic culture
Learn how to master Poser with top tips from Mat
Broomfield on modelling, lighting and materials
92 3DTOTAL BOOK REVIEWS
Two handy guides are put
under the spotlight
INSIGHT News and views from around the international CG industry
94 WACOM CINTIQ PRO 32
How does the latest model in
Wacom’s Cintiq family fare?
REGULARS
32 SUBSCRIPTIONS
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70 BACK ISSUES
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96 LEARN SQUARED COURSE
Receive a free video course
80 AXISVFX: DON’T WORRY, BE HAPPY
98 FREE DOWNLOADS
Learn from axisVFX about their work bringing comic character Happy into the CG realm, for Syfy’s series about
an ex-cop-turned-hitman’s crazy imaginary unicorn friend
Images and video from our
tutorial section
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ISSUE 234
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3D WORLD May 2018
EDITORIAL
EDITOR Rob Redman
[email protected]
PRODUCTION EDITOR Rachel Terzian
DESIGNER Ryan Wells
SENIOR ART EDITOR Will Shum
GROUP EDITOR-IN-CHIEF Amy Hennessey
CONTRIBUTORS
Maya Jermy, Mat Broomfield, Sammy Maine, Oscar Juarez,
Simon Edwards, Mike Griggs, Vito LaManna, Victor Hugo,
Andrew Thomas, Adam Watkins, Ant Ward, Ian Failes, Dora
R. Fitzgerald, Glen Southern, Pietro Chiovaro, Nickolas
Baric, Maciej Kuciara
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SHOWCASE
The best digital art from
the CG community
3D WORLD May 2018
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SHOWCASE
CG art to inspire
MODERN DUTCH
INTERIOR
ARTIST
Martijn Bayens
SOFTWARE
Blender, Unreal Engine 4
Martijn Bayens, currently
studying gaming architecture
and design, created this
interior scene in 20 hours using
only Blender and UE4.
“The way I created this
scene is actually simple,”
Martijn says, explaining that
he modelled the outer walls
first before heading onto the
interior walls, placing the
windows, creating the floors
and ceiling, and finally adding
the extra details. “When the
modelling is done I start up
Unreal Engine – I always use
my lighting template.
“What I like the most about
creating this project is that
when I imported it in Unreal
Engine, it looked very bad and
you always doubt yourself, but
after I added materials and
built the lighting it looked very
good and that feels great.”
sneye.artstation.com
3D WORLD May 2018
9
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SHOWCASE
CG art to inspire
MAËLYS, THE STEAMPUNK EXPLORER
ARTIST
Leandro Sakami
SOFTWARE
ZBrush, Maya, Substance
Painter, Photoshop, Arnold
Leandro works as an illustrator in
Sao Paulo, Brazil, and based this
charming CG explorer on concept art
by Jérémie Fleury (trefle-rouge.fr).
“Each accessory helps to tell the history
of that character,” explains Leandro,
talking about what he enjoyed most when
creating this image.
3D WORLD May 2018
10
“I try to make the process as natural
as possible,” he continues. “I choose the
sphere, and model without thinking of
the details, just to get a good shape and
silhouette. I believe this stage is the most
important and the most fun.”
www.artstation.com/sakami
www.youtube.com/3dworld
SHOWCASE
CG art to inspire
SPHYNX CAT
ARTIST
Paco Rocha
SOFTWARE
Maya, ZBrush, Mari,
Photoshop, V-Ray
“I am inspired by nature’s
designs,” says 3D generalist and
concept artist Paco, who has
10 years of experience in the
3D industry, including work on
Cartoon Network’s The Amazing
World of Gumball.
“These animals are so surreal,”
Paco says of the inspiration for
this work. “The way they look,
their bodies, the wrinkles on the
face! When modelling, I try to
get the feline and mischievous
expression in the eyes.
“I want to understand the
secrets [of nature]. It can be
plants, faces, animals or rocks…
and I use 3D to replicate and go
deep into the subject.”
www.artstation.com/paco_rocha
3D WORLD May 2018
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SHOWCASE
CG art to inspire
UNDER A BLUE SKY
ARTIST
Sebastien Hue
SOFTWARE
3ds Max, Mental Ray, Photoshop
For the creation of this
project, professional freelance
concept artist Sebastien used
the ‘Megastructure’ kitbash
from Vitaly Bulgarov, “so the
modelling was already done. All
the rest took me around half a
day to play and arrange the right
frame with the kit models,” he
explains. “Then maybe one to
two hours in rendering and two
days of compositing.
“What I enjoyed in creating
the scene was playing with day
lighting – no dark mood and
mysterious haze (which I truly
love doing) – but simply creating
an afternoon blue-sky scene,
well-balanced and interesting
to look at. I’m always inspired
by industrial or technological
objects and environments.”
www.artstation.com/sebastienhue
3D WORLD May 2018
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SHOWCASE
CG art to inspire
3D WORLD May 2018
15
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SHOWCASE
CG art to inspire
GIRL
ARTIST
Yuditya Afandi
SOFTWARE
Blender, Photoshop
Student Yuditya Afandi
started getting into 3D
when he was only 14, and
was introduced to Blender
through the YouTube
channel Blender Guru.
Describing the process for
creating this image, based
on concept art by Yungun Y
(artstation.com/artwork/
zwPA4), Yuditya says, “It’s
all hand modelling. For the
organic stuff I sculpted it
first using the Dynamic
Topology feature in Blender.
The best thing about this
is I can just sculpt freely
without worrying about the
topology, and to me that is
a very artistic approach to
block out a model.”
yudit1999.wordpress.com
3D WORLD May 2018
DOWN THE
RABBIT HOLE
3D World finds out from Animal Logic what it took to
bring this much-loved bunny to the big screen in CG
3D WORLD May 2018
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PETER RABBIT
DIRECTOR
Will Gluck
ABOUT
Based on the
classic children’s
books, Peter
Rabbit follows the
story of a family
of rebellious
rabbits and their
comical feud
with a vegetable
garden owner
RELEASE DATE
Out now
ill Gluck’s Peter
Rabbit, based on the
characters created
by Beatrix Potter, is
the latest movie to
go the way of the CG/live-action
hybrid. But just what is involved in
making a film where most of your
characters need to be added later?
How do you plan, how do you shoot
with live-action actors, and where
do you start with animation?
3D World asked Animal Logic
how Peter Rabbit was put together,
from planning the shoot, to filming
with stand-ins, building a whole
raft of adorable CG characters
and then animating them. It’s a lot
W
more work than you might think,
and Animal Logic’s animated
feature pipeline – recently boosted
from its growing work on recent
Lego-related films – came in
incredibly handy.
PLANNING FOR PETER
Peter Rabbit tells the story of a
group of rabbits and other animals
who think they have overcome
the dreaded Mr. McGregor (Sam
Neill), only to find a new member
of the McGregor family (Domhnall
Gleeson) has taken up residence
instead, and has become interested
in their animal-loving friend Bea
(Rose Byrne).
3D WORLD May 2018
19
Incorporating this ensemble
of human actors was one of the
first big challenges faced by the
filmmakers, since the actors would
regularly be interacting with Peter
(voiced by James Corden) and his
furry friends. Interestingly, Gluck
mostly eschewed any kind of previs
Trickster Peter leads
his rabbit relatives on
another excursion to
the vegetable garden
“[RENDERBOY’S QUICK VISUAL
FEEDBACK] WAS A GAMECHANGER FOR THIS PROJECT”
Simon Pickard, animation supervisor, Animal Logic
www.youtube.com/3dworld
Above: Rose Byrne
as Bea with her
rabbit friends.
A whole host of
techniques were
used for rabbit
stand-ins
Right: In Sydney’s
Centennial Park, a
vegetable garden set
is readied for filming
for planning out scenes. Instead,
the film was heavily storyboarded
and, once shot, the director had
artists do storyboarded drawovers of the planned CG characters
into his edit.
That didn’t mean scenes were
not planned out during shooting,
especially where significant
rabbit and human interaction was
necessary. Here, Animal Logic
visual effects supervisor Will
Reichelt worked closely with the
stunts team and the actors to
choreograph the action, sometimes
with bluescreened performers
pushing around sticks or stand-ins
on set in Sydney, Australia and
for some filming in the UK. One
scene even includes a whole lot
“IF DOMHNALL’S THROWING
PETER, YOU REALLY WANT TO
FEEL LIKE HIS HAND IS FULLY
PRESSING INTO HIM”
Will Reichelt, visual effects supervisor, Animal Logic
of fisticuffs between Peter and
Gleeson’s Thomas McGregor.
“Domhnall was very much up
for anything physical and threw
himself right into it,” says Reichelt.
“It really makes the sequence
because you can see the effort and
exertion. It really makes you feel
like Peter’s kicks and punches are
actually landing, and that’s even
without having a guy in a blue suit
shoving a stick in his face.”
SHOOTING FOR REAL
That brings us to the next big
challenge: making sure the
CG characters could be lit and
integrated realistically into the
live action scenes. That involved
a significant level of skill from the
visual effects team, but they were
aided by the use of a proprietary
on-set HDRI system for obtaining
high-quality and largely automated
image-based lighting data. The
system used Indiecam’s nakedEYE
VR camera.
“The camera is designed to
shoot 4K video, but we got them
to reprogram it, to shoot HDRs,”
explains Reichelt. “The idea was to
try to come up with a system that
3D WORLD May 2018
20
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was going to be less of a footprint,
both physically and time-wise
on set, but still give us what we
needed. You would plonk it down,
step away, and hit a button on an
iPad and it would just capture all
of the exposures that you need in
basically 15 seconds as opposed to
someone running in with a DSLR.
“We were also able to set the
height super low to the ground –
about six inches off the ground
– which meant we were able to
capture something that was more
accurate to where it needed to be in
order to light the rabbits correctly,”
adds Reichelt. “We could get it into
little, tiny crevasses, like in the
garden and wherever it needed to
be, and not have to worry that we
had some whopping great tripod
with a DSLR on it.”
MAKING RABBITS
After the shoot, Animal Logic
embarked on the weighty task of
animating the rabbits, as well as
several other animals including
a fox, pig, hedgehog and even a
rooster (which just happens to be
voiced by Reichelt). A major effort
became ‘finding’ the characters,
STUFFIES, STAND-INS AND STICKS
TO FILM SCENES WHERE CG CHARACTERS WOULD BE
ADDED LATER, PETER RABBIT’S FILMMAKERS EMPLOYED
VARIOUS KINDS OF STUFFIES AND STAND-INS
HERO STUFFIE
“This was a beautiful furred stuffie that cost a lot and
was designed to be an accurate lighting reference,”
outlines Will Reichelt. “It was actually furred with real
rabbit fur that the props department sourced as a
cured pelt that they then covered over the model. We
would wheel that out for every setup to shoot HDRIs
and other reference.”
DIRECT INTERACTION
When the actors needed to hold a rabbit, or be pushed
and pulled by one, there were other options. One
stuffie was more sandbag in nature and was covered in
a bluescreened material. Another method was to have
a bluescreen performer on set who would literally poke
and prod at the actors with hands or sticks.
KEBABS
A series of rabbit outlines attached to sticks were
utilised for camera framing. “We had what we called
the kebabs,” says Reichelt, “A couple of sticks had
foam core spheres stuck on them, and then wrapped
around each sphere was a different sample of either
fur or fabric, designed to represent the different types
of fur across the different species we were featuring,
as well as the clothes they were wearing.”
3D WORLD May 2018
21
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FEATURE
Down the rabbit hole
3
It was a challenge
to ensure the CG
characters were
lit correctly and
could be integrated
realistically into the
real world
especially since they were animals
with human traits. Artists had
to work out whether the animals
would remain quadrupeds or
bipedal and how much range of
emotion to give them.
“Very early on we played with
the idea of doing runs and walks
as bipeds,” notes Animal Logic
animation supervisor Simon
Pickard. “And on the live action
plates it just looked wrong, so in
the film they very rarely walk or
run on two legs. Whenever they
need to get from A to B, we drop
them into quads, and they become
more realistic and more like real
animals. Then they come back up,
and start acting again.
“We also started doing tests
with very restrained facial
animation,” continues Pickard.
“Then, as the film opened up, we
realised that we were probably
going to have to push away from
that a little bit more, and try and
find this blend. James Corden,
especially, has got so much energy
and zest in his voice that the
restrained kind of facial acting
didn’t quite marry with his voice,
so we started pushing a little bit
3D WORLD May 2018
22
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more on the facial side. And it was
finding that balance.”
Animators studied hundreds of
hours of rabbit reference, picking
through footage to find little
nuances, ear flicks and ticks that
were layered into the animation.
“Some things were actually too
much, though,” says Pickard, “Like
nose twitches, for example. If
you look at a rabbit, it never stops
twitching its nose. What we found
was, when we started animating
a performance like that, it just got
distracting, and quite annoying.
You were constantly looking at
FEATURE
Down the rabbit hole
1
2
THE TECH BEHIND THE BUNNY
BUILT UP FROM MORE THAN 25 YEARS IN VFX AND ANIMATION, ANIMAL LOGIC’S BESPOKE
TOOLSET WAS ESSENTIAL IN REALISING KEY ATTRIBUTES OF PETER RABBIT’S CG ANIMALS
1. FUR
Peter’s fur was handled with Animal
Logic’s Alfro tool, a grooming application
that had been developed over several
productions including Legend of the
Guardians: The Owls of Ga’Hoole and
Walking with Dinosaurs 3D. The tool
is built inside the studio’s proprietary
procedural animation and simulation
engine known as ALF, where a feather
creation pipeline, Quill, also resides.
2. CLOTHING
Each rabbit wears a distinctively
coloured jacket, and many other animals
also sport clothing in the film. For this,
Animal Logic relied on its Weave toolset.
It works by overlapping curves and
displacement shaders to represent a
particular piece of clothing. Artists follow
the shape of a sewing pattern during
modelling that is effectively ‘stitched’
together to form the final article.
3D WORLD May 2018
23
3. RENDERING
First developed at Animal Logic to
render a couple of scenes in The Lego
Movie, the studio’s proprietary path
trace renderer Glimpse was significantly
updated for subsequent Lego movies
and other visual effects films. For Peter
Rabbit, in particular, it was adapted to
meet Alfro fur and hair needs and to
accommodate scenes where scores of
CG characters would appear altogether.
www.youtube.com/3dworld
FEATURE
Down the rabbit hole
challenge for Animal Logic. In
recent times, starting with The
Lego Movie, the studio has built
and maintained its own inhouse path trace renderer called
Glimpse. That work continued
on Peter Rabbit, with Glimpse
upgraded to enable physically
plausible rendering of hair and fur
via Animal Logic’s proprietary
grooming tool known as Alfro.
“Not only did we use it to create
fur for the characters, but we also
used it to create big swatches of
CG grass as well,” details Reichelt.
“There is a lot of digital grass in
the film because we needed it to
integrate the characters into the
ground, for a start. There were also
large swatches of the set that had
been trampled too much and that
had gone to a muddy sort of bog,
which didn’t quite look like the
beautiful, lush Lake District it was
supposed to.”
BRINGING IT ALTOGETHER
Both Reichelt and Pickard
nominate that fight scene between
Peter and Thomas McGregor as
the toughest of the film, but also
the most pointed in showcasing
the collaboration between all
departments – from on-set
shooting to animation and right
through to the final rendering
and compositing.
Each shot in the scene was
often filmed two to three times,
once with ‘stuffies’ as stand-ins
for Peter, then sometimes with
a person off-camera prodding
Gleeson with a stick to deform his
skin or clothing as if Peter was
pushing against him, and again
with no stand-ins for a ‘clean plate’.
“I was in the director’s tent so
I could actually see what the shot
would look like,” says Pickard. “It
would be like, ‘Is that good? Did we
get it?’ Sometimes you’d have to say
no, and it was 50 people having to
reset the shot for an invisible rabbit
they couldn’t see at that point.”
“It’s a massive amount of work
even just to rotomate the humans,
because you need to know what
they’re doing in 3D space before
you can even animate to it, and you
have to get detailed right down to
the finger joints,” adds Reichelt.
“Those shots are absolutely
brutal. If Domhnall’s throwing
Peter up against a wall, you really
want to feel like his hand is fully
pressing into him and the fur is
coming up around the fingers. It
was a complicated back and forth
from everybody, but I’m really
happy with the way it turned out.”
Top left: The Peter
Rabbit model inside
of Maya. Animal
Logic shifted over
from Softimage XSI
to Maya on Peter
Rabbit, the first time
that they had solely
used the software on
one show
Top right: Director
Will Gluck (left)
on the set with
Domhnall Gleeson,
who plays Thomas
McGregor
Bottom left: A scene
inside the vegetable
garden has Benjamin
and Peter (James
Corden) almost
caught. One of
the interesting
references that
Animal Logic looked
to for Peter was
Ferris Bueller
Bottom right: Animal
Logic occasionally
had to deal with wet
fur and clothing for
their CG rabbits
All images courtesy of Sony Pictures and © 2018 CTMG, Inc. All Rights Reserved.
this nose twitching away, rather
than getting into the subtleties of
the facial animation.”
Peter Rabbit was Animal
Logic’s first project moving over
from a Softimage XSI pipeline to
Autodesk Maya. The animation
team also took advantage of
improvements made to the studio’s
‘Renderboy’ tool, which automates
renders designed for reviews.
Since many of the CG characters
would be furred creatures,
animators in the past have found it
difficult to animate them and see
the final results – “expressions can
get lost by the time you render,”
comments Pickard.
But Renderboy provided
the animators with quick
visual feedback by showing the
characters with fur, cloth, motion
blur and image-based lighting,
during the animation process
without having to wait for a final
render. “It was a game-changer for
this project,” says Pickard. “The
only issue was that they were so
good it confused people at times, as
they thought they were looking at a
final-quality render.”
The final look of fur for the CG
characters, along with dynamic
clothing made with a tool called
Weave, remained a significant
3D WORLD May 2018
24
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TAKE
THREE
: CAM
ERA M
OVEM
ENT
FILM G
RAMM
AR SE
RIES
3D WO
RLD
Pixar’s Up, featuring a dynamic set of characters and a
moving set in the form of a floating house. The perfect
combination to display camera movement
FEATURE
A primer of film grammar: camera movement
A PRIMER OF FILM GRAMMAR
TAKE THREE:
CAMERA
MOVEMENT
In the final instalment of our film grammar series, Dora
Fitzgerald explores the impact of camera movement
AUTHOR
I
Dora R. Fitzgerald
Dora R. Fitzgerald received an MFA in Film from Columbia University and a Ph.D.
from the University of Texas San Antonio. Her academic interests include film
spectatorship and grammar, and race and representation in cinema.
www.uiw3d.com
n this third and final instalment
of our visual language series,
we will examine the function
of camera movement. As much
as anything you can do as a
director, the movement of your
camera through virtual space is
your chance to covertly narrate
your story. Because your camera
movement speaks through space,
and the audience is sometimes
unaware of it, it is one of the most
powerful cinematic devices you
have at your disposal.
Camera movement is one of
the great narrative strategies
available to filmmakers – whether
animators or live-action directors.
To be successful you must turn
your attention to how camera
movement speaks to its potential
audience. As much as dialogue,
voice-over or editing, camera
movement can work to tell your
story in compelling and deeply
psychological visual metaphors.
If the basic shot is how you
pour your ideas or drama into
the consciousness of your viewer,
then camera movement is the
locomotive that powers their
experience. Paired with considered
editing, and the knowledge that
animation is not bound by the laws
What does
camera
movement do?
Remember that
camera movement
can approximate the
moving gaze of a
human eye. What does
your camera movement
express? How is the
gaze of your camera
assessing what lies
before it?
MISE-EN-SCENE AND
THE LONG TAKE
“CAMERA MOVEMENT CAN WORK TO
TELL YOUR STORY IN COMPELLING AND
PSYCHOLOGICAL VISUAL METAPHORS”
3D WORLD May 2018
27
of physics, there is almost nothing
you cannot achieve.
We will examine camera
movement from sequences in
Pixar’s Up. In this drama a lost old
man grieves the passing of his wife,
hunkering down in his home – the
epitome of a grumpy old senior.
That is until a sweet boy scout
invades his life and together they
embark on a fantastical journey,
in a house that flies, courtesy
of helium-filled balloons. They
will travel far and have great
adventures, but the real journey
they take is the one that will open
the old man’s heart again.
In the first article of this series,
we defined mise-en-scene as
everything that is photographed in
front of the camera as well as the
actions of the filmic apparatus.
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FEATURE
A primer of film grammar: camera movement
When a director chooses to hold
the duration of a shot, it is called
the long take. The most elegant
long takes are ones that travel
gracefully over the scene, usually
divulging visual information. Many
times, a long take will take place
at the beginning of a film and can
serve as a type of establishment
shot. Take a look at the beautiful
long take at the beginning of
Joe Wright’s Pride and Prejudice.
Once Keira Knightley’s character
crosses the bedsheets on the
clothesline, the camera first follows
her, then goes solo to enter the
house to give us a brief but telling
introduction to her sisters, before
again teaming up with Keira
outside the house to introduce her
squabbling parents at the other
end of the house. All without a cut.
This same scenario is employed at
the beginning of Tran Anh Hung’s
The Scent of Green Papaya.
At the other end of the
spectrum is the fast-paced long
take in Alfonso Cuarón’s Children
of Men, in which Julianne Moore’s
character is killed inside of a
moving car. This scene is a marvel
of fast-paced action without a
detectable cut. In fact the action
and camera work move so fast, it
feels as though plenty of cutting
has taken place. Take a look, it is on
YouTube. This is what the long take
can do at its best. In live action the
long take must be painstakingly
choreographed. In animation, it is
simpler to construct but must still
be planned out as to the effect you
want to produce.
Make no mistake, editing is a
mainstay of cinema with its ability
to change the rhythm of your
work. But camera movement has
a big place at the table also. It can
move up, down or over an object,
person or landscape. It can push
The magical
swish pan
A swish pan can
exhibit more action
than a cut. Don’t
neglect this dramatic
camera technique and
remember that the end
of the swish does not
have to remain in the
same space or time as
the originating shot.
Fig 1.1: A camera tilt
moves up and down and
is often used to slowly
reveal structures with
great height, making that
height more dramatic as
the camera arcs upward.
Image by Matt Tovar
Fig 1.2: A camera
pan works from side
to side. It can travel
across a room or a wide
vista, slowly revealing
the attributes of that
location. Image by
Matt Tovar
3D WORLD May 2018
28
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or zoom, in or out, fast or slow, as
the narrative demands. It lends the
subjectivity of a human eye, the
glance or gaze of your character
or audience in a way no cut can.
A beautifully rendered camera
move at just the right moment can
seduce your audience and leave
them breathless.
TILT AND PAN
In addition to zooming or pushing
your camera/lens in or out, you
can obviously move up and down
to tilt [Fig 1.1], or left to right in
a pan [Fig 1.2]. Pans and tilts are
shots that originate from a fixed
position, usually approximating
the movement of a human head in
whatever direction. The tilt can be
an exciting shot, since many times
it can take the measure of a tall
structure. Such is the case with the
waterfall shot in Up. When Carl and
his young accomplice Russell reach
FEATURE
A primer of film grammar: camera movement
Paradise Falls, it is appropriate
that we receive a lingering shot
of the falls. This is supplied by a
moving tilt that begins at the top
of the falls [Fig 1.3] and ends at
the bottom [Fig 1.4] where we are
rewarded with a hint of a rainbow.
Although his wife Ellie is no longer
with him, Carl takes in the beauty
of the falls for both of them. He
speaks to the deceased Ellie at this
point, letting her know that they’ve
done it – they’re realised a life-long
goal and Carl will savour it for both
of them.
Fig 1.3: Just like the tilt of a tall building, this
tilt follows the direction of the water and slowly
discloses the magnificence of Paradise Falls…
“THE TILT IS AN
EXCITING SHOT, AS
IT CAN TAKE THE
MEASURE OF A
TALL STRUCTURE”
THE MESMERISING SWISH PAN
Later in the drama the importance
of the swish pan is in evidence. A
swish pan is simply a shot that has
fast camera movement between
two static shots. The result is a
shot, then a blurred shot, then a
shot. When Kevin the bird (who is
actually a she) is being chased by
the angry dogs through the jungle,
Kevin reaches an impasse. The
jungle appears to end and she is
trapped by a wall of stone [Fig 1.5].
She looks up, but the height of the
rocks is too high to scale. She looks
over in a swish pan [Fig 1.6] to find
only more insurmountable stone.
Finally her gaze swishes again
quickly to the left [Fig 1.7] to find
an opening in the forest, and that
is where she rushes to save herself.
In this case the swish pan device is
well used. It ramps up the dramatic
tension enfolding the audience in
the rush to escape the clutches of
the dogs. The rush of the camera
movement mimics the urgency
of the bird to find an escape. The
rhythm and timing of the sequence
are enhanced by the choice to
select camera movement rather
that cutting.
By its very nature this technique
is used when the director tries to
approximate a fast turn of the
Fig 1.4: …until it reaches the bottom and
we are rewarded with a misty rainbow
Fig 1.5: We are looking through the bird’s eyes as she runs
from a pack of dogs. She is headed towards a dead end…
Fig 1.6: …she looks up then to the right in a swish pan, which
discloses only more rock from which she cannot escape…
Fig 1.7: …but a quick swish to the left reveals an opening, and the bird regains a fighting
chance to escape. The swish pan has increased the tension here in a way that cutting could not
3D WORLD May 2018
29
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FEATURE
A primer of film grammar: camera movement
Fig 1.8: In another
example of a swish
pan, our location is
a darkened room.
Any number of
scenarios could play
out here…
Fig 1.9: …for any
reason the eye of
the camera (and
usually the eye of
the character) is
swished or whipped
around resulting in
a visual blur…
Fig 1.10: …to
land on the other
side of the room.
A multitude of
scenarios could
work with the
action of the swish
pan in this room.
Swish pans can also
take us to other
spaces outside the
original set. Image
by Matt Tovar
head. The goal is always to reveal
something more, something in
the space that the looker has to
assess quickly. Something has
turned the eyes of the observer.
Another example of this: in a
darkened room [Fig 1.8] something
has called attention to another
side of the room. The gaze of the
camera moves swiftly in a swish
pan with eyes open [Fig 1.9] to land
in another corner of the room [Fig
1.10]. What are the many varied
reasons for this? Perhaps a sound
called from the other side of the
room, the sensation of another
presence in the room, or perhaps
wind is coming in from the outside
chilling the room. There are myriad
reasons for which a swish pan can
be justified. The audience effect is
always worth the effort.
The swish pan can also serve
as a magical device. Instead of
cutting, a swish can be used not
only to take us to another side
of a room – it can instead move
the audience to another time or
place. The blur of the swish acts
as a supernatural force to take us
anywhere. A nice technique to
have in your back pocket.
THE DRAMATIC IMPORT
OF SLOW AND FAST
CAMERA MOVEMENT
Rhythm and tempo take centre
stage when we observe how the
velocity of camera movement
punctuates a narrative. The two
examples mentioned earlier in
Pride and Prejudice and Children
of Men produce two completely
different effects, exhorting us to
be mindful of the speed of the
camera. Witness in Up a fairly
emotional scene in which Carl
begins to have true affection for
Russell. The camera movement
is kept deliberately slow. In fact,
the push in of the camera is
painstakingly slow beginning with
a full shot of both characters [Fig
1.11]. As their conversation takes
an intimate turn, Carl realises that
Russell’s father is too busy to make
time for his son while the camera
moves in for a closer shot [Fig
1.12]. The camera movement is so
delicate here that you almost do
not notice its movement. It has
crept in so covertly and after a cut,
we see an extreme close-up of
Carl’s face as he listens to Russell
[Fig 1.13].
CAMERA STABILITY: TRIPOD,
DOLLY AND HANDHELD
In animation a camera is not
mounted on an actual dolly or
“A BEAUTIFULLY RENDERED CAMERA
MOVE AT JUST THE RIGHT MOMENT CAN
SEDUCE YOUR AUDIENCE AND LEAVE
THEM BREATHLESS”
3D WORLD May 2018
30
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FEATURE
A primer of film grammar: camera movement
tripod obviously, but the effect
that is created mimics these
mainstays of cinema apparatus.
The same is true of shots that are
produced in animation that appear
to be handheld shots. This is one
area where animation utilises the
visual techniques of traditional
live-action cinematography. Why?
Because they produce effects
that are apropos to the narrative.
Want a shot that is smooth and
unobtrusive? Use a dolly or
tracking shot and your result will
be a smooth and detection-less
ride through the space. A shot
conducted with a tripod will result
in the same outcome, except that
a tripod is held in one space and
cannot move as a dolly shot can.
“HERE THE DIRECTORS HAVE CRAFTED
THE SCENE WITH MORE TENSION BY
ADDING UNSTEADY CAMERA MOVEMENT”
But what if your desire is to have
your camera make a statement –
perhaps express the nervousness
of a character, or to simulate a
bumpy chase scene? This is the
desired goal in the following
sequence from Up. In one of the
later chase scenes our party of four
is running for their lives through
a rocky canyon landscape. As
we hear a soundtrack composed
of music and shattering rocks,
we feel the characters’ jarring
escape which is echoed by camera
movement that is not quite
steady [Figs 1.14 & 1.15]. Here
the directors have rightly crafted
the scene with more tension and
uncertainty by adding unsteady
camera movement, very much
like handheld if filming live action.
The camera echoes the bumpy
ride through the topology of the
canyon, but especially echoes the
shaky and uncertain outcome of
the characters in this sequence. s
Fig 1.11: Carl
and Russell
share a heartfelt
conversation about
Russell’s dad.
They are filmed in a
full shot…
Fig 1.12: …which
slowly, almost
imperceptibly,
pushes in to a
medium shot
revealing Russell’s
pain and Carl’s
dawning empathy
for the child
Fig 1.13: We move
in quite close with
an extreme CU
of Carl intently
listening to
Russell’s story. The
camera has done its
job to expose Carl’s
change of heart
regarding the boy
Fig 1.14: In a later
chase sequence
Russell is forced
to navigate a rocky
terrain to escape
the villainous pack
of dogs
Fig 1.15: The gang
traverse the bumpy
environment,
filmed by a bumpy,
unsteady camera
3D WORLD May 2018
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Practical tips and tutorials from
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3DS MAX | CORONA | ZBRUSH | SUBSTANCE PAINTER
CRAFT
STYLISED
CHARACTERS
Victor Hugo gives us an insight into his process
for developing an original character, with a stepby-step guide from concept to post-production
I
’ve been playing Horizon:
Zero Dawn and it caught my
attention how Aloy is such a
great and strong character, just
like another character I love,
Lagertha ( Vikings). Having those
two strong women in mind I
decided to give it a shot and try
to create my own strong female
warrior! My initial idea was to
create a Frank Frazetta tribute
but with the characters swapped
(strong woman with a guy holding
her legs), but after some research
development I thought it would
be cooler to do something
Celtic-related. Celtic women had
way more freedom of activity
and protection under law than
other cultures, so a Celtic female
warrior would be something fun
to create and would have a lot of
historical background to support
my character.
In this tutorial I’ll cover my
approach and talk about things
like knowing your foundations,
expanding your mindset and
working in a non-destructive way
(especially for look development).
I’ll also be doing the shading and
rendering using Corona Renderer
1.7, which has some cool new
features like hair and dedicated
skin shaders.
DOWNLOAD YOUR RESOURCES
For all the assets you need go to
www.bit.ly/vault-233-barbarian
3D WORLD May 2018
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AUTHOR
Victor Hugo
Victor has worked
for more than
a decade as a
3D artist, and
has worked for
many companies
around the world,
including Walt
Disney Animation
Studios, Marvel
Entertainment and
Blur Studios among
many others.
www.vitorugo.com
www.youtube.com/3dworld
TUTORIALS
Craft stylised characters
READY FOR BATTLE
I had a lot of fun creating this strong
female character based on such an
amazing culture like the Celtics
TUTORIALS
Craft stylised characters
YOUR CHARACTER
AND WHERE IT BELONGS
01FIND
First and foremost, if you want to
create a good character you need
to place it somewhere. Where’s it
from? Where is it going? What do
they do? It’s easier to develop your
character if you have a solid base.
More important than details, having
the overall is essential to build up
a character and gather references.
So with that in mind I knew that my
character would be a strong woman
(like a weightlifter or a CrossFit
athlete), Celtic (so she lives in cold
places and uses Celtic weapons, like
an axe) and was definitely someone
confident and empowered. I also
thought it would be fun if she had
an assistant, like a young shield
bearer. It’s fun to imagine how they
could interact on their adventures.
Work from big
to small
First deal with the
overall! Intricate
details won’t matter if
the initial look doesn’t
sell. Remember, work
from big to small.
02 FROM BIG TO SMALL
When I start to create an
illustration, a character or even
a prop, I like to start by blocking
all the major information, and
from that I work on passes to add
details. This mindset works on every
development aspect. In ZBrush,
you don’t want to start adding all
those details if you don’t even have
a proper base, right? So my first
step was to find the characters and
decide on a proper composition.
For the characters I used some base
meshes from older models as a
03
starting point and played with the
proportions in ZBrush. After that
I exported back to 3ds Max and
roughly posed them in order to find
a good composition. The goal here
isn’t to have the ‘final look’, but to
have a solid starting point.
03 MODELLING FRAZETTE
Yes, I called her Frazette
because of my discarded idea. I
kind of liked the name! So, with a
good starting point (composition
and characters roughly blocked),
it’s finally time to work on elements
individually. Since Frazette is the
main element of my illustration, I
decided that everything else would
be done based on her.
I started on Frazette in the same
way as the overall aspect (from big
to small). I started with gathering
references (and reading about
them), and then I blocked out her
armour and weapon. Since my
goal was to create a strong female
with a more grounded design, I
tried to understand how certain
elements work, for example: chest
plates. I learned that chest plates
usually have an angular design
because the main goal is to deflect
a blade hit. So, learning that kind of
information helped me a lot when
02
3D WORLD May 2018
36
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it came to blocking all the armour
pieces in 3ds Max. This part of the
process is pretty straightforward
polygon modelling. Usually I
start from a plane (arm and leg
plates, shoes, belts) or extract
the polygons from the body as a
starting point (chest plate, shirt,
waistband). After everything is
blocked and I’m happy with the
overall design, I do another pass
and add secondary information
(buckles, boot design, bracelet,
armband and so on).
04 UVS
When it comes to creating
UVs, what I do to speed up the
process is to create the seams
in 3ds Max (sometimes I also
use UVLayout), export to ZBrush
using GoZ and then use ZBrush’s
UV Master. It’s a quick and really
effective pipeline. After that I
organise the UVs into UDIM groups,
separating them by similar materials
(with a group for rubber/leather,
another for metals, another one for
fabric and so on).
05 THE ARMOUR
In ZBrush I used the Flatten
brush to break the clean shape of
the armour and the Slash3 and Clay
TUTORIALS
Craft stylised characters
05
brushes to add some damage to it,
but I knew that creating the armour
design in ZBrush definitely wouldn’t
be the best solution.
Since I was creating the design
at the same time, my solution was to
sketch the design in ZBrush using a
polypaint brush, export the sketch
as a texture, and from that create a
vector and apply some layer effects
in Photoshop to transform it on a
displacement map. By working that
way I would have a non-destructible
art that could be easily replicated
and adjusted. At one point I wanted
to move the chest plate design a
few centimetres up, and it would be
really painful to move or scale things
if I had just modelled them straight
in ZBrush.
After finishing all the details
and the design, it’s time to create
textures! My main texture tool is
Substance Painter. I really like how
you can do things procedurally
or non-destructive in it. I usually
start working from zero. As much
as presets are great time savers, it
tends to look too generic since it’s
a multi-purpose material, so I like to
build up my materials from scratch
in Substance Painter.
When you are creating your
material try to always have a
Non-destructive
There’s always going to
be changes during your
project, so keep it nondestructive as much
as you can. A little
more work might end
up being a life saver at
some point.
reference and make sure you
understand your material. The
armour, for example, is a multilayered shader, since we have
the base metal, damages (edge
wear, surface scratches) and aging
features (leaking marks, stains,
dust). When I’m satisfied with the
actual look of it, I export the maps
using the Corona Preset, which
exports all of the necessary maps
ready to use in Corona. Well, sort of.
Remember when I said ‘multilayered’? I always avoid using
textures straight from Substance
Painter. What I do is extract the
textures without the dust layer,
extract the dust mask from
Substance Painter as a texture
and use it as a CoronaLayeredMtl
alpha. I think it looks more natural
to have dust acting as it would in
reality (a material layered over
other material). Software like
Substance Painter came to make
our life easier, not lazier.
Another thing that I do is
fine-tune my shaders using the
CoronaOutput map. It’s a really
powerful tool if you need to finetune your maps, especially if you
use it with Corona’s Interactive
Render. It’s almost real-time tuning,
depending on your PC specs!
3D WORLD May 2018
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06 THE SKIN
For the skin I use pretty
much the same process that I
described for the armour. Keep it
non-destructive and you’re safe
to tweak it as much as you like it.
Sometimes we note something later
down the road and we feel like, ‘oh
man, I’m going have to redo a lot
to fix this… nah, I’ll leave it like that,
it’s a small thing’, but imagine if you
did that five, ten times? The small
thing becomes a big thing and you
sacrificed your work because fixing
something would mean doing it all
over again. So always try to keep
things non-destructive.
Try to look at references so you
can see colour zones, like reddish
tone for the cheeks, nose and finger
tips, yellow on the forehead and
collarbone, blueish for the eye bags
area and so on. You can also add a
tileable skin texture to blend all the
colours and a procedural texture
from Substance to add an extra
variation on the skin tones.
I like to say that I am an SSS
enthusiast. When I heard that
Corona had a new skin material,
I definitely needed to check it
out! It turns out that it feels like a
volumetric scattering shader, but
it is still optimised to be artist-
TUTORIALS
Craft stylised characters
friendly and with good render
times. It’s a really straightforward
shader with two specular channels
and three subsurface scattering
layers. All I had to do was plug
my Diffuse texture in the overall
Color, my Glossiness texture in the
Glossiness slot and tweak the SSS
colour and radius. It doesn’t take
much to get a good-looking SSS for
your character skin!
Frazette has some dirt on her
face and fingernails, so I employed
the same technique that I used on
the armour: export the clean shader,
export the dirt alpha and apply it as
a CoronaLayeredMtl alpha for the
dirt texture and her body paint.
Research
Understand what you’re
creating. It’s easier
to build things if you
know how they’re
made, especially
when it comes to look
development.
06a
06b
07 CLOTHING
Frazette has two types of
clothing: the leather and the torn
cloth on her hip. Since her trousers
and top are made of a tight cloth,
I was able to sculpt the folds in
ZBrush. For the torn cloth piece
I used 3ds Max Cloth Simulation
with some wind in order to give it a
more natural look. The edges are
an opacity texture and I also added
some micro fur using Ornatrix, the
best 3ds Max grooming solution in
my opinion.
Since her cloth has a lot of
leather, I tried to add some colour
and glossiness variation between
the pieces. Also, for the trouser
stitching I used ZBrush to make the
seams and Substance Painter to
paint the stitches. For the stitches
I usually create a new fill layer and
use a stitch brush on the mask, so I
can fine-tune the stitch colour after.
All the design details were done
in Photoshop and then applied
in Substance Painter using the
Projection tool.
08 HAIR GROOMING
I first considered making an
undercut hairstyle, but when I was
searching for references I found
some pretty awesome mohawks,
which I thought would be a better
way to add a fierce and strong
personality to my character.
When grooming I first try to
break the hair in parts (shaved part,
mohawk and transition area) and
work each part as a different object.
It’s easier to manage that way. When
creating the hair using Ornatrix, I
start by moulding an overall shape
CLEAN
DIRTY
07
using Ox Edit Guides, define some
big clumps using Strand Groups and
the Ox Strand Clustering modifier,
medium clumps using Ox Hair
Clustering and smaller groups with
another Ox Hair Clustering. I usually
add some frizz, length variation and
multiply some strands to create
even more variation.
The hair shader is pretty
straightforward. It’s CoronaHairMtl
with three different variations: rootto-top colour variation (Gradient
Ramp map using WU as coordinate);
clumps colour variation (mix your
base colour with a brighter gradient
map, with a noise texture as mask);
and strand colour variation (random
melanin parameter on hair shader).
IMPORTANCE
OF THE EYES
09 THE
I read once in a tutorial made by
a great artist called Jose Alves
da Silva that you should spend
some good time working on your
character’s eyes, because “it’s all
in the eyes.” You can convey how
someone’s feeling by the look in
their eyes, so never underestimate
the importance of your character’s
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eyes. What I always do is make sure
that the iris has specular on the
lower part, some nice reflections
on the cornea (especially on darker
areas like the upper part of the iris
and pupil) and tint the pupil instead
of using pitch black. For the inner
geometry I used two materials: for
the sclera I use CoronaSkinMtl for
some quick SSS, and CoronaMtl
for the iris. For the outer part it’s
simply a CoronaMtl with refraction
and reflection (like a glass) with very
little glossiness on the reflection (so
it won’t look 100 per cent like glass
and also adds a specular highlight).
10 POSE THE MODEL
Sometimes our first idea isn’t
the best one, so we need to keep
experimenting and trying new
things. I do this with every step of
the process, including posing. I
know a thing or two about rigging,
but it’s time consuming and I don’t
really enjoy it. My main solution is to
use an autorig tool called LH AutoRig. It’s a pretty good rig, especially
if you’re working with still images.
For skinning I like to use BonesPro,
as it speeds up the skinning process
TUTORIALS
Craft stylised characters
08a
08b
09
a lot. This process usually takes
one hour, which is much faster than
starting a rig from scratch and is
easier to tweak than when using
ZBrush’s Transpose tool.
When I’m fully satisfied with the
pose, I send it to ZBrush so I can fix
proportions and bad-looking joints.
11ENVIRONMENT
It’s pretty common nowadays
to use scanned textures in order to
achieve better results in less time,
and thanks to new technology it’s
becoming common to use scanned
people and objects to speed things
up. For the ground I used a base
model from Quixel Megascans and
created new textures to fit my needs
(it had a forest appearance, and I
wanted a winter mountain look).
Even being a really good model,
the scan itself will look ‘too 3D’
if you don’t add more details, so
for that I decided to scatter some
smaller rocks across the surface
using Corona Scatter, some
moss using Ornatrix, snow using
CoronaDisplacementMod and
hand-placed tuft grass, bigger rocks
and bushes.
10
For the scattered rocks across
the surface, I first duplicated the
geometry and deleted everything
from except from the top surface. I
made that by creating an top light
map in Substance Painter and using
it as a texture map input for the Vol.
Select modifier. After that I used
that surface as a Corona Scatter
distribution object and then used
a distribution map to create small
groups of rocks, instead of having
an even distribution.
For the snow I started with the
same process as the scattered rocks
(optimising the geometry using
a map generated in Substance
Painter) and then I used the
CoronaDisplacementMod with the
Water Level option enabled. This
way only the displaced geometry
will appear, leaving the rest invisible.
It’s a quick way to have naturallooking snow over an irregular
surface, as a different geometry and
a different shader.
12 LIGHTING AND RENDERING
For the lighting my goal was
to achieve a cold sunny day. There’s
also a variant version of the image
11
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TUTORIALS
Craft stylised characters
featuring blizzard weather, but we
decided to go for the sunny day
instead (it had better contrast for
the cover layout). I used two light
sources: a desaturated orange/
yellow main sun light and a blueish
rim light, both with Corona Light
but using different Directionality
values (0 for the rim light and 0.55
for the sun), so I could have a nice
and soft rim light and an HDRI as
an environment light. When using
HDRI, try to use a CoronaOutput
and play with Gamma values. It’s
pretty cool how many different
results you can achieve by only
changing that one value.
Corona has an amazing tool
called LightMix which gives us
freedom to fine-tune the lighting
after (and during) the render. It’s
easy to set up (you just have to press
a button) and it’s really powerful,
so always use this tool to your
advantage. Don’t forget to create
some render element passes like
RGB masks – they’re really useful in
post-production.
Rendering nowadays is really
artist-friendly, and Corona does a
great job in making that part good
to go, so I honestly don’t even click
on the Performance tab.
12
BLIZZARD VARIANT
AFTER
13 POST-PRODUCTION
I usually break up my postproduction into three separate
steps: fix what’s wrong, equalise
the image and then do the colour
grading/post VFX.
It’s pretty common to spot
something interpenetrating or
floating after you do your final
render, so take some time nitpicking
it. After that, zoom out, take a step
back and look at the overall. Is your
work equalised? Is there any colour
jumping out from your palette or
something that could use more
contrast (usually metals)? Ask for a
friend with fresh eyes to evaluate
your work, they might be able to
spot things that you never noticed.
The next step is the colour grading:
I usually play around with curves,
selective colour and vibrance/
saturation. As always, try to have a
reference for this.
The last step is to add lens
effects like light reflection, sun
glare, vignette and grain. Those
things help to blend your image and
give it a more natural look.
BEFORE
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TUTORIALS
20 hot tips for BMD Fusion 9
20
HOT TIPS
FOR BMD
FUSION 9
Master the software and boost your
productivity with these top expert tips
AUTHOR
C
Vito LaManna
Vito is an Italian artist, born in Germany and now living in Japan. He has been in the
CG industry since the pixel graphic era. Vito’s expertise ranges from modelling and
animation to concept art, art direction, supervision and compositing.
www.con-fusion.net
ompositing is a very
powerful process that can
really take your imagery to
the next level, and is essential for
the VFX pipeline. Tasks that may
take days to accomplish in 3D can
be achieved in only a matter of
hours in post.
Although visual effects look
incredibly creative, there is an
even greater technical aspect to it
that is not visible to the eye. This
is why many users who come from
After Effects will find Fusion to
be technically daunting. Fusion
is made for technical accuracy.
It will not give you a one-button
solution. The user has to take the
tool as a technical foundation
to build upon with their own
creativity. Once understood, it
will change the way you work and
express yourself forever. It will
cultivate your creative thinking like
you have never imagined.
To help the new user get
started, I have put together a
large amount of tutorials. You
can get all of this content by
supporting me on my Patreon
page (www.patreon.com/vito).
DOWNLOAD YOUR RESOURCES
For all the assets you need go to
www.bit.ly/vault-233-barbarian
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TUTORIALS
20 hot tips for BMD Fusion 9
CREATE AND COMPOSITE
Fusion is a powerful tool for creating
and compositing in 2D, 3D and VR
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TUTORIALS
20 hot tips for BMD Fusion 9
02 WORK IN FLOAT AND LINEAR COLOUR SPACE
01KEEP YOUR FLOW TIDY
A nodal-based workflow is highly efficient and fast, but
this really depends on you keeping your nodes organised. This
is especially important when you continue working on a project
weeks later, or when working in a team where someone else has
to continue with your flow. Divide everything into logical sections,
and assign colours. Hide the instance links with Right-Click>Show
Instance Links. Use the Wireless nodes whenever you can.
Fusion uses 16/32-bit colour depth and linear workflows. This
is a very technical topic and needs further research from the user.
Simply speaking, 16/32-bit float gives you more colours to work
with. Working in linear colour space and float is essential as it gives
more realistic results with certain effects like bokeh, glow, depth of
field, motion blur and directional blur. Keep in mind that 32-bit float
needs more processing power and is in most cases overkill.
VERSIONS AND KEEP
CLEAR NAMING CONVENTIONS
03 SAVE
Sometimes, when I work on a project
for too long, it becomes much easier to
make mistakes without even noticing,
and I can start to make things worse.
This is why I save many versions of my
work with movie previews that have the
same version number associated with the
comp file it originates from. By doing so,
you can watch the different versions to
discover where you went wrong. The nice
thing about Fusion is that you can then
open that version alongside the newest
version, and easily copy and paste nodes
from earlier versions into the newest one.
Not having a clear naming convention can
make this easy step a total nightmare.
04 UTILISE REPLICATE 3D TOOL
05 DOUBLE RESOLUTION
You probably already know that you can use the Replicate
3D tool to replace particles with any object. But there is another
very neat feature. You can actually replace particles with lights using
Replicate 3D. Keep in mind that scattering a high amount of lights
will cause the renderer to fail, or make processing extremely slow.
When using Lights make sure to set the decay type to Quadric.
Head to youtu.be/mCe3ZPG6OyY for extra help.
3D WORLD May 2018
Render in double or even higher resolution than your final
output. When resizing down your image, Fusion will perform
sampling which can recover or make unwanted pixels disappear.
With tools like Volume Fog, Volume Mask, Ambient Occlusion
or even Relighting, this will give you inaccurate edge sampling.
Resizing down can help fix those issues almost completely. It is not a
technically accurate method, but it can save a lot of time.
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TUTORIALS
20 hot tips for BMD Fusion 9
07 THINK OUT OF THE BOX, BE TECHNICALLY CREATIVE
06 DO BREAKOUTS INSTEAD OF CACHE TO DISK
A breakout means to save out a sequence from a logical point
in your composition, preferably the parts that are render intensive.
Saving them out as an EXR sequence will speed up your workflow.
Tools like Trails are actually meant to be saved out.
I use the Cache to Disk option only for quick temporary tests as
I don’t find it reliable enough. Once I have something I am satisfied
with I will write out a sequence.
In Fusion, every tool has its purpose, and every tool has been
developed for that purpose with technical accuracy. However, that
does not mean you have to always stick to that. Sometimes you can
achieve unique effects by utilising tools that were meant to be used
for totally different purposes. Did you ever think of using Motion
Blur to create Volume Rays? Experiment with other creative ways
you can use the various tools.
DISCOVER ALPHAMULTIPLY
ALPHADIVIDE
08 AND
If you are coming from Adobe After
Effects, you might know this as PreMultiplication or Straight Alpha. It is
essential to understand this at least
on a basic level in order to avoid
outlines or edge problems when
it comes to colour correction. To
divide the alpha, you can use the
Boolean tool, the AlphaDivide Tool,
or check PreDivide right inside the
Color Corrector. To multiply the alpha
back, use the AlphaMultiply tool, the
Boolean tool, or the MatteControl
tool. You can find a recommended
video for this over at: youtube.com/
watch?v=Q9c-uLcuVk8.
09 USE A DIGITAL PEN
10 100 PER CENT FUSION
Although it is possible to work with the mouse, using a
digital pen lets you not only work faster but also to navigate more
comfortably. The problem with the mouse is that navigating involves
middle and left-click, which is not only hard on your wrists but can
lead to accidental node disconnection. Just make sure your pen has
two customisable buttons. Additionally, if you are left-handed, you
can move and dock your UI control panel to the left side.
3D WORLD May 2018
Give yourself a challenge by creating something entirely inside
Fusion. Create your own render passes using Fusion’s sophisticated
3D system. This will improve your understanding of what to tweak to
improve the look. Furthermore, due to Fusion’s 3D limitations, you
will find that a simple approach can create great results. Whenever
you face a limitation in Fusion, try to figure out how to fake it.
Remember these four words: limitation leads to innovation.
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TUTORIALS
20 hot tips for BMD Fusion 9
12 WORK WITH VOLUME FOG
11BITMAP MASKS
With the Volume Fog tool, you can create realistic fog inside
Fusion in real time. All you need is a World Position pass in 32-bit
float, and the original camera. Keep in mind that imported data
might need axis conversion due to the different world up axes.
Things become really fancy once used with light. Need clouds?
Simply hook a Merge3D tool with lights and camera into the Volume
Fog tool, add noise, then switch on Lighting.
One thing that separates Fusion from other applications is the
way it handles masking. Combined with a nodal-based approach,
masking in Fusion becomes incredibly powerful. You can derive
masks at any point, and combine it with other masks while staying
non-destructive. You may notice that sometimes masks are being
clipped at the borders – to avoid that, swing over to the Image tab
of the Bitmap Mask tool and set the clipping mode to Frame.
PERSPECTIVE
CAMERA
13 TOCONVERT
01
02
14 LINK AND ALIGN TO OBJECTS
15 COLOUR BANDING REMOVAL
In Fusion you can perform an align and link by simply piping
your child object to the parent object. As you can see in the
screenshot above, I am aligning a sphere to the spotlight. The
sphere will then follow the spotlight.
It is important that you keep the sphere’s position offsets to
zero. This can be useful if you want to have a light disc at the light’s
position for example.
3D WORLD May 2018
There are two ways to set your
camera to match the perspective
view. One is to drag and drop
the camera directly from the tool
panel into the main viewer. This
will create a new camera matching
the current perspective view.
If you already have a camera,
but you want to match it to a
perspective view, simply rightclick inside the viewer and then
choose Camera>Copy PoV to>
Camera. In order for this to
work it is necessary to be in a
Merge3D which has the Camera
already introduced.
Every digital artist at some point or another has had a
beautiful encounter with banding artefacts. For example, bandings
are the individual steps you see in a gradient. It is a miss-assumption
that this is due to a low bit depth, as it even occurs when working in
32-bit in linear colour space. It could just be the result of a display
phenomenon, or a real colour accuracy issue. Either way, these
bandings can be eliminated by introducing a fine noise or dithering.
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TUTORIALS
20 hot tips for BMD Fusion 9
17 CACHE ON DEDICATED SSD
16 SPEED UP RENDERING
So you’ve built your own monster workstation, and now you’re
waiting for your first Fusion test render. But, despite all that heavenly
potential power, your CPU usage is stuck at 30%, while Fusion is
struggling to get that bloody frame rendered. You can increase CPU
usage by activating Simultaneous branching and increasing the
‘frames at once’ count. Setting it to 10 will render ten frames at once
and therefore tickle out most of the CPU.
Fusion automatically caches your images and sequences to
disk. This happens on the fly. Therefore, the first time you play your
sequence, it is slower. Cached frames are indicated by a green line
inside the timeline.
In order to speed up caching and your footage loading times, set
your cache path to a dedicated SSD drive, from the Path Map menu
in Global and Default Settings.
SPEED UP
PREVIEW FOR
18
ANIMATION FEEDBACK
Sometimes you just want to see
the rhythm and timing of the
animation, but caching takes a
lot of time. You can speed things
up substantially by using the Prx
(Proxy) button next to the play
controls. Deactivating HiQ will
speed up the preview even more.
As the quality drops drastically,
this option is obviously only to be
used for animation previews.
Make sure to also keep in
mind that some tools like the
Directional Blur will look very
rough if not in HiQ mode.
19 INSTALL REACTOR
20 CHROMATIC ABERRATION
Recently the WSL (We Suck Less) forum members
(steakunderwater.com) released a Fusion tool called Reactor.
Reactor enables you to install all available tools, fuses and even
comp files, sort of like a Content Browser. As a result, searching for
tools online becomes a thing of the past. With Reactor, you can also
sync your installed fuses and tools across several machines. Head to
their website to install it.
3D WORLD May 2018
Computer-generated images can often look artificial. It is
very common to use a Chromatic Aberration tool to make an image
look more natural and realistic. However, there is the tendency
to overuse it. So keep in mind, subtlety goes a long way. The
Chromatic effect is also very nice for creating stars or flares.
A recommended tool for Fusion is the XfChroma Fuse by Stefan
Ihringer (available through Reactor). s
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TUTORIALS
Create the Vertex Hall of Fame trophy
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TUTORIALS
Create the Vertex Hall of Fame trophy
THE AWARD
The finished Vertex Hall of Fame
award trophy, 3D printed in two
parts by Shapeways
BLENDER | NETFABB | ZBRUSH | MESHLAB | UPLOAD TO SHAPEWAYS
CREATE THE
VERTEX HALL OF
FAME TROPHY
Andrew Simon Thomas shows us how to create
a 3D-printable awards trophy by smashing an
object in Blender
AUTHOR
Andrew Simon Thomas
Andrew Thomas is a
community manager
at Shapeways.
andrewsimonthomas.com
I
n this step-by-step tutorial I’ll
be showing you my process
for creating the trophy for
the Vertex Hall of Fame awards.
The trophy will be based on the
exploding cube that is the logo
for the Vertex conference (www.
vertexconf.com). The Hall of Fame
award, the first of its kind from the
event and sponsored by Bluegfx,
was presented to the president of
Pixar and Walt Disney Animation
Studios, Edwin Catmull, at the
Vertex conference in London for
his outstanding contributions to
computer graphics and animation.
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In this guide I will be detailing
my process from designing the
original concept to creating a
final 3D print of the trophy to be
awarded at the event.
This trophy will have two parts,
a top and bottom. After I have
finished designing the two parts
in Blender I am going to run them
through a few easy, automatic
tools in Netfabb, ZBrush and
MeshLab, and then adjust the
scale as necessary on Shapeways.
Finally we’ll have an amazing,
3D-printed trophy ready to be
awarded at Vertex!
DOWNLOAD YOUR RESOURCES
For all the assets you need go to
www.bit.ly/vault-233-barbarian
www.youtube.com/3dworld
TUTORIALS
Create the Vertex Hall of Fame trophy
A SENSE OF SCOPE
FROM THE CLIENT
01 GET
Since I’m making this trophy for the
Vertex Hall of Fame ceremony, I
need to get a solid understanding
of the client’s goals. I ask as many
questions as I can including their
vision for the trophy’s size, material
and quantity needed.
VISUAL
RESOURCES
02 GATHER
To get further inspiration and ideas
for the trophy I made a Pinterest
board to collect images of other
existing designs. These images give
me lots of ideas and now I’m ready
to get started.
Design for
material
If you know what
material you want to
make your physical
model into, you can
cut out a lot of trial
and error. Know your
material beforehand
to help streamline the
design process!
02
03 SKETCH IT OUT
I make some quick sketches
to brainstorm my design. I knew
that I was going to be making
something inspired by the logo for
Vertex, so my sketches were to help
me understand how the exploding
cube would go onto the base of
the trophy. I decide to emphasise
the shape by placing it on top of
another identically sized one. The
sketch doesn’t need to be perfect,
just enough to get you oriented on
your goals for the model.
04 SET PREFERENCES
If this is the first time you are
opening Blender you may need to
change some of the initial settings.
Set your preferences in Blender by
going to File and selecting User
Preferences. On the Input tab I like
to switch Select With to the Left
mouse click option, and I also select
Emulate Numpad.
04
05
05 ACTIVATE CELL FRACTURE 08 CREATE THE BASE
Also in the User Preferences
window I go to Add-Ons and search
for cell fracture, then click the box to
activate Object: Cell Fracture. This
will add a new Cell Fracture tool in
the Tools menu left of the 3D view.
06
SET SCENE UNITS
TO REAL WORLD
This next step is very important.
For 3D printing we always want to
make sure we know what units we
are designing in. To do this I find
the Scene icon tab in the Properties
Editor and change the Unit Presets
to centimetres.
07 CHANGE SIZE OF CUBE
Blender always opens up with
a cube. Open the N panel by hitting
the N key. Set the dimensions of the
cube to 10cm (it’s easy to rescale
afterwards if needed).
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Duplicate the initial cube
and move the new one down
underneath the original, so that they
are touching flush. This will become
the base of the trophy.
THE PEG
FOR THE BASE
09 CREATE
Open the Add options at the
bottom or by hitting Shift+A. Go
to Mesh. Create a cylinder, change
the dimensions so that it’s 2cm and
place it halfway in between the
cubes. You can use the Translate
options at the top of the N menu
and input -5 in the Z axis to be
precise. This cylinder will be a peg
to insert the top of the trophy into
the bottom.
10 SUBDIVIDE TOP OF TROPHY
Select the top cube by leftclicking it and in the header toggle
TUTORIALS
Create the Vertex Hall of Fame trophy
06
07
09
08
from Object Mode to Edit Mode.
In the Tool menu on the left, click
Subdivide to add more subdivisions
to the cube. In the header you can
return back to Object Mode.
11SET NEXT MATERIAL SLOT
When using the Cell Fracture
tool it can be useful to make the
internal faces a different colour
than the outside of the object. To
do so easily I am going to make a
new material with a slightly different
diffuse colour. In the Properties
10
Start your
measuring early
Make sure you have
a strong sense of the
scale you’re working in.
Certain materials work
best at certain sizes,
so it’s important to
integrate material into
your thinking as early
as possible.
Editor go to Materials (it’s the circle
icon) and add a new material slot by
clicking the + icon. Once the new
material slot is created I click the
colour region in the Diffuse settings
and choose a similar but slightly
different colour.
PENCIL TO CONTROL
12 USE
THE FRACTURES
I could just run the Cell Fracture
tool as it is to break off pieces of the
cube randomly, but I’d like to have
a little more control over where the
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pieces are broken. I only want to
break off the corner so that I can
have the smaller pieces break first
and then the bigger ones radiating
outward. There are a few ways to
do this, but the coolest is to use
the Grease Pencil to draw some
lines and indicate the direction
of the cracks. To do this I set up
the Grease Pencil by choosing the
Grease Pencil tab at the bottom
of the left-side menu. I select the
Draw options and set the Stroke
Placement to Surface.
TUTORIALS
Create the Vertex Hall of Fame trophy
12
13
14
15
16a
13 DRAW THE GREASE PENCIL
To draw I hold down D and
left-click on the cube, drawing lines
around one corner and some small
dots radiating out. By trying a few
times I figured out that shorter lines
gave me a more random break
when I ran the Cell Fracture tool.
14 RUN CELL FRACTURE
Now I go back to the Tools
tab, scroll to the bottom of the
menu and click Cell Fracture. In the
pop-up window I choose the tab for
Grease Pencil as my Point Source.
I also make sure that I set Material
to 1 in the Mesh Data section and
check that Next Layer is selected
under Scene. When I’m happy with
the settings I click OK at the bottom
and watch as it runs in real time,
cutting out the chucks of the cube
with booleans.
Use the best tool
for the job
This tutorial jumps
between different 3D
software because we
always want to use
the best tool for the
job. Remember the
80%/20% rule – 80 per
cent of the time you’re
only using the most
basic tools, but for that
other 20 per cent of
the time, one software
might be stronger than
another. Be software
agnostic (especially if
it’s free) and use the
one that’s quickest and
easiest for that task,
because there is no
one software that does
everything perfectly.
MOVE FRACTURED PIECES
PLACE
15 INTO
Once it’s done I go to Next Layer in
the header (it’s the greyed-out dot)
and inspect the now cut-up cube.
I move and rotate the pieces out
from the box (to move, click on one
of the coloured axes of the gimbal
and drag in that direction), to create
a hole in the corner and iterate with
different placements of the parts
until I’m satisfied. I make sure that
no single part is free floating or
could easily break off, and try to
imagine what these pieces would
look like if they were exploding off
the cube.
THE TOP AND BASE
OF THE TROPHY
16 EXPORT
Once I’m done I need to export
both the base and the top of the
trophy as separate parts. To do this
16b
17a
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I hold B and drag a box around the
parts I want selected. Then I go
to File, choose Export and select
Wavefront (OBJ) as my file type. I
make sure that Selection Only is
checked off so that I don’t export
everything in one file. I export
both the top and bottom with the
cylinder separately to their own
respective files.
TO NETFABB
TO REPAIR
17 IMPORT
I have made the file but it currently
has lots of issues with the geometry,
so it isn’t quite ready for 3D printing.
One of the best tools for fixing
meshes for 3D printing is Netfabb,
and the basic version can do a
pretty great job. I import the top
of the trophy into Netfabb and go
to the Repair tool by clicking the
red + icon on the top of the menu.
TUTORIALS
Create the Vertex Hall of Fame trophy
17b
18
19
21
Once in the Repair tool I can see
that all the edges of the trophy
are yellow, meaning that they are
disconnected. To fix this I click the
Repair Scripts tab and then click the
button to execute.
HOW TO USE THE
TOOL
18 REPAIR
When the script is done running
all those yellow edges turn black,
showing me that the mesh is
fixed. I click Apply Repair and
select Remove Old Part, and I’m
automatically returned to the
original view.
Now that the mesh is repaired
I can export by right-clicking,
choosing Export and selecting OBJ
again. The file name will be the
same but will now say (repaired),
which is useful as I can save it as a
new file.
19 IMPORT TO ZBRUSH
Explore Blender
Now I import into ZBrush. I
import both the top and bottom
of the trophy as different tools by
clicking on the primitives in the top
of the Tool menu and then choosing
to import.
20 MAKE NEW SUBTOOLS
I choose one of the tools and
import the other as a new subtool,
so that they can both be on-screen
at the same time, which will enable
me to check that they are still the
same scale.
It may seem a little
silly that you need to
activate specific tools
in Blender before you
use them, but keep
in mind that there are
lots of extra tools out
there to make your
job easier. Explore
Blender’s additional
tools and check out
what’s available online.
LIVE BOOLEAN
ON THE BASE
21USE
Now I need to cut out the hole in
the bottom of the trophy by using
the cylinder. I could have done
this boolean in Blender but I really
prefer the new Live Boolean tool
featured in ZBrush 4R8. I select the
subtract icon for the cylinder that’s
beneath the Base subtool. I then
activate Live Boolean at the top of
the menu and can see a rendering
of the results. When I’m happy I go
to the Boolean tool option in the
Subtool menu and click the button
to make a boolean. The new mesh
is created as a new tool which I then
export out.
22 MAKE THE PEG SMALLER
Now I go to the cylinder
subtool, and using the Deformation
menu I shrink it down ever so
slightly by playing with the Inflate
slider, dragging it in the negative
direction. This will make it fit easier
into the base of the trophy with
some epoxy to glue them into
place. The slightly smaller cylinder
then gets merged into the same
subtool as the top of the trophy by
using Merge Down. Remember,
you should always make duplicates
of the subtools you are merging
in case you want to go back to the
original one.
DYNAMESH TO
COMBINE PARTS
23 USE
Now I want to combine all the
parts together into one solid part
so it can be hollowed out. ZBrush
has a really powerful way to do
22
3D WORLD May 2018
53
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TUTORIALS
Create the Vertex Hall of Fame trophy
23
25a
24
25b
that with DynaMesh. In the Tools
menu I go to Geometry and choose
DynaMesh. I bring the resolution
up to around 400 so that no details
are lost and double-click. I can tell it
worked because the density of the
mesh went way up.
REDUCE THE MESH WITH
24 DECIMATION
MASTER
To reduce the density of the
topology back down I go to the
ZPlugin menu at the top and choose
Decimation Master. I leave the
settings as they are and first run
the Pre-process Current button.
Once that runs I click Decimate
Current and the number of faces is
significantly reduced.
25c
TO MESHLAB
HOLLOW
25 TOIMPORT
Print to iterate
I could upload and print now, but
to lower the costs I can make both
the top and bottom hollow by using
MeshLab. I import the top model
into MeshLab and select the Edit
icon, then choose Hollow.
Meshmixer will process for a bit
and then give me some options to
make the mesh hollow. This is great
because it reduces the amount of
material needed to print. Changing
the offset distance at the top will
change the thickness of the walls. I
also add holes by clicking Generate
Hole and dragging the holes around
to the bottom of the trophy, so
that they will be out of sight when
26a
One of the best parts
about designing for
Shapeways is that you
can produce 1 or 1,000
prints. Keep in mind
the overall number of
prints you’ll be making,
and design so that you
can easily order more,
or make small iterative
changes later on.
26b
3D WORLD May 2018
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assembled. Once I’m happy I accept
and export the hollowed model. I
can do the same for the base.
26 UPLOAD TO SHAPEWAYS
Next I go to my Shapeways
account and click Upload. I choose
my units as millimetres and wait until
the upload process is complete.
If I need to change the size of the
model I can just rescale at the top.
I can choose to resize by per cent
or by the dimensions. In this case I
decided I want to rescale by 1,000
per cent so that the finished models
are both 100mm and stack up to
20cm. Once I’m happy with my
materials (I choose x and y) I click
Add to Cart and order to my door! s
TUTORIALS
19 tips for great Poser art
SETTINGS FOR
BETTER REFLECTIONS
01 TWEAK
Noise in the light or shadows or
on reflective surfaces may simply
be the result of insufficiently high
pixel samples in your Superfly
render settings, but it may also
mean that certain render settings
need to be selectively increased.
Sometimes tweaking these can
save overall render time whilst
producing the improvements
you seek. In this image, we can
increase the Glossy bounces
setting to account for the
reflective floor and mirror without
cranking up the overall pixel
samples beyond 50. If we felt it
necessary to add realism to the
bath water, we could increment
the Volume parameter, and may
even activate Caustics, although
these three can greatly increase
render times.
3D WORLD May 2018
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TUTORIALS
19 tips for great Poser art
19
TIPS FOR
GREAT
POSER ART
Poser is a fantastic tool for creating
character-based art and animation.
Improve your results with these tips
AUTHOR
Mat Broomfield
Mat began as a technical
journalist over 30 years
ago, and is very passionate
about creating 3D art,
particularly in Poser.
Artwork by Jura11
T
he Poser software is, in my
opinion, greatly underrated.
With version 11, its PBR
Superfly engine enables it to
create tremendous realism across
a wide range of areas, rendering
directly in-program without the
need to rely on exporting, thirdparty plugins, or integrating into
high-end programs for materials
and lighting that obey physically
correct laws. As with any tool,
with great power often comes
a bewildering range of options,
parameters and tweaks that
can quickly overwhelm even
experienced users.
In this collection of 19 tips,
I’ll be revealing some quick and
easy methods that you can use
3D WORLD May 2018
57
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to improve the quality of your
renders. Some of these tips will
highlight invaluable technical
tweaks that you can use under
the hood to improve overall
performance and render quality.
Others will be more prosaic
working practices that can elevate
even basic pieces by considering
a few simple compositional
techniques. Sometimes, a new
way of looking at a familiar
program can creatively enervate
you, and lift your art and
animation to the next level.
So, whether you’re a Poser
beginner, dabbler or a longtime pro, you’re certain to find
something here to help you
greatly improve the quality of
your renders.
DOWNLOAD YOUR RESOURCES
For all the assets you need go to
www.bit.ly/vault-233-barbarian
RENDERING TIPS
TOP ADVICE TO HELP YOU
SPEED UP YOUR RENDERING
AND ACHIEVE GREAT RESULTS
g Indirect
Activatin tions
illumina
t details
brings ou dows
a
sh
e
th
in
03 OPTIMAL RENDER SETTINGS
Choose the Superfly rendering engine and select
GPU rendering. Rendering with Branched Path Tracing
turned off (for additional render stability), and a setting
of just 5 Pixel Samples is enough to assess colour, lighting
and general form of even 4K images in just a few minutes.
Then you can ramp up the settings as needed. I find that
a setting of 40 overall gives great results, and sometimes
you can get away with as little as 30 or even 20.
04 SPEED UP YOUR TRANSPARENCY RENDERS
Rendering transparency can bring Poser’s Firefly or Superfly rendering
engines to a grinding halt, increasing rendering times from minutes to hours.
Nowhere is this more apparent than when using multi-layered transparency
effects such as DAZ’s more recent hair creations (yes Genesis 3 can be
converted to fit your earlier figures!). For Superfly test renders, you’ll want to
either hide these hair figures or set the max transparency in the render settings
down to just 1 or 2. When you come to final render, you’ll want to bump the
minimum up to 8 or even 16 in order to ensure that transparency looks good.
3D WORLD May 2018
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The same light source
can produce differing
shadows according to the
object’s distance from the
receiving surface
02INDIRECT LIGHTING
If you are still using a
version of Poser older than 11,
be sure to check the Indirect
illumination option for richer
shadow detail when creating
Firefly renders. Be aware
however, that trans-mapped
hair or other transparent/
reflective surfaces can reduce
your renders to a snail’s pace
that takes many hours, even
days for a single HD scene.
In general, using less
shadow blur works well with
bright sunlight and objects
close to the surface they
are casting on, whereas
grey days, interior lighting
or objects further from the
shadows they are casting all
produce softer shadows.
Artwork by erogenesis
05 INCREASE BUCKET SIZE
You can significantly improve rendering speed
by increasing the bucket size on the Superfly render tab
if you are using your GPU to render. The bucket speed
determines the number of pixels that the program will
render simultaneously, and the number of cores on your
graphics card will determine the bucket size your card
can manage. Try 128 and increase in increments until
performance starts to degrade.
06 SEND TO THE QUEUE
In addition to its network rendering, you can instead send multiple
renders to the render queue (Render>Send to). This is a great way to set up
renders before you go to bed, however, it is somewhat twitchy about being
paused if you require your processor for other tasks. I find that the best
workflow is to only send jobs to the queue when you do not require your
computer for anything else that night. Then it’s simply a matter of loading jobs
to Poser, choosing camera angles, clicking the Send to Queue button, and
going to bed.
3D WORLD May 2018
59
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TUTORIALS
19 tips for great Poser art
MODELLING AND POSING
HOW TO PERFECT YOUR MODELLING SKILLS AND CREATE
REALISTIC CHARACTERS WITH PLENTY OF DETAIL
The tiny details make all the
difference. By all means start
with off-the shelf poses,
but then take the time to
adjust them precisely to your
scene. Off-the-shelf poses
tend to work well when the
figures are not interacting
with anything other than the
ground. However, you’ll want
to carefully adjust the bends
and angles of hands, fingers,
feet, toes and any other
body parts that interact with
objects. Nothing spoils the
illusion of reality quicker
than stock hands that don’t
interact properly, or feet
floating off the ground. Ten
minutes of extra work makes
a world of difference.
Artwork by Ladonna
SCENE
INTERACTION
07 CONSIDER
08 REMOVE OR ADD CLUTTER
Artwork by erogenesis
Keeping the near distance uncluttered can focus the viewer’s
attention and avoid confusing figure profiles and distracting shadows,
especially when background scenery is naturally busy (flora, textured walls
or complex landscape topography). When it comes to scenes without
distant backgrounds, adding clutter can create intimacy, and provide
subtle additional threads to the narrative of your image, encouraging the
viewer to explore beyond the central tableau. Carefully arranged clutter
can lead your viewer’s eye around your image, creating a living narrative
that has the central figures as the focal point.
3D WORLD May 2018
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TUTORIALS
19 tips for great Poser art
IMPORTANCE
OF THE EYES
09 THE
Artwork by Ghostship
Aim to create a connection with
the character’s eyes. The focal
point for eyes can tell a story
in its own right. Sometimes
eyes that don’t meet another
person’s, or that don’t look
straight at the camera, can
speak volumes. At other times,
a direct gaze bespeaks honesty,
openness or confidence.
Convert your characters to
Superfly-ready materials with
Snarly Gribbly’s superb EZSkin
script, which can be found at
cgbytes.com/store/sku/54044_
EZSkin-3.
Once you’ve run this, you
can then replace the eye
material nodes with Ghostship’s
eyes (bit.ly/2FrNfer), which
creates much better realism.
You can always swap your
previous irises back into the
material nodes if you need
specific colours.
10 VARY SKIN TONES
Create skin types for different ethnicities (or levels of sunburn) by
altering the base colour or the subsurface colour. In an ideal world, you’d
digitise real people and use those photos to create skin of the precise colour
you need, but that takes a huge amount of work and time to accomplish.
I created a pale skin base, and can create a range of different tones, from
red-head white, rosy pink to Latino tan, by changing the base colour. You’ll
sometimes need to give an extra tweak to mouth, lips and nipple bases to
create a consistent appearance.
3D WORLD May 2018
61
11CONSIDER THE BODY WEIGHT
Most off-the-shelf models come with morphs
for shape and muscularity, but none have settings for
interaction with other objects (the ground, couches and
chairs, etc). Sinking a character’s feet slightly into the
ground or their buttocks into a chair will avoid that floaty
look caused by simply dropping to the ground or resting
on a surface. Use the Morph tool or magnets to deform
the skin or couch surface to give the illusion of weight.
www.youtube.com/3dworld
TUTORIALS
19 tips for great Poser art
LIGHTING
HOW TO USE POSER FOR EFFECTIVE LIGHTING, DEPENDENT ON YOUR SCENE
12 MAKE USE OF AREA LIGHTS
13 CHECK OUT EZDOME
14 DON’T BE CONSTRAINED BY REALISM
15 UTILISE GOBOS FOR SHADOWS
Sometimes less is more. A single overhead or frontal area light
will often provide sufficient soft lighting with no other lights needed.
The more lights in a scene, the more the rendering engine has to
calculate and the greater the likelihood of unwanted noise artefacts.
The softness of an area light’s shadows are proportional to its scale.
In the past, you’d mess about with infinite lights, having to make
building parts invisible to simulate internal overhead light arrays.
Now you can simply insert a single area into the room at a scale of
say 1,000%, and a brightness of 300% is a great size for lighting a
large room or hall.
When it comes to lighting outdoor scenes, Snarly Gribbly’s
free EZDome program (snarlygribbly.org/snarlyspace/ezdome.html)
is a versatile replacement for the old Firefly IBL system. It uses
smart image-based lighting (sIBL) images which include the sun’s
location. You can convert standard HDRI images to sIBL using sIBL
Edit – which is also free. EZDome will add an sIBL or HDRI to a full
or half sky dome, and can then be set to automatically add a
shadow-casting light that will be applied at the correct point in
the scene. This is a great and easy way to add realistic 360-degree
lighting to a scene.
Even though you may be using Poser’s powerful Cyclesbased renderer, if your scene is better served by highlighting and
accenting with lights that could not exist in the real world (such as
spot whose origin is inside the visible scene yet has no visible source
to the viewer), then don’t be such a slave to realism that you sacrifice
the effect you are seeking. One subtle effect for creating drama is a
low-level, upwards-facing spot attached to the figure’s head (think
of the old campfire horror-story trick with a flashlight). Turned bright,
the effect is stark, but turned very low, it’s a great way to add some
subtle fill-in colour to a dark scene.
3D WORLD May 2018
Use gobos or billboards to cast shadows rather than
depending upon expensive geometry. The old Firefly way of
simply plugging an image directly into the light’s colour channel
no longer works. In Superfly, the easiest way is simply to create a
semi-transparent plane and attach it in front of the spot that you
want to affect (much as a photographer would use a gel). However,
using this slightly more sophisticated setup (thanks to piersyf for
the original), you can extend the effect to create stained glass
and projector effects. You can use a mix of greyscale or coloured
imagery to add interest and realism.
62
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TUTORIALS
19 tips for great Poser art
MATERIALS
USE THE POWER OF POSER’S NODE SYSTEM TO CREATE REALISTIC MATERIALS
16 DISPLACEMENT
17 CYCLES
18 HAIR GLOSS
19 GRASS CREATION
Superfly uses a different displacement engine to Firefly
(vertex displacement rather than micro polygon). With Superfly, the
more polygons, the greater the displacement resolution. Before
you can even apply displacement, you’ll have to open the object’s
properties tab and increase subdivision to 3 or even 5. There is an
option with a multipart model, such as a human figure, to subdivide
only the parts that you need extra resolution on (the face for
instance). This avoids creating unwieldy numbers of polygons that
will needlessly degrade your system performance. Subdivision is
also a great way to smooth jagged bends on older figures.
Don’t feel the need to create Cycles node rigs just because
they are part of the Superfly PBR engine. These can be complicated
to set up, and there are still imperfections and unpredictabilities
in Poser’s implementation of certain features, such as transparency
and displacement. The Poser surface root node does an excellent
job of approximating many Cycles features for a fraction of the
effort, complexity and rendering time. That said, notwithstanding
the occasional feature that was not ported over, you can copy
Cycles materials from Blender across to Poser if you find any
that you like.
If you are repurposing hair materials intended for the default
renderer for use in Superfly (almost all off-the-shelf products), you’ll
usually need to reduce the glossiness, reflection or specularity.
These will usually be plugged into the ALTERNATE specularity
channel. Lips and fingernails will also commonly need reworking.
Expand Anisotropic nodes and look for values labelled ‘Glossiness’
or ‘K’s’. These can usually be reduced to 0.1 or less. The easiest
solution is simply to delete anything plugged into the alternate
diffuse or specularity channels. You’ll probably want to reduce any
primary specularity or reflection values too.
3D WORLD May 2018
Importing polygon grass is expensive on your memory
budget, and using the hair room to grow it is even more costly
on your processing, especially during render. If you are using the
Firefly renderer, there’s thankfully an easy technique you can use to
effectively create ‘fur’ grass or carpet. Simply attach a noise node
to the displacement input. If you use a Clouds node in the
Diffuse input, or a carpet pattern, this is a great way to transform
bland polygons.
For carpet combine the noise with a greyscale bump map using
the Blender node if you want to give it deep pile sculpting. s
63
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3D WORLD
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Design Annual!
After completing the survey,
you’ll receive a digital copy of The
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WORTH
£15
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Complete our reader survey at
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We love 3D World but we know that there
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3D WORLD May 2018
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FOLLOW
THE VIDEO
www.bit.ly/vault-233-barbarian
3D BOOTCAMP
WORLD MACHINE
This amazing application enables artists to
create bespoke landscapes in minutes
C
reating a convincing
landscape for a scene
can be a hugely involved
process, especially as it often tells
a lot of the story itself. Landscapes
are complex, whether you’re
working on a film or a game, and
are only truly believable when
they feel like they have literally
evolved over millions of years.
World Machine is a brilliant
standalone piece of software
that enables the artist to design
a landscape scenario that they
wish to see, and then export
it to a digital content creation
application or game engine – with
height and texture maps or as 3D
geometry – to create a convincing
base for a scenario.
Using World Machine, the
artist has complete control over
the shape of the landscape, with
islands or mountain ranges at
either end of a slider, but it is
in the natural weathering tools
where World Machine really
comes into its own. Erosion is
added via a range of nodes
which work with the landscape
generation nodes to create
convincing, geologically correct
formations in a matter of minutes.
As World Machine is an
artist-driven tool it means that
landscapes that would not be
achievable on Earth can be
created, which allows World
Machine a freedom that some
other landscape tools, which are
3D WORLD May 2018
66
based on real mapping data,
simply cannot match.
While the software’s user
interface and initial workflow
can be somewhat daunting to
the new user, the basics are
reasonably straightforward when
the learning materials have been
absorbed. World Machine is in
active development, with a range
of UI enhancements and speed
improvements featured in the
latest batch of releases.
World Machine has a variety
of reasonably priced tiers, which
includes a free version to allow
artists to experiment with this
compelling and rewarding
application. Here we detail some
of its many useful features.
www.youtube.com/3dworld
AUTHOR
Mike Griggs
Mike Griggs is a 3D and
visual effects artist
with vast experience
across the industry, as
both a creator and a
technical writer.
www.creativebloke.com
TUTORIALS
World Machine
01 A SIMPLE WORLD
02 CREATE THE BASIC LANDSCAPE
03 THE WATER LEVEL
04 USE NATURAL EROSION
05 CREATE TEXTURES
06 BUILD THE LANDSCAPE
World Machine opens with a default world system consisting
of three elements, each within their own labelled group. The first is
an Advanced Perlin node that is used to create the landscape. This
is connected to a Terrace filter which creates banding of rocks, and
can be adjusted. Finally there’s the Output, which is a Height Output
node – this final node generates a black and white image file which
can be used in other applications to create a landscape.
The World Machine UI can be confusing for the uninitiated.
To make things clearer, go to the Views menu and add an additional
window which can be moved to the side of the main window. This
allows a much better view of the 3D scene, which is really useful as
the landscape is developed.
The Terrace filter can be set to a more smoothed setting, and the
Advanced Perlin has many parameters that can be adjusted.
World Machine enables the artist to arbitrarily set a water level,
which is essential for creating coastlines. While water does not get
exported by World Machine as an element, being able to visualise it is
a hugely valuable tool for the artist.
To view the water level, make sure that the ‘Show’ Water Level
button is activated on the left-hand side of the UI. Then use the slider
to adjust the height of the Water level to suit.
There are a wide range of creative tools within World Machine
for creating landscapes. The Natural tools such as erosion and the
new coastal erosion nodes are where the real strength of World
Machine lies. They can create highly realistic detail based on the
underlying geometry, which when combined with the selection
tools can create very convincing details incredibly quickly. If they are
available, make sure to try the built-in presets for each Natural node.
One of the most confusing elements about getting to grips
with World Machine is how to create a coloured texture map to work
alongside the height field. There are a range of options, and one of
the easiest is to use the Basic Coverage node which is available in the
Macros pallet. This node creates a four-colour texture based on the
landscape, and you can then output that to a Bitmap Output node to
create a texture map.
3D WORLD May 2018
When the landscape is at a point where seeing it in more detail
would help, or it is time to export the height and texture maps, the
landscape needs to be ‘Built’. This is analogous to rendering, where
World Machine takes all the elements in the scene and combines
them into final outputs. Depending on the complexity of the scene
this can take a while; use the Worlds Extents and Resolutions tools
and ‘Estimate build time’ button to see how long a build will take. s
67
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3D ESSENTIALS
DOME LIGHTS
One of the best ways to light a scene realistically is to use a Dome light
I
f you’re new to CGI, you may
feel that there are far too
many tools to choose from in
a dizzying array of software. This
series aims to break everything
in CGI down to the very basics,
so that every artist can be armed
with the knowledge of which tool
is best. We continue our look at
lighting this issue by exploring
Dome lights.
The use of Dome lights
has been one of the greatest
advancements in CGI creation
over the past decade. Bathing a
scene from every direction used
to be computationally intensive,
but with advances in both
hardware and software, the Dome
light has emerged as an efficient
way to start lighting a scene.
This is because a Dome light
can embed an image-based light
image (IBL, also known as HDRIs).
This is a single image of a real
environment or one created by an
artist which, when mapped into
a Dome light, instantly re-creates
the lighting environment.
These images are usually saved
in a 32-bit format that captures
nearly the full range of available
light, and allows lighting to be
created with a rolling falloff with
no ugly clipping or banding.
As the images have a full range
of captured light they can be
adjusted either with more power
or less to help set the desired
mood of the image.
While there are applications
that can create IBLs, there are
3D WORLD May 2018
68
countless images available that
re-create everything from a rocky
vista to a photography studio.
Dome lights are also highly
computationally efficient, which
means it can be a good idea
to use a spherical camera in an
existing scene to create a HDRI
map of the background. Placing
that in a scene creates no loss of
light fidelity, but enables the artist
to concentrate on the primary
geometry with little slowdown.
The biggest caveat with using
Dome lights is that they solve so
many problems that it can be easy
to neglect other light types. This
can be a mistake, as adding extra
light to highlight key objects will
always make a scene feel more
alive than just using a Dome light.
www.youtube.com/3dworld
AUTHOR
Mike Griggs
Mike Griggs is a 3D and
visual effects artist
with vast experience
across the industry, as
both a creator and a
technical writer.
www.creativebloke.com
TUTORIALS
Dome lights
01 WHAT IS A DOME LIGHT
A Dome light in its simplest form is a light object that
surrounds the scene in a constant white light from all directions.
As soon as a Dome light (Skydome or Environment are other
commonly used terms) is placed it creates an instantly pleasing
soft ‘studio’ look, which would be hard to re-create with any other
type of single light object. Be warned that not all applications
show the Dome light as a visible object, especially when it is for a
third-party render solution.
02 COLOUR A DOME LIGHT
While Dome lights are most commonly associated as a
base for image-based light sources, this doesn’t mean that there
aren’t other ways to light a scene with them. One of the easiest
and most powerful ways for a creative effect is to use a ramp
or gradient texture to feed in a range of colours into the Dome
light, to produce a more interesting look. As the Dome light is a
physical object in the scene it can be rotated to easily adjust the
look you are after.
USE A SPHERICAL CAMERA
While there are dedicated applications that can make HDRIs,
it is a great idea to make them yourself from existing scenes.
This is because using one Dome light instead of a range of
lights and background imagery is much less computationally
intensive and therefore offers huge advantages in terms of
viewport speed. If you are using a render engine with a live
preview this too has benefits, allowing many more iterations
for animation and story development driven by an efficient and
convincing lighting setup.
03 USE IMAGE-BASED LIGHTING
Using an image with a Dome light is a really effective way to
add a much more realistic look to a scene. High Dynamic Range
images which contain a full 32 bits of colour data are the best
format to use with a Dome light, as they allow exposure to be
adjusted without any clipping. Otherwise, the coloured areas in
an image can either go to white or black as there is not enough
colour data, which can in turn create some ugly, unwanted
image artefacts.
3D WORLD May 2018
04 ELIMINATE THE BACKGROUND
While many HDRIs come with additional background
images, it is still a good idea to ensure that the HDR is invisible to
the alpha channel and potentially to the camera itself. This means
that the Dome light is only lighting the geometry and creating
interesting reflections rather than getting in the way where it
is not needed, such as skies. Also, not having the background
enabled can save on render speed, as the computer only needs to
render the areas that are visible. s
69
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ISSUE 228 CHRISTMAS 2017
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OTake your studio-style renders to
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ARTIST Q&A
Practical tips and tutorials from
pro artists to improve
your CG skills
Maya Jermy
Maya is a 3D artist and
animator based in the UK.
She started her career five years ago
remaking and animating characters for
Oddworld: Abe’s Oddysee – New ‘n’ Tasty.
www.mayajermy.com
Oscar Juárez
Oscar is a 3D generalist
based in Mexico City. He has
been running Fibrha Studio since 2010
and specialises in archviz rendering,
animations and Unreal Engine.
www.facebook.com/FibrhaStudio
Simon Edwards
Simon works freelance at
3DArtvision. He has worked
professionally both as an architectural
visualiser and 3D artist for 20 years in
Holland and the UK.
www.3dartvision.co.uk
Pietro Chiovaro
Pietro is an Italian 3D artist
who creates 3D assets and
environments, and is currently working
on an open-source game.
pietrochiovaro.artstation.com
SOFTWARE: ZBRUSH 4R8
HOW CAN I CREATE PIPES,
WIRES OR CABLES IN ZBRUSH?
Mark Bailey, Leicester
Maya Jermy replies
GET IN TOUCH
EMAIL YOUR QUESTIONS TO
[email protected]
Pipes are probably one of the
easiest hard-surface models
you can create in 3D, and are super easy
to produce in ZBrush. I used to go back
to 3ds Max for all kinds of hard-surface
modelling, and would then import
the modelled part into ZBrush for fine
detailing. I was one of those students who
thought they needed a separate piece of
software for hard surface, another one for
organic sculpting and others for texturing,
retopology, rigging and so on. As a result,
my PC suffered an overload of programs
that I barely used. I would look at other
artists’ lists of software skills, and I felt
3D WORLD May 2018
72
that I had to know them all to become a
better artist. It was my very own corner
in an artistic hell. It took a while for me to
understand that it is best to master two
or three very useful pieces of software in
order to improve my skills. This has since
saved me some serious money, released
more space on my PC, and granted me
the glorious feeling that I actually know
what I am doing.
Learning the Insert Curve in ZBrush
had my mind blown. It was a great relief
having finally realised that I no longer
had to spread another process across
several programmes. Yes, it sounds silly, if
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ARTIST Q&A
Your CG problems solved
EXPERT TIP
TAPERING
Selecting Stroke>Curve Modifiers>Size
enables one end of the curve to taper, which
you may find useful when creating stuff like
blades of grass or tentacles.
STEP BY STEP BUILD A CG PIPE WITH ZBRUSH
01 CREATE THE BASE SEGMENT 02 TEST THE BRUSH
We need to start by building a
single segment of geometry which will
then be multiplied. I used a basic cylinder,
deleted the caps and shaped the tube to
my liking. Next, position it so that one end
of the tube points up and the other one
down, so that ZBrush can assign the start
and end of the link. Hold down the Shift
key and click anywhere on the canvas. It is
very important to have it straight for
correct projection.
Open the Brush palette and press
the Create InsertMesh button located at
the very bottom of the pop-up window.
This turns your geo into a functioning
brush. Open a test model, like a cube,
make it a PolyMesh 3D, and then delete
all subdivisions. Open the Stroke and
Brush tabs and drag them to the dock.
Navigate to Stroke>Curve and activate
the Curve Mode. Drag out your selected
InsertMesh.
03 WELD SEGMENTS
04 ADJUST AND SAVE
My example wall of a
quick InsertMesh test
not ridiculous, but it seriously helped my
workflow. I am sure that every artist has
some sort of software or tool epiphany in
their career. Insert Curve was one of mine.
What Insert Curve does is take your 3D
model and, based on its position on the
canvas, assigns one side of it as a start of
the curve, and the other side as the curve’s
end. When creating a chain, it multiplies
the model as many times as it can fit in on
the curve, and attaches the beginnings to
the ends, link by link. It is very simple and
will make even more sense when I show
you how to quickly make your own pipe,
step by step.
As you can see, the geo
segments follow the curve but they
are not connected. To fix that, you
need to activate the Weld Points from
the Brush>Modifiers menu, and then
click back on the curve. ZBrush will
automatically recognise the points and
weld them for you. Hover over the pipe
to see the start and end points. You
can then drag any of them in order to
reposition the curve.
3D WORLD May 2018
73
Now that we’ve created our initial
pipe, we can finish it off with a few tweaks
to suit the look you are after. If you want
to change the size of the segments, just
scale the brush and then click on the
curve again. To save out the brush for
future use, simply go to the Brush tab,
then Alt-click on SelectIcon to create an
icon for the brush. Finally click Save As to
choose the folder you want to save the
brush in.
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ARTIST Q&A
Your CG problems solved
SOFTWARE: 3DS MAX | V-RAY
CAN I CREATE ASPHALT
DETAILS USING 3DS MAX?
Heather Louise, Perth
Oscar Juárez replies
Creating photorealistic images
always pushes us to have more
detail in every scene. Back in the days
when I created the asphalts for exterior
images I used to start simple and then
later add the details in Photoshop, but
as time went by I realised it was easier (at
least for me) to have all those details in the
rendered scene so I could focus more on
other elements. Here’s how I go about it.
STEP BY STEP ADD ASPHALT DETAILS USING UNWRAP UVW
OUR POLYGON AND
CREATE GUIDELINES
01IDENTIFY
Our first step will be identifying the polygon
we need. In this case I selected only the
section of the asphalt polygon we will be
able to see, however you can also select the
entire thing and apply this tutorial to one big
piece in case you need more than one image.
Once we have our desired polygon we need
to get our guidelines. Get some reference
points to make the right slices (selecting
Vertex and using QuickSlice). I used a part
for the façade so I could have a guide to add
the pedestrian cross lines. I then divided the
street into three (selecting Edge and using
Connect) because I wanted the street to have
three lanes.
02 ADD UNWRAP UVW MODIFIER
Now that we have our polygon with
our guides it’s time to add our Unwrap UVW
modifier. This will give us an image so we
can add the details we need in Photoshop
later. First we need to select our polygon and
name it, let’s call it Street. Once we have the
name in our modifier list let’s type UN and
we will see how Unwrap UVW will be shown.
After that select it and click Open UV Editor,
and this will show us the options we have for
our Unwrap UVW. Select the Polygon option
and then select all (press Ctrl+A in case you
have isolated the polygon), and then select
Flatten Mapping in the Mapping menu and
set .01 in Spacing. This way the editor will set
the whole polygon in order to fit the image
we will work on later in Photoshop. Next
select Tools and Render UVW Template,
double the width and height and press
Render UV Template. Finally save the image
and we are ready to edit.
03 EDIT BASE IMAGE
It’s now time to add all the elements
our street needs. Let’s go to Photoshop, open
our base image and name it BASE IMAGE.
This will be our map, and the slices we made
are going to tell us where everything is – in
this case the pedestrian crossing lines and
each of the lanes we set. I set a base asphalt
image, then set the lines for each side of the
street and a second layer of asphalt so that
we could have an irregular look in certain
places. I set my second layer to Overlay and
the Opacity to 86%, and then I played with a
mask to erase in places I considered I would
need it. After that I added another layer
with the lines dividing the lanes, and finally
our pedestrians’ crossing. I played with the
blending modes and added a mask for a
more irregular look, and now we have our
image ready.
IMAGE AND
FINAL DETAILS
04 PLACE
It’s time to place our image, so go back into
3ds Max, create a new material and set the
image we just edited in Photoshop. Don’t
forget to uncheck the Use Real-World Scale
option so that we can see it properly in our
material sphere. Now select our polygon,
assign the new material to it and press
Render. Now the detail we added to our
texture in Photoshop should be visible – in
my case you can see the guidelines are visible
in the texture, and that’s because I had all
my layers with some opacity. To delete it,
we need to go to Photoshop again and add
a new layer over the base image, and then
fill it in full black. Overwrite it and it will be
automatically updated in Max. Press Render
again and it’s done.
Adding details in the 3D model
can save us lots of time in
post-production phases
01
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ARTIST Q&A
Your CG problems solved
FOLLOW
THE VIDEO
www.bit.ly/vault-233-barbarian
02
03
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04
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ARTIST Q&A
Your CG problems solved
Using this method, the balloon
form will extrude up but the
masked areas will stop it rising
up and in between the ropes
ARTIST Q&A
Your CG problems solved
SOFTWARE: ZBRUSH
HOW CAN I GIVE THE IMPRESSION
OF A BALLOON EXPANDING OUT
BETWEEN ROPE RESTRAINTS?
David Roberts, Sussex
Simon Edwards replies
If the aim were to create an
animated moving sequence
of such an object as this, I would be
recommending physical simulation using
dynamic forces and simulated cloth.
However, here we are simply creating one
still image. To achieve the look required
I will describe a quick and easy solution
of manually deforming one object with
reference to another.
I am a 3ds Max user so I started by
building the two balloon objects within
that program. The balloon is a simple
sphere, with the default 32 segments,
deformed into an elliptical shape and with
an inlet spout added by using the scale
tool and an Edit Poly modifier.
Once satisfied with the form, I added a
Lattice modifier from which a new object
representing the constraining net could
then be extracted.
Both of these objects were exported as
a single OBJ file which was later imported
inside ZBrush.
It is from this point that the exercise
here begins as I explain a method of
extruding the underlying balloon object
outwards and squeezing in between the
rope netting object.
STEP BY STEP
DEFORM ONE OBJECT AROUND ANOTHER USING A ZPROJECT BRUSH
01SET UP THE SUBTOOLS
To begin, import the OBJ into
ZBrush from the Tool menu. Next drag
it onto the screen and click on the Edit
Object button. Expand down the
SubTool menu, then go to Split and
select the Group Split option. This will
split the two objects previously created
in 3ds Max into two separate subtools.
Now turn on Ghost Transparency and
make sure that the balloon object
subtool is selected.
02 ZPROJECT BRUSH
Expand down the Geometry
menu and click on the Divide button four
or five times until the ActivePoints count
reaches somewhere around the 150,000
level (probably around five SubDivisions).
Make sure the Smt button is off when
you do this so as not to deform the
shape by smoothing.
Choose the ZProject brush with a
Freehand Stroke selected. Switch Rgb
on and both Zadd and Zsub off.
EXPERT TIP
HIDE PARTS OF A SUBTOOL OBJECT
If you try painting with the ZProject
brush whilst all of the ropes are fully
visible, those ropes in front and around
the backside of the active subtool will
both be painted onto the surface.
Hide areas of the subtool by holding
Shift and Ctrl on the keyboard (with
the left mouse button depressed) and
stretching a green rectangle over. Areas
outside the rectangle will disappear.
03 PAINT THE SUBTOOL MASK 04 DEFORM THE BALLOON
Viewing from above and with the
rope subtool selected, hide one half of
the rope object.
Now paint over the balloon where the
ropes are visible and you will see that
the balloon will become black where the
subtool above is positioned (the ropes).
Carefully paint with the brush, whilst
rotating the balloon and also continuing
to hide and make visible areas of the
ropes, until the whole balloon has been
painted in.
3D WORLD May 2018
77
When fully painted go to Tool>
Masking>Mask By Color and click on
Mask By Intensity. Go to Tool>Polypaint
and switch off Colorize. You will now see
that the painting you have done with
ZProject has become a Mask. Go back to
Mask and click on BlurMask. Now choose
the Standard brush, switch off Rgb, switch
on Zadd and start painting over the
balloon subtool. Once complete you can
reduce the SubDivisions down to a lower
level in Geometry and export as an OBJ.
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ARTIST Q&A
Your CG problems solved
FOLLOW
THE VIDEO
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SOFTWARE: TERRAGEN 4
HOW CAN I CREATE A REALISTIC
MOUNTAIN IN TERRAGEN 4?
You can export the terrain, heightfield,
geometry, skybox/spherical panorama
for HDRI, camera, lighting etc in other
software like Maya or 3ds Max
Dan Armfield, Las Vegas
Pietro Chiovaro replies
Terragen 4 (planetside.co.uk)
is arguably one of the best
pieces of software currently available for
the easy creation of realistic CG scenery.
Today I will show you how to create a
simple environment like the above in just
25 minutes.
First of all, at the beginning of the
creation of a new environment, we have to
delete the default terrain and add a new
one. For this scene I selected the Power
Fractal option. Once we have done this, we
can set a value for the Seed to generate a
different terrain.
Now we can set our base colour. To do
this, we have to open the Shaders panel (at
the right of the Terrain panel), and select
the default base colour. We can then fix
many values from the panel below. In
this case I just changed the main colour,
selecting a brownish one.
After that I created two surface layers.
In the first one, I selected ‘Limit maximum
altitude’ and fixed a value of -125 for the
Maximum Altitude option, and chose a
greenish colour. In the second surface
layer, I selected ‘Limit minimum slope’
and fixed a value of 20.25 for the Minimum
Slope Angle. In the latest surface layer, I
left the default colour as it was and
tweaked the Coverage value. At this point
we have to create our lake, and to do that
we have to simply create a new Water
Object. For this lake, I fixed a water level
value of -515.
The next step is to create the clouds
and fix the lighting. First of all we have to
select the Atmosphere panel, and here we
have to add a Cloud layer. For this scene
I selected the High-level: Cirrocumulus
option. Here I just changed the Coverage
value and the Variation value, set to 1.3 and
0.75 respectively.
And finally I fixed the sunlight (in the
Lighting panel), decreasing the Heading
value to 207 and increasing the Angular
Diameter to 2.3.
We have finished the scene creation
process, so now you can change the
camera position as you prefer, start the
rendering process and then watch the
final result.
EXPERT TIP
KEEP TRYING
Many of the values of the scene, like for the clouds, the lake and the lighting,
depend on the scenery we have generated, so it’s important to try out different
values in order to achieve the best result.
3D WORLD May 2018
78
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INSIGHT
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EXCLUSIVE REPORT
DON’T WORRY,
BE HAPPY
We talk to axisVFX, who were tasked with bringing Happy from
the pages of Grant Morrison’s graphic novel to the Syfy screen
e’re living in the golden age
of television. Networks are
taking more chances and most
notably, experimenting with
their source material. Happy!
is one such show pushing the boundaries of
entertainment. Based on the brutal graphic
novel by Grant Morrison, it tells the story
of an alcoholic ex-cop turned hitman Nick
Sax and his imaginary friend, Happy the
unicorn. axisVFX was tasked with taking
Happy from the confines of his 2D pages
and into a fully fledged 3D character in
the real world.
“They were looking for a company
that could bring an animation style that
is slightly cartoony, a little bit of Roger
Rabbit-ness to it, and bring it to life in a
visual effects world,” explains axisVFX
executive producer Paul Schleicher. “This
project really is a hybrid between animation
and visual effects. The animation styles are
not as naturalistic as a lot of other types of
visual effects projects, so that really spoke
to our strengths.”
The team quickly got to work on the
pilot, allowing time to iron out any kinks
when it came to creating Happy. “As he’s
an imaginary character, he does all kinds
of wacky things,” explains axisVFX
co-founder and VFX supervisor Grant
Hewlett. “He can change his outfit in the
blink of an eye, he can be wet, he can be
W
dry, he can be dirty, he snorts cocaine, he
does all kinds of stuff, so having all of those
variations was pretty challenging.”
POST PILOT
Proceedings began with showrunner
Brian Taylor’s very basic storyboards for
placement, which the axisVFX team then
embellished, leaving the animators some
space to also come up with their own ideas.
The pilot was incredibly well received from
both Taylor and the network, with only a
few minor issues to resolve. “From a lighting
and compositing point of view, most of the
things we worked through were stuff like
getting the right kind of focus in the shots,”
continues Hewlett. “A lot of dramas tend to
be quite shallow focus so when for instance,
they’re following Sax on quite a long lens
and Happy’s meant to be next to him – what
they found on the pilot was perhaps their
focus was so shallow that there wasn’t really
room to put Happy in that focus area. With
the wrong kind of focus when you composite
him, it really doesn’t look right. There was a
lot of sensitivity to that and a lot of our work
went on getting that focus right on a lighting
and compositing side.”
Hewlett also explains that one of the
team’s biggest issues was Happy’s size.
“He changes size really but he’s roughly
about the size of Sax’s head, everybody
established. If he isn’t that sort of size
3D WORLD May 2018
80
The project is described by
axisVFX as a hybrid between
animation and visual effects
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INDUSTRY
Happy
SMILE FOR THE CAMERA
axisVFX CG supervisor Sergio Caires crafted
a tool that streamlined the workflow
“Sergio is involved in a lot of the tools within
Houdini that make it very easy to just create
scenes automatically,” says axisVFX co-founder
and VFX supervisor Grant Hewlett. “When we
drop Happy as a digital asset within Houdini,
and we have a shot output mode, it knows
where to look for the camera. It knows where
to look for the animation for him, it knows
where to look for the light rig for that shot –
so a lot of that set-up work is automatic.”
3D WORLD May 2018
81
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INDUSTRY
axisVFX
Top left: Showrunner Brian
Taylor provided very basic
storyboards for placement
Top right: One of the biggest
issues was Happy’s size
AxisVFX had to provide huge
variations of Happy so he
could change his outfit,
snort cocaine or get wet in
the blink of an eye
“EVEN THOUGH HAPPY LOOKS LIKE QUITE A SIMPLE CHARACTER,
HE’S ACTUALLY GOT QUITE A LOT OF ENGINEERING WITHIN HIM”
Paul Schleicher, executive producer, AxisVFX
then your idea of where he is in depth is
going to be way off,” he explains.
STREAMLINING THE APPROACH
After the show was greenlit, animation
supervisor Friedl Jooste says it was clear
that axisVFX had to scale up its animation
team. “There was a big man hunt to find
all the right people, which was really
tricky because you had to find people with
experience in cartoony-type animation,” he
says. In the end, around 130 artists across
axisVFX’s locations in Glasgow, London and
Bristol worked on the show’s eight episodes.
Working to a traditional TV schedule – tenweek blocks from edit to delivery – axisVFX
delivered roughly 900 shots, starting in
September 2017 right up until the end of
January 2018. “We made up what we called
the ‘Happy animation survival kit’ for all
animators when they started, and it basically
listed a lot of the rules and things that Brian
didn’t like,” adds Jooste.
With such a huge volume of shots, the
teams had to have a specific, streamlined
approach to keep up with the demand.
“We had to know the character, know the
animation and know how to get it from
tracking the shot to out the door as quickly
as possible,” says Schleicher. CG supervisor
Ross Gilbert was one team member at the
forefront of this pressure, explaining that
they often had to think on their feet when
they would run into problems.
Working with Houdini, the team were
able to craft these tools as and when they
needed them. “The reason Houdini was so
good is because it is such an open box,” says
Gilbert. “We wrote a custom tool for Happy
to allow artists to be able to actually render
iterations of their lighting over and over
again. I think some of the tools we wrote
helped us to buy more time in lighting,
which means it looks better – basically
because you don’t have to wait so long to
start a render, and you can actually spend
that time making it look better.”
FUR DENSITY
Happy is made up of 12 million strands of
hair, so Gilbert and his team created a tool
that would enable him to be his long and
3D WORLD May 2018
82
stretchy self without revealing any sort of
bald spots. “The tool could alter the density
of his fur, so if he’s very small in a shot, we
could go for a low-density fur and have a
much faster render,” adds Gilbert.
axisVFX also created an automatic
shader and reflection pass that made it very
easy to not have to think about some of the
usual CG concerns. The team were able to
simply click, drag and drop, and then comp
would have their shader pass. “There were
a lot of utilities that we made like that to
speed up the interchange between 2D and
3D,” says Gilbert. “It meant renders didn’t
come back that often because comp had the
light groups that they needed to balance
renders more efficiently on their side. We
didn’t do as many renders as we might’ve
done if we didn’t have some of the foresight
we had in order to split things out, so comp
could do a lot more.”
“Houdini is such a robust tool,” adds
Schleicher. “We had lighters handling
multiple shots, and we were able to publish
light rigs and shader sets and move assets
around with none of that confusion you
might get with Maya and Arnold and
something a bit more fiddly. We’ve all
worked in those pipelines and it was a breath
of fresh air to use something a bit more
robust. Before that, we did actually look into
using Clarisse for a while but it didn’t really
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INDUSTRY
Happy
The team built a custom tool for Happy to
allow artists to render iterations of their
lighting over and over again
Happy is made up of 12 million strands of hair
and went through roughly 90 versions of fur
before his final version
meet our needs at that point. It’s a greatlooking package but Houdini did it for us.”
BELIEVING IN HAPPY
While Happy embodies a very cartoon-like
characterisation with his blue fur and bright
pink horn, he was a still a photoreal and
believable addition to the show’s weird and
wonderful world. Taylor presented axisVFX
with realistic references, such as horses’
hair, in order to create the balance between
the two, and Happy went through roughly
90 versions of fur before that balance was
achieved. “A lot of our comps were really
well integrated, like highly photoreal, but
then when you see the final grade, he’s
almost sort of hyperreal. From the cartoon,
you need to know that he’s imaginary the
whole way throughout,” says Gilbert.
“He’s got all of the earmarks of a
photorealistic creature: he’s got dynamic
fur; he’s got top-of-the-range hair model
shaders; he’s got subsurface scattering; he’s
got really detailed textures – all the things
you would find on a photoreal chimpanzee,”
explains Schleicher. “And the rigging around
his eyes – if you pull his eyes up to a massive
size, all of his eyelids and everything will
follow that and all of his fur will work with
dynamics. Even though he looks like quite a
simple character, he’s actually got quite a lot
of engineering within him.”
Happy is voiced by Patton Oswalt, and
Jooste says that one of the most important
aspects in creating the character was
ensuring that Happy delivered Oswalt’s lines
in the right way. “A lot of it was looking at
shots to see if there was anything distracting
in it,” he explains. “You want to suck the
audience into what the character is saying
and feeling and sometimes over animating
takes that away from it. There was a fine
balance of finding out how can we make him
look really cartoony and fun but at the same
time, we want the audience to really listen to
what Happy is saying.”
Despite the project’s enormous
undertaking, with Happy appearing in some
100 shots per episode, the team at axisVFX
says that working on the character enabled
them to create a number of tools that they’ll
be utilising in the future, allowing them
to continue to flourish in the hybridisation
of visual effects and CGI. “I don’t suppose
we’ll be asked to do any more blue horses,
but we’ve developed a lot of processes and
tools and clearly doing anything with huge
amounts of animation isn’t going to be as
scary,” says Hewlett. “No two projects are
alike. It comes down to that confidence,”
adds Jooste. “We know that we can succeed
in long-form projects.”
Find out more about the studio’s work
FYI at www.axis-vfx.com
3D WORLD May 2018
83
WHAT HAPPY MEANS
FOR AXISVFX
EXECUTIVE PRODUCER PAUL
SCHLEICHER EXPLAINS HOW
THIS PROJECT HAS PUSHED
THE COMPANY FORWARD
“We’ve got a really strong animation
pedigree, [and] we’ve built a very class
visual effects team. So for us, this is a
culmination of a few years’ work, that
is paying dividends in producing a
really great show that leverages both
our animation and our visual effects
capabilities,” says Schleicher. “The
coming together of animation and
visual effects is a really interesting
space; there’s lots of challenging
shows out there nowadays that are
looking at graphic novels or other
types of source material that are not
traditional. We could be live action one
minute and we could be fully CG the
next – there is this sort of hybridisation
of techniques that is becoming more
commonplace in all types of exciting
content, predominantly in television
because there’s this huge boom in
it. It’s very exciting to be able to do
what we do best collectively and get
involved in all that.”
www.youtube.com/3dworld
INDUSTRY
Nickolas Baric
PRO THOUGHTS
THE LIFE AND TIMES
OF AN ANIMATRIK
STUNTMAN
Actor and stuntman Nickolas Baric talks about the art of performance capture
remember the first action film I
saw back in the Eighties. It was
Superman II, and I was hooked
on the genre from then. The
seed for my love of action was
planted at an early age, as I became obsessed
with TV series like The A-Team, Fall Guy and
Six Million Dollar Man – to name just a few.
However, the reality of one day
working in Hollywood seemed like just
a pipe dream. I was stuck in a blue collar
job which was immensely laborious, but it
paid the bills. My shifts were spent staring
at papers flying out of a printing press at
50,000 copies an hour. I’d think to myself,
“There has got to be more to life, right?”
Then, one day, I came across an advert for a
stunt training program.
Soon after the program was finished,
I realised the real work had just begun. I
got my feet a little wet, but it didn’t make
me a real stuntman, not yet. So I started at
the bottom and worked my way up. I went
to acting school, pursued work in all levels
of film and squeezed in all the experience
possible. All the while, I’d train in as many
different skill sets as possible: martial arts,
weapons, wire work, gymnastic training
and all types of outdoor recreation. This
led me to become the all-round performer
I am today. 20 years later, I’m a full-time
stuntman, actor and motion capture
performer extraordinaire.
I
It may surprise some to hear that motion
caption capture is the most physically
demanding of these disciplines. But, it’s also
the most fulfilling. I’ve worked with four
different mocap studios – performing stunts,
choreographing fight scenes and acting my
heart out. Most frequently, I collaborate
record movement. It was just bizarre, but in
the best possible way. Animatrik made me
feel welcome, collectively working to make
the experience as smooth and troublefree as possible. The team are adept at
keeping performers in check and on track
throughout a shoot.
“YOU NEED TO LOOK BEYOND THE EMPTY MOCAP VOLUME AND VISUALISE
THE FICTIONAL ENVIRONMENT, ADOPTING A WHOLE NEW PERSONA. THE
MORE YOU’RE ‘IN’ THIS UNIVERSE, THE BETTER YOUR ‘CAPTURE’ WILL BE”
Nickolas Baric, stuntman and actor
with the games team at Animatrik.
Headquartered in Vancouver, Animatrik
is home to the largest independent mocap
stage in North America. From Gears of War
to Deadpool, motion capture has its own
‘cool’ factor that makes a stuntman’s life all
the more exciting, original and super fun.
My first motion capture performance
was the most tiring day of my life. It was
a DreamWorks Interactive project called
Medal of Honor, the first instalment in a
now hugely popular first-person shooter
series. The experience was strange at first.
I had to wear a tight black leotard covered
in tiny reflective balls. You get out onto
the volume, which is a floor at the studio,
surrounded by optical tracking cameras to
3D WORLD May 2018
84
“Just act natural,” they said. I was in good
company, working alongside a collection of
veteran mocap actors who filled me in on
all the technical processes. It took almost
no time to adapt to the Animatrik stage,
because that’s what we do as stuntmen.
Every performer needs the ability to
adapt, to improvise on the fly. That day, we
recorded hand-to-hand combat, weapon
kills, sprinting and more. Each action had
to be performed at different angles, at
different speeds – though we can only bend
out of shape so much when landing and
reacting. After eight hours, the experience
can completely wipe you out. Flexibility,
stamina and endurance are key, as is a highenergy attitude.
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INDUSTRY
The life and times of an Animatrik stuntman
Nickolas
Baric is an
actor, stuntman
and motion capture
performer. From watching
superhero movies to
starring in them, Nick has
performed across TV,
film, games and
beyond.
Nickolas has performed in blockbuster
hits from Deadpool to Elysium
From all the gags we perform to the
range of unique apparatus, motion capture
is a whirlwind of activity. The cameras move
digitally to provide extra space for actors
on stage and reduce potential hazards.
We’ll shoot as much as we can back to back,
interacting with imaginary characters.
We’ll carry out tactical manoeuvres in every
direction and perform gun hit reactions
from every angle. There’s so much repetitive
work throughout the day to craft a wide
variety of scenes – for gameplay, stunt
action, cinematics and more.
When working on Gears of War,
Microsoft’s cinematic director had me
running up a steep incline to replicate
200mph gale force winds… while strapped
into a heavy harness, 20-pound vest and
snow boots. My endurance was killed
that day. But it goes to show anything is
achievable in motion capture, so long as
you’re creative enough.
Creativity is made all the more important
by fast turnarounds on a mocap set. The goal
is to complete shots as quickly as possible,
and setup is minimal. Only battle scenes that
require major choreography or aerial rigging
for wire works require preparation. In other
words, it’s rare for a stunt sequence to be
rehearsed ahead of time. Performers must
be ready for immediate action and reaction
on the fly, in every scene.
There’s only one limitation in the
motion capture world – and that’s your
3D WORLD May 2018
85
own imagination. You need to look beyond
the empty mocap volume and visualise the
fictional environment, adopting a whole
new persona. The more you’re ‘in’ this
alternate universe, then the better your
‘capture’ will be.
I can’t imagine what the next level will
be – technology evolves much too fast to
predict nowadays. Eventually, we won’t be
able to tell the difference between reality
and CGI, which is both amazing and scary.
I’m looking forward to consistently bringing
a high level of creativity, diversity and
energy to every upcoming project. Here’s
to the future.
Find out more at
FYI http://bit.ly/nickolasbaric
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INDUSTRY
AnimDojo
Badruddin holds a
live session for the
AnimDojo students
3D WORLD May 2018
86
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INDUSTRY
AnimDojo
EXCLUSIVE REPORT
INSIDE
THE ONLINE
ANIMATION GYM
We talk to co-founders Bader Badruddin and Tom Box about how
AnimDojo is helping budding animators to get industry ready
ou have a great showreel on
your hands, you’ve graduated
from university with a decent
grade, and yet you still can’t
bag a job in the animation
industry. It’s an all-too-common situation
that continues to affect budding animators
from all over the world, and Blue Zoo cofounder Tom Box and animation director
Bader Badruddin decided it was time to
do something about it. Thus, AnimDojo
was born. “The simplest way to explain
AnimDojo is that it’s an animation gym,
there to complement someone’s education,”
Box says. “We’re not saying don’t go to
university and do AnimDojo. We’re saying
do that and then you can join our gym.”
Box is a regular industry panellist and
says a recurring theme that stretches across
almost every discussion is that recruiters
often worried about how many applicants
they were seeing were actually job ready.
“Out of all the applicants who applied for
animation positions, less than 10 per cent of
them were employable even though they’d
just been to university and finished a degree
in animation,” he says. “We really thought
about what we could do to try and help those
people with the knowledge we have and how
we approach animation.”
With that, Badruddin held a two-hour
masterclass and during that class, most
Y
attendees said they felt they had learned
more in those two hours than in their
entire university course. Box thinks this
is down to Badruddin actually animating
in real time in front of the students. “Most
animators are afraid of animating in front
of an audience in case it goes wrong,”
Badruddin explains. “For me, that is where
I get to show my problem-solving skills
and where animators will really learn what
it’s like to be animating. It’s not always
perfect. They watch me, I make mistakes,
things go wrong. It not only shows them the
practical way of doing something but that if
something doesn’t work, how do I solve it?”
PRACTICE MAKES PERFECT
After the success of this touring masterclass,
Badruddin and Box wanted to come up with
a way to open it up to even more people. So
instead of holding a thousand more classes,
they decided to merge their expertise into
their self-described animation gym.
At the start, the pair asked everyone
at Blue Zoo what they would do if they
could create their own course. A lot of the
feedback made its way onto AnimDojo, with
the main aspect focusing on completing
short exercises rather than a six-month
vanity project. “If you’re an artist, you
don’t get good by painting an oil painting
masterpiece on your first day. You get
A LIFE OF ITS OWN
Now with two batches of AnimDojo
students, Badruddin says that the
site is starting to become more self
sustaining thanks to the enthusiasm of
past participants. “There are students
who have had more one-on-one intense
3D WORLD May 2018
87
training with me, so we have more
senior students who have been
helping out the new students,” he
explains. “We’re adding more features
and we’re starting to bring in new
animators to help out.”
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INDUSTRY
AnimDojo
good with 15-min speed paintings and
life drawings, so we tried to run with that
ethos,” Box says. “For AnimDojo we’re very
clear, you’re not going to make some big
beautiful animation. You’re going to make
lots of short little things that could make
a beautiful showreel in itself, but you’re
not going to have a big final piece. 90 per
cent of the jobs out there are not in feature
animation. The majority are in long-form
TV series, adverts and online content. That
requires a different workflow and mindset
because you’re animating five to ten seconds
a day rather than having three weeks for one
shot. We’ve tried to cater for the real market
rather than the idealistic job,”
In order to make AnimDojo as successful
as possible, Box and Badruddin utilised
research in cognitive psychology to design
a programme that fits with how the human
brain learns. “The basics are if you read
something ten times, you’ll remember it
for 24 hours but after that it won’t store
for long-term memory,” Box says. “The
way the brain works is fetching stuff from
memory, not restoring from memory. We
thought we needed to design this around
trying to fetch something.”
ANIMATOR’S CHECKLIST
After applying these evaluations to the tasks,
Badruddin then created the AnimDojo
animator’s checklist. “All the exercises rely
“THE MAJORITY OF THE JOBS OUT THERE ARE IN LONG-FORM TV
SERIES, ADVERTS AND ONLINE CONTENT. WE’VE TRIED TO CATER
FOR THE REAL MARKET RATHER THAN THE IDEALISTIC JOB”
Tom Box, managing director and co-founder, Blue Zoo
on students having watched videos,” he
explains. “The moment they join, there’s
this video saying watch this first and then
come to this session. You can attend the
live sessions but you’ll not get what you’re
supposed to be getting out of it if you
haven’t done the checklist, because we’ll
be using words you won’t have heard of
before. We worked really hard developing
that so it’s simple to remember, but it’s also
required to be a review, asking students
“what’s wrong with the post?” and they
have to explain why it’s not working.
That’s the cognitive side of it.”
Badruddin likens the checklist to a
cooking recipe, explaining that if you don’t
follow it, you’ll undoubtedly get lost. “I think
a lot of places that teach animation treat it
so theoretically it’s overwhelming. You must
feel the essence of the pasta, you put it in
there, you boil it… it’s a similar approach.
You follow the six steps one by one, and if
you follow them you should end up with
animation that is not going to be 100 per cent
feature-quality perfect, but is 75 per cent
there and that’s when the polish comes in.
3D WORLD May 2018
88
“It’s so easy to get lost in the polish when
you haven’t even set up the foundations.
The six steps are just the foundation and
when the students who went through
the programme followed the steps and
the recommended training, they are the
ones who have improved most. To give
an example, the very first person who
went through the programme, she used to
animate about 80 frames in four days, she
couldn’t get a job after her internship. I
proposed she do a four-week programme
and by the end she started to do 290 frames
in two days.”
Box and Badruddin also developed Mojo,
where the more comments a student posts
on others’ work or the more they post their
own work, the more Mojo points they get.
Then, at the end of each week, the people
with the most points bag themselves a free
review session with Badruddin. It’s the
AnimDojo way of motivating and rewarding
those who participate in the community.
“Critiquing is left out of education,” Box
says. “They construct how to make your
animation better, not how to make you a
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INDUSTRY
AnimDojo
Left: Badruddin says that these live
sessions enable him to show students
how to correct mistakes in real time
Below: A character created
by Badruddin during one of
his live sessions
AnimDojo graduate Chester Sampson says the exercises
themselves isolate specific parts of the process such
as posing, timing and breakdowns
ANIMDOJO
IN REAL LIFE
YOU CAN STILL COMPLETE THE
COURSE EVEN IF YOU DON’T
HAVE MUCH SPARE TIME
better person at reviewing your animation.
We really wanted to get people to critique;
if you don’t critique someone else’s work
then you don’t develop very quickly. It’s hard
to critique your own work because you’re
so close to it. If you critique someone else’s
work, that gives you very good analytical
skills of reviewing something you’re not very
close to.”
GETTING JOB READY
When hiring new animators, Box says that
it’s difficult to know what the animator’s
actual skills are just from watching their
reel, as it’s tricky to know what they’re like
outside of their comfort zone. “It’s very
uncomfortable for us when we employ
someone without knowing their raw skills
because we’ve only seen what their tutored
work has been,” he adds. “When we look
at starter hire, we’re not in the position to
give them three months’ training when they
start so they’re up to speed when running.
We thought with AnimDojo, it’s a way of
allowing them to speed up in their own
time.” In fact, Box and Badruddin have seen
such improvements on AnimDojo, Blue Zoo
refunds the cost of the course if the student
ends up getting hired at their studio. 2018
marked their first AnimDojo hire in the
form of Chester Sampson.
“AnimDojo was very different to my
previous academic experience; being
given short, focused exercises that can last
anything from an hour to a couple days
vastly contrasted the weeks and sometimes
months given to complete my university
assignments,” Sampson explains. “What
helped me the most while doing AnimDojo
was following along with Bader’s animation
process through his lessons and livestreams.
Being given a real adaptable process for
approaching animation improved my
confidence considerably and allowed me to
realise that animation isn’t as complex as I
had always assumed. This translated into
massive speed and quality improvements
allowing me to feel more comfortable in
animating more creative and ambitious
work, as well as giving me a basis to
critically analyse my own work and make
any improvements.”
With their second hire already on the
cards, it seems that throwing their students
in the deep end has secured phenomenal
results for the Blue Zoo studio. “The worse
you are, the more we want you to take part
in AnimDojo,” says Badruddin. “We know
our system works and we don’t care about
what your animation looks like. We care
more that you improve as an animator. We
always have to repeat that. We’re trying
to make you a better animator, not your
animation better.”
Find out more about the programme at
FYI animdojo.com
3D WORLD May 2018
89
One of the key aspects of the
AnimDojo programme is to allow
students to fit it into their busy, daily
lives. Box remembers one student
– a single parent. “He needed a lot
of help to get his animation skills
ready and he’d done his university
course and was working another
job in a restaurant. I thought, this
guy is never going to be able to do
a course where it’s three to four
hours max,” he explains. “Other
courses say if you do our course,
you’ve got to spend ten hours a
week for eight weeks then review
you at the end. That doesn’t work
with a lot of people. It’s not very
inclusive for people who don’t have
much time and the cost as well. We
looked at how we could turn that
model on its head, so if you’ve got
one hour a week, you can still do
this. If you’re £40,000 in debt, we
don’t want to charge much money.
We can make it more of a mass
market than an elitist course that
costs £10,000. We looked at what
makes courses expensive, and that’s
the staff costs of having all these
amazing animators do mentoring,
so you don’t need someone to
mentor you.”
www.youtube.com/3dworld
REVIEWS
We explore the latest software and
hardware tools, to see if they are
worth your time or money
AUTHOR PROFILE
Rob Redman
Rob is a 3D artist
and creative director,
working across TV, film
and print. When not in
the studio he is often
found presenting at
various events, or editing
this magazine!
www.pariahstudios.co.uk
FEATURES
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f there’s one piece of advice
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3D WORLD May 2018
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This in itself shows a good
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These small details are
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If you often need anatomical
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VERDICT
REVIEWS
The ultimate concept art career guide
AUTHOR PROFILE
Rob Redman
Rob is a 3D artist
and creative director,
working across TV, film
and print. When not in
the studio he is often
found presenting at
various events, or editing
this magazine!
www.pariahstudios.co.uk
The ultimate
concept art career guide
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dtotal has a long history of
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Unusually this book instead
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SUMMARY
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This book aims to give
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sections where you will find
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on key artists’ careers.
It’s a great resource for those
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Insightful content and great
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VERDICT
BEGINNER’S GUIDE
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A complete guide to
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One of the best ZBrush training
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A beautifully designed
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3D WORLD May 2018
VERDICT
92
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REVIEWS
Wacom Cintiq Pro 32
AUTHOR PROFILE
Glen Southern
Glen runs SouthernGFX,
a small Cheshire-based
studio specialising in
character and creature
design. He is a Wacom
Ambassador for the UK
and Ireland.
www.southerngfx.co.uk
FEATURES
32-inch 4K display
A premium 4K display,
complete with world-class
colour performance of up
to 99% Adobe RGB
USB-C connectivity
Use of a single cable
between the PC and
the pen display reduces
desktop clutter
ExpressKey remote
Fully customisable
shortcut keys are always
at your fingertips with this
functional remote
Pro Pen 2
8,192 levels of sensitivity,
tilt-response and virtually
lag-free tracking allow for
precise brush simulation
Cintiq Pro Engine
Transform your Cintiq Pro
24 or 32 into a powerful
standalone creative pen
computer with the Wacom
Cintiq Pro Engine creative
PC module
HARDWARE REVIEW
Wacom
Cintiq Pro 32
An advanced, 4K creative pen display,
combined with the Wacom Pro Pen 2,
offers an experience designed to
enhance every creative breakthrough
PRICE $3,300 | COMPANY Wacom | WEBSITE www.wacom.com
display, the Pro 32 provides
plenty of work space, allowing
users to display important
toolbars without eating into
that precious screen space.
Unlike the Pro 24 (another
new release) and previousgeneration Cintiqs, which
came in touch and non-touch
variants, the Cintiq Pro 32
comes with touch functionality
as standard. Despite the larger
screen, the Pro 32 is only 8.5cm
wider and 4cm taller but uses
a smaller bezel, meaning more
screen space without taking
over too much desk.
Both Cintiq Pro models
come with Wacom’s Pro Pen
2, featuring 8,192 levels of
sensitivity, plus tilt-response
for a more natural and virtually
lag-free drawing experience.
The displays also come with
the ExpressKey Remote, a
s those who have had
the chance to use one of
Wacom’s large-format pen
displays will understand, it is
clear to see why the products
are used in studios around
the world. Wacom’s previous
flagship model, the Cintiq
27QHD, provided artists with
an impressive 27 inches of
screen space at a resolution
of 2,560 x 1,400 pixels. As the
push for Ultra High Definition
content increases, however,
artists are beginning to need
more resolution and screen
space than ever before.
Introducing the Cintiq
Pro 32. The latest model in
Wacom’s Cintiq family features
a 4K UHD display spanning
an impressive 32 inches, with
a resolution of 3,840 x 2,160
pixels. With four times the
pixels of a standard 1080p
A
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controller that houses the
buttons and touch ring
commonly found along one
edge of the earlier Cintiq
models. The separation of this
remote from the main body of
the display allows for seamless
switching between left and
right-handed modes, and
the non-slip backing means
the remote can be placed
anywhere on the face of the
device, with magnetic strips
down either side to hold the
remote in place when the
display is positioned vertically.
In order to rotate the display
more freely, the optional Ergo
Stand is required. This allows
the display to be set vertically
like a standard monitor, and
horizontally at standing height
or desk level. Out of the box,
the back of the display features
two flip-out legs to support the
REVIEWS
Wacom Cintiq Pro 32
8,192 levels of pressure sensitivity and
unparalleled tilt recognition means that
every stroke is naturally precise
device at a 20-degree angle
to the desk.
When used in a bright
studio environment, glare may
present an issue. Compared
to the 27QHD, which has a
more reflective screen coating,
the Pro 32 has taken steps
towards solving this issue with
an etched glass screen that
diffuses those harsh reflections.
This is also helped by turning
off room lighting and using a
desk light, or by using the Ergo
Stand to angle the device away
from the light source.
Towards the rear of the
display, there is a panel which
can be removed to reveal the
various ports and sockets used
to connect your display to your
work machine. These include:
-1x HDMI
-1x DisplayPort
-1x USB Type-C
-1x USB 3.0
-1x Power socket
Located around the side
edges of the display are
four USB 3.0 ports, with two
on either side for device
connectivity such as charging
the ExpressKey Remote. There
is also a 3.5mm headphone jack
on the left side and a SD card
“WITH FOUR TIMES THE PIXELS OF A STANDARD 1080P
DISPLAY, USERS CAN DISPLAY IMPORTANT TOOLBARS
WITHOUT EATING INTO PRECIOUS SCREEN SPACE”
The use of the USB-C
for this generation greatly
reduces cable clutter, as
both the display signal and
USB connectivity can be run
through one cable. Unlike the
Cintiq MobileStudio Pro, the
Pro 32 does not feature any
external USB-C ports, which
will be welcomed by those who
are unprepared to upgrade all
of their devices to USB-C.
The Cintiq Pro 32 offers
a large screen size, with
the resolution perfect for
displaying UHD content. The
extra space is also ideal for
users who require specific
toolbars and custom user
interface layouts without
limiting canvas or viewport size.
Additionally, there is also the
option to transform your Cintiq
Pro into a powerful standalone
creative pen computer with
the Wacom Cintiq Pro Engine
PC module.
slot at the right, both located
under the USB ports. At the
top edge of the display is the
power switch and LED power
indicator. On the top left above
the screen, there is a series
of touch buttons that enable
you to call various functions
from your machine such as the
on-screen keyboards, access
Wacom settings or enable and
disable the touch function.
There is also a button that
enables toggling between
the display input mode for
the device which was absent
from the 27QHD, meaning
cables no longer have to be
swapped between machines.
In the studio, we have a USB-C
enabled laptop plugged in via
the included USB-C cable, with
a workstation plugged into the
display through a USB 3.0 and
DisplayPort cable. This means
machines can be swapped with
the press of a button and with
no rummaging around under
the desk.
3D WORLD May 2018
VERDICT
95
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EXPANSION OPTIONS
In addition to the Ergo Stand, which
allows the display position to be
adjusted to the user’s preference,
another add-on available for the Cintiq
Pro 32 and 24 is the Wacom Cintiq Pro
Engine module. By removing the rear
panel, this module slots directly into
the device’s connectors, transforming
the display into a powerful all-inone workstation computer. The
specifications for the two variants of
the Pro Engine module are as follows:
Configuration 1
CPU: Intel Xeon E3-1505M V6
GPU: Nvidia Quadro P3200M 6GB
GDDR5 RAM
RAM: 2x16GB
STORAGE: 512GB SSD PCIe Gen3
(M.2 2280)
OS: Windows 10 Pro for workstations
Configuration 2
CPU: Intel Core i5-7300HQ
GPU: Nvidia Quadro P3200M 6GB
GDDR5 RAM
RAM: 1x16GB (with option to expand)
STORAGE: 256GB SSD PCIe Gen3
(M.2 2280)
OS: Windows 10 Pro
FREE LEARN SQUARED COURSE
ENVIRONMENT PAINTING IN PHOTOSHOP
Download a free video course on environment design
EXPERT ADVICE
Learn about perspective, light and
defining shadow in this free course
U
TUTOR
Maciej Kuciara
Maciej Kuciara is a
concept designer and
a member of the Art
Directors Guild (IATSE
Local 800) working in
both films and video
games in Los Angeles,
California. Some of his
work include Ghost in the
Shell, Captain America:
Civil War, Guardians
of the Galaxy and the
critically acclaimed
PlayStation exclusive,
The Last of Us.
www.kuciara.com
nderstanding perspective – the
ability to represent the illusion of
three-dimensional space within a
two-dimensional surface – is essential to the
arsenal of any concept artist. In this tutorial,
we’ll get familiar with the process by studying
a variety of techniques that will give you the
fundamentals of designing environments.
We start first by creating objects using
1-point, 2-point and 3-point perspective so we
can get acquainted with the procedures.
We will then move to a deconstruction
technique. This reverse-engineering method
will enable you to learn how to extract the
perspective grid from a photo or illustration.
Then comes the process of adding
light and defining shadow to our line art
constructions. Using the same perspective
techniques we studied at the beginning, we
will learn how to place our light and create
shadows to give more depth to our paintings.
Finally, I will show you how to create
sketches from beginning to end using
what we’ve learned so far. You will quickly
understand that the magic happens when
simple rules are layered on top of each other
to create complexity, and thus, gain the
confidence to push yourself and dive deeper
into the world of environment design. Let’s go.
Co-founded by Maciej Kuciara (CEO), Learn
FYI Squared is a new form of art education,
powered and curated by industry-leading artists.
Its pedagogical approach aims to facilitate one’s
artistic development by demystifying the process
of learning both foundation and advanced skills.
Begin your journey at www.learnsquared.com
FREE DOWNLOAD! Get your video course: www.bit.ly/vault-233-barbarian
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IN THE VAULT
VIDEO &
FILES
FREE
RESOURCES
FREE
This issue we have a
free video course from
Learn Squared, teaching
Photoshop environment
concept workflows
Follow the link to download your free files
www.bit.ly/vault-233-barbarian
GET YOUR
RESOURCES
You’re three steps away
from this issue’s video
training and files…
1. GO TO THE WEBSITE
Type the following into
your browser: www.bit.ly/
vault-233-barbarian
2. FIND THE FILES YOU
WANT FROM THE LIST
Search the list of free
resources to find the video
and files you want
STEP IMAGES
3. DOWNLOAD THE
FILES YOU NEED
Click the Download buttons
and your files will save to
your PC or Mac
LEVEL UP YOUR GAME HEROES
In this tutorial Victor Hugo shows you his process for creating stunning characters, like Frazette, our cover star,
using Autodesk Maya and Corona Renderer.
PLUS
There are more files
and resources
waiting online…
VIDEO: Get the video
tutorials for a selection
of this issue’s training
VIDEOS
FILES: Download the
high-resolution tutorial
assets for all of our training
VIDEO + STEP IMAGES
BOOTCAMP – WORLD MACHINE
CREATE ASPHALT MATERIALS
In this issue’s bootcamp, Mike shows you how to use
World Machine, the terrain generator.
Oscar Juarez demonstrates how to create realistic
road materials using UV unwrapping.
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