A simple render that took me about 8 hours total. It is about a bunch of happy sunflowers somewhere in a mountain during a summer morning.
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I wanted to create an autumn scene as an excuse to have a hero tree without green leaves. Everything i know about creating natural landscape in modo should be used for this project; so the following is a short explanation about how i composed the scene.
This scene has 5 main render passes. The top most is the volumetric god ray pass. Directly underneath is second render pass, the foreground with the hero maple tree + the grass field with fallen leaves scattered on top. The third pass is the background / distant maple tree forest. The fourth pass is the mountain. The last one is the cloud and sky pass.
The god ray pass is actually done after everything in the second render pass is finished. I put every physical object’s material above the base material in modo’s shader tree engine. I created a special shader and made everything black, and they receive no shadow. The volumetric light source is a directional light, positioned in the upper left corner of the screen just above the left maple tree. My first attempt produced noisy render, so i had to double the ray from the default 64 to 128. Still a bit noisy, but a gaussian blur treatment in photoshop + bloom effect during compositing stage took care of it.
The foreground pass has a small patch of grass field with a couple big maple tree i created in speed tree. They are both the same exact tree, obviously. I scattered some fallen leaves on the grass field ( which was made with modo’s fur ). Special thanks to Eran Dinur’s student who provided a sample fern plant in fxphd’s tutorial PNT205 “3D Plants and Digital Environments”. I modified this to look more like a ground palm tree.
The background forest has two trees from xfrog’s tree library, scattered randomly in a big, wide trapesium shaped field.
The mountain range has a single patch of mount object, copied a number of times, positioned and rotated in such a way so that they look like a very wide distant mountain. I didn’t really pay attention to its texture, since modo’s fog effect would blur the mountain heavily to simulate the distance from camera.
The sky cloud pass is made in vue with only 2 cloud layers and heavy fog effect applied to simulate morning sky.
If you want to see the more detailed process, you should browse the thumbnail pic one by one.
This whole project was actually a series of test renders that eventually become too good to be stored in hard drive. It started with the notion that using just Vue for my terrain scene is not enough. I want more control.
After doing a series of research, watching so many tutorials, here are the workflow i acquired to create this scene.
First, with a single piece of polygon, i sculpted it into a mountain ( it would later turned out to be a hill, not a mountain – i will explain later ). I set the brush in Zbrush to move the polygons in Y direction only. The reason for this is… I don’t want to export the mesh. Instead, I want to export the displacement map. I generated the displacement map from level 0, that means, Zbrush would have to calculate the distance between the flat plane to the furthest polygon ( which is on level 7 if i remembered correctly ).
The displacement map would go to world machine. Here, i applied the erosion filter, and output it into a number of maps that i can use to produce color map. Without this procedure, i would have no idea how to “paint” and “texture” the mountain.
The newly generated height map from World machine would then go to both Modo and Photoshop. In Modo, i applied the height map on a single polygon. I hit “D” several times to add geometry into it so that there are enough polygons for the mesh. In photoshop, i combined color map, ambient occlusion, bumps, flow maps, etc to produce the final color map. I made sure the top of the mountain is bluish, and the rest is dark greenish.
The sky was generated by Vue’s cumulus and cirrus cloud.
There are 4 trees i use to grow on the mountain. I simply used the real time sample trees, modified in such a way so that they have very few polygons. Each branch or bark are 3 sided. Imagine a cylinder that doesnt look like a circle when seen from the top, but looks like a triangle. Every tree has two sets of leaves, and these leaves have different color and different sub scattering surface color and depth.
I use a low res black and white image to control the spread of the trees. I want the mountain to be bald on the top. There are millions of trees, and after a number of tries, i had problems with scale. In the end, the mountain looks smaller because of the size of the trees. That is why refrained from using the word mountain as the title. Instead, i use “hill”.
I also wanted to generate wispy cloud/fog at the base of the hill, but modo’s volume item was hard to control. I dont know how to scale the volume item’s parameters up to match the size of my hills. So, i generated the wispy clouds using the combination of photoshop’s difference cloud filter and Modo’s depth pass.
The depth pass is masked with difference cloud filter. I carefully, manually, control the transparency of this layer ( which is positioned on the top, obviously ).
Someone asked me to make a tutorial out of this, but unfortunately since it started as a render test, i didn’t save the world machine files. I didn’t save the Vue file either. Sorry.
By 2013, I have learned how to do hard surface modeling, and organic sculpting. I know replicator and surface generator, i know how to UV everything, I have learned advanced rendering and compositing technique. And i got Speed Tree! Before Speed Tree, i learned Xfrog first, but didn’t like the software. Clunky interface, and it has not been updated since version 3.5 ( they havent updated the software for more than 5 years i believe ).
CMIVFX and FXPhd actually released tutorials about Speed Tree too. What a perfect timing. Plus the release of the Zerg expansion game for Starcraft 2…
I started this project in January 1st 2013, paused the progress in Jan 9th. Continued in August 2013, finished on September 14th 2013.
Here, I imagine a young protoss warrior called Fenix ( see his story in both original Star Craft game and its expansion, the Broodwar ), during his training regime. It took place in Aiur, during twilight. The cloth and armor he is wearing were brand new, and there were no wound scar on him. Aiur was a beautiful planet before ravaged by the Zerg.
As usual, the Protoss is modeled using combination of Modo and Zbrush, as well as the terrain and the rocks. The plants and trees are created using Speed Tree, while the sky background is rendered in Vue. Photoshop is used for texturing ( combined with Zbrush’s polypainting feature ) and compositing.
( This is the same Fenix that inspired me to give his name for my son’s. )
I love the Alien creature by HR Giger. So in the mid 2010 i started to create it on Modo ( i started this project BEFORE the Panzer Dragoon project ), not knowing the kind of difficulties i was going to face.At that time, my computer was a macbook pro, 2008 version with 4gb or maximum memory capacity.In short, it was not enough – the system bogged down really slowly to the point that I couldnt finish it decently.
In this artwork, I depicted a single warrior Alien who has to defend the eggs while the queen is in another chamber, and the other warrios are busy doing their jobs.
I finished this project after I upgraded to an ASUS G74S laptop, more than 12 months later. And I will never go back to Mac again, ever.
The eggs were fun to sculpt. After sculpting the Alien itself, creating the eggs become really easy. One of the hardest part was to build the background platform. I had to re-watch the first Alien movie by director Ridley Scott as reference point to create this.
By the way, a number of fellow CG artist told me that the lighting is too bright. I may re-render this scene sometime in the future, once i grasp the concept of using Volume Item in Modo 701. This was originally rendered in Modo 501.
Panzer Dragoon was the first game I bought for my old Sega Saturn in 1996. I loved the music, I loved the graphics… everything about the game was ultra cool. So, I want to make my own version of it.
This project was about 6 months in the making. By mid 2010, I decided to create 3D artwork that is rendered in Full HD resolution for my port folio. I want each artwork to depict a story. Arbain Rambey, a senior journalistic photographer who taught me about journalism explained that a picture has to contain a lot of information. What happened, or what is happening. What is the result of the event, what is the environment condition during that event, how people react to it, etc. So I wanted to apply all that in here.
In this artwork, I depicted the dragon and the rider, trying to evade a boss monster attack. A friend of mine asked me why the rider is not trying to shoot the enemy behind her… well, this was from a videogame, and in the videogame you have to shoot enemies that come from every direction! Who knows, the rider also has to guide the dragon while paying attention to what is ahead of her, while being chased by a big monster?
Fenix, my son, who was 9 at that time, was the one who suggested me to create a boss monster. It was a cross between a triceratop and the mutalisk of zerg / starcraft game.
I was limited by my macbook pro’s RAM for texture map size. I can only use 4K, and my texturing skill was not honed. I actually dislike how the wall of the ravine turned out.
The Final Render itself was eventually finished in time for 2010 Christmas. I am not christian by the way, but it was one of the best Christmas in my life.
I have always wanted to learn Zbrush.
In January 15th 2010, I started this project. I wanted to learn how to create organic models! Back in 2002-2003, I heavily infested my effort to learn NURBS modeling using Rhinoceros 3D to create industrial, hard surface models for production. This time, I wanted to create “soft surface objects”.
Zbrush was like , an alien software. Made by aliens, for aliens. I used a Wacom INTUOS2 that i purchased in 2005 for my graphics designer employee to sculpt, and i am still using it today ( 2013 ).
The red rose base mesh was created in Modo, brought to Zbrush for further sculpting. The vase was done the same way. But at this point, I have not acquired the skill necessary to export textures or maps from Zbrush out to Modo / Photoshop. So I had to export the high res geometry as OBJ file into Modo, and applied a stone texture for the vase. I used a photoshop plugin called Alienskin to procedurally create the background brick wall.
For the leaves : I modeled the base mesh in Modo. Googled actual rose plant leaf, applied it as is ( well, my skill was very limited at that time, so i had to improvise ), tweaked the material setting, and done. Maybe someday I will try to recreate this artwork for my wife. Hehehe.
I used 3 point lighting setup for this scene, with the third light lit the background wall.
I have been dissapointed with so many software in the past, from 3D studio, Maya, and Vue. Mostly because there were not enough tutorials to help me learn how to use the software, but in the case of Vue… I actually bought Vue 6 Infinite, and it crashed a LOT. So, when Modo 401 had replicator feature that can help me put countless objects into the scene, I immediately tested it.
To build the scene, I created a plane of polygons and sculpted it so that it looks like a small hill. I replicated the grass + yellow flowers on it. The tree was taken from Modo 401′s preset, but the leaves ( mapple leaves )… I made them myself, replicated on the trees using vertex map. The background picture was a low resolution sunset pic i took from Google… Well, after this project, I did a research about software which I can use to generate sky / cloud. I tested Lumion and Vue…
Well, Lumion was fast and good enough if you want your render looks cartoony. Vue was better in regards of photorealism, but it would take much longer for your system to render the image. The technicality of using the software might get you too if you didn’t have time to learn how to use it properly.
My goal is to create a 3D computer graphics image without sorting to photograph, and to be able to control every pixel myself. Well I dont really manage to do it, since even the best visual effect people in Hollywood are still using photographs to help them do their magic until this day.
I dont remember how it happened, but in July 2009 something brought Modo into my radar. I immediately started to learn how to use it; and this project was started in early August 2009. A few years before, I had the opportunity to learn how to build a car in MAYA. There was a Digital Tutors tutorial that helped me do that… So I thought, learning how to use Modo by building myself another car would be a good idea. An Audi TT looks cute, I think, so I chose it. The blueprint was found online.
This whole project was about modeling only. The car was not UV-ed, I only applied shiny car material into it. Fortunately I am also a photographer, and I studied how to lit a car in a studio environment. There was nothing into it, really. Just beginner’s stuff.