Making Of '1964 Peugeot 404'
When modeling a car I generally try to find something different to build, something I haven't seen before (in 3D). I enjoy modeling older cars because I find their shape more fascinating than modern cars. Sometimes I have an idea of the final image I want to achieve. Originally, I was going to try and get the Peugeot to look like the reference pictures I had sourced, but then I stumbled across a few rally cars and decided it would be fun to texture the Peugeot with decals, mud, rust, and so on.
I had the Peugeot almost complete in its standard form before deciding on the final image I wanted to create, which then involved further modeling and texturing. These additions definitely made the final result more visually appealing.
The first step with this piece was to get some reference pictures and a blueprint. Finding as many pictures of different angles and close ups of certain details as I could was definitely helpful.
Then in Softimage I created some profile curves. I used the curves as guidelines (not to actually generate any geometry from) and I used polygons to model (cube, sphere) (Fig.01). I modeled one half of the car first and then when I was happy with the shape I used the symmetry function to create the other side.
The way I generally start modeling a car is by doing one complete wheel first (usually the front left one for some reason) and then building up the car's basic shape from there (Fig01a).
Once I had the basic shape of this particular car's body done, I went in and added the finer details (creases and bevels).
To start with some areas didn't look resolved, but as I added detail and kept switching from subs (sub-divided/smoothed version) to hulls (low poly) it came together. That was the hard part (Fig.02).
All the extra bits that made up the finished car were modeled after that (Fig.03 - Fig.05). The modeling was quite straight forward; it was just a matter of getting the curves and creases in the correct places.
Texturing & Shading
I had fun with the texturing, but first I had to unwrap the car (Fig.06). The texture I created for the car's body, all exterior panels, was 4k (4000x4000 pixels). I started with the base color and gradually added in all the finer details.
I used a color, bump and specular map for the car's exterior panels (Fig.07 & Fig.08).
Because of the nature of the bump map, or rather the purpose of a bump map, I isolated the layers (in Photoshop) that I wanted to cause the bump in my Softimage material.
I used the car paint shader for the car's body and plugged in all the appropriate Photoshop textures. I found the car-paint shader had more options to play around with and it gave me a more dynamic result (Fig.09).
For the windscreen I used a color map. As you can see the main area is quite detailed, but because it was going to be transparent I knew a lot would not be seen. I created an overall alpha map to have some opacity variations.
I had a decal at the top of the windscreen, so I used an alpha map to isolate the name and flag, and another color map just for the decal (Fig.10). This is what the shader tree looked like (Fig.11).
I incorporated an ambient occlusion node into all my materials. I could have left this out and created a separate AO (ambient occlusion) pass. This would have given me more flexibility in the final comp of my image, but I decided to tweak each material instead.
Lighting and Rendering
For lighting, I started with my main light source (a spotlight), to create a rim light. I used an HDR image for reflections; I did not use FG to render my scene.
I created a cluster of directional lights, or infinity lights as they are called in Softimage, to create ambient light in my scene. The lights facing down were white in color and the ones facing up were a light grey (Fig.12).
Once I had my spot in the correct position I set up a few cameras. All the cameras were HD format using a 20mm lens.
Once I had a rendered image that I was happy with, I brought it into Photoshop (Fig.13). I duplicated my image of the car, de-saturated it and put a diffused glow filter on it (Fig.14).
From there I overlayed it (layer option in Photoshop). This was to contrast the image a little more. The final touch was duplicating my collared background and putting the layer at the top of the layer stack and applying a pin-light filter. This gave it a slightly dated feel. I used Softimage to create the final image and Photoshop to add some color filters (Fig.15 & Fig.16).
I really had fun modeling the Peugeot as it's something with loads of character. I hope you've enjoyed the explanation.
Richard Clark is 31 years old with four years' experience in 3D. He works for a VFX and Post Production facility in Cape Town, South Africa, as a 3D generalist, specializing in Character Animation. He works in Softimage and his aim is to work on an animated feature as a character animator.