Making of CATS

Ongushi Arunotai shares how he made the adorable CATS using 3ds Max

In this making of Ongushi shows you his 3ds Max workflow for creating cartoon characters and animals, and how he puts it all together.

Step 01: Sketch

No matter what else happens sketching comes first, making it easier to develop my work step by step. This work will contain many modeled pieces, but the majority of it will be the red-haired boy, the Mini car wreck, and the cats.

Concept sketch

Concept sketch

Step 02: Modeling

One of key parts of this piece is the group of thirty homeless cats, though I've only created nineteen cats at this stage of planning. They're relaxing on the Mini car wreck, faced with a red-haired boy standing shocked in front of the scene.

I use 3ds Max to make them, putting in a lot of effort into making unique cat models, as I have never done them before. Due to 3ds Max's popularity, I can easily search for everything related to it on the internet. I find I can make my pieces more quickly and easily in 3ds Max than in other programs - but if I'm keen on other programs, I try to apply them all to my work.

Modeling the cats

Modeling the cats

Modeling the cats

Modeling the cats

Step 03: Composition

The scene is based on a block near my house, a true story in my life. Even though the car wreck and crowd of cats are no longer there, it is everlasting in my memory.

This work was intense and needed patience. For both the tree and background, I use basic 3ds Max tools to edit the polygons. I make them in the SD (super-deformed) style, which isn't hard for these models.

Regarding the tiny monkey in the tree, I always show them in my work, because I was born in the Year of the Monkey. The monkey is my symbolic representative: naughty, active, clever, and cute. In addition, it implies that this work is based on my real life.

Composition

Composition

Composition

Composition

Step 04: Boy

The red-haired boy is the first model to handle with its material. He's the first model in the scene that's changed from VrayFastSSS2 to VraySkinMtl. I try to depict a boy hiding his fear when he comes across a crowd of cats. He's so shocked! He's also holding a soda-pop ice-cream, which is my favorite.

Boy materials

Boy materials

Boy materials

Boy materials

Step 05a: Car material

Next is the car material, which I put a painstaking effort into creating, since it's full of details: making it look like a wreck, with rain marks, dust, rust, and the cats' paw prints. For the textures, I mix pictures of metal with the painting tool, and then blend them with a photo of rust. I always blend in new textures that stand out too much.

Car materials

Car materials

Car materials

Car materials

Step 05b: Car material

To make the car look more interesting with more dimensions, I use the "multibump" technique, applying rust and scratches to the car with a Composite Map.

I have five images to make Bumps. I choose the Bump as Composite type, adding five layers based on the desired Bump files. Next, choose the files to make into Bumps and throw them into each layer. I switch the mode of layers 2-5 from Normal to Multiply, and adjust opacity to blend them with the first layer. For example, I adjust the opacity of each layer in order to 100/80/60/40/20, which clearly makes a difference.

Multibump maps

Multibump maps

As shown in the picture, I use the rusty metal as a Diffuse layer on the car, then select Bump as Composite Map. After that, two types of Bump layer are added (the first one is a Bump made from rust, and other is for the cats' scratch-marks), and I switch their mode to Multiply to blend with the main Bump. I dim the scratching layer by reducing the opacity to 90.

Composite maps

Composite maps

Close-up of the car textures

Close-up of the car textures

Step 06: Scene materials

Then I go on to making textures for all the cats and the background. The cats' textures were the hardest to do because it was my first time creating them. I wasn't keen on it - there were thirty cats, each with its own unique look!

This work helped me to find the determination to make a lot of different models. For each cat, I had to make new paint and UVW mapping. Nineteen of the cats are Thai breeds. Actually, I could have made a shortcut for duplicating the texture of the brindle cats, but I decided to make them as they individually.

Adding texture to the cats

Adding texture to the cats

Step 07: Lighting

The next major step is lighting. For this step, I use three techniques: VRaySun is the main lighting; next, a Plane of VRayLight to make VRaySun more complete and cozy-looking; and lastly a Dome of VRayLight to boost the overall lighting and make everything look smoother.

Lighting set up

Lighting set up

Step 08: Render

Then let's go to the rendering stage, which is the heart of all my works. I try hard to make it look real, but with as little time spent on rendering as possible. I spent six hours rendering this piece because it is huge - excluding other following rendered versions. Afterwards, I used Photoshop to adjust the mood, tone, and overall look.

I was so tired when I made this piece, but I was refreshed by the success it received and the good feedback from my followers, even though 3D illustration is not quite that popular in Thailand. The cat is a popular pet all over the world, not just in Thailand! I would like to thank everyone for supporting and encouraging my work, and above all, I would like to thank the great power of these cute little pets called CATS.

Render settings

Render settings

Final image front

Final image front

Final image back

Final image back

Related links

Have a look at more of Ongushi's work on his website
Ongushi is also on Facebook
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