Making of 'Hadron'
My name is Grant Warwick and I'm a freelancer modeller / 3D artist in Sydney, Australia. You can view my portfolio here: http://sathe.cgsociety.org/gallery/
This making of will go over the process I used for my entry in the first Digital Apprentice modelling challenge, where I ended up winning 1st place.
After reading carefully through the brief I had a good idea of what I wanted to create. Ever since getting into 3D I have had an idea in my head of this particular model and the competition was the perfect way of getting it out.
After reading through the brief I spent two days drawing out very rough sketches on paper and, using this, began to build proxy geometry in 3ds Max. For people like me, with very basic concept skills, it's a great way of quickly analyzing shape and form (Fig.01).
I was very critical of myself during this phase of the project. It was something I knew I would have to nail as there was the possibility of it becoming an animation tutorial and a key element in the judging process. In Fig.02 I have created the hero joints and limbs, figuring out the best angles for support and manoeuvrability.
It was something I had little experience in, but it felt like a great achievement when I saw that my design worked.
After figuring out the joint system, I then began focusing on curves and silhouette. I am a fan of curvy sports scars and Sci-Fi designs, so this was the most fun part of the competition; designing around the shell I had created.
My biggest inspiration for this image was War of the Worlds. I have read the book twice and also watched the film countless times for the artistic design of the aliens alone. The reveal scene in this film is very harsh and I could definitely see a correlation between it and the competition brief.
Knowing that one of the judges, Giovanni Napkil, single-handedly modelled the tripods and that I would have a chance of winning a video critique with him was huge for me and really got me motivated. Other sources of inspiration were Transformers, Iron Man and Aliens (Fig.03).
I had never designed something this large before and I will admit, I heavily underestimated how challenging it would be. It was a time consuming process as one moment I would be very happy and begin moving on and then later on I would go back and complexly redo something when it wasn't working. I wasted a lot of time doing this, but got used to it very fast (Fig.04).Â
Part of the redesign process really paid off though. At first it is depressing to hit the delete key, but I was making steady progress forward so this was enough to keep going (Fig.05).
I paid close to attention to the curve flow between each piece and tried to create an even base of hard and curvy surfaces. There were some cars like the Ferrari Enzo and Koenigsegg that really helped me understand this concept.
The head was the hardest part to complete and I scrapped two fully modelled designs before continuing. The idea was to have it break away into two segments, revealing the rocket launchers in battle and protecting them when reloading. On top of this the design also needed to incorporate large stabilizing counter weights as the mech was so high off the ground it could easily become off balanced (Fig.06).
My idea of utilizing jet engine technology to force and stabilize the head can be seen in Fig.07. Along with the two stabilizing engines is a main thruster for short propelled jumps and surprise attacks over buildings or obstacles.
If you have seen my portfolio then you will know that I like modelling guns, so I felt right at home with this part and got through it relatively quickly. Hadron's right arm is a thermo-electric railgun that discharges a large electrical beam that is deadly to enemy equipment and lethal to living things (Fig.08).
The right arm is a multipurpose weapon more suited for short range offense. It has a large degree of movement and contains an ion cannon and two smaller, silenced chainguns for removing soldiers and small vehicles.
Hadron's last remaining attack weapon is six surface to air/land cruise missilesmounted under the tightly armoured back frame. I had to plan this part very carefully as getting the rockets to fit was difficult (Fig.09).
The neck did not need a huge amount of freedom to move due to the swivelling hips, however I incorporated some basic movement and support so it could make small adjustments, as seen in Fig.10 - Fig.12.
For the detail I wanted to add, I knew I could not keep the topology perfectly clean. I did my best though, optimizing where I could and Fig.13 shows some screenshots of Hadron's wireframe.
Due to time constraints, I had very little time to create the lighting and shader setup. I used V-Ray as my renderer of choice and the setup was very simple: a single V-Ray light and a V-Ray sun light to create the hotspot reflections. I also had a V-Ray HDR in the reflection and illumination slots, which I got from www.hdrimaps.com
For the V-Ray settings, I used an Irradiance map and light cache with fairly default settings. There was nothing special about the raw render. I composited the file in Photoshop, adding glow effects, retouching, bad reflections and things like that. The background, and smoke are 2D effects, which a friend of mine helped me with afterwards. (Thanks man!) (Fig.14).
For personal projects I have always used 3ds Max. Out of the box it has what is, in my opinion, the best core modelling toolset and I have never needed to install a plug-in or add-on to get more out of it.
I have my Hotkeys setup as shown in Fig.15.
The tools I most commonly use are Shift+extrude, Cut, bridge, target weld and connect. I have a very simple workflow that involves a lot of repetitive use of these tools. I recently created three fundamentals videos in which I explain how I use all these tools. They can be found here: https://vimeo.com/10941211 (Fig.16).
I would like to say thanks to Digital Apprentice and all the other entrants at the Digital Apprentice forums for providing me with a lot of great feedback and critique over the competition period. I really appreciate it. I would strongly encourage everyone to check out this site; it has some of the best learning material from industry leaders and veterans and is an inspiring place to be.
Also I'd like to thank my friends who gave a lot of support on the project; it was a long task and there was times when I felt like giving up but they got me over the line.