Making Of 'Incubator'
I will always remember making this image as it was a lot of fun! I did this image for a contest for The Gnomon Workshop and I had less than 20 days to complete it. The theme of the contest was "Incubator" and my first step was to come up with a nice concept.
I wanted to do an old laboratory style incubator. I imagined it to have a new kind of genetically engineered plant, which produced super oxygen to feed a new species. I wanted to integrate a character as well so I came up with this concept drawing in Photoshop (Fig.01).
I did all the modeling in Maya. Modeling the incubator was very simple, nothing tricky. When all the objects are together it seems a bit complex of course, but if you look at them individually they are very simple (Fig.02).
You can see that I have used nothing but boxes, spheres and cylinders with extrude and bevel operations. I also used NURB tubes for the wires and air pipes and some wave typed curves with a revolve operation applied to them to create all of these models.
When these are all put together it looks like this (Fig.03).
The only organic model in this scene was the frog with butterfly wings. I had made a frog in the past so I used this and deleted his legs so I could fit him into the egg easily. I also posed him and gave him a facial expression as if he is amazed to see the new world (Fig.04). With the character put in place the scene looks like this (Fig.05). At this point I was ready to start the texturing.
I exported the whole scene into 3ds Max as an obj file to start the texturing and lighting. Texturing the scene was also fairly easy. I used V-Ray Blend Material for most of the shaders, including the dusty glass that surrounds the creature and the rusty metal. One secret is that I have used a Perlin Marbel procedural map as the mask for 99% of my blend materials, because it creates a beautifully organic look (Fig.06). The character's shader on the other hand is nothing but color and specular maps (Fig.07).
The velvet shader is created with a V-Ray material with three Falloff maps nested together in the Diffuse channel and a Noise map as the Bump (Fig.08). The back wall is simply UV mapped with a texture painted on in Photoshop (Fig.09).
The egg texture was created with a Cellular procedural map (Fig.10).
The V-Ray Blend Material was used to create the shader for the rusty pipes (Fig.11).
Note: When creating these textures I found the Total Textures collections from 3DTotal very useful.' '
Now I'm going to talk about my third favorite phase of the process, the lighting. I had a clear idea how I wanted to light the scene. I wanted the scene to be dark but lit, and to be colorful. I didn't want any sky light in the scene because this is a secret underground incubator where classified species are produced. For these reasons I covered the whole scene with a big polygon box.
Now the fun part begins. Blue and yellow is one of my favorite color combinations. So I decided that I would put the incubator in the middle and make light come from both sides, blue from one side and yellow from the other. To do this I placed two big rectangular V-Ray lights in the scene (Fig.12).
I also placed two lights to represent the artificial light that is needed to grow the plants (Fig.13). One V-Ray light to light the character (Fig.14), one V-Ray light to light the eggs (Fig.15) and one V-Ray sphere to light the wall and table at the back (Fig.16) as I thought it should be lit with a pure white light.
Three spheres with blue V-Ray light materials were used to create the look of blue colored fire under the test tubes (Fig.17). Again I used three V-Ray spheres for the three containers in the back that have the three un-hatched eggs in (Fig.18).
I used another V-Ray sphere to light the interior of the big tube that is above the egg collector (Fig.19). Small V-Ray spheres were placed in each of the meters so that every dial was individually lit (Fig.20).
These are the lighting passes (Fig.21). These are the V-Ray render settings (Fig.22). When all the lights were merged together, the render looked like this (Fig.23).
Then I jumped into my second favorite phase of the process: compositing.
As I told you at the intro, I created this image for a competition and I had a tight schedule. When I came to the lighting and rendering I was sort of out of time, and I hadn't done the compositing, which was a sad thing. So I didn't even render an Ambient Occlusion pass for this one. I only had time to add the ZDepth and a little color correction (Fig.24).
I would strongly recommend that you to do your render in passes like Diffuse, GI, Lighting, Shadow, Specular, Reflection, Refraction, Ambient Occlusion, ZDepth etc because you can really boost the quality of your final image. If I had time for that, this image probably would have been even better, but anyway here is my final image (Fig.25).
Now this is my favorite phase of the process. Sitting back, relaxing and admiring the art!