Making Of 'Lord Of The Birds'
Hello, I had in mind this picture for a long time after my short movie "Niumb", I wanted to work on another short inspired by the Amazon legends. The universe is a rainforest and strange people living on the top of high wood structures.
First, It's better to have in mind a picture, draw it on paper, it's the best way to illustrate where you want to go ; it can be a very rough sketch, very simple to help you to place your volumes, camera and lighting.
I started first to model the land, after, I placed rough shapes to equilibrate the composition before including the character:
I used a simple Grid with 40 subdivisions, after what I moved some vertex vertically with the smooth selection option, Its easy to model simple shapes of a terrain, but you need to randomise that. I selected the highest points and added a noise modifier to make it more natural. The next step is to add a Mesh smooth on the whole geometry, and particularly on the highest vertices.
By the way I worked on the character, I started with a simple box for the body,This is my first 3D character, so bee cool with me, the anatomy is not perfect J, I wanted at the same time a charismatic, primitive character, like some indians korowai could be in Irian Jaya , perched on the top of their lookouts-houses, but I also wanted it to have an alien-fantastic look :)
Texture and 3D model, I used the wire of the unwrap as a guide to do the texture.
I modelled the lookout of the Lord with simple cylinders, I used several modifiers to make them more random and natural like wood structures: Lattice, noise and twist, also in edit mesh some extrudes and move vertex with smooth selection, after what I instanced them to create the whole structure, Its easier to do a mapping one time for all of them instead of redo this with each one... After, I collapsed them and edited them to have different shapes.
For the ropes, I started with torus and Editable splines with Renderable option. I displayed the mesh of the spline and started after to collapse them and edit them. It was a very simple way to do complex ropes shapes.
This I the way how I did the texture of the wood structures, I used polished wood and two bark. I did a multi material with tree different textures, the first one I tiled with the bark only, the second for the transition between the bark and the white wood, and the polished wood I tiled for the end of the pillar. You must subdivide your geometry where you want to assign different IDs of material on your object (in edit mesh mode)
It start to be interesting, I added a subtle bump on the bark, at strong backlight to fake the sunrise and a few blue omni directional lights to fake the undirect light coming from the sky, no radiosity on this picture.
Next step, work on the Background, I filtered the sky texture in Photoshop to make it more painter like with a smart blur. After, I played with hue-saturation and levels to equilibrate the palette with the lighting of my scene
To add more depth to the picture, I faked a fog with a cloud texture I used in transparency. It better than only using a simple fog, it fake the humidity growing from the vegetation in the early morning. I colorized all the picture in the same tones and decreased the contrast, the most important is to keep the brightness in the diffuse color and adjust the
opacity (alfa channel)
The atmosphere is coming! Fog to add the depth, adjust the light direction with the texture of the Sky, of course you can "cheat" because the Idea is not to be realistic, but to do an illustration! I used several omni lights to enhance the lighting in some parts of the background because the direct light didn't light the mountain nicely. Its also good to adjust the colour of the fog and "faked fog" with the lighting of the scene, even if you use a blue ambient (sky colour) you want to feel that the atmosphere is light by the sun, so it can be better to use the colour of the main light with less saturation, but it's not a rule.
In order to display the transparency in the view port (not supported in Max3) you just have to use the Display Material option in the material editor, don't show the texture in Diffuse or opacity window but in the standard mode.
This is really useful to tweak the Alfa channels in real-time, I used it to see my faked tree, feathers and fog in the view port.
The 3D Total textures were very useful for me to make this picture, with good resolution diffuse and "bump" maps, they are also sorted by colours, that is really what you need when you want to work on a certain style or atmosphere. You also have good optimised low rez textures with the high rez version and Tillable. You will also find some shaders-Mat for max4. I particularly appreciated the wood textures, skies and stones. All of them are well sorted in a html page with previews in thumbnails, thanks Tom to give me the opportunity to try this CD!