Making of Midday Massacre
Arseniy Korablev takes us through the making of his image, Midday Massacre, where the caterpillars are trying to take over!
With every new work, you should aim to improve your skill. When I started to engage with CG, I just wanted to do one concept after another. But with the evolution of your skills, the old goals seem too simple. You should always keep this in mind and set different goals (each time more complex) to develop modeling techniques, sculpting, design and art skills. I hope those who read this article will find something new.
I have always focused on building a realistic environment, sci-fi scenery (steampunk, cyberpunk, etc). So this time the chosen purpose was as distant as possible from the usual activities. I decided to do the work composed entirely of stylized characters. Only the software remained the same – 3ds Max, V-Ray, ZBrush and Photoshop. The most-frequently used software was ZBrush.
The idea was that of a farmer shooting caterpillar mutants. To be in the right frame of mind during the creation of all your work is difficult, so I sketched this quite quickly.
I have always had some sympathy for the insect, so I like to make them large, wild monsters, starting with a 2D sketch.
I made the first 3D model with DynaMesh in ZBrush. It's just modeling: we do not need to think about the topology or anything else – concentrate on being creative.
After sculpting this model, I did a lot of different variants to create a lot of 3D sketches.
Next, I chose the most successful form and began to work it out. I highlighted the details on the model and manually did the retopology.
I wanted to make different emotions and facial expressions for the caterpillars; therefore I did the head separately.
However, this was a mistake. You should not do this as it is possible to save time using just one model.
General principle for creating models
ZBrush, DynaMesh (or creating a base mesh in 3ds Max) > ZBrush/Topogun Retopology > Improving the details of the geometry (3ds Max, ZBrush) > Adding inorganic parts > Unwrapping and PolyPainting > Drawing texture details (Photoshop) > Exporting to 3ds Max for posing and finishing.
Sometimes, I used 3ds Max and ZBrush simultaneously (exporting the model there and back) to add details like blood and spikes. Also, for making something special like a caterpillar in two pieces. The spikes were made using Scatter (3ds Max > Create > Compound > Scatter).
In the end, the basic model was turned into 3 caterpillars: one whole, one broken in half and one with a hole in. I copied them a few times and altered them using simple Modifiers (bend, noise).
The butterfly is the rebirth of a caterpillar. I quickly made a model based on the caterpillars and primitives. It was a very ugly and curved billet, but with the help of DynaMesh, it became something like a fat moth.
After Retopology, I was happier with the result – it became what was intended.
The butterfly was even better after adding the plates and hair in 3ds Max.
The farmer was made using different, separate SubTools in ZBrush. Unlike the caterpillars, it was handy to use ZBrush for creating things like the rifle and the various clothing items and other small things. Note that even the gun was enhanced in ZBrush. It helped to add to the realism. In the picture, different objects are highlighted with different colors.
Creating the textures was done in two stages; drawing the basics with PolyPaint and adding details in Photoshop.
In PolyPaint, I drew a texture over the model in ZBrush – its main parts and outlines. In Photoshop, I improved the quality of the texture and added detail. The texture for the bump was made of high-poly models in multi-map exporter (ZBrush plug-in).
There were some exceptions, for example: the texture of the ground. I made it from photographic references and made them seamless. Creating seamless textures is not difficult. I'll show you on my avatar below.
Thus, I was able to get a texture of a dirty ground.
In work such as this, there is no reason to make complex lighting. The only thing I needed was a simple light with clear shadows. This lamp was V-Ray Sun.
These were also simple enough – you can see the settings I used in the screenshot.
I did a lot of intermediate renders to get a better idea of how the final version should look. I often draw sketches over these renders.
For the final rendering, the gamma was 1.8 (for a cartoon-style approach). Ambient Occlusion was used for emphasizing various parts. Light Cache for less noise and three different ZDepth with varying degrees. It helped to isolate the required sections for post-processing.
If you look closely, the differences from the final version are not much; a slight haze, photo of the sky on the background (there are a few photos of canyons and clouds), and fire out of the barrel. This fire, the glow of the caterpillars and little things such as the drawn hands were created with brushes in Color Dodge mode and overlay. The secret of a cartoony look is a very strong filter Noise Reduction, applied several times.