Making Of 'Never Again'
Hi everybody. It's a pleasure to be here with this Making Of, in which I've tried to explain the creation process of my latest image "Never Again". As usual, I used 3ds Max with V-Ray for rendering, Adobe Photoshop to create and manipulate textures, and Fusion for the final post-production.
Inspiration - References
As I always say, I use my personal projects as a way to experiment and learn new methods, practice techniques I still don't fully understand or improve my skills. In this case, the goal was to recreate a photograph I took five years ago, with a 1-megapixel digital camera (not much quality, as you guess), in a place I've only been to once. This place had something that inspired me, and the photograph had lighting I really liked. Unfortunately, the project spent some years in my "work in progress" folder. But some weeks ago, I finally decided to do it.
As a reference, I only had the one photograph. When I took it, I didn't know I was going to recreate it in 3D (if I had known, I would have taken 200 photographs, to have everything in detail). And moreover, with that forced perspective, it was rather difficult to guess the sizes, distances and so on.
There's really not much to say about modeling, because everything was extremely easy. Most parts of the scene are beveled and modified boxes, cylinders and other easy objects. So the main difficulties with the modeling were the details, such as small cracks in the walls (Fig.01 - 02).
Some other details I put emphasis on were the dry leaves on the outside, blown by the wind and piled up next to the glass. As you can see, there are two types of leaves. I started using the strange-shaped yellow one, which is from a commercial library. But I was not happy enough with the result, so I decided to model my own leaves, and use both of them. To do so, I modeled just one leaf, and once it was textured, I used a free script, called "Advanced Painter" (http://www.scriptspot.com/3ds-max/advanced-painter), and more precisely, a 64bit version of it (http://3dcenter.ru/forum/index.php?showtopic=82821) (Fig.03).
One of the functions of this script is to make instances of an object, and scatter it all over another one, just as if you were "painting" with the mouse on top of it. That's how I instanced two hundred leaves or so. After that, I used another script to give some randomness, changing the size and rotation of every individual leaf, so they didn't look exactly the same. That script is RandomTransform, and it comes with Blur Beta Tools free pack. I used an old version, but it has been recently updated (now for XSI, too) (http://www.blur.com/blurbeta.html) (Fig.04).
And finally another detail would be the ivy you can see in the background, on top of the wall. On another previous project, I had used Ivy Generator by Thomas Luft, which is a standalone application. You have to export your scene to *.obj, open it inside Ivy Generator, generate the ivy, save it as *.obj and then import it from your program of choice. But this time I wanted to test an alternative (and faster) way. A 3ds Max plugin, based on the Ivy Generator, called: gw::Ivy (http://www.guruware.at).
Alter a few clicks and some tests I managed to grow this ivy. It was not exactly what I was looking for, but considering it was the first time I had used the plugin, I was quite satisfied with the result (Fig.05).
If modeling was quite easy, texturing was not much harder. As always, I used V-Ray materials for every object in the scene, with their bump and specular. And in most cases, I used the free plugin Color Correct (http://www.cuneytozdas.com/software/3dsmax), to alter some properties of a texture (brightness, contrast, saturation, gamma, RGB levels... etc), without externally modifying the bitmap itself. I looked for several types of concrete to be used in the lowest part of the image. Some of them, like the wall, with roughness and other ones, like the floor, with a polished finish and some imperfections. In other objects like the columns, I used the standard 3ds Max displacement to give that aspect of rough edges (Fig.06 - 07).
I had to unwrap just a couple of objects in the scene: the horizontal concrete plaques on top of the columns, and the exterior wall, in order to paint the humidity stains. Quite easy objects to unwrap, aren't they? The rest of the objects have standard mapping coordinates (box or cylindrical) (Fig.08).
Lighting - Render
It was in the lighting where I had to put all my effort to get a similar result to the original photograph. And even more, using V-Ray renderer, instead of an unbiased one, like Maxwell or Fry. I wanted to achieve that result by hand, not just by giving the coordinates, date and hour to the renderer. I must say I didn't get a 100% exact copy of the photograph, but I got close enough to it and I learned enough to consider it finished, too.
I used VRaySun, VRaySky and a VRayPhysical Camera. I hadn't used this method on an interior scene before, and so I had to do a lot of tests to achieve the right intensity of light and the right atmosphere. I also had to move the Sun in order to get the shadows exactly where I wanted. Apart from the VRaySun, I also used some VRayLight as portals on the right. When you use a light as a portal, you can't manually control the intensity and color of the light. In fact, it's not a normal light any more. It gets the intensity and color of the environment (VRaySky in this case), and "pushes" it inside our scene.
And, as always when you use a VRayPhysical Camera, I had to keep in mind that all the light's multipliers shown depend on the settings of the camera (Fig.09 - 11).
On this occasion, I rendered several channels: Diffuse, ZDepth (which I finally didn't use), some volumetrics of the main light, and an Ambient Occlusion pass (AO) (Fig.12 - 15).
I used Eyeon Fusion for post-production. After adding the AO pass and playing with the opacity, I used some masks to do a couple of color corrections. Then I added very subtle volumetrics, some brightness and contrast, just a touch of glow and chromatic aberration, and vignetting (Fig.16).
And that's all. I want to thank everybody that has somehow helped me throughout the process (especially #3DInfografica channel on IRC Hispano, and its forum http://www.3dinfografica.net) and of course, thank you all for reading this Making Of. I hope you've enjoyed it and found it helpful. Best regards (Fig.17).