Making Of 'The Dungeon'
In this, my first "Making Of", I'm gonna try to explain the creation process of my image "Dungeon". I used mainly 3ds Max, with V-Ray for the renderer. I also used Adobe Photoshop for the textures and small retouches, and Fusion for the final post-production.
First of all, I must say that I used this project as a way to challenge my own capabilities. As artists there are always techniques we don't know or try, due to lack of time or interest, or just because we don't need them for the daily job. So I approached this project as an experiment where I could try to learn and get used to those techniques and tools, which are very useful.
The story of the image starts like this: as a freelancer, I work at home. And my family and friends call my office "The Cave" or "The Dungeon". So the idea came from that. I tried to mix both concepts: a cool office with some details of a dungeon or a jail. No matter how cool our office is, or how much we love our work, all of us feel chained to it sometimes. All of us have our own prisoner ball (mine are some ugly buildings & 3D sections I have to do at work).
I started taking some pictures of my real office furniture, and some other objects I have in my office (computer case, books, magazines, cork panel, electronic stuff etc.). I also put several details or "cameos" in the scene (private jokes or messages to my friends - they know who they are!). This is something I always like to do if possible (Fig.01).
The room itself was totally made up in my head, half inspired by the typical US residential basement, and half by a render by Aaron Coon, which I really liked (Fig.02).
Most parts of the scene were not difficult at all to model, since there were a lot of quite easy objects (boxes converted to Edit Poly and then manipulated; splines with thickness or extruded etc). This is clearly visible on the incense burner. As you can see, it's just a lathed spline, and then I used boolean operations to make the star-shaped holes. There are also several objects I modeled without much detail, like the router, to save polygons, since I knew they were not going to be too visible in the final render (Fig.03 - 06).
The Thermaltake Tsunami case was modeled with the help of my friend Jorge Amigo "Joalamber", and the same with the laptop, which was modeled entirely by Alejandro Martín "R|P" (Fig.07).
The chain was made from a modified torus, and then instancing and rotating the chain links to follow the path that I liked. Before that, I tried using the Path Deform modifier, but I was not satisfied with the result, which is why I ended up doing it by hand (Fig.08).
The papers on the floor are simple spheres, with a Noise modifier and several seeds to make them slightly different, and an FFD-Box to flatten them at the bottom where they are in contact with the floor (Fig.09).
Some other objects were a challenge to my skills, since I'm not used to do any kind of organic modeling. One of those was the phone, or the speakers, which I modeled by following some video tutorials I found on Evermotion: http://www.evermotion.org/index.php?unfold_exclusive=94&unfold;=exclusive (Fig.10).
There are some other additional objects that came from libraries, even though I tried to use pre-existing models as little as possible.
So we finally come to the hardest (to me) part of the process. As I've said, when I started this project, there were some techniques that I hadn't used before. Unwrapping was one of them. So I practiced unwrapping 20 different books, magazines, PC components boxes, and other elements. Nothing difficult (just some modified boxes), but they were very useful for me to learn and practice, which was the main purpose of the project (Fig.11).
I used V-Ray materials for every object in the scene, lots of them with their Bump and Specular. For example, here you have the wooden floor. In this case I used also the ColorCorrect plugin in order to have more control over the color, brightness and contrast of the texture, without externally modifying the bitmap itself (Fig.12).
Another example is the prisoner ball, which is a Blend material between a clean glossy metal, a corroded metal, and a mask to mix them (Fig.13).
Lighting the dungeon was kind of complex. I used 22 lights (some of them, instanced). For the outside, since it's a night scene, I used a dark blue for the environment and a light blue Direct light for the moonlight (it's a common mistake to think there's no light at all at night). In order to see a silhouette of somebody walking by outside, I placed a streetlamp with a Spot light and volumetrics on (Fig.14).
On the inside, the main light source is the halogens on the ceiling, which are Photometric lights, using the well-known IES file "1589835-nice". Some other lights are: another Photometric light on the stairs, with a warm orange tint, a huge VRaylight coming from behind the camera, and both lamps (the Tolomeo on the left and the right-hand corner one). And the rest of the lights in the scene are the ones that come from the screen of the monitors and the LEDs of the Tsunami cases (VRaylights for the most part) (Fig.15).
Something important I should say: I used a VRay Physical Camera and so all the light multipliers shown in Fig.16 depend on this special camera. Here you have the camera and V-Ray render settings (Fig.16 - 19).
On this occasion, in addition to the render, I generated an Ambient Occlusion pass (AO). To do so, I used a VRayLightMaterial, with a mix map (black and white), and VRayDirt as the mask. There is a nice tutorial about this on the blog of the great master (and my friend) Juan Siquier: http://siquier.blogspot.com/2006/08/aaoo-pass-con-vray-15-rc2.html
I used Eyeon Fusion for post-production. I'm quite new at using it, but the more I use it, the more I like it. It's highly intuitive and you have a great level of control over every filter through the tree-node. So I imported both passes (Diffuse & AO), merged them, played a little with the opacity, and added some color correction, brightness and contrast, a slight chromatic aberration and vignetting (Fig.20).
Well, that's all. I want to thank everybody that has somehow helped me throughout the process (especially Alejandro Suárez "Jan", Javier Núñez "Ja3D", Jorge Amigo "Joalamber", David Bastidas "Kh0rne", Juan Siquier, Alejandro Martín "R|P", and everyone at #3DInfografica on IRC Hispano). And of course, thank you all for reading this Making Of. I hope you've enjoyed it and found it helpful. Best regards (Fig.21).