Making Of 'The Lantern' by Khadyko Vladimir
Hello everybody! My name is Khadyko Vladimir and in this article I will be explaining the steps I took to create my image called Lantern. I started this image by simply looking for a nice reference image on the internet of something that I felt I wanted to model. I found a great image of a lantern, but the picture was taken in the daytime. I wanted to change that in my image and show the lantern in the evening as I felt that this would be a much more interesting image. The lantern was modeled in 3ds Max, but I also used V-Ray, ZBrush, Photoshop and After Effects.
The model of the lantern itself was rather simple, so rather than explain the whole process I will show you how it looked when I had modeled it (Fig.01 - 02).
The welding that is visible on the model was created using a combination of a few modifiers applied on the rectangular spline. By using the Sweep option and a gradient ramp in the displacement slot, I was able to achieve a wavy look (Fig.03). I customized this so that the effect could be tiled in the necessary areas. I also used some noise to give it a more random look.
The spider's web was pretty tricky to achieve. It was created on a plane (Fig.04). I used V-Ray dirt as the material for the lantern, as you can see in Fig.05. The spider's web's plane seemed to create a line of dirt where it crossed the lamp and I couldn't correct this by playing with the exclude/include settings. My idea was to solve this by minimizing the intersection area, which seemed to work. I also applied a V-Ray displacement mod to this plane at - 0.5mm (the high map and opacity are the same textures). This did a great job here because it shows the volume on the thin detail, but also shows a nice, subtle highlight.
For the background I used some references from cgtextures.com and quickly modeled two buildings, which you can see in Fig.04. In the final image you can only see a small part of the buildings as I changed the focal length of the camera from 25 to 50, meaning the background was blurred as it looked in original reference image.
The bugs help to bring the image to life. I wanted to make them big, but not look ugly and awful. I made two types of bug; one with open wings and the other with closed. The first of the two bugs was rigged so it could be posed or animated. I then created five variations of the bug, meaning that I could add them to the image and make minor changes to them such as twisting them to make them look unique. The final step was to add some Motion Blur, which was created using the V-Ray physical camera as I feel this looks better than when it is done in post-production.
As you will see in Fig.05, I used Blendmat as the base for the different materials used. The first of the two metals was a black metal covered in rust. The second material was much lighter than the first and was used to create the effect of dust. A Falloff map with a world Z-axis direction was used as a blending mask, and I blended the black and light metal textures using the Invert Normal function in the vraydirt map options. It gives a very subtle effect, but it really helps to make objects look real.
Then it was time to move into ZBrush. This is a great and powerful tool, and it helped me to achieve nice detail on the wall (Fig.06). To do this a base object was created and unwrapped in 3ds Max. In Photoshop I created a diffuse texture and based on it a black and white map that was used as a mask for sculpting (Fig.07). In ZBrush I applied this map, made a mask and, with the Standard brush, sculpted the detail. This technique gave me more control over the level of displacement and was really easy to use.
The Claytubes brush was the best way to make all the dents and small details on the concrete (Fig.08). The next step was to bake a Displacement and Cavity map, which I put over the Diffuse map with opacity of 15 - 20%.
Everyone knows how birds love things like cornices, balconies and, of course, street lamps! They like to use these places a little like a public toilet! Because of this I decided to add some of this kind of detail on the lantern for more realism (Fig.09).
For this task I used ZBrush. Two subtools were created, but I offset the second one with a negative value in the Deformation tab of the Tool palette. With the Standard brush I started to paint some smudges and add more detail to them so they could be placed in different areas and look unique. I also applied some surface noise. One of the lower subdivision levels was exported, unwrapped and returned to ZBrush so I could bake Displacement and Cavity maps. For the material I used a Vraymat with the base settings and a Cavity map in the diffuse slot, but in the render it looked very dark. Blending this material with a vraylightmat solved this problem.
For the environment lighting I used a HDRI that gave a nice blue color to the scene. All the other lights were yellow with some variations. The background was lit with two spherical V-Ray lights. The windows were planes with vraylightmaps on them. Only the upper left room had a light sphere inside it.
For the lantern I used three different light sources (Fig.10). The main task was to avoid over-burning the lantern's interior. A V-Ray light sphere was placed inside the light bulb and only affected the bulb's glass, which had a dirt mask in its refraction and glossy slots. I then used omni lights for the light on the environment around the lantern. This made the lighting very easy to control.
All of the post-processing was done in After Effects because I really like the Replace Footage function. It's much easier to re-apply all of the effects to an updated render than to do it all over again in Photoshop if you find something you want to change. Everything I did was pretty regular; contrast adjusting, color correction, some glow and adding depth of field. I hope that you have found this interesting.