The making of 'Childhood’s Bravery'
Giorgio Lorenzetti shares how he made Childhood's Bravery, using Maya and ZBrush, for his first semester project at Think Tank
I created Childhood's Bravery for the final project of my first semester at Think Tank Training Centre. The aim of this project was to create a 3D still image in 5 weeks. I would like to tell the story and share the process behind my artwork, I will try to explain all of the ideas and thoughts which gave life to this project.
The first part of this project was choosing a concept. This can be a very difficult process for many reasons but you should try to:
• Choose something you like, because you don't want to lose the passion for it along the journey.
• Choose something challenging because you want to be able to learn as much as possible throughout the process. Remember, challenging doesn't have to mean complex!
• Tell a story, in my opinion, the most important aspect is always the story.
The concept which inspired me is a drawing from a board game called DIXIT. This beautiful game is full of inspiration because it is based on pictures rather than words. The picture which captured my attention was an image of a child facing a dragon and it gave me lots of ideas.
Finding a story
The image alone wasn't enough for me; was an inspiration but I wanted to tell a story. I did some brainstorming; when brainstorming I use a blank sheet of paper and I give myself two minutes to I write as many words as I can. For example, under child I wrote – toys, story, fable, brave, little, lullaby, teddy bear, small, drawing, pencil, imagination, and creativity.
Once I had my list, I try to connect all of the words together like a puzzle trying to search for a connection or answer a question, such as why is the child fighting the dragon? The answer I came up with is because the dragon took something precious of the child's and the child responded by standing up to the terrible dragon. The child considered the risk worthwhile because the dragon had claimed his worldly possessions.
Now that I have a story, I can add some more interesting assets such as the teddy bear; this is his favorite toy which he would defend at all costs. He wears a helmet like a warrior which represents his bravery. At this point I am satisfied and I can begin blocking out the scene.
Building a solid mesh
The most important thing in a project is a solid base and how you take advantage of it. You can start by diving straight in to ZBrush and making a base mesh; you can create a great sculpt, but you may run into problems.
I find make a proper start you should prepare and plan your pipeline or workflow. I wanted to go for a carton style for my piece, so I needed to keep this in mind at all points along my journey.
Another important process is finding out what the most important piece in your scene is. In my case, this was the child; everything is going to be based around the child because he is the protagonist of the scene.
While I was blocking out the scene I understood the story more clearly, adding more details such as the chest, and the time of day within the scene.
When I began sculpting the child in ZBrush I knew that the most important part was the face. The audience's eye will be drawn to the face so it has to be charismatic, full of emotion, and finely detailed. On the other hand it had to be goofy and stylized at the same time, so I made a reference table before I started sculpting.
The dragon is the second important piece of the scene, he is the antagonist. I modeled it differently four times, because I was undecided about the shape. Finally, thanks to much advice, I reached the shape I wanted. The fact that it is a dragon from a child's imagination makes it have less horrifying features and more rounded shapes.
Be open to change
I find it is good to have an open mind and be open to change during a project. Try not to be set on a particular outcome, listen to criticism but at the same time try to stay true to your original idea. Always try to ask for second opinions, which can help to keep your ideas from becoming stale. Everyone has a different point of view and other ideas will often help your imagination accelerate forwards. For this reason I tried to change the composition and the shot, changing the point of view and camera.
Back and forth
Every time I had a new model completed I would place it into the scene to see how it matched up with everything else. In this way I could continue the process gradually and watch it evolve. Thanks to this planning, I changed the lighting and procedurally added the texturing as well. I made all the textures in Photoshop; I went back and forth tweaking and checking everything until I was happy.
Most of the lights I used are rectangular and spot lights. I also used a sun from the window. I kept everything pretty simple, using key lights, fill lights and backlights to light the characters.
In the final part of the process, I fine-tuned details to plus the look of the scene. These changes included the hair of the child, the fibers of the helmet, and I refined all of the textures.
Once I had rendered everything in V-Ray, I imported all of the render passes into Photoshop to add the moon. I was also able to color correct the entire scene using this method. I finished before the deadline, which really showed me how important it is to plan your process. I learned many different techniques from this project which is the most important part of the project. With this project, I gave my interpretation of what CG is for me: telling stories. I hope you enjoyed following my making of.
Head over to Giorgio's gallery to see more of his work
Check out where Giorgio goes to school - Vancouver's Think Tank Training Center
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