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The making of Why is a Raven like a Writing desk

By Nicolas Brunet
Web: Open Site
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Date Added: 1st September 2014
Software used:
3ds Max, Photoshop, mental ray, ZBrush, Misc

Setup and lighting

With the key elements created, it was time to put it all together. I had to set the camera up and see if the paper version worked in 3D (the decapitated heads populated moat as particles).

Visually, a light filtering through branches got me interested so I started several tests to get some sort of light/shadows look. I used cups containing candles that could add magic to the final render.

Left: light scene / Right: full scene

Lighting research


The challenge of the project. The great idea I had on this project was to start with the most difficult character: the Cheshire Cat. Surprisingly it was the easiest model to generate hair and fur on!

The head was separated from the body, and then different hair and fur modifiers were added to the model for separating the different parts to brush: Beard, mustache, nose/forehead, eyes, ears and the back of the head. For each of these modifiers, I played with the multi-strand parameters, textures and noises bitmaps and controlled the intensity and length of hair. The body is made with a single hair and fur modifier.

One hair and fur modifier, shown by the section on the head

Brushing and shader tests


For Alice's hair, I initially made a modern haircut. Unfortunately a crash corrupted my scene and I had to start the styling from scratch, this time starting with Alice lying on a cushion which served as interactive geometry during brushing. Then a few strands based on splines to cover the forehead to make them look a bit tamed.

For the Mad Hatter, I used the same method, separating the main strands before the brush process.

Alice the witch

The Sideshow Bob process

Test render

The part I like the most today: the creation of textures and shaders. With the little knowledge I had at the time, the textures were summarily created. I was still trying to learn how shaders worked.

After trial and errors for a few days, I launched a plethora of tests to get realistic mugs, half transparent dress, a plastic side for the Mad Hatter clothes, an acceptable wood for boat etc…

Some of the tests taken to get the right textures and shading effect

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