The coffee base and added environmental features like grass, were made partly in ZBrush and partly in 3ds Max. We used MultiScatter for the rocks.
Adding environmental features to the coffee base
After we finished the modeling process and the agency approved the final scene layout, we started to light the scene. We used the HDR light studio because it is a very quick and reliable lighting tool.
Lighting was more of a trial and error process because of the large number of characters and their circular arrangement. Although it was not a complex light setup because we only used a single HDR map, it took some time to fit the light in order for each character to look good.
The HDR map used to light the scene
Texturing and shading
We skipped the unwrapping process of all the characters in order to gain some time. In its place, we just applied a UVW map modifier in 3ds Max because we used a shader with a fingerprint map made by Pablander
in the Glossiness slot and in the Bump slot.
Finding the shaders was a trial and error process and in the end we tried several shaders. First we tried a simple gray shader but it didn't create the feeling we wanted – although the characters were very readable. Then we tried a liquid coffee shader but of course it was a mess because you couldn't understand the shapes well.
In the end we used the clay shader and added some more detail to it with a normal map with wrinkles and a fingerprint map to the bump slot, and it created the effect we wanted to achieve.
Texturing the scene using shaders and a fingerprint map
Render and post-production
The render was at 8,000 x 5,000 pixels and had as many V-Ray channels as we needed for the post-production stage. The post stage was made as usual in Photoshop
and it was a straightforward process – nothing too fancy. It consisted of color corrections and a depth of field effect and some background editing.
Some of the render passes used for post-production
It was fun to work on this project and we all learned a lot. For me, the challenge was lighting multiple characters with the same HDR.
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