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Making Of 'CG Painting'

By Vadim Valiullin
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Date Added: 9th December 2009
Software used:
3ds Max, Photoshop, mental ray

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For many objects (where there are some inscriptions) I made unique textures. I did not unwrap and did not use Unwrap UVW, as at this stage of the work there was not such a complex object. For texturing there would not be enough standard forms of UVW mapping; in some cases I used different mapping and different structures for the sides of the objects and it was quicker to do than high-grade unwraps. Thanks to this alone, I saved a lot of time, and you cannot tell in the final result that I took such shortcuts.

To further explain, I simply adjusted the size of textures to the size of objects. On practically all identical or similar objects the textures had different shaders and different mapping. Drawing textures, it was necessary to consider the fact that in corners and under ledges, objects, as a rule, would look shabbier and darker from the accumulation of dust and dirt. I gave more light to the scene and also blacked out some areas in Photoshop, using various brushes; in the most cases the standard brushes were enough. These nuances are visible on the textures of paints, the monitor and boards, etc. Textures should be more or less neutral in terms of lighting, and there should not be any strongly pronounced shadows on them, otherwise, during rendering, the different light exposure will give an artificial look. On the texture of the paints a shadow is visible, which I transformed to rust because the unclear shadow can confuse viewers and look more like real rust (Fig.13).

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Fig. 13

Shading

This is a rather difficult theme and there are many differences, but I will try to briefly describe my approach to it. At the stage of shading, it was necessary to consider real characteristics of the different materials. Unfortunately, when adjusting materials to enter the valid physical parameters, the result is not always satisfactory. There is nothing surprising about this though, as a lot depends on the adjustments of light, the distance from light sources to objects, the corner of an inclination of the camera, etc. So to adjust materials we have to use an experimental method. It is desirable to know what functions parameters have. I basically use standard materials in most cases, when they are enough. In my opinion there is no need to use advanced shaders in all cases just because they are "advanced". They should be only used to achieve an effect when using standard materials is impossible. Such an approach helps to save a lot of time, both during the adjustment of materials and during rendering.

As already mentioned, I use Mental Ray as my renderer, and in most cases standard shaders. This was convenient because I could adjust materials rather quickly, using Scanline for test renders. As a rule, when rendering using Mental Ray, materials look approximately the same and even better. It is a more convenient way to test them than to adjust shaders and make advanced renders which make you wait a long time for the results of the tests.

When creating shaders of wood, it is necessary to consider that wood has practically no highlights, except for varnished wood. Metal has strong highlights that can reflect objects around it; if there is nothing to reflect then the metal will look poor. We have to create the surroundings, or if possible apply textures on the reflection or use HDRI. There are two types of plastic: matte and glossy. It is better to do matte plastic, paper, rubber, using SSS for glossy plastic. As a rule SSS is not required, although there are lots of different variants. It is also important not to forget about bump, displacement, specular, etc. If we use them right then it is possible to achieve very good results! It is desirable that the bitmap on them differs from diffuse, but for average and distant planes it is enough to use diffuse on bump, specular, etc. Materials will behave differently under different lighting conditions. After the final lighting stage I had to correct all shaders in which SSS and reflection were applied. In Fig.14 are screenshots of some materials from the material editor.

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Fig. 14

Lighting

Adjusting the lighting is one of my favourite stages. Great lighting can improve an adequate image; bad lighting can ruin a masterpiece. To save the time I decided to adjust lighting using grey materials, since for the adjustment of good lighting it is necessary to have a number of preliminary renders.

It was necessary to imitate sunlight and I decided to use the Daylight System, but I had to replace 3ds Max 8 with 3ds Max 2008, as 3ds max 8 was not enough for a good result. When adjusting sunlight, it was necessary to remember that the light of the sun has a warm shade, but all shadows have a cold, bluish shade to then, simply because shadowed areas reflect the colour of the sky. It was also necessary to consider the fact that shadows from the sun become dimmer the further they are from an object projecting a shadow. It is impossible to use absolutely precise shadows; this is a very rough similarity of what it would be like in reality (Fig.15). In 3ds Max 2008 the Daylight System is realised well enough and the adjustment of lighting has no special problems.

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Fig. 15

Texturing

When the foreshortening had been chosen and the light was adjusted, it was possible to start filling a stage with small things and study the details of the surroundings. By means of a graphics tablet I made some approximate sketches and then modelled on top of them. I considered such an approach effective enough - it also saved time. During the final stage it was not necessary to think and guess about how to fill empty spaces; I could rather quickly draw lots of sketches and choose something from them to build upon. Besides, it was also possible to solve all compositing and colour problems in parallel (Fig.16).

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Fig. 16

Afterwards, I began to do the grass and the background; for this purpose I transformed all objects into a grey material because so many resources were demanded for this part. I decided to make the grass by means of the Super Grass plug-in. I made plenty of preparations for the grass, with different heights, thicknesses and distribution over a square metre. I then converted all of this in Edit Mesh, optimised by means of the Optimize modifier and manually spread it out how, in my opinion, low grass on hills would grow under the influence of constant blowing winds. This was probably not the best way of creating grass, but it allowed me to supervise many aspects well enough (Fig.17).

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Fig. 17


The grass and background ate a lion's share of resources, so I had to render the final image in layers: the paint box, grass and background separately. It took about 2 days to render it in high resolution, with all layers for all foreshortenings. I rendered it with Depth of Field, and also with Global Illumination and Final Gather, since together they give very good results.

Finally, the turn of post-production came, for which I used Photoshop. I did the post work without rushing, as by having a break from the image and getting a fresh perspective on it, it was possible to see some areas that were lacking. Before the final stage of post-processing I looked at a lot of high quality three-dimensional and two-dimensional work, and also a couple of films from Pixar to distract myself from my own work. In my opinion, this method allows you to raise your taste in art taste up a level, and as a result helps you to notice differences in your work which you will have missed when working on an image for a few weeks. When you're working on something for a long time and without breaks, it becomes more difficult to notice problems.

To complete this article, here are some images showing the stages of post-production, along with the final image (Fig.18 - 19). Thanks for your attention.

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Fig. 18

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Fig. 19




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Readers Comments (Newest on Top)
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(ID: 159676, pid: 0) Mirtha Manzano Diaz on Fri, 02 November 2012 7:36pm
Vadim, sorry to tell that I'm not going to make any comment on the article because I'm not expert on this subject. In fact your name and the city where you live coincides with the name of a student of the Sport Institute who studied with us in Volgograd and we would like to know if that person is your relative (father, uncle...). if so, we would like to get in touch with him.
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