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Behind the scenes shading and rendering my Mini Cooper

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Date Added: 9th December 2009
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Introduction and Quick notes on modeling

This article focuses on shading and texturing the Mini Cooper, I'll talk a little about rendering with Mental Ray but I think other people have covered that in more depth elsewhere.

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I'd wanted to build a cg car for a long time, but couldn't decide what model of car it would be. It was only after seeing a few New Mini models I thought I'd have a crack at the original model. This project would also be my first time using Maya so I didn't worry about taking my time.

The car was modeled in the conventional polygon manner; every element was constructed from a single plane using the Connect Poly Shape tools written by Dirk Bialluch.

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As always good reference was the key, I decided to base my car on an actual cooper. I found a fair few images of LRX 827E which I really liked (Especially as it lacked the chrome grill surround).

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Rendering Research

When I started work on the car I began also experimenting with the Mental Ray add-on for Maya. To be honest it was pretty clunky and extremely slow. The documentation was useless and there wasn't much in the way of tutorials of help on the web. I tinkered around with it and tried to understand the Global Illumination and Final Gathering systems.

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I found the early implementation of Mental Ray for Maya extremely frustrating and had almost given up when Alias got their act together and brought out the new cleverly integrated free version. Although still tricky to master this version was a lot faster.

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