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Making Of 'Final Stand'

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(Score 4.72 out of 5 after 76 Votes)
Date Added: 24th October 2011
Software used:

Scene Layout and Organization

One of the problems I ran into with this project was the large number of individual objects. Since everything was modeled independently and modular to one another, this allowed for hundreds of thousands of different assets. Max and Maya don't really like this. So once everything looked good on an independent asset level, I merged assets together by material type and began creating layers based on material types. The layout began on one side of the river, flat, with all of the wires and junk attached. I then mirrored and flipped them, and moved around some things to get interesting shapes. That was then duped and moved down, and everything was grouped together. I applied a bend modifier to get the curvature in the rows of buildings (Fig.06).

Fig. 06


In my first block-out concept, I explored a few different lighting scenarios. I had my mind set on a somewhat strong key light coming in from screen left. I really liked the raking shadows, warm sky and happy mood (Fig.07).

Fig. 07

The only problem with a key light from the sun was the neon signs and windows. I wanted to have dominant pools of light from doorways, windows and neon signs as well. Unfortunately, this creates an unpleasant juxtaposition in the image. I eventually decided to kill the sun light, pop in a cool and stormy HDR map, and started adding neon lights, window light and doorway light (Fig.08).

Fig. 08

The windows were a bit of a challenge to get looking right. The final solution I came up with was this: poly plane with alpha window texture; behind that, a V-Ray self-illuminated texture of an interior room lit up at night; and behind that, if needed, a V-Ray plane light with a low multiplier. All the neon signs were V-Ray self-illuminated materials with neon images as diffuse texture maps.


With regards to composition, using the rule of thirds, my goal was to start your eye at the mid-left center of the image: the bright area with the neon signs. From there you should go back and to the right, following the wires across the water to the other bright area, examine, and then follow the bridge back to where you started. Using these elements, the rule of thirds with the layout of structures and lighting cues, I should have created a loop for you, a continuous loop where you pause and study more details each time. This is what I want as the artist, to keep you, the viewer, sucked in as long as possible.


Working in the matte painting department for the last few years I really learned quite a bit about paint-over work. You can only get so much out of 3D software, and almost always will want to do a little tweaking in Photoshop. With Final Stand, I knew I would need to render out more than just a beauty pass, but also knew I would not have to go too crazy. So I rendered out a beauty with all lights included, Z-Depth and Ambient Occlusion (Fig.09).

Fig. 09

As you can see here in the middle image, I got quite a bit out of my three render passes, added a sky and tweaked some levels and contrast. There was a wonderful amount of fidelity and details to see without any paint-over yet. Awesome. CG gangster...

So with that as my base, I started to just overlay some grime and dirt textures, add a glow on top of the neon signs, dab in a little more atmosphere and further tweak the saturation and color tones until I found a pleasant balance (Fig.10).

Fig. 10


Personal projects are amazing. They allow us to use full and complete creative freedom and to show the world what we can create. I have to give props and thanks to my matte painting department in Irvine, California for all the comments and critiques along the way. They really helped me push this piece to the end. And thanks to my girl for grammatically checking this tutorial! If you have any questions, don't hesitate to ask.

Related links

To see more by Brandon Martynowicz, check out Digital Art Masters: Volume 7

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Readers Comments (Newest on Top)
LiuChengheng on Sat, 18 May 2013 10:06pm
amazing!so beautiful
Brandon on Wed, 13 February 2013 5:23am
Adrian: FBX works best for me. Make sure you get your unit conversion setup properly first. V-Ray loves real world scale geo. E.Crickard: What I mean by "model the detail you know you will see" is thoughts like the big shapes, things that will have silhouette, things that will cast shadows and good AO. Assembly of all these assets to create the scene, one word..... patience. =) -B
Badder on Sun, 06 January 2013 9:14pm
make gta 6 for us please great work ... hats off
E.crickard on Sun, 23 September 2012 3:19pm
For the modeling, how did you decide what was important and what wasn't? im referring to when you said "Model the detail that you know you will see - forget about the rest." and then how did you combine all those separately modelled elements together and create that environment?
PlasticFrogCG on Thu, 23 February 2012 5:35pm
Thanks for posting this excellent step by step! For years I have been wanting to make a detailed scene like this, but always got hung up on where to start and how to go about modeling it. I had heard of the modular method before and saw it in use, but no one ever broke it down like you did into the individual parts! Being able to see those and then look at how you grouped them together until you had something you liked was a great inspiration. Now if I could just wrap my head around the lighting thing...well, better to get the model done first.
Sukhmeet on Fri, 17 February 2012 9:23pm
This is a amazing ... superb,no more words!
Anas K A on Wed, 08 February 2012 8:07am
Its fantasticcc!!! hw did you do this??? amazing... it was my big dream to create a frame like this,with its fantastic perfection. my wish to become a CG artist. will u help me???
Adrian on Thu, 12 January 2012 11:56am
Thank you for posting this. It's a great inspiration and amazing. Like you I also like to model with Maya. May I ask what is your favorite export method for getting your models from Maya to 3Ds?
James Gardner on Thu, 24 November 2011 11:02am
Hi, the picture is amazing. Was wondering how you did the floor. Displacement map? its quite highly detailed cracked concrete and such. None of that is apparent in the flat shaded model render you show. Again, amazing picture!
Zyg on Thu, 27 October 2011 2:48am
Looks very complicated. Amazing how you start with some simple line drawings and add texture to render the final piece. This requires masterful skill in using the software tools. Good job.
Brandon on Wed, 26 October 2011 7:19pm
David, If you look at Fig.05, on the left is the maps I created for all the windows. Bottom left is a b/w map named alpha, that alpha value is used as transparency for the windows, which are simple poly cards. As for the UV's, yes I made tons of cards for the windows, doors, ect, unwrapped them, and move them around in the UV editor accordingly to fit the images on the texture sheet. Hope that explains it a little better. If not, hit me an email.. -B
David on Tue, 25 October 2011 6:29pm
"poly plane with alpha window texture" What is an Alpha window texture? In your textures, I see you have all your window or door types condensed to one image. Does this mean you have to uv unwrap your geometry to fit the texture? Thanks
Brandon on Tue, 25 October 2011 5:12pm
Alex, It is hard to say,I worked on this piece after work for the last few months, putting in a few hours here and there.
Brandon on Tue, 25 October 2011 4:15am
Thanks Julien. I use Maya for modeling and UV layout because I am much quicker with it for modeling, and more familiar with the UV tools. Crazy I know, I need to learn Max for modeling.. ;)
Alex on Mon, 24 October 2011 9:08pm
Amazing work! How much time did it take to complete?
Julien on Mon, 24 October 2011 5:41pm
Awesome dude ! I love the mood & especially the composition : my eyes followed exactly the same path you described ! Just a question, why using Maya & Max ? Just more comfortable with Maya for modeling ?
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