The idea for this image came when a friend and colleague asked me to model a high resolution model of the Combine APC from Half Life 2, to be used in a short film he wanted to shoot. Since it was supposed to be live action, the vehicle had to look realistic and be believable as a real asset. I took this chance to push my modeling, texturing and lookdev skills while trying to achieve the best look possible, without limitations on the polycount, or number and resolution of textures.
Through the phases of this Making Of I'll focus more on the ideas I wanted to develop, the problems I faced on the way, and the methods I used to resolve them.
Technical proficiency is only one aspect of creating digital images. Balance, composition, mood are extremely important too, and can make the difference between a good image and a great one.
My friend asked me to maintain the overall shape of the original APC game model. For the rest, I was free to experiment and come out with my own ideas. The look of the model is peculiar, and has a very well-balanced mix of World War 2 and sci-fi elements in it.
Real military vehicles usually don't look very cool, but all the details like door handles, antennas, hatches, nuts, bolts, etc., are built in a proper way and serve a real purpose. On the other hand, fictional sci-fi vehicles usually have a great design and look very dramatic, but can lack functionality and logic.
So I gathered lots of images of real APC, trucks and tanks from past and present times, as well as stills of famous armored vehicles from legendary sci-fi movies or games like Aliens, The Dark Knight Rises, District 9 and Half Life 2 itself (Fig.01).