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Hard surfaces in Softimage

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Date Added: 9th December 2014
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Paul H. Paulino explains how he brought a vehicle concept by Ian McQue to life
using SoftImage


In this making of, I would like to share the process behind my latest artwork, Wasp. I will try to explain my thought process throughout the whole project.

I created this piece for a class at Think Tank Training Centre. The goal of the project was to create a 3D still image in 4 weeks. I chose this amazing concept by Ian Mcque

Choosing the concept

This is a very important part of the project! Before starting any modeling or texturing, you should think about
your concept.

You are going to spend a lot of time on it, so make sure to choose a concept that you really like, but also be careful; think about your skills and be honest with yourself. If you have a deadline like I did, don't pick something incredibly hard, because you can end up frustrated and dropping the project before it's done. Also avoid picking a concept you know will be too easy and isn't going to give you any troubles during the process. Troubleshooting is an awesome skill, and you get it with experience, so here's your chance!

In my opinion, the best concept for you is the one that gives you the chance to learn new things and that you can finish on time.

I've chosen Ian McQue's concept for three reasons:

1. Improve my Hard Surface Skills: Since I wasn't feeling confident about my modeling skills, I thought that this was a good chance to explore different workflows and overcome my weakness.
2. Interesting textures: Ian McQue is well known as an amazing concept artist and the thing that catches my eye the most in his work is his unique painting style. Trying to replicate the same feeling in 3D was a great challenge for me.
3. Opportunity to create a story without limitations: Since the artwork itself doesn't have a background, it was interesting to think about a story and composition for the scene, and for me, a piece that tells a story is way more interesting than one that doesn't.

The original concept by Ian McQue

Getting feedback

During the project, show it to friends that you trust to get good feedback. But be careful; always remember your original idea and don't listen blindly to the critique. Always take it into consideration, but remember that it's your project and if you change after every criticism, you'll end up making a Frankenstein.

Pre Production

Another important thing that I always like to do and helped me during the whole project was creating a schedule. I made a personal schedule based on the deadline given by my teacher. Having a deadline for each part of the process increased the pressure, but helped me a lot with the feeling of working in a professional environment.

Creating a schedule to work to

Sketching composition roughs

During the days for pre production, I began to think about the composition. For me, the best way to develop different ideas is using quick sketches with pen and paper.
I love sketches: they are loose, fast and you don't need to worry about details at all.

On the sketches below, I used copic markers to give some depth with values. You can quickly change what you don't like by just adding lines and brushstrokes. My final composition is different from my first rough sketches, but these first drawings helped me a lot!

The first idea was having the ship floating in a scrap yard, the pilot inside and looking at the camera. For the background I thought about some industrial buildings, cranes, etc. As you can see, in the beginning, I was worrying so much about the composition itself that I ended up missing the story.

Making sketches

Blocking shapes in Maya

After my initial sketches, I decided to go into Maya and block out some shapes to try and match the composition.

It's a good way to quickly see if your composition is balanced without dealing with details. I just used simple boxes and cylinders. For the characters I used a default human base mesh from Mudbox as a scale reference.

Blocking out the 3D shape in Maya

Understanding the concept and gathering references

After the initial composition studies, I spent some more time investigating the concept, breaking down the basic shapes and proportions, drawing orthographics, isolating each part of the ship and thinking about the individual panels.

Thinking about the shapes in the model

continued on next page >

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Readers Comments (Newest on Top)
Preston Platt on Tue, 09 December 2014 5:31pm
Really appreciate the sharing of the workflow!
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