Piotr Rusnarczyk, Senior Character Artist at Flying Wild Hog, breaks down the best features of OctaneRender to demonstrate how he created his spectacular work, "H.A.S.H."...
OctaneRender is a really powerful tool for artists who value photorealistic effects and fast rendering. Octane mainly draws energy from the graphics card GPU memory, usefully taking load off your CPU. At a few points in the tutorial I will try to approximate the technique of modeling lighting using HDRI maps, and I'll share the render settings for my model "H.A.S.H."
To illustrate, I used one of my head models that I sculpted in ZBrush. I exported the individual parts of the mesh using OBJ format. All textures were baked in ZBrush and exported in PSD format, mainly texture diffuse and displacement map.
Step 1: OctaneRender interface
Version three of OctaneRender has been upgraded with really useful new tools for customizing the interface. Octane windows are grouped in four basic parts: 1.) Render window 2.) Scene widow 3.) Node inspector, where we can change a node's parameters 4.) Scene outliner, where we can find and use materials from local libraries or use LiveDB.
We can undock and customize the windows according to our own preferences. I mainly use a layout with the Scene window occupying the largest area, because I use it most frequently. At the bottom of the rendering window is the render view toolbar. My first step before I start setting the scene is to adjust the render priority setting; I usually set it to "low." Although this lengthens rendering time, it reduces load on the graphics card making it easier to work with other applications (for reference I have a Geforce GTX Titan X with 12 GB of memory in my workstation.)
Step 2: Import mesh to OctaneRender
We start by importing a mesh into our scene; right-click on the Scene window and select "Import mesh." If we load more than two meshes into the scene we have to use the Geometry group node to connect them together.
When we have loaded all the elements of our scene we can mark the node with the object, and in the options tab click the icon with the key picture (Edit setting geometry files.) The main part of the head is a subdivision mesh, so I've set the subdivision level to "1" and left the rest of the settings unchanged. In the options window you can also set parameters such as smoothing angle, the type of subdivision and more.
If you've made changes on a model you can use the Reload icon, beside the Setting icon and Import mesh - In the top left corner of the window. For items in the scene to be visible, we have to connect them to the node (the render target.)
Step 3: Camera setup
Using nodes in the Octane is very convenient; I have used them to create several camera settings: Front view, ¾ view and Profile view. Navigation of the camera in Octane takes place in the render window. This makes it more intuitive than in standard 3D applications. Navigating the camera is possible using keyboard shortcuts and the mouse. We can also define our own shortcuts, which is very handy when transferring navigation preferences from another application.
Step 4: Materials setup
I used two types of material for this scene. I used a Glossy material type with base color and displacement textures for the head elements of the mesh. For the eyes I used simple glass material from LiveDB. Octane has quite a good selection of ready to us base materials, many of which are really useful; glass or metal for example. Organic models has some nice materials for skin, of course we can improve them in our own way. For the lighting on the head I used a Diffuse material with emission on "20k" power; this produced a light source similar to a fluorescent light bulb.
Octane has four types of material:
Diffuse - Used for rough, non-reflecting materials, as well as light emitting meshes.
Glossy - Used for shiny materials such as plastics or metals.
Specular - Used for transparent materials such as glass and water.
Mix - Used to mix any two material types.
Portal - Used to designate openings in scenes to allow the render kernel to sample light from those areas better.
Step 5: Basic lighting setup
One great advantage of Octane is the ability to very quickly light the scene to see how it will affect your work. I always use the Daylight environment at the beginning - In the Sun direction panel you can adjust the daylight using the world map. It allows you to specify the time and season of the year depending on the light you need. One very interesting option is "sky turbidity." It allows you to slightly soften the edges of the shadows and cause the light to be more diffuse and soft. The render target node has two slots to which you can connect specific lighting and environment maps. For my model I used white color images like a background.