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Making Of 'Far, Far Away'

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Date Added: 25th August 2009
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Half of the time when I start something. I don't have an initial concept in my head; I just start modelling, and when the model is ready I create a story based on it, and then an image.  The idea is then born along the process of creation.  It is like meditation.  "Far, Far Away" was done in this exact, same way.  I didn't even know what I was going to model when I started!  It was just one of my experiments.

I used Mudbox for sculpting.  I find this program very intuitive and responsive.  I created a cube and started sculpting.  My process of modelling is the usual one.  First I block the main masses and then go into detail.  The finished model was around 2,700,000 polygons.  It was subdivided 9 times and I used 20 layers for the different features of the creature.  To the right you can see the stages that I went through whilst sculpting (Fig01).

Fig. 01

Because I liked the result I decided to texture and render it in ZBrush.  By that time I was still using ZBrush 2.  The idea of the finished image was still quite far away at this point.  Once imported into ZBrush, I dropped it on the canvas, converted it to pixels and started playing with the lights and materials.   When I was quite satisfied I started painting the textures.  Because the object was converted to pixels, I was able to use the 2.5D tools.  They are extremely useful and very flexible.  All textures, including the eye, were painted by hand.  On the previous page there is a screen grab of it (Fig02).

Fig. 02

After finishing the textures, I got deeper into the lighting and materials.  I used 3 different modified versions of the QuadShader: one for the top part of the creature, one for the middle, and one for the lower part.  For the eye I used ToyPlastic shader.  In order to increase the specularity on some of the parts I painted them with another modified QuadShader.  On the previous page you can see an example of the image with the areas that I painted with different shaders (Fig03).

Fig. 03

To light it properly I used 5 lights: 3 sun and 2 point.  ZBrush is a bit different from the usual 3D software when it comes to rendering, but if lights, materials and render settings are combined properly you can get really solid results (Fig04).

Fig. 04

After this stage, the idea of a whole scene started to emerge.  I tried to imagine the environment that this creature could have lived in.  Because it wasn't supposed to be part of a scene, I didn't think about composition and stuff when dropping it on the canvas and rendering it (as you know, in ZBrush, once an object has been dropped it cannot be rotated in 3D).  That's why my task was quite difficult.  After some thinking, I made a very basic model of a circular composition of rocks.  It was done in Softimage XSI (Fig05).  I then imported it into Mudbox for detailing (Fig06).

Fig. 05

continued on next page >

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