The following is an excerpt from Digital Art Masters: Volume 4. In Digital Art Masters, you will meet some of the finest 2D and 3D artists working in the industry today and discover how they create some of the most innovative digital art in the world. In this excerpt, Andrei Kashkin walks you through his creation of his own personal work, Lonely Driver.
Lonely Driver was a personal project that became a great challenge for me, because I was using some of the programs and techniques for the very first time. The idea of creating a highly detailed image of a car on a road had been in my mind for a long time, but I just wasn’t sure how to make the concept look good … After watching a movie where the main character was rushing down the highway in rainy weather, I finally felt inspired; I could feel the loneliness of the character at the time, and I understood at that moment that I wanted to create the same feelings in my own artwork.
I really enjoyed making experiments for this project, and in total I spent about two months of my free time on it. To kick the project off, I started by searching for references on the internet. It was important to find not only photos of the desert, which I wanted to use in order to underline the feelings of emptiness and loneliness, but also to find images of a certain style. In the end, I decided to go with a different kind of scene – American grassland with an old 1980s gas station, with the 1970 Dodge Challenger car parked in front of it (Fig.01a – b).
I started by modeling the basic objects in low quality, in order to gauge the necessary composition early on. Almost all of the objects in the scene were made from primitives that were converted into editable polygons and then edited. Once objects displayed the correct geometrical form and looked natural, I applied chamfers along their corners and either altered the vertices manually or by way of the Noise modifier. The car, as the center of the composition, was modeled in high detail (Fig.02).
Bushes were created using Onyx Tree Storm. I made some different types of bushes, changing the parameters of the standard presets. I also created the dried-up stalks of the grass here, too, and for the grass arrangement I used the Adv Painter Script with different options for rotate, inclination and scale. Some kinds of grass were also modeled manually and multiplied using the Scatter function (Compound object). To place the grass in the cracks of the asphalt, I drew splines on the displacement structure; these splines were then scattered (Fig.03). The lawn in the distance was exported from Vue and multiplied with the Adv Painter script.
I used a VRay Physical Camera with 35 FOV. Upon its integration into the scene I tried to use the principles of classic photography to capture my image, in order to achieve a dramatic shot with good composition (Fig.04).
For me, the lighting setup was a very important part of the creation process of this work. With well-established lighting it is possible to achieve tremendous results. I used the sky’s HDR, which was made in Vue (Fig.05a – b); it worked well as the intensity of illumination and its color depended on a sky texture. I therefore got rid of any wrong adjustment sources of illumination and the rendered picture looks natural as a result. I wanted the sun to be behind the clouds, close to the horizon line in order that the scene received illumination with soft shadows; all parameters were set in the Atmosphere Editor. When I achieved some nice results, I rendered the sky in an HDR fi le. I also used additional light sources: a VRay Light plane in the building and a VRay Light dome for the whole scene (this way it was possible to supervise the brightness of the scene at invariable brightness levels of the sky).
Shaders & Textures
For the texture creation I used photos from the internet and dirt masks from the Total Textures collections. The majority of the materials were made as VRayMtl shaders with diffuse, bump and reflection maps. Sometimes for the bump maps I used noise and smoke maps or a combination in a mixed map. You can see some examples in Fig.06a – c. It was necessary to give special attention to the wet asphalt, as there were two types used in the scene (Fig.07). As a basis I took materials from vraymaterials.de, but they did need to be altered in order for me to achieve the necessary results. Cracks on the road were made by displacing textures with cracks. Plants were textured with procedural materials (in the diffuse maps there was a noise map with different colors of grass), but because each type of grass had a separate material, it created a realistic-looking result.
The weather was of great importance in terms of capturing the mood of the image. You can see the fog and the rain which were made using particle flow (Fig.08); a drip system was bound with gravitation and wind force. For the splash deflector I used the UOmniFlect deflector containing the objects in the scene (because of the miscalculation of collisions I needed lots of system resources and a lot of time, and therefore the objects that were low poly, along with the small objects, including the grass, were not involved) (Fig.09). The rain consisted of about 6000 droplets, which were rendered as spheres with motion blur. The fog was also made with particle flow with wind force, and was rendered with the AfterBurn plugin. The scene was rendered in separate layers (this way was faster, plus it was possible to regulate the color parameters individually).
Rendering & Post-Production
The scene was rendered using V-Ray, without GI in order to reduce the render time and PC resources. Standard options were used; I only changed anti-aliasing on Catmull-Rom and in the adaptive subdivision window image sampler, and I changed the value of Clr tresh to 0,0.
Post-processing work would have been easy in any program; for this image I used Photoshop. I changed the brightness/contrast, color balance and saturation for each layer, and then merged it with different opacity and blending parameters (Fig.10a – c).
The searching of references is a very important stage for me in which I define the details and solve how the final image will look. Without sketches, I start work from rough modeling through to the details, and then I pass to the lighting setup and finally the shading. In the course of creating a work I experiment, using different programs and working methods to achieve good results and get lots of experience. High scene detailing allows you to concentrate on the idea and the mood, and not detract from the quality of the work.
Excerpt from Digital Art Masters: Volume 4 by 3dtotal.Com © 2009 Taylor & Francis Group. All Rights Reserved. Digital Art Masters can be purchased Amazon.com,BN.com, and wherever fine books can be found.