How to Make an Escheresque Nightmare in 3ds Max
What’s there in the dark? A pink tentacle monster with yellow eyes, trying to catch me when I sleep? Oh, no, just a heap of clothes.
Fox Renderfarm, as a world-leading cloud rendering service provider, sponsored the 30th CG Boost Challenge themed on "Monster in the Closet". And we are glad to have an interview with the 1st Place winner, Tom Doizy. His work stands out for its Escher composition effect, the fisheye effect and delicate details.
“Out of time or space, neither awake nor asleep, reality melts into nightmares… Can’t wait for the alarm to ring.”
© Tom Doizy
Fox Renderfarm: Hello Tom, thank you for accepting our interview. Could you please give us a brief introduction?
Tom: Hi, I'm a 25 years old french CG enthusiast, currently living in Réunion island, and improving my CG knowledge with a perspective of making a living from it. Indeed, after working in scientific research and woodworking, I am now fully engaged in this long-standing passion that is CG for me.
Fox Renderfarm: Congrats on winning 1st Place in the CGBoost Monster in the Closet Challenge, how do you feel about it? Could you share with us the inspiration behind it?
Tom: I'm really happy about this challenge. I feel like I have succeeded in sharing the great pleasure I had in making this image. I’d like to thank my roommates and friends who deserve those congratulations too for their precious help. This is my second participation in a CGBoost Challenge. I did submit an entry for the previous one, « Treehouse », which has already been a great experience. After that, when the new topic « Monster in the closet » came up, I went through some research. Yet, I was not inspired enough and decided not to participate. Two days later, while looking at some M.C. Escher artworks with something else in mind, I felt unsettled by what I saw. It gave me the same exact disturbing feeling that a monster in a closet could evoke for me. I have found it interesting to make people feel this uneasiness without explicitly showing what causes it. I therefore started to blockout a scene with this idea leading my way.
Treehouse © Tom Doizy
Fox Renderfarm: The camera angle you chose is quite unique and made the artwork outstanding, why did you choose this angle? Is there any special consideration for the composition of the whole picture?
Tom: The choice of this camera angle was one of the major ideas when I was designing the image, it was actually the first element I set up in the scene. I wanted the child surrounded by his nightmare. The overlooking fish-eye makes him crushed by all the walls of his bedroom. It also helped to show him being drawn into a vertiginous bottomless pit.
Fox Renderfarm: There are many details on the floor, how did you make the scratchy effects of the wooden floor? Did you model from scratch?
Tom: Like the camera angle, I had this floor in mind from the beginning. I first modeled a simple wooden floor, with separated planks, then I used a particle system, made with TyFlow, to create this effect. After tweaking the parameters several times, I finally got a result I was happy with.
Fox Renderfarm: The interleaving effects of the space add some surreal touch to the artwork, how did you achieve that ?
Tom: I tried to take advantage of working in a virtual world to be able to create impossible spaces. So after some head scratching and rotations in every possible direction, I certainly came up with the least coherent scene I've ever done, as these views demonstrate !
Fox Renderfarm: The numerous doors make the lighting sophisticated, could you elaborate on some more details about the lighting design?
Tom: The only lighting in the scene came from the doors and the bedside lamp. Given the angle of the scene, its geometry and the extreme fish-eye, the lighting knowledge I had was not relevant. Because the door lighting tended especially to drag too much attention, I had to try a few different approaches, to play with the opening of each door, to test many distances and intensities for each light...
Fox Renderfarm: What software and plugins did you use for the artwork?
Tom: My main 3D software is 3ds Max, I used V-ray as renderer and Photoshop for the final compositing. The only plugin used in this scene is TyFlow for the wooden floor.
Fox Renderfarm: How long did it take to finish the artwork? What is the most challenging part? How did you solve it?
Tom: I estimate that I spent about 100 hours on this project, spread over 3 weeks, and most of that time was dedicated to polishing details. One challenging part was to make the fish-eye effect. The settings in my software did not allow me to distort the image that much, so I had to point my camera at a spherical mirror to get the effect. The drawbacks of this trick were that I could not use any render passes to help the composting process. Also I could not use hidden lights to enhance the details I wanted (because they were still shown in the reflection), and the rendering time was considerably longer: the 4K version took nearly 24 hours to render.
Monster in the closet 4K
Fox Renderfarm: How did you encounter CG? Could you share with us your educational and work experiences?
Tom: I discovered CG during a school internship at the age of 13, and I have never stopped since. I've been spending an increasing amount of time on it for the last 2 years, and the more I explore this world, the more I like it. After graduating from French highschool, I studied science, which led me to work for a year in electrochemistry research. I then studied cabinet making for a year and worked in this field for another year. I stopped this job a few months ago, and I am now training full time in CG. Here are some examples of personal and professional work I recently did.
(Johanna Grégoire (pro) – Nature morte and Nature vivante (personal))
Fox Renderfarm: Any artwork or artist inspires you the most?
Tom: I would say Chopin! Sure it's not actually visual artwork, but I often listen to his pieces while working.
Fox Renderfarm: Is there anything you want to share with the CG enthusiasts?
Tom: Yes ! For the 3ds Max + Vray or Corona users, there is the excellent Adán Martín youtube channel, where I basically learned almost everything I know about texturing. There is also Unmesh Dinda from the channel PiXimperfect who is to me the best photoshop teacher I can think of.
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