Ballerina: A CGI Fantasy Created by Kay John Yim
As an architect, Kay John Yim is busy with his daily work. But with his passion for CG art, he has taught himself more than 30 CG software and plug-ins in 2-3 years and has created many fantastic CG works in his spare time. His artworks are rich in detail, magnificent, delicate, and full of romantic imagination.!Collection of WorksJohn's recent works © Kay John Yim!JohnKay John YimChartered Architect & CGI ArtistJohn grew up in Hong Kong, and graduated from the University of Bath (UK) with a degree in Science/Architectural Studies. And he was an exchange student in Architecture at Delft University of Technology (Netherlands). After graduation, he studied architecture at the Architectural Association School of Architecture. He is currently an architect at Spink Partners, a well-known British architectural design firm.Kay John Yim’s personal site: https://johnyim.com/ArtStation: https://www.artstation.com/johnyimThe making-of tutorial article of "Ballerina" was wrote by Kay John Yim for Fox Renderfarm, which is a leading cloud rendering service provider and GPU&CPU render farm:Project "Ballerina" is a 30-second full CG animation, my first personal project to feature an animated photorealistic CG character staged within a grand Baroque rotunda lounge.Ballerina © Kay John YimThe animation is a representation of my inner struggles in all artistic pursuits, both metaphorically and literally.Ballet, an art form widely known to have stringent standards of beauty and highly susceptible to public and self-criticism, is the metaphor of my daily professional and artistic practice. As an architect by day, I work on architectural visualizations, where every detail is being scrutinized by my colleagues, senior architects and clients. As an artist by night, I work on personal CG projects, of which I would do hundreds and up to thousands of iterations to get the perfect compositions and color schemes. No matter how proficient I become in my professional and artistic skills, the inner struggle never fades away.!FINAL RENDER STILL IMAGE 1Ballerina © Kay John YimThe project is also literally a technical struggle - every step of the CG character creation process was alien to me. When I started working on the project, I struggled to find a comprehensive guide for creating photorealistic character animation - almost every article or tutorial I came across were either too specialized or too impractical for an indie CG artist to follow.Through months of trial and error, I have since learned a lot about efficient character animation and rendering. This article is an intermediate guide for any indie artists like myself who want to take their CG art to the next level. As much as I would love to cater the guide for everyone, it is practically impossible to cover the nuts and bolts of every piece of software I use, hence I have included links to tutorials or resources wherever possible for beginners to follow along.!FINAL RENDER STILL IMAGE 2Ballerina © Kay John YimThe guide is divided into 4 main parts:- The Architecture- The Character- The Animation- RenderingSoftware I used include:- Rhino- Moment of Inspiration 4 (MOI)- Cinema4D (C4D)- Redshift (RS)- Character Creator 3 (CC3)- iClone- ZBrush & ZWrap- XNormal- Marvelous Designer 11 (MD)- Houdini 1. THE ARCHITECTUREMy primary software for architectural modeling is Rhino.There are many different ways to approach architectural modeling. Having used dozens of CAD and DCC software as an Architect, Rhino is arguably the best architectural modeling software for its accuracy and versatility. Rhino's main advantage over some other more popular DCCs like Cinema4D (C4D) or Houdini is its capability in handling very detailed curves in large quantities. As an Architect, every model I built always started with a curve, usually in the shape of a wall section, cornice or skirting section, swept along another curve of a plan. Rhino's command list might seem overwhelming at first, but I almost exclusively used a dozen of them to turn curves into 3D geometry:- Rebuild- Trim- Blend- Sweep- Extrude- Sweep 2 Rails- Flow Along Surface- Surface from Network of CurvesThe key to architectural modeling is to always use reference wherever possible. I always have PureRef open at the right bottom corner of my screen to make sure I model in correct proportions and scale. This usually includes actual photos and architectural drawings. For this particular project I used the Amalienburg Hunting Lounge in Munich as my primary reference for the architecture.!SCREENSHOT 1PureRef board for the projectI downloaded as many high-res references as possible, which included photos of different camera angles, different lighting and weather conditions. This gave me a wide range of details to work with, as well as a general idea of the space relative to human scale.While the architecture consisted of 3 parts - the rotunda, the hallway and the end wall - they were essentially the same module. Hence I initially modeled one wall module consisting of a mirror and a window, duplicated and bent along a circle to get the walls of the rotunda. !GIF 1Rhino modeling always begins with curves!GIF 2wall module duplicated and bent along a curveThe module was reused for both the hallway and the end wall to save time and (rendering) memory.Having built up a library of architectural profiles and ornaments over the past year, I was able to reuse and recycle profiles and ornaments for the modeling of the architecture.Ornament modeling could be a daunting task, but with a couple of ornaments modeled I simply duplicated and rearranged them geometrically to get unique shapes. !GIF 3Rhino ornament placementThe ceiling ornament for instance, was basically a single ornament that covered 1/8 of the dome surface, but radially duplicated 8 times to cover the entire ceiling. The same technique also applies to modeling of the chandelier.All the objects within Rhino were then assigned to different layers by material; this made material assignment a lot easier later on in C4D.assigning objects to layers by materialNotes:The best way to get familiar with Rhino navigation is to model small-scale objects. Simply Rhino has a great beginner's series in modeling a teapot in Rhino:I have posted a few WIP montages on my Youtube channel, while not meant to be tutorials, one should be able to get an overview of my modeling process:https://www.youtube.com/c/jyjohnyimA detailed Rhino tutorial for modeling ornaments:For anyone in a pinch, there are pre-built ornaments for purchase on 3D model stores like Textures.com; some ornament manufactures have free models available for download on Sketchfab and 3dsky. Exporting from Rhino to C4DAfter 4 days of architectural modeling, the Rhino model eventually consisted of 50% NURBS and 50% mesh. I used NURBS mostly for the primary architectural elements (walls, cornices, skirtings) and mesh for the ornaments.Rhino is primarily a NURBS (Non-Uniform Rational B-Splines) software; and although NURBS models are very accurate in representing curve and surface data, most render engines or DCCs do not support NURBS.For this reason I exported the NURBS and MESHES to .3dm and .FBX respectively, and used Moment of Inspiration (MOI) to convert the NURBS model to a mesh.MOI has the best NURBS to quad mesh conversion(over Rhino or any other DCCs) - it always gives a clean mesh that could then be easily edited or UV-mapped for rendering.exporting from MOI Importing into C4DImporting the FBX file into C4D was relatively straightforward, but there were a couple of things I paid attention to, notably the import settings, the model orientation and file unit, listed below in order of operation:1) open up a new project in C4D (project unit in cm);2) merge FBX;3) check "Geometry" and "Material" in the merge panel;4) change imported geometry orientation (P) by -90 degree in the Y-axis;5) use script "AT Group All Materials" to automatically organize Rhino materials into different groups.importing FBX exported from MOI!GIF 7importing FBX exported directly from RhinoI modeled half of the architecture in rhino and then mirrored it as an instance in C4D, since everything is symmetrical.!GIF 8C4D instance & mirroringThe floor (Versailles Parquet tiles) was modeled using photo-texturing method, most widely touted by CG artist Ian Hubert. I applied a Versailles Parquet tile photo as texture on a plane, then sliced up the plane with a "knife" tool to get the reflection roughness variations along the tile grouts. This allowed me to add subtle color and dirt variations with Curvature in Redshift.The floor tile was then placed under a Cloner to be duplicated and spanned over the entire floor.!GIF 9Cloning floor tilesNotes:C4D and Rhino use different Y and Z orientations, hence FBX directly exported from Rhino has to be rotated in C4D.Download link for "AT Group all materials" script: http://www.architwister.com/portfolio/c4d-script-group-materials/Ian Hubert's Youtube Channel has a lot of useful and efficient CG techniques, photo-texturing being one of the most popular:https://www.youtube.com/c/mrdodobird/videos Architectural Shading (Cinema4D + Redshift)Since I grouped all the meshes by materials in advance, assigning materials was just as simple as dragging and dropping to the material groups as cubic maps or Tri-planar maps.I used Textures.com, Greyscalegorilla's EMC material pack and Quixel Megascans as base materials for all my shaders.For ACES to work correctly within Redshift, every texture has to be manually assigned to the correct color space in the RS Texture Node; generally diffuse/albedo maps belong to "sRGB", and the rest (roughness, displacement, normal maps) belong to "Raw".My architectural shaders were mostly a 50/50 mix of photo texture and "dirt" texture to give an extra hint of realism.!SCREENSHOT 2RS Shader Graph of the wall material 2. THE CHARACTERThe base character was created in Character Creator 3 (CC3) with Ultimate Morphs and SkinGen plugins - both of which were very artist friendly with self-explanatory parameters. Ultimate Morphs provided precise slider controls to every bone and muscle size of the character, while SkinGen gave a wide range of presets for skin color, skin texture detail and makeup.I also used CC3's Hair Builder to apply a game-ready hair mesh to my character.!GIF 10CC3 morphing & Hair Builder Face TexturingFace was the one of the most important parts of the CG character that required extra attention. The best workflow I found to add photorealistic detail was the "Killer workflow" using Texturing XYZ's VFace model and Zwrap.VFACE is a collection of state-of-the-art photogrammetry human head models produced by Texturing XYZ; every VFACE comes with 16K of photoscanned skin textures, displacement and utility maps; Zwrap is a ZBrush plugin that allows one to automatically fit a pre-existing topology to a custom model.The "Killer workflow" essentially matches the VFACE mesh shape to the CC3 head model; using the Killer workflow, I was able to bake all the VFACE details down to the CC3 head model once the 2 mesh shapes are matched up.My adaptation of the "Killer workflow" can be broken down as follow:1) export T-posed character from CC3 to C4D;2) delete all polygons except the head of the CC3 character;3) export both CC3 head model and VFACE model to ZBrush;4) use MOVE/Smooth brush to maneuverer VFACE model to fit as closely as possible to the CC3 head model;5) launch ZWRAP, click and match as many points as possible, notably around the nose, eyes, mouth and ears;6) let ZWRAP process the matched up points;7) ZWRARP should then be able to output a VFACE model that matches perfectly to the CC3 head model;8) feed both models into XNormal and bake the VFACE textures to the CC3 head model.!GIF 11matching points of VFACE (left) & CC3 HEADS (right) in ZWRAPNotes:Full "Killer Workflow" Tutorial on Textureing.XYZ's official Youtube channel:I recommend save the matching points in ZWRAP before processing.I also recommend baking all the VFACE maps individually in XNormal as they are very high-res and could crash XNormal when baked in batch. Skin Shading (Cinema4D + Redshift)Once I had the XYZ texture maps ready, I then exported the rest of the character texture maps from CC3.After that, I imported the character into C4D, and converted all the materials to Redshift materials.At the time of writing, Redshift unfortunately did not yet support Randomwalk SSS (a very realistic and physically accurate subsurface scattering model found in other renderers like Arnold), hence required a lot more tweaking when it came to rendering skin.The 3 levels of subsurface scattering were driven by a single diffuse material with different "Color Correct" settings. !SCREENSHOT 3RS Shader Graph of "Leg" materialThe head shader was a mix of both the CC3 textures and VFACE textures; the VFACE multichannel displacement was blended with the "microskin" CC3 displacements map.!SCREENSHOT 4RS Shader Graph of "Head" material!GIF 12Character look-dev!SCREENSHOT 5close-up render of the characterA “Redshift Object” was applied to the character to enable displacement - only then would the VFACE displacements show up in render.Note:Skin shading is one of the most advanced aspects in rendering. Linked below one of the most helpful tutorial for Redshift Skin shading: Hair ShadingHaving experimented with grooming using C4D Ornatrix, Maya Xgen and Houdini, I decided that using the baked hair mesh from CC3 for project "Ballerina" was leaps and bounds more efficient down the line.I use a Redshift "glass" material with CC3 hair textures maps fed into the "reflection" and "refraction" color slots, as hair (in real life) reacts to light like tiny glass tubes.Note:For anyone interested in taking the CC3 hair to the next level of realism, CGcircuit has a great vellum tutorial dedicated to hair generation and simulation.!GIF 13early test of CC3 mesh hair to hair geometry conversion in Houdini 3. THE ANIMATION Character Animation (iClone)I then exported the CC3 Character to iClone for animation.I considered a couple of ways to approach realistic character animation, these included:1) using off-the-shelf mocap data (Mixamo, Reallusion Actorcore);2) comissioning a mocap studio to do bespoke mocap animation;3) using a mocap suit (e.g. Rokoko or Xsens) for custom mocap animation;4) old-school keyframing.Having experimented with various off-the-shelf mocap data, I found Mixamo mocaps to be way too generic, most of which look very robotic; Reallusion Actorcore had some very realistic motions, but I could not find exactly what I needed for the project.With no budget and (my) very specific character motion requirements, option 2 and 3 were out of the picture. This led me to old-school keyframing.First I screen-captured videos of ballet performances and laid them out frame by frame in PureRef. I then overlaid the PureRef reference (in half opacity) over iClone, and adjusted every character joint to match my reference using “Edit Motion Layer”.!GIF 14Pose 1Pose 2!GIF 16final character animationThe animated characters were then exported to Alembic files.NOTE:While my final project concept depicted ballerinas in slow motion, my original idea was actually to keyframe a 20-second ballet dance, which I very quickly realized to be bad idea for a number of reasons:1) in slow motion a lot of frames could be interpolated, but real time motion involved a lot of unique frames and hence required a lot more tweaking;2) subsequently more unique frames meant more rendering problems (flickering, tessellation issues etc.).!GIF 17early test render of my original ideaConsidering this as my first character animation project, I came to the conclusion of doing a slow-motion style sequence instead - 2 unique poses with 160 frames of motion each. Garment SimulationCloth simulation was by far the most challenging part of the project.The two major cloth simulation/solvers that I considered were Marvelous Designer (MD) and Houdini Vellum.While Houdini Vellum was much more versatile and more reliable than Marvelous Designer, I personally found it to be way too slow and therefore impractical without a farm (one frame of cloth simulation could take up to 3 minutes in Houdini Vellum vs. 30 seconds in Marvelous Designer on a Threadripper PRO 3955WX with 128GBs ram).Cloth simulation in MD, while generally a lot quicker to setup than Houdini vellum, was not as straightforward as I imagined.Simulated garments in MD always came with some form of glitches; this included cloth jittering, piercing through character or just complete dislocations. Below are some of the settings I tweaked to minimize glitches:1) using "Tack" to attach parts of the garment to the character;2) increasing cloth "Density" and "Air Damping" to prevent garment from moving too fast and subsequently move out of place;3) simulate parts of the garment in isolation - though not physically accurate, allowed me to iterate and debug a lot quicker.I also reduced "Gravity" in addition to the above tweaks to achieve a slow-motion look.!SCREENSHOT 7MD Simulation Settings!GIF 18MD simulationNote:Due to the license agreement of a sewing pattern I used, I am not able to share screenshots of my garment creation process. However the official Marvelous Designer Youtube channel has a lot of garment modeling livestreams which I find to be the most helpful resource for learning MD:Alternatively there are a lot of readily available 3D garment online (notably on Marvelous Designer's official site or Artstation Marketplace) which I used as a basis for a lot of my projects.MD is extremely prone to crashing, there is also a bug in both MD10 and MD11 that prevents saving of simulated garments 90% of the time, so always export simulated garment as Alembic files rather than relying on MD to save the simulation. Simulation Clean-upAfter dozens of simulations, I would then import the MD exported Alembic files into Houdini, where I did a lot of manual cleanups, this included:1) manually fixing collided cloth and character with "Soft Transform";2) reducing simulation glitches with "Attribute Blur";3) blending together preferable simulations from different alembic files with "Time Blend".!GIF 19cleaning up simulated cloth in Houdini with "Soft Transform"There are two tutorials that explain the Houdini cloth cleanup process in great detail, which I watched on a loop while working on the project:Cloth Production in Houdini:https://www.cgcircuit.com/tutorial/houdini-cloth-in-productionHoudini Vellum Creature Setup:https://www.cgcircuit.com/tutorial/houdini-vellum-creature-setupThe cleaned-up cloth simulation was then exported as Alembic to C4D. Alternative to Garment SimulationFor anyone frustrated by the impractical Houdini Vellum cloth simulation times and MD glitches, an alternative would be to literally attach the garment to the character's skin in CC3 - a technique most commonly found in game production.attaching garment to character in CC3While this is a great time-saver alternative, garment created in CC3 lacks realistic cloth movements and wrinkles; I recommend only using this method for objects tightly attached to the character (shoes) or only as a last resort for garment if MD cloth simulation keeps failing.Note:Linked below Reallusion's official guide for creating game-ready garments:https://manual.reallusion.com/Character_Creator_3/ENU/3/Content/Character_Creator_3/3/08_Cloth/Creating_Custom_Clothes_OBJ.htm Garment Baking and ShadingOnce I was done with cloth simulation in MD and clean-up in Houdini, I imported the Alembic file into C4D.MD Alembic files always show up in C4D as one alembic object without any selection sets; this makes material assigning impossible.This was where C4D baking came to play - a process I used for converting the Alembic file into C4D object with PLA (Point Level Animation):1) drag the alembic object into C4D timeline;2) go to "Functions";3) "Bake Objects";4) check "PLA";5) then bake.Going through the steps above I was able to get a baked down C4D object that I could easily select polygons and assign multiple materials using selection sets.I then exported an OBJ file from MD with materials, imported into C4D and dragged the selection sets directly onto the baked down garment object. This eliminated the need to manually reassign materials in C4D.I used a blend of linen texture maps (from Quixel Megascans Bridge) and Redshift Car Shader to emulate sequins fabric (think "blink") found in a lot of professional ballet tutu dresses.!SCREENSHOT 8close-up render of the fabric materialNote: Youtube Travis Davis has a tutorial demonstrating the exact procedures:WARNING: do not use AO or Curvature nodes for the simulated garment materials (or any animated object), as they could potentially produce glitches in final renders. 4. RENDERING Lighting & EnvironmentAlthough I tried to keep my lighting as minimal as possible, project "Ballerina" inevitably required a lot of tinkering due to the nighttime setting.The nighttime HDRI did not provide sufficient ambient light to the interior space, and the chandelier bulbs were way too dim as the primary light source. Ultimately I placed an invisible spot light under the center chandelier and used a fake spot light that only affected all the architectural ornaments. The fake light provided an extra level of bounce light that gave just the right amount of illumination without ruining the moody atmosphere.I also added a "Redshift Environment" controlled in Z axis multiplied with "Maxon Noise" to give more depth to the scene. Exterior-wise, I scattered 2 variations of Dogwood Trees with C4D "Matrix" in the surrounding area. They were lit from ground up in the scene to give extra depth.In summary lighting of the scene includes:1) Dome light (nighttime HDRI) x 12) chandelier (mesh lights) x 33) Spot Light (center) x 14) exterior Area Lights x 45) fake Area Light positioned under chandelier (includes architectural ornaments only)!SCREENSHOT 9RS lightsNotes:Redshift has a very good tutorial on Youtube on controlling the Redshift Environment:The trees were generated with SpeedTree.Lighting takes a lot of consistent practice to master; apart from my daily CG practice, I spent a lot of time watching b-rolls/breakdowns of movies - for instance I took a lot of inspiration from Roger Deakin's lighting and cinematography, as well as Wes Anderson's frame composition and color combinations. Camera MovementsAll my camera movements were very subtle. This included dolly, camera roll and panning shots, all driven with Greyscalegorilla's C4D plugin Signal.I personally prefer using Signal for its non-destructive nature, but old-school key-framing would work just fine for similar camera movements.!SCREENSHOT 10Signal Graph Draft RendersOnce I had the character animations, cloth simulations and camera movements ready, I began to do low-res test renders to make sure that I would not get any surprises during the final renders, this included:1) flipbook (openGL) renders to ensure the timing of the animations were optimal;2) low-res low-sample full sequence renders to ensure there were no glitches;3) full-res (2K) high-sample still renders with AOVs (diffuse, reflection, refraction, volume) to check what contributed to the prevalent noise if any;4) submitting test render to Fox Renderfarm to ensure the final renders matched up with my local renders.This process lasted over 2 months with iterations and iterations of renders and corrections.!GIF 21close-up shot I!GIF 22close-up shot II!GIF 23final shot Final Renders & DenoisingI used a relatively high-sample render setting for the final renders, as interior scenes in Redshift were generally prone to noise.!SCREENSHOT 11!SCREENSHOT 12!SCREENSHOT 13!SCREENSHOT 14RS final render settingsI also had motion blur and bokeh turned on for the final renders - in general motion blurs and bokehs look better (more physically accurate) in-render compared to motion blurs and bokehs added via compositing.Half of the final 2K sequence was rendered on a local workstation, while the rest was rendered on Fox Renderfarm, totalling about 6840 hours of render time on dual RTX 3090 machines.I used Neat Video for denoising the final shot, whereas the closeup shots were denoised using Single Altus (in Redshift).Note:Always turn “Random Noise Pattern” off under Redshift “Unified Sampling” when using “Altus Single” for denoising. Redshift Rendering GI TrickRedshift's GI Irradiance Cache calculation could be quite costly; my final renders for instance have an average of 5 minutes of GI Irradiance Caching time for each frame.In Vray there was an option in the IR/LC setting named "use camera path", designed specifically for scenes where the camera would move through a still scene. Once "use camera path" was enabled Vray would then only calculate one frame of GI cache for an entire sequence.There is a Redshift Forum post written by Andrian that explains how he was able to replicate the same function in Redshift.Borrowing a page from Vray, I use the following motion blur settings to calculate the first frame of Irradiance Cache:!SCREENSHOT 13RS rendering GI trick motion blur settingThe one Irradiance Cache is then used to render the entire sequence. Two shots of the project were rendered using one single GI cache, resulting in a 10% faster render time overall.NOTE:The GI trick only applies to shots with very little motion; when applied to the 2 closeup shots of project "Ballerina" for example, I got light patches and ghosting on the character skin. ConclusionHaving spent months working on the project, I have gained an appreciation for traditional character animators - I never realized the amount of effort involved in crafting character animations, and the subtlety of details required to bring convincing CG characters to live.Though I would not consider myself to be a character artist, I personally think Character Animations are really powerful in making CG environments relatable, and therefore would still be an essential part of my personal CG pursuit moving forward.
Call for Submissions: SIGGRAPH Asia 2022 Computer Animation Festival
As the leading cloud rendering services provider, Fox Renderfarm is here to bring to you a news about SIGGRAPH Asia 2022 Computer Animation Festival.The SIGGRAPH Asia 2022 Computer Animation Festival (SACAF 2022) is now open for submissions. The festival invites creators from around the world to submit their projects and help showcase the world’s most innovative and exciting computer animation.This coming December, SACAF 2022 will convene in Daegu, South Korea to celebrate the vibrant, diverse, and inspiring world of computer animation. From short films to scientific visualizations to AI-enhanced deepfakes, this year’s festival promises its most expansive and compelling program ever.An international jury of top computer animation experts will judge the best works entered in each category; from that pool of top picks, they will hand out three prestigious 2022 awards: Best Student Project, Jury Special, and Best in Show. In addition, judges will select between 30-40 (or more) “best of the best” works from across the submission pool, to be curated into the two “stars” of the festival: the always spectacular Electronic Theater and Animation Theater screenings.Each year, the Electronic Theater and Animation Theater never fail to dazzle and delight conference audiences eager to sit back and enjoy an entertaining and thought-provoking sample of the world’s best CG animation.If it’s animated, and a computer was used at some part of its production, SACAF 2022 wants to see it! Join the festivities and help the festival honor the best in CG animation -- submit your latest projects in any of the following categories:1. Computer Animated Shorts: Includes character animation, narrative works, experimental works, opening sequences, game cinematics, selections and/or montages of animated television series, new-media format.2. Animated Feature Films: Selections and/or montages of computer animation created for animated feature films.3. Music Videos: Commissioned and/or independent works that use any combination of computer animation, digital effects, and live-action to illustrate, enhance, and/or complement a musical creation.4. TV and Web Commercials: Advertisements created entirely or partially with computer animation and/or digital effects. This category also includes promotional spots, broadcast bumpers and graphics, and public service announcements.5. Visualizations and Simulations: Computer animations created to explain, analyze, or visualize information for applications including scientific research, architecture, engineering, systems simulations, education, and documentary projects.6. Visual Effects for Films and TV Programs: Selections and/or montages of visual effects created for live-action films and/or for television programs.7. Real-Time Animation: Game, web, and mobile animations that are rendered in the same amount of time that it takes to play them back. Real-time technology demos are also encouraged! Real-time technology demos should be submitted to Real-Time Live!8. Others: Computer Animations that do not fit in any of the above categories.The submission deadline is 31 July 2022. Visit the SACAF 2022 webpage for more information, including how to submit, submission rules and requirements, and an FAQ.Or you can submit your work directly by logging into the SIGGRAPH Asia Submission System.Please share the news with classmates, team members, and colleagues - SACAF 2022 wants to see their work too!“Using new creative tools and collaboration platforms – from virtual production and game engine-based real-time workflows to visualizations powered by cloud-based, high-performance virtual workstations – more CG-enabled animation is being produced than ever before,” says SACAF 2022 Chair and AWN publisher and editor-in-chief, Dan Sarto. “People are back in theaters, streamers are stuffing their platforms with animated entertainment content for all audiences in all genres, the metaverse is on everyone’s tongues, and technology companies big and small continue to expand how big data can more easily and quickly be turned into useful imagery. We can’t wait to see the latest, most compelling, and inspiring computer animated works produced around the world. Be well, stay safe, and hopefully, we’ll see you this coming December in Daegu!”BY SIGGRAPH Asia
Fox Renderfarm Evergreen Program in 2022
Cloud Rendering Farm
In the season of rebirth, renewal and awakening, Fox Renderfarm launched Evergreen Program as a time-limited offer to benefit more individual artists and SMEs, which in turn to prosper with the CG community as a whole hand in hand.If you're a newly-registered user in 2022, start your rendering journey with a special offer from Fox Renderfarm now! Evergreen Program SPECIAL OFFER：If you meet the conditions, you'll get a $50 Render Coupon and also the Gold Membership for 90 days!Valid from April 27th to July 31th (UTC+8).Details：- All the coupons offered will be validated before 12/ 31/ 2022As the leading cloud rendering service provider, Fox Renderfarm will provide safe and fast cloud render farm services for our customers and we always focus on the continuous progress and development of the CG community.
Revealing Mitosis Process with Cinema 4D
Fox Renderfarm Interview
Initiated and organized by the best render farm Fox Renderfarm, FGT Art becomes a platform for all Fox Renderfarm users to show their impressive artworks and get awarded monthly. Fox Renderfarm is willing to support more creative artists and students. We are proud to announce the FGT Art February Winner, 2022 came to Dr. Thom Leach for his work “Mitosis”. Congratulations!Mitosis © Thom Leach Software & renderer used: Cinema 4D, Redshift, Adobe After Effects and Premiere ProDr. Thom’s award-winning artwork shows a mechanism that creates two identical daughter cells from a single parent cell. He introduced that during the progression, he tried to focus on the details of some key stages of mitosis, including interphase, prophase, prometaphase, metaphase, anaphase and telophase. The clips were rendered with Fox Renderfarm, the world-leading cloud rendering services provider. Thom Leach is a digital artist specializing in scientific visuals. He has a PhD in biotechnology (PhD, UoM) and has produced digital art in various forms for many years. Let's find out how he made the amazing artwork through the exclusive interview with Fox Renderfarm.!Dr. Thom LeachDr. Thom Leach Scientific Illustrator & Animator in Amoeba StudiosLondon, United Kingdom Fox Renderfarm: Hi Thom, thanks for accepting our interview, could you please introduce yourself?Thom: Hi there, I’m Thom Leach, a digital artist born in the UK who creates scientific animations and illustrations.!Mitosis © Thom Leach-4Mitosis © Thom Leach Fox Renderfarm: Congrats on winning the FGT Art February Winner, 2022! How do you feel about it?Thom: Thank you so much! I’m over the moon to be featured with you! I’ve used Fox Renderfarm for over a year now and have seen the great talents that your winning clients have. It’s an honor to be amongst them! Fox Renderfarm: How did you encounter CG? Could you share with us your educational and career experience?Thom: My background is actually very different from most people in the CG industry. I studied biotechnology and completed a PhD in the subject, but in the end, I decided that scientific research wasn’t for me. I’ve always had creative hobbies, including photography and music, so at that point, I searched for something creative within science. I started by offering basic 2D illustrations, but I gradually taught myself 3D techniques so that I could offer 3D illustrations and animations to clients too. Now, most of my work consists of 3D visuals and I really love how creativity is part of my everyday practice.!Mitosis © Thom LeachMitosis © Thom Leach Fox Renderfarm: What is your motivation for making science visuals?Thom: I’ve spent a lot of time in a scientific environment and I’ve really come to appreciate the work that scientists do each day. My work is all about showing the beauty in what they do, making it look cool, and making it easier to understand for people who don’t have the same background.I think science visuals are so important for public understanding: take an example, the illustrators Alissa Eckert and Dan Higgins who designed the SARS-CoV-2 illustration with the red spikes – this has been shared around the world and it’s given the public a better understanding of the virus we’re dealing with. Without illustrators and animators in this field, the information would be much denser and more difficult to understand.!SARS-CoV-2 illustration © Alissa Eckert & Dan HigginsSARS-CoV-2 illustration © Alissa Eckert & Dan Higgins Fox Renderfarm: Could you introduce some of your works of science visuals?Thom: Sure, one of the things I enjoy the most is designing covers for scientific journals like the examples below. For these illustrations, I usually use a combination of 3D software (Zbrush and Cinema 4D) and Photoshop. I love this type of work because each time you’re showing cutting-edge science that’s never been visualized in the same way before.Scientific journals' covers illustrated by Thom Leach (via: image.google.com)I’ve also recently been experimenting with C4D and seeing how far I can push simulations with X particles. I used this approach in March to give a unique representation of blood clotting to raise awareness of people living with bleeding disorders.Bleeding Disorders Awareness Month © Thom Leach Fox Renderfarm: What’s your inspiration for Mitosis?Thom: I created the animation Mitosis to show people something that happens inside the body that is essential for all human life on earth. It’s a process that connects us all, so I wanted to show that it’s fundamentally a beautiful thing. I used a lot of microscope images and scientific textbooks as my references to make the animation as scientifically accurate as possible. My biggest aim was to make something scientifically accurate for the audience and also looks beautiful.!Mitosis © Thom Leach-1Mitosis © Thom Leach Fox Renderfarm: How long did you finish the work?Thom: This animation took about 3 weeks in total while I was working on other projects at the same time. Fox Renderfarm: What software and plugins did you use for the animation?Thom: For the main part of the animation, I used Cinema 4D with the Redshift GPU render. I composited a background and extra effects onto the animation using Adobe After Effects and Premiere Pro. Fox Renderfarm: Did you meet any difficulties when creating this work? And how did you solve it?Thom: Yes, at the start I simulated the chromosomes (X shapes) as soft-body simulations, which was too much for my computer to process. So instead, I changed these to hair simulations with added geometry, and this made the processing times much faster.!Mitosis © Thom Leach-3Mitosis © Thom Leach!Mitosis © Thom Leach-2Mitosis © Thom Leach Fox Renderfarm: How do you improve your CG professional skills?Thom: I regularly set myself challenges to animate a new scientific concept. Nearly every time I face new challenges that lead me to improve my CG skills. Usually I find the solutions on YouTube or online in forums – never underestimate how much free information there is. Fox Renderfarm: Any artworks or artists inspire you the most?Thom: In my work, I’m very inspired by the works of David Goodsell and Drew Berry, who visualize the inner workings of our cells so accurately and beautifully. There are few artists within this field who have been able to recreate microscopic worlds in the same way like these artists.CytoSkeleton © David S. Goodsell Fox Renderfarm: How do you feel about Fox Renderfarm’s cloud rendering services?Thom: I’m very happy to work with Fox Renderfarm on my projects. Rex was my first contact at your company and he always offered the best support when I needed it for my renders. Fox Renderfarm: Any other things you want to share with the CG enthusiasts?Thom: I think it’s so important to continually create and show your work to others. By creating regularly and giving yourself new challenges, you will learn skills that will set you apart from the rest. From my own experience, even if you don’t have a background in CG, you can still forge a successful career in CG. By applying your own unique background, you can also find your niche in this industry.
Interview with Squids Visual Arts, VFX Creator of the Vodafone x Salah Campaign
Fox Renderfarm Interview
The legendary Mohamed Salah starred in a new Vodafone Egypt campaign themed “Our Strength in Encouragement”, showing the connectivity between the Egyptian people and the iconic football player in a fun way.Vodafone x Salah AD Fox Renderfarm, as a world-leading cloud render farm, is thrilled to have the chance to provide cloud rendering services to the amazing video by collaborating with Squids Visual Arts, a growing visual effects studio based in Cairo, Egypt, and also the pivotal vfx creator in the short.Vodafone Salah | VFX BreakdownMr. Yousef Taher, Owner and Co-founder of Squids Visual Arts had an in-depth conversation with Fox Renderfarm, revealing details of the ad, and sharing with us their endless pursuit of high-end output using top-notch technologies and techniques in Squids Visual Arts. Yousef TaherOwner & Co-founder Squids Visual Arts Fox Renderfarm: Hi Yousef, thank you so much for accepting our interview! Could you briefly introduce yourself?Yousef: I am a 3D artist with more than 12 years of experience. I have spent most of my career time experimenting different aspects in the industry, from modeling/texturing/lighting/rigging/animation/FX/previs and layout/compositing. For 3 years I have been focusing exclusively on FX and been featured on CGrecords and 3D total as well as Cebas thinking particles website. Then later now, I have been extensively focusing on 3D cinematic lighting and camera work as well as screenplay writing and directing. Now I have proudly founded Squids VFX with my other two partners 6 years ago. Our studio specializes in creating state of the art visual effects for TVC, dramas and feature films.Demo Reel | Compositing | Squids VFX Fox Renderfarm: The Vodafone Ad Campaign is so fun and creative. Could you share with us which part of the production that you are in charge of?Yousef: I was responsible for supervising the 3D Department, starting from creating a proper workflow to Assets LookDev. Along with the team leader and the rest of the very talented artists, we were able to create believable 3D renders that perfectly blend with the live action footage. Fox Renderfarm: When creating the campaign, did you meet any difficulty? How did you solve it?Yousef: Yes, of course we did face one big challenge which was the render time vs. the deadline. But thanks to Fox Renderfarm we were able to deliver 47 full CG shots in only 4 days. Fox Renderfarm: You are the partner of Squids VFX studio, could you share with us your story with Squids VFX?Yousef: Me and my partners have been working as CG supervisors for other big studios in Cairo for about 7 years. The three of us gained valuable experience in the industry, an experience that had a lot of achievements as well as frustrations. We thought that this is the perfect timing to start our studio with our own values and ambitions. and that was the start of our journey that has a lot of challenges to overcome. Fox Renderfarm: Squids VFX has been involved in the production of many movies and TV series, which of them is your most unforgettable one?Yousef: I remember in 2016 and 2017 we had three big projects with hundreds of challenging scenes. It was the Movie “30 Years Ago” and the Drama “Wanoos”as well as “Adly Allam”. We had very few artists at that time, and delivering those challenging scenes was almost a mission impossible. However, it was really fun to see amazing results coming out by just 5 artists on board.Teaser | 30 Years AgoBreakdown Reel | Wanoos | Squids VFXBreakdown | Adly Allam | Squids VFX Fox Renderfarm: Squids VFX also provides mind-blowing VFX to the advertising industry. What is your most unforgettable case? What did you think is the key to make the vfx in an ad pop up and assist the ad to convey its key message?Yousef: We worked on “Etisalat” TVC back in 2021, the required brief was really fun and interesting. However, the deadline was unforgiving. Despite this, we were able to create various static and animated assets, creatures, saucers, flaming meteors and mechs. We were very keen to carefully craft the details in each asset whether by modeling or through texturing. But we have all agreed that “details are what make the difference”. Breakdown Reel | Etisalat | Squids VFX Fox Renderfarm: As a partner for Squids VFX, what did you do to optimize the communication and cooperation to enhance the production efficiency?Yousef: Checkpoints were the primary key to ultimate productivity. whether those checkpoints are intended to follow up with the artists in-house or for the clients. It does put everyone on track and keep us perfectly aligned on the same page. instant feedback is what completes this process, it saves a lot of time that could be wasted with no use. Fox Renderfarm: How did you encounter CG? Could you briefly share with us your educational and work experience?Yousef: I studied directing for TV and got my bachelor degree in 2010. However, I have been professionally working in this career even before. My passion for creating moving elements have dictated me to dive deep into motion graphics for sometime, later, a vicious appetite for Film visual effects ate me from inside, I was working very hard to promote myself for big studios creating VFX for block-busters. In 2009 I was able to join one of those big studios and I was able to get myself credited in the movie “Zahaymer” and many other films after. !Poster of ZahaymerPoster of Zahaymer Fox Renderfarm: You also provided new techniques in the field of 3D animation by innovating your own facial motion capture techniques and rigging tricks. Could you introduce these new techniques to us?Yousef: Yes !! That was so much fun. A really long time ago, I was fascinated by mocap tech, especially facial capture. At that time it was really expensive to own the hardware and the software. So I came up with a manual offline solution, basically is to track points over a face using regular tracking softwares like syntheyes and then create an advanced facial rig in 3ds Max that is able to read those tracking points using a script that I have created, and attach them to the facial bones. it did drive the animation like a charm. It was tedious but totally worth trying. I think it was really cool at that time before things got really easy just using an iphone to capture movement in real-time. Fox Renderfarm: Any artist or artwork inspires you the most?Yousef: Of course, several artists do inspire me always.Tyson Ibele is my one true hero, he is insanely clever in all disciplines. The same is Ian Hubert. one new favorite artist is Oleg Vdovenko, known as “Chuvabak” . Just crazy good.!Tyson Ibele© Tyson IbeleEpisode 1 : Salad Mug - DYNAMO DREAM | Ian HubertwILL | Oleg Vdovenko Fox Renderfarm: What’s the next step for both you and Squids VFX?Yousef: We are now working on several projects that have extensive VFX work, really challenging projects. we are putting very high hopes to make it look stunning. The next big step is producing our own content. We are now working on our first production, a CG short that is mind bending. It will be a true breakthrough for Squids. Fox Renderfarm: How do you feel about the cloud rendering services of Fox Renderfarm?Yousef: Fox Renderfarm is a true lifesaver. Working on heavy projects simultaneously is not easy. Rendering them out will definitely clog your local farm. When you are under the stress of delivering within the unforgiving deadlines, things might go wrong. Fox Renderfarm is equipped with thousands of monster machines that are able to output shots like a shredder, enabling us to output several shots in parallel in no time. In a nutshell, because of Fox Renderfarm, being stressed about rendering is no more. Fox Renderfarm: Is there anything else you want to share with the CG enthusiast?Yousef: I know a lot of artists out there are working on their own projects and are concerned about cloud rendering being expensive, It is NOT. It is actually much cheaper to use it than building your own local farm. don’t be afraid and give it a shot, your work will come out to light much faster ;).
Creating a Angry Snowman With Blender
Fox Renderfarm Interview
FGT3D Snowman Challenge organized by the TPN-Accredited cloud rendering services provider, Fox Renderfarm, was started in September, 2021 and sponsored by our amazing sponsors, including Maxon, Chaos, Poliigon, HDR Light Studio, Pilgway, TopoGun, Graswald, Raysync, Textures.com, Texturebox and iCube R&D Group. After the selection by our jury, 3 Professional artworks and 3 Student artworks were picked and would be awarded the prizes provided by our amazing sponsors. Congratulations to all the winners! And thanks to everyone for participating!!FGT3D Snowman ChallengeCongrats to Shannon Hodgson for winning second place in the Student category with his work, Winter is Coming.“This is a very humorous image! A snowman is facing pumpkins who seem to want to stay. The lighting makes the snowman illuminated with a reddish-colored light and the pumpkins backlit, and helps the crash of the seasons look very intense.” One of our judges, Miho Aoki said, who is the Associate Professor of Computer Art University of Alaska Fairbanks.Here's the interview with Shannon, in which we could find out how he made the warm lighting and plenty of details in the modeling. !Winter is Coming © Shannon HodgsonWinter is Coming © Shannon Hodgson Fox Renderfarm: Hi, Shannon! Thank you so much for accepting our interview! Could you give us a brief introduction about yourself?Shannon: Hi, as you know my name is Shannon and I am from Australia. I’m 30 years old and I started 3D and blender about a year ago now. I’ve been doing everything to try and learn as much as possible but I feel like I’ve only just scratched the surface. Fox Renderfarm: Congratulations on winning 2nd place in the Student Category of the FGT3D Snowman Challenge, how do you feel about that?Shannon: There were some amazing entries, so I was very surprised but very grateful. Fox Renderfarm: How long did you finish the work, Winter is Coming?Shannon: It took about 4 weeks, maybe a little bit longer Fox Renderfarm: What software and plugins did you use?Shannon: It was all done in Blender. No plugins used. Fox Renderfarm: What’s the inspiration behind your artwork?Shannon: I wanted to do something a bit different than what you normally think about a snowman. I thought about what's the opposite of a cute, cuddly, friendly snowman and came up with an angry and aggressive one. I then began brainstorming what a snowman would be fighting and settled on the changing of seasons. Fox Renderfarm: Plenty of detail in the modeling and the scarf would have been a challenge. How did you make the character design and the composition?Shannon: I mainly used a sculpting workflow. The design, composition and concept went through so many changes as you can see from my early renders. I initially was going for a semi-realistic look before I scrapped that and went for a stylised design. There were going to be little snowman minions but that just wasn’t working either. A lot of the design and composition was just trial and error and I just persisted with it until I finally got what I was happy with. It took a long time. At one point I thought I was never going to get it right but I am glad I kept going with it. !Winter is Coming © Shannon Hodgson-1!Winter is Coming © Shannon Hodgson-2!Winter is Coming © Shannon Hodgson-3!Winter is Coming © Shannon Hodgson-4 Fox Renderfarm: The lighting makes the snowman illuminated with a reddish-colored light and the pumpkins backlit, and helps the crash of the seasons look very intense. How did you make the lighting?Shannon: I used the lighting system in Blender but again, just a lot of trial and error. I tried to do some god rays on the snowman initially but couldn’t get them to look good. After that, I got some feedback that my 3 point lighting system was just making the snowman look really flat which I realized was absolutely correct. I then just started trying to play around with it and realized I should be using the light that would be inside the pumpkins to intensify the mood. !Winter is Coming © Shannon Hodgson Fox Renderfarm: Did you meet any difficulties when creating this work? And how did you solve them?Shannon: As I said before, I struggled most with the composition. I think the most important thing I learnt was to not be afraid to delete things or go in a new direction if it's not working, even if you spent a fair bit of time on them. Fox Renderfarm: Any artists or artworks inspired you most?Shannon: “Stylised Snowman” by Roger Gerzner and also Grant Abbitt!Stylised Snowman © Roger GerznerStylised Snowman © Roger Gerzner Fox Renderfarm: Could you briefly tell us your educational and work experience along your CG journey? Shannon: I am a student of Youtube. Over the past year I have just been watching hours and hours of tutorials, practicing and learning. Big shoutouts to Grant Abbitt, CG Cookie, CG Boost and Ryan King Art who I have learnt so much from. Fox Renderfarm: Do you have any recommendable learning methods to improve professional skills?Shannon: Just practice, practice, practice. Also, get as much feedback as possible. Fox Renderfarm: What do you think of the FGT3D Challenge, any suggestions for us?Shannon: I found it really fun! Fox Renderfarm: Do you have any advice for future participants in the competition?Shannon: Don't give up and have fun with it.
How to Render Realistic Snow With Blender
FGT3D Snowman Challenge organized by the TPN-Accredited cloud rendering services provider, Fox Renderfarm, was started in September, 2021 and sponsored by our amazing sponsors, including Maxon, Chaos, Poliigon, HDR Light Studio, Pilgway, TopoGun, Graswald, Raysync, Textures.com, Texturebox and iCube R&D Group. After the selection by our jury, 3 Professional artworks and 3 Student artworks were picked and would be awarded the prizes provided by our amazing sponsors. Congratulations to all the winners! And thanks to everyone for participating!!FGT3D Snowman ChallengeCongrats to Swikar Poudel for winning third place in the Student category with his work, Snowman at the top of mountain.“Such a simple composition, yet it really appeals to me. There is a sense of peace and retrospection as the snowman looks out over the wide landscape. I love the overall mood and overcast lighting, and also technically I am very impressed with the realism of the snow - it is very hard to render snow, and this is some of the best I have seen.” One of our judges, the Corona Renderer Team said, who is also one of our sponsors.Here’s the interview between Swikar and Fox Renderfarm, in which we can find out how he created this wonderful 3D render.!Snowman at the top of mountain © Swikar Poudel-minSnowman at the top of mountain © Swikar Poudel Fox Renderfarm: Hi, Swikar! Thank you so much for accepting our interview! Could you give us a brief introduction about yourself?Swikar: Myself, Swikar Poudel from Nepal who loves to explore the science behind such a beautiful nature . I am a beginner blender artist . I joined the CG community 2 years ago!Fox Renderfarm: Congratulations on winning 3rd place in the Student Category of the FGT3D Snowman Challenge, how do you feel about that?Swikar: I feel very proud of myself as the judges knew what thing I wanted to emit through that CG image . Being a very very beginner , this achievement meant a lot to me! Fox Renderfarm: How long did you finish the work, Snowman at the top of mountain?Swikar: It really took 3 weeks . I used to imagine concept art while teachers were teaching subjects in School . Yeah ! It was a wonderful experience . Fox Renderfarm: What software and plugins did you use?Swikar: I used Blender for my artwork . I didn’t use any plugins . The thing I imported was a snow material from polyhaven . The materials of the mountains below were made by a combination of black and white color with noise . !Snow Material-1!Snow Material-2Snow Material Fox Renderfarm: What’s the inspiration behind your artwork?Swikar: I watched Nim’s Dai documentary called “14 PEAKS “ on Netflix. Scene I saw in it was my inspiration!14 Peaks: Nothing Is Impossible | Official Trailer | Netflix Fox Renderfarm: The realism of the snow is impressive. How did you make it?Swikar: By tweaking snow material , with displacement maps .. I searched google to know what real snow looks like and then I began to work for the realism of snow . I tweak the snow material for more than 3 days . Fox Renderfarm: The overall mood and overcast lighting are amazing. How did you make them?Swikar: We all know , at the top of the world there is no external lighting . So to make the scene as in the real world . I simply added HDRI and some Area lights.!HDRIHDRI Fox Renderfarm: Did you meet any difficulties when creating this work? And how did you solve them?Swikar: To make snow look like real snow was a great task to me which I solved by tweaking different values such as displacement , transparency etc . Fox Renderfarm: Could you briefly tell us your educational and work experience along your CG journey? Swikar: I am at School level right now . I am in Grade 11. I have about 1 year experience in CGI work ( except school days ). Fox Renderfarm: Do you have any recommendable learning methods to improve professional skills?Swikar: Being a complete beginner , I don’t have any suggestions! Fox Renderfarm: Have you ever tried Fox Renderfarm’s cloud rendering services? If yes, how do you like it?Swikar: I haven’t yet but I will surely try it . Fox Renderfarm: What do you think of the FGT3D Challenge, any suggestions for us?Swikar: It would be great if you list out the total number of participants at the time of publishing results . And also Computer hardwares and cash prizes would be great! Fox Renderfarm: Do you have any advice for future participants in the competition?Swikar: Give your best!
Interview With Andrey Oliver, Who Won First Place in the Student Category of FGT3D Snowman Challenge
FGT3D Snowman Challenge organized by the TPN-Accredited cloud rendering services provider, Fox Renderfarm, was started in September, 2021 and sponsored by our amazing sponsors, including Maxon, Chaos, Poliigon, HDR Light Studio, Pilgway, TopoGun, Graswald, Raysync, Textures.com, Texturebox and iCube R&D Group. After the selection by our jury, 3 Professional artworks and 3 Student artworks were picked and would be awarded the prizes provided by our amazing sponsors. Congratulations to all the winners! And thanks to everyone for participating!!FGT3D Snowman ChallengeCongrats to Andrey Oliver for winning first place in the Student category with his work Bewitched Friendship. Made with ZBrush, Blender, Substance Painter, Marvelous Designer, Photoshop and Lightroom, the technically accomplished entry stands out for its great modeling, materials and lighting.“I love the playful character design and the composition. The snowman’s magic wand wisely lights up the scene as practical lighting, making the viewer anticipate the next event in the characters’ journey. In addition, the characters’ rich details and expression really enhance their personalities.” One of our judges, Frank WANG Yefeng said, who is the Assistant Professor in the Art Department from Rhode Island College.!Bewitched Friendship © Andrey OliverBewitched Friendship © Andrey Oliver> Caption: A friendship of contrasts, a snowman wizard and his fire warrior friend, on a journey to free themselves from a spell, in the abandoned ruins in search of Gwydion's book, the book of a great old wizard, the only one capable of helping them.Let's find out how Andrey made the amazing artwork through the exclusive interview with Fox Renderfarm. Fox Renderfarm: Hi, Andrey! Thank you so much for accepting our interview! Could you give us a brief introduction about yourself? Andrey: Hi! Thank you very much for the opportunity, my name is Andrey. I am passionate about 2d art and especially 3D and I hope someday to work in a great 3D animation studio. Fox Renderfarm: Congratulations on winning 1st place in the Student Category of the FGT3D Snowman Challenge, how do you feel about that?Andrey: Thanks! I feel very happy to have competed with such good artists and especially to see an art that I dedicated so much to be in first place. Fox Renderfarm: How long did you finish the work, Bewitched Friendship?Andrey: This art took me quite a while, I started sketching my ideas from the first day it was announced focusing more on the Snowman design and then on the other elements.!Caleb O-Brien-s Snowman referenceCaleb O'Brien's Snowman reference!Nicholas-kole Snowman referenceNicholas-kole Snowman reference!Interview With Andrey Oliver-1!Interview With Andrey Oliver-2!Interview With Andrey Oliver-3 Fox Renderfarm: What software and plugins did you use?Andrey: I used ZBrush to model the characters, Marvelous Designer to create the clothes, Substance Painter to make all the materials and textures, I joined all the elements in Blender. I used Photoshop and Lightroom for the initial sketches and to edit the final render as well. Fox Renderfarm: What’s the inspiration behind your artwork?Andrey: I've watched Lord of the Rings several times, so I think part of the idea came from the film's sets and compositions. After all, I wanted to represent an epic adventure, and for me nothing better than Lord of the Rings as inspiration.!Lord of the Rings References!Lord of the Rings References-1Lord of the Rings References Fox Renderfarm: How did you make the playful character design and the composition?Andrey: It took me a while to decide on the character designs because I wanted them to be unique. I decided to make two contrasting characters, a small but powerful one, and a great warrior, but with a good heart, ice and fire, so many differences, but united by a great friendship, I always had that in mind while I was doing the work.!Interview With Andrey Oliver-4!Interview With Andrey Oliver-5!Interview With Andrey Oliver-6!Interview With Andrey Oliver-7!Interview With Andrey Oliver-8!Interview With Andrey Oliver-9 Fox Renderfarm: Great use of warm and cool lighting. The snowman’s magic wand wisely lights up the scene as practical lighting, making the viewer anticipate the next event in the characters’ journey! How did you make the lighting?Andrey: I used several lamps to make the scene, always thinking from left to right, with a stronger lighting on the snowman and less on the warrior. The cold tones are concentrated in the snowman and the warm ones in the fire warrior. I chose the night to give more prominence to the characters than the scenery.!Interview With Andrey Oliver-10!Interview With Andrey Oliver-11!Interview With Andrey Oliver-12!Interview With Andrey Oliver-13!Interview With Andrey Oliver-14 Fox Renderfarm: Did you meet any difficulties when creating this work? And how did you solve them?Andrey: The biggest difficulty was time, even though I started on the first day, I had to spend several days without working on the project, but I finished. Because of time, I almost couldn't put the second character in, but without him the artwork wouldn't be complete.!Interview With Andrey Oliver-15!Interview With Andrey Oliver-16 Fox Renderfarm: Any artists or artworks inspired you most?Andrey: I was very inspired by both Nicholas Kole's style and Caleb O'Brien's modeling for the snowman, for the other character I was inspired by Ed Laag's art. !Photo Studies (skating) © Ed LaagPhoto Studies (skating) © Ed Laag!Colossus © © Ed LaagColossus © © Ed Laag Fox Renderfarm: Could you briefly tell us your educational and work experience along your CG journey? Andrey: I'm self-taught in 3D, I started studying at 13 out of curiosity. Learning everything with videos, manuals and watching other internet artists and today I have a great experience with these softwares. To complement my learning, today I also study Animation Design in college. Fox Renderfarm: Do you have any recommendable learning methods to improve professional skills?Andrey: If you really enjoy doing what you are doing and dedicate yourself, you will achieve your goal. See tutorials on the internet, search forums, and if you can, buy a course, because it will be worth it if that's what you really want. Fox Renderfarm: What do you think of the FGT3D Challenge, any suggestions for us?Andrey: I think FGT3D is an incredible idea, which stimulates contact and the minds of countless artists to show their potential to the world. Fox Renderfarm: Do you have any advice for future participants in the competition?Andrey: Don't hesitate, enter the contest, make your best art and enjoy the work, it's a great experience you get.
Interview with Massimiliano Napoli, COO of Diorama: Diorama’s Aesthetic and Their Secrets behind the Post-pandemic Success
In the beginning of 2020, Fox Renderfarm was so pleased to have the chance to talk to Uros Vukovic, Director at Diorama, about their award winning ArchViz shorts J1 L’Odyssée. Since then, Fox Renderfarm has established a solid cooperation with Diorama. 2 years have past, Diorama is becoming more than a company which is specialized in ArchViz, embracing a variety of disciplines with a focus on the metaverse.J1 L’Odyssée © Diorama However, what hasn’t changed over these years is the uniquely photo-realistic visual style and their competence in delivering visual feast that underpin their constant success and won them international awards. Therefore, Fox Renderfarm sat down (virtually) with Mr. Massimiliano Napoli, COO and Head of Still Image Department of Diorama to have an in-depth conversation about the production of their award-winning projects, and how Diorama has grown firmly in the post-pandemic era.Massimiliano NapoliCOO & Head of Still Images Department Diorama!Posters of Diorama’s Award-winning ShortsPosters of Diorama’s Award-winning ShortsAnother good news I can’t wait to share with our audience is that Diorama is looking for teammates who can join them in a universe where everything is possible. If you are also touched by their amazing projects and share the same pursuit of excellence, don’t hesitate to check the open positions: https://diorama.eu/jobs.php!Diorama© DioramaInterview with Massimiliano Napoli Fox Renderfarm: Hi Mr Massimiliano! Thank you and Diorama so much for accepting our interview again! Could you briefly introduce yourself and Diorama?Massi: I’m Massi and at the moment I’m the COO and the Head of Still Images Department at Diorama. We are a 3D Production Company based between Milan and Paris, but nowadays we are becoming more and more of a cloud company with collaborators all over the world.!Diorama-1© Diorama Fox Renderfarm: Diorama has progressed a lot, now you’ve set foot in the fashion and design industry. Could you share with us how Diorama has grown since 2019?Massi: That’s true! Last time we had an interview together we were still rooted in the Architectural Visualization world, and we were in a peculiar moment of our story when we were starting to dip our toes in other industries. Today we have a lot of ongoing projects related to different businesses, from art to design, from fashion to cinema. We grew a lot during the pandemic as we could guarantee to our clients a structured remote team, able to work and perform from anywhere in the globe.!Diorama x Bureau Betak for FendiDiorama x Bureau Betak for Fendi!Diorama x Bureau Betak for ChanelDiorama x Bureau Betak for Chanel!Diorama x Bureau Betak for DiorDiorama x Bureau Betak for Dior!Diorama x Bureau Betak for Saint LaurentDiorama x Bureau Betak for Saint Laurent !Diorama x Studio Milo for Tubes Radiatori!Diorama x Studio Milo for Tubes Radiatori-1Diorama x Studio Milo for Tubes Radiatori Fox Renderfarm: How is the pipeline of your production of still images and films respectively?Massi: You didn’t mention that it would be a 5 hours’ talk! Jokes apart, the idea that revolutionized our workflow and our pipeline was to take inspiration from the big cinema productions. We tend as much as possible to divide a project in small segments which correspond to specific functions. Modeling, texturing, lighting and shading, post production, client management, IT support: those are separated tasks, done by specific teams made of people who love what they do. Fox Renderfarm: Congrats on the award-winning short films, these 3 shorts are breathtakingly beautiful and photorealistic. Do these 3 shorts have some connection on the theme? Could you share the idea behind them a bit? Massi: The Moon Codex is an ident video produced to express a critical thinking between an architect and a designer who were starting the collaboration. It all transforms to architecture and design in a certain way. The video is a short story on how the moon appeared in the universe, floating around Earth and having on it an enormous influence, which means life, culture and architecture.The Moon CodexTempo d'acqua has been created for a discussion around the theme of sustainability for the Pisa Architecture Biennale. We had a fictional concept of traveling through different time frames where the Pisa tower was deep in the water two thousand years ago. There are many historical documents stating that the seashore moved 2km on the west, which means that fictive Pisa will once again be in the water as according to the scientific researches. It's a circle that never ends, and makes us think about the relationship of land-water-architecture.Tempo d’AcquaEquilibrium, presented at La Biennale di Venezia, is the conclusive piece of the trilogy and aims to stimulate critical thinking about space and architecture. On the other hand, it has the intention to tell more about equality between objects in space, taking yet again a fictitious example of spatial equation between the earth, the moon and the water as a meaning of life.Equilibrium Fox Renderfarm: In Equilibrium, there are tons of landscape elements, like rocks and mountains, lakes and rivers, forest, snow, and so forth. What’s the secret behind their realness? Massi: Equilibrium is full CGI video, entirely created in 3D. The way of achieving realism are emotions. It is a very specific approach that all CG artists understand, once they achieve the look they were looking for. The realism doesn't come with realistic textures, but the feeling of mood and story behind the scene. Since Equilibrium had a deep thinking behind the curtains, we went further with simplicity. All those scenes are extremely simple in the sense of CG work; just a couple of animated planes, some of them were created in 2D compositing with a couple of animated layers, but they were all effective.!Equilibrium!Equilibrium-2Water plays a very important role in Diorama’s artworks, did you meet any difficulty in simulating and rendering water? How did you solve these problems?Massi: Water is a very important feature in our studio. We are constantly working on looks and better integration of water in our scenes. In Tempo d'acqua there are some scenes which took over a year to simulate, but they never emerged in the video. I guess one day we will publish them. Regarding simulations, I think that the liquid simulations are those which require the most time and resources. When it comes to water simulations, we tend to use Houdini. Most of our tools are custom made especially because the look doesn't come just out from the shell, in the drag-and-drop manner. It takes time to do multiple iterations, so the approach is usually to avoid tweaking parts of the simulation which could influence extreme simulation time dependence.!Equilibrium-3!Equilibrium-4!Equilibrium-5!Equilibrium-6 Fox Renderfarm: LIGHTFORLIFE shows Diorama’s profound insight and high level competence in handling textures. Could you respectively break down how you achieved the organic texture on the ice surface, the bokeh around the leaves, and smooth demonstration of the snakeskin-like texture? Massi: The secret behind the look of the leaves is in making a very high focal length like macro photos, which creates this dynamic bokeh of reflections in the background. In this shot, we also had the intention to reach the look of an anamorphic lens by changing bokeh ration to something close to 0.7. !LIGHTFORLIFE!LIGHTFORLIFE-1Regarding the snake it is just a sweep object which rotates in multiple directions to achieve the organic look. Moreover the displacement texture that goes over is also animated to move in order to achieve the look of a living being. !Equilibrium-7Metal reflections provide this important fill light from the side that brings attention to the shape and smoothness.!Equilibrium-8 Fox Renderfarm: Diorama is so good at using wide angles to show grand views, while using close up to demonstrate details. Do you have any specific advice on the lighting design of these two aspects?Massi: Understanding light is the key of a successful shot, both in still and in motion. Camera position, or it’s movement and lighting are elements that cannot be treated separately. Those are subsequent. Lighting shapes the geometry and the elements and can be mysterious or revealing just by changing a small parameter, and of course is a strong tool to drive the eye of the viewer. If you always tackle them as a duo, you can easily create amazing shots and have basically the power of showcasing the subject in it’s best version. !The Moon Codex © DioramaThe Moon Codex © Diorama!LIGHTFORLIFE © DioramaLIGHTFORLIFE © Diorama Fox Renderfarm: How did Diorama set the tone of its visual language and keep it coherent and consistent along the way?Massi: You know, to be honest we tend to think that we are a heterogeneous company, when it comes to visual tone. We have such great artists, directing and producing, that it is really easy for us to get lost in their mood, their ideas and exploration, and this is in my opinion one of the keys to our success.The freedom to explore. We do not want to be such a company that produces always the same visuals, with the same style, both clients (the good ones) and the team influence our production a lot. When looking at new artists, almost unconsciously, we are approached and we look to a kindred spirit that in some ways have something in common with our general vision about art, and this job. Guess that’s our secret.!Diorama© Diorama Fox Renderfarm: Technically and management-wise, did Diorama do anything to optimize the efficiency in production?Massi: We started to implement the management team in an early stage, around 2017. We needed to have a lean and flexible art team, leaving to the artists the freedom to spend time doing what they like. We don’t want our collaborators to waste time answering emails or struggling with skill sets which they do not have and are not interested in.!Diorama x Atelier(s) Alfonso FemiaDiorama x Atelier(s) Alfonso Femia Fox Renderfarm: How did you encounter CG? Could you share your educational and career experience with us?Massi: As for some of my fields, my roots are in Architecture. I’ve studied Architecture in Florence, and in 2013 I moved to France for my Erasmus. That’s where I discovered this work called visualizer, or perspectiviste, as they call it in France. I got hooked and I started looking into that. After coming back to Italy and taking my degree, I spent one year in Poland. I worked for a small company where I spent great days improving as a post producer and moving my first steps in 3D. In 2016 I met Gilberto, CEO of Diorama, together with Gianni, our actual CFO; they were starting their own company between Paris and Milan. At that time Diorama didn’t even exist, it was just a few chairs and four artists; Uros was one of them, and I became the fifth. From that day we had a lot of fun together and we grew bigger until now, with about 30 people gravitating around the Diorama ecosystem. Fox Renderfarm: In your opinion, what are the qualities that make a good 3D artist better?Massi: Exploration and research. We are kind of artists/professionals who are tasked with depicting a different reality every single day. The challenge can one day be a room, the day after a space colony and the next one an underwater shot. Exploring techniques, new forms of art, new softwares, and new media must be a constant in our work. Picasso used to say that good artists copy, great artists steal. That’s my constant mantra. Looking into other people’s work, select some interesting elements, digest them and incorporate them into my own.!Diorama x Pascual ArchitecteDiorama x Pascual Architecte Fox Renderfarm: Any artist or artwork that inspires you the most?Massi: The list risks to be really long, as per I personally find such new great artists every day and I love to explore how their mind works. As you may see, Diorama aesthetic tend to detach from the 3D feel, looking more into an artistic and minimal way of picturing things.I know for sure that me and Uros, and our team in general, are big fans of Ash Thorp; his cinematic look is what drives most of our research. What I personally tend to do is to look a lot into other media. I should mention Raphael Lacoste, great concept artist, art director and friend, who drove my entire career as an artist as a constant source of inspiration. CG & Design by Ash Thorp!Raphael Lacoste-1!Raphael Lacoste-2© Raphael Lacoste Fox Renderfarm: Do you have any career advice to the newbies in the CG industry? And what did you do to improve your technique skills and aesthetic sense?Massi: This actually connects to your previous question. Even after years of experience you must in some ways consider yourself as a newbie if you do not want to stop growing and learning. This spirit is a constant approach for Diorama. For people who approach image production in CG, my best advice is to look into photography and filmmaking. Do not get inspired by CG when doing CG: you can easily get stuck in someone else's style, and the goal for someone starting should be to find their own. Photographers are an important part of the moodboard we build in the Image Department for each project. I tend to oblige the team to propose photos more than other renders as a source of inspiration (I would also love clients to do that!).!Diorama-3© Diorama Fox Renderfarm: How do you feel about the cloud rendering services of Fox Renderfarm?Massi: Amazing, what else can we say about it! You guys rock, what's the secret of the kindness of your support at 3 AM? Jokes apart, we couldn’t be able to be so on time and productive without Fox, you are almost part of the team at the moment, and we are so glad to have this great relationship! Fox Renderfarm: Any other things you want to share with the CG enthusiasts?Massi: Do not spend too much time on social media; Canaletto didn’t have one and was doing great things. Use them for sharing kitties or barbecue, or the ugly sweater your aunt gave you for Christmas. But do not get in the loop of producing art just to follow an algorithm. Be driven by passion, do what you like, when you like. If it is personal work, spend all the time you want on it, show it to your friends and to people who can really give an honest opinion about it. If it is commercial, push your client and yourself beyond the limits and try to do the best before the deadline hits…I guess Fox Renderfarm can help you a lot with that!
Interview With Steffen Hartmann: How to Create a Visually Striking Render With Blender
!FGT3D Snowman ChallengeFGT3D Snowman Challenge organized by the TPN-Accredited cloud rendering services provider, Fox Renderfarm, was started in September, 2021 and sponsored by our amazing sponsors, including Maxon, Chaos, Poliigon, HDR Light Studio, Pilgway, TopoGun, Graswald, Raysync, Textures.com, Texturebox and iCube R&D Group. After the selection by our jury, 3 Professional artworks and 3 Student artworks were picked and would be awarded the prizes provided by our amazing sponsors. Congratulations to all the winners! And thanks to everyone for participating!What a well composed and visually striking render! The second place winner in the Professional category of the FGT3D Snowman Challenge goes to Steffen Hartmann with his work, A Tale From Snow.“The dirty bumpy look of old snow makes this snowman more terrifying and haunting. The picture shows a scary moment from a very low and tilted angle. It makes me wonder whose point of view this is. Is it from a hidden camera or someone attacked and fallen on the ground? The camera angle certainly adds a sense of mystery and suspense to the image.” One of our judges, Miho Aoki said, who is the Associate Professor of Computer Art University of Alaska Fairbanks.Here comes the exclusive interview with Steffen, in which we can find out how he created the good composition and striking character design.!A Tale From Snow © Steffen HartmannA Tale From Snow © Steffen Hartmann Fox Renderfarm: Hi, Steffen! Thank you so much for accepting our interview! Could you give us a brief introduction about yourself?Steffen: It’s my pleasure to give an interview. Thanks for having me.My name is Steffen Hartmann, I'm living in Germany and I work as a freelance 3D artist and illustrator.My main focus is on character design and portraits, but I'm also very open and happy about every opportunity to create environments, animations, props and complex illustrations. Fox Renderfarm: Congratulations on winning 2nd place in the Professional Category of the FGT3D Snowman Challenge, how do you feel about that?Steffen: Winning a challenge always feels good. It is also a confirmation of how far you have come as an artist. Balm for the soul. Fox Renderfarm: How long did you finish the work, A Tale From Snow?Steffen: It took me around 20 to 30 hours over the course of a couple of weeks. Very enjoyable time. Fox Renderfarm: What software and plugins did you use?Steffen: My beloved Blender for all the 3D work plus Photoshop and Topaz Studio for post processing. Fox Renderfarm: What’s the inspiration behind your artwork?Steffen: Side-scrolling video games for the camera position and composition plus my love for scary characters.!ref board Fox Renderfarm: The render is well composed and visually striking. How did you make the modeling and composition?Steffen: My initial idea was to create a side-scroller video game type of scene. So once I had the overall composition in mind I started to block out the scene with simple objects, a camera and some lights. Primitive set building.Then I started to create the main character - Mister Snowman.He started as a bunch of spheres and thin arms and legs made with Blenders Skin modifier. My main goal was to have a cool looking silhouette first and after that I sculpted and added all the smaller details. The hat and nose was sculpted, the teeth are just beveled curves.Blender!early wip!characters silhouetteThe boy was made with the help of a very basic rigged human body. The cloth was simply box modeled with the Subsurface Modifier method. Some details like folds and wrinkles were sculpted with the use of the Multires modifier. I knew the motion blur would eat away lots of the details so I haven't spent much time on him in particular.The environment was rather simple too, just a few planes with subdivisions and basic sculpting for the ground. Trees and some other background elements were free downloads. The fence was created with beveled curves - quick and simple.!blender viewportSnowflakes and motion blur were added with Photoshop in the post processing phase.!no post processing version Fox Renderfarm: The camera angle certainly adds a sense of mystery and suspense to the image. How did you make it?Steffen: Dramatic camera angles for dramatic scenes. The beauty about working in 3D is the ability to quickly change camera positions, move lights around and so on. All you have to do is make use of it and to experiment and be creative as much as possible. Fox Renderfarm: The movements are vivid. How did you make it? Any references?Steffen: No particular reference but I abused Photoshop's Smart Objects and the “Path Blur Filter” quite a bit to get a decent sense of movement.It’s also very helpful to export the background and characters in separate passes.Separate passes Fox Renderfarm: Did you meet any difficulties when creating this work? And how did you solve them?Steffen: There will always be difficulties and obstacles when it comes to creating art. Good composition and striking character design is key so those areas are the hardest part for me.Creating materials, set building, sculpting and all the technical stuff isn’t that of a problem once you are confident with any 3D tool - in my opinion.It is really all about spending as much time as needed on the initial conceptual phase to have a good working foundation to build on. Fox Renderfarm: Any artists or artworks inspired you most?Steffen: To name a few modern day artists: Maxim Verehin, Oleg Vdovenko and Dan Peacock.But I also love H. R.Giger, Zdzisław Beksiński and the work of the Resident Evil concept artists.!Skull for Tool © Maxim VerehinSkull for Tool © Maxim Verehin!The Murder of Esenin © Oleg VdovenkoThe Murder of Esenin © Oleg Vdovenko!Chompy © Dan PeacockChompy © Dan Peacock!Ridley Scott-s Alien © H. R.GigerRidley Scott's Alien © H. R.Giger!Past Auction © Zdzisław BeksińskiPast Auction © Zdzisław Beksiński Fox Renderfarm: Could you briefly tell us your educational and work experience along your CG journey?Steffen: I’m a totally self taught artist who started his art journey roughly 5 years ago with the use of drawabox.com. Which is a great source to learn how to draw.Later I learned digital painting until I got totally lost in the 3D realm with Blender 2 years ago.Since then I have learned modeling, sculpting, animation, rigging and so on.YouTube, Gumroad, ArtStation and all the other platforms are great for free and paid educational content so I never felt the urge to go to an art school.Since about 2 1/2 years I work as a part time freelance artist for musicians, book authors, video producers and more. Fox Renderfarm: Do you have any recommendable learning methods to improve professional skills?Steffen: Never say never and always try out new tools and methods. Challenge yourself as much as possible and tackle your weakest spots.Have faith in yourself but always be open for critique. Fox Renderfarm: What do you think of the FGT3D Challenge, any suggestions for us?Steffen: No suggestions but much love from me for you guys. It was a great experience so far.Looking forward to participating in the next challenge. Fox Renderfarm: Do you have any advice for future participants in the competition?Steffen: Don’t fear competition or be intimidated.Be sure to not rush and take as much time as needed to get a good concept down first.Write it on paper, sketch/ paint it or block it out with simple shapes directly in 3D.Collect a bunch of reference pictures, throw them into PureRef (free tool) and make use of it.Get inspired by movies, tv shows, artworks, music, books… There is sooo much cool inspiration out there. Submit your work right before the challenge is over. There is no need to rush and submit days or weeks before the official end. You will find yourself fine tuning your project a lot towards the end and that might be the reason for you to win or miss.Have fun!
Interview With Szymon Magiera: Creating a Realistic Snowman With Blender
FGT3D Snowman Challenge organized by the TPN-Accredited cloud rendering services provider, Fox Renderfarm, was started in September, 2021 and sponsored by our amazing sponsors, including Maxon, Chaos, Poliigon, HDR Light Studio, Pilgway, TopoGun, Graswald, Raysync, Textures.com, Texturebox and iCube R&D Group. After the selection by our jury, 3 Professional artworks and 3 Student artworks were picked and would be awarded the prizes provided by our amazing sponsors. Congratulations to all the winners! And thanks to everyone for participating!The first place winner in the Professional category of the FGT3D Snowman Challenge goes to Szymon Magiera with his work, SNOWMAN.“Szymon's snowman puts a smile on your face. Its innocent facial expression, the warm sunlight, and the sprouting grass suggest a wonderful aura of positivity. The author's brilliant craft is clearly reflected in the image's texture, material, and depth of field. The snowman's friendly gesture and the soft doll-like materiality bring a very inviting atmosphere to the viewers in the composition.” One of our judges, Frank WANG Yefeng said, who is the Assistant Professor in the Art Department from Rhode Island College.Let's find out how Szymon made the amazing artwork through the exclusive interview with Fox Renderfarm.Snowman © Szymon Magiera Fox Renderfarm: Hi, Szymon! Thank you so much for accepting our interview! Could you give us a brief introduction about yourself?Szymon: Hi,Thank You for the opportunity to say something about myself :). Parents named me Szymon. I'm 28 yo, I'm living a peaceful life in a small village in the outskirts of Poland. I have been trying to improve my skills for around 7 years now. Fox Renderfarm: Congratulations on winning 1st place in the Professional Category of the FGT3D Snowman Challenge, how do you feel about that?Szymon: I feel really great about it, I could not be more proud! But I'm surprised and a bit guilty, there were so many amazing entries by other artists! Fox Renderfarm: How long did you finish the work, SNOWMAN?Szymon: Scene in itself wasn’t too complicated. I just had a lot of time on my side. It took me around 2 days of trial and error.Some trial renders. Fox Renderfarm: What software and plugins did you use?Szymon: For rendering and modeling I used Blender, It's amazing and versatile software, and it's free! For texturing I used Substance Painter, but only because I don't have any experience in this Software and I needed practice. You can do all of it in Blender thru texture paint the result will be the same. For trees, I used a Sapling tree generator, it comes with a blender by default. It's a great addon for generating simple trees. Huge time saver. Fox Renderfarm: What’s the inspiration behind your artwork?Szymon: By searching the internet I found an image of a knitted snowman, and I decided I want one! I'm not good at knitting but I know how to model so I decided to make one! Fox Renderfarm: What a photographic render! How did you make the modeling, texture and material of the snowman?!Interview With Szymon Magiera Creating a Realistic Snowman With BlenderSzymon: Snowman as a mesh isn’t that complicated as shown. Some Box modeling and a bit of cloth simulation for the scarf, nothing extravagant.Keep it simple.To make realistic fabrics on a snowman and on the scarf I added small hairs, it is a small thing but it has a big payoff in realism.For the texturing part, still nothing that complicated, most of the textures I took from Ambientcg, Great site!For the snow, I played with the specular map and added subsurface scattering then used a displacement map to add the details and make it more realistic, you can see the node tree below. Fox Renderfarm: The lighting and snow really capture the feel of a cold winter's day, but our knitted snowman is still rosy-cheeked and smiling. How did you make the lighting?Szymon: Single sun and a sky texture, nothing more :) Then I just played with the position and color of the sun, until I ended up with the lighting that I liked. Fox Renderfarm: Did you meet any difficulties when creating this work? And how did you solve them?Szymon: When I find a difficult situation, I try to keep things simple. The biggest challenge was the lighting, but by keeping it as simple as I can ,and only adding complexity if it's necessary, I managed to find the perfect light setup for this scene without a headache. Fox Renderfarm: Any artists or artworks inspired you most?Szymon: I don’t have any particular artist or art, instead I truly get inspired by the CG community, I often find myself browsing through the newest uploads and see that there are other artists that are working really hard to improve their skill, that is what inspires me the most. They all are doing their best to improve so I should too! Fox Renderfarm: Could you briefly tell us your educational and work experience along your CG journey? Szymon: Briefly I started my journey with a copy of 3ds Max 2014 and a book 3ds Max Bible 2014, it had like 1200 pages. I never did read it, but it cost me a lot, so it was a proof of dedication, I still have it to this day.Since then I've been changing directions many times,but there was always a copy of the 3D program on my drive.I took CG seriously in 2019 and now I'm happy to say it was worth it,there are so many opportunities for CG artists these days! Fox Renderfarm: Do you have any recommendable learning methods to improve professional skills?Szymon: I don't have any special learning methods, I believe in practice, the more you practice the better you will get. For me it is that simple, and always use references! Fox Renderfarm: What do you think of the FGT3D Challenge, any suggestions for us?Szymon: I love it! Those challenges are giving the opportunity for other artists to showcase their skills and the incentive to improve even more! I don’t have any suggestions. You guys are doing a great job! Fox Renderfarm: Do you have any advice for future participants in the competition?Szymon: Don't be afraid to show your work, always do your best and never stop learning!
Creating a Beautiful Forest Scene With 3ds Max and ZBrush
!EvermotionFox Renderfarm is committed to making contributions to the CG industry by sponsoring international CG challenges. Evermotion Challenge 2021 came to an end. As one of the sponsors, we are so glad to have the honor and opportunity to have an interview with Ruming Cao, the 2nd place in the competition.His work, As busy as a robot, using the robot as the 'worker' in this scenario, taking a break from work and having a rest in nature, is a nice and quite interesting concept. Technically speaking, the image stands out for its solid composition, great lighting, and realistic textures.In our interview, Ruming tells us how he created the truly beautiful forest scene, away from the hustle and bustle of life.!As busy as a robot - Ruming CaoAs busy as a robot © Ruming Cao Fox Renderfarm: Hi Ruming! Thank you so much for accepting our interview! Could you give us a brief introduction about yourself?Ruming: My name is Ruming Cao, and I come from Ma'anshan, a small city in China. I have self-studied rendering since 2013 when I was in college. Fox Renderfarm: Congratulations on winning the 2nd Place in the Evermotion Challenge 2021, how do you feel about that?Ruming: I am very grateful to Evermotion for providing this opportunity. Although this competition was a bit rushed, I was very fortunate to win the prize. Fox Renderfarm: How long did you finish the work, As busy as a robot?Ruming: About a week or so, time was a bit rushed. Inspiration came from a trip I made around May 2021, when I went to a mountain forest, it felt good, and it was also a rest time after busy work. There is no accurate picture. The inspiration is just the source and the feeling at that time. Fox Renderfarm: What software and plugins did you use?Ruming: Using 3ds Max, ZBrush, Corona Renderer and Photoshop. Fox Renderfarm: This image was a sneak peak into a truly beautiful forest scene, away from the hustle and bustle of life. How did you make the modeling and the texturing?Ruming: The model was modeled with 3ds Max, some stones were sculpted with ZBrush, and some Bridge resources were used. For the texture part, the robot itself used a Substance Painter, although it cannot be seen. For the materials of the plants, I used Photoshop to adjust the color of the four leaves.!Creating a Beautiful Forest Scene With 3ds Max and ZBrush-1!Creating a Beautiful Forest Scene With 3ds Max and ZBrush-2!Creating a Beautiful Forest Scene With 3ds Max and ZBrush-3!Creating a Beautiful Forest Scene With 3ds Max and ZBrush-4!Creating a Beautiful Forest Scene With 3ds Max and ZBrush-5!Ruming Cao - As busy as a robot Fox Renderfarm: Lighting is great, and the darker foreground very nicely frames the subject. Compositionally the hanging lights draws us right into the center of the image. How did you make the lighting?Ruming: I use HDRI lights with the target directional light, the target directional light makes it easier for me to adjust the color. Then add boxes around the foreground to block too much light. You can also give a volumetric fog material to make it slightly transparent. Fox Renderfarm: Did you meet any difficulties when creating this work? And how did you solve them?Ruming: The biggest difficulty is the color problem. Green and red are complementary colors, and it is difficult to coordinate in a picture. The solution is to skew red towards a little bit of orange and green towards a bit of cyan, and the cyan-orange tones tend to be a little more harmonious. Or they can be desaturated. Fox Renderfarm: Any artists or artworks inspired you most?Ruming: Artur Tamiola and Bartosz Domiczek. They are one of my favorite artists and they are very nice people.!TERRACE © Artur TamiolaTERRACE © Artur Tamiola !Henge Hill © Bartosz DomiczekHenge Hill © Bartosz Domiczek Jesus Selvera (zuliban) was a big influence on my texture adjustment.Marek Denko is the height of pro I've ever dreamed of reaching.!House Of Light © Jesus SelveraHouse Of Light © Jesus Selvera !Her Eventual Hesitation © Marek DenkoHer Eventual Hesitation © Marek Denko Fox Renderfarm: Could you briefly tell us your educational and work experience along your CG journey?Ruming: I have been learning 3ds Max since 2013. And I have been self-studying all along. Currently working as an interior rendering lecturer in an educational institution in China. Fox Renderfarm: Do you have any recommendable learning methods to improve professional skills?Ruming: Youtube is a very good website. In addition, we recommend BliBli in China, which is the Chinese version of Youtube. There are a lot of learning materials in it. In addition, I highly recommend Commonpoint founded by Artur Tamiola and Bartosz Domiczek. There are many very professional articles in it, which are great as well. Fox Renderfarm: Have you ever tried Fox Renderfarm’s cloud rendering services? If yes, how do you like it?Ruming: I'll be using it lately, a very good rendering platform, I love it! Fox Renderfarm: Is there anything you want to share with the CG enthusiasts?Ruming: Finally, what I want to say is, don’t limit yourself to the technical aspects, you can try to observe more things around you. Rendering is like a sketch, which tests people’s observation angles. Skills are only to help you better accomplish what you want.
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