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  • NEWS CENTER

    Exploring New Worlds: Introducing Ken Nguyen and His 22 Years of CG Journey

    2021-04-26

    Fox Talk

    3D Rendering

    Victory is Ours! © Ken Nguyen

    The war between the E.U.N. (Earth United Nations) and the aliens has been going on for decades and brought humanity on the brink of extinction. While wars ravage the Earth, E.U.N has sent people to explore and settle colonies on other planets.

    The art series, "Exploring New Worlds", are created by Ken Nguyen, who was born in Vietnam, grew up in Paris, France, in the 80s and then moved to the USA in the mid-90s. Ken has over 22 years combined experience in architecture, video games, themed entertainment, immersive experiences and trade shows and exhibits.

    In our exclusive interview, we can find out how Ken created the amazing art series and his 22 years of CG Journey!

    • Ken Nguyen
    • Sr. 2D/3D Concept Designer
    • From: United States
    • Artstation:

      Fox Renderfarm: Hi Ken, thank you so much for accepting our interview! Could you give us a brief introduction about yourself?

    Ken: My name is Ken Nguyen. I was born in Vietnam but left the country at a very young age after the war. I grew up in Paris, France, in the 80s and then moved to the USA in the mid-90s. I have over 22 years combined experience in architecture, video games, themed entertainment, immersive experiences and trade shows and exhibits.

    Fox Renderfarm: As a 2D/3D Senior Concept Designer, do you think 2D art skills help you a lot in 3D art developing?

    Ken: Like most concept artists, I started learning traditional media such as pencils, markers, and watercolors. Then I discovered Photoshop in the late 90s. I got introduced to 3d modeling with SketchUp when I was working in architecture in the early 2000s.

    I would say that 2D and 3D skills work in tandem to create the desired art. Indeed, I do not think an artist is 100 percent 2D or 100 percent 3D, especially nowadays with all the new 3d software. Some use simple 3D geometries and do a lot of paint-over and photobashing in Photoshop. Others like myself use a lot of 3D and do minimum 2D work in Photoshop.

    However, there were some pieces that needed a lot of Photoshop paint-over for things that were faster to do in 2D than in 3D (e.g., Adding FX such as smokes, fires, or doing color corrections and whatnots in Photoshop).

    This one is a great example of concept that I spent a lot of time with paintover and texture/photobashing in Photoshop.

    The Last of Them - The Ambush © Ken Nguyen

    Fox Renderfarm: What’s your inspiration for your series of visual developments called "Exploring New Worlds"?

    Ken: It is actually a long process that started back in 2013 when I did the first concept in the series called the Last of Them.

    The Last of Them © Ken Nguyen

    It was the beginning of my alien-invasion/post-apocalyptic/end-of-the-world series of visual developments. Humans were living in peace under the E.U.N (Earth United Nations) until the alien invasion that brought the human race to the brink of extinction.

    The war between the E.U.N. military and the alien forces lasted for over a hundred years. As decades passed, humans developed new technology and spaceships that would allow them to escape the war-ravaged earth to explore other planets. That was when the Exploring New World (XNW) series would begin.

    I was laid off during the COVID-19 pandemic last year and it was a perfect time to take a break and work on personal art pieces such as the XNW environment concepts. That was also a way for me to visit those worlds and escape all the craziness happening in 2020. LOL

    Fox Renderfarm: How long did you take to finish the "Exploring New Worlds" series?

    Ken: As mentioned above, I lost my job, therefore I had a lot of free time to work on personal projects. I spent a few months during the Spring and Summer of 2020 working on the XNW series which actually consists of different themes. The main subject is Exploring New Worlds, but there are also concepts that were parts of Alien Encounters, Alien Civilizations, E.U.N. Capital, Military and Bases on other planets.

    Alien Encounter © Ken Nguyen

    E.U.N. Capital © Ken Nguyen

    Alien Civilization © Ken Nguyen

    E.U.N. Military Base © Ken Nguyen

    While working on XNW series, I also did some concepts for the Last of Them series that tells the story of the war between the humans and the alien/mutant races on war-ravaged Earth that will lead to the XNW series after over a century has passed.

    The Last of Them - The Ambush © Ken Nguyen

    The Last of Them - Abandoned Warehouse © Ken Nguyen

    The Last of Them - Behind The Car! © Ken Nguyen

    Fox Renderfarm: You were the Concept Artist at DIGITAL DOMAIN in 2018 in charge of environment and prop concepts for ELEVEN ELEVEN. Did you meet any difficulties while creating? And how did you solve it?

    Ken: I was one of the many concept artists working on Eleven Eleven, which is an original science fiction story designed for virtual reality and augmented reality and has been selected by the 2019 SXSW Film Festival.

    I believe the art team worked on the game several months before Digital Domain reached out to me and hired me to help with some extra environment concepts as they were on a tight schedule.

    I was tasked with creating the jungle and cave areas as well as some props. The challenge here was to create a jungle that looks realistic and natural by populating the scenes with trees and plants, and at the same time it must satisfy the gameplay.

    Designing in 3D was the biggest advantage compared to 2D. Indeed, I was able to place the vegetation assets in real-time and experience the spaces with camera movements as if I were in the jungle.

    Eleven Eleven VR Game © Ken Nguyen

    Fox Renderfarm: Among all the projects you’ve done, which project do you feel proudest and would you share with us how you make it?

    Ken: There are many concepts that are my favorites and that I am proud of. Among them are some from the XNW or The Last of Them series because they were the newest concepts and I have learned a lot from previous projects to create them. However, for this question here, I would like to share some renders that are perfect examples to show how working in 3D is fast, efficient and productive especially for architectural renders.

    This project is called A Day in the City and was an entry to the 2018 Evermotion challenge.

    After I read the brief, I thought it would be interesting to create a scene showing everyday life in downtown of a big city. I started gathering buildings from my 3D resource folders and played around with different layouts as shown in the WIP-01 image. I came up with seven options. They were all grey renders so that I did not have to worry about materials and textures. I then populated the scenes with people, vehicles and trees as you can see in the WIP-02 image.

    After picking one of the views, I started to do some color renders and played with different lightings, weather, and time of day such as evening, night, sunny, overcast, etc. I believed the final submission was the evening one. After the contest was over, I decided to do a snowy post-apocalyptic version just for fun.

    A Day in the City © Ken Nguyen

    Fox Renderfarm: What’s your pipeline of 3D art?

    Ken: I do a lot of 3D kitbashing using models I build from scratch as needed, free models and some that I bought from different 3D sites. A lot of them are quite affordable and they are made by professionals, therefore the quality is particularly good.

    After I have an idea of what I want to do, I gather the 3D assets and compose them together in SketchUp. I then export the whole thing into Lumion, set up the views, and add lighting. I usually do some tests with white box or grey renders. I can focus on the composition and lighting/values and not worry too much about color, materials, and textures.

    When I am somewhat satisfied with the grey renders, I start adding materials and textures. It is a long but fun process going back and forth between SketchUp and Lumion. Nothing is written in stone for the 3D composition. As a matter of fact, I kept on changing, adding, or rotating the 3D assets as needed. Everything is in real-time, therefore, I can see what the final render might look like with actual lighting, shadows, reflections on materials, etc.

    When I have something that I really like, I render it and bring it into Photoshop for some paintover, color corrections, FX like smokes, and so on.

    Fox Renderfarm: Could you briefly tell us your educational and work experience along your CG journey?

    Ken: After graduating from high school, I went on to study architecture. I received a bachelor and master’s degrees in Architecture and worked for about five years as an architectural designer. I never knew that learning SketchUp (a program originally created for architects to create quick 3D designs) would help me get a job in the game industry.

    Ever since I was a little kid, I always love to draw fantasy and sci-fi characters, environments, and architecture. Therefore, I decided to quit my architectural job and move to San Francisco, California, in 2003 to attend the Academy of Art University where I graduated with a MFA in Games focusing on concept art, modeling, texturing and animation with Maya and Studio Max.

    I got my first job in the game industry working on concepts of environments and architecture for an MMO in 2006 using SketchUp and E-On Software Vue.

    Then in 2013, I discovered Lumion3d, a program similar to real-time game engines, that allowed me to create my first alien invasion/post-apocalyptic concept that would evolve into the Exploring New Worlds series.

    I have been using SketchUp, Lumion3d and Photoshop to do all my environment concepts ever since.

    I also use Daz3d for my character designs, but my next goal will be to learn ZBrush.

    Fox Renderfarm: Any artists or artworks inspired you most?

    Ken: I get inspiration from the artists and concept art from movies like Star Wars or Avatar, and video games such as Halo, Assassin Creed, The Last of Us, and Uncharted series, and Ghost of Tsushima.

    I also like to look at the old masters and how amazing the intricate details are in their oil landscape paintings.

    Fox Renderfarm: The composition, lighting and coloring of your works are fantastic, how do you enhance your good sense?

    Ken: Composition, lighting, and color are basic art foundations that all artists must learn. Whenever possible, one should think about foreground, middle ground and background, and what stories the renders are telling and how the composition of the elements guide the viewers’ eyes. Lighting (and shadows) when done correctly will create a sense of realism. As for color, it creates moods and emotions.

    Concepting in 3D certainly helps a lot with composition and lighting especially for environments and architectural designs. Indeed, I can place, move, and rotate all the elements (e.g. rocks, mountains, plants, characters, buildings, vehicles, etc.) and see which compositions work best. Also, using Lumion I can add lights and try different weather types and times of day (e.g., morning, night, etc.) and see the changes in real-time. That would be impossible to do in 2D concepts.

    Fox Renderfarm: Any other things you want to share with the CG enthusiasts?

    Ken: Here is an advice that many of you certainly have heard: Follow your dreams and “Love what you do and do what you love” (Ray Bradbury). Also, learn from your past mistakes, be willing to embrace changes and learn new techniques and software. Finally, practice, practice, and practice!

    As a CG artist, it is a never-ending journey of learning and discovery to become a better artist.

    As Ralph Waldo Emerson once said: “Life is a journey, not a destination”.


    ‘Deer King’: How to Create Powerful Deers in Blender

    2021-04-15

    Top News

    Art Competitions

    How strong the power of nature will be? When the power of nature rises, it will be even mightier than we expected!

    Recently, the Power of Nature Challenge attracted so many 3D artists to show their talent and imagination, portraying the mighty power of nature in 3D art.

    Showing the braveness and strength from nature, the work “Deer, the king of the forest”, which was created using Blender, ZBrush, Substance Painter and Photoshop, received an honorable mention in the challenge.

    Deer, the king of the forest © Artzai Elorza

    The work’s color palette and composition are strong and impressive, according to the jury of the challenge. As the sponsor of the challenge, Fox Renderfarm is pleased to interview the creator Artzai Elorza Arana, who talked about how he made this amazing work.

    · Artzai Elorza Arana

    · From: Spain

    Fox Renderfarm: Hi Artzai, could you give us a brief introduction about yourself?

    Artzai: Hi there, thank you Fox Renderfarm for giving me this opportunity. I am really happy for being here :D

    My name is Artzai Elorza Arana and I am from Bilbao, Spain. Currently, I am working as a 3D artist in Visyon by Mediapro Group, a great virtual reality company located in Barcelona, Spain.

    Palau Moja © Artzai Elorza

    Fox Renderfarm: How do you feel about receiving the honorable mention in the Power of Nature Challenge?

    Artzai: I was excited when my workmate let me know that I had received an honorable mention. I am very happy with these challenges allowing us to express our creative side… This is beautiful! :D

    Fox Renderfarm: How long did it take you to finish the work “deer, the king of the forest”? Did you meet any difficulties?

    Artzai: Certainly, I don't know how long it took me but I started thinking about the power of nature from the first day to the last day. I would say 1 hour or 2 hours per day, during 12-15 days.

    Yes, I met difficulties because my main challenge always is to improve some techniques or learn new software, so when I tried to use sculpting of Blender, I ended up switching to ZBrush because of the deadline :´)

    Fox Renderfarm: As the main character of the work, the deer king is so powerful, could you tell us how you create the deers?

    Artzai: Yes, of course! First of all, I made a blocking out in Blender according to the reference draw because I would just have time to focus on more important things. This meme helped me a lot!! hahaha! XD

    Then, I sculpted level by level in ZBrush. When this model had good detailing, I made a low poly version and a high poly. I used both versions for normal map baking and I made a good hand painting texture with Substance Painter.

    I wanted to achieve hairlight with hairy deers to make a more magical powerful scene so finally, I became a deer hairdresser with hair and fur; I made a nice eye material becoming alive in it. And that’s all!

    Fox Renderfarm: The color palette and composition of the work are impressive, could you introduce how you made them?

    Artzai: As I said before, I wanted to make a powerful and onirica poster so the color palette started based on orange for the power blood moon and complementary blue for the onirica sky. Then I started making my final color palette.

    Regarding the composition, I thought of carrying the attention from the bottom side to the top side of the image.

    The lake diagonal would make the viewer meet with the boatman (which gives real scale). Then they go to the mid where the main light gains attention. Finally, the pyramid composition of the huge deers and blood moon light explosion makes the viewer go to hold their head up high like the deer poses. Sure, our eyes are looking for the deer eyes. I don't know if this worked but I tried it, haha.

    Fox Renderfarm: What is the biggest gain for you from participating in the challenge?

    Artzai: My biggest gain was to finish the challenge with a very good feeling. I think that the good thing that these kinds of challenges have is the short deadline where we can offer all our knowledge and inspiration of the moment in a short time. I will use it like an instant photo of that moment to keep knowing my real progression.

    Fox Renderfarm: How long have you been in the CG career? Could you share your education or career experience with us?

    Artzai: Wow! My career is really rare. I have always been associated with 3D. When I was sixteen I loved the technical drawing so I tried to use 3ds Max 7 owing to the teacher's suggestion and I made my first scribble but I didn’t have a good computer for working properly. Then I graded in Geomatics Engineering and due to the photogrammetry I started (but not finished, haha) a Philosophy Doctorate in Virtual Reality for Architectural Patrimony in Laboratorio de Fotogrammetría Arquitectonica University of Valladolid. Finally, thanks to this unfinished Doctorate, Visyon by Mediapro Group company offers me the great opportunity to join their company. As of today I am still grateful, I am working almost 5 years as 3D artist in a VR company :D

    Fox Renderfarm: How do you improve your CG professional skills?

    Artzai: I improve my CG skills working with my teammates because we share all our skills all the time and work on many different typologies of projects such as architectural visualization, minigame, VR experience or animation. VR keeps growing so this makes me learn something new everyday. Fascinating!

    Fox Renderfarm: Have you ever heard of or used Fox Renderfarm cloud rendering services previously?

    Artzai: Yes, I have heard about Fox Renderfarm cloud rendering services in 3D communities. I remember the first time that I heard was in a Facebook page that someone wanted to know about render farms and prices. So I took a look at all of them and I thought that Fox Renderfarm seemed to care about their community with challenges, online magazines... It was interesting!

    Fox Renderfarm: Any other things you want to share with the CG enthusiasts?

    Artzai: Yes, I would like to share my ArtStation where I’ve uploaded some personal projects. I don’t have much content so far, because I’ve been very focused on work projects, but my idea is to start participating in challenges like these in order to spend more time on personal projects, so I’ll be uploading more content from now on.

    tyrannosaurus rex © Artzai Elorza

    the lost spaceship | WIP © Artzai Elorza


    13-Year of Exciting CG Journey: Introducing FGT Art February Winner, Rahul Venugopal

    2021-04-06

    CG Challenges

    Art Competitions

    FGT Art, initiated and organized by Fox Renderfarm, is a program that encourages all Fox Renderfarm users to share their talents and get awarded monthly. We are very pleased to announce that the FGT Art February winner is Rahul Venugopal, who is the creator of the award-winning work Cyberpunk Neo Dharavi, and also an outstanding Matte Painter / Environment TD from Framestore.

    Cyberpunk Neo Dharavi © Rahul Venugopal

    Rahul is a digital matte painter and compositor, who has worked for many fantastic projects including feature films, high-end TV series, TV commercials, and corporate videos. As a well-travelled artist, Rahul has worked in many countries such as Singapore, India, Bulgaria, Turkey, China, United Kingdom, Canada, and the United Arab Emirates.

    In his 13-year CG journey, he has participated in the production of many famous movies, including Interstellar, The Expendables 2, Olympus Has Fallen, Eega, ect.

    From the exclusive interview, you can learn about how Rahul created his Cyberpunk artwork and share with us his CG journey.

    Rahul Venugopal

    · Environment TD / Matte Painter at Framestore · Specialize in Matte Painting, Environments & Compositing

    Fox Renderfarm: Hi Rahul, thank you so much for accepting our interview! Could you give us a brief introduction about yourself?

    Rahul: I am originally from Kochi, India and I have been in the motion pictures and television industry for the past 13 years. I started my career in Singapore and then went on to work as a freelance VFX artist in 8 countries around the world. At the moment, I am working as an Environment TD / Matte Painter at Framestore, Montreal.

    Stormy Outpost © Rahul Venugopal

    Fox Renderfarm: Congratulations! How do you feel about being the February winner of FGT Art?

    Rahul: I feel really honoured and excited, this project was really a fun one and I feel great to be honoured by the Fox Renderfarm community.

    Fox Renderfarm: What’s your inspiration for this Cyberpunk artwork “Cyberpunk Neo Dharavi”?

    Rahul: This started off as a pitch for a client work but later I developed it into my own personal project. My main obvious inspiration for this project was Blade Runner but I wanted to put this scene in a not so distant future and put more relatable elements from the present day. The main idea was to show the division of wealth between state / mega corporations vs the poor section of the society. Also, at the same time show that there is thriving street life culture within slums, possibly infected with crimes, gambling and adult entertainment.

    Blade Runner

    Fox Renderfarm: We can see that there are some Indian elements in the scene, could you introduce these details and how you design them?

    Rahul: I wanted to base this city in India and I took modern-day metropolises like Mumbai as an inspiration where rich and poor districts are almost side by side. I took a lot of elements from Mumbai Dharavi Slums and bashed it with Hong Kong-style neon lights but with flavours of Indian brands and local shops signages. Also, I kept a neon signage of Hindu God Ganesha to give this city a distinctive Asian taste.

    Fox Renderfarm: The composition, modeling and lighting of the work are pretty great, which part satisfied you most? And could you tell us how you make this part?

    Rahul: Majority of the models are kitbashed from various commercial and non-commercial 3D kitbash sets so I spend the majority of the time developing the look and feel of the city. I am really satisfied by the overall mood. I think I could have made it more hazy to make it more photorealistic but since this was a personal project, I took the freedom to reveal most of the details that I had put into this work.

    Fox Renderfarm: How long did it take to finish the work? Have you met any difficulties?

    Rahul: From start to finish, this took about 3 weeks, getting the layout right was obviously a huge task for such a scale and getting the right blend of 3D and 2.5D for the comp was another challenging task towards the end.

    Fox Renderfarm: Which cyberpunk artwork is your favorite (including movies, games, etc.)?

    Rahul: The movie ‘The Matrix’ came out when I was in High School and it just blew my mind and there was no looking back. I knew what I wanted to do for a living and I've been pretty much after VFX ever since. My other influences included Blade Runner, Alien, Terminator 2, Minority Report and Ghost in the Shell.

    Fox Renderfarm: As an outstanding digital matte painter and compositor, you participated in the production of many movies and TV projects, could you share with us your work experience along your CG journey, any project impressed you most?

    Rahul: I have enjoyed working each and every project that I have got the opportunity to work on. However, I especially cherish working on Interstellar as a Digital Compositor back in 2014 at DNEG, London. I really enjoyed watching the film and it is one of my all-time favorite movies.

    Interstellar

    I also enjoyed a lot working Ad Astra as Lead Digital Matte Painter at Mr.X Montreal. I particularly feel proud about my work in Ad Astra since I was able to contribute to the look and feel of the entire opening sequence where we see Earth from eighty thousand feet above the atmosphere.

    Ad Astra Earth Opening Environment Sequence

    Fox Renderfarm: How do you feel about Fox Renderfarm cloud rendering services?

    Rahul: I was amazed how easy and efficient Fox Renderfarm was even for first-time users and the support I received from your customer care team was top-notch. I think moving forward, I have more confidence to use more 3D and less of 2.5D with the help of Fox Renderfarm :)

    Fox Renderfarm: Any other things you want to share with the CG enthusiasts?

    Rahul: It is really exciting times for CG development now, especially with services like Fox Renderfarm which is easily accessible for any artists around the globe. There is no limitation to what you can achieve and I am really excited about what you guys will create since as artists we feed off from each other when it comes to inspiration.

    Abandoned © Rahul Venugopal

    Artstation:


    How to Make an Appealing Snow Fairy in Blender

    2021-03-22

    Trending

    Art Competitions

    Besides Olaf, Yeti and Sid, what can you think of when it comes to snow creatures? Jesse Amiel Gayanilo, an engineering student from Philippines, amazed the judges and won 1st place in the Snow Creature Challenge, which was sponsored by the TPN-Accredited cloud render farm, Fox Renderfarm.

    The snow fairy he created demonstrates the anatomy beauty of muscle and bones. Along with its color use and composition, the consistency makes his artwork stand out in this challenge. However, the creation process is not an easy one. We are glad to have an interview with him where we could hear about how he made it from sketching in Blender with a limited amount of time.

    • Jesse Amiel Gayanilo
    • Engineering student
    • From: Philippines

    Snow Creature © Jesse Amiel Gayanilo

    *Artwork Caption: Just a simple scene of a snow fairy chilling.*

    Jesse Amiel Gayanilo, “At first, my idea was to create some sort of winter wolf in a forest, but after a while, I have a difficulty in making it before the time, then I decided to make a way smaller scene, a snow fairy on a frosty leaf, which is around 4 days before the deadline, so I have to make the scene simple, stylized, and keep only the essential stuff like gesture, form, value, and composition.

    I also didn’t have time to create the fairy in the usual way we create characters, so I sculpted the fairy already posed, retopo it in Instant Meshes, and then adding more stuff (the muscles, bony landmarks, etc) and tweaking back in Blender.

    I learned a lot in this challenge. It gave me the opportunity to apply my recently acquired anatomy knowledge into 3D sculpting.“

    Snow Creature was created using Blender 2.91 (EEVEE) and Instant Meshes.

    Clay render © Jesse Amiel Gayanilo

    Fox Renderfarm: Hi Jesse, thank you so much for accepting our interview! Could you give us a brief introduction about yourself?

    Jesse: Hello, I am Jesse Amiel D. Gayanilo, currently an Engineering student, living here in the Philippines.

    Fox Renderfarm: How do you feel about winning the CG Boost Snow Creature Challenge?

    Jesse: I feel very accomplished, having to finally win first place after many years of joining CG Boost challenges.

    Fox Renderfarm: What’s your inspiration for this amazing work?

    Jesse: My entry was inspired by Nikita Veprikov’s artworks. I like his designs because it looks very clean, and gives importance to the basic forms and plane changes. Her pose was inspired by one of Follygon’s artworks while searching for tutorials on YouTube on sculpting stylized humans. I like the pose in his artwork because it looks so chill, and relaxed.

    © Nikita Veprikov

    © Follygon

    Fox Renderfarm: The snow fairy is terrific. Could you tell us how you designed and modeled it?

    Jesse: For the design of the fairy, I basically took the design of a human, and then emphasized its muscle borders, and bony landmarks, to make it look kind of like the exoskeleton of an insect. Also I placed the wings on her waist because putting it on the usual place, which is around the scapular, will cover the muscles on her back and the spine, which I think are interesting details of the human anatomy, and is one of the main focus of the artwork. It is also inspired by some designs of Angels, Demons, and some fictional characters, like Morrigan from the video game series Darkstalkers, or Morgana from the video game League of Legends, where their wings are placed on their waist instead of on their backs.

    First, I sketched the pose for the fairy in Krita.

    Next, in Blender, I modeled the basic forms of the fairy, but it’s already posing, so that I don’t have to rig it.

    Next, I sculpted the secondary details. I used a small resolution to sculpt big forms to avoid unnecessary details. I mostly use the grab, smooth, and inflate/deflate brush. Sometimes crease or pinch brush to sculpt plane changes. Then I retopologized it in Instant Meshes.

    Next, I added the muscles and bony landmarks. The muscles and bony landmarks are all separated objects. They are all just basic objects (round cubes, long and slender round cubes, planes with solidify and shrinkwrap modifiers, the ribs and spine are vertices applied with skin modifiers, etc.) sculpted into the shape of that individual muscle/bony landmark, no dyntopo, only grab and inflate/deflate sculpt brush. I only added these details to parts only seen by the viewer.

    Her dreadlocks are a single hair particle system, combed, and then converted to curves so that I can twist each strand, and also add a custom bevel to it.

    Fox Renderfarm: The jury appreciated the lighting and color use, and could you introduce how you made it?

    Jesse: In this artwork, I am trying to achieve a simplistic, non-photorealistic art style. The lighting is a single area lamp on top of her, and the world lighting is a simple gradient texture. The materials are all principled shaders. The fairy only has one image texture for the subtle colors on her.

    The leaf is a bit more complex, it has a vertex color as a frost map, or a map to separate the most frozen part of the leaf around its edges, and the least frozen part, around the center. This map is then overlaid with a procedural voronoi texture to try to create that crystal like appearance. The leaf and the twig are principled shaders mixed with a glossy shader with very high roughness, to try to create the frosty/cold/kind of velvet appearance.

    The rest of the objects are simpler shaders with a principled shader and a procedural texture, some don’t even have textures at all, like the frosts crystals, only a white principled shader with random alpha.

    Fox Renderfarm: How long did it take you to finish the work? Did you meet any difficulties?

    Jesse: At first, I wanted to create some sort of Eldritch hound in a dead winter setting. I really liked the idea, but after sculpting it, I find it difficult to create a natural pose for the hound, and build the image composition from it. Plus I still have to build a large environment. I already have put a considerable amount of time and effort into it, but I don’t feel like it’s going to go well. Should I continue? Or start again from scratch? This was the difficulty I met.

    But when I looked at the net for some inspiration, I found Nikita Veprikov and Follygon’s artworks, which inspired me to create a new artwork. With less than 5 days, I decided to create a new artwork, but only keep it simple, and not too photorealistic. I try to emphasize my artwork with its basic, organic forms.

    Fox Renderfarm: How long have you been learning Blender? For you, what advantages does Blender have in CG creation?

    Jesse: I started learning Blender when it was still version 2.74, so it was around 2015. Between those years and now, I join online competitions, and learn Blender at the same time.

    For me, the advantages of Blender are it is Free and open source. It may not have the best features, but it has most features that I will need, which means it is the best CG software for beginners. Since it is free, a lot of people can use it. I see that it also has a very large community, where people can teach each other. Since it is open source, a lot of people can improve Blender on their own. I also see that it has lots of addons created by the community, and some of the best ones are officially applied to Blender, further improving Blender. Plus, a number of companies started supporting Blender. All the support pushes Blender to keep improving.

    Fox Renderfarm: As a student, how do you do to improve your CG skills in your spare time?

    Jesse: For me, drawing is very useful in creating CG art, especially for creating characters. I improve my skills by studying the fundamental drawing skills, like drawing basic shapes, perspective, 3D forms, gesture drawing, etc. Quality of life is also very important. I try to improve it by getting proper sleep, food, and fluids, and exercise. Aim to be healthy. This way, my mind can be in a good state, which will help me in managing my time.

    Giant Samurai Rampages © Jesse Amiel Gayanilo

    • Artstation:

    Creating A Simple But Powerful Santa in 3ds Max

    2021-03-05

    Top News

    Art Competitions

    FGT3D Santa’s New Ride Challenge organized by the TPN-Accredited cloud rendering services provider, Fox Renderfarm, was started in November, 2020 and sponsored by our amazing sponsors, including XP-Pen, Corona Renderer, Redshift, TopoGun, Friendly Shade, Graswald, Raysync, Textures.com, Texturebox and iCube R&D Group. In early January, 2021, twelve finalists were received votes by our jury and three winners and three honorable mentions were picked! Congratulations to all the winners! And thanks to everyone for participating!

    The first place winner is Shiju NK! Congratulations! Shiju took roughly 20 days to finish the award-winning work, The Paramount Ride, made with Autodesk 3ds Max, Corona Renderer, Substance Painter, Marvelous Designer, Mixamo, Adobe Photoshop.

    “This rendering utilizes melancholic cinstrongatography to put us in deep contstrongplation of the challenges we went through in 2020. Black humor accompanies the sadness in the composition. The creator wittily transformed Santa’s vehicle into a Vespa scooter and the gifts into a package of the very much needed Vaccine. Details such as Santa’s gesture of looking at his watch shows that time is a pressing matter in this holiday season. With an intersection to the world’s current context, The Paramount Ride is not only exquisite in its technique but also profound in its content. It makes me wonder: is this beard biker in red our savior, or is he an incarnation of our lives’ disorder? ” 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 Shiju made the amazing artwork through the exclusive interview with Fox Renderfarm.

    The Paramount Ride © Shiju NK

    • Shiju NK
    • Senior Manager in the Design & Engineering Dept
    • Form: Kerala, India

    Fox Renderfarm: Hi, Shiju! Thank you so much for accepting our interview! Could you give us a brief introduction about yourself?

    Shiju: My name is Shiju and I hail from Kerala, India. It was by coincidence that I got introduced to the amazing world of 3D visualisation almost 18 years ago. But I knew from day one that this was going to be my field. I find it very interesting to imagine and create new concepts for every project of mine, a way to challenge myself to be better at my work. Currently I'm working with a highly reputed real estate company, Sobha Ltd. as a Senior Manager in the Design & Engineering Dept in Bangalore, India.

    Fox Renderfarm: Congratulations on winning 1st place in the FGT3D Santa’s New Ride Challenge, how do you feel about that?

    Shiju: Thank you so much to the Fox Renderfarm Team! I would also like to thank you for giving us 3D enthusiasts such an amazing opportunity to showcase our works. It was overwhelming when I got to know that I was chosen as the winner. It was amazing to be judged by the Fox Renderfarm Team and other reputed judges.

    Fox Renderfarm: This strong and funny concept really speaks to all of us after 2020. What’s the inspiration behind your artwork?

    Shiju: The topic that Fox Renderfarm chose this time really clicked with me, in the sense that it was straight forward and at the same time gave numerous ideas. My first thought was to create a very simple concept yet a powerful one that anyone could relate to- showing Santa like one of us on a scooter, waiting to refill at an isolated gas station. Also, the world is reeling under the attack of the virus and we are all waiting for that one miracle to eradicate it. Who better than Santa to do that for us?

    Fox Renderfarm: Composition and lighting both show loneliness, as Santa carrying vaccines reflects the current COVID-19 situation and gives the world some hope even if it's in the dark. How did you make them? Any references?

    Shiju: Of course, I did use some reference images for the lighting. Right from the concept stage, I wanted to give an isolated feel to the scene but with a hope that things will change for the better. The initial idea was to add a mask for Santa but that gave a negative vibe. After discussing with my friend, it was he who gave me the idea of mentioning vaccines on the gift bag to reflect the current situation. To depict the isolation, I used very minimal HDRI lighting for the environment. Since it is a night view, I set the intensity of the HDRI light to minimum. The light fixtures that are visible in the view are the only ones that have been used, no other extra lighting.

    Fox Renderfarm: Textures and colors are in all the right places and never distracting, reminding of lovable Norman Rockwell style. How did you make them?

    Shiju: To get a scene right, it is very important to get the textures and colors right. I believe it's necessary to understand the color combinations and composition in depth. Since Santa is the main subject, the key colors had to be red and white. I wanted to keep the rest to bare minimum and give importance to the scene as a whole. For texturing, I used Substance Painter though I would like to point out that I'm not a pro at it. While doing any renders, it's absolutely important to get every texture in detail to make it look realistic,at the same time artistic.

    Fox Renderfarm: Did you meet any difficulties when creating this work? And how did you solve them?

    Shiju: Definitely, I faced a lot of challenges while creating this work. Like I said earlier, it took a lot of effort and time to get the textures and colors right in Substance Painter. Also it was challenging to get the character and its pose right. I used Mixamo software for the character rig and brought it to 3ds Max for the pose. Even though it was difficult, the time and effort spent on it was worth it because I got the result that I wanted. Creating the beard and snow was equally fun. For the beard I used Hair and Fur Modifier in 3ds Max. It was challenging to create the natural movement of the beard caused by the breeze. The snow material was created in 3ds Max and spent a lot of time on it for its detailing.

    Fox Renderfarm: Any artists or artworks inspired you most?

    Shiju: There are many artists and artworks that have inspired me. It's difficult to name because every work is truly an inspiration to me.

    Fox Renderfarm: Could you briefly tell us your educational and work experience along your CG journey?

    Shiju: CG was never a part of my educational background. It happened by chance when I saw my friend working on 3D visualization and I have never looked back since then. I worked briefly with Architectural firms in Saudi Arabia and UAE as a Visualiser and then moved back to India.

    Fox Renderfarm: Do you have any recommendable learning methods to improve professional skills?

    Shiju: A visualizer should learn to observe. Observe everything in its minute detail, and keep taking inspiration from photography, artworks and professional 3D artists. Update yourself with new softwares.

    Fox Renderfarm: Have you ever tried Fox Renderfarm’s cloud rendering services? If yes, how do you like it?

    Shiju: I have not yet used the service. Currently I'm working on an animation project for which I will be using Fox Renderfarm cloud rendering services.

    Fox Renderfarm: Anything else you would like to share with CG enthusiasts?

    Shiju: Be passionate towards your work. Stay focused on your end result and you will definitely achieve it!


    Making a Cartoon-style Heavy Metal Santa with ZBrush and Maya

    2021-03-04

    Fox Talk

    Art Competitions

    FGT3D Santa’s New Ride Challenge organized by the TPN-Accredited cloud rendering services provider, Fox Renderfarm, was started in November, 2020 and sponsored by our amazing sponsors, including XP-Pen, Corona Renderer, Redshift, TopoGun, Friendly Shade, Graswald, Raysync, Textures.com, Texturebox and iCube R&D Group. In early January, 2021, twelve finalists were received votes by our jury and three winners and three honorable mentions were picked! Congratulations to all the winners! And thanks to everyone for participating!

    The second place winner is Vinicius Villela! Congratulations! His artwork, Heavy Metal Santa, stands out for its appealing design and modeling, which received appreciation from our jury.

    “This one has a brilliantly funny general concept. The character design and modelling is very well executed and appealing. Excellent composition and very nice overall shading and coloring. Very well done! I wonder what kind of presents he actually delivers.” One of our judges, Kariem Saleh said, who is an award winning film director and animator based in Berlin, Germany.

    Here’s the interview between Vinicius and Fox Renderfarm, in which we can find out how he created this wonderful 3D render.

    Heavy Metal Santa © Vinicius Villela

    • Vinicius Villela
    • Character Artist
    • From: Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

    Fox Renderfarm: Hi Vinicius, thank you so much for accepting our interview! Could you give us a brief introduction about yourself?

    Vinicius: My name is Vinicius Villela, I have been a 3D Generalist since I was very young, I was fascinated by inventions and technology, the universe of games fascinated me as if it was something magical. Since I was a child I had an artistic impulse. I liked to draw, disassemble toys, create new ones. So when I was 14, I started to study computer graphics. where it was for me the opportunity to delve into an unlimited field of creation in terms of image, it was where I met several tools and possibilities, my curiosity was the main fuel when I first heard about it in 3D in the mid-2006 and that there were programs capable of creating and rendering three-dimensional images like the ones I used to see in the great cinema films at the time and like everyone born in the 90s, I was fascinated by the increasingly innovative effects and it couldn't be different to see those images left me even more motivated and ambitious with my studies to try to understand that science and since then it has been a long process of studies, research, trials and errors to improve myself more and more in this journey of learning that continues today.

    Fox Renderfarm: How do you feel about winning second place in FGT3D Santa's New Ride?

    Vinicius: It was an immense pleasure to have participated and reached the second prize. I was very committed and confident that I could reach the finalists, this was my fuel to complete the project. I do hope to participate more and more in contests like this so that I continue to challenge myself and evolve as an artist and as a person improving my criteria and my concepts because we always learn from each other.

    Fox Renderfarm: What inspired you to create the work Heavy Metal Santa?

    Vinicius: For a long time I already wanted to produce some image with the Christmas theme over time as the years passed and I never stopped to enjoy the occasion. The contest was an extra reason for me to dedicate myself this time. What inspired me the most were animations by Sony Imageworks like it's raining hamburger, hotel transylvania

    Fox Renderfarm: How long did you take to finish the work? Did you face any difficulties?

    Vinicius: It took me about 1 month to complete the whole project. My biggest difficulty in the conceptual part was to find harmony and composition between the character and the environment in the technical part, it was the hardware limitation to render the final image. Testing site until I could be sure that I would be putting Fox Renderfarm on my last rendering set.

    Fox Renderfarm: The cartoon look of Santa is so great, could you tell us how you make the character design and modeling so appealing?

    Vinicius: As for the design, I wanted to attribute more rustic features to the personality and the traditional figure of Santa Claus, so I chose to work with the concept of a metalhead as something more radical and cool, breaking a stereotyped view that we have culturally about Noel.

    Fox Renderfarm: We’re all impressed by the materials of the work, which are so realistic, could you introduce how you make them?

    Vinicius: In the lookdev part I worked all the texture part in Substance painter using part of your Source library. As for the render engine I opted for Arnold, as I was more familiar with my professional work.

    Fox Renderfarm: How long have you been into the CG industry as a Character Artist? Could you tell us about your CG education and career experience?

    Vinicius: I have been a character artist since 2014 but I started my studies at a young age when I was 14 years old I was researching everything on the internet looking for breakdowns, articles or anything that could add to the understanding of this universe of computer graphics over time I was conquering some opportunities and being able to invest in my training with mentors attending online workshops in the vast majority and so I specialized.

    Fox Renderfarm: Have you ever used Fox Renderfarm cloud rendering services previously? If yes, how do you feel about it?

    Vinicius: I used it for the first time for the contest itself. I found the service very friendly for a new user, sure about the error checking procedures before starting the render.

    Fox Renderfarm: Do you have any advice for future participants in the competition?

    Vinicius: I think it is a tip even for me to think about the storytelling of the image before any other aspect over time. I realize more and more the value of the image's message, because it is she who will connect with the viewer, this was a great lesson for me in this contest and I would like to mention how Shiju NK was fantastic in his perception and managed to transmit with mastery in his concept.

    The Paramount Ride © Shiju NK

    Stay tuned for our upcoming interview with Mr. Shiju NK, our 1st place winner of FGT3D Santa’s New Ride!


    How to Create a Hail Phoenix with Cinema 4D and ZBrush

    2021-02-24

    Fox Talk

    Art Competitions

    FGT3D Santa’s New Ride Challenge organized by the TPN-Accredited cloud rendering services provider, Fox Renderfarm, was started in November, 2020 and sponsored by our amazing sponsors, including XP-Pen, Corona Renderer, Redshift, TopoGun, Friendly Shade, Graswald, Raysync, Textures.com, Texturebox and iCube R&D Group. In early January, 2021, twelve finalists were received votes by our jury and three winners and three honorable mentions were picked! Congratulations to all the winners! And thanks to everyone for participating!

    One of the Honorable Mentions goes to Santa's New Ride: A Phoenix Hope, created by our dear friend Kay John Yim. The artwork is made with Cinema 4D, ZBrush, Redshift and Character Creator.

    “I was immediately drawn to this image. This work took the idea of a "new ride" to a very different level. If Santa Claus, who brings wonderful joy to all children, wishes for a new ride, it might be a supernatural one like this. It looks as if it can go anywhere beyond the speed of light. The sense of the three-dimensional space, scale, lighting, and details of the image are excellent, and they all contribute to the happy feeling of the scene.” One of our judges, Miho Aoki said, who is the Associate Professor of Computer Art University of Alaska Fairbanks.

    Here’s the interview between John and Fox Renderfarm, in which we can find out how he created this wonderful 3D render.

    • Kay John Yim
    • Chartered Architect based in London
    • CGI Artist
    • From: Hong Kong

    Santa's New Ride: A Phoenix Hope © Kay John Yim

    Fox Renderfarm: How do you feel about winning honorable mention in FGT3D Santa's New Ride Challenge?

    John: I feel really honored winning the honorable mention, and thank you so much for having me for the interview!

    Fox Renderfarm: What inspired you to create the work Santa's New Ride A Phoenix Hope?

    John: In light of a turbulent and disruptive year, I believed Santa’s New Ride for Christmas had to be symbolic for 2020’s Christmas, a motif bringing hope across the world. Phoenix, a legendary creature well-known worldwide was well-suited for that particular role. This led me to re-imagine the traditional Phoenix in a more festive and seasonal form - the Hail Phoenix - made up of both ice and fire, it was an embodiment of warmth and cold, a personification of sublimation and reincarnation.

    Fox Renderfarm: How long did you take to finish the work?

    John: It took me about 3 weeks to finish - a week on the backdrop buildings, a week on sculpting the Phoenix, and another week on set-dressing and designing the final composition and lighting.

    Fox Renderfarm: Could you tell us how you make the modeling so appealing?

    John: I set out to do quite a large scale scene at the beginning, so I knew I would have to focus on assets/part of the assets visible to the final view/camera or else I would easily run out of time.

    Part of the background building components were procedurally modelled in Houdini, part of them were from an asset library that I built up in the past, assembled with Houdini’s Building Generator.

    The Phoenix model took a lot of trial and error - although it was sculpted in ZBrush in reference to body proportions of an eagle and a peacock, the wings and the tails were exaggerated in scale to make it look more heroic and surreal.

    Santa's New Ride WIP

    Fox Renderfarm: We’re all impressed by the lighting and composition of the work, could you introduce how you make them? Any references?

    John: Glad you like it! The scene was created in reference to Paris high streets and Christmas Markets - I personally loved the abundant festive lightings found in a lot of European Christmas markets, which I replicated and had them scattered around the scene.

    Composition wise it was actually a reference to my own personal artwork, “Thousand Cherry Trees (千本桜)” - a centered main subject surrounded with a symmetrical backdrop and foreground character(s). Coming from an architectural background, I personally love using central perspectives - although not often as realistic - I think they leave the deepest impression and are the easiest to design and iterate on.

    Thousand Cherry Trees © Kay John Yim

    Fox Renderfarm: The shading and texturing are brilliant. How did you make it?

    John: The shading and texturing were done in Cinema 4D (Redshift) and they were relatively simple.

    I used mostly Megascans materials for the buildings and the street props with a bit of color correction and material blending.

    The festive and window lights were subtly randomized emissive materials - I originally lit a lot of them as diffuse lights but had to swap them out for emissive materials instead due to excessive render times.

    As for the Phoenix, it took a lot of trial and error to arrive at the final look without exact real-world references. I originally planned to groom it as if it were an oversized eagle, but I figured that the grooming would take up too much time on top of the sculpt, and it would have covered up a lot of the background lights and buildings. This was the primary reason why I ultimately made it a translucent “living ice sculpture”, shaded with an ice material mixed in with a lot of roughness noise for reflection and refraction.

    Fox Renderfarm: Did you meet any difficulties when creating this work? And how did you solve it?

    John: The most difficult part was managing rendering time. Refractive materials like glass and ice were computationally expensive to render - caustics in particular could easily double or triple rendering times. With such a large refractive object in the scene (the Phoenix), my original estimated rendering time would be well over 2 weeks (for a 4K image) with caustics on! I had to turn off caustics and place in some fake spotlights with caustic textures as a “cheat” to speed up my rendering time at the end.

    Fox Renderfarm: How do you feel about Fox Renderfarm cloud rendering services?

    John: I have tried a lot of rendering services and I think Fox Renderfarm is one of the most helpful renderfarms; the file uploading speed is particularly impressive.

    Fox Renderfarm: What do you think of the FGT3D Challenge, any suggestions for us?

    John: I think the FGT3D Challenge is great, as the topics are really flexible and thus allow for artists’ own interpenetration.

    Fox Renderfarm: Do you have any advice for future participants in the competition?

    John: To render a good image, I think it is most important to train one’s artistic sense, attention to detail and proportions, which could be as simple as watching good movies.

    Technical-wise, there is really no defined path for learning since CG softwares is advancing so quickly these days. In general I believe it is essential to practice effectively and regularly. I try to spare as much time as I could everyday on personal CG projects, and when I am learning a new software myself, I would pick a photo or an object that I really like and try to fully replicate it as a 3D rendering.


    Passion is Everything: Introducing Enthusiastic 3D Animator, Maynard Ellis

    2021-02-08

    CG Challenges

    Art Competitions

    What if Santa wants to be a superhero?

    Showing us a story about Santa saving a young lady in his heroic dream, Maynard Ellis’s 3D animation short Santa's Dream won third place in the 2020 Animation Holiday Contest of Renderosity.

    As the old friend of Fox Renderfarm, the largest cloud rendering service provider in the CG industry, Maynard Ellis told us his inspiration and how he made the animation.

    Fox Renderfarm: Could you tell us what is the inspiration for your 3D video Santa's Dream?

    Maynard: The inspiration for this video came from the contest theme 'Dreams of Peace'. I took the theme quite literally and thought it would be cool to have Santa dreaming of being a buff hero type keeping the peace for the local villagers near his South Pole home.

    My original concept was a little grander and a little better executed than the final piece but that mainly came down to time. Having said that I think I ended up staying pretty true to the original idea and the original story board narrative that I put together.

    Essentially I planned to have:

    • The opening scene with Santa falling asleep outside his home, including a cool effect to transition into a dreamstate.
    • The party full of young revellers in the village.
    • A monster charging in and creating some mayhem, throwing aside one of the young men and carrying off his girlfriend... very King Kong sort of style.
    • Another character running up to Santa's house and alerting him to what had gone on. This was dropped but I think it worked better with Santa in attendance at the party. It certainly cut some corners having him there witnessing it all.
    • An epic showdown in the monsters lair followed by warm accolades from the rescued young woman.
    • A return to the original scene with Santa waking up exclaiming that it was all just a dream. This too was dropped but I think it worked ok ending it the way I did and it saved on some time which I just didn't have a lot of.

    Fox Renderfarm: How much time did it take you to create your work?

    Maynard: Time!!!! Aaargh!!

    Anybody who does animation will tell you how long this process can take and when you are trying to do a full narrative style production and not just a moving montage there is a sooo much to do and you certainly need plenty of time. As I have a day job I generally only get to work on projects like this at night and on weekends, although I have been working from home during the Pandemic so I do get the luxury of kicking off test renders during the day and other little things I can do on breaks.

    I really wish I'd had 6-8 weeks to get all I had hoped for done but I barely had 3 weeks as I didn't realise the contest had started. Luckily I still had some time left when I checked for it. I guess I should have been looking for it earlier, and knowing it was coming I guess I should have been planning stuff but I hadn't heard anything and just assumed it would run closer to the end of December and not need to be done by the 10th of December!!!! So all gripes about my stupidity aside this was a tough project to finish in 3 weeks and the soundtrack, voice overs, the quality of animation and the overall content I included all suffered as a result of this. I was still pretty pleased with how it came together though and it is always great to see a concept grow from your initial idea into something that works out OK.

    Fox Renderfarm: There are many characters in your video, such as Santa, the snowman, the monster, and the beauty, could you introduce the design of these main characters?

    Maynard: Firstly I generally use high quality DAZ characters brought from DAZ to iClone and the main characters were mostly created this way, but the performance of iClone was getting bogged down so the villagers and the main beauty were iClone characters which are lighter weight than the DAZ characters. With more time and planning I could have reduced the resolution of my DAZ characters but I just dropped some people out of the village scene and substituted some of the DAZ characters for iClone characters and this helped enough to get something out.

    Just before I started this project Reallusion ran a sale on a Christmas character bundle so I had a couple of young girls in Xmas outfits although I originally planned for the main woman to be a DAZ character that I had prepared.

    The snowman character came from DAZ and I took his hat, scarf and glasses and put them on a traditional snowman model to help sell the concept of him coming alive. With more time he would have had a bigger role in the story but he still worked out OK.

    The traditional Santa was easy enough in DAZ and then I made his buff alter ego in a less traditional outfit. Doesn't everyone have a better looking, younger, sexier alter ego they see themselves as in dreams?

    I was very disappointed with the monster and really wanted a furry snow beast but had to settle for the pasty, hairless, albino abominable snowman type of beast. As my animations are very small and quick projects just for personal pleasure under contest deadlines there is no real time to model custom characters but I would like to do more of that for my animations in future. I have a bit more to learn in that regard though!!

    Fox Renderfarm: In the video, Santa has a wonderful fight with monsters, and also there are some people who dance in the snow. Could you tell us how these characters' movements are achieved? Did you use any motion capture?

    Maynard: I really wanted to use motion capture and tried to, but I didn't have a successful pipeline for this in place and in the end I abandoned those plans as the lack of time caught up with me. I have a Kinect and tried using that and I captured a couple of animations that both ended up on the cutting room floor as I ran out of time and fast tracked each scene. I motion captured Santa yawning before falling asleep and the monster picking up the girl and putting her on his shoulder. In the end I just had Santa drop straight off to sleep and I cheated with the snatch and grab by cutting to the monster running off with her already on his shoulder.

    I was thinking of buying the iClonect Kinect plug-in but I was not overly impressed with the demo and I have some software for Kinect capture that works in Unity but I had issues trying to get that animation into iClone. What I did end up using was a little capture app that was a freebie in the DAZ community. It writes out a text file of the motion capture data that is then imported into DAZ by a script and applied to a figure. This worked surprisingly well and was easy to get into iClone after I exported it out as an FBX. iClone recognises FBX files based on Genesis 8 so that would have been what I used if I persisted with motion capture for this project. I currently am looking at some solutions that work with Unreal Engine 4 as that has better integration with iClone and I have also downloaded some new iphone motion capture apps to try.... oh and who knows I might even win a Renderosity animation contest one day and get a licence for the iPi mocap studio.... one can only keep dreaming of these things :)

    Most of the animations were crafted from stock animations from Mixamo and from iClone animations that I have. In order for these animations to tell the story I tweaked them in iClone and created custom keyframe animation to string them all together cohesively where required. The fight scene was especially difficult in regards to this. I had hoped for it to be a longer and grander battle but that was just going to take far too long to animate. Luckily I think it fitted the theme that the dreamstate buff santa hero was able to dispatch the villain so easily :). The hardest part of that fight scene was creating something credible and despite it being short with the help of some sound effects I think I pulled it off ok. I was quite happy with it in the end and Santa really did save the day with his devastating roundhouse kick.

    Fox Renderfarm: Did you use any new approach during creating the work?

    Maynard: I think you always end up trying new things when you are doing new projects. Something always comes up that you don't know how to do or you research new techniques, or your idea just makes you think outside the box. This is one of the great reasons to do stuff even if it is just for your own pleasure or as a contest entry.

    The following were new things I used, or tried to use

    • I really wanted to use Depth of Field (DOF) camera blur in this project, especially for the monster reveal. iClone has this feature but for some reason I couldn't get it to render properly. I am sure with some more time I could have worked this one out but I ended up just removing it altogether. I think this would have been a very cool little trick to have given some more sparkle to my video so I will investigate this again.
    • I used a toon shader built into iClone for the dreamstate. By not coming back to reality at the end it wasn't as effective as I would have liked as most of the video was dreamstate. It would have been nice though to see the video go into this rendering mode when the dream started and to come out of it when the dream stopped.
    • I used a friend for voice-overs. I sent her an email with some lines I wanted and chatted to her about the story and the emotion I wanted in the lines and she recorded them on her phone and sent them to me. This worked surprisingly well and I will hopefully use her again in future projects, although I am investigating AI based text to voice and may use that as well for future projects. I had to use my own voice for Santa (which I hated) and I had wanted the 'Gary' character to have a line and the snowman character could have had some dialog, so just one female friend willing to help with voice overs does not give me enough scope for a large project. I have found an AI Text to Voice service that is surprisingly good allowing you to add different emotions and emphasis to the dialog and it is far superior to other services I have looked at. It has a cost but given that when I investigated using someone from Fiverr they started at $15 USD a good paid service that is not too expensive may work for me. I highly recommend checking out the one I found. They sell 4 hour blocks of voice generation for $20 USD and with careful planning that should be good for a few projects so all in all I think they are dirt cheap.... and they have amazingly good AI text to voice so check them out!!
    • I learnt more about iClone which is great. I bought it last year when they had a big sale during our first COVID lockdown and I am starting to get the hang of it now. I learnt about auto switching between my cameras on the timeline while rendering which really helps in assembling complex scenes quickly and I learnt about using paths for more fluid walking and running animations. I also used their automatic lip synching from a sound clip for the first time in this project. If I had more time I would have tweaked the phonemes to get a better result but for what I was doing it was all I really needed. For something more advanced in a future project I think I will use facial mocap from an iPhone app.

    Fox Renderfarm: Did you meet any difficulties? And how did you solve it?

    Maynard:

    • I had time difficulties as already mentioned and I just cut corners and simplified my scenes and soundtrack. This was not ideal but sometimes being leaner and tighter is better than what you were originally intending.
    • I encountered difficulties with the motion capture I was trying to use. Having a good and reliable pipeline is very important as no single app will do everything you need and I just didn't get a suitable pipeline worked out in time for motion capture. I will definitely persevere with this though as just using stock animations gets very limiting even though you can tweak them quite significantly in iClone.
    • I encountered problems with the DOF feature in iClone. I need to look into this more as I was not able to solve the issues and I just dropped it. I really wanted the background to be blurred during the village party scene so that when the monster is first revealed I could have blurred the foreground and brought him into sharp focus in the background. This is a cool technique and it actually worked well when I tried it but using the DOF on the entire scene left some strange artefacts in the background and I just wasn't happy with it overall. I have seen videos of DOF being used effectively in iClone so I need to try again for my next project.
    • I had major performance issues with iClone for the early attempts at creating the village scene. There were just too many characters moving in the scene and too many of them were high poly count models. I swapped a few of the villagers that I had prepared in DAZ out and replaced them with standard iClone characters and I reduced the overall number of characters in this scene and this helped immensely. When having just 2 or 3 characters in a scene there is not much issue if they are high poly count but for bigger scenes with more actors this really has to be considered. I use Reallusions Character Creator 3 (CC3) in my pipeline between DAZ and iClone and I did reduce some of the size of my main characters in CC3 as well but I was mindful not to push this too far as they were often focussed on in close up. In future I will take all my characters through CC3 and prepare them for their role by reducing the quality and amount of textures and also removing hidden meshes where appropriate. I may also try to use billboard crowds if I want to do scenes with large numbers of characters..... maybe that can be what I do next time... have huge crowds in a scene... an epic battle or a city overrun with zombies :) 

    Fox Renderfarm: Do you have any advice for future participants in the competition?

    Maynard: Here are some thoughts for aspiring animators:

    • Don't let yourself be easily discouraged.
    • Give yourself plenty of time and use good time management.
    • Try to tell an engaging story. I have seen some very simple animations brought to life with narration or with text so any project can aim to engage and tell a story.
    • Plan your animation and storyboard it. This can be as simple as a scene narrative in dot points or some stick figure drawings, but it will help immensely and will allow you to better manage your project if you need to make changes on the fly. A good story board can also help you see the overall picture more clearly and lead you to make better decisions about the project.
    • Don't be afraid to cut something you planned to add.
    • When you have a plan for your scenes don't always just create them in large linear blocks, have fun with how you tell your story and break scenes apart and intercut them with other scenes, you may be surprised at the results.
    • Try new techniques and don't always just use the same approach, I am wanting to do a stop motion animation soon which will be very different from what I have recently been doing
    • Never stop learning, there is a wealth of great learning material out there for anything from 2d keyframed techniques to stop motion against green screens to AAA quality 3D epic adventure sagas.
    • Check out as much stuff other people are doing as you can. Seeing what is being done by others should encourage you to create and may lead to some ideas you hadn't thought about.
    • Treat anything you are watching as being a potential idea playground for things you can create. I recently re-watched the film 'Memento' There is no other film quite like it and it is a story told completely backwards. Thinking about techniques like this could trigger a great idea for your own project and I am planning to try something like that one day with some sort of backward narrative.

    Dream Big and Fly High.

    There are no rules and you can make no mistakes. There are just the things that you imagine and the things that you create.


    FGT3D Santa's New Ride Winners Announced!

    2021-01-11

    CG Challenges

    Art Competitions

    We are very excited to announce the winners of the FGT3D Challenge themed on Santa’s New Ride! In this challenge, the works submitted by participants must be a 3D rendered image. And Jury paid attention to the visual appeal, storytelling, and technique. Thanks to all our beloved participants, jury and sponsors.

    Theme

    Christmas is coming soon! Santa Claus is on the way to deliver gifts again. But Santa is coming a different way this year, he may ride a motorcycle, may drive a Lamborghini, or even get on a rocket! Please create your 3D render and show Santa’s new ride in your mind.

    1st place: The Paramount Ride - Shiju NK

    What our jury says

    Fox Renderfarm Team: Scene and lighting both show loneliness feel, as Santa carrying vaccines reflects the current covid19 situation and gives the world some hope even it's in the dark. Almost painting like texture and color further reminding of lovable Norman Rockwell style. Great work!

    Miho Aoki: I'm based in Alaska, and I see snow every day. This image does look like a small old gas station in winter here, though we don't have these old pumps anymore. There are very fine details on Santa and also on other places. I see the snow on the yellow metal numbers by the pump is half melted: it shows that the artist cared about the details. The lighting is excellent too. The thstronge of delivering vaccines is very timely and also resonates with the story of Alaskan dog sled teams delivering serum to a town to stop the diphtheria outbreak in the winter of 1925. This image makes me ask a lot of questions, like why is it a moppet? Can it fly? What has happened to reindeers? It'd be nice there are hints for these questions' answers in the image.

    Frank WANG Yefeng: My top choice for the competition goes to “The Paramount Ride.” This rendering utilizes melancholic cinstrongatography to put us in deep contstrongplation of the challenges we went through in 2020. Black humor accompanies the sadness in the composition. The creator wittily transformed Santa’s vehicle into a Vespa scooter and the gifts into a package of the very much needed Vaccine. Details such as Santa’s gesture of looking at his watch shows that time is a pressing matter in this holiday season. With an intersection to the world’s current context, “The Paramount Ride” is not only exquisite in its technique but also profound in its content. It makes me wonder: is this beard biker in red our savior, or is he an incarnation of our lives’ disorder?

    Kariem Saleh: This strong and funny concept really speaks to all of us after 2020. The image has a nice choice of colors, lighting and composition. Texture details are in all the right places and never distracting. This is a timeless snapshot of what we are all going through right now and might be a good rstronginder on anyones wall of the great efforts that we all made together to get through this difficult time.

    XP-Pen Team: Visual Appeal——It is very detailed. The light, the snow and car marks in the snow all are dedicated!Storytelling——Feels a bit lonely and sad story, touch our hearts.Technical——Pertect!

    Graswald Team: Lovely idea with a great reference to our current situation. The snow looks wonderful, I like the composition, the pose of Santa and the use of Red and White. Great job!

    Textures.com Team: Excellent work overall, tells a story, beautiful lighting and use of color.

    Texturebox Team: Modelling and lighting good , idea santa lost his deers and using a Vespa for disturbing gifts but it sestrongs he will be late.

    2nd place: Heavy Metal Santa - Vinicius Villela

    Heavy Metal Santa
Created by Vinicius Villela

    What our jury says

    Cenay Oekmen: The Character is very interesting. I do like the Cartoon look. The Skin shader works nice. I do also like all the small details like the Fur part. Very good Framing.

    Kariem Saleh: This one has a brilliantly funny general concept. The character design and modelling is very well executed and appealing. Excellent composition and very nice overall shading and coloring. Very well done! I wonder what kind of presents he actually delivers ;)

    Corona Renderer Team: This one nailed the cartoon look with just enough detail but not too much, so that it didn't fall into the uncanny valley of realistic yet cartoon, but went fully cartoon. I also love this Santa full of attitude! The good use of depth of field then rounds it out nicely.

    Graswald Team: Love the idea and the execution. The different materials look spot on (the hair, the belly, the fabric) and makes you wanna watch a Pixar movie about this character. Great storytelling and impressive implementation!

    Textures.com Team: Great concept, fantastic modelling, and the materials and shading are top notch!

    Texturebox Team: Santa's workshop looks like cyberpunk , texturing is good, I feel inside a game in this render.

    3rd place: Santa Is Crashing To Town - Hoang Nguyen

    What our jury says

    Fox Renderfarm Team: Sci-Fi setting makes one wonder why Santa is from space? Does he live on the moon? Very attention to details, the smoke, the lens flare, gives more mysteries for the story.

    Miho Aoki: This image presents a lot of anticipation. Is Santa OK? Did he try a new way of coming to the earth this year? Is he going to come out now? What will the police do? The image is very detailed and coherent and allows us to explore the details to look for clues. The lighting effect and smoky/dusty feeling are very well done too.

    Frank WANG Yefeng: SANTA IS CRASHING TO TOWN” challenges our conventional impression of Santa’s pleasant arrival at Christmas times. The focal point of the composition shows a disastrous crashing site with gifts scattered all over the ground. The police cars put Santa (who is already in deep trouble) under siege, making the viewers question what could happen to him next. The protagonist here is ironically being depicted as an accidental “intruder.” The post-apocalyptic atmosphere of the image resonates with all the unprecedented events we encountered in 2020. This wrecked flying craft might serve as a metaphor for our time filled up with turmoils and unpredictabilities.

    Kariem Saleh: That piece is based on a really cool and original idea. The atmosphere is sucking you in. All color and lighting choices in here are stellar and spot on! Now we finally know how Santa travels around the globe so quickly.

    Cenay Oekmen: I love the Idea of a Santa using a spaceship capsule. Overall composition is lovely. Nice and Gritty.

    XP-Pen Team: Visual Appeal—— The whole layout of dense and strongpty place distribution is very reasonable, the atmosphere is also very clever, the details are full, is the kind of common at the first sight, but the more you see the more taste of the map, the new mount is the space cabin this idea is very good.Storytelling—— The cabin that landed on alert is actually Santa's new car! It is so imaginative!Technical——Perfect!

    Texturebox Team: I think the idea is unique than others. Modelling and texturing is very good. Santa is not from the earth and is really good.

    Honorable Mentions:

    Santa's New Ride A Phoenix Hope - Kay John Yim

    Santa's New Ride A Phoenix Hope
Created by Kay John Yim

    What our jury says

    Miho Aoki: I was immediately drawn to this image. This work took the idea of a "new ride" to a very different level. If Santa Claus, who brings wonderful joy to all children, wishes a new ride, it might be a supernatural one like this. It looks as it can go anywhere beyond the speed of light. The sense of the three-dimensional space, scale, lighting, and details of the image are excellent, and they all contribute to the happy feeling of the scene.

    XP-Pen Team: Visual Appeal—Both the light shadow and the final effect are fantastic, and the idea of the phoenix as the new vehicle of Santa Claus is really interesting. A little perspective+symmetrical composition+the red decorated by Santa Claus and the brightest yellow of Phoenix make the whole painting fall on the main body, which is very nice. Storytelling—The birds flying up, the movstrongents of the crowd, the deer on the moon, the Christmas tree in the street, the snowflakes like feathers, the snowman in the corner, this painting is full of stories.Technical—Perfect!

    Corona Renderer Team: Lots of love in this image! To begin, I love that it looks like a conventional Christmas card in its colors and format, yet the subject matter is very surprising. I love the level of detail in this, with all those twinkling lights, the snowflakes, the reindeer taking it easy on the moon now that the new ride has taken over (nice touch of humour there!). Above all I love the "glass Phoenix" which makes a dramatic and powerful centerpoint to the image, and is very different from anything else we saw.

    Textures.com Team: I love the dynamic and magical feel in this image.

    Santa's on the future ride - Hieu Trinh

    Santa's on the future ride
Created by Hieu Trinh

    What our jury says

    Graswald Team: I am a big fan of CG Lego (and real Lego) and really loved this idea and its technical execution. I only wish you could see Santa more clearly or any other character that could have told a more interesting story.

    Santa's New Ride - Maynard Ellis

    SantasNewRide
Created by Maynard Ellis

    What our jury says

    Cenay Oekmen: Really nice work, I do like the Lighting and Material settings. The overall composition is spot on.

    Congrats to the winners, and thanks to everyone for participating. Fox Renderfarm Team will contact the winners for prize distribution in the next few days.

    For more info

    Hope to see you soon on our next FGT3D Challenge! Stay tuned!


    Enjoy Creating 'Art for Your Walls' and Keep Creating

    2021-01-04

    Fox Talk

    Renderosity

    With the theme of Costumes, Cauldrons & Concoctions, Renderosity 2020 Animation Halloween Contest received many great animation artworks. Congratulations to all the winners and everyone participated in the event. As the sponsor of the contest, Fox Renderfarm, the best render farm, is pleased to interview the second-place winner of the Animation Halloween Contest,Maynard Ellis, who is a long-time digital graphic artist and also an aspiring animator and game developer. Maynard’s award-winning work, Trick Or Treat, was animated with iClone 7, and the characters and environments were converted from Daz using CC3.

    “I had a great time making this and I am looking forward to doing more now I have worked out a good method for getting DAZ characters and environments into iClone,” said Maynard.

    Here’s the interview between Maynard Ellis and Fox Renderfarm, in which you can find out how he made the animation.

    Fox Renderfarm: Hi Maynard, could you give us a brief introduction about yourself?

    Maynard: I have been involved with CG art for over 20 years, primarily as a hobby although I have been involved professionally as a graphic designer on many occasions. I first joined Renderosity in 2004 and always aspired to be a vendor on their store which never quite happened, but this strange year of lockdown has seen me renewing that interest and I have several products that I am working on that should be ready soon.

    I have a broad range of skills that I have developed over the years and a real love for digital art and I am now spending time encouraging my teenage son to embrace some of this passion.

    Fox Renderfarm: How do you feel about being the 2nd place winner of Renderosity 2020 Animation Halloween Contest?

    Maynard: There were unfortunately technical issues with this animation contest which I hope the team at Renderosity gets on top of in the future as I don't think everyone's entry was portrayed in the best light which may have affected the outcome. Having said that I was pleased to feature among the winners. A lot of work goes into animation and I am pleased to have received some recognition for the effort. The encouragement you get from doing well in contests like this definitely helps you to keep pushing yourself to create more and to learn more about your craft.

    Fox Renderfarm: What is the inspiration for your work Trick Or Treat?

    Maynard: I was inspired by the Halloween theme and the desire to tell a story with my entry. You should always be wary of knocking on the door to a witch’s house and always expect some form of trickery and the simple idea of a witch poisoning a child with her brew seemed to be something that I could achieve within the limited time I had available to put this entry together.

    Fox Renderfarm: What’s the pipeline for the work?

    Maynard: I created characters in Daz Studio. I focussed on a stylized look instead of going for realism.

    I selected a pretty standard cottage environment in DS that suited the exterior of the witches house along with a bedroom interior scene.

    I converted the characters and environments for use in iClone using Character Creator 3. CC3 does a great job bringing DS characters into iClone and preparing them for use as iAvatars.

    I found that 3DXchange did not handle DS environments well enough and that the resulting iProps it created were not very usable for animations. After some online searching and trial and error I worked out a good way to bring environments into iClone via CC3 which kept every individual element separate and animatable which allowed me to easily animate both the door and the gate opening.

    For the most part I used standard animation clips that came with iClone and some downloaded for free from Mixamo, however this was not enough for the full range of animation the story required and I had to hand animate a number of sequences using iClone animation tools.

    The required sequences were crudely story boarded in a textual narrative leaving me to create a suitable animation for each clip listed in the storyboard.

    My teenage son who has been using Premier for some of his high school projects cut the animated sequences together and created the sound FX, voices and background music. We did not fully agree on the soundtrack but I put him in charge of that and due to time constraints I was not able to make some changes that I would have made in a perfect world, however having said that some of the SFX he created were excellent and really helped make the whole project work.

    Fox Renderfarm: Which part of this work are you most satisfied with and why?

    Maynard: I think I am most happy with how both the characters and the environment transferred from DAZ to iClone. They looked good and animated well which was great. I was also very satisfied with the fact that I collaborated on this with my son who helped me plan the animation scenes required and he cut it all together for me in Premier and he provided the sounds.

    Fox Renderfarm: Did you meet any difficulties when creating this work? And how did you solve it?

    Maynard: There were many areas of difficulty that had to be overcome for this to work. I had to learn more about iClone than I knew and I had to get the characters and environments into iClone. The characters came in pretty easily with the tools iClone provided but the environment was more challenging and to get into iClone from DAZ keeping it looking great and also having the ability to animate things such as doors and gates etc. The traditional approach of using 3DXchange does not work as well as it should and I ended up taking a different approach using CC3 for both the characters and the environment.

    Fox Renderfarm: How long have you studied CG production, can you introduce your learning method?

    Maynard: I was a digital video editor back in the mid 1990's using sVHS and Hi8 tapes and digitising this footage to my PC. I also learnt a lot about digital design in the 90's which has held me in good stead as I moved into working with 3D to create art. I have not done a lot with animation, however I have created video and film based stop motion animations and in 2011 I did a few animations within DAZ Studio and one in particular one a contest held by DAZ. I have been self taught as an artist and love all aspects of digital art, film and photography and animation.

    Blue - Young red haired farm boy © Maynard Ellis

    Fox Renderfarm: Any other things you want to share with the CG enthusiasts?

    Maynard: I used to be very focussed on trying to produce photo real 3D art images and later I switched my focus to creating 'art for your walls' which is much more satisfying for me. Regardless of what you create and how you create it, just focus on creating art you enjoy looking at and that is all that matters. Be kind to your fellow artists and understand that art is very subjective and the important thing is to never stop creating and to always enjoy what you create.

    Morgan © Maynard Ellis


    FGT3D Santa’s New Ride Challenge is Online Now!

    2020-11-04

    Trending

    Fox Renderfarm

    As Christmas is coming soon, FGT3D Santa’s New Ride Challenge is now open for submissions! We would like to invite CG artists around the world to submit their artworks and show their CG talents.

    Fox’s Got Talent 3D Challenge (FGT3D Challenge), organized by your TPN-Accredited CPU/GPU cloud rendering services Fox Renderfarm, is a Render Challenge for 3D Artists to shine their talents and win great prizes!

    The theme of the 3rd FGT3D Challenge is Santa’s New Ride. As usual, Santa Claus is on the way to deliver Christmas gifts again this winter. But Santa is coming a different way this year, he may ride a motorcycle, may drive a Lamborghini, or even get on a rocket! Please create your 3D render and show Santa’s new ride in your mind.

    Time

    Time for entries:November 2nd - December 30th, 2020 (UTC+8)

    Winners announcement time:January 8th, 2021 (UTC+8)

    Prizes

    6 artworks will be selected and awarded!

    1st Place Winner

    Total prize value $5655.88

    • XP-PEN Artist 13.3 pro Festival Version x1
    • Corona Renderer 1 year license x1
    • Redshift $500 coupon code
    • Fox Renderfarm $500 Render Coupon
    • Raysync Larger File Transfer pro 1-year license x1
    • TopoGun SINGLE license x1
    • Textures.com 1 year subscription with 2500 credits per month
    • Texturebox Legendary Membership x 1 month
    • Friendly Shade 32K resolution Bundle x1
    • Graswald Pro Personal license x1

    2nd Place Winner

    Total prize value $2893.88

    • XP-PEN Deco Pro M x1
    • Corona Renderer 6 months license x1
    • Redshift $300 coupon code
    • Fox Renderfarm $300 Render Coupon
    • Raysync Larger File Transfer 50TB (pay as you go edition)
    • TopoGun SINGLE license x1
    • Textures.com 2500 credit pack ×1
    • Texturebox Legendary Membership x 1 month
    • Friendly Shade 16K resolution Bundle x1
    • Graswald Pro Personal license x1

    3rd Place Winner

    Total prize value $1615.48

    • XP-PEN Deco 01 V2 x1
    • Corona Renderer 3 months license x1
    • Redshift $200 coupon code
    • Fox Renderfarm $200 Render Coupon
    • Raysync Larger File Transfer 10TB (pay as you go edition)
    • TopoGun SINGLE license x1
    • Textures.com 1000 credit pack ×1
    • Texturebox Legendary Membership x 1 month
    • Friendly Shade 8k resolution Bundle x1
    • Graswald Pro Personal license x1

    Honorable Mention x 3

    Total prize value $471.49 for each

    • Corona Renderer 1 month license x1 for each
    • Redshift $100 coupon code for each
    • Fox Renderfarm $100 Render Coupon for each
    • Raysync cloud account 200GB download traffic for each
    • TopoGun SINGLE license x1 for each
    • Textures.com 500 credit pack ×1 for each
    • Texturebox Legendary Membership x 1 month for each
    • Friendly Shade 8K Single texture for each
    • Graswald Personal license x1 for each

    Besides, the winning artworks will gain a great amount of exposure and publicity, including:

    • Interview with Fox Renderfarm
    • Advertisement and promotion on our official website, social media accounts, and newsletters.

    How to submit

    Send your artwork to fgt3d@foxrenderfarm.com with your name and the name of the work.

    Rules

    • Your entry must relate to the challenge’s theme (we strongly encourage you to set your imagination free)
    • Your entry must be a 3D rendered image, 2D or concept art is not allowed
    • Your entry can be created by one artist or a group
    • There’s no limitation on styles and the choices of software and plugins
    • Your entry must be original art created specifically for the challenge (no existing projects)
    • Minimal use of third party assets is allowed, as long as they are not the main focus of your scene (third party textures and materials are not included in this rule and can be used freely)
    • Feel free to enhance your rendering
    • Images that depict hate, racism, sexism or other discriminatory factors are not allowed
    • Works must be submitted before the deadline

    Sponsors

    The prizes are provided by our awesome sponsors, including:

    • XP-PEN - XP-PEN means infinite possibility, we are committed to offering superior graphics tablets, pen display monitors and related accessories to our customers.
    • Raysync Larger File Transfer - Fast file transfer solutions with reliability and security.
    • Corona Renderer - Known for its ease of use, power, and affordability, Corona Renderer 6 is available for 3ds Max and Cinema 4D.
    • Redshift - An award-winning, production ready GPU renderer for fast 3D rendering.
    • TopoGun - A stand-alone resurfacing and maps baking application.
    • Textures.com - A website that offers digital pictures of all sorts of materials.
    • Texturebox - Making great textures for free and premium at a low cost.
    • Friendly Shade - High-quality textures for 3D artists.
    • Graswald - The best way to create nature in Blender.

    Judges

    For this competition, we have invited professionals in the CG industry as our judges to ensure the fairness and professionalism of the competition.

    Here's the list of our jury:

    • Ben Cheung - Vice President of Fox Renderfarm
    • Kariem Saleh - Filmmaker and Character Animator
    • Miho Aoki - Associate Professor of Computer Art, University of Alaska Fairbanks
    • Julius Harling - Founder of Graswald
    • Tom Grimes - Marketing and Community Specialist of Corona Renderer
    • Frank WANG Yefeng - Media Artist / Assistant Professor of Digital Media Curriculum, Art Department, Rhode Island College
    • Nicolas Burtnyk - CEO of Redshift

    Inspiration

    Here are some references for you, gathered from Artstation.

    Santa´s new sleigh © Jonte Löfgren

    Santa’s Ride © Enrico Tribbia

    Santa’s Ride © Shahadat Hossain

    We are looking forward to your participation. Come to shine your talent and great prizes are waiting for you! Let's celebrate a special Christmas!


    How to Create a CG Scene in Norman Rockwell Style in Blender

    2020-10-15

    Trending

    Art Competitions

    Heroes are Everywhere © Akhil Alukkaran

    FGT3D “Hero” challenge organized by the TPN-Accredited cloud rendering services provider, Fox Renderfarm, was started in June and sponsored by our awesome sponsors, including TopoGun, Friendly Shade, Graswald, Raysync, ProductionCrate, Textures.com, Texturebox and Marmoset. In September, twelve finalists were received votes by our jury and three winners were picked! Thank everyone for participating!

    And the first place winner is Akhil Alukkaran. Congratulations! His artwork, Heroes are Everywhere stands out for its strong composition and amazing storytelling, conveying the concept of what makes a hero in one of the purest forms.

    Fox Renderfarm is so glad to have an interview with Akhil. What’s the story behind while creating this artwork? Let’s figure it out together!

    • Akhil Alukkaran
    • 3D Artist
    • From: Kerala, India
    • Artwork Caption: “What makes a hero? It doesn't always have to be something great, even a small act of kindness can also be considered heroic, even if it is just a good thought it shows that there is a hero in you. Heroes are everywhere, you just have to look closer.”

    Fox Renderfarm: Hi, Akhil! Thank you so much for accepting our interview! Could you give us a brief introduction about yourself?

    Akhil: I am really glad to have the opportunity given by Fox Renderfarm to share my experience, approach and vision with the making of ‘Heroes are everywhere’.

    Well... to start with, my name is Akhil. I am 25 years old and I am from Kerala, India. I am a freelance 3d artist and soon to be an Architecture graduate. It's been two years since I started working with 3d and I'm still trying to improve and learn. I used to work with sketchup and V ray, mostly Archviz. Recently I also included Blender in my workflow.

    Fox Renderfarm: Congratulations on winning 1st place in the FGT3D Hero Challenge, how do you feel about that?

    Akhil: Thank you. Actually it felt good. I was looking for opportunities to do something nice, that's when I got to know about this particular challenge, so I thought of participating. However I wasn't sure about winning this one. My knowledge was limited, so if i needed to do something great I had to learn so many things. This taught me so many things and inspired me as well.

    Fox Renderfarm: How long did you take to finish the work?

    Akhil: I took about a month and half to finish this work. I had other things to do as well so I worked whenever I got time. This work needed a lot of patience, since I was doing most of the process for the first time. But I managed to get inspiration from my friends.

    Fox Renderfarm: What software and plugins did you use to finish the artwork, Heroes are everywhere?

    Akhil: Most of the work was done in Blender, and also used photoshop for post processing. Also used ‘F spy’ addon for camera matching in the beginning stage. For the character creation I used reality capture and meshroom.

    Fox Renderfarm: This artwork conveys the concept of what makes a hero in one of the purest forms. What’s the inspiration behind?

    Akhil: When I got to know the Theme was ‘Hero’ I thought of so many things to work with. Every concept that i came up with was about doing something great and epic. Somehow I ‘wondered what makes a hero?’ Is it just about doing something great or doing something humanly impossible? We also do have a lot of real life heroes, however in the end I decided to look at it in a different perspective. That's when I decided to do something subtle but have a good story inside it and I wrote like this.

    “What makes a hero? It doesn't always have to be something great, even a small act of kindness can also be considered heroic, even if it is just a good thought it shows that there is a hero in you. Heroes are everywhere, you just have to look closer.”

    I was not confident about the concept in the beginning, but now it seems right for me.

    Fox Renderfarm: The amazing work has strong composition, and lovely lightning. How did you make them? Any references?

    Akhil: In the beginning itself i had a clear idea how the environment should be and about the main characters of the scene except the background characters which i decided to add in the final stage. So I gathered some reference images for the environment from pinterest and google and compiled it as a Concept board.

    Later I chose one particular photograph to be the base for my environment. Using F spy addon I matched the camera and exported it to blender so that i could build upon it. The buildings were just the image projected onto simple base planes which then modeled simply to have a bit of 3 dimensionality. I struggled a little with UV mapping. Since I had a clear picture about the composition in the beginning itself, I only tried to work on the area which would be seen in the final image.

    In the figure the road texture and puddles were added later in the finishing stage.

    I tried a different lighting setup in the beginning itself. Earlier it was just meant to be a night scene but later felt like doing a daytime scene and came up with a lighting which I felt was good. The lighting setup was simple. I used an hdri image as the base for the ambient light and used a simple sun lamp.

    Fox Renderfarm: Did you meet any difficulties when creating this work? And how did you solve it?

    Akhil: I wanted this work to be as realistic as possible, but I didn't know how to do that. Especially the main characters, the boy and the dog pups. Even before working on the environment, I started to work on the dog’s 3d model. I used a low poly base mesh and tried to sculpt details and pose it in Blender. It didn’t work out, well it was fine but wasn’t that realistic. Also I wasn’t comfortable with posing it, so I left it midway and thought of doing something later. After working on the environment again I started to work on the dogs again. This time I tried something different. I chose a reference image for the dog puppies and using ‘pifuhd’ i created a base mesh and later projected the same image on the mesh and sculpted the details. It was looking decent, so I decided to use them in the final scene.

    But the main problem was to create the human characters. I thought of doing something with character creator software but it would take so much time for me to achieve a good result. So I decided to 3d scan the characters. So I took photos of my nephew and created a 3d scan with reality capture. I also used Meshroom but since my photo quality was not good, it didn’t give me a good result. However the process was a bit longer than I expected because of some error. So i had to do some experiments. After that I scanned my dad as well for the character in the background. The whole process took around one week and I was just learning. The resulted model wasn’t that great, so I sculpted the rest of the model and details later in Blender.

    The final image needed a lot of work, so the rest of the time I focused on individual props which I needed for filling up the scene.Most of them were modeled but a few of them were third-party assets.

    Finally the scene was almost done. Later it needed a little bit more tweaking. The smoke and rain added later in photoshop, since the attempt to simulate them inside Blender, took so much time.

    Fox Renderfarm: Any artists or artworks inspired you most?

    Akhil: It is hard to pick one. There are so many artists out there who are doing amazing works. I really do follow a lot of them and also learn from them. But for this particular work, I don’t know. I might have been inspired by some of them. In one of the jury comments they mentioned about ‘Norman Rockwell’. I have seen his amazing works before but that was a long time back. So really that was a good reference for me to learn from.

    Fox Renderfarm: Could you briefly tell us your educational and work experience along your CG journey?

    Akhil: I am a self taught cg artist (actually in the process of being one). I am almost done with my Architecture degree. It's been two years since I started doing things in 3D, before that I didn’t even know how to model in SketchUp. Earlier works were done in SketchUp and V-Ray, those were mostly Archviz works. Last year I started to work more with Blender, and I always wanted to create larger worlds and tell stories through them and I am still learning.

    Fox Renderfarm: Do you have any recommendable learning methods to improve professional skills?

    Akhil: I really don’t know how to answer that. I am still struggling to find the right method to learn. Only thing which I do is that I work hard a lot and I try to learn from my mistakes and others’ as well.

    Fox Renderfarm: Have you ever tried Fox Renderfarm’s cloud rendering services? If yes, how do you like it?

    Akhil: Yes, I have used Fox Renderfarm for some of my works. It seems quite fast and reliable. I am planning to use the service more in my workflow.

    Fox Renderfarm: Anything else you would like to share with CG enthusiasts?

    Akhil: I used to depend more on the tools which I am using. Also I limited myself with what I knew, but I realized there are plenty of ways you could achieve something. Most important thing is the idea in your mind and the passion which leads you to give that idea ‘life’. Keep learning......

    NOTE: Fox’s Got Talent campaign keeps going. Welcome to share your artwork rendered with Fox Renderfarm and be our next winner and win prizes! For more info


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