Creating a Hyper Futuristic Robot Under an AI Generative System in Blender
Sponsored by the TPN-Accredited cloud render farm Fox Renderfarm, the CG Boost “Baby Robot” Challenge collected so many cute and adorable little robots for the 9th challenge, smashing the record with 170 submissions.
In the “Baby Robot” challenge, Karel Schmidt, the 3rd prize winner, created his baby robot in a creative way.
The image stands out for its simplicity and suggestive quality. It merges the cold realism of the surrounding with the strange-looking artificial embryo, creating fantastic tension while remaining calm in composition!
What’s the story behind while creating this artwork? Let’s figure it out together!
- Karel Schmidt
- Motion designer and compositor
- Manama, Bahrain
“I wanted to create a hyper futuristic robot, from an era where technology is grown organically. This robot is the project of a human working in his garage clean room, grown using an AI generative system.”
© Karel Schmidt
Fox Renderfarm: Hi, Karel! Thank you so much for accepting our interview! Would you please give us a brief introduction of yourself?
Karel: Yo. I'm an online video editor/finisher by profession, motion graphics and VFX specialist in my 5-year plan, a fine artist at heart, and musician in my free time. I spend most of my time editing corporate films and banking ads.
Fox Renderfarm: How do you feel about winning the 3rd place in the CGBoost ‘Baby Robot Challenge’?
Karel: To be honest, I was stumped when I read the announcement. I started learning Blender a month before entering the challenge (thanks to Blender Guru’s donuts). Entering the contest was just a little personal challenge to add a goal structure to my learning process.
Fox Renderfarm: Your artwork delivers a futuristic experimental feeling, what’s your inspiration for it?
Karel: I tried to imagine what a robot would look like if it was grown in some guy's garage cleanroom a few decades from now. You know, when AI will be doing most of the heavy design thinking.
Fox Renderfarm: The whole picture is neat and concise with stunning details, any ideas behind the composition and background setting?
Karel: My education was in Fine Art, and I’ve liked the minimalism of an art gallery. The idea here was to present to the robot in a similar space, to really make it feel like it’s on display. Regarding composition – minimalism requires good layout and that’s hard to get right. I probably spent 50% of the time on this project just trying different layout options.
Blender viewport screengrabs
Fox Renderfarm: How did you achieve the mesh-look of the baby? And what’s your consideration behind the lighting design?
Karel: The baby's skin is a basic node setup in Cycles with Voronoi texture node driving everything. Lighting went hand-in-hand with the composition process – a basic three-point setup that I built to look good on a clay render, then a few fill lights to highlight important details.
Node setup for the robot's skin material
Fox Renderfarm: The wires and the shell outside the baby are very realistic, how did you make that happen?
Karel: The Tree Generator add-on that comes bundled with Blender :)
Work in progress renders (from the initial concept onwards)
Fox Renderfarm: How long did it take to finish the artwork?
Karel: Around 3 weeks (squeezed into any downtime I could find in my work schedule)
Fox Renderfarm: What software and plugins did you use to make the artwork?
Karel: Blender 2.81 and a few bundled add-ons. (Tree Generator and node wrangler). The grade and composite were done in After Effects, since that's been my bread and butter for the last few years.
Fox Renderfarm: What’s the most unforgettable experience in the production process?
Karel: Hoping like crazy that the final render doesn’t crash before the deadline. I guess that's where render farms will come in handy ;)
Fox Renderfarm: Have you met any difficulties? How did you solve it?
Karel: Yes, I wanted to create a kickass environment for the robot. Everything I tried just cluttered the concept, so I stripped it down to the clean gallery space. With more time I might have done something different.
Fox Renderfarm: How did you come up with entering into the CG industry?
Karel: As a kid I started dabbling with 3d software because of the physics simulations. Pair that with a love for good design and an editing job where I’m doing motion graphics and VFX cleanups more than actual editing, and you get where I am now.
2017 Dailies © Karel Schmidt
Fox Renderfarm: Could you briefly tell us about the education and career experience along your 3D journey?
Karel: I studied Fine Art, did a post-grad in Media Studies and Film Production, then spent two years shooting and editing wedding videos. From there I got a job doing hard-sell retail TVCs, which got me fluent in After Effects and dabbling with Cinema 4d. Blender 2.8+ is currently getting me into whatever will be next.
2016 Dailies - Cinema 4D © Karel Schmidt
Fox Renderfarm: Who or what project inspires you the most in the industry?
Karel: Coldplay’s Up & Up has been a massive influence. Cyriak’s early work. Cyriak’s later work. Strong motion design in branded content (like the last few years of Nike ads) also does something for me.
Coldplay - Up&Up (Official Video)
Baaa © Cyriak
W/ Bob & David - Opening Credits © Cyriak
The IT Crowd - Series 4 - Episode 3 - Spaceology © Cyriak
Bonobo: Cirrus © Cyriak
Fox Renderfarm: What do you do to get inspired and motivated? And how do you improve your professional skills?
Karel: The outdoors keeps my head fresh. I’ll binge Vimeo content every once in a while, and work through tutorials and online courses when I find the time. On-the-job learning is the biggest one for me though – with every project I’ll try to find something new I can learn and implement somewhere in the workflow.
Fox Renderfarm: Have you ever tried Fox Renderfarm cloud rendering services? If yes, how do you feel about it?
Karel: Now that Apple dropped support for anything that enables GPU rendering in Blender’s Cycles, I think I'll start using Fox Renderfarm :)
Fox Renderfarm: Any other things you wanna share with CG enthusiasts?
Karel: Stay active, spend as much time as you can away from your screen, and don’t ever stop learning.
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