How To Create A Nostalgic Alfa Romeo Racing Car With 3ds Max
Alfa Romeo is a company with a long history in the automobile and motorsport industry. As a huge car lover, Jason Raptopoulos, the 3rd place winner of Hum3D Car Render Challenge 2020, chose a rare model of Alfa Romeo that few will know of as his inspiration.
Alfa Romeo G1
A hidden treasure © Iasonas Raptopoulos
Made with 3ds Max, Substance Painter, Marvelous Designer, Adobe Photoshop and After Effects, the project took Jason about one and a half months, which brings a feeling of warmth and nostalgia. Let’s find out how he made the beautiful 3D artwork in the exclusive interview with the best cloud rendering service provider, Fox Renderfarm.
- Jason Raptopoulos (Iasonas Raptopoulos)
- 3D artist / Generalist
Fox Renderfarm: Hi, Jason, could you give us a brief introduction about yourself?
Jason: Hi! My name is Jason Raptopoulos, I am 34 years old, I live in Greece and, specifically, in Athens. I have been meddling with computers since a very young age and for some years now, with photography too. At the age of 27, I graduated from SAE Athens’ 3D animation course and I have been working as a 3D generalist ever since. I love my job and I enjoy discovering new techniques which, later on, I apply on my projects.
Fox Renderfarm: Congratulations on winning 3rd place in the Car Render Challenge 2020, how do you feel about it?
Jason: Thank you very much. In a word...excited! At first, when the results came out I could not believe it. Haha. Learning that my project, in which I invested a sizable amount of time creating, stood amongst the top 3 qualifiers was a huge satisfaction for me.
Fox Renderfarm: What’s the idea behind your artwork 'A hidden treasure'?
Jason: Prior to the beginning of the project’s creation I had plotted a story in my mind from which I did not want to deviate.
My goal was whoever viewed my project to feel very emotional and nostalgic but without the need to include human presence. I wanted it implied. These were the thoughts behind the descriptive text that accompanied my project at hum3d.
An Alfa Romeo G1 1921 model, stored in a barn where its owner used to take care of. For reasons unknown, though, he had to stop.
Fox Renderfarm: The car render shows your great level of modeling and texturing. Any references and how did you make it?
Jason: 3ds Max was utilized for the creation of about 90% of the project. This includes the modeling of the scene, the car, the props and all of the scene’s materials. An interesting fact is that the car has been designed entirely using photos found on the Internet. Unfortunately, no matter how hard I tried, I wasn't able to acquire any blueprints for the specific model.
Also, Substance Painter was used for the basic "dusty" look of the car. But, in the end, the material was evolved through 3ds Max.
Fox Renderfarm: This render has so many details with all the tools, the dust on the old racing car and the light falling in the old barn, which make it look very nostalgic. How did you make them?
Jason: I started the creation of the project with an image, a first draft if you will, in my mind in which I had given greater emphasis to the front part of the car, where the light would shed, in a tighter frame. But, while proceeding with the project, that image shifted and I decided to open up the frame a little bit in order to show a further view of the barn and, also, more elements in the scene.. At first, I started with the basic geometries of the barn, the “camera’s” angle and a source of the light too. I used Clay mode in realtime rendering in order to decide where to locate the source of the light. So, by using lots of references, I designed each element, studied their “behavior” when they age and that is when I met a huge challenge. To recreate them in the best way possible. As I have already mentioned, the whole scene was created from scratch using 3ds Max and I also used Redshift as a rendering engine. Pflow was utilized for the dust in the air, the general scene’s lighting is managed by a HDRI dome map and there has been one more light used so as to emphasize the volumetric light on the car.
Fox Renderfarm: Which part of this work are you most satisfied with and why?
Jason: Mostly, with the car itself. But I don’t think that I could say that there is something in the whole project that I am not satisfied with. Maybe I could have spent some more time refining the resulting version of the ground. But as it is natural I was always more focused on the main subject of the project, the car, to which I spent the most time designing and detail-refining. The second most important aspect of my project is the lighting which was heavily altered from my original idea trying to manipulate and create this nostalgic atmosphere.
Fox Renderfarm: Did you encounter any difficulties when creating the artwork? And how did you solve it?
Jason: Of course, as anyone does, but…I didn’t solve it! Haha. To be honest, my greatest encounter was the rendering time (during trials) and in order to overcome this I needed new equipment. lol. When someone gets the rendering results quicker, they can notice and improve their mistakes a lot faster.
On a more technical note, I devoted a big part of my time to the designing and refinement of the ground. I met technical difficulties with Displacemaps and, ultimately, I am not so satisfied with the result.
Also, as any designer would agree, one of the slowest aspects, from a creative point of view, of the process is the pre-designing stage, the research for the history of the model and the drafting of a working plan.
But after the first steps have been taken, everything gets in a flow finally.
Fox Renderfarm: Could you briefly tell us your educational and work experience along your CG journey?
Jason: In 2013 I decided to enroll in SAE Athens’ 3D Animation course and since 2015 that I graduated I have been employed by or collaborated with various companies. For the last two and a half years I have been working in an animation studio in Greece (Kent-Films, pixelfarm.gr) as a 3D generalist with a specialty in lighting and shading.
Pannacotta CGI © Iasonas Raptopoulos
Fox Renderfarm: How do you enhance your professional skills?
Jason: I keep trying to discover and experiment with new software and techniques all the time and my goal is to apply those on my projects (if each project’s special conditions and schedule allow it). Social media is the ideal tool to keep track of all the field’s news, learn about new software from companies and, if someone participates in groups or fora, there they will find an endless “library” of knowledge in addition to discussions and queries of colleagues.
Alfa Romeo Giulia in Iceland © Iasonas Raptopoulos
Fox Renderfarm: Anything else you would like to share with CG enthusiasts?
Jason: Above all, in order to have highly creative results we must love what we do. We must always try to discover and meddle with new techniques and never rush to deliver a project. Details (even small ones) are what make a project stand out.
Airbus A320neo © Iasonas Raptopoulos
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