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    How to Make an Appealing Snow Fairy in Blender


    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

    • Jesse Amiel Gayanilo
    • Engineering student
    • From: Philippines

    Snow Creature © Jesse Amiel Gayanilo

    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

    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

    © 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.

    Angels - League of Legends Demons - League of Legends

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

    sketch - Snow Creature © Jesse Amiel Gayanilo

    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.

    rig - Snow Creature © Jesse Amiel Gayanilo

    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.

    sculpt - Snow Creature © Jesse Amiel Gayanilo

    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.

    Snow Creature © Jesse Amiel Gayanilo

    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.

    Snow Creature © Jesse Amiel Gayanilo

    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

    Giant Samurai Rampages © Jesse Amiel Gayanilo

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