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How to Recreate the Fairytale Rakotz Bridge in Maya

2022-07-04
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Fox Renderfarm Interview

Fox Renderfarm is pleased to announce that the FGT Art October winner came to Thomas Eckstein, a 3D Artist and 3D Animation & VFX Student from PIXL VISN Media Arts Academy. His award-winning artwork Mystical Forest, made in Maya, Arnold and Nuke, recreates the dreamy scenes of Rakotz bridge, a fairytale bridge in Saxony, Germany.

Mystical Forest © Thomas Eckstein

FGT Art, a platform for all Fox Renderfarm users to share their talents and get awarded, is willing to support more creative CG artists and students, like Thomas, to improve their CG skills. Here’s the interview between the winner Thomas and Fox Renderfarm, in which he talked about how he felt about winning FGT Art and how he made this artwork.

Thomas Eckstein

Thomas Eckstein
3D Artist
3D Animation & VFX Student
PIXL VISN Media Arts Academy
LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/thomas-eckstein-08a8b715a/

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

Thomas: Hi, I am currently a student in my fourth term at PIXL VISN media arts academy specializing in Lighting & LookDev. Currently I am working on my Demo Reel and look forward to working on my first big project in a studio. As an aspiring artist, I try to learn more every day so that I can make my work the best I can.

Fox Renderfarm: How do you feel about being the October winner of FGT Art?

Thomas: I am honored and very happy to have won. It shows me that all the work I put into my projects pays off and is being recognized. This motivates me even more to become a better artist.

Fox Renderfarm: What inspired you to come out with the idea of making the work Mystical Forest?

Thomas: The given theme for this project was “fantasy”. So I did a lot of research and found the Rakotz bridge in Saxony, Germany. To me this place already looked and felt very mystical and surreal, which I liked a lot. For this reason, I decided to use it as my main inspiration.

Rakotz-bridge

Rakotz bridge in Saxony

References

Fox Renderfarm: This work has successfully created a mysterious and fantasy atmosphere, could you tell us how you make it, including the lighting and composition?

Thomas: To create this mystical atmosphere I really wanted to play around with the mood of the scene. So I decided that it should take place at sunrise with some nice light rays coming through the foliage. I looked at a lot of references to achieve the right layout and camera angle, so that I can recreate this mood with a nice composition. Some extra lights were used to create rim highlights on the bridge, as well as the rock formations. The lighting was later also tweaked using light groups in Nuke.

Layout Breakdown of Mystical Forest - Shot Layout Breakdown of Mystical Forest - Shot
Layout Breakdown of Mystical Forest - Shot Layout Breakdown of Mystical Forest - Shot
Layout Breakdown of Mystical Forest - Shot Layout Breakdown of Mystical Forest - Shot
Layout Breakdown of Mystical Forest - Shot Layout Breakdown of Mystical Forest - Shot

Layout Breakdown

Mystical Forest © Thomas Eckstein

Reference

Fox Renderfarm: We know that you finished the work in 7 days, so which part took you the most time?

Thomas: Creating the environment around the bridge took by far the longest. It took a lot of testing and trying out different types of foliage to create the final look I wanted.

Fox Renderfarm: If time permits, what would you like to improve to make the work better?

Thomas: Mainly I would like to add some more light scattering through the leaves to make the foliage look more realistic. Some animation for the foliage slightly swaying in the wind with some falling leaves / particles, would also add a lot to the atmosphere. Finally I would also really like to render in a higher resolution since I only managed to render in 720p for the given timeframe.

Lighting Breakdown - Thomas Eckstein Lighting Breakdown - Thomas Eckstein Lighting Breakdown - Thomas Eckstein
Lighting Breakdown - Thomas Eckstein Lighting Breakdown - Thomas Eckstein Lighting Breakdown - Thomas Eckstein
Lighting Breakdown - Thomas Eckstein Lighting Breakdown - Thomas Eckstein Lighting Breakdown - Thomas Eckstein
Lighting Breakdown - Thomas Eckstein Lighting Breakdown - Thomas Eckstein Lighting Breakdown - Thomas Eckstein
Lighting Breakdown - Thomas Eckstein Lighting Breakdown - Thomas Eckstein Lighting Breakdown - Thomas Eckstein

Lighting Breakdown

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

Thomas: The main difficulty I faced was working with so much foliage. All these models were very demanding on my PC, so I had to figure out a way to be able to work with them. After some research I found out about Arnold Stand-ins and how they allow a lot of objects to be present in the same scene. So after converting all the foliage to .ass files (Arnold stand-ins), I was able to cover the ground with a high number of models of trees, flowers and bushes.

Fox Renderfarm: Your other work Mjolnir - Thor's Hammer is so cool too, could you tell us how you make the texture of the hammer, including the engravings and scuff marks?

Thomas: I used Substance Painter for the texturing of the hammer. All the surface damages and scratches were created here. The engravings were created using displacement maps that I also painted in Substance Painter.

Mjolnir - Thor's Hammer © Thomas Eckstein

Mjolnir - Thor's Hammer © Thomas Eckstein

Fox Renderfarm: As a 3D Animation & VFX Student at PIXL VISN media arts academy, why did you choose this major, and will you continue to work in the CG industry after graduation? Could you share your future goals or plans?

Thomas: Because of the amazing work created by PIXL VISN graduates, as well as the highly qualified teachers working here, I decided to start my education at PIXL VISN. After my graduation I would like to start working in an international studio, to work on high-quality projects and to expand my skills.

Fox Renderfarm: How do you like Fox Renderfarm’s cloud rendering services?

Thomas: I am very happy with the rendering services provided by Fox Renderfarm. Many projects would not have been possible without the fast and easy to use rendering service. On top of that, I am really happy with the fast and competent customer service of Fox Renderfarm.

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

Thomas: Deciding to start working in this industry is one of the best choices I have made so far. Creating work that I can share with other people, while also learning new and exciting things everytime is a very satisfying feeling. I would love to network with other CG enthusiasts to expand my skill set and maybe even create projects together.

We are waiting for you to be our next FGT Art winner!

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