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    Making a Mysterious Underwater Render in Blender

    FGT3D Explorer Challenge organized by the TPN-Accredited cloud rendering services provider, Fox Renderfarm, was started in March, 2021 and sponsored by our amazing sponsors, including Xencelabs, Corona Renderer, TopoGun, Friendly Shade, Graswald, Raysync,, Texturebox and iCube R&D Group. After the selection by our jury, 3 Professional artworks and 3 Student artworks were picked and would be awarded the prizes provided by our amazing sponsors. Congratulations to all the winners! And thanks to everyone for participating!

    FGT3D Explorer Challenge

    The second place winner of Student category goes to Underwater, created by Rafael Garcia del Valle. The artwork is made with Blender, Photoshop and Octane Render.

    “The artist created the mysterious underwater feel and sense of depth and scale successfully with the lighting and colors. The color scheme with blue contrasting with red and yellow is beautiful. It looks like the underwater explorers are doing some research and just realized giant marine organisms appeared. The contrast between the dark and rigid-feeling silhouettes of the submarine and rocks and the round forms and bright colors of the creatures enhance the organic feel of the creatures. It makes us wonder what is going to happen next.” One of our judges, Miho Aoki said, who is the Associate Professor of Computer Art University of Alaska Fairbanks.

    Let's find out how Rafael made the amazing artwork through the exclusive interview with Fox Renderfarm.

    Underwater © Rafael García del Valle

    Underwater © Rafael García del Valle

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

    Rafael: Hi! Thank you for your interest. My life has been very far away from the Art environment. I studied Spanish Language and Literature at University and after that I became a chef. Currently I do both, teaching Spanish online and working in kitchens.

    Fox Renderfarm: Congratulations on winning 2nd place in the Student Category of the FGT3D Explorer Challenge, how do you feel about that?

    Rafael: Thank you! It has been quite a surprise for me, and I really appreciate it. For me, this is a very motivational push in order to keep on studying and working hard..

    Fox Renderfarm: What software and plugins did you use?

    Rafael: I use Blender, Photoshop and Octane Render. The main plugin is called Vectron, and it allows you to create fractals, which are the base of the giant creatures in Underwater. I also rely on Quixel, where I get the components for the landscape.

    Fox Renderfarm: What’s the inspiration behind your artwork? Any references?

    Rafael: Underwater is directly inspired by studying the artwork of Peter Ellenshaw and his concept art for Disney's 20000 Leagues Under the Sea. But I keep an eye on every single artist I can find. There's always something to learn.

    20,000 Leagues Under The Sea © Peter & Harrison Ellenshaw

    20,000 Leagues Under The Sea © Peter & Harrison Ellenshaw

    Fox Renderfarm: The mysterious underwater feel and sense of depth and scale are successfully illustrated with the lighting and colors.How did you make it?

    Rafael: Thank you! The characters and basic scenario are composed on Blender. Then I worked in Octane to create the creatures --which are fractals figures-- and the underwater environment, which I made using a thick fog coloured in blue with a very strong lighting and a HDRI image of a seascape. Finally, I put it all together in Photoshop, painted and did all the final touches.

    Underwater © Rafael García del Valle

    Underwater © Rafael García del Valle

    Underwater © Rafael García del Valle

    Underwater © Rafael García del Valle

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

    Rafael: Well, lots of them since I´m just a beginner! Basically, learning to work with fractals is very stimulating but at the same time it is quite hard to integrate them in the rest of the scene. Getting the underwater sense of depth was also a challenge.

    Fox Renderfarm: Any artists or artworks inspired you most?

    Rafael: There are a lot and I feel ashamed I can't name all of them. In my process of learning, Besides great classic names such as Craig Mullins and Alan Lee, I've been following the artists who can combine matte painting, 3D and 2D painting. My big idol here is Jama Jurabaev. I try to learn as much as I can from analysing the work of artists like Shadi Saffadi and the team involved in Naughty Dogs, and also the art of Andreas Rocha, John J. Park or Dylan Cole, for example.

    My main inspirations as a goal to create my own style are Raphael Lacoste, Simon Stålenhag and Marco Bucci. I love Bucci´s technique to mix colours.

    Assassin's Ezio © Craig Mullins

    Assassin's Ezio © Craig Mullins

    VFX Games Reel 2013 - Starcraft Heart of the Swarm in Game Cinematic © Alan Lee

    Wild West Unreal engine pack © Jama Jurabaev

    Vid-FEEDBACK / Ancient-Temple © Shadi Saffadi

    Coastal Settlement © Andreas Rocha

    Coastal Settlement © Andreas Rocha

    Monkey Guardian © John J. Park

    Monkey Guardian © John J. Park

    Jaxian Waterfront © Dylan Cole

    Jaxian Waterfront © Dylan Cole

    Steeples © Raphael Lacoste

    Steeples © Raphael Lacoste

    Overpass © Simon Stålenhag

    Overpass © Simon Stålenhag

    Country house, springtime © Marco Bucci

    Country house, springtime © Marco Bucci

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

    Rafael: I started studying CG in 2020 by chance. I bought a Cintiq Display for my job as a teacher, and having the tool I decided to try digital painting. Then I discovered that I love it. I´ve been following courses from academies online, such as CG Spectrum or CGMA. After the Foundations, I tried 3D and found out how useful and necessary it is for a good workflow nowadays. Right now I´m involved in learning Matte Painting at a deep level. I would love to have a career in Environmental Concept Art or Visual Development.

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

    Rafael: I´m just a newcomer, so I hardly can say much about this. But basically, as in any other discipline, it's all about learning techniques and practising with awareness. Meaning that when practising, one has to be focused on the work and doing constant analysis of the great masters in the field.

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

    Rafael: It's been a great chance for me and I really enjoyed the challenge.

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

    Rafael: Just try your best and enjoy the ride.

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