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    The Young Genius of 3D Art: Haider Ali’s Story

    The Young Genius of 3D Art: Haider Ali’s Story

    Meet 16-year-old 3D artist Haider Ali, who has only been using Blender for a year. With his piece "No Survivors," which depicts a dramatic and exciting scene of a robot searching for an astronaut inside a burning space station, he just won Kaizen's ’Salvaged Space Challenge‘, which is sponsored by Fox Renderfarm, a leading cloud rendering services provider and render farm in the industry. The judges were struck by the reality and intensity of his work. He learned on his own via YouTube tutorials and other internet resources, and he is passionate about making 3D art that represents chaos and devastation. 

    Come discover more about the background, techniques, and goals of Haider Ali on the future of 3D art.

    Fox Renderfarm: Hi Haider! Thank you so much for accepting our interview! Could you please introduce yourself to our reader?

    Haider Ali: My name is Haider Ali, I'm 16 years old, and I've been using Blender for about a year now. I mainly learned through YouTube tutorials and other online resources, and I'm really enjoying it.

    Fox Renderfarm: Winning an award in the ‘Kaizen’s Salvaged Space Challenge’ is a significant achievement. What motivated you to participate, and how did you feel when you learned that "No Survivors" had outperformed the others?

    Haider Ali: I've been following Kaizen for a little while now. I love their videos, and joining their Discord a few months ago has been a great experience. I've been fairly active in it since then. As soon as they announced the salvage space challenges, I participated in the first one, and every one since, and it's been great. The community is very nice, and even if you don't win, it's a good way to improve your skills and get feedback from someone as experienced as Kaizen. Of course, I was really happy when I found out that I got third place. This isn't the first time I've placed in the top three in one of his challenges, and also on their first monthly challenge. Overall, it's great. You get some really good feedback, and the prizes are great too. So yeah, it's fun.

    No Survivors © Haider Ali

    No Survivors © Haider Ali

    Fox Renderfarm: Can you summarize the project you entered in the ‘Salvaged Space Challenge'?

    Behind The Scene I No Survivors © Haider Ali

    Behind The Scene I No Survivors © Haider Ali

    Haider Ali: I envision this scene with a space guy, the first in space, maneuvering around a corridor. There's this intense sensation of burning cold, with an explosion erupting behind him. Out of the explosion emerges a massive robot. The scene is chaotic and intense, with shattered glass and burning debris scattered everywhere. The colors are vivid and contrasting, with striking orange and blue hues dominating the scene.

    Fox Renderfarm: Can you walk us through the creative process behind "No Survivors", from conceptualization to final execution? Do you have any standard working pipeline here?

    Haider Ali: I haven't settled on a perfect pipeline yet; I'm still exploring what works best for me. Typically, I start by opening Blender and experimenting to see what resonates with me. In this particular case, when I opened the project file, I noticed a figure floating in space. While some contestants interpreted it as floating in water, I immediately saw it as an astronaut in space. From there, I began adding various assets and experimenting to see what fit. For this project, I incorporated a lot of fire because I had limited time to complete the render. Using fire was the quickest way to fill out the scene. Behind the fire in the project file, there isn't much; it's mainly there to cover up what would otherwise be quite an empty file.

    Fox Renderfarm: What inspired you to create a piece that incorporates an AI robot and portrays a chaotic scenario? How do these elements interconnect and align with your artistic vision?

    Haider Ali: I think AI is on everyone's mind now, especially with tools like ChatGPT, and they represent a kind of scary future. So, I thought it was fitting for the challenge, including the requirement to incorporate the first character provided into the scene. However, the character in the window wasn't doing much, and I had to stick to its pose from the starter file, making it challenging to create dynamic action. I also needed to add a second character, perhaps an alien or a pet, to inject some action into my scene. For efficiency, I opted for robots as they are easier to work with due to their hard surface nature, avoiding the complexities of creating realistic organic shaders and the risk of encountering the uncanny valley effect. Choosing a robot also seemed appropriate given the current events and the overall theme of the challenge. Having a massive intimidating robot emerge from the fire felt more plausible than an organic creature, which might look cool but could be less realistic.

    Fox Renderfarm: Could you share the duration it took to bring this piece from concept to its final rendered form and highlight which aspect of the process consumed the most time? What contributed to this time investment?

    Haider Ali: So, I think the most crucial part for me is actually midway through the render when you've got the basic idea but you're not quite sure about the details. So, I quickly imported my astronaut and started placing some assets and rubble around. However, at this point, both the background and foreground of the scene were quite empty, and I wasn't sure what to add. The best thing I could do was to drag and drop assets from my library, placing random models and cubes around to see what might inspire me. But this approach wasn't very efficient, and I found that a lot of my time was spent just trying to figure out what would work in the foreground and where to position the robot. Another thing that can be quite time-consuming, and I think this is true for a lot of people, is lighting. I knew I wanted to create a big contrast between the orange fire and the blue from the astronaut's suit. However, integrating the robot into this color scheme was challenging because my initial thought was that the robot should be a deep red to signify that it's the enemy. But then, of course, this wouldn't work well with all the orange fire. In the end, I used the same colors as the astronaut for the robot, and I thought it worked quite well, even though it's not meant to be a friendly robot.

    Fox Renderfarm: What were the most significant challenges you faced in achieving such intricate detailing, and how did you overcome them during the creation of "No Survivors"?

    Behind The Scene I No Survivors © Haider Ali_

    Behind The Scene I No Survivors © Haider Ali

    Haider Ali: So, I would say the most challenging part is definitely dealing with the fire. It's essential to have all these details if you want to create a story that works. Initially, I thought about adding smashed circuit boards or computers to show the aftermath, but that would have taken too much time to create and texture. Instead, I decided to cover the entire scene with fire. If you have a good fire simulation, it's a really easy way to add lots of almost fake detail because it still looks nice, especially if the fire fits your scene. By doing this, you save a lot of time and effort in adding and monitoring all these details like the walls and computers, and even lighting to some extent. I have very few lights in my final scene because the fire does most of the lighting for you. So yeah, the way I got around introducing such details was just by setting everything on fire.

    I would say the most significant challenge I faced was getting the fire simulation done right because I knew it would be the most visible part of my scene. It's quite surprising that you say the most significant challenge you faced was with the fire. Initially, I thought it would be the robot because there's so much detail about it. Yeah, the robot was a bit challenging, but compared to some other things, like some sci-fi visuals and such, it's actually quite straightforward. I just put together the rough shape of a humanoid robot and then attached it to a rig that I downloaded from the internet. Blender has a built-in sci-fi panel generator as part of its landscape function, so I just selected sci-fi panels, stuck them together, and spent maybe half an hour in total on the robot. It's surprisingly not much, especially as the majority of the robot is covered in fire anyway. Since it's a fully lit scene, I didn't need to add lots of details like stickers or any writing. Otherwise, if I hadn't had the fire, I would have had to do that to keep the story flowing.

    Fox Renderfarm: Your work "No Survivors" shows that the astronaut is trying to escape from an AI robot. How did you capture a sense of dynamic motion in static digital rendering, and what techniques did you employ to convey the exciting context?

    Behind The Scene I No Survivors © Haider Ali__

    Behind The Scene I No Survivors © Haider Ali

    Haider Ali: Once again, fire seems to dominate the entire scene. None of us really see fire as a safe, calm thing most of the time anyway, and especially when it's engulfing the entire scene in this way, it immediately makes the scene very dramatic. Then, when you have this kind of robot launching out of it, it's like, what's this robot doing in the fire? Is it leaping towards the person? It's caught almost like mid-frame, and I think I even added some motion blur to the fire and to show this. Again, it's that sense of a snapshot right in the middle of the action that you get from that. This contrast really works well with the astronaut, who doesn't seem to be in any particular movement. He's just floating there, almost like he's frozen in time, inspecting something, or even just lying there idle and unconscious. So, contrasting that with this fierce fire and leaping robot really makes the scene feel more alive and more emotional, almost like a snapshot of chaos.

    Fox Renderfarm: Were there specific AI-powered rendering techniques or tools that you incorporated into the creation of "No Survivors" to achieve the praised rendering quality? How did these tools contribute to the final visual appeal of the artwork?

    Haider Ali: I just used Midjourney for some of my scenes. When I first started, I described the kind of scene I had in mind, like this astronaut floating there and this robot coming out of the back of the fire. It gave some really cool AI renders that I used as inspiration. It also didn't take elements to deform them, but they're really good for inspiration, especially when I got stuck later on what to put in the foreground and background. It's really good just to look at those to see what the AI did right and what made its AI render pretty good. Again, with texturing and adding grunge to the robot, it's really easy with Midjourney because Midjourney has a tile feature that lets you create tileable textures. So by just asking Midjourney for a grunge or dirt texture and making it tileable, I could get a really nice texture I could paint on top of the entire model to get all sorts of imperfections and add more detail.

    Fox Renderfarm: Can you describe a particularly memorable moment or breakthrough in the project's development?

     Behind The Scene I No Survivors © Haider Ali___

    Behind The Scene I No Survivors © Haider Ali

    Haider Ali: I think the biggest breakthrough was when I realized the power of Blender's Sci-fi panel generator and also when I decided to put the fire up close to the camera rather than just having this explosion in the distance. Blender's Sci-fi panel generator has this invaluable tool called an Arc Generator, and this has an option for Sci-fi panels and Sci-fi Grip. It's very basic, but by just creating these and adjusting the seed, you can get quick Sci-fi-looking panels that you can slap on all the walls of a corridor and really speed up the process. This meant that within the first half hour of making the scene, I was able just to lay out and cover all the walls with something, so there were no just bare walls from the start of our left. Then this is where those cables at the bottom and those grills come from next. The second biggest advancement, I think, is the decision to put fire in the foreground as well instead of just having the background and the middle ground being covered in fire and this explosion coming in from the back that the robot's emerging out of. But then I saw the problem of that, so I think adding detail to the foreground would just take me too much time. So when I came to the decision to just add some bubbles and set it up on fire, I think that really saved me from what could have been hours of work. It also helped create a contrast better between the blue astronaut and the orange fire. I think the contrast is something that's really poignant in something like this. That's why I keep coming back to it.

    Behind The Scene I No Survivors © Haider Ali____

    Behind The Scene I No Survivors © Haider Ali

    Fox Renderfarm: Can you share with us about your favorite projects or pieces you've worked on, and what made them particularly enjoyable or fulfilling for you?

    Haider Ali: I love destruction and having things on fire in a scene. Anything that I can visualize being blown up or engulfed in flames, whether it's a wall revealing something behind it or even just something simpler like having a really nice high-quality simulation of a match being lit, is my favorite. So, I had this scene where there was fire swirling around an abandoned port in these ancient ruins, and I just thought that was like, I really enjoyed that. It's not something you'd be able to create naturally with that kind of ring of fire, but it's a really cool thing that you can do in CG, and it just looks really nice. I love scenes where it seems like the world is being blown up and all these smoke simulations, and I think that can be really cool and yeah.

    Fox Renderfarm: Are there specific cultural or natural elements that consistently inspire your work? How do these influences manifest in your creations?

    Haider Ali: There are some amazing real-life inspirations that I definitely incorporate into my work. A lot of the grunge used in my work is actually taken from real life. So, if I'm creating a darker, grimier scene, what I sometimes do is just go out and find some dirty concrete nearby. I'll go for a walk, maybe under a bridge, and take a photo on my phone. Then, I overlay that photo onto whatever I want to add grunge to in my scene. It quickly adds a realistic-looking detail because it's taken from a real photo. Nature is another thing that I often incorporate into my art. When I'm not creating destructive scenes, I'm creating active forests with beautiful lighting, like oak or aspen forests. Again, just going for a walk and being surrounded by nature before I start creating helps clear my mind.

    Image taken from Max Hay on Instagram

    Image taken from Max Hay on Instagram

    One particular source of inspiration I've been looking at a lot lately is Max Hay. He has a YouTube channel and an ArtStation profile with hundreds of artworks that are really inspiring. He breaks down a lot of them in his YouTube tutorials and shows how it's actually easy to create these good-looking artworks. He's definitely one of my favorites right now. Ian Hubert is another artist that a lot of people have heard of. His "lazy tutorials" series is quite good for making good-looking renders quickly. It shows that you don't have to spend a month on a scene or years on a short film to create something visually stunning. They're both definitely big inspirations for me.

    Fox Renderfarm: Have you had any experience with Fox Renderfarm's cloud rendering services in the past? If you have, what is your opinion of our cloud rendering offerings? 

    Haider Ali: I haven't actually had any experience with Fox Renderfarm before. I've heard good things about them and I've used other render farms before, but I've never actually used Fox Renderfarm. So, I'm excited to use it with the credits from the prize pool of the challenge.

    Fox Renderfarm: Finally, with the rapid advancement of technology, how do you envision the future trends in 3D art, especially considering your experience in winning the ‘Kaizen’s Salvaged Space Challenge’?

    Haider Ali: I mean, with all the AI advancements that have been happening recently, I think AI and 3D art are definitely going to become more intertwined in the future. Right now, there's a very clear line between 3D art and AI, but I believe that line will become more blurred. I still think there will be 3D artists and traditional artists, but many 3D artists have realized that it's not worth spending a month on a render when AI can do it much quicker. So, instead, they might create a basic render in a few days and then apply an AI filter on top. I think that's probably the direction that 3D art is heading now, with AI playing a significant role.

    Thanks again to Haider Ali for accepting our interview! Wishing new heights in your professional career! keep up with your great work.

    Haider Ali’s social media:

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