Creating a 3D Scene from Scratch
For as long as I have been a student, I always enjoyed making entire scenes from scratch the most. Often, my courses were focused on certain aspects of 3D or rendering. They did not leave a lot of freedom to the imagination.
When the exam came around and got a green light for a carte blanche art piece, I was certainly excited! Even though, we got complete carte balance, the art piece needed to be inspired by the composition and lighting of a painting.
My imagination was already running wild. I was much rather looking for paintings that suited my ideas instead of finding a nice painting as a base. But I was determined about the picture I had in mind!
So as my stubbornness continued, I finally decided on using The Transfiguration by Carl Heinrich Bloch. It perfectly suited my vision of an à la The Walking Dead, lugubrious looking piece. I would turn it into an abandoned hospital.
When it comes to concept art, I have learned it helps me a lot when I try to step away from making a ‘perfect’ drawing. When other people have to work with your art it is obviously important that you deliver clear and quality work. But don’t be afraid to allow yourself some freedom when working on personal projects.
I find it much more important when the concepts are clear to myself. The drawing I made for this piece is far from pretty, but scribbling some quick lines onto paper helped me visualize and settle on the idea.
I also must admit that, once I set my mind on something, I am pretty much ready to go. I don’t tend to spend a lot of time searching for different compositions or ideas.
The power of working in 3D is that there is loads of freedom to change anything at any point. Don’t get stuck on creating the perfect concept!
Modeling and texturing
Regarding modeling and texturing, I tend to use a lot of different programs. Ideally it is way more convenient to stick to only one platform, but unquestionably everybody has his or her own preferences. Personally, I like taking that extra effort of combining software. Considering that every single program has its pros and cons.
The majority of models were created in 3DS MAX. The more straight forward stuff like, walls, floors, and beams were modeled in MAYA. As well as the cloth and pillows that were created using a simple nCloth simulation.
For some of the smaller debris, I combined a few different debris-generators, you can easily find online. I highly recommend searching for them when you need smaller, repetitive models. There are tons of generators that are free to use. They save you an immense amount of time and quickly liven up your scene.
Making a work in progress render to play around with in Photoshop can be very helpful to get a view of the final product. You can use it to quickly experiment with colors, moods, exposures, and effects.
For texturing I used both Substance Painter, and MAYA for the easier textures. Exporting texture maps into MAYA is quite a tedious job, especially when you want to try out a 100 different things. But I can’t stress enough how much I love using this program. It is easy to learn, easy to use, and creates amazing results.
Lighting and rendering were both done in MAYA with Arnold. The biggest tip I can give is: experiment! Every small detail can make a world of difference. I spend many hours on rendering different angles, and moving lights all over the place. It is definitely the hardest part to manage.
Good lightning takes a lot of practice, but practice makes perfect. It has been said by every single artist, but use reference! I still have to improve a lot myself, but recreating light from existing scenes in 3D has already helped me a lot to understand the way light behaves.
When all the work is done, post production can start! As someone who enjoys working in Photoshop I tend to spend a lot of time working on the post processing. My final render rarely ends up being the finished product.
Mostly I change the overall look quite a bit in the end. I can honestly say, laziness plays a big role in this. Photoshop does wonders when small parts of the render don’t look perfect. Instead of spending another 30 minutes on the render, Photoshop fixes it in the blink of an eye.
I enjoyed working on this project a lot. I encourage anyone, but especially students, to take some time off from all the schoolwork and create personal pieces. So much more love and passion goes into these projects. They show what you truly love to make without any interfering guidelines you have to follow.
Making everything on your own from scratch is definitely not easy. There are still a lot of flaws in my own piece, but once again: practice makes perfect! Simply throwing yourself into it is the best way of learning in my opinion!