behind the scenes

Making Of ‘Far Far Away’

3D generalist Peter Nowacki shows how to create an imaginative scene using 3ds Max, V-Ray, and Photoshop…

The Far Far Away project is part of my series Imagination, which is in production. The main aim of the project is to realize that children are losing their imagination because of the video games, cell phones and TV. I decided that I need to return to my memories to see what would happen, this is the result. When I was younger I imagined that a metal pipe as a sword. For me the lightsaber acts as an allegory to “old fashion” imagination.

In this tutorial I’ll show you how to make good topology for bending and also show few tricks using Autodesk Fusion360 to make detailed elements. After that we’ll move to lighting, texturing, and adding detail using hair and particles; I’ll show you some photographic tricks! It is not as hard as you think! Let the game begin!

Basic shapes

Splines – we will start from them. Let’s think “flat” at this point. Try to experiment with many shapes, combine splines with circles and so on. Then, after connecting and closing shape – convert it with Edit Poly. It is really a basic method, look through “Interpolation” tab to figure out how many steps do you need. I mostly use between two or three. It is easier to create a model with less geometry.

Creating basic splines

Creating basic splines

Topology

Let’s make a bit insert to achieve a curve on the edges, next connect the edges to properly make the topology. It is best to avoid triangles and n-gons because we want it to be smooth, for this we can use the TurboSmooth modifier. Now add the Bend modifier; a useful tip I can share here is to duplicate the object by using references. It allows you to fix the plain object and see the result of the curved edges; also it is easy to unwrap.

Topology for bending

Topology for bending

Clothes

When working on clothes I like to use a cool piece of software called Marvelous Designer. It allows me to simulate and position clothes really quickly. It is also great for giving an organic and natural look to clothing; it adds something extra to your image, the human touch. Don’t be shy, experiment with this software and the physical settings to create realistic clothes. Start by sewing a few pieces together, work with different fold angles and you might just surprise yourself!

Marvelous Designer in action

Marvelous Designer in action

Blocking the light

To do lighting I like to use V-Ray because it allows me to create the natural lighting environment I am looking for. To begin with I created a window with curtains to give me natural looking shadows, it is a light blocker and plane with alpha. Also I used Temperature Color mode to achieve the effect of sunlight coming in from the outside. Adding an HDRi image into VRayDome helps to give extra details on reflections.

Light principals

Light principals

Composition

One of the worst things about creating a piece of personal artwork is when you get creative block. You become stuck in a rut with composition by focusing on the details and the work fails to develop the way you want. I have found that showing my work to friends and getting their input helps to move past the block, and it can even become more interesting! You can try to solve composition problems by mirroring the whole image horizontally but honestly – sharing your unfinished artwork on forums or asking family members to help you will be more useful. Don’t be shy!

Choosing between compositions

Choosing between compositions

Extra details

Recently I discovered CAD based software from Autodesk – Fusion360. It is a really easy piece of software to use, especially when making work similar to this piece I have created. All technology behind creating an object like this rely on Boolean workflows. I find I am cutting holes, chamfering edges and so on, modeling these things with good topology will take a lot more time than other styles of modeling. They may not be the focus of my composition, but they add a lot to the overall look of the piece and add to the background.

Detailing the scene

Detailing the scene

Are particles hard to learn?

Using really basic materials and brushes in Photoshop, I created bunch of alphas dust. The next step was emitting all particles, just in one frame, without any speed. This allows particles to grow right on the environment’s surfaces. I also created splinters and chips to give the wood an extra level of realism; the wood has its own displacement map created in ZBrush. Combining all of these particles left me with a realistic look. There are also a few screws and springs added in for a touch of realism.

Making particles

Making particles

Textured and untextured

Textured and untextured

Shading and finishing

The most complex material is white metal with scratched gold. I used GGX method in this shader which allowed me to achieve as realistic look as possible. In a reflection pass I put Falloff map which was split to every channel – R, G and B. This is another method which adds a bit of realism to the shader. Please remember that all the objects in scene (without models from Fusion360) had individual property UV mapping and special textures made just for them. Every object was made separately with passion and precision. The last step was creating depth in compositing software and also a little tweak to the colors and lighting.

Final touches

Final touches

Final image of lightsaber with a little postproduction

Final image of lightsaber with a little postproduction

Related links

Check out Peter’s website for more of his awesome work
Head over the 3dtotal shop for a look at our eBooks
Delve into 3dcreative magazine for exciting tutorials and interviews


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