Sunday, 14 March 2010

Red ball boy

I was quite happy how my plasticine shader came out earlier in the week - so i started to develop small, strange scenarios for him to find himself in whilst sitting on the train home.
I knocked up a quick environment for him and started some texture and shader work.
This scene will progress in my spare time and hopefully ill have enough time to animate it.

Hes a practically immobile red blob - so theres plenty of danger i can bring to his front room.....

Rendered with Brazil RS 2.1 and using some displacement on the floor boards. I almost NEVER use displacement and it did add a crazy amount to the render time. Ill turn it off again now.

Julian Rowe's artwork

Its Sunday, im rendering god knows what here at work - so its time to tout the paintings of my good friend (and technically step father) Julian Rowe.
Julian quit his long term job as a graphic designer last summer to pursue his passion of
generous impasto style, textured oil paintings full time. I hear the house stinks of oils and spirits, but he likes it that way. He is currently a featured/resident artist at the artspace gallery in St Ives, Cornwall - the place of my birth and upbringing. CORNWALL!!! Not much down there...but it sure is pretty and a great place to visit. I need to get back down there some time and get some surfing in.

A quick word of thanks to Julian aswell, as i probably wouldnt be in the art/creative business at all if it wasnt for him letting me mess around with his paints while i was growing up. I might of ended up down the bus shelter drinking cider like all the other kids.

Head on over to his website which is hotlinked below along with gallery.
Why not drop him a mail or purchase a beautiful original and unique piece of art.

Tuesday, 9 March 2010


Ive made alot of posts recently- considering my usual habit of sparse blog updates.

I never cease to be amazed at just how far the little soda can in 'Carbon Footprint' has rolled.
I posted up some making of videos that i had talked about during Siggraph 2008 in LA just a few weeks ago. Its almost 3 years since it was made.
Since posting these - Footprint has again started to be talked about and this time turns up in Chinese VFX site HXSD.

Im not sure what it all says, but chinese collegue Richie Xu here at Jellyfish assures me its all good.
Not sure where that picture of me is from though.....


I recently read through an article about the lovely work done by MeindBender creating some Cartoon Network spots. Creating surfaces and textures that look malable and pushed around by fingers is a favorite area of mine - whether its clay, plasticine or shiny surfaces with grubby finger marks. Such subtlties add an immense layer of realism to your renders.

A number of artists have successfully created plasticine and putty like materials before - though this one stands out more than most due to its humour and great animation....done in Maya i believe.

I was stunned to read that they had spent 6 hours a frame rendering with Maxwell Render 1.7.

6 hours!

Some things take longer than others to render obviously, but for some red blobs in a studio lighting environment, this is clearly the wrong approach and the wrong renderer for the project.
Sure, it looks pretty - but if i told my boss....or even fellow workers that it was gonna be 6 hours until we could see a clean crisp render....well, i dont think i would have a job anymore. I would love to have 6 hours to spend on a frame.

Maxwell is of course an unbiased renderer - meaning its a hands down, brute force physically correct render - respecting the exact information you give it from real world values.
This is great, amazing and gets beautiful results - but im amazed the guys at MeindBender could spare this amount of time to generating the imagery.

As an example and comparison as to this crazy decision to use Maxwell - i created a plasticine material with the Brazil RS inside of 3DSmax. Brazil is an amazingly advanced QMC based renderer - with a powerful balance of quality and speed.
It also comes with its own optimised photometric lights for accurate Kelvin controls etc

The first render was done in just over two and a half minutes. There are two GI/indirect illumination bounces, two photometric lights with varying temperatures and full, bi-directional sub surface scattering. Oh - and theres also displacement and bump in there, an HDRI reflection map and anti-aliasing/sampling at Min 1 and Max 2.

The second render is exactly the same, except for the sub-surface is turned off. It still looks respectable and we have a considerable time saving. Note the warmth and softness the SSS brings to the first example however - spreading light around inside of the fingerprints and recessed areas.

And ill point out again the render times, as noted on the renders.

Heres a blob with eye balls.

3DSMax 2011 announced

Some nice features finally added - particularly the node based material tree (previoulsy available but as a third party plugin), Toxik compositing and further Open EXR support/additions.
Its nice to see CAT finally intergrated as standard, though i would still question the sanity of an animator to rig and animate fully in 3dsmax.....though maybe now it will be less painful.
Theres a good rigger/animator here at Jellyfish named Antony Magdalinidis who can do some nice rigs in Softimage and 3DSMax - heres a link to his stuff on Vimeo:

The Quicksilver hardware renderer also looks useful - though im not sure just how much. Perhaps good for environmental, point based effects or sprites/particles. If i can do a fast hardware render of a Pflow snow flurry, with camera multimotion blur and DOF enabled - im gonna be happy :)

Maya 2011 has been announced aswell - as has friend and enemy.....though Softimage is the one currently lacking any images or in depth details as to exactly what has been improved and/or updated.

Monday, 8 March 2010

mud ball boy

I tend to make alot of characters out of balls - so here is 'mud ball boy'. I think i will try and get him walking along trying to find his purpose....and then drying up in the sunlight. Poor little guy.....he looks sad. He is made of mud afterall.

MentalRay shader again - though im beginning to tweak it and want to get a wet slimy surface - like water is accumulating there. Will be fun to fracture him and run the parts through Pflow/Physx and some fine dusty particle work for when he spends too long in the sun.

Fat Head

A couple years ago, i remember starting to make a clay/mud man for some project or shot idea i had which was doomed to never be completed or followed through.
I favor the Brazil RS most of the time but began to mess around with MetalRay again after seeing a nice material posting/test render on Jeff Pattons Blog. Recently i noticed 3D artist, sculpter and zbrush guru Ryan Kingslien had referenced this same blog posting and done a great job of recreating the shader in Maya with one of his figure study sculpts. So i dug out my old renders and decided to post them up. I often use Softimage at work, as well as 3DSmax, but I am convinced that MR is Softimage is now truely broken at its i have been unable to recreate/rebuild such a surface inside Softimage that even remotely looks as good as the Max/Maya one. Im not one to give up though and im determined to make it work....and ill post it up here aswell if it ever does.

Renders from 2008 with MR material with 3DSmax. Jeff gives away a lovely tileable fingerprint texture on his blog aswell - but have some fun and make your own! It makes the whole process even more fun.....though it took me a week to get the ink off my fingers....