An experienced 3D Artist Kevin Ketfi shared a breakdown of the Fairy Tale project and explained how to organize the working process with a strict deadline.
My name is Kevin Ketfi, and I am 32 years old. I live in Vancouver, BC (Canada). I graduated high school in Belgium at Haute Ecole d 'Albert Jacquard in 2013. My bachelor's degree was in 3D movie animation.
As an intern at Indabox Studio, I participated in all production parts of The Welsh National Assembly. I learned so much with Guillaume de Brabandere about composition, lighting, and materials. Winning an award for that was terrific for me.
At Mindmaze I worked as Lead 3D Artist, I supervised VR & AR video game production with subcontractors in Romania, Tunisia, India. I started to learn Unity 2015 at Mindmaze and created many stylized games assets. The aim of Mindmaze is extraordinary; they show us how to use technologies and video games to help people.
As Artistic Director at Smartpixel in Montreal. I worked on several fantastic projects, especially on realistic Architectural Visualization on Unity 2019.
As a 3D Senior Environment Artist at I Got a Game Studio, I participated on several Lords Mobile Game and Mobile Royale levels. I developed a new workflow and big Asset library for them on Unreal Engine 4
The Fairy Tale Project
I made this Real-time Video for IGG Studio. The deadline was five days. These were the rules:
- The setting will be deep in a fantasy forest, with lush green trees, rocks, and foliage.
- You are free to use all 3D assets from the Unity store etc
- In the middle of the scene, there will be a small house/dwelling with a clearing. Leading up to the tiny house is a broken stone path.
- The time of day will be near dusk with sun rays shining through the trees.
- The style is fantasy stylized. (World of Warcraft, Diablo)
- Light the scene, however you feel, is suited and frame a camera with a slight panning animation in the timeline.
- Use the post-processing stack if needed to enhance the scene.
I made a mood board with Pure Ref. A modular and straightforward workflow seems possible and suitable for this project. I tried to answer the three main questions: What do I have to create? What do I have to refine? What do I have to reuse?
I did a rough photo-bashing to compose my scene. I didn’t find a stylized house, so I made everything in ZBrush as modular pieces.
According to the short deadline, I used this package on the Unity store for the big trees and vegetation.
I made my terrain on ZBrush because of the package, and all was too dense and too much. I used ZBrush for the building of the landscape to gain productivity and accuracy. I converted all of my mesh from ZBrush as Unity Terrain with this script.
To create the house, I used the same way concept artist or level designer would use. I made a small box on C4D, played with a MoGraph, and tried a good composition but it was not too complicated. My mood board helped me a lot to not lose focus.
Once the blocking was correct, even if the topology wasn’t good because I used some boolean tools. I used that as a guide and imported that on ZBrush.
I exported all modular pieces to bake them separately on Substance Painter. About the low poly, I used the plugin Quad Remesher on C4D and optimized it a bit. I created my innovative materials and just played with Hue and Color balance between them. I was so limited in time, so I reuse an old wood bark material that I made for “Viking Tavern”. The result was instant and fast.
Version Color 1:
Version Color 2:
I made some Rocks and mountains on the ZBrush. I used my dynamic material on Substance Painter. I didn’t take too much time on it because I wasn’t sure that I would use them a lot.
Assembling the Environment and Rendering
I assembled all the pieces by following this organization:
- Hero Asset
Lighting & FX
- Lights point
- Fog with Aura 2 plugins
- Post Effect
For the Volumetriс Lighting, and Fog, I used the plugin Aura 2. After buying it’s was so excellent, so fast and straightforward to use. I recommend it so much!
For the post-processing, I used essentially the color grading and the boom to increase the feeling of lighting, fog, and more profound contrast. You can see the video of the process:
I also mixed two famous songs using Camtasia in a simple way, aiming to bring some feeling. It’s not only a fairy forest but also magical where everything is possible.
The main challenge was to deliver the overall project without delay. You hope for the best when you work harder on a plan and invest the maximum of your energy. I think the stylized house was difficult because I had a lot of back and forth with some modular pieces without being sure the final result would be good. Doubt started to come out of my brain, and the stress also grew fast. When you work like that, you are blind. Trying to not listen to the voice in your head which says you will fail or miss something etc.
For beginners, the main point is to do it! No mercy, no excuse, don’t listen to anyone that will tell you it’s impossible! Everything is possible. You just have to find a way to prove that! Make yourself evolve to another level! Be inspired, Be an inspiring person and hard worker, and success will come, I swear to you!
Kevin Ketfi, 3D Environment Artist
Interview conducted by Theodore Nikitin
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