Creating Artistic 3D Scenes with Photogrammetry Assets
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uh.. you happy with the crunch number ?

Why not just license it? Let it live and make done money at the same time.

Maybe hire more people instead of making employees work 100 hr weeks? Thats insane.

Software & Tools
Creating Artistic 3D Scenes with Photogrammetry Assets
29 September, 2017
Interview

Andrew Krivulya did a little talk about the amazing new scene he’s working on with Megascans.

Introduction

Wow! Thanks for having me. It’s a pleasure to give an interview to your magazine.

My name is Andrey. I come from Ukraine, but after going freelance – travel and sometimes go back there on various business issues. Frankly speaking, I’m not a true traveler who can in a month travel through and explore a whole lot of countries. I like to stay longer in every country. For example, in Thailand I’ve lived for 7 months on Samui island, in Georgia – 6 months in Batumi City, what country is going to be next – I don’t know. But this information goes beyond the interview.

What do I do? I live a full and creative life. I absolutely love 3D and along with my job I try to work on new projects, also I’m working on my YouTube channel with tutorials to share all the knowledge I’ve gathered in 7 years. I always think about ways to improve it. Well, recently I’ve come up with a new category for the channel, where without any comments I’m going to show the workflow of all my new projects – from start to finish.

In fact, I’m a fanatic of 3D, that’s why I stay in front of my PC from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. But I don’t forget about active lifestyle, stretches and rest. It may include a 15-minute break, walking 8-12 km a day, sports, swimming, etc. 

I also like filming videos about my adventures and make photos on my GoPro. I play the guitar and sing.

But my main passion – 3D, 3D, and 3D once again. I always spend time to learn something new and I’m so excited when my programs get an update.

My career so far includes:

  • Worked 3 years in the office as a 3d artist of adventure games for iPad at Vogat Interactive studio, which was in Donetsk, Ukraine.
  • Made a game called Polaris Sector with the guys from SoftWarware. I designed all the ships and some characters, which you can see in my portfolio.
  • Together with YoonJong Song I modeled the hair for The Light Within | Elementalist Lux Cinematic – League of Legends
  • Implement several designs, which I still can’t show, for Rabbit Creative Agency in Singapore.
  • Worked with IXOR VFX on a very interesting project which soon will be in my portfolio
  • Recently I’ve worked with Assembly VFX on another secret project, which I can’t talk about.
  • And much more over the 7 years of 3d modeling.

At the moment I work as an outsourcer – mostly on hair, fur, wool and plumes for production, also I’m a 3d marketing artist at Ephere and Forrender.

The Forester

I came up with the idea for the project a long time ago. It was sometime in August 2016. Back then I had just tried voxel sculpting in 3D-Coat and designed my first character in this program – the very same prototype of the Forester which almost haven’t changed.

By the way, in this video you can see how he was created:

Then I got the idea to make fur for him and slightly revamp his image.

As a result, I got this version:

The Forester’s name is Frank and, actually, at first he wasn’t so ugly. He was a regular man with an axe, but over time the forest turned him into this creature and made him a guardian of nature.

Frank lives in the fantasy forest with the forest fairies – Mooka and Dooi. Orange and blue.

Of course, I also wanted to add a chain belt and many fantasy bottles + in sculpt you can see a sickle, which I haven’t added yet.

I decided to remove the bag, because it actually uncomfortable to carry. I wouldn’t like to forget about the fur on which I worked so hard.

The Forester is a very large project, which will include several characters and an environment to put them into.

The main goal of the project is to put all my effort into it and show all the experience, which I’ve acquired over 7 years, and master new tools that can speed-up my work.

That’s why I set the highest bar and want to achieve a high-quality result. To make this work better than all previous.

The last time when I created an environment was in 2013, now I want to come back to it and make my following works more interesting, with a plot and in-depth development of every character, every piece of the world which I’m creating.

For this reason, I give all my free time to this project. Starting with this WIP:

I decided to film my work on it. I have so much plans but I can’t reveal them just yet. Let’s keep an intrigue.

Using Megascans

Megascans is very time-saving for environment creation – that’s why I chose it for my work.

With each new work I look for a quick solution – whether that be plugins or some scripts, allowing me to save time. For time is a very valuable resource, and why, for example, would I spend it to design some stone in the environment, which will take so much time to go through photogrammetry, texturing, modelling, sculpting, etc., while I can spend this time to build a whole scene?

What Megascans offers is not limited to readymade assets, there are also material presets for every renderer or engine.

In other words, you instantly get a completed and set-up object, ready for rendering.

Back in my days I modelled very many different props for environment in our games for iPad but it used to take a huge amount of time, and I and the artists dreamed about plugins and programs which could speed-up our work. Back then artists painted a lot and saved expenses on 3D through mattepaint technique.

The commissioner doesn’t care what you use for your work, what really matters is the speed and quality.

And when Quixel showed their Megascans project, I got very excited.

First of all, their library contains convenient, topically categorized packages, which make building worlds with a certain atmosphere easier.

Secondly, Megascans Studio makes creating a surface which, for example, has garbage or puddles on it, so much easier. Everything is so simple and intuitive, making designing a whole environment quicker.

There are many assets in MegaScans library which I plan to use to create the environment. They let me save a good deal of time that I can spend on other things.

Using Megascans is basically similar to using mattepaint with photos but in 3D.

I don’t think it’s cheating because, in fact, building a good, realistic composition, which people will find authentic, is not that easy. And if you have no experience, nothing will help you.

Every program, whether it is Megascans, VRScans, Substance Painter, DAZ, etc., helps to drastically reduce the amount of different technical effort to put into your work, and it saves the time which you can give to artistic aspects of the work. But they absolutely don’t make it easier for you to create an awesome picture. If you don’t have experience, these programs will only make it worse. That’s why every artist must understand what to use this or that program for.

Vegetation

I used masking through an opacity map to reduce time consumption for manual cutting of every piece of fur from the texture.

I borrowed this method from Dan Woje’s tutorial on Quixel channel.

Since almost every texture with lots of plants is located in one plane and in any case, you need to get an individual geometry for ForestPack, whether it is each separate leaf, piece of moss or something else.

The squares at the edges of the mask are placed there for further alignment of UV coordinates with objects, so the texture will match. Without them the alignment will be inaccurate and the texture will not match the geometry. In other words, you’ll have to do extra manipulations in UVW Map modifier of 3dsmax.

I didn’t need to use the method because from the start I aligned the texture with UV coordinates of the plane with the BitmapFit command and then began mask painting but I used it just in case.

Earlier on, when I didn’t know this method, I outlined every plant with polygons, it took much more time.

Moss

What I like about Megascans is how simple it is to use in projects. After watching Dan Woje’s tutorial, with my experience of working in ForestPack I had no difficulties to create moss. Actually, it’s was very easy. Now I’ll tell you and you’ll understand how interesting and funny a process this is.

But I’ll add an interesting moment which I came across a bit later and hadn’t used it in the video on my channel.

Since I had no experience with VrayProxy + using it with ForestPack, I faced some problems, which I solved after publishing the workflow video about this environment. Because back then I hadn’t yet transferred it to high-poly proxy objects. For this reason, the method shown in the video may be a little slow on low performance PCs.

Due to support in ForestPack I’ve found a solution and I’ll tell you about it here. If you have a slow PC, you still can work in Megascans just fine.

Let’s begin.

We choose a high-poly model of the log and convert it into a VrayProxy.

In order to do this, select it, click RMB and click “V-Ray mesh export”.

In the pop-up we need to enter.

  1. The path to save the proxy-file

  2. Its name

  3. Check “automatically create proxies” to convert the high-poly object into a proxy-file, it will let you spend no time for alignment in the scene.

When you complete these actions, the object in your scene will consume much less resources. Therefore, converting all objects into proxies allows you to greatly optimize the scene.

For example, if the high-poly log contained 1,745,901 polys, the proxy object adds only 10,000 polys to the scene.

Why don’t I use LODs and displacement? Because, all the same, high-poly models look better than a low-poly render with displacement. And Quixel themselves recommend in the documentation to use high-poly objects in offline rendering to get a realistic result.

Now, for this proxy object to work well in ForestPack, we need to adjust some settings.

Select the log and go to the settings of the proxy object.

  1. Sometimes you need to check “show whole mesh” for 3dsmax to load the UV-coordinates. Hence if ForestPack can’t see the coordinates of a proxy mesh, enable this option and after applying it, revert back to the original display settings of the optimized model.

  2. But generally, I only check “Force first map channel” and select 0 channel for compatibility with ForestPack.

Go to objects, select Itoo Software and ForestPro, then click on the log, and ForestPack object will be created.

Add all pieces of moss through the “Add Multiple Custom Objects” button and choose them in the list.

This way we will get a list of objects which will be distributed over the surface of the log.

Then check the “UV” option on the Surface tab to use UV-coordinates of the object.

After that we need go to the Distribution Map tab and load Fuse map into the Map slot, this map contains areas of moss growth. This map is provided with the Megascans asset.

And of course, we need to set-up the density of moss distribution across the surface of the object, I set it to 100 cm but it could be set below this value.

Therefore, the moss will be growing only in the areas where it is present in the texture.

Next, to achieve a realistic result, experiment with the settings on the Transform tab. Enable Translation, Rotation, Scale and “Enable Horizontal Mirror” option.

Then copy ForestPack several times and change parameters and texture hue of the material using Color Correction, every time loading a different material into the material slot of ForestPack.

This way you’ll get a more realistic moss in the render with different hues.

Of course, you can go to even greater lengths (what I will do in the next WIP) and by analyzing the asset texture, create several masks from it, painting the moss in various colors. This way every color will have its Fuzz mask. Then choose this color with the color picker and add it into Hue Tint for better accuracy. This way you’ll precisely match the moss from the texture of the log asset.

As you can see, this method is very simple. Of course, ForestPack has its own multimaterial and the functionality to add diversity to the scatter light of the objects but I didn’t use these functions in this work. But I’m planning to.

Assets

As I’ve written above, I used high-poly objects, which I’m going to transform into proxies for my scene, just like I’ve described in the tutorial here.

Since a high-poly object provides the best level of detail in a render, you can transform it into a proxy and get a much higher-detailed render than using displacement. As Quixel themselves recommend in their documentation. If your PC is powerful enough to render without proxies – you don’t need to use them.

The log I used had almost 2 million polygons. It was very detailed and could be rendered closeup with a rather high-quality and realistic result.

Using scanned assets

I’ve described advantages of Megascans above – it gives a high-quality and realistic result in a short time. Personally, I don’t see any shortcomings. Only benefits.

From a technical point of view – Quixel took into account every detail, and Megascans can be used by anyone, even on a low-end PC. They have a multilevel LOD system, normal and displacement maps. That’s why I think no one will have any technical issues.

When you mentioned classical rendering methods, did you mean offline rendering instead of using real-time engines? If so, the easiest way to use Megascans in Vray is to load high-poly models, transform them into proxies, and then work with Vray IPR. This is very efficient. Megascans assets are very easy to use. After watching a couple of tutorials on my and Quixel’s channels – you’ll quickly learn to work with them efficiently.

Quixel has very many detailed lessons, so I think learning the program will not be a problem.

They offer very convenient plugins to adapt assets to a certain kind of rendering, whether it is real-time or offline. I’ve already told about this advantage above.

Andrew Krivulya, 3d Generalist

Interview conducted by Kirill Tokarev.

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