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Kazuya Tachibana did a little talk about his amazing “Watchmaker” environment, which was done with the use of some clever modeling and vegetation tools.
Hey everyone! My name is Kazuya Tachibana and I am a student currently studying in Scotland. I started doing art and 3D just over 2 years ago after I came across it by accident when I was studying Electrical Engineering with Music. After taking a gap year to figure things out as I didn’t enjoy what I was doing back then, I decided on a whim to give 3D a try and that has been the best decision in my life so far.
My career so far doesn’t really go further than recreating concept art that I found really cool in my spare time but I hope that all changes soon!
My goal right now is just to break into the industry where I can create props and environments for cinematic game trailers or film. For me, environments are more or less just as important as the main characters in the stage, they are in a way a character in themselves and I feel like storytelling through world creation can be just as compelling if not even more so than the former.
This new project of mine was an attempt to outdo my last environment project in which I was trying to recreate a kitchen and living room scene also by Arseniy Chebynkin.
In that last project there were a lot of parts that I wasn’t overly satisfied with and areas that could have been improved upon but also most importantly, that project took a ridiculous amount of time. Though it was the first major environment that I have ever done, I felt like I needed to know personally how long it would take me to do something along the same complexity. Thus I naturally choose another of Arseniy’s concept art.
I enjoy watching anime from time to time and have always liked their artistic style. As Arseniy is a background artist for Japanese games, his style really resonated with me and wanted to create something similar to his work but at the same time, constrained to reality somewhat. Overall, I think what was most appealing about his style and his work is the mood that he conveys through his art.
Blocking out is probably one of the most important and fundamental parts when it comes to environmental creation in my opinion. This is because if the blocking out stage is weak or not accurate in some regard, this could become a larger problem down the pipeline.
While it is easy to scale items in the scene if they are out of proportion, sometimes I find that if it was a project with many complex parts integrated into each other and you go into high detail modelling before you fleshed out the block out, it is much harder to fix then.
Lighting isn’t my strong point, it is in fact one of my weakness. When it comes to making something realistic only 30% of the realism is attributed to the model and its topology. The rest of the 70% comes down to the lighting and texturing process.
I still have a lot to learn about lighting and is one of my focuses right now but for this scene I adjusted a directional sun light to a position where it matches to rays one of the floor from the concept image and then had lights shooting directly into the room through each of the windows to compensate for the fact that just an exterior light wasn’t strong enough to light everything by itself. If you were using an HDRI for your exterior just make sure that those lights through the window are portal lights instead.
I would then make it so that only the directional sunlight would be the only light that is affected by fog therefore creating the God Rays. When it comes to recreating a concept scene like that of Arseniy one thing to remember is that the lighting from the concept isn’t realistic. Do not be afraid to put in lights to compensate for areas that are too dark. For the longest time I was trapped with the mindset that all I needed to do for lighting is to create a sunlight and it’ll do all the work for me. The technology isn’t quite there… yet.
I did pretty much all my modeling inside MODO. I am still relatively new to this software and have only been using it for a few months but in my opinion, it is quite a lot better than Maya when it comes to just modeling specifically.
I however did do all the rendering inside Maya since the renderer that I use, Redshift, doesn’t have a plugin for MODO just yet as well as I am much more comfortable inside Maya for that category of work.
I first started in Maya where I would try my best to align the camera to that of the reference image. This was much harder than I thought, but after I have blocked out the majority of the major parts of the scene, I would export everything out as an obj file. Modo currently doesn’t support the latest version of FBX file format hence why I use obj.
Afterwards when you import it into Modo make sure to check centimetres as that is the default unit of scale inside Maya.
After I finished modeling and uving inside MODO, I would export the finished sections back into Maya. If your workflow is as disorganised as mine is and you don’t tend to name things, one thing to watch out for is that when you import the FBX files back from MODO into Maya the name of those objects would appear to be quite weird.
Make sure to rename these objects because Maya doesn’t play nice when you have items with the same name during import. It would start deleting and replacing items of the same name. You can select multiple items in your outliner and use the Rename function in Maya to help you save time.
What way have you worked with Maya and Redshift to make those lovely little sunrays and capture the sweet soft lighting on different surfaces in this scene?
The soft shadows for the scene are quite easy to do and fast. If you find the light that you want to have soft shadows for, there is a slider near the bottom which indicates how hard or soft you want the shadows to be.
Texturing is still very much an Achilles heel for me and am very much motivated to get better at it just like lighting. Overall I got most of my textures from Substance Source which is a great place with a massive library of PBR ready textures. With Substance Painter and Designer, you can very easily randomise and change the diffuse values of the wood material or any other material you downloaded in real time.
For this project, I didn’t really do much in-depth texturing. I made sure my UV maps are well laid out and then I just apply any texture I have at hand onto the object. While in a close-up view of these objects, one would definitely notice the seams. However, I knew beforehand that the camera was far away enough that no one would notice this.
For the vegetation. Majority of it was either created inside Speedtree or Maya’s default paint effects. While there are limitations on Maya’s paint effects when it comes to larger and denser trees, it is an extremely good place to start if you are just stepping into foliage creation. There is a set of Gnomon DVDs by Alex Alvarez that introduces you to paint effects and I learned a lot from them.
I got a lot of the textures for leaves and flowers from Meganscans which has an incredible library of alias of different flowers, plants, ferns and other types of foliage that range from the very common to the very exotic.
I don’t really have tricks in all honesty. I just try to put in as many details as I possibly could. This can’t really be considered a trick, but feedback is one of the most important things I can think of. Getting the perspectives of other people on your work can be extremely helpful, even if they don’t know much about 3d and in some cases, especially if they don’t know about 3D.
I’d like to take the time to give a shout out to Najam Hussain, James Hodgart and Ewan Wright for providing me extensive feedback and uncensored critique on my work which are an invaluable factor for me levelling up.
Overall this project took me just under 100 hours to complete which is a massive improvement on my last one.
The main reason I use Redshift though is because of its speed at which it renders. I don’t need to wait for ages for the renderer to update for me to view the changes. It gives you the freedom to try new things without having to worry about your render time or wait too long for your renders.
Redshift is brilliant piece of software. Not only is it much cheaper than many of the other industry standard renderers out there but it is also probably the fastest one as well. One of the main appealing points about Redshift is that once you buy it, you have access to all the plugins of redshift for all the other software out there, you don’t need to buy a separate license for another software. This is great if you use multiple software that supports Redshift.
I hope this article gave you a better understanding of my workflow. If you have any questions what so ever, feel free to contact me on social media, I’d be more than willing to help out. Thank you to 80.Lv for giving me the opportunity to write this article. It feels great to be able to give something back to the community! Best of luck pursuing your goals and creating awesome art!