Lee Griggs: Deconstructing Humans in 3D

Lee Griggs: Deconstructing Humans in 3D

Lee Griggs, who’s best known for his amazing Arnold tutorials, has recently talked with 80.lv about his love for surrealistic deconstructions of human bodies in 3d.

 Lee Griggs, who’s best known for his amazing  Arnold tutorials, has recently talked with 80.lv about his love for surrealistic deconstructions of human bodies in 3d.


My name is Lee Griggs and I am a technical author at Solid Angle. My job mostly entails testing, documenting and creating tutorials for the Arnold plugins in Maya, 3ds Max, Softimage, Cinema 4D, Houdini and Katana. I enjoy experimenting with Arnold in my spare time to create some oddities.


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3D Face Deformations

I like seeing how far you can make a face abstract whilst still remaining realistic. Also vice versa, I enjoy making abstract things look like faces. Ive always seen faces in things ever since I was a child. I remember watching a TV program as a child that featured a ghost story where a face appeared in the floor. It absolutely terrified me, so maybe I’m doing this as therapy!


Part of my job involves testing different features in Arnold, so Im always tinkering with different shading effects and plugins etc. I don’t really like to stick with one thing. I think part of the fun is mixing and matching different techniques just to ‘see what happens’.

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Skin Opacity

Again, I had to document the skin opacity feature with Arnold. I had some interesting textures lying around and just plugged them in to see what would happen. To be honest, I had previously thought about trying to achieve this effect in Mudbox or Zbrush, but using an opacity map turned out to be a lot easier! I literally connected a texture map to the opacity attribute and modified the intensity of the opacity and exposure of the texture.


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Refractive Portraits

Inspired by the works of artists like Michał Mozolewski and Januz Miralles, I thought I would try and recreate this technique using Arnold. A tutorial on the process can be found here. Actually, Ninja Theory wanted me to create the cover for their game Hellblade using this technique. Unfortunately, I couldn’t commit to it due to my work with Autodesk, however, I pointed them in the direction of the tutorial I created that goes through the process. I’ve had other people show me their result using other renderers with varying success. I happened upon this effect using a 3rd party shader called alSurface by Anders Langlands. It just seemed to work. I tried it with other shaders but it didn’t look quite as convincing.

Can you apply these effects to stylized models or is it better to work with 3d scans?

I don’t see why not. I just find using 3d scans to be a quicker and more realistic method. I normally use scans from ten24.info. The quality is excellent and the price is reasonable.

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Do you think these kinds of effects could be applied somewhere in games?

The refractive portraits are kind of a cheat and when you move the camera the effect kind of breaks down. With the deformations, the camera has been positioned carefully as to not show some of the weird polygon glitches and unsightly deformations, but other than that, I don’t see why not.

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Lee Griggs, a Technical Author at Solid Angle

Interview conducted by Kirill Tokarev

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