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Concept artist Jama Jurabaev talked about his experiments of doing 360 paintings with 3d Coat and Marmoset Toolbag. You can also find a detailed tutorial on his Gumroad.
My name is Jama Jurabaev and I’m originally from Tajikistan. I worked as a Senior Concept Artist on movies such as X-Men: Days of Future Past, Guardians of the Galaxy, Avengers: Age of Ultron, Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, Kong: Skull Island, Beauty and the Beast, and a few other titles coming to the silver screen in 2018. Currently, I live in London and work at Industrial Light and Magic.
The process of producing concept art for movies is quite flexible. Essentially, my job involves transferring a director’s or a production designer’s vision onto a canvas. Usually, I receive a set of written or verbal instructions of what needs to be visualized. Then, I decide how best to execute that concept into a work of art.
I bounce between 2D concept art, 3D concept art, or a combination thereof to solve a design problem as efficiently as possible. At the end of the day, selling an idea and delivering a completed work on time are the two most important end goals for me when I tackle concept art.
Creating Panoramic Art
As I previously mentioned, I always think of the most efficient way to solve a design problem as soon as I get a brief from a director or a production designer. 2D concept art is great—it’s fast, it’s fluid. I love 2D since it quickly nails moods, often inspiring other artists from the same project to keep up their own good work. However, a loose painting fails to convey some aspects of a particular vision because it’s primarily composed with broad brushstrokes.
3D concept art is great as well. One can imbue rich detail into designs and worlds with 3D tools and techniques. Yet, doing so is more technical and time consuming, leading to tough decisions if resources are limited and deadlines are tight.
While working in the movie industry, I started looking for a medium of art that was somewhere in between 2D and 3D concept art. And panoramic paintings ended up being exactly that medium! A panoramic painting is the practical hybrid of 2D and 3D concept art with advantages from each one. With panoramic paintings, one can create worlds like those from traditional 3D pieces of concept art, but one can still be very painterly and fast thereby saving a great amount of time like one would with 2D concept art.
This technique has been around for quite a while, but I think I was one of the first people to have simplified it and used it as a painter. Generally, all one needs is a spherical panorama, which can be generated in 2D, 3D, or through 360° photography.
With a spherical panorama, the concept artist then puts him or herself in the center of the sphere to create the illusion of being surrounded by a 360° world. And when viewed in VR, the world really lends itself to a deep level of immersion!
3D-Coat has a few different features. Sculpting, retopology, texture painting, etc.
When I began working in 3D a few years ago, I remember thinking how great it would be if 3D packages were more intuitive and user friendly. Well, 3D-Coat does a very good job in making this a reality! Coming from a painting background, I use 3D-Coat as a painter. Even when I sculpt or model, I use it as if I were painting in 2D as it allows me to be fluid and fast with my work.
Also, 3D-Coat has a very powerful set of symmetry tools that we, unfortunately, don’t have in Photoshop. These tools are a huge help for concept artists when working on symmetrical designs such as creatures, vehicles, and props.
Work in Marmoset Toolbag
I use Marmoset to overlay color grading and real-time, post-processing effects like glare, bloom, and more because it helps to make the world and all the details within it a bit more immersive. But, I would say viewing 360° paintings in VR is the most immersive experience as you can sense the massive scale of a world much better!
Panoramic paintings should absolutely be used in game and film production! They would be very useful in the video game industry for developers because they would allow level designers to craft several 360° concepts that would basically illustrate the final look of a game.
And the same goes for movies as 360° concepts are used to show the design of movie sets.
Moreover, I see panoramic paintings as being very useful to both the film and video game industries as studios working in each will save precious time and resources through adopting this medium of concept art. Ultimately, with the maturation of VR technology, concept artists will slowly be shifting towards creating worlds, not just framed pictures, in both the video game and film industries…it’s just a matter of time!