Tag: making of

The Making of : Embraer Legacy 600


This model was originally created for HooperCGI for a Landor Dubai re-branding project. My brief was to take a very low resolution / low detail model obtained from Turbosquid, and rebuild it to better resemble the real Embraer Legacy 600 aircraft. Therefore the environment which this is rendered in was inspired by the details I knew of their final sequence. My environment was modelled as an extra for my own use. Only the aircraft model was for the specific project. Additionally the livery I have is not the livery that was to be used for the final output.

This ‘making of’ is not intended to be a step by step walk through of how to do it, but more a breakdown of the process and work flow behind the finished renders.


Modelling the Embraer Legacy 600

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First up then we have the model obtained by HooperCGI from Turbosquid which would serve as a template. It’s general proportions were OK, but for the most part it’s just a rubbish model, and clearly needed to be fully rebuilt.




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The rebuild starts by fleshing out the main shape of the fuselage to match the original proportions, which also cross referencing images of the real aircraft. Because the original model was so low detail, it was very vague and inaccurate in some places.




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With the main fuselage shape done, the wings were next, followed by the tail plane. Control surfaces are being modelled in, as at this stage I didn’t know whether they were required for any animation purpose. It later became clear that this wasn’t the case, meaning the degree to which they were modelled could be kept simple.



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With the bulk of the plane filled out, the only large area still missing is obviously the engines.  I would also need to decide whether the windows would be modelled in with a view to being a SubD model, or switched to straight polygons.




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The Engines are now added to the rear of the plane, along with the small foils on the bottom of the fuselage at the rear. The rear of the plane is also given the exhaust type port. The biggest part at this stage however has been to blend the wings, engine pylons, and the tail plane to be joined with the fuselage.



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The original model had the cockpit windows stencilled in, but no passenger windows. Following my usual rule, I opted not to make things more complicated and torturous than need be, so I chose to freeze the SubD model at a level that was appropriate to the project requirement, and then stencil in the windows. You can see I modelled boxes to the relevant sizes for use with the stencil tool.



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After the stencil operation, some tidying up is required, along with tripling of polygons around the windows. Then Vertibevel is used to give some depth of recess to the windows, though not too much. I can’t emphasise enough at this point how useful Vertibevel is, and I recommend any Lightwave user with a genuine license to purchase it.



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The same basic process is followed for the cockpit windows, using a background layer shape to stencil the fuselage. The only difference being that the front facing two windows of the cockpit have a secondary surround which also needed stencilling in.




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A minor amount of stencilling was required on the engines to add the reverse thrust flaps )I think that’s’ what they are for. The fact there was no animation need for control surfaces certainly saved some time!




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A large chunk of the remainder involved adding external details to the aircraft, all of which would help sell the models realism. First up were the beacons built in to the front corner of the wings. This again used the stencil tool to cut in the glass window shape, and then building simple internal geometry (it would never be seen up close).



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Obviously with the aircraft in a hangar, there was a requirement for wheels, so I modelled some reasonably low detail landing gear that would suffice at medium distance rendering, based on the photographs I had.




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One thing aircraft tend to have is a lot of little external details. These come in the form of little tiny fins, foils, aerials, and so on. I picked out as many as I could from the reference photographs I had collected.





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The top of the fuselage has it’s fair share of protrusions, all of which add a little more eye candy to the over all look of the plane.






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I also elected to model a rough interior that would provide a visual cue from a distance, as dark or mirrored windows really didn’t provide a good look. It’s pretty quick and basic, but adequate for the task at hand.




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The livery is the last step of the plane itself, and in this case is a pretty simple two tone colour scheme. The actual HooperCGI project was for Landor Dubai, and their Livery was a very plain and and simple white/ivory and blue, with white being the predominant colour, so I chose to make it a more distinct scheme.


Modelling the Hangar

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The hangar is a purposely simple environment for an aircraft, while still be in context. It is essentially of curse a tube. Which is more, there is no real variation meaning only a small section is required to be modelled. It can then be instanced in layout to make the hangar as long or short as needed.


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There will be lights suspended in the hangar, so box rails are added to the wall sections from which three rows of overhead lights will be mounted.




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Using the same edge profile as was used to lathe the Hangar walls, I made end walls to shut the ends of the hangar. This can then be trimmed down with a boolean operation (more a vanity exercise truth be told, because for the sake of rendering it could be left square!)



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A hole is then cut out, and a very simple frame and door runner assembly made. It has no detail to it at all, because it is merely a background item that only has to imply what it is.




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Again using the same edge profile as the walls, but slightly smaller scale, the sliding door are made as simple rectangular panels. Again there is no actual detail to added beyond their basic shape.




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The last items to be modelled beside a ground plane are the overhead lights. Because they are quite high up and likely to be obscured by blooming effects, they are very simple models indeed, with no significant modelling involved beyond simple representation of fluorescent tubes.



Setting up the Scene in Layout

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The various elements of the hangar are instanced in layout as shown here. It means that the load in layout for the environment is very low, even though for this scene the environment is very low poly anyway.




[image_frame style=”framed” align=”left” height=”182″ width=”300″]http://www.scorpiocgi.co.uk/_old/wp-content/uploads/2011/06/legacy600_25.jpg[/image_frame]

The Legacy is now added in to the scene, and as you’ll notice in the scene editor, I have tidied up the scene in terms of parenting main elemental groups to their own nulls. While not essential (and certainly not in a scene this simple), it does make things much easier to navigate and work with. I have also added three large area lights, each one spanning the entire length of the hangar. This gives nice even lighting and smoother results than having individual lights for each suspended ceiling light. With that, our scene is done, shading aside for the hanger. This really consists of very basic white surfaces with minimal reflections. Reflection values for the floor are slightly higher than the walls, and have a reflection shading node to blur reflections by 20%. The uniformity of the floor is also broken up by a slight procedural bump.


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As is the case 99% of the time, my render choice is F-Prime, as it still generally renders better results faster than Lightwave itself, and with no radiosity settings to worry about. This fact alone can save me a lot of time, as there is little help in Newtek’s documentation to fully explain all the parameters and what they do!


[note_box]NOTE : One word of caution though is that I find in Lightwave 10, for memory intensive rendering, often times F-Prime will start to render the interactive preview, but if you stop it or change settings, it becomes unresponsive an ultimately requires Layout being killed. This problem does not exist in Lightwave 9.6 however, so all is not lost.[/note_box]


The Final Renders

Final renders, graded in the same manner as detailed in my Grading your Renders tutorial.

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The Making of : Mechanical Dragonfly


This ‘making of’ aims to show you the general process involved in taking a concept drawing through to a final rendered still. In this instance, the subject matter is insects. I have had a lifelong fascination, and Dragonflies are right at the top of my list. They are very powerful insects, with unparalleled hunting ability (they are one of few if not the only insects that can fly backward as well as forwards, sideways, and hover).

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The idea was to recreate this celebration of natural engineering in a manmade form. Enough of it’s little intricacies can be seen without making too unwieldy and heavy to work with. Insects all follow the same anatomical rule. The body is divided in to three distinct sections (head, thorax, and abdomen). They have three pairs of legs, and one pair of antennae. This all suits the CG creation of the creature very well indeed. They also have a pair of compound eyes, and ocelli (secondary eyes). Organics not being my strong point, I went for a bright daylight tone to the final render, with just sky in the background.


Rough ideas to designing the model

Step 1 : Initial Designs

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I was given a selection of rough design guides for the Dragonfly, drawn up by Steve Tappin. I had free reign to choose the design(s) I liked best, and decide how to put it all together. My main desire was to have a heavy powerful look, like the real thing.



Step 2 : Model Rough

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Having settled on the fourth design shown, I needed to do a quick mock up to see how the body design would look in 3D. This is a pretty quick step, as no real concern is shown with how it’s modelled. Literally it’s just bringing shapes together to replicate the form.



Step 3 : Modelling over the Rough

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Having determined that the proportions and shapes essentially work ok, the initial modelling phase is a model over, covering the rough with the starts of the final geometry. This model over phase isn’t long, but is a useful guide, avoiding some guesswork early on.




Building up the Detail

Step 4 : The Head

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As insects are modular in appearance, modelling up the body was done in sections. The head as with the rest of the model was poly modelled to be subdivided. The detail was gradually increased, with an internal cage structure being added right at the end to be seen through the body material.



Step 5 : The Jaws

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The jaws were the most complex part of the model, being fully articulated with dual piston hydraulics as well as a rotational hub. The idea was to make them cool for possible animation. The mechanism is modelled to allow it to fold flat under the head when at rest.



Step 6 : The Thorax

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The thorax started out simply modelled over the model rough, and using the stencil and edge bevel tools, details like torx bolts were added, as well as the grooves in the sides. To add more visual interest, intake vents were added to imply there was an engine requiring oxygen.



Step 7 : The Abdomen

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The abdomen sections were detailed up from simple tubes, scaled to give them shape. Initially I added groves down the side to match the thorax. With internals added to other parts of the Dragonfly, I changed the design to a split shell with internals and an enclosing frame.



Step 8 : The Legs

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The legs were pretty simple, poly modelled again like the rest of the Dragonfly. I added an internal frame here as well. The wings were again poly modelled with a single poly modelled membrane in a metal frame. If I had a knowledge if zBrush, this could likely have been used in various places.



Lighting and rendering

Putting the final touches in place

Step 9 : Composition Testing

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Early on in the overall process, I had made a test render which as soon as it finished rendering, I liked the dynamic of the pose. It mimicked the way Dragonflies tend to rest on known regular perches. I would need to add said perch, but the basis for my render was definitely there. This was to be pretty close to the final image composition.



Step 10 : The Backdrop

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The backdrop was intentionally simple. Rather than risk organic modelling, I created a simple blue and yellow skewed linear gradient, and a second layer with a same coloured circular gradient. I screened this over the base gradient to produce a nice simple angled hazy sun and sky.



Step 11 : Shading Test

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Shading was pretty torturous for me, as I really needed nodal shaders to get the translucent effect I was after. Simpleskin seemed the most successful in general, and this was actually one of the better results. Nodes are undoubtedly the way to go, but not easy to grasp after 10 years of layers!



Step 12 : Ambient Occlusion

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Ambient Occlusion is a great way of adding depth to a render. Smaller details are picked out nicely by the arbitrary shadowing that is created. More use could be made by rendering passes, but as a modeller I’ve never really delved that deep in to the use of passes.



Step 13 : Putting it all Together

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The AO pass is overlaid on the colour layer. The alpha is used to clip the colour and AO layers to allow the background to show. I then flatten, created a blurred layer apllied as a 18% colour dodge. Then a noise layer added, followed with a vignette, and a colour overlay tint. It all builds up to degrading the CGI look, and fooling your eye in to thinking it’s real.



The Finished Article

With a final rendering time of approximately 1.5 hours rendering at 1080P, it’s a pretty good result. The specs of the machine used were a quad core Intel 2.4ghz, with 4gb of Ram.

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Additional Thoughts

Shading & Nodes

An odd design revision aside, the modelling was pretty straight forward. With my limited knowledge of nodes in Lightwave, they are clearly very powerful, but they also can be a real rendering burden for some of the cooler effects. I used SSS nodes that gave a great blurred refractive look, but the render hit was impractical. Several of the nodes used for Skin produce very similar results but with wildly different render times. My lack of experience in knowing how to use them fully was a big hindrance. Learning nodes is definitely a worthwhile investment. It WILL pay dividends!