3ds Max 2015 Extension 1 is here

With new tools to power your pipeline
  • 1/3
You are here: Homepage /  inHouse /  Behind the Screenz / Daniil Alikov: From Siberia to the World
Daniil Alikov: From Siberia to the World
 
 
Posted: Mar 03, 2011
Published by: the area
Homepage: Visit the page
Software: Autodesk Maya, Autodesk Mudbox
Social Media:
Bookmark and Share
The Area:
Welcome to AREA, Daniil, you have a beautiful portfolio of artistic imagery and we thank you for sharing it with us here.
Daniil:
Hello! Thanks for inviting me.
 1380x1895
The Area:
Your images are always telling a story…either in the style they are rendered and/or the objects and atmosphere of the scene. They give you a good feeling of wonder and curiosity. What is the inspiration to the style and imagination of your work?
Daniil:
Usually my ideas come to me from my everyday life. I really like it when different images of reality are merging together, to make a brand new image, harmonious and contrasted at the same time. For instance, one day when I saw the most common thing… a concrete mixer… and my mind merged the mixer with an image of a locust, so I ended up with the idea of a giant walking-jumping robo-locust.
 1050x817
 1050x817

Sometimes, I just want to improve on my skills and I try to create more technically-driven artwork (such as still-life studies). Also, sometimes I make 3D work from sketches painted by my wife. Unlike me, she is a real artist with traditional art background training. I always love to work with her sketches because they are so alive and really well executed. I think my wife and I work well in tandem. It’s not only limited to art either =)

The Area:
Any books/comics/films that influence your work?
Daniil:
I tend to think all things in life are continuously influencing each other. Films or books that I like, can give me new ideas and inspiration. Likewise, films, books and works of other artists that I don't like, guide me in what not to do and things like which hooks don't work for me.
 1059x800
The Area:
What is your school background -- does it help you in the work you do today?
Daniil:
Without having any formal art training, I am mostly a self-taught professional. I had one year of art school when I was a teenager. Twice I had tried to enter into an art college, but was unsuccessful. I don't know why it happened that time, but now I don't have any regrets or discomfort about it. By the way, currently I’m working to improve myself by learning traditional art with great help from my wife. I think this will help me further develop my texturing and shading skills.
 990x700

Probably I'd gotten all my skills because I never tire of studying art. Who knows what would have been for the better, but without a doubt, I'm wholly satisfied with my life. On top of that, it always makes me happy when other people are pleased with my artwork.

 1200x972
The Area:
How did you get started doing CG and how long have you been working with 3D?
Daniil:
It was in 2004 when I first started to work with 3D. I worked as a polygraph designer at the time and all my software tools were 2D (Photoshop, CorelDraw, etc.). But I felt 3D would be more exciting for me. I dropped in on a couple of Maya courses in Moscow, which gave me a good basis for learning 3D. I didn’t have any 3D assignments at the time, so I did some personal artwork instead (Elephant Excavator, Sorrowful Moon, etc.). This worked out to be good training for me. I tried different techniques, learned how to model, texture and render. Maya Help was my primary reading material that time. =)
 1333x2000
The Area:
What kind of work does a polygraph designer do?
Daniil:
When I was a polygraph designer, my duties were to design business cards, booklets, posters and various other things. It was all about advertising. That said, it turned out to be a really useful experience in the work I do today. I'm not only referring to Photoshop, but about overall designer's understanding of things and having an artistic eye.
 1660x1900
The Area:
When did you get your first 3D job and what did you do?
Daniil:
When I moved from my hometown to Moscow in 2007, for the first several months, I still worked as a polygraph designer. Then I got the position of Texture Artist for an animated feature project called "Frogs' Paradise". It was a really exciting job for me. Over a short period of time, I grew to the position of Supervisor of the Texture department. To tell the truth, I wasn't satisfied working as a Supervisor.
 800x687
 800x674

I wanted to paint textures and advance my skills instead of supervising people. In the end, this project soon closed due to some investigations problems. I've since changed many 3D jobs after that time and was never a supervisor again.

 900x657
The Area:
In every image of your portfolio, we can see a combination of realistic+stylized textures on your models and scenes. Let's take your award-winning "Bison Extirpator" for example, what did you use to texture the rayrifle with?
Daniil:
Actually I always try to use photographic textures for my models and scenes. For the "Bison Extirpator", I used photos mixed together, though such things like dirt, dust and stains were hand-painted in Mudbox.
 1000x500
 1000x250
 1000x250
 1000x333

Achieving truly photorealistic results isn't an easy task since the artist has to keep attention to a great number of details. I had a tight deadline doing this rifle for the competition. Fortunately, the result was good enough to win. My work was considered as the finest raygun rifle of the Global Raygun Shootout competition.

 871x242
 2000x1497
The Area:
By the way...what did you win for this cool design?
Daniil:
Yeah, I won a fantastic Righteous Bison raygun collectable invented by Greg Broadmore, a concept designer for Weta Digital. They sent me this fabulous toy from far-away New Zealand and now it is a worthy element in the interior of my room =)
 800x823
The Area:
In the image "Waiting", again, very nice shader work. Can you tell us about how you made the metallic textures?
Daniil:
A persuasive look of a CG object is always a harmonious combination of the right model, texture maps, shader settings and lighting. I know it sounds pretty obvious, but it's the truth.
 1559x2000

There could be quite the simple shading network without any procedural tricks, but also having it in such a way where all the texture maps are set up so that everything is correctly and logically connected. In my case, there was a color base texture combined of one or two copper photographs.

 1000x250
 1000x250

Additional maps such as bump, specCoefficient and specColor were made from a base color texture in Photoshop. Hi-res bump of tiny scratches was made of two simple tiled grayscale images mixed together with mental ray mib_bump_map2 nodes.

 1000x721

I used Mudbox only for texturing, not for sculpting in "Waiting". I think Mudbox is one of the best texturing solutions. It is really intuitive to understand and surprisingly handy and useful to work. By the way, I've learned to texture in Mudbox in less than one week!

 1351x869
The Area:
How long did it take for you to complete the image from the sketch your wife painted?
Daniil:
There were a couple of major breaks in the work on "Waiting". I think it took about one month to be completed.
 707x1000
The Area:
For the image "Still life with black pepper", this image is composed of seemingly simple objects, but when you start to analyze the image, the realization comes that there are many different shaders and texture work…not to mention lighting set up, to achieve this amazing composition. Can you please tell us about how you approached the task of making shaders for the items.. the dusty/oily glass and the oil inside, used lamp, iron frying pan, wall, wood desk... etc.
Daniil:
Thanks for this question. For me it was the hardest shading/lighting work ever. As you noticed, they are quite simple objects but they had to interact together correctly. It was my basic goal to achieve good integrity of mood and atmosphere of composition. The most difficult task was to set up shaders of glass+oil and cheese with subsurface scattering. I had to thoroughly research the workings of the mia_material_x mental ray shader.
 2000x1534

If anyone is interested in the shading settings of bottle with oil, it is available through this link to the making of "Still life with black pepper"...

I've also tried a pretty exotic material misss_physical in this artwork. Since this shader only works with photons, I had to create a special light source as a photon emitter which was disconnected to all other objects in the scene except for the cheese mesh.

The dust on the bottle is very simple work of texture maps connected to color, reflectivity, transparency and bump attributes of mia_material_x.
As for me, what I found most interesting to make was the garlic. From the model to shading, it was a brand new experience, to work on such an unusual object.

 1000x727
The Area:
What kind of lighting set up did you use to sculpt the image with light/shadows?
Daniil:
It was a complex lighting system with three classical light sources (key, fill, rim), plus several light sources connected to select objects via LightLinker and Final Gather was used for global lighting, as well as an HDR image in the ImageBasedLighting node. It was pure sculpting with light. Some sources gave highlights on desirable objects, other sources were created to lighten up certain areas. It was all to get the mood and realism that I wanted to see in this piece.
The Area:
Why do you prefer mental ray as your renderer of choice, over other rendering solutions?
Daniil:
Like every Maya user, I met mental ray earlier than the other renderers. As I stated before, I’ve always tried to achieve photorealistic results in my renders. So mental ray serves as a really good solution for that kind of work. Nowadays it is quite a handy and powerful tool for me. Actually it has almost everything I need to render my images.
 1104x1080
 985x746
The Area:
Do you use any custom scripts or plugins for Maya?
Daniil:
Oh not much really, but a couple of free custom scripts for some quick manipulations with texture nodes and UVs. I won't mention all the in-house scripts I use in the studio where I work.
The Area:
For your personal work, what would be your biggest wish for future release of Maya?
Daniil:
I'm not sure I can remember so many wishes on the spot, except for one. It would be dramatically more useful for everyday work if the Place2dTexture node is situated between the texture node and the shader node in the shading network. I know it's already realized in the mental ray nodes, but I think it would be cool to see it in the Maya shading network. It allows us to use one texture node with different placement settings on different shaders. We can get a more cleaner and lightweight network.
 900x648
The Area:
What would be your dream CG job?
Daniil:
It's really cool that you asked me this question. Currently I have big changes in my life due to my new job. In mid-March I move to Singapore and will work there as a Texture Artist for Lucasfilm Animation Singapore. I am absolutely excited about this and I believe it will be the realization of my dream CG job!
 1117x707
 1400x886
The Area:
What are you currently working on now?
Daniil:
Right now I'm working on packing my things and finishing my business here in Moscow, ha-ha-ha! I've quit the Moscow studio Glukoza Production where I’ve worked the last two years and now all my thoughts are on the new job and the new world where I’ll find myself in a couple of weeks.
 1333x2000
The Area:
Daniil -- thanks again for inspiring us with your delightful imagination!
Daniil:
Thank you very much! Bye!

Additional Images

 1500x1500
 863x712
 1251x2000

Additional Links

Comments
My Comment:
Notify me of follow-up comments?
Newest users comments View All 14 Comments
Posted by lestermartis1 on Oct 20, 2012 at 05:10 PM
This is freak show dear, I want to be your student this is an outstanding imaginary show, hope I also would get this in me, thanks for sharing it, so valuable knowledge was this, totally you are an outstanding.... keepit up....... and keep posting :)
Posted by maheshap on Jul 12, 2011 at 10:51 AM
Very Good Great Jobs.
Posted by nullpointer on May 07, 2011 at 06:25 AM
wow! nice great works! very inspiring, especially in a 16 yr old boy like me :)
Posted by johanflod on Apr 25, 2011 at 07:38 PM
Great work. Inspiring to see such a good use of materials
Posted by Hamidah on Apr 25, 2011 at 12:40 AM
I like your work, but i don't have a time to learn again.
I was have learnt 3ds max 7 years ago, when i need to present my final project
Great, Beautiful, Very Good!
i amazed by your work