Modeling the props

By - - 3ds Max , Arnold , Flame , Maya , MotionBuilder , Mudbox , Shotgun
Last modification: 3 Feb, 2021

Welcome back!

That's right...we're finally ready to dive into the modeling phase of the project. This week, we'll take a look at the modeling process for the props featured in Mkali's Mission from Adrian Wise and Steve Talkowski. After all, we can't have our heroine without her trusty gadgets and ride. I'll also cover the importance of establishing a scale and color space for artists prior to the start of their work. 

Sit back, relax, and enjoy the blog. 

Joining us for the first time?
We’re producing an epic 3D sequence called Mkali’s Mission using each of the tools in the Media & Entertainment Collection and sharing the whole journey right here on AREA. Take a look back at earlier blog posts in this series to learn more. 

Before diving into the project, it was important that I establish certain rules to avoid any production complications down the line. I needed to decide the scale and color space the team would be working in, so I drew from the expertise of TJ Galda and Chip Weatherman, Product Managers at Autodesk.

First, we looked at size and scale. We needed to choose numbers that weren't too big or small as this could potentially lead to precision errors. We also needed a scale that would be as close to the world origin as possible. Since almost every DCC tool is hardcoded to work in centimeters, we decided that artists working in Maya should use 1 Maya unit as 1 centimeter. Artists working in 3ds Max, however, should work in centimeters for system units since it's one of the DCC tools that can change the underlying system units. The important thing to remember when working in a multi-app pipeline is the difference in display units and system units, particularly when doing things like importing characters or physics simulations. Having improper unit alignment could cause things to blow up (no pun intended)!  

In terms of color space, Autodesk Color Management allows artists to use any color space as their working space. It also supports many of the common and standard color spaces. In general, it’s best to use a wide-gamut color space to ensure proper a representation of as many colors as possible. Color spaces that don’t do this could force some colors to “crush” down into a color that they do support. Choosing a wide gamut leaves a lot of options downstream and Autodesk Color Management can preserve negative values while other tools might not. Since ACES is an extremely wide-gamut color space that can represent any visible color, we decided that Maya artists should work in the ACES RRT v.10 color space. Since artists working in 3ds Max would be provided PBR-ready materials, their color space would be tweaked directly in Maya during the look development phase.

After setting these guidelines, the team was ready to get crackin'. 

While searching for artists to work with, I stumbled upon Adrian Wise’s work and tutorials on AREA and noticed his strong design visualization portfolio. When I met with him, I learned that in addition to being an experienced 3D artist, he also worked in industries like mechanical engineering. From there, I knew his experience and background would make him a perfect fit to model Mkali's snowmobile. What's a champion without her trusty steed!  Here's a look at Adrian's modeling workflow:

Four views of the snowmobile in 3ds Max.


Modeling and matching the concept art of the snowmobile in 3ds Max.


See Adrian in action. Watch him model the snowmobile in 3ds Max.


Refining the suspension of the snowmobile in 3ds Max.


The final model of the snowmobile. 


Equipping our heroine with the proper gear to complete her mission was essential, so we needed to find an artist that could tackle the modeling of her weapons, including her mighty crossbow. Luckily, I managed to find Steve Talkowski on ArtStation. I really liked the style of his work and noticed his affinity for robot characters. As I got to know Steve, I learned that he has a long history in 3D, dating back 20 years. He even started his own company in 2008 named Sketchbot Studios. His extensive experience and passion for his craft convinced me that he'd get the job done right. Check out his work for yourself: 

Modeling Mkali's crossbow in Maya


Modeling Mkali's pistol in Maya. 


See Steve in Action. Watch him model Mkali's crossbow in Maya. 


Crossbow textures (normal, roughness, base colors, metalness)


The final model of the crossbow. 

With the proper gear, Mkali is now mission ready! Tune in next time as we'll cover even more aspects of the modeling phase and dive into effects simulations and animation. 

Want to see more of Mkali's Mission? Visit our virtual animation studio to discover the different stages of the process and to get a glimpse at some real 3D eye candy.


Posted By
Published In
  • 3ds Max
  • Arnold
  • Flame
  • Maya
  • MotionBuilder
  • Mudbox
  • Shotgun
  • Film & VFX
  • Games
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