Guga Baraldi, 3D generalist artist and co-founder of Brazil-based 3D animation studio Didalí, breaks down his sweet-as-pie Pet Birthday render. Check it out below!
In this article, I'll be sharing my workflow for creating my Pet Birthday scene.
This scene is a personal project that I made during my free time for the Unhide School's contest. The theme was "Dinosaurs Among Us."
I aimed to create a fun scene, so the briefing started with the idea: “What if dinosaurs were still with us – could they be domesticated and raised as pets? If so, why not have a big party to celebrate Ollie's first birthday, as all pets deserve?” (If I had a dinosaur as a pet, I would call him Ollie).
Now that you know the background story, let’s move on to my step-by-step process.
It all starts with research and choosing good references to guide your work. As the theme was “dinosaurs,” nothing was more inspiring than the Jurassic Park franchise. For this scene, I chose to make a baby velociraptor and the Blue character from the movie Jurassic World was my biggest reference for guiding the shapes and colours of my model.
Another important point was to create an environment to represent the birthday party. By searching on Pinterest and Instagram, I discovered that there is a huge market focused on pet parties. There are dozens of photographers specialized in this type of work and it was a lot of fun to find these profiles on social media.
To organize the references, I often like to create a mood board with the images separated by themes and displayed on a large panel using PureRef.
The modelling of the dinosaur was done with ZBrush. Initially, I always use the DynaMesh for free-form sculpting, defining a general base mesh and fixing the primaries shapes.
As I had a short deadline to finish the scene, I made a choice to make the retopology using ZRemesh. You can create different PolyGroups by selecting areas with the mask that allows you to organize the mesh. It will also give you more control and help the software with the retopology process. As you can check, the ZRemesher gave me a more organized geometry, with a clean mesh, and an edge flow that fits my needs to continue sculpting the secondary and tertiary shapes.
The interior scene is very simple and all the objects and props were modelled poly by poly using 3ds Max Standard Primitives and Edit Poly, except for the balloons that are free for download on the Bertrand Benoit website.
Texturing and Materials
With the model defined and retopology completed, it's time to start the textures. The first step was to export the model in .obj format to 3ds Max and unwrap the UVs, applying an Unwrap UVW. For the dinosaur, I chose to break the mesh into 5 different Islands (UDIMs) and work with textures in 4K.
After the UVs process, I sent the model back to ZBrush to create the textures. To guarantee there are sufficient polygons to support the details, the dinosaur’s geometry has 6 subdivisions and almost 30 million active points.
The diffuse map was painted directly on the model's surface using PolyPaint, with several alphas and colours in different layers. After that, I transferred the painted surface to create a New Texture Map from PolyPaint.
For the displacement map, I sculpted the tertiary shapes and the scales using standard brushes and a set of Alphas from "Lizard scales PACK," available for purchase at Marlon R. Nunez’s Gumroad.
All the scales were set one by one with layers to control the intensity at the end of the process.
Having all the maps defined, I exported the textures files in .tiff and .exr formats, using the Multi Map Exporter. Then it was time to assemble all the props and start the shading.
To accomplish this, I used 3ds Max with the Slate Material Editor to display the structure of materials while I designed and edited them, using V-Ray 3.7 as the rendering engine to compose the materials with textures and procedural maps.
Quick Tip #1: You can use the “Composite” or “MultiTile” nodes map to compose multiple textures in the same object. You just need to set the number of the “layers” or “textures” according to the number of “Islands” in your UVW and change the U and V position in the material settings. I like to organize my textures by using Maya’s name pattern UDIM method. I prefer to use Composite Map because it works better with VrayDisplacement.
The lighting is another important step in the process. In this case, I used a V-Ray Dome Light with an HDRI map that provides the general lighting and four other lights to illuminate specific points of the dinosaur, to simulate a studio setup.
I used a depth of field (DoF) with the Physical Camera, to create a distance between the character and the furthest elements in the scene.
Quick Tip #2: You can change the settings of the safe frame and create the lines to guide you with the Rule of the Thirds in your viewport. It's really easy, you just need to modify the Safe Frame value to 66.6 in Percent Reduction. That technique will divide your viewport into nine parts, which can help you to set your camera and improve your composition. But remember, that is not an unbreakable rule, it's simply to guide you.
With everything set, it's time to render and compose the scene. These images were rendered in 3000x2000px. I like to save some extra passes to make fine adjustments and highlight some details in the post-production using Beauty pass as an image base.
As you can see below, I used Photoshop to finish the image. After a few layers stacked and some adjustments, you can check the comparison between the before (left) and after (right) the editing.
That’s it! The journey to accomplishing this result was super fun. I know that it has a ton of details to improve, but I'll consider it done for now.
Bear in mind that I’ve shared with you guys a little bit of my workflow. It’s possible there are other ways to achieve the same or better results by following different steps. I hope you enjoyed it. If you have any questions or if you need further information, please get in touch.
Thanks for reading.
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