STEP BY STEP: Master sci-fi con­cepts

Learn to de­velop a re­al­is­tic look­ing sci-fi landscape, ready for a cin­e­mato­graphic char­ac­ter to bring life to this new world

3D Artist - - CONTENTS -

Julián Calle’s pro en­vi­ron­ments and con­cept guide

In this tu­to­rial you can learn to edit images, in­te­grate images, use the photo bash­ing tech­nique, se­lect lenses ac­cord­ing to the com­po­si­tion, tex­ture a 3D model in Pho­to­shop, man­age light­ing, man­age at­mos­pheres (depth), prop­erly use colour cor­rec­tion and fi­nal ren­der tech­niques. In gen­eral terms you will also learn how to cor­rectly in­te­grate 2D and 3D el­e­ments. The most ex­cit­ing part of this tu­to­rial is that you will learn a cre­ative process that al­lows you to de­form re­al­ity so that it not only looks re­al­is­tic but at the same time fan­tas­tic.

01 3D Sketch for the fol­low­ing process three items of soft­ware were used to com­pose this re­al­is­tic con­cept art, Zbrush, oc­tane ren­der and Pho­to­shop. In this first step, Zbrush was used to gen­er­ate a 3D sketch to help gen­er­ate a greater depth and a bet­ter feel­ing of light.


Light positioning af­ter fin­ish­ing the 3D sketch, I used the Zplu­gin in Zbrush to re­duce poly­gons and ex­ported it as an OBJ to the oc­tane ren­der pro­gram, where I sim­ply po­si­tioned a light and took out an image with its mask in exr for­mat. The po­si­tion of the light is only a ref­er­ence when it comes to plac­ing tex­tures and do­ing the paint over.


Gen­er­ate a sky The re­sult that will be ob­tained in the oc­tane ren­der is a sim­ple base to gen­er­ate the paint over and pro­duces a tonal value of sky that will en­able you to es­tab­lish the gen­eral tone of the image.


Com­pose the image Us­ing the clip­ping mask, I sep­a­rate the mod­el­ling of the sky and us­ing a se­ries of ref­er­ence images, I start to lay out the com­po­si­tion. When plac­ing the el­e­ments it is im­por­tant to keep them in in­de­pen­dent lay­ers as well as their prop­er­ties or fil­ters. This will en­able a more man­age­able pro­ce­dural file, sen­si­tive to any ad­just­ment that must be made. for this I used many masks, to be able to paint in­side the masks, mak­ing the nec­es­sary ad­just­ments.

05 Back­ground cre­ation Be­hind the 3D mod­el­ling I built a back­ground to com­ple­ment the com­po­si­tion, mak­ing a lay­out with dif­fer­ent images, I built the back­ground fo­cus­ing on the de­tails of the parts vis­i­ble in the com­po­si­tion.

06 Add re­al­ism I add el­e­ments and I ad­just them de­pend­ing on the depth and po­si­tion within the com­po­si­tion. It’s im­por­tant to con­sider the at­mo­spheric val­ues that will mark the dis­tances be­tween the el­e­ments and ad­just­ing them so that they have a co­her­ent pro­por­tion be­tween them. This will bring re­al­ism to the con­cept, which is the ob­jec­tive.

07 De­tails as I pro­gressed, I added more de­tails fo­cus­ing on the medium level of com­po­si­tion, which is the main nar­ra­tive el­e­ment of the image and, there­fore, should look more dra­matic and vis­i­ble. Per­son­ally, it is in the medium level where I fo­cus on de­vel­op­ing my con­cept art.

08 Wa­ter and is­lands for this step I added a ref­er­ence image of a place in my na­tive coun­try, colom­bia, where dif­fer­ent wa­ter chan­nels and is­lands are dis­played, and us­ing the per­spec­tive tool, I ad­justed the image to the ref­er­ence lay­out. Us­ing a mask in pos­i­tive value, I mixed it with an­other se­ries of ref­er­ence images as you can see in step 9.


More ref­er­enc­ing Us­ing ref­er­ence images of wa­ter­falls and jun­gle I cre­ated a new lay­out above the layer that con­tains the chan­nels and is­lands, so that by means of masks in­serted in the lay­ers you can dis­cover when paint­ing, in­ter­est­ing ar­eas that have been com­bined.


High­light in­ter­est­ing el­e­ments To ob­serve the com­po­si­tion a bit bet­ter, I added el­e­ments in the fore­ground, which will be darker due to their prox­im­ity to the cam­era. These el­e­ments pro­vide a feel­ing of greater depth, com­ple­ment the com­po­si­tion and also must be strate­gi­cally lo­cated in or­der for me to use them as vec­tors of force that will help to high­light the el­e­ments of in­ter­est in the com­po­si­tion.


Bal­ance el­e­ments as I go for­ward I bal­ance the el­e­ments us­ing the Lev­els tool, which I al­ways use with a black-and-white open layer over the oth­ers so that I can ac­ti­vate and de­ac­ti­vate it at any time. It en­ables me to vi­su­alise the proper han­dling of at­mos­pheres, that is, the proper han­dling of greys.


Paint the sky Us­ing a soft round brush and tak­ing a sam­ple of one of the lighter shades of the sky, I painted dif­fer­ent at­mo­spheric val­ues to gen­er­ate greater depth and achieve the tonal­ity of the com­po­si­tion.


Bal­anc­ing light and as­sets Hav­ing the uni­fied tonal­ity, I added more el­e­ments to the com­po­si­tion to give it a more re­al­is­tic fin­ish. Here I am al­ways con­sid­er­ing the han­dling of the light and the han­dling of the at­mos­pheres de­pend­ing on the lo­ca­tion, to con­serve the depth achieved in the com­po­si­tion.


Add birds I used Lookup fil­ters to gen­er­ate colour corrections ac­cord­ing to the sen­sa­tion I wanted to gen­er­ate. I high­lighted the bright­ness of the moun­tains in the mid­dle plane and I man­aged to give the image warmth. Like­wise, I added birds, to give it move­ment and us­ing a soft brush I high­lighted the en­trance of the light that I had lo­cated in pre­vi­ous steps.

I added el­e­ments in the fore­ground, which will be darker due to their prox­im­ity to the cam­era. These el­e­ments pro­vide a feel­ing of greater depth, com­ple­ment the com­po­si­tion and also must be strate­gi­cally lo­cated

15 Cre­ate at­mos­phere To achieve a greater in­te­gra­tion of the el­e­ments I used at­mos­pheres fo­cused on the base, merg­ing them as part of the en­vi­ron­ment, al­ways ver­i­fy­ing their pro­por­tion and positioning. This is a very im­por­tant fac­tor in VFX since the su­per­vi­sors look for re­al­ism and co­her­ence in the art di­rec­tion.

16 Post-pro­cess­ing I used the tools color Lookup and the raw cam­era, which are fun­da­men­tal for me when I want to fin­ish bal­anc­ing tex­tures and ma­te­ri­als. ad­di­tion­ally, I added the ‘grain’ and the chro­matic aber­ra­tion to sim­u­late the re­sult of a cam­era, I did it in a sub­tle and del­i­cate way so that I won’t lose any depth to the con­cept.

17 Fi­nal thoughts achiev­ing the re­al­ism of the image is key for cin­ema, espe­cially for the VFX artists. for this rea­son, if you are seek­ing to spe­cialise in VFX for cin­ema, you must train the eye, you must learn pro­fes­sional pho­tog­ra­phy. In this case I have used a spe­cific an­gle and lens. I have used a 3D pro­gram to help me to play with per­spec­tive, com­po­si­tion and a lens as a guide to help me add tex­ture, lights, shad­ows, fil­ters, all in a co­her­ent form to achieve the re­al­ism that I wanted.

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