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Bad dream

“Bad dream” by Dorian Bushi
This image won the first prize winner of a competition,(Simply 3D World site) whose goal was Lightening & Rendering Atmosphere.
As this is a making of article, I’m not gona cover every step of the whole process. I assume you have some basic knowledge in 3D in general, and basic to intermediate level for all the 3ds max users.
First, I’ve created my concept sketch and focusing better the idea for that challange.
I wanted to play most with lightening and atmosphere. I put the baby there to give more expression to the whole situation.

For me it’s better way to start modeling from simple shapes, using box modeling technique. So I started modeling the head from a simple box. It’s better to study your model first and find how many divisions the box need, to get the look of the face better and faster. That’s why I recomand to start always with the simplest shape, and adding details gradually.

A very important fact to consider is the modeling flow. I’m talking about the way you build the surface; edge loops/edge rings.
Ok, after dividing the box several times, I converted to editable poly, and started adding details. Although I was dealing with a complex organic modeling, the tools I’ve used were very few. 3ds max has a very robust polygon toolset. 90-95% of the work was done using few 2 or 3 tools.( cut, extrude, bevel, weld). Cuting here and there, I’ve modeled the face of my character. I built the mask using surface pach technique. Drawing splines first, and than adding the surface modifier.

Going this way, I’ve modeled the body. Starting from a simple shape/ turning to poly/ and adding detail with the tools I’ve mentioned before.

Now that I’ve finished the modeling, it’s time to skin it. I can, this way make it pose, maching my concept drawing.
I built a ferely simple scheleton rig with max standart bones and added some simple controls for the limbs.
I added the skin modifier on top of my poly surface first, and then all the bones of the scheleton rig.

As soon as the skin phase is finished, it’s time to do some texture work!… I added Unwrap UVW modifier and started pulling and pushing the UV’s, trying to make them as flat as posible. It’s good way to be in sub object mode, so you can see directely in the viewport, all the polygons you select in the UV editor.

After I opened photoshop, I imported a screenshot of the UV’s, and started painting the diffuse map. I wanted the skin to be smooth and translucent, so I don’t need to create a bump map for the skin. recommendation:

To maximise the realism of your 3D characters we recommend to use high quality human photo textures from the #1 texture website

I’ve created a spot light. I added a Volume light to Atmospheres & Effects rollout.
The shaders played very important role in what I was trying to achive for the skin look. For achieving what I had in mind, I need the light to bounce around to create that soft and warm look I was looking for. I used mental ray render, because it can do Global illuminations & Final Gather calculations. Another important reason for using mental ray was the fact that it supports subsurface scattering effect; very important for creating the soft and translucent effect I was looking for the skin. Here is a test I’ve done using the ellements mentioned before,(volume light & translucent effect).

For achieving the translucence, I recomand everyone to play with these shaders and find its own way to do the SSS effect. It can be achieved interesting looks playing with those parameters.
Mental ray for max comes with different SSS shaders. I chose the SSS Fast material(mi) shader. I’ve started playing with the parameters of this wesome shade offer, trying to get the trenslucent look of the skin. One important fact is the number of samples for this shader. The higher the better, but consider that this slows down the rendering process.

In the Overall diffuse coloration, I put the diffuse map created in photoshop before and hit render again to see what is going on.

After that I worked with the enviroment, adding small rocks, grass, and bush. All was done modeling simple poly shapes, dublicating and scattering all over the scene. recommendation:

To maximise the realism of your textures we recommend to use high quality photo textures from the #1 texture website

I added some more spots and omni lights in the scene. With all the lights setup in the scene it was time to add the Global Illuination affect. On the rendering panel, in Indirect Illumination tab, I’ve turned on Final Gather, lower the samples, turned on Preview No Precalculation(for fast preview) and hit render. The rendering proces becomes much longer now.

I’ve played with samples number for Final Gather trying to get the best result and an optimal rendering time. For the final image I’ve rendered different passes and imported them in photoshop. This teqnique allows you to have more flexibility in compositing later.

Here are some of the main passes.
I used photoshop for doing some tinny color corections. Here is the final image.

Hope I’ve been as clear as possible, explaining the way for creating this image. Thank you for the care and patience. Hope to be useful.

About Dorian Bushi:
I graduated in 2001, Academy of Fine Arts in Tirana majored in Monumental Painting; Winner of first prizes in several national competitions and participant in meny international figurative exhibitions. After graduation I started to learn computer animations, improving 2d,3d and compositing skills. Interest: character animation and visual effects. Active participant in several CG competitions and winner of the first prize in Simply 3D World competition. Actually I work in television as a 3d artist doing 3d animations for media and commercials.
(c) Dorian Bushi,

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