The goal of this project was to create a series of animals at rest, using cross-sections to show the many layers of each unique habitat. I wanted each scene to feel like a surreal diorama, using real textures for the environments and animals, but lit in a photo studio environment.
I start off by doing research and gathering a bunch of imagery for each scene and then I create mood boards. This includes images of the animals from different angles and also the different plants and objects I wanted to incorporate in to each scene. I then move in to the sketch phase to get a sense for each scene’s composition and general color scheme. I prefer to use the Procreate app on iPad because its easy to create many iterations of a scene quickly. When I’m happy with sketches, I move in to modeling and composing the objects within the scene. I mostly use C4D and Zbrush for modeling. I then do a quick lighting pass before adding textures and colors to dial in the mood of the scene. I use Octane Renderer in C4D and the live previewer makes it really easy and fun to try out a bunch of different looks without having to wait for the scenes to render out. Then comes shading and texturing and final tweaks to lighting and environment. I typically use 3D Coat for UVing and texturing because of the auto-UV mapping and the ease of hand-painting textures. I also use Photoshop for creating textures as well. After that, I kick out high-res renders from C4D and Octane and then I composite and color correct in Photoshop.
I love to take on projects that force me to do something I've never done before because that's when I learn and grow the most. This was the first time I had gone for this level of realism in a project and I struggled alot with learning how to create things like realistic looking hair, sub-surface scattering for things like skin and ice textures, and modeling out realistic looking animals in the first took a lot of time and following modeling tutorials I found online. After I finish projects like this, I always feel like they could be better but I'm always appreciative to how much I've learned along the way and what I can incorporate in to new projects in the future.