Saturday, June 30, 2012

Forest in Maya

Is it real or is it digital? This image was created in Maya, Mental Ray, Paint Effects, Onyx and Zbrush by Alex Alvarez. It will be part of an upcoming instructional DVD from Gnomon Workshop.

21 comments:

bzyglowi said...

Impressive! You can still tell it's digital, but only because it has that slightly-too-crisp, very precise edges you also see in the super-realistic video games. I'd be interested to see something like this animated/in motion, to see if it still maintained the same illusion of reality.

Charles Valsechi said...

Looks good, seems to be lacking realistic color variation.

Agapetos said...

[Not related to this post]
Hi James, I just read this article about scientists that fed colored liquids to translucent ants. I thought it might interest you.

pierangelo boog said...

Boring patchwork. Trees are too straight. Shadows of the trees
the same: not credible perspective in their position. Above all, these
black "Photo Shadow" generate this tedium. The eye is not looking imitated, it is the Photoaparat.
Beware of the mosquitoes! And where is the staffage figure, the painter
amidst real nature? Karl Spitzweg would swear terribly!

K_tigress said...

That's pretty wild. Last time I used Maya I made some backgrounds that looked like something from a Donkey Kong Nintendo64 game.

Rich said...

It lacks a certain variety of greens.

Anonymous said...

The dirt kinda gives it away. Too shiny. Still, this is very impressive.

Erik Davis-Heim said...

If this came up on a page of google image results for "forest" or appeared in a couple frames of a movie, I doubt anyone would pick up on it being totally digital.

Whatever the artistic implications are, its certainly impressive as a piece of mimesis.

Stephen Henderson-Grady said...

Interesting. I wouldn't immediately peg it for a digital image. Looking at it, though, the fact that it is very difficult to differentiate shadows falling on surfaces from physical objects that are dark in color makes it less than appealing. The light is not as robust as the real thing, though I imagine top minds are working on the problem even now.

Maria Mercer Adams said...

Impressive, I agree with a lot of the above comments, but give them time. Before long we won't be able to distinguish virtual reality for reality! Just what we need, eh? Have you ever thought about digitally creating your models as opposed to clay? I wonder if it takes more or less time? Not being a 3D artist I am not terribly familiar with Maya, Zbrush or the like. Attempted to work in Zbrush once... it was at least fun, though I had no idea what I was doing.

vlad74 said...

You can say it is cg - still good work. Have a look at this James. Now this is impressive:

http://www.behance.net/gallery/Battle-of-Grunwald/3944653

twanski said...

Perennial problem with CG renders (even from pros): get out and walk in the forest! You'd see considerably more contrast, way more colors and much greater complexity of shadows. What really bugs me though is this overall dreary underexposure.

vlad74 said...

The result of a 3d render nowadays really depends on the artist who creates it. It has infinite possibilities. I am 3d artist myself and I can say you can achieve amazing results if you know what you are doing. One of the problems is that most of the 3d artists are more trainer on the technical side of things instead on the artistic one.

James Gurney said...

These are all really perceptive observations. I was impressed with the naturalness of the foliage textures, but what caught my eye as needing work was how straight the cast shadows from the trees laid across the path. The trees aren's straight, nor is any forest path level, so they'd be much more uneven.

Vlad, you said it. The 3D render can match a photo look, where the lack of color variation and black shadows might be what the artist was after. To match the way such a scene would look to a plein air painter observing with the eye, there would need to be much more variation in the green and more open darks. Then again the 3D render could be taken in all sorts of other artistic directions, such as the cool stuff the Blue Sky Studios people are doing with their WIP "Epic."

Vlad, I've seen that 3D reconstruction of the battle scene. Any way to embed/share that video?

vlad74 said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
vlad74 said...

Hi James
Yes if a plein air painter has the necessary 3d skills the result will be a lot closer to a real painting. Didn't know about "Epic" Looks really promising.


I tried to embed the video of the battle but it didnt work. Here is the link to the you tube video:

Battle of Grunwald in 3D

twanski said...

Hey guys, you may also be interested in this: http://www.cgarena.com/archives/interviews/rodSeffen/index2.html I think it goes with Vlad74's link about a 3D painting reconstruction.
This artist, Rod Seffen, also has quite a nice 3D portrait of a girl, http://www.3dtotal.com/index_gallery_detailed2.php?id=3198
While he is not mimicking reality per se, he has a good eye for painterly kind of detail and color.

Gregory Lee said...

Since digital techniques can be used to reproduce images of real things, I wouldn't know what my answer to the question "real or digital?" would mean. Could some of the textures used have been derived by clipping from photos of real objects? Is the scene more like a painting or more like a collage?

gutekfiutek said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
gutekfiutek said...

@Gregory Lee
Plant photos (textures) are used mostly for leaves and bark.
Check cgtextures.com - this webpage is widely used by cg artists.
Some people model single leaves, but in such scene this would be a little bit suicidal:)

Problem in CG art is that lots of people in this industry don't have any artistic skills at all.
I think 80% of people working as CG artists have very little knowledge about art - they just are good craftsmen - "3d software operators" as I call them.
Creating such 3d scene requires only time, work and craftsmanship - little of "art skill" is needed.
That is main reason for lack of green colour variation in this picture.
Computer really does everything for you - ambient occlusion, global illumination, shadows, translucency, light settings etc.
Artists don't even need to think about materials - material libraries have everything - from "leaf material" to "slightly rough acrylic wallpait":)
CG artist don't need to thing a lot - it's enough if he will follow tutorials and use proper tools.
There are scripts for making trees
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TrrQBDs1Xx8
and even placing ivy on trees http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4UFuix0ofHo

Mr. Gurney - you can check realtime ingame forests - for example from Crysis game
http://forums.legitreviews.com/images/random/crysis.jpg
Much more impressive than still picture:)
Crysis is reason why many CG artists make jungle environments.

I made mod for game Mount&Blade some time ago - native game environments look ugly, game engine is really old, but still I managed to make something acceptable with really low resolution textures and simple models.
http://picasaweb.google.com/100258816943860729756/PolishedLandscapesMod

Jerry Boucher said...

I'm a illustrator who uses 3D and wholeheartedly agree that many people in my line of work are technical rather than creative. This means that we tend to get images like this scene, which is mimicry of a sort, but not born of observation. As such, the same mistakes get repeated year after year - epsecially in terms of the way light is handled. Sure, the software can mimic some of this but without a core of understanding and observation driving it along the end result is somewhat flat and sterile.