Desert Tennis - Luigi Marini
Luigi Marini (aka raffyraffy), 49 years old, works as an analyst-programmer in the business field on midrange host (IBM AS/400). Although he does 3D mainly as a hobby, his creations have a distinct professional edge. Luigi has been producing Vue art in a wide variety of styles and techniques. Here he talks about his unique cartoon style, as it appears in his image "Desert Tennis".
First Encounters With 3D
"Cinema and graphic art have always been my main interests.
3D has enabled me to create scenery, environments, structures and spaces in which I can narrate a story, in an easy and inexpensive way."
"My first contact with 3D graphics was 3D studio 3, but I never enjoyed modeling, so it was with World Builder 2 that I really got going. I then became interested in Vue, and eventually bought Vue 3. The interest has grown into passion, and today Vue 5 Infinite is my main 3D application. In addition to Vue, I also use Painter IX for texture work and Poser for characters."
"My love for exploration keeps pushing me to experiment with new techniques. I feel that the cartoon style fits very well my expressive needs. It enables me to be a caricaturist and a fantasy artist at the same time, and allows me the freedom to exaggerate in both visual and narrative ways."
"One of my favorite artists is Mordillo, a great Argentinean cartoonist. I am inspired by his visual technique, his depth and colors, and from the way he fuses together the scene and the story."
"To set up a new scene, I start by placing some simple boxes on the ground as stand-ins for the main objects or characters. This allows me to easily try out different camera angles and to choose the right shot, as well as to do quick tests for lighting. As I go along, I replace the proxy boxes with the real objects."
The Desert Tennis Project
"The biggest challenge in this project was to create a Mordillo-style cartoon atmosphere. I usually use a technique based on IBL. I load a uniform colored image or texture as an environment map, with "Ignore atmosphere on map" checked."
"The resulting strange shadows are perfectly suitable, in my opinion, to a cartoon-style scene. Yes, the texturing is as important as the lighting, but perhaps easier. To find the right light, for me, is the real deal."
"Altogether, this project has taken me about a week to complete, but I worked on it in little bits. The idea took some time to evolve, so only when it has maturated I begun working on it. Normally, I like working on more than one project, so I don't get tired doing the same thing all the time."
Desert Tennis – A Walkthrough
"The basic idea of this image was to show the contrast between a desolate landscape and a mass event such as sport. And what could be better for a desert than a nice game of tennis?"
Step 1: Create the base terrain.
"I blended two simple fractal functions: "Cellular Patterns/Voronoi" and "Perlin Noises/Value", then used a filter function to create a sort of a flat-topped canyon."
Step 2: Texturing the terrain.
"This was rather simple, because I used three preset Vue materials: "Arizona", "Canyon" and "Sand" mixing them together and changing slightly their parameters."
"For the material at the base of ground, I have applied two separate ecosystems: one for the cacti, to strengthen the desert feel, and the other for the tennis-balls. The two ecosystems are very similar, and differ in just a few parameter settings. For the balls ecosystem I created and saved a blank sphere to simulate a tennis-ball and then loaded it into the ecosystem. I then fined tuned the quantity and size of the balls, and most importantly, their distribution on the ground. I used a "Perlin Noises/Value" function to control the variable density, and emphasized the empty spaces between the balls using the function’s filter."
Step 4: Drawing the tennis field with Painter IX and saving it as an alpha mask.
"2D programs are an invaluable aid to 3D artists. I used Painter IX to draw the tennis field and saved it as a black and white jpg image. In Vue, I placed a plane primitive on top of the foreground table mountain, and, in the material editor, applied the tennis field picture as a map to the plane’s variable transparency."
"This is the most important phase. I wanted to accomplish a cartoon-style look, not a photorealistic render. I made a lot of tests to find the right solution for what I had in mind. Using the IBL (image based lighting) Vue feature, it’s possible to light the scene without producing marked shadows, while still getting enough object definition and depth. I loaded a strong yellow toned texture, as "Environment map", upped the exposure and contrast a bit, and checked the "Ignore atmosphere on map" feature. Rendering, of course, was done with GI enabled."
"I like the Vue philosophy: power combined with simplicity. It seems easy, but it isn't. At the moment I still don’t have my own website, so I post my images in the Renderosity gallery, a very meritorious 3D graphics community."
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