The Making of Future bandits

by Dawid Michalczyk

    Future bandits was my first attempt at making something serious with 3D Studio Max. I started working on it in 3DS Max 1.2 and ended in 3DS Max 2. My main source of inspiration, was a huge construction site which took place just outside of my previous working place. Every day on my way to and from work I would always look for some interesting aspects of the site. Like how the site changed over time, new machines , how the light affected the surfaces of the various materials at different times of the day, etc. I always found something which I could use in my scene, I would just twist it a bit to give it a bit more futuristic look. This image was done over a period of about 3 months, working during weekends mostly.

3D tunnel

The very beginning.. no lights, just the main construction.

3D crane

Building the crane

crane and tunnel

First lights come to play. Looks atmospheric..

3D scenery

Since in the back there will be a relatively light orange sky, I changed the background to the color similar to this future sky. This gives better indication of how the image will look without having to draw the sky map right away. It also gives you a better idea how the objects 'behave' in relation to each other, now that the background is different (Note, how the 'feel and look' in this shot changes compared to the one above, with black background). Additionally, the body of the air-vehicle is already here, being the main motive, lets you think of how to arrange the rest of the image around it.

adding some hardware..

..and more hardware. Note that most of the shadows look weird. This is intentionally to save rendering time. The majority of the lights here are shadow mapped, with some fast to render settings. At this stage of development it is important to create just enough(the base) of the overall 'feel and look' of the image, without going much into details.

While working on an image I often do some very rough sketches of the next stage on top of the latest rendering. This helps the visualization process, and gives you a better idea of eventual changes to make, without ending up doing unnecessary work in 3D.

The building in the back comes to play with some hazing. Note how much depth this creates. Suddenly the foreground 'jumps' to the front while objects farther away fade away, making the whole image much more dimensional and natural looking.

The first sky map with wrong settings. Experimenting with first windows on the building in the back.

rendering volume lights

Experimenting with the render intensive volume lights. In situations like this, to minimize the rendering time, it is good to isolate the most affected objects and work on them separately, instead of the whole scene. Here, because of the overlapping of the volumes of the lights, the test renderings took long time to calculate.

notes on top of the 3D rendering

Now, the dusty light rays illusion is in place. Note how this affected the whole image, which suddenly got a brighter and a more dynamic feel to it. Furthermore, the whole atmosphere of the image got a bit dramatic, and the afternoon look got enhanced. At the bottom left you can see my notes which point to things which need to be improved, I do this a lot.

wireframe shot of the 3D scene

A wireframe shot. About 90% of my working time is spend in wireframe mode.

.. and the final rendering. Take a look at the previous shot and note the subtle differences. Some areas got darker, some areas got higher contrasts, yet other stayed the same. At this final stage, all the small twisting, improving, adjusting or simply put it polishing the tiny details 'makes' the whole image.

    Some technical information:

    faces: 800 000+
    objects: 2500+
    lights: 26
    materials/textures/maps: 40+
    software: 3DSMax2 and Photoshop 4
    rendering engine: default scanline
    rendering time: about 2.5hrs (800x600px)
    hardware: Pentium Pro 180Mhz, 64Mb RAM, no 3d acceleration

Dawid Michalczyk is a freelance illustrator and an artist. To see examples of his artwork and writings visit his website at http://www.art.eonworks.com
Copyright © 1999 Dawid Michalczyk. All Rights Reserved. This content may be copied in full, with copyright, contact, creation, information and links intact, without specific permission, when used only in a not-for-profit format.

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Top 9 images

      1. Ancient giants
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      3. Endless opposites
      4. Planet scape
      5. Edge of perception
      6. Starry evening
      7. Future bandits
      8. Epsilon hunter
      9. Singular ambience

New in gallery

new artwork in gallery

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