In this tutorial I will talk about creating the Dublin Chapel image. I will go through each step, from sketching up to the final image. This illustration is a part of the set of images created for a competition. As the name suggest it is located in Dublin, Ireland.
Most of the images I have created are based on matte painting techniques. This workflow speeds up the delivery process and adds a lot of richness to the image but of course the key is to have a good selection of clipart and good Photoshop skills. Using a graphic tablet is essential to this technique. I am using 3ds Max, V-Ray and Photoshop. The 3d model for this particular project was provided by the client.
This is a very important part as this is what client sees first and if you get this right and achieve “THE MOOD” then the rest is easy. Most of the time I have been given freedom with the camera selection and lighting, but then you need to take into equation some key points such as the purpose of the project, project location, client requirements (if any). The sketches contain all those aspects. Visual and written/spoken feedback should give the client a good selection of images to choose from. At this stage I do not care about the details like shaders or correct mapping/unwrapping. Most of the time I bring the raw renders from Max and clipart to Photoshop. At this stage details in Photoshop are also not important. I just want to show the mood/context. Below you will find some sketches I did for this project.
I lived in Dublin for over 3 years a few years back so I know how extraordinary the weather there can be and I wanted to use it in my work. The quick look around in Google maps street view helped me to get familiar with exact project location. This particular view contains 1 HDRI dome lighting and 2 scaled Vray sphere lights. For main HDRI image (great one I got from Piotr Truszczy?ski - Thank you Piotr:)) I have increased the gamma to get even softer shadows and gradual light falloff on the roof structure.
Below you will find the lights and camera settings.
Materials are very basic. For this particular view the only materials that have some reflection are the metallic roof and the glass. The rest only have diffuse texture because it would not matter at such a distance from the camera. I knew I will do many adjustment and the surroundings in Photoshop.
I did not want to spend much time on scene optimization so I put 32 subdivision on all reflective materials and lights and let the computer to do the job. The print screens you see here are taken from V-Ray 3.0 but I was using 2.4 at the time I was working on the project. With V-Ray 3.0 speed improves. I would now use BF/LC combination instead of IR/LC although so far I was able to get a decent result with this setup. The rendering at 5000px width took 20 minutes on one of my 6 core i7 machine.
Below are the raw renders and passes I was using to finish the final image. As you can see I did two renderings: one with glass and internal lighting and second without it. It gave me more freedom in Photoshop and additional masks.
When creating final image I tried to be close to the sketch output in terms of mood and composition. As I have mentioned at the beginning I heavily rely on matte painting techniques. Basically it is just like putting the puzzles together. I am trying not to spend too much time on one element. Instead I am putting all elements together, blocking the spaces and then refine each clipart if necessary. Most of the time I use color balance and levels tab to match elements on lightness and color level. Burn and dodge tool are also very handy. I am using those on selected/extracted elements using wire color masks. I spent some time refining metallic roof using blending modes and reflection pass to the point I was happy with reflection level and shadow/light output. The background trees and flower meadow are cloned and blended together. Any repetitions were fixed with smaller chunks of clipart, resized and rotated to give more variation. Below you will find final image creation almost step by step.
That is all. I hope you found this tutorial useful. I guess many of elements can be done in 3D but I would rather spend this time in Photoshop trying to evoke emotion and depth. After all it that is what it is all about, isn't it?:)
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