This blog is a platform where I like to share my inner world of illustration. Here’s a post about something different. It’s about what I do as a 3D concept artist. I thought it might be interesting to share the process. How a commercial project unfolds.
I was brought on by Virtual Point LTD to art direct a spot for VISUfarma’s eye care product. And we dove into the strange world of the iris surface. This is the dramatic tale of what occurs when our eye get’s dry. Ta da dam.
First thing’s first. I read the script and sketched a storyboard (Photoshop).
Our eye surface looks like an alien planet. I had no idea.
I learned that when it comes to describing the details of the intricate microscopic anatomy of eye cells, there’s a lot of guess work involved. Since even with the best microscopes we can’t really see these small cells. Not without morphological profiling (that is…painting them) Otherwise the cells are completely translucent. You’d want the cells transparent. Anything else would not allow vision to accur.
So I had the great privilege of depicting the surface of the human eye. I love drawing eyes. It’s the first thing I draw when I illustrate faces. So needless to say, I was all over it.
After the storyboard is approved by VISUfarma (aka – the client). It was time for the Animatic. To see if the story was comprehensive and to set timing for the animators. I used After Effects.
And then, when the timing felt right it was time to bring the pencil colored frames to life. Style frames.
The look and feel part. My favorite bit. I began with the first frame. The hero. The actual eye.
I received a human head model and tweaked the eyeball to get maximum detail. Added the eye moisture and eye lashes. After the modeling tweaks it was time for texturing. Watch the video to see the process. I made a little test animation. It could be better…But I was in a hurry and lacking render power.
I know….yummy! (color and specular texture)
Now it was time to render the actual surface. The alien planet! So I learned that corneal epithelial cells have millions of tentacles decorating their surface. They’re tiny and transparent. Their job is to keep the liquid in and keep the eye moist. After receiving a model from animator Alon Avrani, I did some research and came to this conclusion.
And here is what it looks like when eye cells go bad. That’s when you get some dry eye going on. The browns are the dying cells, as dry as can be. A red eye is underway.
The client thought this was too bleak and gloomy. Of course I like bleak. But I tried some other approach. A lighter and more colorful scenario.
Above the surface of this alien planet is a network of molecules. The cure. Eye drops with a special healing drug. No one really knows how this liquid looks like in molecule mode. So this was another render illustrating the look and feel of a drug carrying liquid network.
And here is the molecule network closer up. The client wanted the eye drops to look like a dense network. capable of keeping stable form and land softly on the eye surface where it disposes the drug and heals the injured cells.
Next up is what happens when we reach the actual cells. The mitochondria of the cell is the energy source. When a cell looses it’s vitality the floating organisms shift slowly and the activity almost ceases. When VISUfarma’s drug penetrates the ocular surface down into the cells, the mitochondria reignites like an engine brought to life. So I rendered the atmosphere to shift from cool colors to warm bursting hues. Mimicking the resurrection of the sick cell. The model was handed to me again by the talented Alon Avrani.
The images were rendered in Maya’s Mental ray. In retrospect I would have probably chosen Arnold. I shift from one render engine to another depending on time and computer power. The final images were done using Photoshop.
That is the gist of it. The concept frames were handed over to the animators and I went back home for dinner and relaxation. That is where my job ended and the real work began.
Well to be fair. I hung around the animators and helped out a little. Mostly I gave them a headache, since they were now handed the look the client approved and it was their role to deliver it fully animated. Not an easy task. I’d love to hear how other art directors develop their style and work with a team of animators. So feel free to comment and add to the discussion in the comments or contact me personally via e-mail.
Unfortunately I can’t present the final spot here since I’m under confidence agreement. I will keep you posted if this ever changes.
To conclude. Rendering the human body is a trip into the surreal. As an artist it’s great fun interpreting this wonderful world with free artistic licence. I have designed other body parts, and not all of them were such a treat. Between art directing projects of polip procedures and vaginal contraction methods I confess projects such as the human eye are a true bonus.