Gaea Mountains – LOTR Inspired Concept Painting

I’ve been watching Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power and it got me wanting to create some mountains. I created this quick concept.

So, I opened up Gaea this weekend and did some quick mountains there. Gaea is great. Very intuitive and easy to use with it’s node based system.

Simple node setup

You basically keep adding nodes and moving sliders till you start getting something you like.

Gaea nodes

Once you get shapes then you can apply textures within it as well.

Gaea mountain with textures

You just export out your maps and geometry and bring it into your program of choice. I went into Maya to design my shot.

Maya layout

Here is a simple render using Arnold to test look mountain.

Maya render with Arnold

Once I got the placement of geometry (you can use height maps as another method) in Maya, I exported it all over to Clarisse. Here I added volumes of mist and clouds using VDBs.

Clarisse for final and adding volumes

Here is the final raw render.

Clarisse raw render

I then wanted to add some little character traversing the land, so I exported out a ranger archer character from Mixamo and placed in the scene.

Mixamo Character

Little bit of Photoshop retouching and painting for the final.

Final Quick Concept Painting

A quick little Lord of the Rings-ish Mountain concept painting, definitely not a finished painting but was fun to put together for a few hours.

The Rookies 2022 Winners Announced!!

Well, the 12th Annual Rookies Awards were announced on July 27th!

The Rookies Awards

The Awards are open to young creatives from over a ton of different areas from animation, vfx, concept, games, motion graphics, 3d visualizations, and many many more.

An impressive amount of entries from schools all over the world.

I was able to see some of the entries from New3dge School in Paris France this year.

Four impressive group shorts from the senior show for the 3D Animation and VFX disciplines.

These shorts were very impressive from all the groups. Amazing work from so many students.

Big congrats to Diane Nuty from Tribes group in winning for her Character: Newaya

Congrats to all the 2022 Rookies Winners, Runner Ups, and Applicants!!! There was a huge amount of impressive works this year!!! Can’t wait to see next years submissions!!

Strange World Teaser!

Latest Feature Animated Film from Walt Disney Animation Studios, Strange World!!

It is a total retro pulp action adventure movie about 3 generations of the Clades family and their relationships as they explore this totally unique breathtaking world. Enjoy!!

Here is the teaser trailer

2021 New3dge VFX Graduation Projects

I had the incredible honor again this year of being part of the 2021 VFX Graduation Projects for the Senior Projects at New3dge school.  This year again due to Covid we looked at the students work and met virtually. The school allowed us access to the students’ work, breakdowns, and face time with the groups.  The Senior Projects are a group of shorts that a small group of students (usually 5 to 6) work on as team replicating a mini pipeline as they execute a highly caliber of work. The students of VFX/Animation graduation projects for 2021 were just as impressive this year. They produced really outstanding quality all the while having to work remotely due to Covid. This is no small feat! So much great work and inspirational to see!

It was a great pleasure to interact with each team and talk about their projects and questions. New3dge school is doing a superb job teaching their students to be ready for professional careers in VFX, Animation and Games.

Unfortunately I can’t share the projects that the students worked on yet. The School has them submitted to various festivals. Once I am allowed I’ll share the works with links.

Just like last year, these shorts are worth checking out!

Clarisse 5

This is was released over a month ago, Clarisse 5!

There is a whole host of cool features the Isotropix has been working hard on.

Enhancements in layout set dressing, lookdev, lighting, rendering, and workflow.

I’m still going thru all the various upgrades, but so far they are great in speeding up your workflow and output.

Coming soon, I’ll do some short demos in Clarisse workflow.

For now James Miller’s tutorials on getting started are great.

Affinity Software

There is this relatively new software, Affinity that’s pretty good candidate as an Adobe substitute if you are looking for a non-subscription model. Their current applications are Affinity Photo, Designer, and Publisher. I’m currently most interested in Photo.

You can download them for a 90 trial.

The Affinity Photo has some nice features that Adobe Photoshop still hasn’t addressed over the years. Raw editing, true HDR workflow, and 32-bit workflow.

What’s nice is you can import/export PSD/PSB file formats and it supports ABR brushes, so you can have the best of both applications.

You can see the UI is very similar to Photoshop so working in it it’s hard at all.

The cost of the software is pretty affordable, just $50. You can purchase these apps at a 50% discount now. They are available for Mac, PC, and iPad. It is not a subscription model. It is a single one-off price. You have full capability whether on PC, Mac or Ipad.

Download for free and see what you think. For me the HDR and 32-bit capability alone is worth looking into.

Human Generator for Blender

New “Human Generator” addon for blender allows you to create and customize any character. It allows you to design your character’s gender, ethnicity, body shape, hair, age, clothes, and it’s fully rigged. Cost for the personal license is $68 and $128 for the commercial use. It’s created by Oliver J. Post and Alexander Lashko.

Simple clicks and adjustments to create
Various poses and clothing

Check our this teaser YouTube clip:

For even more information, check out their website: https://www.humgen3d.com/

Pretty easy to use and great for creating a variety of characters very quickly to suit your projects needs.

Maya/Clarisse Bridge 2.0

If you’re used to working in Maya and want something to help you port over files from it to Clarisse this tool is awesome.

Muhammad Etman created it. Here’s the gumroad to purchase if you like what you see. It’s $70 but for what it does it could really speed up your workflow into Clarisse.

What’s great is you can still set things up in Clarisse as you’d normally do but now you have the ability to just send over files you want from Maya easily. Update a camera in Maya, click to send over the camera. If you have a huge geometry set you want to port over now it just takes the push of a button to send it over. Now, you can manually setup your shaders in Clarisse or you can assign an arnold shader in Maya and port that over. Super handy.

Here is a great example of using it for a large scene.

Here’s the UI for it (you can set it up in different viewing modes)

Select the elements you want to port over, click “add” and then send it over to Clarisse. It’s that easy.

Maya file:

Simple click to send over the camera, light, and geometry with shaders

Clarisse file after sending over elements (3 clicks later):

Pretty slick and simple.

Take a look at it and see what you think.

The Shot List

I came across this amazing series on YouTube by StudioBinder. Their YouTube channel goes over everything video and photo production. Their series the Shot List is a must watch on a series of ultimate guides to camera shots, camera framing, camera angles, Depth of field, Camera Gear, Camera Movement, Camera Lens, and Frame Rate. This is a must watch series to increase your knowledge in cinematography and photography. Definitely worth the investment. Enjoy.

If you want to study other movies for their cinematography these two sites are wonderful resources: