Monday, September 30, 2013

3D KITBASH Store is now LIVE!

Very excited to announce that my new website with the 3D KitBash Store is now up and running. While I’ll keep as my portfolio site, the main goal with will be providing professional help to entertainment artists. Currently it got a Training DVDs section that leads to the Gnomon Workshop where you can get my DVDs and the 3D KitBash Store section where artists can purchase a library of reusable 3d mechanical parts that I made for the “Black Phoenix Project” so you can create your own designs. I’ll keep expanding the 3d library with new sets of reusable mech parts, mostly oriented for creating 3d concept art. But I also plan to introduce a series of production-friendly subdivision-based 3d parts for “curvy” and more organic looking shapes.

Also one of the main intentions for launching is creating a series of detailed video lessons on various 3d modeling techniques, digital sculpting and concept design. So stay tuned for more updates! 


Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Nike | Singularity

Couple weeks ago I had a chance to participate in this super fun project directed by Jonathan Berube.
In the past years I was able to learn a lot about design from Jonathan during his art-direction duties on such projects as “Starcraft 2: Heart of the Swarm” cinematic intro. Jonathan’s eye for lighting and image composition is truly outstanding. So it was a no-brainer when he asked if I’d be interested to design a Nike style prosthetic arm. I knew I was in for some good fun and another great learning experience :)

My goal was to stay loyal to original volumes of the actor’s muscles, but introduce enough negative space to make the structure feel light an elegant, while keeping the amount of raw hardware detail to minimum. 

I blocked out the initial shape of the arm in ZBrush using Dynamesh and then brought this sculpt into XSI for a more careful retopo. Simple neoprene perforation pattern was later added in Keyshot using a normal map texture. After recreating basic lighting in Keyshot  I passed renders to Jonathan and he made the final photo-model integration which included the comp, the color grading and the hot green re-coloration of the arm plates.  My initial renders used a yellow car paint for the plates which I thought looked cool at the time, but when Jonathan showed me his hot green version I said to myself: “Alright, you win. Now it does look like Nike haha!”

Check out J.Berube’s  article about the photoshoot on his website:
And an alternative "body" color palette of the arm on his Flickr page:


Sunday, April 14, 2013

Sloth robot and a timelapse video

An idea for a sentinel robot that could be operating either indoor within industrial buildings i.e. warehouses and factories or in outdoor locations using trees or man-made constructions.
I was inspired to make this one after watching videos about gyro-stabilized marksman platform Talon, camera stabilizer Movi and a video of a sloth falling out of a tree.

Since I won't have much time soon to make a proper tutorial I decided to at least record a video of the design process that you can see here:

The speed of the timelapse is set to 250% of original recording speed. During the video(especially towards the end) you'll be seeing details appearing from nowhere. The way it works is that my kitbash library is broken down in-to individual pieces with each of them being assigned to a specific hot-key.
I made a little script that brings a certain piece from kitbash library or even a whole set of pieces in-to the scene and then selects it, so you can plug it in right away into the model. This saves a lot of time and allows to try different things without getting attached too much to the design.


Sunday, March 24, 2013

"Black Phoenix" Project

Questions & Answers 

Hey guys, thanks so much everybody who responded to the website update and a “10 days of Mech” Session. I’ll be slowly updating the other sections of, so keep an eye for upcoming updates!
 Now regarding the “Black Phoenix Project” I received several emails asking about similar things, so I just decided to answer all of them here :)

What is “Black Phoenix Project”?
It’s a working title/name of a series of designs that showcases the product line of a fictional military corporation called “Black Phoenix”. As I mentioned on my website it’s a collaboration with Maria Skotnikova, who ‘s responsible for creating high-res hdr-environment maps I use for lighting. The plan is to make eventually an art-book that would be an album filled with such designs.
Right now it’s still early and I only work on it when have free time.

What is “10 days of Mech” ?
A while ago I saw Simon Lee’s 20 days of Monsters –a sculpting session where Simon created  each day a new sculpture for 20 days and then after seeing his presentation with my own eyes I was really impressed and inspired by his speed and sense for character design. I felt like that was an incredible exercise, something like a boot-camp for an artist J, so since then I always wanted to try something similar but with hard-surface designs done in 3d. So I did a 10 days of Mech session as a proof-of-concept for the workflow I want to use for creating the whole art-book. I also prepared myself for this session with some R&D where practiced a work-flow that is different from a traditional production modeling work-flow.

What software did you use?
Softimage XSI, ZBrush, Keyshot, Photoshop

So what went in-to preparation R&D stage?
Before the “10 days of Mechs” session  I did about 3 weeks total of preproduction where I invested my time in collecting/studying references, setting clear expectations for the style, developing and testing the non-subd modeling workflow in xsi,  building the library of 3d kitbash-details(surface details, guts, etc), drawing a library of graphics/decals and assembling a library of physically-based Keyshot materials. The goal was to get everything I needed for the design exercise ahead of time, so I could be more creative and productive and less tech-oriented during the 10 days session.

How much the style of modeling for these concepts was different from the traditional subdivision modeling for production?
The style of modeling was quite different from production modeling. After being a production modeler for almost 10 years I had to re-educate myself in certain aspects of modeling in order to get more illustration-oriented. The goal was not to practice in modeling but to practice in concept art utilizing 3d as just a tool for outputting images rather than creating a nice looking wireframe that fits production needs. The goal was to use 3d the way that would speed up the process of creating concept art rather than slowing it down. So I tried to minimize using such techniques as subdivision modeling since the clean-up of subd topology and edge-loop refinement takes time. Then I also used all kinds of  “dirty modeling” tricks like Booleans, cutting shapes with knife-tool and stuff like this to quickly get the shape I wanted without getting stuck in tweaking individual vertices. I also used ZBrush here and there but I overall tried to keep my mesh light for a faster render so I used mostly poly-modeling by hand.

Did you use a 3d kit-bash library for repetitive pieces and details?
Yes, specifically for this project I have built my own library of surface details and gut parts, that are generic enough so I could re-use them in different designs. Just like with real-world manufacturing, especially with military vehicles  you can see the same type of surface detailing like hooks, tech attachment types and all kinds of hardware on different tanks, helicopters, etc. So I did the same with the  “Black Phoenix Corporation” where the same style and scale and level of detail was applied to the details so I could quickly combine them in-to new more complex designs.

How much hand poly-modeling vs zbrush?
I’d say 75% was hand-modeling. I used ZBrush mostly for the base shape or to create a form that was trickier to build with polys but was very easy with DynaMesh. I’m looking forward to try making some designs using 100% dynamesh and IMM brushes of ZBrush that are available in newer version of ZBrush

Can we see a wireframe screenshot?
Sure! Here is a screenshot of a scoutdog mesh:

How many  working hours a day did you do during the 10 days of mech?
Those were some long-hours days. Some of them were as long as 16 hours of work with only two quick meal breaks. But since the goal was to stay within a one calendar day per design I would follow a long working day with a not so long day( like 12 hours of work) to catch up on sleep and gym :)

What did you use to render?
I used Luxion’s Keyshot.

What about UVs?
Keyshot provides an automatic UV’s solution for the box/cylindric/spherical shapes which worked most of the time. When I had artifacts I would just fix them in final render in Photoshop .

How much Photoshop work was done on top of the Keyshot render when finishing the design?
The finishing in Photoshop included mostly just applying decals and graphics and a subtle dirt/scratch pass. Also, as I mentioned above I used photoshop for quick post-fixes. But overall I didn’t do that much as there wasn’t much time left for post-work.  Ideally I would like to spend another 3-4 hours just to beat the textures up a little more and also refine the integration of the model with environment. That part definitely could use more work!

Did you use a photo-bash approach to add photographic details of real-world tech on top of the rendered models in the post?
No I didn’t. I usually use this approach when it’s a purely 2d piece or if a 3d base is very simple and doesn’t have much detail. But in case of this exercise the need to use photo-details was eliminated by the fact that I had a full-res model done in 3d and it didn’t require additional details.

When is the book coming out?
I don’t know. Maria continues to find and shoot interesting locations with cool environment and lighting that we can use later for the book. But on my side things move much slower at the moment because I’m very busy with the film work right now. I hope to get more free time in about 4-5 months from here and start adding 2-3 days in my weekly schedule back to “Black Phoenix”.


Friday, February 22, 2013

Hey I got a blog too!

 And here are the first pics. I designed these robogirls about 2-3 years ago when I was one of the beta-testers of Zbrush 3.5. The second image was rendered in Keyshot.