Friday, July 05, 2013

It's been a long time, and I've been busy!

Bob the Bunny v2 (Cinema 4D R14 & Adobe Photoshop CS 5.1, 2013)
I know it's been far too long since since my last update. I could list off a ton of reasons, but what matters is that I'm back, I've been busy creating, and I got lots I want to share over the next while!

The picture of the fuzzy bunny above is a project I've been working on for a while now, and one that has been a wonderful learning experience.

It started way back in 2002 when I was spending some time playing with Cinema 4D XL V6 on my old PowerMac. I mostly futzed around on my own, as the web wasn't the wonderful resource for shared learning it is today.

Among my many never-quite-finished projects, I created 'Bob the Bunny' as an exercise in sudivision surfaces (known as hyperNURBS in Cinema 4D). I rendered him out with an incredibly basic set of textures that I hid behind cel shading, and there he sat as an under-fed rabbit on a barren green landscape for 11 years.

Bob the Bunny (Cinema 4D XL V6, 2002)
In the spring, playing around with Cinema 4D R14, I decided to see if I could open some of my old projects. I held little expectation, as eight software versions is a lot of change. But I was pleasantly surprised that my files did in fact open, and that they were still pretty well intact. Opening Bob's project file, I decided he deserved to be brought up to the times, and I set out to see what I could do with him.

I quickly delved into Cinema 4D's Fur and Hair tools, and within little time had laid the foundations of grass and fur (both of which I ended up using the Hair system for). With the help of some wonderful members over at C4D Cafe, I was able to resolve some issues I had with bald spots (need to use lots of hair guides).

It took me quite a while to (and dozens of renders) to get the fur colouring just right, and then I realized that you can't apply depth-of-field to hair in Cinema 4D because it's a post-render effect. After some searching around, I learned that you need to generate the hairs (ie: have Cinema 4D interpret them as polygons) if you want to apply depth effects to them. However, in addition to significantly slowing down Cinema 4D's responsiveness and rendering time, generated hairs also render differently than standard (post-processed) hairs. I ran into an odd but strangely appealing issue with patches showing up in the fur, which once again the people over at C4D Cafe were able to resolve. So I once again had to go through a long process of multiple renders (at 45 minutes a piece) to come up with the look I wanted.

The final render took 2 hours, but I did it as a multi-pass render, meaning that the resulting file has a number of layers and channels representing everything from depth of field, to ambient colours, shadows, and even object masks (buffers). I brought the render into Photoshop tweaked everything until I ended up with the final result above, which I'm quite proud of.

I'd love to what you think - in the comments below, on my deviantART page, or via Twitter.

Despite the wall of text above, I did gloss over much of what I learned on this project. I was actually quite amazed with the amount of notes I took on how to do things. My next post will include all my Cinema 4D notes, so check back soon!

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