Demo Reel 2018 - Stellan Joerdens
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Demo Reel 2018 - Stellan Joerdens

Stellan Joerdens
by stellanjoerdens on 29 May 2019 for Rookie Awards 2019

Modeling - Sculpting - Texturing - Shading - Lighting

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I started my Demo Reel during my VFX education at school and finished there my first two projects, ''City Of Thousand Temples'' and ''Garden Golem''. After that I continued gaining knowledge through self studies in several visual effects areas like realistic hard surface and organic modeling and texturing, what enabled me to accomplish my main Demo Reel project ''The Vulture Creature''.

The Vulture Creature

This is my main Demo Reel project. Here I'd like to demonstrate my abilities in creating realistic looking digital creatures. Main applications I use are ZBrush, Maya, Mari, Substance Painter, Photoshop, Arnold Renderer and Nuke.

To get the final result there was, on top of the modeling and texturing process, still a lot of shading work to do. After applying my final texture maps (Albedo, Specular, Roughness, Displacement), the creature did not looked alive. So I started going over every aspect again. Using masks, remapping and color correction notes in Arnold, I was able to not only create a solid SSS (Sub-Surface Scattering) map but also to do all the necessary corrections on all other maps to get the final look.

This is how the diffuse color of the dragon looks like. The texture maps (45 UDIM's, consisting of 4k and 8k patches) were mainly painted in Mari. A lot of detail was manually painted but of course I also used a lot of utility maps (like cavity, curvature, AO - baked in ZBrush) to get the most detail out of my creature. Some aspects were more efficient to create in other tools, so I used Photoshop and Substance Painter as assisting software.

Here you can see the different LODs (Levels Of Detail) of the modeling process. The base was sculpted in ZBrush, starting with ZSpheres and then retopologized in Maya (Step 1). Back in ZBrush I sculpted additional details like muscles and skin wrinkles (Step 2). The final displacement detail was painted in Mari and after that refined by sculpting additional aspects back in ZBrush (Step 3).

City Of Thousand Temples

This project was created in collaboration with two fellow students, David Waldhaus and Marcel Fuzes. I was mainly responsible for creating the vegetation, dynamics (water and smoke simulations) and in addition humans and animals that were used for the crowd simulation. I was also in charge of building various assets and layouting/assembling different parts of the city.

These (and the following) are some of the separate city blocks we created, so it was not necessary to lay out the whole city by hand. We were able to build the downtown part (first half of the camera move) by duplicating and slightly modifying these blocks in a pretty short amount of time. But still to get a more realistic look we manually added a lot of assets. Also the layout of the main frames at the end was done totally by hand to get as close as possible to our concept, a matte painting created by Dimitry Zaviyalov.

The Garden Golem

The whole project, from first step to the final render, was done within 7 days. It is based on a concept art by Andre McIntosh.


These are my final shaded, lit and composited renders. I used ZBrush, Substance Painter, Maya, Arnold Renderer and Nuke to accomplish this project.


Here you can see the different LODs of the model. In the first step I focused on only basic shapes and getting the right proportions (Step 1). After that I started modeling all the small plants on top of the golem and adding some more details to the base (Step 2). In the final step I sculpted on top: stone and plant structures as well as little cracks in the body. The moss/grass was created by using the grooming tool xGen (Step 3).


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