Hurry up! Rookie Awards 2023 is closing soon.
Blackberry Hunter

Blackberry Hunter

Matthew Skylar Jetton
by skylarjetton on 10 Mar 2022 for Rookie Awards 2022

This was my Foundation Term final project at Think Tank Training Centre. It's an interpretation of the piece called "Blackberry Hunter" by St. Cygnus that I absolutely fell in love with just before starting school. The piece uses a specular-gloss workflow and was rendered in V-Ray 5 for Maya.

59 2133 6
Round of applause for our sponsors

I followed a relatively standard process, in the beginning, to create "Blackberry Hunter." I started by camera matching the focal length and placement of key components of the scene, in Maya, based upon the real world scale of a typical blackberry (2.5cm - although the entire scene would be scaled up later to help with the subsurface scattering and lighting). After building out a base mesh, I took the scene into Mudbox to sculpt detail. Back to Maya, afterwards, for retopology and UVing the UDIMs for texturing in Mari.

While working on texturing, I began building the lighting for the scene - which ended up being more complex than I initially anticipated. In total, it took 14 lights to recreate the look of the original concept due to the very specific and directional rim lighting. That's probably something I can optimize in the future, haha! I also started plugging in my textures to experiment with the subsurface scattering parameters. The berries were especially challenging since they have different levels of translucency at different stages of development. The final step was creating xgen descriptions and guides for the hair system, which is much more straight-forward than it might seem. The entire look was accomplished using traditional guides, clump, noise and cut modifiers, and relatively simple density maps.

Lastly, I wanted to highlight my textures, since I am pretty proud of them. Everything was built from scratch in Mari using procedurals, some real world textures, and a lot of hand-painting. The skin texture was made by layering several marble procedurals to mimic the different levels and colors of tissue. In the end it looks pretty subtle, but there are four levels of tissue colors and patterning with varying levels of opacity and masking. The fabrics for the rope, burlap, shirt and overalls are a combination of sculpting detail extracted as a normal map and height maps I created in Mari, converted to normal maps and combined in photoshop. In this case, normal mapping was the optimal choice over displacement due to the small level of detail, lighting setup, and the amount of SSS in the scene. The tiled fabric pattern was made in photoshop based on a real-world fabric swatch, which I overlaid on a different weft to give it more visual interest.

The leaves and berries are also a bit more complicated than they may appear at first glance. These required custom roughness maps in place of specular to work with the V-Ray AlSurface Material which gave me an opportunity to make veining and cellular patterns that you tend to see on wild berry plants. I most enjoyed recreating the color variation and weathering you see on plants that aren't cultivated. I spent a lot more time taking pictures of plants than I'd like to admit.

This was a really challenging four (really, six) week project, but I had an amazing time breathing life into this little guy. Thanks for stopping by and checking out my project!

Comments (6)