CG Repository

CG Repository

by KianBabayi on 31 May 2022 for Rookie Awards 2022

Hello! One of my goals is to produce work that will immerse the viewer in another world. I love to create moody, cinematic imagery. This is a brief detailing of my ongoing journey from being CG illiterate to becoming a production artist.

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Blacksmith's Grotto

I've always been enthralled by the fantasy genre. There's something about it that just feels cozy to me, and keeps me coming back to it. Growing up with The Lord of the Rings, RuneScape, Castle Crashers, and many more, this genre simply spoke the loudest to me, and will likely forever continue to do so.

When I think of fantasy, among the many things that come to mind are the myriad of items that are commonly associated with those types of worlds. Swords, shields, pikes, warhammers, battleaxes, maces, flails, and the like. But surely, there must be a place where an artisan forges these items. Thus, the Blacksmith's Grotto was born.

This is an original piece, featuring the dusty old workspace of a blacksmith.

Maya - Nuke - Substance Painter - Mudbox - V-ray

Above, you can see the contrast between the raw render, straight out of V-ray, and the final composited image. In between, I included some steps along the way, which include grading individual light select passes, adding in atmospheric/fire elements, and final touch-ups. All color-grading and compositing was done in Nuke.

The Castle in the Valley

The type of shots that have always captivated me the most are grand, magnificent establishing shots. Large scale environments, meant to wow the audience, and immerse them in a new world or setting. My penchant for this type of imagery has strongly pulled me towards the discipline of matte painting, and has led me to aspire to become a professional matte painter.

This piece is special to me because it is my first attempt at a full matte painting. As such, it marks my first step towards fulfilling my professional aspirations.

Maya - Nuke - Photoshop

This piece had humble beginnings, starting with a simple concept sketch.

From there, the process of painting began. The painting incorporates several hundred photographic elements, each one adjusted via masks, transformations, and color/value/saturation adjustments, with a spattering of hand-painting here and there. The challenge at this stage was getting a ton of different elements, many of which were photographed at different locations, at different times of day, to look like they belong in one cohesive image.

Next, I went into Maya and created some primitive geometry to project the painting onto. This is also where I set up my static projection camera and my moving camera, with the goal of creating fake parallax.

Finally, the painting was taken into Nuke for projection, final color grading, and compositing  of video elements. Below, you can see my node graph, as well as the projection setup, as seen in the 3D viewer.


Based on a concept by John Frye, this project was a venture into "hero" modeling, wherein the goal was to create a high-quality asset. It was also fun to take an existing concept and tackle the problems that come with translating concept art into 3D. I certainly underestimated the number of design choices that I had to make while modeling this piece.

Admittedly, I probably spent a bit too much time intricately pulling verts on little pieces that, realistically, nobody will ever be seeing. But it made me feel good, and that's all that mattered to me in the moment. Few things soothe my soul as much as smoothly flowing edges.

Maya - Nuke - Substance Painter - V-ray

One of the major challenges of this project was maintaining a smooth, continuous surface across multiple separate panels, each of which had its own density requirements. Throughout the course of this process, the importance of evenly spaced edges and smooth density transitions was mercilessly grilled into every fiber of my being. I learned that edge spacing is king, especially when it comes to curved surfaces. After many long hours of pulling verts, I'm proud to say that there's probably not a single noticeable pinch on this model.

Spaceship Engine Room

Based on a concept by Dallin Bifano, this project was my first introduction to the astonishing results that one can achieve while compositing in Nuke. With a little bit of compositing work, it's possible to totally alter the mood of a scene, and it is immensely helpful for achieving a cinematic look.

Maya - Nuke - Photoshop - V-ray

Similarly to the first entry in this submission, here is a slider where you can see the contrast between the raw V-ray render and the final composited image.

Also, fog makes everything look better.

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