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Omar Frare - My Best Projects

Omar Frare
by omarfrare on 1 Jun 2024 for Rookie Awards 2024

Hello everyone! My name is Omar Frare and I am a 22-year-old student at Side Academy in Verona, Italy. I was looking forward to submit my portfolio of this year and participate in this cool contest. I hope you all enjoy it!

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With great joy I present to you those that have been my best projects during my studies so far. The more I continue my journey in the world of CGI, the more I develop a particular passion for creatures and characters, and these are the projects I did during my studies at Side AcademyI really want to keep improving and discovering new ways to do cool things, and I hope this is just a starting point. The various projects will be presented based on those that I believe can best demonstrate my real skills and abilities.

This project is my last project that started on March 4th of this year. I am very satisfied with the final result especially considering the short time available to complete it. My deadline is June 01, day that coincides perfectly with the closing of this contest!

 I started from a concept created by my teachers and then with their help I developed what will be the final look of my character.

I started from organic modeling in Zbrush and then went on to create all the various props using mainly the Zmodeler of Zbrush and Maya.

To have a displacement base to start from, I wrapped a scan from “3D ScanStore” around my monkey model with ZWrap. After that using a workflow based on the layers in Mari, I was able to transfer the scan details to the UVs of my character and then apply them in ZBrush.

Map Transfer from the Scan to my Character's UVs

What you see up here in the slider is the result obtained simply by transferring the details from the scan, which is also what I used as the base mesh at the beginning of the sculpting process. For pores and wrinkles I used good old-fashioned sculpting, as I did not have suitable scans.

I did the grooming in Houdini separating all the hair sections according to the props and armor. This was the part that gave me the most satisfaction because, in addition to having fun creating the hair of my character, I created a system to scatter some dirt and some leaves on all the groom using the Curveu Attribute and rowing it to my liking.

Another thing I did was to use the character's props as Collider and turn them into Bounding Box in a Node Group in order to select the hair that ran through them. Then I used a Blast Node on the selected parts of the hair to delete the interpenetration between hair and armor.

Before starting the texturing I created all the Utility Maps of the body and also of the various props on Substance Designer. I made the Bakes of Ambient Occlusion, Thickness, Cavity and I created Variations of Normal and Displacement starting from those exported by Zbrush. Then just to have more variations I made some Bakes in Mari.

In Mari I worked separately on the various parts according to the material and the UV arrangement. I started working on Lee Kong’s body and all the organic parts, adding  a more defined layer of handmade folds and wrinkles and a layer of Micro Displacement projecting TexturingXYZ Scans to the displacement I first exported from Zbrush. I then exported the three layers as Multi Channel Displacement.

Mari Nodes for the Body

Diffuse and Roughness Maps

Mari Nodes for the Props

I reassembled everything and worked on the Dev Look of my Character in Arnold.

In this video there are all the Turtables rendered in the phase of Look Dev, with also the various render passes of Clay, Uv and wireframe.

One of the last things I did was pose the character, which I did in Zbrush. For the pose I took a lot of inspiration from Caesar from the saga of "Planet of the Apes" of which I am a big fan (if it was not clear from my project so far).

Then in Houdini I transferred the groom from the A-Pose to the Pose with a Guide Deform Node and with another Guide Groom Node I went to fix the guides again directly posing, to make them behave physically and correctly, even though I didn’t simulate them.

After rendering all the necessary turntables requested by my teachers I had fun creating integrations of my character with different lighting and settings in Nuke.

"Tonowari" is a project I had been assigned at the beginning of 2023 during my second year of studies and the film "Avatar: The Way of Water" which sees among its protagonists my character had just come out in cinemas.

This presented a significant challenge in gathering initial references, as there were no clear images available online. However, my fondness for the film drove me to revisit it multiple times, aiming to capture as much detail as possible.

With the teachers of Side Academy, we decided to pose it early enough to break the symmetry and anatomically seek the shapes of various muscle groups. Of course, it's a consciously different approach from what we would adopt for a character that will later be animated.

For the details of the skin, especially the details of the face, I used the so-called "Killer Workflow" by Texturing XYZ. This method consists of applying a photoscan of a human face with all its details to another model, using the maps provided by TexturingXYZ, Zwrap and XNormal.

For the texturing part, I utilised Substance 3D Painter, and I must admit I had a lot of fun, especially with creating the skin. To create the tattoos, I used Photoshop to generate alphas by tracing the reference tattoos. Then, I applied them as stencils in Substance to establish a starting base.

Before making the braids in XGen, I created a mesh of Tonowari's hair, which included numerous braids, a bun on the nape, and loose hair on the shoulders.

To create braids on Xgen:

- I began by aligning the three "caps" of the braid sections with the head mesh;

- I used the braid's "cap" as a scalp reference;

- Selected all the edgeloops forming the braid's length, converting them into curves and adjusting the points to penetrate the "cap" area;

- Converted the curves into guides and employed them to generate hair;

- Adjusted the hair's thickness, noise, and other attributes.

For rendering, I used V-Ray from Chaos Group. I set up multiple cameras for still shots and various turntables, configuring render passes and layers in Maya. This enabled rendering of turntables for the beauty, clay, wireframe, and UV versions.

I composited in Nuke, separating passes with a Shuffle node to modify them individually before merging them into the beauty. Below, you can find an example of the process I used for the Emissive pass.

This was a grooming exercise that lasted about a week that I did to delve a little deeper into grooming on Houdini. The model has now been used several times and is the site of Ziva Dynamics, including muscle simulation and walk cycle.

I found out that I have a fondness for the grooming and furry parts of characters and creatures, due to this project.

For the mane I used 3 different layers of Clumps very different from each other, playing especially with the parameters of Fractal and Curl. Above you can see the three layers with the Climp ID and the final result in Houdini's viewport.

"Willy" is a school project I participated at Side Academy. It is an animated short that has among its main themes cyberbullying and inclusion. In particular I took care of the whole texturing part of the six characters. 

I did all the textures in Substance Painter and I must say it was fun because it was the first group project we students did. It was also very satisfying to work on making sure that all the assets and characters were consistent and appeared with a single, iconic style.

It was the first time that I worked on subjects in the style of cartoon and especially aimed at being rendered on Unreal Engine 5, a render engine that has a shading system and materials different from any other.

I am very happy with these projects and to have had the opportunity to share them with all of you and to have participated in this Contest! In a special way I wanted to thank for their excellent reviews and advice Riccardo MeneghelloValeria Niculita, Andrea Calgaro and for putting up with me Leonardo Pilat and Ulisse Caputo.

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