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VFX entry: A snake and a bottle

VFX entry: A snake and a bottle

by JohannesB on 26 May 2020 for Rookie Awards 2020

In this entry I present my new procedural Scale creator tool and the creation of my Contigo.

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VFX entry: a snake and a bottle

This first project showcases my procedural scale creator tool. 

Creating a snake usually involves a painful texturing process as your paint is not linked to your scales. Giving hue variation per scales or even texturing color patterns soon become a nightmare. 

To remedy the problem I decided to create a tool composed of 3 sections: procedural scale placement, paint to scale filter and finally a scale to texture filter. 

Let me first present the result and I will explain furthermore!

This result was created in a very short deadline as my own tool made the creation and iteration process faster. 

Here's the process:

 First of, I use my procedural scale placement to decide how many scales I want on my snake and the general shape of them. This first section is linked to my paint to scale filter that takes this data and transforms it in rudimentary scales

After, I used the paint to scale filter to further customize my scales. This real-time painting tool enabled me to easily change the size and shape of my scales making some smaller around the eyes and some bigger around the mouth.

After this step, I can paint blocking colors on my mesh to drive the next tool, I could also use picture or any other method to create colors on my mesh. (this step is optional as the scale to material tool can create its own colors)

Finally, enabling the Scale to material tool converts the data of the scales and of the colors into a finished snake. This tool gives the user customizable attributes to procedurally modify the height of the scales, the roughness and the color. The attributes give the ability to modify the values per scale and involve some aspects of snakes that are usually hard to get like some color changes on the edges of some scales. The rudimentary color input is now converted to fit with the scales, this color can then be warped to add variation. The list of parameters goes on, in the time lapse below I use quite a bit. These parameters help give a complexity to the input that would be long to get otherwise and harder to modify to the demand of the director. The time that was saved can then be used to further improve the result. In the case of the picture above I didn't add a lot more as the tool got me 95% there. 

Since the workflow is procedural and non-destructive the user can always go back to his scale placement and change it without destroying the work in his colors.

Here's a breakdown showing how I did these steps the create this snake and how I got a snake out of a Budapest hotel picture!

The tool could be easily used to do any type of reptile simply by changing the colors and going back to the first tool to randomize the scale placement furthermore.  As time for a production becomes shorter I see such tools becoming more and more relevant as the user keeps all his artistic freedom while using a non destructive workflow that makes his task and iterations way faster.

In the future I would like to give the ability to the user to export a vector displacement map to accurately create overlapping scales.


Here's my dear friend the Contigo that hydrated me during many projects.. (This is not and ad for Contigo the interior actually rusted and I cannot drink into it anymore) 

Anyway this is more of a linear project that didn't involve fancy tool making.

For this project I really feel like I pushed what I knew in substance designer to be able to create a great procedural material. The texture on the table and the furniture in the back was made entirely with substance designer. Usually I start with a procedural material and I then paint a lot of unique spots to my material but this time I was able to get all the complexity and uniqueness in substance. This tilling material was then simply assigned to  the table and the furniture saving me some time. 

I painted a lot more for the bottle, trying to get all the water and finger stains in the right spot.

I hope you enjoyed my 2 projects, hopefully I'll be able to release my Scale creator tool to the public soon.

Congrats to everyone for their great entries! Let's push the limits of 3D together!

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