Lemur Leaf Frog
This is the result of a school project that revolved around the creation of an insect/amphibian and its environment while developing a photorealistic look. I wanted to bring attention to this beautiful species of frog given that it has being categorized as critically endangered.
The Insect Project: The Lemur Leaf Frog
The goal of this school project made from October to the beginning of December of last year was to have our first approach to organic modeling and afterward rendering several moving frames and using the AOVs, so it consisted of choosing an insect/amphibian and then elaborating a whole background around it, keeping in mind that we needed to develop a photorealistic look. The tools used for this project were Maya, Mudbox, Renderman, Photoshop and Nuke.
For this project, I chose the Lemur Leaf frog not only for its peculiar look and classic frog eyes that project curiosity but also because it has been classified as a critically endangered species and every time I start a new project I look to put something I care about into it, which in this case it would be my care for the environment. Nature is so infinitely vast and giving, I feel like it's my responsibility too to keep that vastness, and give back by being conscious about how my actions affect my surroundings.
Even when this was our first approach to sculpting by using Mudbox, I found that the interface was really easy to navigate and as long as you have a good model, everything runs smoothly. The two main challenges I found with this project were first, the composition, and then the environment.
When it came to the composition I wanted the leaf to act as an umbrella for the frog, but at the beginning it wasn't as it is in the image right now but inverted and it looked as if the frog was captured in some way which was exactly the opposite of what I wanted to convey. But thankfully after the guidance of our rendering teacher and a lot of tests I arrived at the spiral composition shown above. When it comes to the environment, I feel like next time I would need to add maybe another or more branches in the back because right now it may feel as if the frog is flying. Also, I would redo the branch, since it lacks the proper displacement variations to feel real, as well as it lacks proper specular details and variations, I feel like the wood, even when wet, should be rougher. I would also add places where water collects and places that are completely dry. And finally, regarding the leaf, I would make it thinner.
A Glimpse at the Process
Another challenge of this project was rendering a video for the first time and dealing with the AOVs. Since it was our first approach, the only requirement was to move the camera. The trickiest part of this step in my case was understanding and achieving a good depth of field outcome with ZDefocus on Nuke. What I would do differently next time is increasing the parallax for the background, as well as adding a subtle glow to the frog and perhaps another grade to darken the parts that are not of interest and removing the bits of noise that remain in the video.
In conclusion, I am proud of the result and I'm thankful for having learned so many things during the process, like the use of UDIMs, sculpting, a different approach to modeling, how to make proper decisions regarding displacement map sizes, rendering AOVs, among others.