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Hob - Good and Bad Faeries

Hob - Good and Bad Faeries

Max McGookin
by maxmcgookin on 23 May 2022

Final project for Belfast Met HND in Visual Effects. Character based on artwork from Brian Froud. Integrating CG character with live-action footage.

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For our class project we were tasked with creating a concept for a live-action adaption of Brian Froud's book, 'Good Faeries Bad Faeries'. Everyone had to go through the characters in the book and each pick one to create a realistic model of, using industry standard techniques and processes. For my character I chose 'Hob', I loved the humanoid but distinctly magical look, and the colourful skin of the character art. 

We then had to chose a filmed plate to plan our shots around, in order to integrate our CG faerie characters with live action footage. I chose quite contrasting shots, with one being a more open, brighter shot and the other being a darker more hidden part of the forest. 

These are my final two composited shots, integrating live action footage and my multi-pass render of my animated character. I'm really proud of my work on these shots, this is my second time going through the entire VFX pipeline by myself, and first time working with an organic, humanoid character. There's definitely loads of room for improvement but I am super happy with how my final project turned out. 

Hob - Breakdown

Below will be a breakdown of the key steps I took whilst creating my project. In order to create these shots, I worked through the entire pipeline process; from researching references, modelling in Zbrush, UVs in Maya, creating a high detailed sculpt in Zbrush, texturing in Substance Painter, rigging in Maya using the Mgear plug-in and ngSkinTools, animating in Maya, using Meshroom to build photogrammetry for accurate ground shadows and rendering with Arnold Renderer. 3D Tracking, rotoscoping, compositing and additional effects were all done using Nuke X. 

Turntable showing off a breakdown of some of the passes used when creating my final character composite.

SketchFab view of my faerie model. Have a look around to see the details of the sculpt and also the topology of the character model. 

Artwork from Brian Froud's book 'Good Faeries Bad Faeries' - on which my character is based. Also a PureRef board for the research and references I looked at when creating my character. 

Sculpting iterations from Zbrush. This was my first time sculpting a organic character and as such it took me quite awhile to actually work through the look I wanted for the character. He had to be realistic but still contain the feeling of the world Brian Froud created. I think the final sculpt could still use work but it was a very productive process, learning lots about the character creation process and also learnt plenty of things I can work on to improve my work. 

Some topology had to be fixed up in Maya and also created UDIMs for the first time using Maya as well. I then took my model into Substance Painter to try and create realistic textures for the blue skin. 

Closer look at some of the sculpted detail from Zbrush and also the detailed character skin texture made in Substance Painter. 

Created biped rig using Mgear. Weight painted using Maya weight paint tools and also ngSkinTools. I then created facial blendshapes using Zbrush and built a face GUI to control it using Maya. 

Rendered character using Arnold Renderer. This contains the RGBA pass, Diffuse pass, Specular pass, Subsurface Scattering pass and also a wireframe pass to show off the topology and rig movement.

Nuke X node set-up for both Shot 1 and Shot 2. Used AOVs from Arnold together with shuffle nodes in Nuke to separate out the different render passes from Maya, I then composited them over the background plate, integrated a shadow matte of the ground using a Maya render layer, added additional effects (reflection in the water for shot 1 and teleportation effect in shot 2), rotoscoped elements in the foreground, added motion blur, grain and graded the final composite.

I hope you enjoy my project and the breakdown of my process. This was my second ever VFX sequence that I created following through the whole production pipeline by myself and my first ever organic creature. I'm super proud of my work and will continue to work on improving as I go on. Would love to hear any feedback you have.

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