• My work began when I started to draw small sketches of a sea horse, trying to stylize its body shape without knowing exactly what one looks like in too much detail. Later, some divers appeared swimming and stirring around inside the horse and one outside trying to escape his friends’ lot. Such a paradoxical idea seemed interesting to me, and I decided to generate it on the computer. The image was based on one of the most successful sketches I did, and creating it in Maya would let me develop it even further.
    I researched sea horses and sea dragons to get an idea of their color and shape, to understand how their body and skin behaves under different light. I was astonished by the variety and fantasy of Nature and understand now that it is no use to compete with it. All the fish looked just fantastic and some of them were more caricature-like than my sketches.  It did not stop me, moreover it heated my interest to the work.
    I began to make a sea horse. The modeling was not very difficult, and the steps I took can be understood by looking at the above screenshot.
    The picture resembles the pages of the textbook on Biology showing a flow chart of evolution. It is quite pleasant to feel like a creator, ‘…and the next day I made a man!’
    I thought that it would be interesting to show some details of the internal structure of this wonderful beast.
    Now I had everything to make a shader for the sea horse. To get the correct result, the shader should have the effect of Translucency, besides the Subsurface scattering. For Subsurface scattering, I used Misss_fast_Simple_maya, and for effect of Translucency, I used MegaTK shader written by my countryman Mr. Puppet, and I thank him for it very much. Though one could use for effect of Translucency common Blinn with refraction blur or Mib_glossy_refraction. I joined two shaders into a Layered Shader and stirred them in the required proportions. The method I used is definitely not the only one. There is a wide range of possibilities for creative research.
    The idea to use Bump Map and Procedural textures for making eye shaders with fake caustics is not new, but I found this method perfectly fit the cartoon style. Here is my interpretation of a similar eye shader for ‘Horse’.
    The next step was the making of textures for my characters. I drew them straight onto the objects in Maya.
     
  • I used MentalRay Subdivision Approximation to smooth my polygonal sea horse after its render.  I applied a displacement map to the model, overdoing its settings, which gave a more convex and exaggerated result.
    Then I began to fill the scene with the details. The seaweeds and corals, fish, small particles for the imitation of suspended mud, also appeared in the scene.
     
     So I wouldn’t lose the shape of the seaweeds and corals, belonging to Paint Effects, I decided to render the scene in two passes.  Firstly, everything concerning the background: Paint Effects, light fog, seaweeds and corals, fishes, etc. (Maya Software Render).  Then separately, the sea horse itself, which is in MentalRay.  In addition for the following compositing I needed an Alpha channel and ZDepth channels. I rendered them together with the basic images.
      
    I assembled the image in Photoshop and made the solid ZDepth channel, which I used later for depth of field (DOF).
    For recreating the DOF, I applied the Depth of Field Generator PRO from Richard Rosenman. I like the plug-in very much for it’s high quality effect, flexibility, easy settings and absolute predictability of the result. This time it met the needs of the occasion again, showing brilliant results without any artifacts.  This was brilliant, considering there was an incorrect ZDepth channel generated from the Paint Effects in the sea weeds and corals.
    About the Artist.
    Sergei Priymuk  (Postscript) is a CG modeler living in Penza in Russia. His tools of choice are Maya, Photoshop and Zbrush, with a render and lighting kit consisting of HDR Shop and mental ray.


    Related links:
    Sergei Priymuk
    Autodesk Maya

    Pavel Ledin a.k.a 'Mr Puppet'
    Larger version>>
    And here is an anaglyph stereo image as a Postscript that I made using my image and ZDepth, it is seen for more advantage in glasses with red and blue color filters.
      

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