CGNetworks Reader Project Feature

    Khalid Al-Muharraqi, 17 November 2004

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    Having been brought up in the Middle East, I have been exposed to a lot of the traditional ways of life in this part of the world. Additionally, my father is a well known artist who has illustrated various sports of our ancestors, such as hunting. So, as the second generation of a family of illustrators, I took it as a duty to show the world our traditional sports in a new age or with a different eye.

    This Hunting-Toy robot is one of many units designed for the Arabian Desert. I am working on a project based on a Middle Eastern story with a few of my creative friends and this is a demo of that concept. Things might change completely, but you always need to start somewhere!

    The Arabian Desert has a lot of stories anI I have always wanted to combine the culture to a futuristic imaginary look that would be interesting to all nationalities and that’s why Hunting-Toy was created!

    My father’s long history in Arabian illustration has been one of the greatest influences on my work. It helped me to look at things from different angles and understand them better. Also, I have always been inspired and influenced by the Japanese Airbrush artist Soryama, and


    Who is Khalid Al-Muharraqi?

    Art has always been my passion, something I inherited from my father Abdullah Al-Muharraqi, who is an internationally renowned artist and a household name in Bahrain.

    The first medium that I worked with was pencil, followed by ink crocheting techniques and then full-fledged painting at the age of eight. I sold my first illustration, an oil painting, at the age of 11 for US$2000. It was a really good feeling that people were willing to pay so much for my work and it encouraged me to continue to develop my talent.

    More recently, following a formal education in art and interior design in the US, I have developed a strong interest in animation.

    My recent accomplishments include designs for postage stamps and coinage-design in the Kingdom of Bahrain, advertisements, animation, interior and exterior design, aircraft design as well as work for the Bahraini government and other major clients.

    I was a co-founder of my previous advertising company, where I worked for seven years. I later decided that the business was too commercially oriented and I left to explore other more creative avenues.

    have studied his ways very carefully in the past. He always had a different side to look at when he illustrates. Plus I had many photographs of our culture, some new and others old. Now, in Hunting-Toy, this is were the styles and influences meet.


    Right: Oil paintings, © Abdullah Al-Muharraqi

    Below: Airbrush paintings, © Soryama


    The Challenges and How They Were Overcome

    The difficult parts were mainly coming up with a look that works or blends properly, working out how it will be put together, and trying to finish the concept in a short time frame. This project was done for the sake of testing a concept, for my own satisfaction and learning. Then I had to wake up and return to reality!


    This is the heart of the project. I need to spend as much time as possible on my sketching and finding references. Plus, I must check the functionality of the style and all the main body parts. Most of the time this will change as I go through the production phases, but still this is my map to the treasure and if I don’t have a good, detailed map I will get lost along the way.


    I do my modeling in NewTek LightWave 3D, and throughout the years I have worked with over 8 different packages, but LightWave is the most flexible for me. It is very well designed for my hands as I'm a believer that modeling is like sculpting and I have always enjoyed playing with clay in my youth. So the tools that we have today really are tools to help you sculpt. It is always a joy to see your plan emerging from a simple box. In this project I had to build every piece individually and try to match it up to the mass while keeping in mind that they have to twist, rotate or do any other necessary functions. I had a reference image of falcon heads to see the proportions of it but I did not stick to these sizes because the parts had to close in on each other, and it would be difficult to close with the original sizes.

    Left and top: Complete model in LightWave

    Above: Hunting-Toy sketches

    Right: Modeling development in LightWave 8

    Below: Hunting-Toy parts meshes




    Texturing is one of the most important parts of the job. I converted the files to Maxon BodyPaint, where I constructed the UVs. It took me a few hours, but this is an art form by itself and every artist will deal with it differently. BodyPaint tools helped me to create what I wanted in the shortest time, plus I could always go back to fix the problems in the testing stages.


    After I finished the UVs, the canvas was ready to be painted, and I had already layered the bump, color, specular and the reflection maps. All this in BodyPaint helped me to paint freely and with flexibility. It is simply like Photoshop on 3D! My references were taken from traditional Omani daggers. These designs are well known and go centuries back, so my idea was to bring these different patterns, designs, colors and metals as references into my textures. Plus, I needed the hunting toy to look used and abused, so I designed the scratches from crashes and other damaged parts. It looked really clean when I started and I wanted to put it back to a 'used' state.

    Right: Some of the textures used in Hunting-Toy are procedural and others are map images or UV maps. Below right: painted UV map. Below: Traditional Omani daggers referenced for textures






    The lighting was a bit tricky, especially as I had to balance strong light for the metals and less light for the environment. And the sky had to be illuminated from within. In this scene there were six lights, three area lights and distant lights.

    Post Effects & Final Image

    I added a bit of dark radiations to the image, some bloom effects, and finally film grain. These are the main effects that helped with the color correction In LightWave. I do admit that there was some Photoshopping, but very little. It is always better to minimize the use of post editing in an image editor. Yes it will enhance your work, but if you design your scene well, you'll have less need for it. These things will be fixed at render time, and that's always the issue with 3D work.

    Hardware and Software

    This scene was created on a Macintosh G5 with 4GB RAM and dual 2Ghz processors. All the 3D was done in LightWave 8 and BodyPaint and the elements were composited in Photoshop.

    Related Links
    Muharraqi Studios
    The Making of 'Arabian Warrior Horse' by Khalid Al-Muharraqi on Vocmag
    Discuss this article on CGTalk

    Words and images by Khalid Al-Muharraqi


    Alpha Channel

    Environment Sky

    Eye detail



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