Master of Still Life categories in EXPOSE 5 and also ELEMENTAL 3, Aiqiang Hao brings his creation into perspective with this revealing tutorial.
Aiqiang Hao sent in the tutorial from Shanghai, where he
has been working in the digital art education field for the
past ten years. “Now, creating digital art is not only my
work, it’s also a kind of fun relaxation,” he says. “That’s
why I keep going in it. It’s a lucky thing for me that I
can still be creative in my job. A lot of people I know who
studied with me have drifted far away from digital art and live on
other ways now. I hope that I can keep going on my way.” He takes
up his story.
My inspiration for the ‘Long Wait’ image is from some old postcards and paintings. I combined many elements of them such as the vintage light, the old wooden box and the small iron pot. I chose the high angle to make the frame just a little bit different from the generic still life. I still like to draw a lot of classic still lifes. Of course I use 3D software to create them. There is always more opportunity to learn while you work. In fact, that is really all anyone should do.
At first, I used a low detail model to construct the scene, and then painted some details in 2D software so as to give a direction. Using the sketch helps me know clearly where I should add more details on models and textures and where I can be more limited in the layout. It helps me to improve both my efficiency and rendering speed.
There’s really no difficulty in modeling. The basic function of Autodesk 3ds Max is to help the artist do this. I usually put more time and energy into the texture and lighting of a scene. In this scene especially, the globe and the lighting are comparatively complex.
To create the texturing will take me a long time indeed. I spend a lot of time mixing and adjusting the textures in Adobe Photoshop. And I much prefer to use the textures that I shoot by myself because they’re unique. I didn’t use the ‘raytrace’ to make some metal surface’s reflection. Instead, I use an HDRI to make the reflection effect. To explain, only using ‘raytrace’ perhaps won’t make the effect I’d like, whereas using this fake reflection can help me create a more exaggerated effect.
When I begin to set up the lighting, I will set a simple global material. When I find the best lighting effect, I go in and disable the global material and render with shading and texture enabled. I only need a little tweak and the lighting setup is complete. Then it’s time to render.
The rendering system I use is V-Ray, but in this image creation, I didn’t use GI, because I set the spot array to illuminate the scene. At first I want to use 3ds Max’s scanline to render, so I could use spot array. but the Max scanline render’s raytrace calculates very slowly. In this instance, I used V-Ray to generate the same result and raytrace also calculates quicker.
The composite software I use is Photoshop. I adjust the tones, the light and shadow first, then give it a Depth of Field (DOF) effect and volume light effect, and add some grain to it. That’s the final effect I need.
Working out of Shanghai these days, Aiqiang Hao teaches digital arts and continues to learn new ways to create his many still lifes, for the sake of his students.