Making of “Alien”
Lazar, 4 May 2004
The Alienware Challenge 2004 saw a collection of highly
original scenes ranging from whimsical to sinister to the utterly out
of this world! The directive was to create a unique alien
scene, a setting no one has seen before. Adrian Lazar shares
his experience creating Alien for the challenge.
At first I had no clear concept of the scene in my mind so I considered
it carefully for two or three days before beginning to elaborate
on the vague idea I had. While the concept for Alien evolved
throughout the assignment, I initially had a specific direction
I wanted to go with the idea. I set a high priority on the illumination
since it had an important role in creating the atmosphere.
The sketches I make before starting any project are generally
very simple, especially when it's for a personal project and I
don't have to show them to anybody else. I cannot define them as
concept art since the concept was developed in my mind and I only
put certain elements on paper for an easier visualization of the
entire scene. The present case is not an exception, and the concept
I had in mind did not require a very complex layout.
The modeling for this scene was simple.
For the background forms, I used a plugin to
generate the meta-balls in 3DS Max, after which I extruded several
polygons and applied the Relax and Meshsmooth modifiers
to polish the surface. Although the result was not as good as it
could have been, the geometry errors were covered with the material
used so it wasn't a problem. Extruding a group of polygons within
the object created the rift in one of base forms.
The large spheres in the foreground are made of a matte material.
These and the shiny ones in the rift are basic spheres not modified
at all. The rest of the spheres were generated with a system of Particle
Array particles that use the ground as an emitter object
and another sphere as the generated object.
To create the ‘lianas’ I generated surfaces generated with the
Loft modifier using a circle and a spline.
The ground material is made up of a fractal
noise map for the bump map and a falloff map applied to the materials
self-illumination with no highlight. The material used for the
five large spheres in the foreground is an Oren-Nayar-Blinn shader
using a noise map for the bump. Spheres generated with the particle
system and the ‘lianas' use the same material as the ground. The
spheres inside the rift have strong highlights, a falloff map for
self-illumination and a cellular map as the bump, while the background
is a simple gradient.
As can be seen in the sketch, the scene has
three illumination sources: an omni light, global illumination
and a second omni light placed in the rift, which has a volume
light effect. As the atmosphere for this piece depended on the
illumination, I worked hard to find the right colors.
I used Brazil R/S for rendering, mainly because the DOF (depth
of field) is superior to the Scanline renderer in 3DS Max. I also
used global illumination. At 2477x1303 on my slow computer, rendering
took about ten hours. The rendered 3DS Max image had no post-processing,
so this was my final image.
Hardware: Duron 900,
256 RAM, ATI Radeon 7200
Software: 3DS Max, Brazil R/S
I am 20 years old and I live in Bucharest , Romania . I first
encountered 3DS Max six years ago, but now work with it almost
every day. I work full-time as a web designer at a web design company
but 3D remains my true love. My passion for art started as a child,
with my first hand-made drawings, although unfortunately I haven't
done any hand-drawing for a very long time now. My 3D passion began
when I saw the movies in StarCraft and I draw inspiration in my
Thanks goes to CGTalk and Alienware for organizing a stunning
contest providing the CG community with an opportunity to admire
and contribute numerous excellent works.
Adrian Lazar's challenger gallery
Alien by Adrian Lazar
The Alienware Challenge
Words and Images by Adrian Lazar