By Eugenio Garcia
Hi, my name is Eugenio Garcia Villarreal and I’m a graphic designer. I started to learn 3D in 2004, mainly from tutorials from websites like http://www.3dtotal.com. I now have a small studio in Mexico called d10studio.
This image was inspired by old B movies and the gas stations that you often see in them. My main inspiration, however, was a 3D image created by Mauro Scardinni, but I decided to take his idea further and created a more complex environment around my gas station. The image was created to be the backdrop for a photo of a girl that I had taken in a photo session.
The modeling was done in LightWave 10, which is a really nice piece of software. I like the way you model in LightWave as it has a really clean work area to play and work in. The modeling for this image was really simple. It was just box modeling for almost everything. I think that this is the best way to model.
For the gas pump I used reference photos and created it using box modeling. I spent quite a bit of time playing with the edges to make sure the surface of the pump was smooth (Fig.01).
The building was very simple box modeling again, as you can see in Fig.02. I cut out some windows using the Knife tool to make sure the building looked interesting. I used the Multiply tab tools like Multi-shift, Bevel, Knife and Band Saw Pro as they are really handy when doing this sort of modeling.
The skull is the only object in the scene that I created using ZBrush (Fig.03).
Most of the objects in the scene were quite simple models (Fig.04 – 05).
The workflow was really very simple. I basically searched for references and then modeled and arranged them in the layout until I felt like I was happy with the composition.
When it comes to all of the tools available I suggest using all of them. Don’t be afraid to try the different tools out; this is the only way to learn about LightWave’s extended tool set. This sometimes takes a bit of patience, but it is the best way to learn.
Texturing and Rendering
At this point all of the pieces were in place so I went on to cgtextures.com to find good textures for soil, wood and the bulk of the gas station. I also found some rusted metal sheets and the vintage logos from internet searches. I used Photoshop to merge several textures and created some UV maps. I then aged all my textures by using tools like Burn and Color Dodge (Fig.06).
I used basic shaders that are nothing special. They were just preset materials that I tweaked a little bit (Fig.07).
I created a Displacement map for the ground to make sure there were some nice bumps that looked realistic. Another thing that I did to make the ground look more realistic was to add particles like stone and gravel. I used the Spray Point tool in Modeler mode and the Point Clone tool to create a nice random effect on the ground.
The lighting setup was simple. There was an area light to create soft shadows, which had an orange color applied to it to give a sunset feeling. The scene was then rendered with Monte Carlo Radiosity in FPrime. The second light under the shelter is a point light.
I often add a background environment image to help me get the colors right. It’s a simple but powerful way to make sure everything looks correct (Fig.08).
After the render was complete I moved everything into Photoshop CS4 and the first thing I did was some color corrections. I then played with the levels and used some photo filters to get the mood I wanted. I usually use a 55mm plug-in and Color Efex Pro. All my work is done with a Wacom Intous 4 (Fig.09).
I searched for a good mountain image on cgtextures.com for my background. I tried to find an image with similar lighting as the lighting I set up in my scene. I then added the sky. For still images I like to use photo backgrounds to give the image a nice finish. When creating 3D stills you need to remember that you don’t need to model everything. It would be inefficient to model all of the distant background for a still (Fig.10 – 11)
After this I did some adjustments with the Burn and Dodge tool to add some dark and bright values. When I was happy with the results I merged all of the layers, but the image was not yet finished. I continued to add to the image without having to worry about all of the layers I just merged. I added some spot lights and glows in the brighter areas with a round brush and used my Sharpen brush to add some nice textures.
After eight hours of post work I was happy and you can see my final image in Fig.12.
It took about three days to finish the project. It was a nice experience, and a challenge to get crisp details. If you want to know anything about my technique or just want to say hello, write me an email. Thanks for reading