By Andrej Stefancik
Hello, my name is Andrej Stefancik and I would like to guide you through a process of creating my personal project, the GT1 GT-R. The inspiration to create this car came after playing Shift 2: Unleashed, where I had fallen in love with this remarkable car. I have always been into cars; a true petrol-head. This GT1 version of Nissan GT-R amazed me with its aggressive look and the overall amount of detail. I adore all those massive air intakes/outtakes and other racing things on this car.
I find searching for references as important as any other part of creating a 3D artwork. I usually spend a whole day gathering photos and car specifications. For this project I downloaded almost 200 different photos from the internet. I am always impressed by how many details you can find on the internet these days (Fig.01).
This is the process that I always enjoy the most. All my modeling was done in Cinema 4D, just using the internal Cinema 4D modeling tools and a plugin called Multislide. I prefer the poly-modeling technique most of the time. Before I start any modeling, I usually create a spline cage of the main car lines (Fig.02). This helps me to keep the precision and smoothness of the mesh, which I will explain later.
I started, maybe atypically, by modeling the wheel with a slick tire. The rim was originally created from a cylinder. I deleted some polygons and created a single piece that was radial duplicated to recreate a complete rim. Next I modeled the tire from a cylinder and added the sidewall, brake disc with calipers and other parts (Fig.03).
There were no blueprints for this GT1 version of GT-R, so I had to use a blueprint for the stock one and then turn the model into this modified GT1 version, which was not a big problem. That’s where the spline cage came in handy. I used it mainly for snapping the vertexes during the modeling process. It helped me to keep the edges precise in case I needed to make dramatic changes to the mesh. The main differences between the stock and GT1 car was the width, side skirts, and huge amount of air intakes and outtakes.
I started by modeling a wheel arch from a disc object, and then made a low poly model of the body shell with basic modeling tools. After that was done I just added more edge loops where needed while keeping it all as smooth as possible. I ended up with dense mesh as the holes required a lot of polygons to be perfectly smooth (Fig.04). After the body was done I finished the rest of the car and added lights, windows and a simple interior.
Once the car model was finished, I created a simple parking lot and also covered the surface of the car with thousands of water drops, to make the renders look even more interesting and realistic. I modeled three different shapes of drops and then scattered them across the car using MoGraph (a Cinema 4D tool). It can also randomize the size, rotation and position of the instances (Fig.05).
Texturing and Shading
Another part that I enjoy is UV mapping. For me it is relaxing after the hard modeling work. For texturing I used Bodypaint and Photoshop. Since I used V-Ray for this project, I used V-Ray Advanced materials on most of the geometry. I also used Blend materials and V-Ray dirt, especially on the wheels, where I wanted to mix clean metal materials with layers of procedural dirt.
There are 8K textures used on the body of the car, as I knew from the very beginning that I was going to make close-up shots in the end. I wanted some of the stickers to look pasted onto the surface, so I created a bump map from the diffuse texture. The black part of the car livery had to be glossy so I created a map for that as well (Fig.06).
For the base rubber layer of the tire texture, I used several textures from CGTextures and mixed them all together. The Michelin logo was found via Google; then I added some scratches and chipped some parts off. The chalk signs were cut out from a photo reference. After this was done I put a dirt layer over them with some procedural and non-procedural noise. Also I used some procedural noise in the specular channel of the material to make some nice highlights/reflections (Fig.07).
Lighting and Rendering
I chose V-Ray for rendering the scene, which is my favorite render engine. When it comes to rendering, I want my raw renders to look as good as possible, so I spent a lot of time tweaking the materials. In this case, I illuminated the scene with a V-Ray physical sun and sky, and a physical camera was also involved. The car was placed in the shadow of a parking lot building (Fig.08).
I used Nuke for the final post-production. My goal was to make the renders look as real as possible, so that people would believe it was a photograph. I did some color correction then added some effects such as lens flares, extra noise, vignetting and a stronger depth of field. After this was done, I still wasn’t quite happy with it, so I decided to do a little experiment. I wanted it to look like the picture was taken shortly after the rain, so as well as the water droplets on the surface of the car, I made the ground look wet and that did it – I was finally happy with the result (Fig.09).
So that’s pretty much it. I think this is as close as I could get to creating photorealistic render of a car. The most difficult part for me was to stay focused on it for almost three months. This was a personal project done in the evenings and weekends, and it is dedicated to my girlfriend Martina for her patience with the free-time-consuming projects I have.