CHRISTMAS THEMED CGI
Photorealistic illustration for digital and print ads
The problem and the goal
During my period with Notan 3D Studio, advertising agency AlmapBBDO commissioned us to render a photorealistic digital illustration for their bakery client Bauducco.
The art director already had a clear image and provided us with a couple of rough illustrations.
The concept: a Christmas scene made out of models "cut and assembled from a Bauducco Panettone opened paper package".
Early sketch provided by the ad agency. This scene is taking place on a kitchen table, with flour all over
Objects designing and modeling
I was responsible to draw and model the basic shapes of the characters running around the Christmas scene, while six other professionals would design building structures, also the background kitchen elements.
Once approved by the client, along with other objects, we used them to set up the scene.
The only real element would be the panettone loaf itself. Along with the cut slice, it would be integrated into the digital scene we were about to create.
Starting off • Pre-modeling
Studying the roughs and sketches
Draw cut out shapes
Painting and coloring the cuts
Art directors usually have a clear image of what they want to see in the final image. So the first step is to interpret the material supplied by the agency - rough layouts and sketches - to try and attempt to see the essence of those resources.
A color sketch that shows better how the whole scene is illuminated
Even before starting the modeling process, it's best practice surround yourself with as much references (about different materials, texture and color) as possible.
Generic images searched on the internet and tests we run in the studio are often used as visual clues, giving hints on how to proceed next steps.
How is kraft paper texture? And how is it when torn?
How dried fruits bounce or absorb light?
How is this paper when backlit?
How flour spreads and granulates?
Defining general shapes
Assembling the elements
Studies and general shape modeling go side by side and details are added along the way. One trick used while modeling in 3D is turn on this reflective surface display. It allows to see clearly where the shapes might need refinements.
Lighting the scene
During the general forms shaping, several lights are added to the scene. These virtual lights are physically correct - meaning that whatever values you put in, they will simulate light as if they were in a real studio. This allows fine tuning to reach the same feel of the initial rough drawings.
Further down the process there will be a window. Also, the paper texture coming through in backlight
Paper cutouts ready. They are still without the paper texture, though.
Assembling the elements
Much like any design process, CGIs are iterated over and over until the final render. Elements are created by different professionals and integrated to a common file. The adjustments are slow by design - the tools we use process heavy calculations to simulate light, materials and lens distortion - and even simple tests might take hours to run.
After the basic CGI 3D objects are composed and rendered, the files generated by the 3D application are combined in Photoshop. These files are overlayed and go through what's called post-production: they are color-corrected, aligned, enhanced, erased and harmonized.
The resulting image is adjusted and tweaked until it looks as it was built and produced in a professional photographic studio.
Colors and textures are made by combining together dozens of settings for each object (like reflectiveness, roughness, environment lighting, light bounce from objects around). Fine-tuning all these variables and finding a balance is the secret to get desired final image.
Final render • Delivered images
After this image was delivered, the agency changed the brief and asked for some more tweaks
This is the final image approved by the client
Conclusion • Learnings
What appeared to be a straightforward project took a slight turn at the end. None of the elements would have colors, and the client new request added some time overhead for the studio.
This experience just reinforced our ways of working, that already accounted for a regular base-touching with the client, ensuring the project is evolving aligned with their expectations.
Looking for a digital designer with solid graphics background, strong sense of ownership, and always curious to learn more?
Let's see if we can work together!