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Scott Pilgrim Skateboard
The 3D
This project is mostly the main reference for testing my constantly-evolving knowledge about Vray, 3dsmax, 32bit imagery, compositing, and photography. It started as a touch-and-go thing which rapidly switched to a more complex experimentation. This means many trial and errors for me, but maybe useful tips along the way for you, fellow reader!
Sketchfab of the whole scene (tripods = softbox)
Exploded view of the wheel model
(March 2012) These are some images that I tried in several ways as the artwork of the deck. My first pick was Quantum of Solace by Michael Gillette.
(March 2012) This is the first render ever. As said before, it features Quantum Of Solace. The wood is really smooth and clean, and -force of habit- that's what I was going for. "Good start!", I thought. "Good start...".
(April 2012) A clean mind got me to change the wood a bit. Sharper, shinier, super duper. I then randomly stumbled across some black&white images from the Scott Pilgrim comic books and I just couldn't resist this one. I proceeded to colour it a bit and chose some shapes that would come out as a mirror-like material. I pressed the render button and my heart simply burst with fire . I almost leveled up.
Watch out, big step here! First thing, the artwork went pink. I don't know why though. I don't think I've ever used that colour in a project but this time, it just felt right and vivid. Also, I got the wheels done with a couple of references from video games and Scott's Universe.

During a bus ride, there was some guy sitting next to me with a used and dirty skateboard in his hands. I managed to subtly examine it thoroughly and little did I know, 2 hours later, my 3D deck was scratched like hell. It looked a lot more realistic and detailed! Quick snapshot of the whole board texture below:
Kinda self-explanatory...
Stay tuned for more!
(May 2012) Because of technicalities I didn't like, I've been avoiding linear workflow for a while... until this week, when I participated to a workshop with Vray master Matt Guetta. His work method, common with other amazing artists (Bertrand Benoit, Peter Guthrie, Alex Roman, etc), is simply perfect; I just had to make the switch for this project. Here's the result!

I had to update the deck, bearing, griptape and wheel materials for the 2.2 gamma, but it was worth it! Fortunately, my lighting method was not only compatible, but very similar to Matt's technique.

I also added the last missing parts of the skateboard: the trucks. One of them has an old sticker of
CBC (in French: "Radio-Canada") on it. I thought it added a small but nice detail to the whole thing!

Once you go LWF, you never go back!
Thanks Matt
Here's another render with a little more context and post-production.

Simple studio setup with 3 colored Vray lights.
The usual render (but now with badass LWF!): 32bit RGB (.exr) with lighting, shadow, reflection, refraction, specular, SSS2 and ambient occlusion passes.
Compositing in After Effects with some Magic Bullet Looks tweaking.
Hope you like it!
Up next, the above-mentionned setup and render passes:
(May 2013) It's crazy how a single year can strengthen you basics and coat them with new techniques, rich experiences and multidisciplinary visual stimulus. Seeing the (less damaged) real deck everyday hanging on my wall, I felt like it was time to update the studio setup, just for fun. It was way due for 4 main reasons:
- Better LWF settings and overall understanding
- Normal maps instead of bump maps
- Custom made (32bit EXR and Kelvin temperature calibrated) softbox textures applied to the lights
- Regain of interest and proficiency in photography and lighting techniques
Here are some of the custom light textures. There's even a pseudo ring flash!
Close ups, obviously!
Various lighting setups. Anything is possible!