CGI

Tokyo Comp by James Whitaker

I created the Tokyo Penthouse images a couple of years ago, purely as a portfolio piece blending photography and CGI together. I was looking back at them and thought it would be good share these images of the various stages of creating the image - the raw photograph from the studio, the quick render with a 3D model person as a placeholder to help set up the shot, and then the final composition. When you're after lifestyle images of a property that hasn't been built yet, this is the creme de la creme.

Emulating the landscape of Joshua Tree by James Whitaker

Over the last few months, I have been designing a house for a private client in Joshua Tree, California. As the design developed I thought that it was something that would catch a little bit of attention in the press if I showed it in its best possible light (I never imagined it would go viral). I was already using the computer to make simple 3D maquettes and with the design locked off, it was fairly straightforward to build a detailed model of the house on the computer. The context was the real challenge. The client had provided me with a topographical site plan as a PDF, which I had been sketching over. He had also provided me with photographs of the site, but the photographs weren't quite sufficient for me to use to make some nice images of the scheme - I wanted to be able to surround the building with context, in 360 degrees, so that we could get the shadows and reflections across the building. To solve the context problem I devised this rather satisfying workflow which I thought warranted sharing.

First of all I opened the pdf in Adobe Illustrator and exported it as a DWG. I then opened the drawing in Autocad and scaled it to the right size, cleaned it up, and joined fragmented contours into continuous polylines (I later realised that this could have been done automatically in 3DS Max with SiNi plugins). This drawing was then imported into 3DS Max and each contour was raised to its correct height (this was tedious and I'm unaware of any shortcuts).

With the contours set out in 3D space I then used the Terrain Compound Object to create a surface from the contours. This generates a surface that is detailed but an ugly mesh to work with - it's all triangulated.

Joshua Tree Residence Terrain Mesh

At this point, I identified some areas around the building that where cliffs and rocks, rather than sand surfaces. I duplicated the terrain surface, drew a 2D polyline around the area that I wanted to be more detailed and cropped the landscape surface down.

Joshua Tree Residence Landscape Crop

I then took the cropped down landscape surface and retopologised it using SiNi Software's Sculpt plugin. This gave me a localised area of the landscape that was turned into a neat quad poly surface.

Next, I centred the surface's pivot point to the centre of the surface and then added a point helper to the scene and aligned it to the pivot point. This is to help align the detailed surface in the right place, later in the process.

Joshua Tree Residence Anchor Point

Now I did a quick UVW Unwrap on the surface.

Joshua Tree Residence unwrap UVW

I moved the surface to 0,0,0 in model space and exported it to Mudbox. (I found that if I didn't move it to 0,0,0 first I had difficulty viewing the mesh in Mudbox.) With the UVW mapped, nicely regular mesh in Mudbox I could work detail into it easily, before taking it back into 3DS Max and using the helper to locate it in the right place.

Joshua Tree Residence Mudbox

The final step was just to adjust the original, main landscape surface so that the detailed surfaces sat over it well. I made a bunch of rocks in Mudbox and then used Forest Pack Pro to scatter these and vegetation over the landscape.

SiNi's plugin was really the kingpin in this process. If you do visualisation work and aren't familiar with SiNi I recommend that you check them out.

Photography on a Postcard by James Whitaker

Space Explorer Jack by Whitaker Studio

Photography on a Postcard is opening tomorrow at The Printspace and this image from my series Space Baby is going to be part of the show. For £50 you can buy a lottery ticket which guarantees you one of the prints, you just don't know which one. It could be this photo of Jack or it could be a Wolfgang Tillmans image.

All proceeds are going to the Hepatitis C Trust’s campaign to eliminate hepatitis C from the UK by the year 2030.

You can get your lottery ticket here.

Siclone Tutorial by James Whitaker

This is a little tutorial for SiClone, a neat 3DS Max plugin that I’ve been using recently by SiNi Software - https://www.sinisoftware.com/

If you have any questions or queries please ask away in the comments section below and I'll try my best to help, and if you enjoy the tutorial please sign up to our newsletter so we can keep in touch - http://eepurl.com/cf3NM5

When I Grow Up by James Whitaker

Racing Car Driver

I want to be...

Did you ever daydream when you were little? Over the last couple of months I've been whittling away on these images for Getty, exploring the day dreaming of a toddler (our Jack). Working on them between commissions has meant progress has been quite slow and there are more images to produce for the series, but I thought I'd share the progress so far.  

Steam Train Driver
Pilot

WVWG Summer Exhibition by James Whitaker

Toddler with bucket and spade

Around the corner from where we live there's a little shop that runs a gallery of local artists' work in their window - Walthamstow Village Window Gallery. On Friday their summer exhibition is opening and Toddler with bucket and spade is going to be part of it. It's running until 3 September so there's plenty of time to see it while picking up your sourdough loaf from the shop opposite.

I am selling limited edition prints of Toddler with bucket and spade here.

Space Baby at 3DS Max London User Group by James Whitaker

Toddler in space

On Wednesday evening I'm presenting my work and, in particular the making of Space Baby, at the 3DS Max London Users Group. I'll be showing some of my workflow and how I created Jack's space suit with Marvellous Designer.

For more information go to - https://www.meetup.com/3DSLondon/

Come along and say hello over a pint.

If you've not been before you should, there's always interesting stuff being shown (this week being a perfect example) and beer - a winning combination!

Light Fields by James Whitaker

Geeky, I know. Extremely!!

I was chatting to someone last night about light fields and it reminded me just how mind blowing they are. Essentially a light field camera captures 4D light information rather than 2D like a traditional camera - rather than recording a flat image it records the light levels in a volume allowing you to do all manor of clever things in post-production.

For anyone interested in exploring the frontier but is short for time check out this video,

For anyone hungry for more intel this podcast from the CG Garage Podcast delves in deep(ish).

Inner Working by James Whitaker

This visualisation is of a proposed 8 storey office building, with retail and coffee shop at ground floor. You can compare the final image with the computer model below to see what we did in 3D. I prefer to create as much of the image as possible in the 3D model and keep photoshop work to a minimum. Partly that's just how I like to work, but it has the giant benefit that it increases our ability to adopt client changes as late into the process as possible, and minimise the impact of that one final tweak to the design.

Amongst the Fields by James Whitaker

Yesterday I finished a set of 4 new images exploring an air museum lying amongst fields of wheat. They were a fun set to work on, especially as they provided a good vehicle for experimenting with materials. It was quite satisfying dialling in the patinated steel for the column cladding and nice seeing it against the whitewashed brickwork. 

Such an expansive wheat field caused a few problems as the amount of geometry in the scene can quickly reach some pretty crazy levels. With geometry quantity under control though I invested a bit of time refining the wheat materials and I think the end result is really rich. 

You can see the images in our portfolio pages here

How does CGI work? by James Whitaker

People often ask me how does CGI work, or how do I create my images and I've always felt like I wasn't giving a particularly good answer so I've made this short video as an introduction for the uninitiated.

If you like the video be sure to follow us on Facebook - facebook.com/WhitakerStudio/
and Instagram - instagram.com/whitaker_studio/

And signup for our newsletter to receive a 3D model of the cup - whitakerstudio.co.uk/how-does-cgi-work-newsletter-signup

A free piece of 3D software for you to play with is Sketchup - sketchup.com/