Happy Holidays, Merry Christmas to you and all your loved ones! May Santa bring you everything you ever wished for and may 2012 be an awesome year for Everybody!
Waiting for Santa concept was actually done last Christmas and I didn’t have time to 3d model it, texture and lighting before Christmas and in a way I’m glad I didn’t cause this year I have learned so much and my modeling and lighting techniques have become so much better!
This piece started from an old memory, one of the most beautiful moments about Christmas when I was a kid and the one that kept popping into my head was the time I used to hide under the blanket so I could trick Santa that I’m asleep and I could get the chance to see him when he puts the gifts under the tree. But, as always, I would fall asleep and wake up with the presents under the tree and I would comfort myself saying: ”Well, at least I’ve got my presents; maybe next time I’ll catch him…”
After I finished the initial 2D concept drawing, I scanned it and started coloring it in Photoshop. I started with volume first figuring out light and shadow areas, then I started adding some colors. I didn’t spent that much time on it, I just wanted to block in the main elements and the entire mood of the scene.
Once I finished the drawing, I showed it to a couple of friends and I got some great feedback but the most important one I got was from Pascal Campion which is one of my Art Heroes. I love his work so much, his style and colors and the simplicity of his scenes yet have so rich feelings, emotions and stories.
I could stare at a piece of Pascal Campion’s for hours and with each piece I see in his amazing gallery I learn something new; the most important lesson that I have learned from Pascal Campion’s work is always try to tell a story with your piece it doesn’t matter if it’s 2d or 3d and it doesn’t have to be hyper realistic or super high detailed piece, it should have soul it, should tell you a beautiful story or at least spark a beautiful memory or maybe even inspire you! Now back to the feedback I got from Pascal Campion, he told me that the tree was too close to the bed and I should try to add some more space and let the room breath a little cause it felt over crowded, although this is how I saw the piece in my head, cause my room was crowded and the tree was so close to the bed if the tree was wide the branches would hit the bed. But the most important thing here was to tell the story – it doesn’t matter how close the tree is to the bed, sometimes you have to make some changes to make your 2d or 3d illustrations work better.
So, before I started modeling I did the changes to the old 2d concept and I wanted to see how this will look with tree farther away from the bed and it was an easy cut and paste the tree on a new layer, make the canvas bigger and just move the tree more to the right and then just paint in some details to see how it looks. Next, I opened Maya 2011 and I selected the persp camera and created an Image Plane in Maya, it’s very easy to setup and it so helpful, it doesn’t mean that you have to perfectly align your 3d work with the one point perspective or 2 point perspective or just a flat drawing that you do on paper. I used 1 point perspective to create the 2d drawing. I never can align my drawing perfectly with the 3d blocking elements, my 2d drawing wasn’t perfect so whatever 3d Software will give you will be far much accurate, so just try to align it so you can figure out what goes where. I usually block stuff using Polygon and Nurbs primitives in maya just so I can figure what goes where.
Once I have the initial blocks in place and i’m happy with the perspective and the camera angle and the Camera focal length, I started lighting the scene. Yes I light the scene before modeling or adding any more details, for me this way works better for me cause I can visualize how the piece will come out in the end, and I know how much detail I need to add to each elements and see if light hitting that edge looks the way I want it to look.
Once I have my main skylight and moonlight – I know the light from outside is strong, you have to keep in mind that outside is all cover in white so that snow is acting like a big bounce card and a big bounce light making everything look so bright and lovely.
For the moon light I used a VRayLightSphere, make sure when you are using Sphere lights such as sun light or moon light to check the No Decay check box under options, you can check out the light settings that used for the VRayLightSphere in Vray for Maya.
For the skylight I used the VRayLightDome I linked a 2D Ramp texture into the VRayLightDome in the Dome Tex.
VRay for Maya Pixelophy Tip: Make sure to check Use Dome Tex whenever you link a texture or an HDRI to your dome, cause if you don’t the light will still work but it won’t use the texture you linked into the VRayLightDome.
Check out the settings for the VRayLightDome in Vray for Maya.
For the 3d Christmas tree lights I used a bunch of VRayLightSpheres in Maya here and there, if you notice when you have Christmas lights in a room, those lights are everywhere in the room so I added a couple of VRayLightSpheres above the shelf to have some nice lights on the wall and a couple near the window and also on the kid under the blanket just to get some color there as-well.
Below you can see one of the 3d Christmas tree lights settings. Most of them have the same settings.
All of the small 3D Christmas light bulbs… (whenever I type the word light bulb I can’t help myself thinking of Gru from Despicable me, I love the way he says: “ LIGHT BUUUULB”) If you haven’t seen that movie you gotta drop everything you are doing and go watch it, trust me!
Now back to the Christmas light bulbs each one has a VRayLightMtl assigned to it with different colors and intensity, below you can check out the setting for one of the VRayLightMtl in Vray for Maya
Once I have all the lights setup I start modeling all the elements in the room, I started modeling the Christmas tree, that was the most important element in the scene. I wanted to keep the tree pretty simple and clean; this is a cartoony scene after all. All the elements in the scene were modeled in Maya 2011 using Polygon and Nurbs modeling. Once I finished modeling all big elements I started modeling the 3d robots and the 3d wooden train, because of the first robot toy the one on the top shelf I had the idea to make the kid be a fan of Retro style robot toys. I modeled another robot based on the first 3d retro robot that I modeled, the third robot was actually based on a robot that you can see on the wall wallpaper – I just loved how that one looked.
By the way, the pattern that I used for the wall can be found at Colourlovers (as always, colourlovers) I love that site, as you can see I altered the pattern quite a bit cause that one was too busy and I didn’t want the walls to be cluttered.
I had to model some classic toys like the Wooden Rocking Horse and the Wooden Christmas train, this is just a tribute for all those amazing classic toys that became icons for the Holidays. I actually own a small wooden train and this was based on that one, but I think the 3d one came out even more awesome!
The cookies plate and the glass of milk was something I created and added while working on the christmas scene. It might be a cliche, but it’s a great cliche to use cause it shows love and care in its simplest form.
The material on the glass is a VRayMaterial with some nice Refraction and some reflections and an index of refraction of 1.5 and for the milk I used VRayFastSSS2 which gives superb results for skin or candles, thick liquids and so on, for the milk I actually used the VRayFastSSS2 milk preset found in the shader.
For the snow flakes I didn’t want to make simple shapes or spheres so I decided to make huge snow flake stars, I think they came out pretty sweet.
I wanted the room to be tidy and clean cause after all he is a good boy who cleaned up his room cause Santa is coming tonight with lots of presents.
here is the Final 3d scene, I really hope you enjoy it as much as I enjoyed working on it!
By the way, while working on this piece the only music playing in the background was Michael Buble’s Christmas album which is just amazing!
I Wish you all a Merry Christmas, and I hope you all been good for goodness sake.
The scene was entirely Modeled, Textured, lighting in Maya 2011 and rendered using Vray for Maya
© 2011 Oasim Karmieh