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[WIP] Sekiro Fan art - Prop / Environment - Rendered 3ds Max, Corona

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Hurtcules polycounter lvl 6
Hey everyone! I have here something of a small Sekiro fan art project that I could use some feedback for. I modeled Sekiros Arm from the game and I’m working on building a small scene to go with it, but I’m having trouble with my composition and lighting designs.



I had originally made this in 2019 for an art contest hosted by Vaatividya in 2019 and I'm going back and making it worthy of a full portfolio piece. This was the original finished prop, but you can tell from the updated Zbrush sculpt all the issues I had initially and I think the prop is looking much stronger now. 



Concept
In sticking with the game's lore, I wanted to tell a story to go with the arm that takes place after the game ends. Hopefully avoiding spoilers here, this is just a fictional concept as the game doesn't say much about what happens to the arm at the end of the game. I would imagine though that the arm wouldn't be tossed aside or kept somewhere randomly so the idea is that it's kept underneath a temple, but kind of hidden away under the floorboards and kept for when it might be needed again along with Sekiros two swords he uses in the game. 

Here's what my current scene looks like


I'm rendering this project with 3DS Max 2021 with Corona Render which I'm still learning as this is my first corona project, previously the arm was rendered in Vray.

Below are 7 test renders that I would love some feedback/thoughts on as I'm not really sure about them. I feel like the focus is the arm, so most of the screen should be filled with it, but I also want to tell the story that goes along with it so I'm not sure the best way to do that here. The renders are filled with a mix of detailed and non-detailed models currently and the arm is a low res version. The swords are also placeholders. 





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  • Hurtcules
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    Hurtcules polycounter lvl 6
    I setup max to show grids so I can see the rule of thirds in real-time and I have this shot which I feel works pretty well, the box top will have a lot more detail added as well so the arm sits on two points and the box center details falls on one. I think I'll focus on this shot for now and learn more how to use corona's lighting next

  • Hurtcules
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    Hurtcules polycounter lvl 6
    I spent some more time learning composition and tweaked my shot a little more, I also switched over to Arnold for now, the way I've set up my materials is using the substance plugins so I can switch back to corona easily if Arnold isn't giving me the results I'm looking for. Right now though I like the bounce light I'm getting a little more than corona, but I still need to add and play with a warm lantern light and see how that looks. 

    In the meantime, I've started to do some texture work with painter. Some meshes are still in blockouts, but I'm pretty happy with all the elements so I'm just going to go through my production pipeline for my meshes and take them each to the final result, or at least my first full pass. 



  • Hurtcules
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    Hurtcules polycounter lvl 6
    I ended up going back to Corona, I wasn't able to iterate as quickly as I wanted with Arnold and the new physical materials work great for my painter workflow. As I started to work on the textures I quickly realized I didn't have a good idea of how the final scene is going to look and I knew I was going to run into an area where something wouldn't match up well so I did a basic color and lighting pass. 


    I used Coolors.co to generate colors that I used for a palette and set up the materials in Max. I did this a couple of times actually till I felt like I had a good color harmony, but I would love some feedback here as this is really the first time I've focused on a color palette/harmony. I'm basically trying to take my arm model and apply the fundamentals of art to the full image and so far it feels solid. 



    With the lighting, same concept. I'm not sure of my shadow range, but when I desaturated the image it feels solid. 


    and when I use posterize you can see where the light is focused, which is where I want the light to be 


    I think what I'll do next is maybe do a quick real material block out with the default corona materials. I usually feel like I get stuck near the end because I don't prepare enough on what I want my final image to look and I want to avoid that this time. 

    There's still a lot of detail to add to my meshes so after I'm happy here I'll start to get more of my final meshes in the scene. 
  • Hurtcules
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    Hurtcules polycounter lvl 6
    Alright, I did a quick material pass. Using a mix of Corona materials and ones I made in painter/designer. 



    Maybe it's because it's an odd mix of detail and no detail, but clearly, this image is not really working. The concept of the box in my head has a lot of interesting Japanese patterns and designs, but I'm not sure it's worth the effort to create that. It also could be the table cloth taking a lot of the focus of the shot, but honestly, I'm having trouble wrapping my head around the reason for the design of the box and the table components so I'm taking a step back and trying something new. 



    Right away I think this creates a much stronger image. I did a quick sim with cloth in Max so it's not really perfect and I'm not exactly sure how much I should fill the negative space with objects such as books etc, but I like how the shadow areas have a lot of stuff going on, but the main focus is still just the arm which is the point of the image. 

    I also made some scale adjustments, the arm isn't really much larger now, as I've just moved the camera in more and shortened up the table. But would love to know if this image feels off in any way. 
  • Sheers
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    Sheers Polycount Sponsor
    I haven't beaten the game yet, but when looking at this, everything around it is too clean.  I always saw that game for having a lot of leaves, wooden or bamboo buildings, and forestry.  Getting some ref of samurai/japanese temples for look, decoratiions, and feel would be worthwhile.

    Nice usage of the posterize effect to test the lighting. You know, it would be cool to get some candles around the edges of the arm to give a nice rim lighting to it.  I imagined some wax candles, and maybe you can put some more around and see what you like.  A little more light all around will help show off your prop , and give a nice contrast of shadow underneath the arm.  Right now the arm is just sitting on a very dark colored surface.

  • Hurtcules
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    Hurtcules polycounter lvl 6
    The rim highlights are a great idea! I still need to go about adding some secondary lights as I've just been focused on telling the story and focus on a strong main light. I did some more modeling of the scene, it's basically turned into a fun Sekiro themed still life, but the focus is still the arm. I've added several props based on items the player would have and I'm still planning on adding some more. 



    I also added a volumetric material which gives it a really cool dusty cinematic feel but creates a really strong contrast with the models around. I think I'll keep it like this, but I'm going to do some more testing and see how much light I can fill in the background while keeping the bright contrasting strong light. I will also add some warmer candlelight as well and test to see how that rim light might look to help brighten up the arm even more. 

    I have about 15 or so items added from the game into the scene with a little more planned as well. I'm also using a mega scan book mesh that I'll replace with the actual text objects from the game, which luckily are a lot to reference from, just need to figure out how to model those as they look tricky to create. 

  • Elivenger
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    Elivenger triangle
    This is definitely starting to look nice! Keep going!
  • Hurtcules
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    Hurtcules polycounter lvl 6


    Still a work in progress, but I've done another quick material pass by combining whatever I found with what corona gives me and the rest using painter. Then I did some basic post-processing in Photoshop. I still need to create new books from scratch and there's still a lot of detail missing from pretty much everything like the scarf has no fraying or wear, but overall I think this feels pretty solid. I'm trying to balance the right amount of light coming in which has been tricky as I feel the scene looks better with a higher contrasting light just focusing on the arm. 

    Using this as a base though it will help me when I'm making my final detail decisions so that's what I will be focusing on this week. Also quick note the render is in 720p so in general a lot of detail is missing just from the low resolution, I plan on having a 4k render for the final shot. 


  • Hurtcules
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    Hurtcules polycounter lvl 6
    Hey everyone, got an update here on this scene. I finished the last of the modeling work that I wanted to do so now I'm looking at what I need to do to get all the rest of the UV and material work done so I can get this over the finish line. There are a couple of meshes that I'll still send through Zbrush, but overall I'm pretty happy with scene meshes. 



    Rendering-wise, the quality isn't really matching my standalone arm render so I'm still tweaking the lighting to get that looking correct and showcase the arm as best as I can, but the render times are starting to get really getting high with all the materials so I'm trying to find a balance. 

    Would love to know if anything feels off or suggestions about anything in the scene. 
    Thanks
  • ElyesBens
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    ElyesBens polycounter lvl 3
    Hurtcules said:
    Hey everyone, got an update here on this scene. I finished the last of the modeling work that I wanted to do so now I'm looking at what I need to do to get all the rest of the UV and material work done so I can get this over the finish line. There are a couple of meshes that I'll still send through Zbrush, but overall I'm pretty happy with scene meshes. 



    Rendering-wise, the quality isn't really matching my standalone arm render so I'm still tweaking the lighting to get that looking correct and showcase the arm as best as I can, but the render times are starting to get really getting high with all the materials so I'm trying to find a balance. 

    Would love to know if anything feels off or suggestions about anything in the scene. 
    Thanks
    Hey , such a good job in regards to modeling and texturing , now what you lack is lighting quality , since you are familiar with vray , corona is very similar, you will get used to it easily. 
    What i would do to light this scene is first add a fill light , since this is not a standalone asset , you will need to add some global illumination to your scene, i would suggest a somewhat dark blueish fill light as your GI to slightly illuminate those dark shadow areas and to avoid those pitch black shadows (use a dome as the easiest way , or play with a light plane for more control) don't overdue the intensity , keep it low to stay in the night ambiance - your key light suggests a strong and small light source (from the sharp shadows) which in this universe i'm not sure what it could be, maybe a lantern ? try to make it a little bigger to have softer shadows but this is a personal choice -  As for your rim light (the candles) , like @Sheers suggested previously , you need to have those lights to define the shape and volume of your asset - Technically i would add an invisible vray light sphere on each candle small enough to be the size of the flame and having the same temperature as the light material you applied , maybe 1800K to 2000K    
    If i may suggest adding some dust on the table but it's up to you. 
    Great job overall , i hope this will look astonishing once finished !! 
  • Hurtcules
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    Hurtcules polycounter lvl 6
    Made some more progress, most of the scene will get another texture pass still. The table is obviously too clean compared to the arm, but I applied some of those lighting techniques. The scene is actually mostly lit from the sun through a window like light is coming in, but I made that a little more obvious and focused on having that ambient light come in better. Doing so though makes any light from the candles almost nonexistent from the strength of the sunlight or is just oddly there when cranked up. I'll play around with it some more, but this is where I'm at right now with the scene. 


  • ElyesBens
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    ElyesBens polycounter lvl 3
    This is looking better already ! I see that you went for an evening sunlight aesthetic , and i believe with this choice adding candle lights can be a little too much although i think if it's well balanced it will look dope ! Can't wait to see the texture work for the other assets 
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