This past year with quarantine and stay-home order made me work on big art projects. Those projects that I have in mind, but it takes me too long to complete. Well, I had ideas and lots of time on hand, so to stay sane from the chaos that was going on in the world I started working on some 3D artworks. First I did a few Discord group challenges and that was like a warmup for me to start on my own big art project.
A couple of years ago I sketched an idea about a post-apocalyptic world and a portal that you can time travel to the past. In my initial sketch there’s a character (let’s name her Arissa) standing in front of the portal and it’s showing how the city and world used to be. I had so many plans on that idea, but I didn’t have the time to work on. I usually chose to work on arts that are easier and less time consuming. The reason is that I can finish many artworks in … let’s say 6 months than one artwork in same amount of time. In the last few years I have worked on many smaller scaled projects, but always wanted to work on arts that have their own characters and story lines. This sketch that I chose is a great candidate for my big project. I began this new 3D adventure from August 2020 and since then I finished 3 other artworks. They’re all connected, telling a story about a character. This long project is done by me and I got to model and texture so many assets.
At the start of this project I began on the portal design. First I wanted to create an ancient tech similar to the one at stargate show, but less cooler. Later I decided to design a futuristic mixed with modern design. Last year I’ve also practised hard surface modeling. It’s really intriguing and something that I can dig deeper. I’ve worked on sci-fi door design, crates and panels. I’ve used many modeling methods on the portal and practising hard surface modeling before hand was a great help on this project. Creating the portal was challenging, because I have no experience working on a hard surface model in this size. The initial blocking started with a cylinder and from there I used boolean tool to carve out the details. I didn’t want to make the portal look like an alien object so I introduced some industrial machinery elements such as pipes and cables. In order to make it look a bit futuristic I used glowing lights and strange power cables. After I was done with the modeling and texturing I started importing other assets like buildings and rocks to my scene. A sci-fi scene needs a spaceship or a futuristic vehicle. I remembered I have downloaded a kitbash shipyard blender file for a long time. In this kitbash file you can create your lowpoly spaceship. I use this asset file to make my spaceship. It worked after I slapped some textures and placed it in the sky. For my human character I used Mixamo to get a rigged character. I strangely downloaded a witch character model “Arissa” (that’s how I named my character after) to my scene, because her outfit fits this scenario. I modeled and textured the helmet and scarf and I imported a gas mask from another project file. For the rest of the assets I downloaded some models from Turbosquid and Sketchfab. I used 3D models like cars, rubbles, buildings, and even more.
When I started this project I didn’t know I would be working on three more artworks. As I was working on the day version I thought I can elaborate on the story further more so I made three more scenes. I found out night version looks cool when I was playing around with the lights. In that version the portal stands out because it’s glowing blue and I set up the atmospheric light to be red so it compliments the blue. For the final portal render I changed the camera position in back and placed Arissa inside the portal as she walked through the portal. The inside of the portal is from another blend file. I saved the portal file as a new blend file and reworked on textures to make them new instead of old and decayed. To make it lively and fresh I added trees, new vegetations and a blue sky. When I first started on the portal I wanted it to open to a world where it used to be much better and no destruction to be seen. That’s why I added a collapsed bridge and damaged buildings, so if you look through the portal you can see how they used to be before. In my post-apocalypse render there’s a building with a big hole on it from an explosion, but through the time machine you can see an untouched building or how the highway bridge is collapsed but through the portal it’s still standing and there are cars passing by. This was a great conclusion to my story that I tried to tell. Seeing the character walking through the gate and arriving to her destination can be a relief to a viewer. One thing that I almost forgot to show is the origin of the character and more of the world. So I tried to go back and create my final render.
Back to the Origin:
A good story usually needs a back story. The reader or in this case the viewer should know more about the character and how it all started. For my final render I planned to create a scene that shows more about the carnage that previous events have caused. There might have been an endless war with aliens who defeated humans and now last few numbers of people are trying to survive. In my final render I tried to illustrate that Arissa has been having a long journey trying to find the portal. Since the future has nothing holding for her, she’s trying to go back to the past so she can save the world. For this origin scene first I started to create a big city, because my previous render was in city. I wanted to illustrate she is searching the city to discover the time machine. I didn’t like the city version so I decided to make this version the opposite – in desert. I played around with composition and started creating more assets. I modeled and textured factories and RV trailer, that was fun practice. I also wanted to design a vehicle for Arissa, but after a short search on Turbosquid I found Buel XB47 model. It’s a perfect bike for her because of its mixed futuristic and modern design. I prepared the model for my desert scene by adding some textures and damages. After I added those models that I’ve been working on I realized my character is buried in the scene, because I added too many objects and she’s not the focal point anymore. I ended up with keeping one garage and one billboard, and the scene changed dramatically. It looked more like a desert and vacant. To enhance the scene and make my character pop in my render I removed some parts of the guardrail. Now there are lines pointing at her and cars are facing her to make Arissa the centre of this render.
11 months have passed sine I started this project. It was a great experience I worked on these 4 renders on and off. With time and patient everything is possible. I think making arts is not a race, some artists might disagree. There were artists like Da Vinci in past who worked on one piece of art for many years. Da Vinci worked on Mona Lisa for 4 years and now it’s one of the most famous paintings in the world. Time also matters in projects like these because time is money and valuable. If this project had a deadline especially shorter than 11 months it wouldn’t look like this. It reminds me of a tedtalk Wren from Corridor Digital made. He said VFX artists can work on projects for a long time but the shots they’re working need to be released one day. Artists can work on things for years, changing that, editing that and adding this, but arts need to be released and published so people can see and get motivated by.
I modeled and textured this gas pump for my desert scene. It’s a low quality model, because I used it as a distant object.