Fall, my latest project was the first illustration I did using a combination of 3DS Max and VRay. After almost 5+ years of experience with mentalray it was a real pleasure trying something new. This was a project I started few years ago, but it never grew to more than initial sketch and simple scene blocking in 3D. First idea for the image was just to create old rusty factory and something mysterious in that tunnel. But as image developed and grew, the main story was formed and from that point the whole image was shaping around that story, it was my main source of motivation and inspiration. I know some artists just sketch and do illustrations, but my way is to create story first and then create the whole environment around that story. It's basically just a flow of creative process, and I think every artist in time finds the best way to develop his ideas.
The purpose of this making of is to show you my working process and to explain some steps during image creation, it's not the tutorial and you probably won't learn something specific like in other tutorials. So, if you want to get some more details about few steps be free to drop me email and I'll give my best to reply.
Concept and Initial scene blocking
After I got my first idea I made one quick sketch that served as a base for things to come. It doesn't matter if you are good or bad at sketching, it's just that it's fastest way of making a draft version of ideas that you have. This was made in 20 minutes in photoshop using simple brushes and some base textures. It's recommended to have some painting tablet for this (Wacom is the best) because it just feels so natural. Sometimes I do a quick sketch on paper and bring that in photoshop where I add colors and shading to everything, but since painting on wacom is very intuitive it is also a great way to start. So this is how the first sketch looked like left image below. The initial sketch served me as a starting point for building the scene in 3DS Max. Using some compositional forms from concept I've built a few basic shapes in 3DS Max and staged the camera. The most important thing at this stage is to define the most important shapes in composition, because the whole scene will be built around those shapes. Camera is also important because scene is created from camera point of view, and you only need to do what camera sees. If you don't do this part right it's gonna be very time consuming to change main shapes in later stages when you get to detailing. As I sad before, this should be very simple and it should represent direction of the modeling to come. It's also good to place some basic lights and define some materials. I've made two materials, one metal and one brick and assigned those materials to all objects.
After 3D scene blocking was finished, it was time to start with modeling... there is supposed to be a lot of details in this scene, so this can take up to couple of weeks depending on the time I have. Sometimes, to make things less messy and help me organizing everything, I export parts of the blocked scene to separate file and remodel that area over there before merging it back to main scene. It's also possible to do XRefs and keep everything in separate files, but that's up to you if you want to try it... I only mentioned it over here because for some artists it can work better.
As I said after scene blocking it was time to get into details and modeling. This time I decided first to model everything I have in scene and do textures-materials later. Sometimes it can be good decision to separate every process(modeling,texturing,lighting), but most of the time it's not the way I do illustrations because some modeling details can end up in dark areas where I don't need them but at the time I was modeling it, it seamed like it was ok to model that part. The thing is that in time you just learn where you need all the details and where to not put your effort. After few days of work this was the stage where model was: