Personal Project TESF: The Blackbird!

Finally!! so I am pretty much done with the SR-71 and soon I'll begin doing the actual shots. Yaaay!
This days I have had a little bit more time, since my contract had to finish, unfortunately. But it's great that I can invest more time on working on my personal stuff.

So here I have some still renders of the Blackbird comped very quickly in photoshop. I actually spent a lot of time in CG (and I have still a bunch to do...) and I was missing compositing, so I decided to render this guy from different angles and see how it looked. 

One thing I was noticing is that the reflections and specular highlights were working for me depending on the camera angle and light direction. Some of the renders I had didn't look right from certain angles (I did a couple of turnables and noticed that)
Usually, this type of vehicles such as fighter jets, stealth planes and military helicopters, have a matte finished look, so they don't reflect the environment directly. However, they specular highlights are still very strong and present, specially when this jets are flying high and receive a lot of light from the sun.
Check out the image below:

So in a first moment I thought "if there are specular highlights, that means that surface is reflective". Because in the mia_material the specularity and reflectivity are controlled by the same slider. And this is because mia_material is trying to do things physically accurate, just like in real life, and in real life spec highlights are nothing but the reflections of light sources, or super bright elements.
The thing is that I couldn't get the right look trying different reflectivity values and even using spec maps for the reflectivity channel.
When I used to use a Blinn shader, I had the ability of controlling the specular highlights and the reflections separately, althought that wasn;t the "physically accurate" way to write shaders, and sometimes the results were materials that didn't exist in the real life, based on the rules of Thermodynamics or whatever that is...

So I decided to use a built in feature inside the mia_Material called "Highlights Only". What it does, is to reflect only the light sources and things with a high value in it's own luminance, instead of reflecting everything else.
I did try to use this feature before, and didn't really convinced me... it was washing out everything in a weird way. But that was because my glossiness was very low and the reflections were very diffused, causing a big fat spec higlight reflected only on the surface, and washing everything out.

So I did a test render with Highlights only on, tweaked the reflectivity and glossiness, and the result were very convincing from pretty much every single angle (at the bottom of this post I show the turntables)

highlights only ON

higlights only OFF
Both of the images above were convincing for me, but the one with higlights only OFF looked strange from different angles, whereas the other one looked OK in every angle, so I think I will go with Highlights Only ON. But still I will have to do some test.

In this last image I tried to replicate the artwork that inspired me to do this project (can be seen in previous posts) and I think I am pretty close, so I feel super motivated. This one was comped in Nuke, and it is going to be one of the final animated shots. Isn't that so exciting!!!

Below you can see a couple of turntables:
The first one has the "Highlights Only" feature on, and the second one off.
At the beginning I didn't really trusted this feature, but I think is working better with it on. I will still have to do a couple of test renders.

Higlights Only is ON

Highlights Only is OFF

So with the asset of the Blackbird done I can move on to some basic animation, lighting and rendering of the CG elements and compositing the shots. Let's go for it!!!
I hope you are enjoying this project so far!

Thanks for watching :D

1 comment:

  1. I pondered to myself recently what were the most important things in my life. The answer seems to be clear that art was up there in importance. Why? Frankly, I don't really know. May be someone here can enlighten me?
    As was my wont when I have some free time, I browsed the marvelous site, Wahooart, where they keep thousands of digital images for customers to select to have printed into handsome canvas prints for their homes.
    This image jumped out to jolt my reveries: Still life with bread, by the Cubist Georges Braque. Is art like this picture, as essential as bread and water, or should I say bread and wine?