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Blender skill progression 2017 vs 2018: Adam Skovran

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Adam Skovran writes:

Hey, I'm Adam. I would like to share my skill progression in Blender over the course of last year. This project marks a milestone for me as I kept pushing myself to create something original and to get all the details how I wanted them to be. This drive resulted in me trying out new things only for this project, by which I learned a lot. Like at some point the scene became so complex that if I tried to render it on my PC it would have taken 16 hours for one still. So I decided to outsource the rendering to a farm. This completely changed my approach about adding details and generally when I think about the possibilities. It's also nice not to have your workstation blocked for 16 hours. Another example when I started working on the foliage I realized that part will eat up a lot of my time, if I want to get it right, so I started searching for add-ons and came across Graswald. This was the first time I used an ad-on like this. I was always skeptical about ad-ons for some reason, but oh boy it was one of the best decisions I took while creating this piece. I'm more then happy to answer anybody any questions. I would like to put myself out there, so to say, and become a better artist.

To fully experience the project in images please go here.

I've revisited one of my projects from a year ago and gave it an upgrade. Main image was rendered at 4K resolution. The showcase includes maximum zoom detail shots, comparison with my first try, breakdown test renders and an extra night-shot render at the end of the project. Thanks for watching and let me know what you think! :)

5 Comments

  1. Awesome work and progression. Recently I started to use more add-ons, too. I had that feeling that it was "cheating", but that's just that fear that you have to create everything in your scene. After some time, you start to see even the "triple A" artists will try to automate their process, if needed. After all, you need your experience to control the scene at your will, make it behave how it should, etc....

    So, after that comment, would you care to explain more about the render-farms. Did you use a paid service, there are free alternatives? How long did it take to render your final image on a farm?

    Thank you.

    • Hey John, thanks a lot! That's exactly how I felt about add-ons and my work, but it's just silly. In the end it's definitely not cheating, they allow you to shift your focus and energy on the details, composition and weight maps which in the end can make or break an artwork.

      I used Render Street for render farm. It's a paid service of course, I highly doubt you will find free render farm services, although I didn't search for free ones specifically. The rendering on the farm took 4H for one still on CPU, against 16H on my home setup. In this case GPU ran out of memory even for the render farm, which I think is totally fine. For trying it the first time I got 25$ for free, which was enough to render out the final render twice in 4K. I have to shout out for Render Street here, because I was new to all of this. I didn't run any small resolution tests, I just naively packed my .blend file and set it 4k and though everything will work out. To my disappointment the alpha channels were rendered as black pixels instead of transparent even though I had them enabled when I was filling out the request form. There was a miss-match between my blender version and the farm's blender version that caused the issue. I emailed support, they patched their software in a couple of hours, while updating me through email about the situation. They also explained that before running high valued render requests it's best to render out small resolution test to see if everything is working. Which is very logical, I was just too eager to get my render done. Even thought it was my mistake that I didn't test before I ran the 4k request, they gave back the amount for the previous render so I could render my final piece correctly for free. TBH it was a rough but great first experience, mainly because of the awesome costumer support I've got :)

      All in all I think it's not a cheap service, in most cases I can see why people would just take the 16H on their PC instead of paying for a service like this. But with using a farm, you have 100% uptime on your workstation, which is great. You have more time to work on your art and you get the results faster. I think it's a commodity which if you can afford it's definitely worth it. I will be using it for future project, that's for sure. Hope this sums up. Let me know if you have any other questions. :)

  2. This is really cool thanks for sharing! I particulary enjoy the small details like the lichens and the veins! Where did you get the inspiration for the creature? Do you use Blender in a professional capacity for Amazon? Are the droplets particles? And can you talk about the texture of the spore ball things?

    Do you have any suggestions for tutorials that were especially helpful for your artistic development?

    Thanks again and for answering any of these questions.

    • Hey MB, I was working on a project for last year's Blender Guru's fantasy competition and I had to come up with a creature for an alien planet and the old model was what I came up with. As for inspiration I've used behance and artstation. Here is the collection I made: https://www.artstation.com/skovran/collections/187873. There were 2 projects that particularly stood out: 1) https://www.artstation.com/artwork/LwbAK, and 2) https://www.artstation.com/artwork/wgxqL.

      I do use Blender in professional capacity at Amazon. My main software is photoshop (about 90% of the time I use PS) but I try to include Blender in the workflow wherever I can. Here is something I did in Blender for one of the Devices I'm working on: https://dribbble.com/shots/4187295-Amazon-Dash-Button-dance unfortunately this never saw the daylight. :)

      Yes droplets are particle system that use the same weight map as the fur but they are elevated from the normals so they appear suspended by the fur.

      The head of the creature is quite simple actually, I just played around with SSS and translucency + I applied a generated texture for the small yellow dots. That's about it.

      For artistic development for me personally getting involved with photography helped me in so many ways, like becoming more aware of composition, focus points, DoF. Or just generally being able to operate a camera IRL, same concepts can be applied to the camera in Blender. Exposing yourself to platforms like Artstation and Behance and just follow a bunch of great artists is also something that can help you a lot, just the sheer fact that you are looking at quality art every day. There are a lot of great tutorials generally about art on youtube, one such video I liked a lot was Gleb Alexandrov's Blender conference talk from last year: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0KhJrMKo04g.

      Hope you find these answers helpful. Let me know if you have any other questions :)

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