My name is Jason Battersby, I’m a Canadian automotive exterior designer currently working for Audi Design in Ingolstadt, Germany. I have always been passionate about automotive design, as well as anything 3D related. Ever since my first 3D courses in college—Solidworks & Alias Studio Tools at the time—I have been drawn towards using 3D modeling as an effective design tool in my professional life, as well as for my own personal projects such as this one.
In 2016 I took it upon myself to learn polygon modeling after years of watching from the sidelines. In the automotive industry, Nurbs modeling is used to create a car’s “Class A” surfacing. While Nurbs can achieve a greater quality for actual production parts, it is a very time-consuming process and a completely different way of modeling. For years I followed the development of software such as Maya and Cinema 4D, and eventually chose Maya to start building the Aston Martin DB5 you see here. Aside from being a James Bond fan, I chose this car because of its simplicity in construction. A very clean body side, simple proportions, and enough details to learn the wide range of polygon modeling tools. It wasn’t long after diving into Maya and following other artists on ArtStation that I discovered the power of Blender’s polygon modeling tools, as well as Cycles. With 95% of the car finished in Maya, I eventually moved into Blender, learning all of its tools as well as moving on to other personal projects, leaving this DB5 on the side and spending the next 3 years mastering polygon modeling and rendering in Blender.
As I watched the beta version of 2.8 emerge, I figured the DB5 would be the perfect test bed for trying the new Eevee rendering engine. Since I had the majority of the car finished and already inside Blender with some Cycles materials, it was the perfect starting point to light, texture, and eventually render out an animation of the car—something that previously would have taken too long to render in Cycles. With so many great tutorials already out for EEVEE—even before its official release, I had enough information to dive right in and set up my scene.
I wanted to create a simple studio setup, and these photos provided the perfect reference. It seemed as though 1-2 lights, or the use of a studio-style HDRI Map might be enough to recreate the lighting. I later found there simply wasn’t enough lighting to define the car’s features.
For this one shot I have 7 different lights to highlight various parts of the car. Just as a real photographer would do in a studio setting, I have a mix of area and point lights to achieve different effects on the body, either hard or soft reflections. The GIF below shows how each light gives life to specific features of the car. Together with all of these lights, I use the HDRI with the strength set at 0.10 to give added reflections on the body and especially the chrome—without these reflections the chrome parts tend to look lifeless.
The backdrop for the scene is just a cylinder with a subsurf modifier to create a typical photography backdrop.
Textures and Materials
High-resolution textures and normal maps played an important role for the detailed parts. I was lucky enough to see a DB5 at a local car event and took some photos to use for texturing. I generated normal maps from the images I took using Photoshop. For all of the materials, I created my own node setups depending on what worked best. You can find the various other textures that I used for dirt maps on Poliigon & Friendly Shade.
For the headlight glass material, under settings on the right side panel, I have the Blend Mode set to Alpha Blend, Shadow Mode to Opaque, and turned on both Show Backface and Screen Space Refraction.
Rendering & Color Correction
I rendered the final image at 3840x2160 Pixels, with EEVEE’s render samples set to 1024, and the Screen Space Reflection trace precision set all the way up to 1. Render time was 5 minutes on an Nvidia GTX 1080ti.
For color correction I always use Adobe Lightroom along with VSCO presets for Lightroom. VSCO presets mimic most classic film stocks, and are a great starting point to make your renderings look a little less computer-generated. From there I always end up modifying the preset depending on what look I want to achieve. In this case I went in a more blue/green direction as seen in the reference images. I try my best to light everything in the rendering itself and not rely on Photoshop or compositing to make drastic changes in lighting. This allows me to create animations with the same lighting and quality as the still images.
DB5 Turntable Animation
About the Author