The Christmas of The Little Snowmen – part 2 · 3dtotal · Learn | Create

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In this chapter we’ll see ways to add to our details, how to concept them, and general advice for creating them, while using natural lines to add to our composition.

At the end of the chapter we’ll see how to add the first lights, creating the base for the last chapter, where we’ll see the advanced concepts of lighting and characters creation.

Let’s go!

Final Illustration

Sketching the elements

How can we add details to our illustration while sticking to the concept and helpingour composition? That’s easy, we need a “set dressing.” Here it is important to return to our moodboard, it will help us so much to identify the common elements in the type of scenes we’re creating. Don’t worry, it isn’t necessary to be the best draftsman because this sketch will help you only like a guide for the elements we’ll design and model.

In my case the concept of have a classical Christmas village gave me lot of details to add, like a wooden fence, rocks, some wooden boxes, street lamps, gifts, rocks, and other Christmas decorations, but don’t worry, we know to do the exact same thing everyone does can be boring, also you can have unusual assets like big candies too which I’ll add in the next chapter (spoiler).

The sketch is only a guide to help you to understand the purpose of each thing in your illustration. If you understand it its ok.

Modeling the props

It is the moment to create the secondary props, but what are the secondary props? Are they less important than the main ones? No, the answer is no, they are also important, because they add narrative to our scene, and will help us to have a clear context for our history. They can even can add secondary interactions in the background.

It’s recommended to create the props in another file, and keep the composition file clear of objects to we don’t use. But in this moment it is really important do one thing… name our layers. If you don’t name it, you’ll have confusion later.

The level of detail in the secondary props can be lower than the main props, but this isn’t a rule.

Adding the props

Since at this point I recommend you activate the random color in your viewport shading settings, it will help you to see many elements in the composition without putting any material yet.

But now, we can’t compose an image without thinking of the purpose of our assets, yes, the main purpose is to work like narratives elements, but they can help us too to create new natural guides, a great way to force our visual reading in the direction of the focal area, in this case the tree area.

You need to care for your natural guides. You can use pointed elements in order to direct your focus directly on the focal point.

Little variations

The little variations will add dynamism in our compositions, but not only that, at the same time you can add coherence or more narrative.

To create coherence in my scene, I simply added snow to the roofs of my house models. It was simple, I just duplicated the top faces on my roof, added an extrusion and then sculpted to create that accumulated snow feeling. The little sticks in the floor are to create the feeling of  many objects beneath it, but at same time are pointing at the focal area.

In this step the changes can be really subtle, like a little rotation, change of scale or translation, but it depends of the intention of the changes to your illustration needed.

Main props

To create the main props we can make little sketches of them but it isn’t necessary, the main characteristic  the props need to have it is to be more detailed than another secondary prop. Usually this can take us more time, but it’s necessary to have a good visual hierarchy.

The level of details is always a way to stand out any prop or character, but the size, an unusual shape, and bright colors can works too.

Don’t forget to search for more inspirational images to help as guides.

First materials & lights

I love to use flat and plastic materials to give a feeling of a world of cute toys. It is the reason this process normally doesn’t take much time for me, but the time that I don’t spend creating complex materials I dedicate to creating a good color palette.

For the lights, normally I start working on the shade color, thinking at the same time about my main lights. If my main lights will be orange, my shade needs to be a contrast color, like dark purple. After that, I start with a main light to give the general color of my scene; in my case an orange color, to end I add emissive materials to my incandescence materials.

In the first lights try to keep a simple lighting, the purpose of this is make to your focal area clear in your composition. We’ll add more lights in the next steps.

Finishing the illustration

Our details, materials, and lights are ready, it’s time to finishing the illustration with a complex lighting and yes… more details. See you in the next chapter!

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