This a breakdown of the recent CGI animal/paint project "Surge". I'll walk you through, briefly, the steps used to create this series from scratch, and some 3D texturing/rendering tips involved in making it come to life.
Software: Zbrush, Cinema 4D/Vray, Photoshop.
A look at how the splashes were created. The animal head was always first. Then around it, a large wall (cube) was drawn and extruded. Each splash was pulled from the center, remeshed frequently, and liquified until it looked...like liquid. Time consuming, but way more fun than pretty much anything else ever. Have you hand sculpted liquid before? Because if not, you should.
A simple 3-light setup for the renders, including softboxes, and studio backdrops. For those unaware, most CG programs read and react to lighting in a very realistic way, which is how we're able to render these types of images. Setting up a photography studio to light your model, will actually light your model, as if you put it inside of a studio. These were rendered using C4D/Vray, exported straight from ZBrush. No UV's were created as we weren't displacing or painting the sculpts, rather adding a seamless texture to the entire thing.
This is a sectional breakdown of the 4 different Zbrush subtools used. The paint layers were separated to keep everything uniform. It gets confusing once you have so many splashes on one layer, and it becomes hard to manipulate them. As you can see, there never was an actual "hole", which is something that isn't necessary with the magic of cameras.
When all 4 sections are overlayed, it becomes a seamless image, ripping itself apart. In a sense, if you know Photoshop well, this is merely an extension of that. We're using it the same way. Finding techniques to make things seem way more grandiose than they are by using layers.
Test shot of the lighting/candy material. Nothing was actually changed form this to the final render, I just wanted to point out how lighting works. As you can see, this version is much "whiter" than the final, because the only thing causing reflections is a huge white room. Thus, it just reflects white upon itself. Once you throw in the other layers of blue, they start to create darker reflections.
Final, Photoshop version. Some sparkles were added, and the blues were darkened a bit, but for the most part, what was rendered is what was used. Using the same lighting/texture setup for all of these made it feasible to spend the majority of the time on sculpting each animal, and it's paint splashes instead. Which is really where the character comes from.
Thanks for reading! If there's another project/technique you'd like to see a breakdown of, let me know!