, by Maximilien Vert

When the Construction Site Turns into a Playground

Substance 3D asset's Maximilien Vert explores the library's 3D models and materials.

  • Interview

The 3D assets library is a platform of ready-to-use 3D materials, models, and lights, designed to help you save time, be more creative, and inspire you to produce high quality artworks in 3D. Our internal team of experts design and produce the content with great care and attention to details. But sometimes, a maker needs to use what they make. 

For this series of articles, we wanted to step into your shoes and use the 3D assets across a variety of workflows, so we gave each artist in the content team free reign to play with the content. Over the next weeks, we’ll share the results and explain each artist’s process and inspirations to achieve photorealistic visuals on the theme of their choice. Today, we’re putting Maximilien Vert, technical artist in the 3D content team, under the spotlight.

3D happened pretty late in my life. I only began working with this medium when I was 24, for my Fine Art school graduation project. But as soon as I discovered this world, I knew that it would stay on as my favorite way to create.

3D is a playground with infinite possibilities, it’s always interesting to set some constraints to work. This time, I decided to use construction sites assets only. I like the idea of a kind of poetic, strange realism where something feels plausible but the composition, lighting and the way the elements are mixed together made it quite impossible to exist in reality. 

So I made the following pictures :

Artwork by Maximilien Vert

Soaring scaffold

The process of creation was pretty straightforward as I was focusing on one type of asset. I remember being inspired by those high scaffolds that have really interesting graphic qualities on their own. Besides, I am neurotic texture artist, and I was attracted to the zinc material – enough that I was excited about using it in an entire scene. 

Artwork by Maximilien Vert

When I built my scene, I just picked elements from the 3D assets platform. It’s a content platform designed for high-end , with the goal in mind to help artists gain time for creative work, by giving access to 9k + high-end materials and 2k + models that are ready-to-texture. I didn’t even need to worry about unwrapping the UVs since they were already prepared.

Among the 3D models I picked a selection for each little scene I’ve created. I brought the models together in order to create the composition that I liked, straight into Blender for the scaffold scene, and then I applied the procedural materials from the 3D assets platform too, like so:

I though it could be interesting to have a portrait format to enhance the altitude of those scaffolds. To amplify that even more, I decided to add clouds to make us feel that the structure is like a skyscraper. For the cloud, I used Houdini. I roughly modeled the cloud shape using metaballs and tweaked a few settings in Houdini until I had the ideal amount of volume density. 

Cone on container

Artwork by Maximilien Vert

For the cone shot, I just wanted to work with the large empty space area of this sky and use the object as colour composition. I made this render in Stager, in a fairly straightforward workflow. The models and materials from the 3D assets platform can be simply dragged-and-dropped in Stager, and you’ll find that the material behaves the same in every software.

I also added a simple light obstacle like this grid for instance. It is an efficient way to suggest deepness and density into the off-camera environment with the projected shadows.

Balancing bricks

I recently followed Yannik Wenk works, so I think I had one of the lighting of his renders in mind when I did this one. It inspired me to use this kind of warm back-light.

Artwork by Maximilien Vert

PART II – OBJECT CAN HOOP

After making those still picture, I really wanted to add a bit of movement. I decided to make a looping video that could enhance the phantasmagorical idea that object could live their own life and take a break to play basketball. (And also because basketball is the most beautiful sports ever.)

As far as I can remember, I always liked loops and their hypnotic propensity. As a student, I spent a lot of time grabbing some movie sequences to transform them into loops. I wanted to turn these little moments in time and space into infinity. I remember being greatly impressed by one of Christoph Schreiber’s loop videos called Schwan. This short video shows swans swimming on a lake, and all of a sudden they create a pattern that disturbs the viewer by the perfect geometrical look of it. This piece is a perfect example of the weird realism that I love.

This project with the construction models and materials was a perfect opportunity to start learning new things related to animation. So I gathered up my courage and took a deep dive into Houdini with the help of the great Paul Parneix who helped me a lot on this one.

The project was not really complex technically speaking. It was more about tries and error, to find the right settings for bend and stiffness regarding the net and also finding the right velocity to have a beautiful arcing shot trajectory.

I started with the concrete mixer as the only object shooting the ball, but I finally thought that it could be more interesting to have few additional ones in different space to use full potential of this kind of vertical framing.

One of the great thing with the substance 3d models is that every part are split. So it was pretty straightforward to isolate some object for the simulation with the split node.

I always liked the movement of the basketball net when the ball goes in. To achieve this effect with minor simulation calculation, I use a simple vellum cloth and then replace it with the real net mesh afterward with the Point Deform node.

As I wanted to make a loop, the balls had to get out of camera to accomplish the seamless effect. So I had to add one plank for the second ball to direct it on the right, behind the concrete pile and for the last shot, I had to cut a part of the fence.

Generally, I am the kind of person that like to make everything regarding the creation of a 3D render including modeling. But I have to admit that having access to thousands of models is a huge time saver so you can use this additional time to experiment more, which is quite pleasant! 

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