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Graham Murdoch p2

3d artist Graham Murdoch talks about touching on realism without trying to reproduce it...

READERSVOICE.COM: The robot pictures you created from sketches by Chris West have good reflections on the metal surfaces. How do you get such realistic light and texture on the metal of these robots?

GRAHAM MURDOCH: Chris West’s sketches are great, so much character in so few marks. Please check out his work over at westernink.co.uk. It was a really enjoyable experience working on these. The lighting and environment reflections come from a single High Dynamic Range image that is virtually wrapped around the scene. HDR images reproduce a greater dynamic range of luminosity than is possible with a standard 8 or 24 bit image. Metals are mostly highly reflective. Their interaction with the environment helps to make them believable. Adding a texture into the roughness channel of the material breaks up the cleaness and produces a more lived-in look.

RV: What programs did you use to make the tall building in the Popular Science article?

GM: MODO is my main program for work. I just love doing 3D stuff. It’s a vast playground: modeling, texturing, lighting, scene layout, rigging, animation, simulation. So much to explore.

RV: Just generally, what are the steps involved in making a picture like that?

GM: Research, reference and running with the big wobbly ball, trying not to drop it.

RV: The pill pictures in your illustration Take One of These and See Me In the Morning look very realistic and have a weird glow. What separates a good 3d picture from something that looks real?

GM: The state of the art today makes it very difficult to know what we’re looking at: real world or virtual; in-camera or software generated. My preference is to make work that has an illustrative quality touching on realism, but not trying to reproduce it — simplifying things down a bit; more graphic with some stylisation.

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– copyright Simon Sandall