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Making of "Lockdown birthday"

Andrew Brady 2021-07-29 08:55 tutorial  > 3ds MAX  > modeling

Andrew Brady shows how he made a awarded work for Evermotion Challenge 2020.

Hi, my name is Andrew Brady and this was my entry for the Evermotion 2020 competition. It might seem like there’s a lot going on in the image – but fundamentally it’s quite a simple CGI. I hope you like this quick breakdown – if you take away just one tip or trick, I'll be a happy man.





For the competition I wanted to create a realistic representation of 2020 but focusing in on one of the happier moments of the year - my daughter's birthday. The NHS Rainbow and Black Lives Matter window posters were so prevalent in South East London I felt somehow these had to be included in the CGI. A Zoom call obviously needed to be included. And of course, an all-important lockdown Amazon delivery.


I started with the idea of two children (my two kids), the birthday video call and direct light from a window. I had just created a nice painted floorboards material for a job and thought it might be good to include this. Whenever possible draw upon what you know best – so the look of the room is very much what the properties in my neighbourhood look like. The wood sash windows, high ceilings, vintage radiator and the tree lined streets. With those features added I had the bones of the image.





I’m not a fan of multiple ‘fake’ lights. So, this scene is a closed space lit with just one powerful light source (or sun) positioned outside. All rendering software is fantastic at diffusing and bouncing light these days. On a commercial project you only have a finite amount of time you can spend on a job. A lot
of time can be wasted adding plane lights all over your scene trying to guess at what looks realistic. Keeping to just one strong light source is a nice simple way of achieving convincing and sometimes surprising results.



The majority of the objects in this scene were created by someone else (a lot of it by Evermotion!). But some things I couldn’t find online, so I quickly created myself. The Amazon box, the balloons and the window posters were among my creations. Don’t ever model from memory. It takes too long and invariably looks wrong. Download a selection of precedence photos or much better, find the object in reality.




The window posters I tried creating from memory - until seeing the ones in our windows I realised I'd not included the bluetack. Little things like this don’t always register but will create that feeling that ‘there’s something missing’. The Amazon parcel was fun and simple. I took photos of each (visible) side of an Amazon parcel, and these were my Diffuse maps.

Some quick editing of these created the Bump maps for the minor delivery dents to the box. Then I just modeled a box, gave a slight chamfer and dragged the mesh to create a slight elevation for the previously opened flap.I had found several balloon models online but none were that great and as I needed to populate the seen with quite a few I thought it justifies modelling one myself. We had a pack of balloons, so I blew one up.




Using this then as a reference I create a sphere and stretched it into shape, added a couple of distorted spheres for the knot and then a cone for the balloon opening. It’s not a perfect shape but good enough and again, I didn’t want to spend time stressing about detail that wasn’t needed. Then going back to the real balloon,

I studied how the plastic behaved under direct and indirect light. Where the balloon plastic was stretched the balloon became more translucent. At either end was more ‘solid’. Ater a couple of experiments I found a simple Gradient map could be used as a Blend with a more and less translucent material applied to either end and the middle.

Post Edit

The last task for the image was to change the 3d model children into my actual kids. My son was easy enough - I rendered in the 3d model of a boy and then replaced the head with a photo taken from the correct angle. My daughter was harder – mostly because she refused to pose for any photos! So, I found
an old photo and then edited the lighting to match that in the render. This I where having a 3d model rendered into the scene as a reference becomes invaluable. Study closely the amount lighting your model receives, how shadows land on the figure and also how the shadow falls within the scene.







And that’s it. It really is a true representation of 2020 Covid lockdown in my home. I hope you liked it.

If you’d like to see more of my work, please check out my website – Or you can follow me on Instagram at @brady.ldn or on LinkedIn at Andrew Brady.

Author: Andrew Brady Editor: Michał Franczak
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Mariam Masoud 16:28:21  |  10-09-2021