To some, it may seem that eye-makeup remover, a GPS alarm system for an iconic all-terrain vehicle, a panda, a raccoon and an orangutan don’t have much in common. But 3D artist and graphic designer, Beto Prado, sees things differently. That’s why he was tapped for two ad campaigns recently that required 3D modeling skills, as well as the creation of hair and fur.
A graphic designer and visual artist for more than 20 years, Prado is currently heading up the Colgate/Palmolive account at Brazilian ad agency Young & Rubican. Using Maxon’s Cinema 4D, Pixologic’s ZBrush and Adobe’s Photoshop, he created a memorable ad for online fashion retailer, Dafiti, featuring a panda that is missing the usual dark rings around its eyes. “No more panda eyes when you wake up,” claims the humorous ad touting a new eye makeup remover.
Prado tapped into his animal expertise again while working on Leo Burnett’s ad campaign for Jeep Wrangler’s GPS alarm system. For that, he created an orangutan and a raccoon, animals that he saw as good representatives for two different kinds of forests, as well as divergent latitudes and longitudes.
Both critters are depicted in the ad in mug shots, the message being that even if they steal your Jeep, you can track them down with the GPS alarm system, no matter where they are. Slates that the orangutan and raccoon are holding up in a police lineup feature their scientific names, as well as numbers that are an inside joke in the sense that they represent the years in which Prado’s favorite Brazilian soccer team (Sociedade Esportiva Palmeiras) won many of their championships.
Both ads were featured in South American/Brazilian magazines, as well as tablet banners on mobile devices. Prado enjoys modeling animals and giving them life, and he also finds the work challenging. “The great challenge is to integrate the animals into the environment that I choose; the sea, a forest, or even into a police lineup, and make it seem real,” he says.
Prado (www.betoprado.com) was six years old when he first starting drawing animals, mostly dinosaurs, sharks and jungle creatures that he saw in books. In 2007, he discovered ZBrush and Cinema 4D. Both had an immediate and lasting effect on his career. “With those tools, suddenly I could model, texture and render my animal sketches.”
When it comes to creating the look of animals, Prado says he follows Mother Nature’s lead. “I work in separate areas on each of the creatures; the fur of the head could have a different texture, thickness and flow than on the animal’s chest, arms and so on,” he explains. “The hair can be different, too, with the same color of roots in some places, but differences in thickness, density and level of frizziness.”
In addition to lending a bit of humor to the ads, Prado was asked to give each a realistic tone, meaning that the panda was not supposed to look like a teddy bear. To do that, he made sure all three of the animal characters had the right proportions and other qualities. “Over and over again, I drew a lot of images of animals to make sure I had the anatomy and proportions right,” he explains. “That’s especially important when you create 3D images because it’s easy to tell if they’re not correct.”
To create the realistic-looking tree bark for the panda ad, Prado used C4D to create a sketch that he could texture and color. For the leaves, he used Cinema 4D’s content browser, and after positioning the panda in the trees, he added the sky using a preset with the time set for 7 o’clock in the morning.
C4D and ZBrush
For both projects, Prado spent about 40 percent of his time studying still images of each animal’s bones, muscles and anatomy. Next, he sketched several versions of his subjects on paper before starting to model. “The work went smoothly because I sketched everything first, so I was very familiar with how things would look,” he recalls. “I think drawing is the perfect training for your brain to assimilate the major forms of your subjects before you actually model them.”
After modeling the basic polygon mesh in Cinema 4D, Prado exported low-res mesh versions of each animal into ZBrush in order to perfect their proportions and made them look much more organic and realistic. Next, he moved back into C4D to apply textures and refine the UV mesh.
Moving on to creating the hair and fur, one of Prado’s favorite tricks is to create a basic three-point lighting system along with simple shadow maps in Cinema 4D. This allows him to quickly refine things like thickness, frizz, clumps and specularity. To save time while working, he turns off the hair and fur settings when rendering, but turns those settings back on for the final render. Rendering to separate channels helps save time, too. Once final renders are done, he finalizes the image in Photoshop.
Looking forward, Prado enjoys working on hair and fur, in particular, and hopes to be able to create additional animal characters. “I would love to model and create fur for an animal that I’ve never worked on before, perhaps a bison or a mountain goat,” he says. “I think those would be a great challenge.”
Editor's Note: Be sure to check out the following related links:
Article by Scott Strohmaier
Scott Strohmaier is a writer living in Los Angeles living with his wife and son.
September 23, 2013
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