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Texturing New York

Here's a little look behind the scenes of my thesis film, "Outdoors". It was a group project with myself and three other amazingly talented students, but I made this presentation to highlight my own contributions to the film.

I pitched the story based on my neighbor in Astoria, NY, a frighteningly old woman who lived with her pet cockatiel. She rarely left the apartment, so I played with the visual metaphor of the caged bird, the grandma being like a caged bird herself. These were the first concepts I painted. 

When the grandma ventures out of her apartment, she is confined within another cage, the concrete jungle of NYC. As she searches for her lost bird, buildings block out almost all of the sky. I wanted to show the contrast between city and sky by depicting the city in only warm colors. I took a trip home to NYC and gathered photo reference for the color palette and the textures of the city. 

I love all the texture detail in NYC, like different colored patches of paint over bricks, sidewalks spotted with old chewing gum, and uneven crosswalks. We wanted the film to feel like a hand-painted model of the city with thick, bumpy paint and no straight lines. I painted a lot of the textures by hand, using a mix of Photoshop, Mari, Substance, and scans of actual brushstrokes. 

I modeled the grandma and the bird and textured all three main characters. We didn't want to spend a lot of time making realistic feathers, which is difficult in CG, so the feathers on the bird's cheeks are modeled in a stylized way. I wanted this to be all one piece of geometry, and I loved the challenge of topologizing it. We also didn't have time to model a lot of crowd characters, so I designed 6 characters that could be textured and accessorized differently to create a crowd of 18. 

We wanted the lighting to be illustrative and graphic, so we painted lighting keys for each shot to give us a clear direction. Here are the painted keys on the left and the renders on the right. You can see, we were able to match our paintings very closely!

You can watch the film here:

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