Making ‘The last thing I remember’

The last thing I remember final artwork

This was a fun one. Some time ago I had an office that was ridiculous in size. Like… 4500 sq.ft for one person ridiculous. Some friends and I thought it would be a good venue to have an art show. We all did stuff across many different mediums, and I had a ton of space… so why not? Being 2/3 the top floor of an 1800’s hotel, we had a tons of places to put people + things.  We had most every little nook and cranny covered in the space with a variety of mediums.  From painting and sculpture to graffiti to performance.  Someone (me?) noticed along the way that I had virtually nothing to put in,.  Odd, considering I was a full-time professional artist.

I decided to make something using an idea that I had been considering for some time –wire people.  I had also read some of Macbeth, so why not meld the two.

The last thing I remember base model

To kick things off, I needed a shape.  luckily, I had done a 3d model for a medical visualization project, so I decided to use that as a base shape.  I played with the volume and then posed the character in a slightly unnatural  position.  I wanted the base form to be conceptually accurate, but not natural.

I use 3ds Max for doing 3d models, animations and dynamics simulations.  Max has a huge community surrounding is that makes tools and add-ons that can solve most any problem or task you may face.   There is one tool that I love that someone made for making spaghetti.  yup, noodles.  you can take a spline and draw it on a surface.  It’s awesome.  After the paths were set I then defined shape and volume.

The last thing I remember overdraw
The last thing I remember screenshot

This is where the MacBeth part comes in. I wanted some buddies, so I cloned out the original model and did slight adjustments to the pose for each.  I had a different version where they all were in very different poses, but i wanted it to be a bit more ‘familial’ and representative of a bit more of a ritual than a dance.

The clouds… are almost impossible to describe the process of.  I used particle systems to describe the general shape of the cloud bank that I wanted.  in the screenshot it’s a little weird to see what is going on, but the arrow is the emitter object, and the dots are each particle.  In the upper left you see little boxes around each dot, and those are the defined ‘volume’ of each particle. A ton of these arrays were used in layer to build up the ‘density’ of the particle fields.

3DS Max particles
3ds Max Shaders

The spaghetti splines were textured using materials that would (I guess) closely resemble metals.  Unfocused reflections and some minor noise elements with non-prime colors define the surfaces.  A global illumination map (a square image using 32bits per channel) wraps the scene in order to provide a soft lighting palette from multiple directions (the image represents a complex light source).  I added 4 separate soft shaded spotlights in addition in order to give highlights where I wanted.

(no pics) Rendering the pieces was a laborious task.  If my workstation had arms, it would have slapped me.  For all of the layers about 15 hours was required of processing.  On my end it was a matter of defining how the light interacts with the objects, the camera angle, f-stop, exposure levels and all that –basically setting the scene like a photographer would.

Once the pieces were made, then it became time to put them together.  These are the layers of the final document. There is a lot of editing done after the fact during composition, this doesn’t show that, just the final affected layers.  The final PSD file weighs in at about 370MB, and is set for a 36″ x 24″ print at 300 dpi.

The last thing I remember Layer 1
The last thing I remember Layer 2
The last thing I remember Layer 3
The last thing I remember Layer 4
The last thing I remember Layer 5

The same base process was used to create a couple more pieces of the style.

Evening of the Dead
All the Presidents Men