February 6, 2013


A CGI project for Razor Ribbon showing of their top-of-the-line barbed wire which secures chemical plants, weapons depots, refineries and nuclear power plants had us neck deep in character development. For art director Adam VonOhlen of Two By Four out of Chicago (Hello again!) this image was all about nailing the look of the gargoyle and getting just the right mix of menace and awesomeness.

Reading up on the history of gargoyles and looking at hundreds of pictures from sculptors, illustrators, photographers and animators' interpretations really allowed us to wrap our head around this mythical creature. To relate the protective prowess of RazorWire barbed wire fences to the power of Gargoyles seemed quite fitting, as their place and reason for being has always been to protect important buildings from intruders with evil intentions, even if rather spiritual in nature. Working against a tight deadline, we started building the fence and compositing the refinery right away, while two of our character artists and myself each worked up a different animal style/approach for the gargoyle to present to Adam in a dating game of sorts.

[Click image to enlarge]

Tim's muscular bad dog, which he modeled in Z-Brush, turned out to be the winning contestant. The reward: not a date, but the honor of being put through the development wringer in the quest for the perfect beast.

Character development and art direction

In the final stages of the gargoyle's development we rendered a VR version (we blogged about this VR earlier already) allowing Adam, David and the other creatives and the client to see the gargoyle in virtual 3D from different angles.

Riffing with Adam via emailed JPEGs and exchanging screenshots of tweaks in real-time via iChat is how most of the art direction took place, perfecting the lighting, materials and minute details of the image. Once it was locked down and signed off by the client, it entered the final 8K render stage. The hero image was uploaded as simplified Photoshop layered file, allowing Adam and his team to scale the gargoyle, barbed wire wings, refinery, fence, and vignetting independently to accommodate different uses with their unique aspect ratios.

[Click image to see close-up of 8K render]

Then earlier last month, and I think of it as the cherry on top, Ruben, the art buyer came back to us to have us render the product image inset as well, with the same dramatic lighting and definition as the barbed wire in the hero image.

Guess the only thing left to say, is... Thanks! Adam, Ruben and Steve. And I really look forward to another engagement with twoxfour.

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