In A Nutshell

About In A Nutshell

In A Nutshell is a course project for Advanced Pipeline Topics for Film and Game Art. It is a short animated film about a beetle who helps a tiny old man who lives in a tree hole to make instruments from nutshells. In this project, I worked as a Look Dev Artist and Technical Artist for the droplets simulation part.

Look Dev

We started by having a concept drawing of the environment:

(Image credited by Haran Kim, the environment artist of the team)

Then, according to the concept, we began analyzing the materials we will be making as well as how are we going to arrange the lighting in scene. Below are some of my WIPs of materials in Substance:

(Knitted pattern created in Substance Designer)
(Applied on mesh in Substance Painter)
(The inner walls of the tree hole in Substance Designer)
(Applied on mesh in Substance Painter)
(Create the color spots on the beetle's shell and helmet in Substance Designer)
(Paint the furry part on legs, torso and belly in Substance Painter)

Droplets Simulation

We have a shot where the beetle is shaking the droplets off his body. Since we want to have some droplets sliding down from his shell while he is shaking his wings, we decided to use Houdini to do the simulation. By controlling the collision volume generated from our animated mesh as well as the particle based fluid simulation, we have an accurate result in simulating the droplets, ensuring they are sticking on but not going into the mesh.


According to our mood board, the scene is relatively dark because it is inside a tree hole while outside is raining. However, we still need a lot of lightings in scene to make sure all the assets are still visible.

First of all, the most dominating light in the scene is the candle light. We simply animated the intensity of a point light to achieve the shaking artifact.

(How it looks like with the main light in Arnold render view)

Then, we created a number of supporting fill lights to light up the dark areas. Maya has provided lighting relationships to specify which objects shall be illuminated by a specific light, so it was very helpful for us to keep the scene illuminated, while preserving an overall dim impression.

Final Composing

Since all of our dynamic lightings are inside the tree hole, we decided to apply alpha masking when rendering in Maya Arnold for the inner part of the tree and exterior part of the tree separately to save time.

(Ambient candle light dynamics inside the tree hole)
(Exterior tree hole has a relative static lighting)
(Recomposed frame in Adobe Premiere)

All Recent Work