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.
We started by having a concept drawing of the environment:
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:
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.
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.
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.