CGC: Tell us a bit about yourself and your background?
Lewis: My name is Elvis Blazencic (aka Lewis). I am a 26 year old guy born in Croatia (small country but great place for holidays). 3D modeling/animating is my hobby now. I work for a local TV station in the program/news section. Sometimes I make simple animation work for the news or Station ID’s but my job involves a lot more than just CG.
My background? That’s going way back now since I’ve worked here for the past 8 years. I have also worked for a few other smaller companies but my work was completely unrelated. For instance, I worked in a company fixing computers for about a year. My CG roots began in my school days, way back in the Commodore 64 days and “Simon’s Basic” to draw primitive images on 320*200 resolution in 16 colors. These were the good old days. That was before 1990.
Then, I got my first “real” computer – An Amiga 1000 with 256KB of RAM. So my next step was to learn programs like Deluxe Paint. When I got job here, we used to have an Accelerated Amiga 2000 at 28Mhz to make some renders in “Imagine” and “LightWave 3D” (yeah 28Mhz sounds silly today when we are hitting 3GHz CPUs). That was my first contact with 3D CG, after that rest is history – Now I am still in “love” with 3DCG :).
CGC: Your cars do look spectacular. Where do the models come from? Viewpoint?
Lewis: Thanks for compliments. Models are modeled by me. No viewpoint or similar were used. I like to model and render everything by myself. IMHO – it’s much cooler when I can take all the credit for my own work.
CGC: What sort of reference did you use to create these models?
Lewis: I mix different techniques to model cars. For reference, I use blueprints (if I can find them or scan from catalogues or car manuals). I also use a lot of material that I find on the Internet or I take pictures with my digital camera.
Sometime it’s hard to find the reference I need, but I gained quiet a bit of experience through the last cars I modeled. For instance, I know I should never model something when I’m not sure I have enough visual references to work from.
I set blueprints to background and then I draw Bezier and splines to match blueprint lines. I then patch those splines to get a pretty accurate but rough car shape. Then, I cutout the parts like the doors, the fenders/bumpers, hoods, lights into separate objects and put them in separate layers. When this is done, this is when I start working on the details, insets and other small things like door handles. So my cars are polygonal but made in SubDs or SubPatches as they are called in LightWave 3D.
This gives me absolute control over the object’s quality. When rendering, I can adjust the level of geometry needed for all the subDs laters.
If anyone is interested in learning how I model cars, here is a link to my “Online Interactive Car Tutorial”. I did this tutorial last year and took me about 4 months of free time to compile. This tutorial is extremely detailed. There are 792 screenshots along with matching instructions. Although I used LightWave in the tutorial, I got several emails from Rhino and Max users who say the tutorials are also useful to them. I believe this tutorial can be applied to just about any 3D application with some minor differences in the way the tools are used.
This tutorial is hosted by the LWG forums and I wish to thank “Bob McKain” (Cobra) who convinced me to make this tutorial for the web. LWG can be found at www.lwg3d.org. It’s LightWave dedicated but it’s a great place for learning and asking CG questions. (more links at the end of this article)
CGC: The surfacing and the lighting in your scenes are spectacular. What’s your secret?
Lewis: There is no secret. I really like to achieve CG realism, and to do this, I first spend a lot of time getting my models right. Then, I spend a lot of time doing test renders.
I use HDRI based lighting (no lights were used in the Maserati 3200 GT renders) and use the Radiosity engine built into LightWave 3D.
But I use gradients on reflecting channels set by incidence angle to get that nice car paint fresnel effect like on real cars. I know much about cars; my first real job (after finishing school) involved fixing cars. And my father has been painting cars for past 28 years :). So this is probably why I model so much of them. I just love cars and enjoy driving them.
CGC: What is your ultimate career goal?
Lewis: I think I’m very different from any other 3D artist. I just want to learn and expand my 3D knowledge and maybe get some nice and decent job in the 3D industry. I think my favorite thing would be to design cars but I like everything about the 3D industry so I am open-minded about any opportunity that comes by. We all have dreams but many of them are just so much “unreal” so I would be satisfied with anything “normal” for now :).