Art Spotlight: Frida

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Hello, I’m Elena Aiello, a young 3D Artist and Illustrator from Italy.

I discovered Maya and the world of CGI animation around a year ago, and since then I’ve never stop modeling my concepts and designs. My goal as concept artist is to give life to my characters, and to create the right mood.

Let’s take a look at “Frida”, my homage to this amazing artist.

Part 1 : The Concept

As I wrote before, I’m an illustrator and I love to use my own references. I’ve illustrated a lot of cute girls with this “painted” style and I wanted to make a new one but this time in 3d.

I didn’t use image planes, since I had the whole concept in mind. For my personal projects, I use just a concept and a palette.

The challenge, this time, was translating a 2D concept of a woman into 3D without losing the shape of the eyes and the mouth.

The mouth looks great in 2D, but in 3D it can look strange and weird, for this reason it was a tricky part.

Part 2: Modeling

I used Maya for my models. I started modeling Frida in low poly, and since I didn’t want to give her a rig and the pose was pretty simple too, I modeled her in the pose I had in mind.

I wanted to achieve a natural “symmetrical look” for a good looking composition.

Most of the things in the scene are just painted planes ( butterflies, the lace, leaves).

One of my favourite tool in Maya is the “Lattice deform”; I deform the figure in a “soft way” just picking up the vertex. This tool helped me to deform the laces around her arms, for example.

Part 3: Textures

After the (booring) UV part, I upload every single piece of the mesh on Mudbox. Mudbox helps me to understand “where to paint things”. The shading was the “flat shade” one, so you can paint without using shadows and lighting information.

I need to “understand” my UV and for this reason I  paint “strategic point” on Mudbox.

Every single piece of the mesh, was “hand-painted” on Photoshop using Kyle T brushes (try them, they are amazing).

For the lace and the leaves, I painted on Procreate, an app on IPad Pro. It’s pretty simple to use and I wanted to give the “paint” effect I love.

The concept sketch contributed to give me the idea of the composition, colours and shapes.

Part 4: Lights and Compositing

Model: done.

UV and texture: done.

Now it’s time to give light to the scene!

Sketchfab has one amazing “render” for lights and environment, but I wanted to get a “preview” of my final work. I wanted to give a dark mood to the scene. I was inspired both by the style of Frida’s painting and the atmosphere of “Dia de los muertos”; I needed a soft light to illuminate the whole scene.

The compositing was pretty simple.  When you take a look on the whole scene, you can see two skulls looking at her, blue butterflies (a life symbol) and other elements, but the main focus is Frida.

Part 5: The Music

I think music is an important element in a composition. Music gives the right mood to the scene; for this reason, you must choose it wisely.

There is just a problem: the copyright.

So, how do I choose a good music that doesn’t break the law? Simple! Just use Creator Studio on Youtube. If you have an account on youtube, you can take for free a lot of songs and sound effects too!

I just clicked “Spanish” on the search tab and the right song came out.

The second track is just an “horror mood” track with wind and spirits howling I found online searching for dark ambience music.

Part 6: Sketchfab

I have to admit it. Uploading the model on Sketchfab is one of my favourite part. Why? Because I’m in love with the “3D setting” mode; it’s simple and efficient. I enjoy it because the settings can give the right look to the composition, from lights to the material.

The camera constraints are very useful if you want to limit the view. It’s just like a control room where you can edit your final composition.  I’m already working on new dioramas for Sketchfab; I can’t wait to show you my new projects!

That’s all, folks! If you want to ask me anything or want to get in touch, write me an email! You can find me on these sites too:





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Seori Sachs

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