Meet the Artist Behind the Cover
While in production, we asked artist Jake Williams to document his process throughout the making of the Neo Dubai cover in order to share with you as much as we can about what it takes to create a beautiful piece of art, and the artist behind it.
KitBash3D: Hey Jake, thanks for joining us today! What insights can you share about working on a project such as Neo Dubai?
Williams: Typically for a large project like this I will start by gathering a number of reference photos that I will categorize by lighting, composition, and details. After reviewing these images for a while I’ll jump straight into 3D and start building out a composition I have in my mind, even if it's just to establish a starting point.
Williams: Once I have a good base model I will explore some different angles of the scene to see if there are any better vantage points. I’ll then continue to develop a few different views in tandem until one ultimately stands out as the strongest.
KitBash3D: Once you've sourced references, set your base model, and narrowed down your choice of angle, how do you go about crafting the scene?
Williams: I start by bringing in the entire kit and then proceed to block out various ideas in order to see how things best fit together. With Neo Dubai, I knew immediately the bridges were going to be important given the team's desire to include a large body of water as a main element of the scene. Another element which really stood out to me was the building with the hole cut through the middle. Once I had decided that the water, bridges, and our hero building should make up the main story, I began testing a few configurations of these components.
After I'd tried a couple rough ideas, I jumped straight into the lighting to see how the compositions would work with the mood I had in mind. Drawing from my references of Dubai, I found myself wanting to go for a warm sunset mood. I thought that back-lighting the buildings could really bring out some of the interesting shapes and details they have on them. It's at this stage where I really leverage the Corona Interactive Rendering to quickly swap around suns, skies, fog, all on the fly to quickly produce drafts. Ultimately, it was decided that the initial mood was not quite representative of Dubai, but reviewing the different drafts gave us enough of an indication that the third option would showcase the kit the best.
Williams: The next steps were to then choose a new mood and continue blocking out the rest of the scene with additional pieces from Neo Dubai. Going for a more true to life Dubai, I brought in a sunset HDRI to light the scene, but made sure to match the same back-lighting from the draft.
Williams: I then began to build out the rest of the city using all of the pieces of the kit, trying my best to showcase the vast scale difference of some of the buildings. I liked the idea of having a plaza in the foreground with people and "average" size buildings to give the image a human scale and also to juxtapose our massive hero building casting its shadow. I detailed the waterfall in 3D with a variety of noise maps for displacement, as well as a few copies of the same mesh rotated to increase randomness. The bridge made its way higher into the sky for a brief moment but ultimately I thought it attracted too much attention up there and brought it back down in the end.
Williams: From here it was just a matter of a few last tweaks in 3D, such as adding the boats, people, and dialing in the water material, then it was onto Photoshop!
Once in Photoshop, I wanted to bring some life back into the shadow areas, enhance the atmosphere a bit, and try to bring a more tropical marina feeling to our cover. After speaking with the KitBash3D team, we decided to build out the background with additional buildings instead of the ocean view. These additional buildings helped to solidify the Dubai marina feeling we were after. With the final color grading I tried to drop the reds and magenta and shift more toward a yellow and cyan mood to help bring out the color in the water, giving the scene a warm sandy feeling. Lastly, I dropped in a few flocks of seagulls, and voilà, job done! We now had a beautiful cover for the launch of Neo Dubai!
About Jake Williams:
Williams started his career in the arch-viz industry, first attending architecture school before working at a small firm doing renderings in Fargo, North Dakota (Yes, that Fargo from the movie.) Wanting to focus strictly on visualization, William's joined Kilograph in 2014 as a junior artist before moving to New York in 2016 to build and manage the visualization team at WeWork.
Over the years, Williams has consciously remained active in online rendering competitions, as well as engaging in personal side projects, in order to keep himself up-to-date on the industry's latest software developments. While at times consuming, Williams notes his personal projects tend to end up being among his most rewarding experiences.
For more content from Jake Williams, follow on Instagram @jwil_iams.