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Ilya Fofanoff rendered "The Swan" in 3D Studio Max 2.5.  While this image was a personal project for his portfolio, Ilya had created the swan model six months earlier for a commercial project (which is viewable on his web site.)

About The Artist:

Ilya Fofanoff lives in Chelyabinsk, Russia.  While he has no formal art training, he has educated himself by working for some years with a group of other painters.  For the part five years, Ilya has also worked as freelance advertising artist.  Now he is working on improving his skills and portfolio, and seeking other employment.  You can see more of Ilya's work on his web site.

Behind The Scenes:

Ilya collected pictures of swans on the internet, and studied swans in real life, before beginning the modeling.  He built the swan with a mesh modeling technique, creating the wings in NURBS and converting it to a mesh.  For the body, Ilya used "EditMesh" and "MeshSmooth." While other parts were easy, Ilya spent the most time on the seemingly sinmple task of building the swan's neck, trying different lengths, thicknesses, and variations before perfecting its form.

The feathers were extruded shapes applied to the wing.  The fuzz on the swan came from "Shag Hair."  To get the look he wanted from Shag Hair, Ilya used a model spline (the propagated model repeated for every hair) in a U shape, thinning in the center.  The resulting rendering had soft-looking fibers surrounding the wings.

Rendering this scene went slowly, with 1-2 hour test-renderings in (on a P2-350 with 128MB.)  The final rendering took 6 hours, because the lights, shadow-maps, reflections, and environment were particularly computationally expensive.

Ilya extensively post-processed his image after the original rendering.  (Click here if you want to see the original output without retouching.)  After rendering, Ilya needed more time to create the color scheme.  Working in Adobe After Effects, he used tools such as Unsharp mask, Gaussian Blur, Color Correct, Channel Mixer, and others, to complete the final image.

Click to enlarge.