Spooky Fire Hydrant

Spooky Fire Hydrant

Its been a while since I did a blog post. The process has been missed. Self reflection n’ all. Halloween is on the horizon and its got me feeling a bit spooky, I knew I’d want to try and do some halloween themed artwork, I was not anticipating waking up one morning with the intense desire to create a fire hydrant. Two birds with one stone, a spooky fire hydrant.
The premise seemed simple enough, I started with some reference images of fire hydrants. Red handed for just simpleton typing fire hydrant into google images.
Cylinders, thats really all this is. Off we go.
2019-10-10 (10)
Applied some flat materials to get a feel for the object. Now to add some stylization using Lattice deformers. This essentially allows me to take the base model and create a squash and stretched version while maintaining a consistent deformation across the model. A balance between solidarity and flexibility. Using the envelope attribute I can change the strength of the deformation to make it subtle. I sadly did not get any shots during this process and thus jumping into substance painter.
Without going too in depth, I started with a base of iron material, layered a paint with some wear and dirt. Metal for the chains, plus dirt. A slight yellow to the top for a sun-bleached effect and a gradient to bring an emphasis to the upper half of the model. Overall nothing too complicated.

GOOP TIME

For this I simply pulled the model into Zbrush and started to manipulate geometry to create goop-like shapes around the various seals. Creating an oozing effect while also having parts interact with the chain.
Now to figure out the material attributes for the goop. This will be challenging. Translucent, viscoelastic and glowing. Luckily, I do not have to deal with one of those as this is not a simulated substance. Though I do have to consider how to have both translucency and glowing together. My initial idea was to create a mesh light using the geometry in conjunction with a transparent geometry. I used the Arnold honey preset as a basis for building the material and experimented with Mesh lights and the aiStandardSurface Emission attribute. Both produced desired and undesired effects on the glow.
Mesh Light on top of the goop. This worked well for getting the glow on the hydrant itself but began to render the goo itself very dark. Hindsight this might be an issue with the mesh light being able to cast shadows? It’d take some further testing to see what is causing this.
This one has no mesh light or emission. creates the most desirable translucency but the piece is missing the charm of having the radiating glow. I did however settle for this to post to social media as I was running out of time to do more tests.
This adds so much pop to the goop and I love it, the issue being with this is that there is very little light hitting the hydrant, making the vibrant pop seem unnatural.
This is the Render that made its way to Instagram. I am very happy with this. Though now that I’ve got some extra time I’m revisiting the rendering and putting some time into getting a nice turntable done.
New approach; I added lights at the bottom pointed up at the hydrant to emulate the glow effect. This has been very effective, allowing me to keep tailor where the glow is and how strong. This has also allowed me to add more green into the dripping goo itself without affecting the goo on the floor as it creates a nice effect where it is visible thinner and thicker.
Looking good, doing some final tests and tweaks and I found that adding an extra rim light really makes the model pop. Here;s a before and after. Its subtle but effective.
Calling this a final render and putting this in for a turntable render. Its taking its time to render but once its done I’ll update this post with an animated turntable.
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