Maya Still Image ‘Dynamism’

The final result.

“Eternity” | The final result.

One of our initial projects was creating a still image in Maya under the broad topic of ‘dynamism’. So you could basically do anything but an architectural render, I guess. The point was getting familiar with Maya and the other available packages. This was good for me as prior to that I didn’t have much experience with Maya, mainly Blender (which remains the best, greetings to the open src community).  

The picture above is my final result. I think you can’t get any more dynamic than that. Anyway there’s lot’s of small problems here and there but the main thing is that I could tackle a personal ‘fear’ of modelling biological things, especially human parts. I am quite happy with the resulting hands, which I think have leaped ‘just’ over the uncanny valley…

The grenade original idea comes from Andrew Price’s excellent Blender Guru tutorial, however done in Maya and enhanced in Nuke.

The elements in the scene which are actually modelled are the hands, watch, grenade, particles. The rest is part of the backdrop image which is actually a wallpaper from Battlefield 3, that I got off here.

The basic outline of the process was the following:

The Hands

  • Modelling realistic human hands with correct topology (Maya & Blender)
  • UV-unwrapping them correctly (Blender -> Maya)
  • Rigging them with a very basic rig and placing them into the correct position (Blender -> Maya)
  • Texturing with a basic hand texture (Gimp -> Maya)
  • Creating the Displacement and Normal maps (Mudbox -> Maya)
  • Enhancing the skin shader (Mia Material X) with Sub-surf scattering (Maya)
  • Generating the hair using Maya Paint FX and converting them to polygons (Maya)

The Watch

  • Modelled, UV-unwrapped, and textured (Maya)
  • Texture Editing and Normal maps (Gimp)

The Grenade

  • Modelled, UV-unwrapped and textured (Maya)
  • Generating Colour, Dirt, Specular & Normal maps (Gimp)
  • Fracturing using voronoi cell fracture plugin in Blender (Blender -> Maya)
  • Additional particles generated with a small script for randomization of size, rotation, id, etc (Maya)
  • Adding inner ellipse for glow effect, with a glow shader and rendered as a sep. matte for post (Maya)

The Scene

  • Composition (Maya)
  • Lighting with classical 3-point lighting using some area light with cubic falloff (Maya)
  • Then additional spotlights are added to recreated the feel of the lighting from the background image. A point light and a few other spot lights are used for the grenade explosion light and a few area lights are used as bounce lighting in the scene, to make the grenade more visible. (Maya)
  • Adding environment light using an appropriate HDRI (Maya)
  • Rendering passes: Mattes, Depth, etc… (Maya -> Nuke)
  • Adding Backdrop, editing and colour correcting it to fit with the other objects in the scene (Nuke)
  • Adding volumetric ligthing effect to grenade, DoF and other stuff (Nuke)


The Story:

“Eternity” is a still computer generated image created using mainly Maya. It incorporates in a very real way the theme of “dynamism” by portraying the gore of the modern battlefield through the very eyes of a soldier (possibly from the 2Rep [2nd Foreign Parachute Regiment] of the French Foreign Legion as the tattoo and watch(1) on his left hand suggest). The image provides a still frame of a very dynamic place and moment in time, creating the feeling of stopped time. The image provides a snapshot of a first person view which no camera on this earth has ever caught. The lyrical hero of our image stares at death’s very eyes in the face of the exploding grenade. Trying to cover his face with his hands, we see he holds no weapon as he has abandoned all hope and has accepted his fate. This image depicts the last literal moment of his life and the last image, of this world, to be stamped in his sight, hence the name “Eternity”. His faithful “Lancet” officers’ watch also agrees and shows that for him, time is no more, by curving its arrows into the infinity symbol…

(1) The watch he wears is a replicated model of a ‘French Lancet Tri-color pilot’s jump watch’ as used in the Foreign Legion in the 2Rep (2nd Foreign Parachute Regiment).



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