Artist Spotlight: Mauro Corveloni

Creating incredible characters with LightWave 3D is how Maurocor stands out in a crowd

Posted: Tue 07 Jul 2015

By Claudia Kienzle

SÃO PAULO, BRAZIL: While Brazilian 3D Artist Mauro Corveloni has always been interested in art, when it comes to 3D modeling and animation, his interest rises to the level of a passion. Known professionally as Maurocor, this São Paulo artist operates POP Studio de Ilustração (POP Illustration Studio) and he’s amassed an intriguing and impressive 3D portfolio.

In his 15 year professional career, he’s contributed unique and imaginative 3D works—created using LightWave 3D—to diverse projects, including visual effects-intensive TV commercials, a music video, a short film and 3D product shots for advertising.

“From the moment I discovered 3D animation, I was hooked. I began developing my skills by creating rudimentary 3D objects and 3D animations of spaceships, dinosaurs, robots, aliens, fairies and anything I could envision,” Maurocor said.

“I started out buying a few inexpensive software packages, but found them to be very limited in what they could do,” he added. “Everything changed when I found LightWave. I was now creating complex characters in only one mesh, rigging to animate them, creating facial expressions using endomorphs, and getting incredible renders.”

After years of animating as a hobbyist, Maurocor was introduced to LightWave in 2000 at his first professional job creating 3D architectural visualizations for a promotional architectural company. He also took a LightWave course and began actively participating in LightWave forums.

Soon, he was invited to teach 3D character animation at a school that used LightWave as its primary tool. It was then that he had the opportunity to work for Bitt Animation, a high-end postproduction company in Buenos Aires, Argentina, that specializes in 2D/3D animation and visual effects for commercials, series and feature films.

While at Bitt, he used LightWave to create works for visual effects composites that were used to produce internationally acclaimed commercials, such as the Volkswagen spot called: Fish-Dog (below).

Fish-Dog features a dog that is part fish. It has a scaly back and the fin of a fish along with the legs of a dog and its face is part dog and part fish. The spot starts out with a young man sitting on a crowded beach next to his surfboard. He whistles for his dog to come in from the surf and it leaps out of the water like a fish but runs up playfully like a dog. In the end, it’s caught in a fisherman’s net and released, then runs up to the young man and jumps into his VW’s cargo area. As the car drives off, the fish-dog sticks its head out the window to catch the breeze.

Maurocor also contributed 3D work to another Volkswagen commercial called Korama (above). In this touching ad set in India, a man tells the story of how he had always ridden his elephant, Korama, everywhere, until one day, it was time for Korama to retire. So he said, “That’s fine. Now it’s time for me to carry Korama,” and the elephant is seen on the flatbed of his VW Amarok truck as it drives away.

Another Bitt commercial that Maurocor used LightWave 3D for was one promoting Renault: called Renault Inflatables (below). In this whimsical spot, cars and trucks are driving along on busy city streets and each has a big inflatable balloon of the driver attached by ropes and floating above the car, reflecting the driver’s mood.

He has also created many 3D stills for advertising. A good example of his advertising work is a series he calls Toys (below). These colorful keyframes show a child’s toys—such as a fire truck with a bucket crane, dice, and toy giraffes—scattered on the floor in the corner of a room. Ambient lighting that ranges from sunlight to caustic hot spots illuminate the scene, reflecting off the surface of the parquet floor and plastic toys, while the baseboards and corners are in shadows.

For a music video, called Da Lama ao Caos or From Mud to Chaos featuring the Brazilian hard rock band Sepultura, Maurocor created two 3D crabs in photorealistic detail that could withstand the scrutiny of extreme close-ups (below). In several scenes throughout the video, the large bluish tinged crabs, which are indigenous to a swampy region in the Brazilian state of Pernambuco, confront each other and fight, jabbing their claws at each other.

“Since they wanted extreme close-ups of the crabs, I had to strive for the utmost detail,” Maurocor said. “I made the models, applied the shaders and textures, built the rigging, and set-up the lighting of the scenes and took care of the animation too. I also had to use Fiber FX on one of the crabs to generate long black hair hanging from its bent legs.” LightWave’s built-in FiberFX system allows artists to enhance their 3D models with natural looking hair and fur that can move and radiate light the way natural strands do.

Maurocor also used LightWave to create a 3D werewolf for O Lobisomem da Paraíba or The Werewolf of Paraiba (above), a short film that was directed by Brazilian filmmaker Silvio Toledo. 

In the film, an old man tells a tale about a young man who was once attacked by a werewolf while walking through a dark wooded area. The key effects scene dramatizes how the 3D werewolf viciously pounced on the man, who defends himself by plunging a knife into its belly. In the end, after the boy leaves, we learn the story was true, and that the old man was in fact the one who was attacked as a younger man, and he still has the scars to prove it. The 20-minute film is yet to be released.

“While I like to provide clients with a wide range of 3D works, whatever they may need, what I like the most is making 3D animals and characters,” Maurocor said. “As a 3D artist, I consider myself to be a 3D generalist, basically doing everything, including the modeling, texturing/shading, rigging, lighting and finally a little bit of animation too.”

the Tools and SOUL OF AN Artist

With LightWave as his primary software, Maurocor has been continually upgrading to the latest version and is happy with the direction the LightWave 3D Group is taking with the software development. He feels that, as it evolves, LightWave is becoming more robust and feature-rich, including his favorite LightWave 2015 features: Genoma 2, Flocking, Instances, and Constraints.

In his work, he also regularly uses LightWave plug-ins, including PLG and DP Kit from Dennis Pontonnier, as well as Adobe PhotoShop. He uses ZBrush with LightWave—to paint and sculpt exceptional detail on his models—whenever the job requires it.

“Nowadays, clients are asking for much more detailed works and Zbrush is the perfect software to achieve that. There are other ways to get the same result but with the seamless interface between ZBrush and LightWave I have a really nice workflow,” he says. “I always feel quite comfortable using LightWave. It has a really friendly and intuitive interface and the tools are organized in a very functional way, which enables greater productivity.”

At his website, www.popilustra.com, keyframes from his various projects seem to scroll into infinity. He particularly pushes the creative envelope on LightWave when he advances his passion projects, such as 3D portraits of Muriel. He describes Muriel as a very sad, wrinkled old lady wearing a gray sweater and wool hat. There’s also her husband, Eugene, an affable old man with sunlight shining on his stubbled face, eyeglasses, checkered sweater and cap.

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Muriel (above) and Eugene (below).

He says that when he first posted the image of Muriel in an online forum, he also wrote some moving copy about her—that she was a very kind, wise and friendly old lady but that she had died. “People began posting sympathy messages, and actually got angry when they learned the whole thing was made up! But everything’s okay now.”

“Personally, I always try to put soul into my characters—some special qualities that you see come across even in a still image,” Maurocor said. “I like the fact my human characters are not a copy of someone. They are unique. And I’m very proud that Muriel has been recognized in some online lists as an inspiring, realistic 3D character.”

In portrait work, Maurocor says it’s very important to get some good photo references. This can be done by searching the Internet. “I didnt try to copy the photos,” Maurocor said. “It was more of an in-depth study to see how the wrinkles behave, as well skin pores, muscles and facial hair.”

In the case of Muriel, I modeled her entirely in LightWave Modeler and only when I was completely satisfied did I start creating the fine details in Zbrush. In LightWave Layout, I paid special attention to the fur [or fuzz] because I used it a lot: on cloth, the hat, hair and eyebrows. Then I thought it would be great to add some ‘baby fur’ [facial hair] on her face, because that was something I noticed some of them had, when looking at photos of old ladies.”

This soulful quality is also evident in three 3D portraits, each featuring a young, dark-skinned boy with an emotive expression on his face (below).

For these portraits, Maurocor didn use Zbrush. They were created entirely in LightWave and the textures were created in Photoshop. “In this particular case, I didn use Fiber FX but created the hair using LightWave Instances,” he said. “It was a different way of using Instances. In LightWave Modeler, I mapped the area I wanted to add hair using Weight Maps, then I created a single strand of hair and filled the mapped area in Lightwave Layout using Instances, adding some size variation as well as rotation too. For the cloth I used LightWave’s Bullet Dynamics feature.”

A Few Artistic Tips

In terms of helpful advice that he can share with other 3D artists and 3D animators, Maurocor says he always tries to make his 3D models as light [lightweight] as possible. To do this he is very careful about polygon loopings, taking pains to distribute them perfectly. This makes the animation process go faster and easier. Loopings are a roll or ring of polygons that let the 3D artist select several components across a mesh, without having to select them each individually, making it easier to creatively manipulate them.

“Making the loopings correctly will bring about a better behavior for the model deformation,” he says. “Instead of sub-dividing the model in a random way to get more polygons, the most important thing is to add sub-division only where the model requires it.”

“This can be done using tools like Smooth Shift, Extender Plus, Multishift, Edge Bevel and Slice, among others,” he added. “And 90% of the time, I use the Perspective View for organic models and always have the symmetry setting activated when working on characters. It’s also extremely advantageous to add some asymmetry to the model after it’s finished. This will make it look more natural.”

 

About textures in UV Maps, Maurocor says that the most important thing is to extract the maps and organize them very well, by arranging them in an island without overlapping them. That helps a lot when painting the textures.

“Another tip for creating characters or organic elements is to work on the textures in the UV Interpolation/Subpatch mode,” Maurocor said. “That way the map will be very close to the model in the Subpatch mode. We can then export it with a simple print screen so it will be much better when you are painting the map in your favorite app.”

Speaking about lighting, Maurocor says, “My tip is always to set up the light in the scene with no textures applied the moment you begin. That way the entire focus will be on the lighting process and it will work much better. After you get your desired lighting, go back and add the textures and shading and then adjust everything until you get the exact result you’re looking for.”

In the future, Maurocor hopes to be able to do more of his signature 3D creatures, animals and human characters. And he feels strongly that much of the work he wants to do can only be created efficiently with LightWave tools, all of which excite his creativity. “The deeper I delve into LightWave, the more ideas I have for 3D characters I want to create.”