Gerardo Estrada < Showcase < 273w

by bob on September 29, 2010

in Showcase


One of the nicest things I like is having direct contact with my clients so they can give some suggestions etc. Cool other thing is that I learn a lot from them in that way.

Proudly present another interview/ showcase with a (very friendly) creative CG artist: Gerardo Estrada. (Bytheway the previous showcase – Michael Chaves – can be seen here)

Extremely happy that I got the permission to show one of his great CG illustration he made for Truly Nolen. Even better you can see below a Making off!!

So here you see a new example how the Dutch Skies 360° can be used in an actual production.

Please note that all the material is copyrighted and may not be published anywhere else: © 2010 Gerardo Estrada | CG illustration for JWT (Perú) for Truly Nolen (Argentina)

How did you got involved in 3D/ Visual effects?

I’ve been involved in CGI industry for about 15 years and I’ve worked as one-man studio through Imagic Cinematografía Digital for the last 9 years by making illustrations and TV spots for Ad Agencies directly. I had a background in traditional arts (drawing, painting and sculpture) and audiovisual communication. So my involvement in CGI has been a natural development, I think.

-witch software do you use the Dutch Skies with?

I use Lightwave 3D

do you use the sIBL set or just the HDRI image

I do use the sIBL set (Linear Studio Setup) all the times as starting point – I also build sIBL sets for other HDRIs. I use it since it’s a great time-saver and help me to keep things organized – but then, I transform the original setup to fit my own workflows for color management, linear light and multipass-rendering. I also commonly mix the sIBL setup with a IBL rig (from Blochi’s Lightbitch or similar to Jim May’s TGTALH) to speed up some rendering components like specular reflections or radiance occlusion.

what’s your opinion about the Dutch Skies?

They are some of the most beautiful hi-quality skies I’ve seen so far. The variety is awesome and the facility of providing almost 12Kx6K files is so useful for hi-res work. The format is also excellent for matte painting, digital retouching, or for mixing two or more skies.

What do you think of the service that you can choose 2 sIBL sets after ordering so you can start work immediately (and not have to wait to get the DVD)

I think it’s an excellent service, mostly for the people outside Europe whom are not able to wait so much time to get the DVD, in fact I think it could be more sets (5 sets maybe?). For example, the possibility you gave me for downloading 6 sets did really help me to improve my pre-production and provide to my client more options to choose. Thank you!

Is there something that you want to see different or do you have an suggestion so I can improve the product?

There’s maybe something that could be useful for some few people only, but it will be definitely useful for me 🙂 You could provide the color space of the camera used to take the exposures, or even better, the ICC/ICM color profile used by the camera. With this file, the user can color-match or color-convert from the camera color space to our working color space by keeping – as much as possible – the same chromaticities captured in the referred scene. The advantage of this is for example that if your camera is able to capture a blue that is so blue that the sRGB assumed in the JPG file is not able to cover and, if our output medium is able to display this level of blue, we could keep that blue in the final product, which will be a more accurate (and beautiful) representation of the original scene. The previous example is with the blue color, but this advantage indeed takes place in the overall hues relationships of the image and in its mood and final “look”. This is surely more useful (and critical) for film and print work, but it’s worth for any other medium, I think. Also, additionally to all the exposures, and just as reference for the CG work, you could provide the f-stop/shutter speed values used for shooting.

Other useful add on (or different product) might be to provide background shots (a variety of horizontal & vertical frames). Some camera angles (like shots very near to the ground, or zenith angles, etc), might need of some photogrammetry/photomodeling/photomapping techniques to build digitaly some angles or takes that would be easier to take on location. This small portfolio of background shots could be an excellent resource in those cases.

[update] With the Dutch Skies 360 Volume 3 DVD there are about 13 sIBL sets with BG plates that were shot with the same camera as the HDRI panorama’s were shot with. On the Volume 3 DVD will add on original RAW file so you can extract the profile. Think I’m not allowed to publish the profile. Here is a discription how you can extract the profile. Or have a look here.

– Can you tell something more about your beautiful art work where you used one of the Dutch Skies [TrulyNolen] so for example how did you make it? What tools did you use? Is it possible to show some screenshot form the whole process? For example a wireframe render?

Thanks. The ad agency contacted me to produce and carry out an illustration for this insecticide, where the idea was to bring to the extreme the concept of a war of insects against humans by showing these giant insects in military formation, in this case insects as airships on an aircraft carrier.


After a couple of meetings, I came up this color design and visual proposal:

Concept art

Color Design

The quick sketch of the concept art was made with a mix of 3D and 2D/painting work (Lightwave and Photoshop respectively). Idea was to work with a gloomy environment with blued hues and grade the image with some percentage of a bleach-bypass finishing.

Even when all our references were from domestic species, I wanted to provide them with certain metallic look (something that resembles to war weapons), but without losing their organic appearance. I realized also that the sky (and ocean) would provide the mood of the scene, so they were included as part of the character design work. The ocean would be reflective and dark, so I knew that the weight of the scene’s atmosphere would relapse in the sky mainly. I thought about generating a CG sky first, thing that really worried me because realistic CG volumetric clouds are not cheap, even voxel-cakes aren’t so cheap at 12k resolution. But the awesome Dutch Skies 360 was a great help, since there was not only one sky of high quality and resolution that fits perfectly in this project, but also 3 or 4 skies I could pick for proposing to the client:

Dutch Skies 360


After defining details and the respective approval, the production began. Some base objects were bought to speed up the modeling process, but finally all models needed to be re-made or re-modeled to adapt it to the “look” we needed, or to provide a better sense of scale, or to increase the level of detail.

aircraftcarrier model

cockroach model

mosquit model

Fly model

Spider model

Special attention was paid to translucency, SSS, iridescence and isotropic reflections in the shading process:

aircraftcarrier model shading

cockroach model shading

mosquit model shading

Fly model shading

Spider model shading

: Later, each insect/arachnid was rigged and easily posed using the so useful IKBooster. All insects in scene were geometric clones (no instancing tool was used) since each one of them needed an individual and unique pose, so the scene within Lightwave (v9.6) ended up with about 60 millions of polygons. Meshes are very dense, but this is one of the previz versions without shading, posed characters, volumetric effects, splashes, misc or foam:


Lighting was just a key light with the sIBL set you provide, but with a special modification of the Linear Studio setup that I developed with the SG_CCTools for linear workflows and color management. The render was split in passes with the same techniques I shared in Issue# 30 of HDRI3D magazine, pre-composed and pre-visualized with a kind of colortiming proxy, through DP_Filter Node Editors. But After Effects was used for final composition and color correction and Magic Bullet Looks for the final color grading. Final RGB2CMYK conversion was made in Photoshop.






Gerardo’s e-mail adres: gerardstrada-at-yahoo-dot-com

© 2010 Gerardo Estrada | CG illustration for JWT (Perú) for Truly Nolen (Argentina)