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Fine Art in the New Media: A Classic “Painting” That’s a Spellbinding CGI Masterpiece

New Post Goes Up Every Wednesday, 8:30pm ET

A NEW WAY OF LOOKING AT FINE ART (BE SURE TO SCROLL DOWN TO SEE HOW THE ARTIST DID IT) 
Joe Berkowitz, from Co.Create, FastCompany, has written a fascinating article, SPELLBINDING PAINTING, on the use of the tools of the 
New Media in Fine Art,
Hungarian digital artist Zsolt Ekho Farkas has recreated a 19th-century painting with CGI, and it's an 8-million-polygon, 3-D 
tour de force. While a digital gallery could never fully replicate the experience of walking through an art museum, some 
computer-generated art has the same capacity to provoke awe. Take for example Zsolt Ekho Farkas's 3-D rendering of the 
19th-century painting, Budavár Visszavétele. 

The stunning three-and-a-half minute video above reveals the incredible detail in Farkas's re-creation of Benczúr Gyula's 
painting--and also transcends it. The video itself is a living painting, using subtle camera movements to let the viewers 
take in the true depth of field each figure in it possesses. Unlike the recent paintings we've seen with added movement, 
all that really moves here are tendrils of smoke that further clarify the spatial texture.

"This was my first time re-creating a painting, and the cause is a bit sentimental," Farkas tells us. It started as a challenge 
from his wife. She dared Farkas to make a full 3-D version of a classic painting they'd seen in a booklet on holiday, and the 
Hungarian artist decided on using Gyula's painting, which depicts Budapest's recapture as Ottoman forces invade. After analyzing 
the painting and figuring out the character positions in the 3-D space, he had to create digital models for every person, animal, 
and object that appears in the image. By the time he finished texturing and planar projection, the image required 8.5 million 
polygons to support it.

“This was my first time re-creating a painting, and the cause is a bit sentimental,” Farkas tells us. It started as a challenge from his wife. She dared Farkas to make a full 3-D version of a classic painting they’d seen in a booklet on holiday, and the Hungarian artist decided on using Gyula’s painting, which depicts Budapest’s recapture as Ottoman forces invade. After analyzing the painting and figuring out the character positions in the 3-D space, he had to create digital models for every person, animal, and object that appears in the image. By the time he finished texturing and planar projection, the image required 8.5 million polygons to support it.

“There are 32 characters in the scene, and I had to rig them all one by one,” Farkas says. “Due to my computer struggling with the high poly-count, I had to freeze them, which is the reason I didn’t use any additional sculpting software. It’s one of the things I have to do differently on my next project.”

One of the interesting aspects about the process, which you can read all about here, is how Farkas included the smoke effect in the video. He made his own footage by filming smoke from an e-cigarette, using two LED lights and a shut-down computer monitor as backdrop. All in all, the project took 10 weeks to create.

HOW IT WAS DONE STEP-BY-STEP BY THE ARTIST

As Zsolt Ekho Farkas shows us on his Behance website:

 

  • So here is a small making of:I had to analyze the painting and figure out the character positions in the 3d space. It wasn’t too hard but a scene is a bit crowded.
  • Then; the modelling. The main idea was this:
    i should make every charater with a full rig. (Ready to move and animate IF neccessary, BUT i didn’t think of animating at all at that time). The rigging was easy thanks to LW’s Genoma 😉
  • At this time the characters were fully rigged, but due to my computer’s low resources (well, not so weak, but not an atomic reactor ), so eventually i had to freeze the whole scene. I was able to handle 8-9 rigs easily, but 32… no way :/
  • Detailed modeling, without displacement maps. The polycount reached the 8,5 million; so i had to forget any additional sculpting, it was nice and detailed enough tho. Well… at least for me 🙂
  • Then the texturing came: usually the simpliest solution is the best, just a planar projection and voilá, finished, but… nah, i had to paint additional maps, to enhance the original image. But yes, it was a simple planar projection, because i didn’t think of animation or any movement at all!!! So why should i make
    unnecessary UV’s right? As i said before: this was made for my loving wife; and nothing more!
  • At this time, the scene reached the 8.5 million polycount, so i had to forget about displacement maps, however the scene were looking good without them too;) Here is a testrender with maps:
  • Here is another testrender with the additional maps:
  • So okay, almost ready, What now?
    And the idea came: i should make a small movement/ animation. Yeeyyy 🙂  But as i said before my hardware limited me because of the high polycount. And there was another mistake/ problem/ obstacle: for a proper animation i ought to remodel the WHOLE SCENE! Why? The answer is the usual, but you have to keep it in mind: when i started the project i didn’t think of any movement. So one month modeling and just dump it into the trash??? No way! So i had to work with the stuff i already had.
  • By the way, this was the time when i discovered Platique image’s work! I was amazed about that, extremely cool stuff! The funny thing that 22 people worked on that project, and they finished in one and a half month (if i remember correctly).
    AM I CRAZY?? Making this kind of work by myself? eheh. It seems i am…
    And here comes the fun part, i had to repaint all of the characters who were partially obscured by those next to them, and as you can see: it is a little bit crowded there 😀Yes, yes mostly clone stamp tool, but i had to repaint ropes, gloves, boots etcetc… It was a hell lot of work.

  • I cant say too much about camera movement, yes it is maybe too small, but  this was my first project in this type, so sorry about that 🙂
    Soo okay, what now? The movement is almost there, but the entire feeling was too simple. Then another idea came: lets drop some smoke, yeeeeee. But as i said, due to my limited hardware i was unable tho make a smoke simulation 😦 But it would be sooooo coooooool 😦 Too bad, maybe if i could grab a few bucks… after i can grab enough money for a cintiq… eh.. not in this year.
    So back to buda: i decided to make the smoke effect with layers of masks, with the camera movement exported from LW.
  • There were 3-4 mask layers / act. But i could bump the overall feeling with the depthmaps. For enchance the dof for example. Oh btw, i used the Dp kit dof in LW.
    Here is a depth screenshot:
  • But back to the smoke: you can reach a lot of stock and free footage onilne, but i decided to make my own smoke footage! It was soo simple: just grabbed my camera+tripod; grabbed two led lights and the backdrop was my turned off monitorscreen! And what was the smoke, well: my ecig 😀
    The footage was too dark, and it had  a greenish/ blueish tint, but with a little correction it was fine enough to use!
  • And here is an image with the smoke layers:
  • See? just a little bit of smoke, for the feeling.
    And then, the BIG DAMN. It was almost ready, when i relaized: the online players cant play it properly without lagging, so i had to recut everything, one and a half month work went to the dump. But after 140 tests i was able to reach a desired speed, with a little choppyness.
  • Almost there, just a little correction

 

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