"Trespassing": Bio-Mechanical Contest WIP

This is my wip concept for the /r Blender August competition. On my to-do list is still redoing the mech head’s textures and further detailing of the mechanical parts. Any feedback or critiques would be appreciated (the contest is not due untill the end of August so there is lots of time still to adjust).

Not sure I get the story from the image alone: Is it a guard cyborg? Did it just escape from some lab?

I conclude from the image title that it seems to be the former, but can’t help to think that the creature doesn’t pose much of a thread because of its design: If I was the trespasser, wouldn’t I just have to run through the bamboo forest? With those enormous protruding pipes on its side, the guard cyborg would either be helplessly stuck there in no time or tear off those pipes, resulting in whatever loss of functionality…

In other words: For this kind of environment the creature seems ill-equipped.

Ah, I see your point. The pipes are supposed to be just loose, falling off the back like tentacles though. I could make them shorter to show this more clearly. I think I fixed the left one punching into the ground in my latest render as well. I’ll update with the fix.

  • Is it supposed to be real bamboo or metallic objects that look like it?
    If it’s the former, I’d say that’s where you have the most improvements to do in the modelling part.

  • For the lighting, I’d recommend finding a way to make the robot’s red eyes pop out more (make the surrounding parts darker). It would look more frightening. The strong light source that looks like a torch coming from the right side is I guess someone finding the robot (and probably being in trouble). If so, then it comes from very low. Almost on the ground. It also has many streaks for a torch. Try the new IES lights to use a real torch light texture. It’s also facing the robot quite dead on for coming from someone who should be frightened by it.
    If I were you I’d make the torch light sharper, lift it and turn it so it lits only one half of the robot’s head, leaving the other half in the dark (making one red eye pop) and leaving part of its body as a silhouette. Silhouettes are the best way to make things more scary. Plus it would suggest that the unseen character is scared of lighting the entire thing and would just quickly get a glimpse of it.

  • I think the Moon is too big, not bright enough to be real and not in a very good place. I would try to make it smaller, brighter and put it on the middle clearing, if not remove it alltogether and put some stars instead. The moon is cool for spookiness but it drives attention away from the subject a lot because of its brightness.

  • And yeah, the long pipes on the sides are very unpractical. Shortening them may not be enough. I would reorient them more backwards so they don’t get too much in the way.

Thanks for the feedback. It is indeed supposed to be real bamboo. I am debating texturing a few stalks or just post-pro adjusting a few of the closer more visible pieces. Will fix those soon, for now I made them all much more curvy and natural looking rather than straight.

I like your idea of a half dark side a lot. That is definitely worth a shot. The low angle is primarily a aesthetic decision rather than a realistic one. Just like telling ghost stories lighting something from underneath gives it a creepy otherworldly feeling. The beam itself is just a Photoshop paint-over, but I will definitely see if I can manipulate an actual flashlight beam in on top.

I agree with you on the moon as well. I think it will be all together removed for now.

I went ahead and twisted the shoulder rods backwards and in so that they would trail close behind. They still might not be terribly realistic, but I think a creature this size and of this musculature would have no problem just smashing or bending the bamboo as it ruthlessly seeks fresh prey at full gait.

Here is my latest shot, still working on the perfect lighting and balancing the flashlight beam. I am hoping that the composition leads the eye to the red tones of the eyes from the bottom corners. I also added more metal details, and a nice coat of coarse hair. I still want a tad more backlighting on the metal crests to make the stand out and hair around the edges, but that will probably need to be a special pass just for rim lighting.

Full rez:

Progress mini-timelapse over 5 days:

I definitely prefer the new version but I still think more contrast would help.
I was about to say your bamboo was still too straight, rigid and leafless but it turns out old and big bamboo forests look very much like yours :
So I think you’re good with them, except maybe we should see the top leaves on the furthest ones.

For the torch, I’d still recommend using an IES light :

As for the beam, I’ recommend doing a volume scattering pass, it would be more realistic.
A volume pass allows you to render the volume scattering separately from the rest of the image so you can color adjust the beam and fog and increase or decrease its influence on the image.
To do that, make a linked scene in which you replace all the materials by holdouts (except the volume and the lamps). I’ve done it for this scene I made a while ago:

Maybe the 2.8 override system allows you do to this more quickly than I did using 2.79.

One thing I didn’t mention yet : the texture of the wire fence is cut on its top in a too obvious way. You should either find a more complete texture or model it with an array and skin modifier and add the top part with the knots.

Here’s my two cents. I think the following would improve the image.

  1. make the eyes more squinted. round eyes look friendly. squinted eyes look angry.
  1. make the ears more pointy and drawn back. angry animals draw their ears back.
  2. make the teeth of a more contrasting material so they are more menacing. you would even consider putting a red light up inside the mouth. this may help with the shadows that make it look like the beast is smiling. I also wonder if there isn’t something that could be done to the skin on the animal to make it look more like fur?
  1. I like the coming though the jungle but it could use a shrub or a big fern or two to break the monotony.