Learn from Winners : Animating Korean Justitia with Cinema 4D, Character Creator and iClone
Hello, I’m Seungchan Lee, an NFT artist who is active under the nickname Leesaek. I am a professional designer who is working on various late-stage graphics such as synthesis, motion graphics, VR, etc. at the same time as producing personal works.
Sometimes working on NFTs, it’s fun to meet with the buyers, so I continue to study and learn new things to improve and perfect my personal work. As a hobby, I spend a lot of time watching movies. As I like movies, I am very satisfied with my work on graphics related to video.
A few years ago, I was very impressed by the Netflix series LOVE DEATH + ROBOTS, and since then, I’ve been working in this field, studying 3D graphics tools and doing personal work after work hours, and I think I’ve come closer to my goal of making short animations like LOVE DEATH + ROBOTS. I will continue to study for personal NFT artwork and short animation production goals.
Part I. Winner Entry Workflow
Step 1. Reference search
I spent the most time searching for references during the process of working on the ‘Goddess of Justice-DIKE’ project.
I thought it was most important to decide gender, age, story, concept, etc. when creating a character, and after deciding which character to make, it took a long time to decide on the costume of the character, space for the character, and pose of the character.
Step 2. Character Creator
I bought Character Creator (CC) and tried making a test character. With CC, a lot of the elements to think about when making the character was already set. So it was possible to do morph work on all the parts, and since it was templatized, I only had to pick the parts I wanted, one by one.
Step 3. iClone
iClone is quite intuitive for character animation, especially facial animation, so it didn’t take as long as I thought. In fact, there are very few animations for ‘The DIKE’ character. In the animation where I posed and turned the character’s head, I simply added in a facial template and it was finished.
Step 4. Marvelous Designer
There were high-quality costumes in the Reallusion Content Store and Marketplace, but the pose that I decided to make was sitting on a chair, so after making the costume that fits the character mood, we brought the animated character from iClone to create a costume with natural wrinkles in the sitting position. For the texture of the outfit, the color map was produced in Photoshop after setting and snapshotting the UV map in Marvelous Designer.
Step 5. Cinema 4D
After combining the animated character in iClone and the costume in Marvelous Designer with the character in Cinema 4D, I modified the material of the skin in Octane Render, and then modeled and created the costume texture, background, character accessories, and other props in the renderer.
Step 6. After Effects
Compositing and post-processing were done on all images outputted from Octane Render in Cinema 4D. And since it takes a lot of time to render high quality in a 3D program, I improved the image quality with Topaz Video Enhance AI.
Part II. Feature story
Q : Hi Leesaek, thank you very much for sharing the workflow with us. First of all, congratulations for winning first place!
The Goddess of Justice DIKE has a very intriguing setup, from the character design to the surroundings, not to mention there’s an organ on the weight scale.
Could you share more of your artistic thoughts behind this project?
The sculptures of goddess Dike are often loaded with symbolism related to courts, fairness, and justice. She holds a scale in one hand and a knife in the other and judges when justice is off balance. I infused the subject matter with modernity and mythical symbolism befitting of the character.
In other words, it’s a scene where Dike, the goddess of justice, is emanating luxury and materialism, weighing a heart and a dollar bill while checking for likes on (Korean) Social Networking Service (SNS), which is reminiscent of the theme in Netflix series Squid Game!
Interestingly enough, this “organ on the scale” setup also appeared in your previous work Value. Compared to DIKE, the banknote and the hourglass in Value reveal more clues to the audience.
It’s easily associated with organ trafficking which showed up in the survival drama Squid Game as well.
The previous work Value was made in the early days while studying 3D tools, and it is different from Dike, but it is also a similar topic. At that time, I was impressed by Vanitas still life paintings, and it touched me from the perspective of “life’s futility,” and I thought of time flowing in an hourglass, the time of labor, the time of life, and the heart being reduced by working hours.
Q: I’m curious about what kind of messages you intend to convey through these two projects?
The message contained in the two projects is simple. It’s a story about choice and priorities. It’s the priority of work and life, life and matter.
Q: Also, what’s the advantage and disadvantage of using Cinema 4D for modeling and rendering your design, including character creation and character animation?
It’s too much to talk about the pinnacle features of Cinema4D one by one. Among them, the reason I work with Cinema 4D is accessibility—I’m not good with English, so I have to use a translator for the software manual, and I’m watching a lot of tutorial videos on YouTube because I learn tools by myself. In this regard, Cinema 4D has a lot of materials online. If you get stuck while working, you can find a solution relatively quickly. So I use Cinema 4D, and there are a lot of renderer and sub-plugins that I can choose from, so I can work flexibly on the final output.
The disadvantage is that the use of external plug-ins may be relatively essential when working on a project that includes character and character animation. Cinema 4D will do the job, but I understand it takes a lot of time and effort, so the use of Character Creator and iClone can be a very efficient workflow combination!
Q : Working as a professional designer in your day job, doing motion graphics and compositing are probably second nature to you.
So what interests you most about being a NFT artist in your free time? Can you elaborate more about your good and bad experiences of meeting the buyers?
As an NFT artist, the charm of my work is that I create the pictures that I want to create, and as a career, motion graphics and compositing are largely based on the needs of my client and my boss, and at some point, I’m falling into mannerism. I can work with NFTs in a way that I want and I can freely put in messages, thoughts, and stories that I want to embed.
Making an NFT is very meaningful in that it’s a graphic that’s recorded as an original in a digital work, and that it’s shared with the buyer, and of course, it’s also meaningful in terms of purchasing a work. My work is not expensive, but there is a person who bought it with cryptocurrency. And the fact that I sometimes communicate with the buyer about the work is so attractive and enjoyable as a creator.
Maybe the temptation to start making NFT works as a commercial project will lead to a bad experience. With that said, I also became an artist at a time when NFTs were getting a bad reputation, so there were a lot of false messages and suggestions, and I hope the NFT market will go in a good direction.
Q : Does that inspire you to do more creative projects, such as Beyond Light which won second place in the Rhythmical NFT contest last year?
Please share with us more of your concepts behind its melancholic story with the theme of “Finding the happiest moment beyond the light”, and how you created it in Cinema 4D.
Thank you for asking about Beyond Light which is my first NFT work, and it has a special meaning. My stories and ideals are self-contained such as a story that is impossible in reality or a wish that comes true in a virtual world.
Most of the production was done in Cinema 4D and the rest of the compositing was done in After Effects after rendering using Octane Render.
Q : With good use of camera movement, you created a warm and magic moment in the Christmas Ball and Santa Works at Home. Both of them have great coordination on music and lighting.
I wonder if you began these two projects with music? Could you share three things that inspire you the most when you start a new project?
In both projects, Christmas Ball and Santa Works at Home, I wanted to create a motion-graphic with a warm atmosphere, so of course the music selection was important. When I heard about the theme of the contest, I started with a small story setting that came to mind on Christmas Day when the Corona virus was in full swing, which goes like this:
In a cold country called Corona where giants and Santa Claus lived, a giant would leave presents for Santa every night that he worked tirelessly to prepare gifts for children.
I think the three things that inspire me when I start a new project are daily experiences, movies, and music. When I think of a keyword or subject in a movie or music, I write it down briefly. If I decide to proceed with the work, I will search for images on websites such as Behance or Pinterest.
Q : You mentioned that the Netflix series LOVE DEATH + ROBOTS motivated you to start learning 3D graphics tools. How did the transition of software upgrade impact your creations, for example, from CC3 to CC4?
Did you confront any hindrance? How did you solve that? Or did it give you new inspirations for your NFTs? What are your favorite features of Character Creator 4 and iClone 8?
I think LOVE DEATH + ROBOTS is a cool piece of work, the theme and the concepts are my favorite kind, and they are attractive characters. While working as a designer, I wanted to try it.
As I learned Cinema 4D, I was able to work on the background and motion graphics to some extent. However, there were many cases where I was disappointed in the character. So while I was looking for an easy way to make a character, I got to learn Character Creator, and I thought it would be good to organize a workflow to make a character from CC on the existing workflow with Cinema 4D and Octane Render. And fortunately, I entered the contest and won the award.
What I like about CC4 and iC8 is that it’s very intuitive and easy to use, and all the materials for character production are already ready. It didn’t take much time to work on the Dike character. It took longer to think about the identity, image, accessories, background elements, and poses of the Dike character than the actual production.
In short, the biggest advantage is that we can spend more time on what to make than how to make it.
Q : We’re curious about your next move; Are you planning to mix 2D graphics and 3D animations in your upcoming projects, just like the distinctive style of LOVE DEATH + ROBOTS?
I’m going to continue studying and working on my personal work after work hours. I need to practice more with CC4 and iC8. I’m going to continue working as an NFT artist even if I’m slow. And when I’m ready, my final goal is to make a short animation by myself.
Thank you for reading the long article!
Learn more :
• Leesaek on Behance https://www.behance.net/solelsc
• Leesaek on Social/NFT patfroms https://linktr.ee/SeungchanLee
• Character Creator https://www.reallusion.com/character-creator/download.html