Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Fine Arts (MFA)

Legacy Department

Digital Production Arts

Committee Chair/Advisor

Davis, Timothy A.

Committee Member

House , Donald

Committee Member

Penna , Tony


This thesis focuses on a systematic solution for rendering 3D photorealistic natural environments using Maya's procedural methods and ZBrush. The methods used in this thesis started with comparing two industry specific procedural applications, Vue and Maya's Paint Effects, to determine which is better suited for applying animated procedural effects with the highest level of fidelity and expandability. Generated objects from Paint Effects contained the highest potential through object attributes, texturing and lighting. To optimize results further, compatibility with sculpting programs such as ZBrush are required to sculpt higher levels of detail. The final combination workflow produces results used in the short film Fall. The need for producing these effects is attributed to the growth of the visual effect industry's ability to deliver realistic simulated complexities of nature and as such, the public's insatiable need to see them on screen. Usually, however, the requirements for delivering a photorealistic digital environment fall under tight deadlines due to various phases of the visual effects project being interconnected across multiple production houses, thereby requiring the need for effective methods to deliver a high-end visual presentation. The use of a procedural system, such as an L-system, is often an initial step within a workflow leading toward creating photorealistic vegetation for visual effects environments. Procedure-based systems, such as Maya's Paint Effects, feature robust controls that can generate many natural objects. A balance is thus created between being able to model objects quickly, but with limited detail, and control. Other methods outside this system must be used to achieve higher levels of fidelity through the use of attributes, expressions, lighting and texturing. Utilizing the procedural engine within Maya's Paint Effects allows the beginning stages of modeling a 3D natural environment. ZBrush's manual system approach can further bring the aesthetics to a much finer degree of fidelity. The benefit in leveraging both types of systems results in photorealistic objects that preserve all of the procedural and dynamic forces specified within the Paint Effects procedural engine.



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