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The Art of Crafting CG Fabrics

Trends and Insight 140 Add to collection

German production studio Woodblock takes a deep dive into a recent global project creating technical illustrations for tech-fabric brand GORE-TEX

The Art of Crafting CG Fabrics
Creating photorealistic materials in CG requires skill, experience and extensive research. From the way that a fabric moves and how light bounces off of its surface, right down to the texture of the weave and size of the stitching - it’s a craft that demands intricate precision.

Tasked with creating numerous technical illustrations for tech-fabric brand GORE-TEX, the design and CGI team at Berlin-based production studio Woodblock were up for the challenge. The project’s Lead Artist, Helen Choi says: “The brief was to update the market leader’s array of technical illustrations to showcase and explain the brand’s wide range of products to its resellers and customers. The sheer volume of different kinds of fabric construction and the detailed distinction could be an overwhelming task for some people, but not for us. We personally love and appreciate the GORE-TEX products as they have saved us many times when it rains in Berlin! So we were excited to be able to work on products that we use almost every day. And to output such a huge library of images was oddly satisfying.”


Producer Ian Otto says: “As well as the high amount of deliverables, one of the biggest challenges was to wrap our heads around the complexity of GORE-TEX’s technologies - on top of the whole team having to work remotely at certain points amid COVID madness.” 

Technical director Michael Heberlein agrees: “The project required macro close-up detail so instead of matching the visual appearance of materials with images, we used actual geometry strand setups using close-up fabric references to build the texture.”

Helen comments: “The thing about CG production is that there will always be the newest, most advanced tools coming out, and part of our job is to continue to research, learn, and decide what the best tool of choice for each project is. We really enjoyed learning new aspects of cloth simulation during this one.”


It’s All In The Technical Details 


One of the key tasks for Woodblock was to communicate all of GORE-TEX’s fabric technologies in a consistent and premium way. “The brand is famed for the high quality of its products and our goal was to create assets that clearly reflect this position through its visual quality,” says Managing Partner, Ilija Brunck. “Our visual development process starts with a range of rough explorations in different directions that we then refine with the client until we reach a result that everybody is excited about and satisfied with. In this project we created a wide variety of explorations on how to implement the different materials.”

“One of the most difficult materials to render in CG was the insulation layer which consists of many translucent fibers, scattering light all over the place,” Michael explains. “To make it work we had to go through a huge amount of experimentation, trying out many light ray bounces and transmission steps to achieve the end result.”


In order to ensure that all the various materials and products kept a consistent look, the team used Houdini’s Take System. Fellow Lead Artist, Benjamin Broschinski says: “With the system we could keep everything in one render scene and make sure that the lighting and shading stayed the same while we swapped out the different assets with different render takes.”

“It was crucial for us to keep a high level of quality consistent through all technologies, animations and stills,” Ian states. “We needed to create and build a pipeline which at the end guaranteed us to keep that level and impress the client with its minimal, simple but sophisticated premium look.”

He continues: “It was a very positive experience working with GORE-TEX, and for me personally, they are an absolute dream client in terms of communication, quality of feedback, and reliability. Also given the fact that we managed to achieve all this during COVID made it even more memorable and special.”

Ilija adds: “A client with such high expectations on quality is always great fun to work with. We received very positive feedback on the final result and we are proud to have created such an efficient setup for the production while delivering quality work. It is very rewarding to see the assets deployed and used so widely around the globe by GORE-TEX and its partners.” 

All elements of Woodblock’s technical illustrations are customisable for brand partners to be able to update with ease, resulting in a fresh, modern and future-proof system that can evolve with new technologies. “Projects at Woodblock are always a team effort and we are lucky to have such highly skilled artists across the whole range of CGI production,” Ilija says. “Many of us have been working together for a long time already, leading to a very organised and coordinated way of working together on projects like this. Delivering this project through lockdown we have learned that we can be even more open and bold about what solutions we are able to offer to our direct-to-brand clients and we are excited to continue to explore and expand our capabilities.”
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Categories: Sports and Leisure, Outdoor Equipment

Woodblock, Wed, 02 Sep 2020 10:49:47 GMT