From a young age, Davide Pellino has had a passion for all forms of artistic expression. Based in Italy, he works within the video games industry, using his spare time to create and promote his animation / still frame work since 2014.
Beginning 3D as a hobby from the age of 25, Davide chose Blender as his main tool and set about learning how to make his art with it. The power it possessed quickly took hold on Davide and eventually he left everything else behind to focus on being a full time 3D Artist.
Blender is an open source, production grade 3D application capable of producing stunning artworks for a wide range of uses. From architectural design, to creating game assets, to product visualisation, it is used by many artists around the world. Blender is freely available making it attractive to like minded people who just want to create.
Whilst it's not the easiest software in the word to get along with for a beginner, once you get past the quirks it suddenly becomes extremely fluid and productive tool to work with. It's stuck with Davide, and he hasn't considered moving away to any other tool for the past 5 years.
Describing himself as a purist, he tries to do as much as possible within Blender itself. This is possible because it contains tools for video editing and compositing alongside the usual modelling and animation tools found in such software.
The central theme running through most of Davide's work is one of whimsy. Using low polygon models with custom shaders to give a painted look makes his artwork stand out from most. Despite, this Davide admits to being a terrible painter in the traditional sense - something he finds frustrating since he would prefer to put down his ideas on paper before moving to the computer.
Using Blender alleviates that frustration, enabling ways to create in a painterly way without needing to be a traditional painter. Becoming adept at using material nodes to produce fast renders that sometimes use unconventional techniques to get the desired look, Davide recently produced an artwork called Le Ru D'Automne.
The goal for this piece was to recreate an oil-painted scene of a small town by a river. Producing the typical French Impressionist style is not easy for computer software, where its difficult to get away from the generated look. Adding that human touch, with subtle flaws and random brush strokes is a challenge for a texture artist.
I really like to play with all those basic renders image with different color mix setup (overlay, darken, multiply) to kinda “reconstruct” the image.
Davide used the process he went through to create a semi-procedural shader that could be re-used on other projects. This allowed him to blend generated elements with more traditional image maps to create the look. The image below explains the render passes used to layer up the image.
From top to bottom, you can see all the de-constructed layers: Flat color, Water Layer, Hard Shadow layer, Fake Rim Lights, and Ambient Color. Davide composites these within Blender, altering the blending modes with the addition of extra brush stroke layers. Combining these with some image displacement to get the bump of the paint strokes adds the final touch to the illustrated style.
The majority of the house models were sourced from Sketchfab under CC licence. Davide is grateful to them for making the items freely available, acknowledging that without those assets he would have spent weeks just making models to use for the image.
So, fact is: I’m just very into stylized/low poly/painted-like artworks, and this is just a matter of preference I’d say. The funny part is that…I’m a terrible painter!
So what's next for Davide? For the last 2 months he has been working hard on a challenging short film called Lost. As a one man studio, this a big project to undertake, requiring and awful lot of dedication.
Lost is a short movie about a young girl named Sarah who wakes up one day on a desert island. She has no recollection of how she came to be there or any idea where she is. The story centres her journey, exploring this mysterious land to find answers and to search for a way home.
Davide used the process of making the trailer to come up with a work flow for producing the rest of the movie. Creating shaders and setting up environments early on allows him to focus on telling the story instead of getting bogged down in the details.
Made with Blender 2.8 using the new EVEE realtime render engine, the process allowed Davide the chance to familiarise himself with the new tools. 2.8 is a big change and has a brand new interface. Whilst a little lost at first, Davide quickly got the hang of it.
The trailer is 2,500 frames, something that was very quick to render with EVEE, taking just a couple of hours. Davide tells us that the hardest part finding out a way to obtain several layer passes. This is because he likes to combine these during post production.
Prior to using Blender 2.8, Davide relied on the layer render / material override system available in 2.79. Whilst the new version is more complex, he worked around these challenges to alter his usual process to fit the software.
The full short movie is due for release in 2020, but you can view the trailer below. The voice over is Italian only, however it does have English subtitles.
Directed By: Davide Pellino, Modelling/Texturing/Rendering: Davide Pellino, Attilio Di Gaeta, Animation: Luca De Felice (Characters) , Davide Pellino (Camera, Environments), Video & Audio Editing: Davide Pellino.
Sarah is voiced by Arianna Amaducci. The soundtrack used for the trailer is a cover of “Third” by Hiatus, remixed by Max Cooper.