How do artists celebrate the spooky season? With a little bit of fine sculpture work, of course! Here are all the steps that went into producing our latest pumpkin animation.

Step 1: Find Some Pumpkins and Start Carving

Our Halloween CGI project required some legwork outside the digital realm. Pumpkin carving was a great way to step back from the screen for a little while and have some fun.

Two members of the visualization team sitting at a table to carve pumpkins

Four of the carved pumpkins sitting on a stoop

Step 2: Take Pictures: 4 Pumpkins, 1,000 Photos

Our objective: get these real-life pumpkins into virtual 3D space! We wanted to create a rendered Halloween scene with 3D models of our own pumpkins. To achieve that, we needed to capture every inch of detail of these pumpkins (inside and out) on camera before taking it to the computer. That is, over 1,000 photos of our 4 pumpkins and their respective lids.

The pumpkin photoshoot definitely required some trial and error—the lighting and missed shots were two of the biggest reasons for restarting a couple of the photoshoots.

Close up of a carved pumpkin being photographed

Step 3: Produce the Photogrammetry Models

With all the pumpkin photos compiled onto our computers, we were ready to start generating 3D models of each one. We used a program called Meshroom, which helped us create a 3D model for each that was compatible with our day-to-day rendering software. The program starts by gathering the camera viewpoints based on the photo data we gave it. It then places those cameras in its own 3D space around a placeholder model represented by a point-dot cloud (as seen below.)

There was definitely some back and forth between the photogrammetry and photography steps in the process. If the program was missing any information or photos, there would be a hole in the 3D model, and we'd have to start from square one. This happened a couple times early on before we got the hang of it. Each model took about two hours for the program to generate.

One of the carved pumpkins in Meshroom

Step 4: Start Rendering

From here, our 3D models were ready to drag and drop into 3DS Max! When the 3D meshes first came in, they needed some cleanup before being placed in the scene.  After that, our team played around with composition and lighting to get the pumpkins front and center.  The camera is dramatically low with the background blurred for an intimate shot of the characters.

Lighting the pumpkins in 3DS Max

It's Alive! The Final Product

Our team typically stays in the photorealistic realm of rendering, but lately (as seen with our Philly 3D series), it's been fun to take a more stylized approach to CG art: pushing scale, proportions, color, and detail to create a different genre of rendering. With realistic lighting and a more "cartoonish" approach, the end result is a more vibrant and fun alternative to realism.



The final touch comes with the sidewalk chalk Designblendz logo in the foreground, blurred out by the camera!

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About The Author

Maddie is a visualization project designer at Designblendz, where she works on renderings and animations. She loves running and hiking in her free time.