Ribbit Robot
A 3D scene render of a robot frog swarm travelling together

Type

3D scene render

Tools

Maya, Adobe Photoshop

Client

Prof. Stuart Jantzen (MSC2003Y)

Target Audience

Science and robot enthusiasts

Date completed

April 4, 2022

Goals

To create a scene render in Maya based on an existing journal article

Ribbit Robot
A 3D scene render of a robot frog swarm travelling together

Type

3D scene render

Tools

Maya, Adobe Photoshop, Adobe Illustrator

Client

Prof. Stuart Jantzen (MSC2003Y)

Target Audience

Science and robot enthusiasts

Date completed

April 4, 2022

Goals

To create a scene render in Maya based on an existing journal article

Process

The project takes inspiration from this journal article written by a lab that explanted frog stem cells (Xenopus laevis) and found them to have certain properties such as motility, self-healing and an ability to read/write information that allow them to act as ‘biological robot swarms’. I wanted to flip the concept on its head and create a scene with robotic frog swarms instead!

Ideation and concepting

First, I sketched out pencil thumbnails of the scene with different concepts. I focused on clarity of idea and reader attention during the ideation period. Afterward, drawing inspiration from Tron-esque animal concept robots, I drew rough sketches of each component that would make up the robot frog that I would have to model.

Modelling

Utilizing Maya’s primitive blocks, I modelled each component of the robot frog and grouped them together to allow for easy duplication and positioning. Most of the components were achieved by starting with a square primitive, subdividing it and using a series of functions (extrude, bridge and move) to arrive at the geometric look of the robot frogs. The red blood cell and vessel was created in a similar way. 

Materials

To achieve the metallic finish of the robots, a combination of methods were used. The brushed and chrome metal that covered most of the frogs’ body were from a Maya materials preset. While the galvanized and damascus steel that covered some of the frogs’ legs were achieved through different maps from an online repository. Similarly, subtle bump maps were used in the surfaces of the blood vessel and red blood cell to achieve a realistic rendering of them.

Lighting

To achieve a more dramatic lighting situation, I utilized a few Arnold area lights in the scene with the ones facing the frog having a red tint and the ones behind the frog a blue tint. Spotlights were utilized in the frogs’ eyes, which in combination with an Atmospheric Volume, created a flashlight-effect that helped illuminate the scene. The glowing rings on the frogs’ legs and jet pack were achieved through assigning an emissive material to certain faces that glowed a slight blue-green hue.

 

Rendering

I used a batch render system that allowed me to render the scene in different layers which sped up the process and made it easier for me to edit the assets in post. After compositing the scene in Photoshop, I used Levels to adjust the brightness of the scene and various blur effects to give a sense of depth. Utilizing a soft speckle brush, I also added small floating particles that were lit by the spotlights in the scene to add some realism. Afterwards, the text overlay was layered on top of the scene render in Illustrator.