Interview: Clayton Sjoerdsma

Hi everyone!

This time Clayton Sjoerdsma (first place winner of challenge 102) from Canada will answer some questions and give us a look behind the scenes of his winning entry.

Clayton Sjoerdsma
Graphic Designer from Canada


Winning entry of Weekly CG Challenge 102 “Viking Age” by Clayton Sjoerdsma


1. Tell us a little bit about yourself: Who are you, what do you do, and where are you located?

Hi all, my name is Clayton Sjoerdsma, I am 22 and live in Canada. I work at our family owned sign business as a graphics designer. Growing up I always had a pencil in one hand and paper in the other. At age 14 I was introduced to Blender and I absolutely loved it! I couldn’t learn fast enough and it’s still that way for me now, I’m always ready to learn. Eventually I hope to work full time in CG.

2. Where did you find the inspiration for your latest entry?

I have always been a fan of oceans, creaking wooden ships, and pirates so this topic was right up my ally. I began this project by searching up and saving a bunch of inspiring reference images to work off of and went to work. I knew I didn’t have much time as I decided to enter this contest last minute with only 3 days remaining, but nevertheless I wanted this scene to have action and feeling. So I decided to make the scene about a victory… longboats sailing away as the shoreline goes up in flames.

Fig. 1 Modeling the hull, shields and oars
For the sail I made a base mesh and then sculpted in the finer detail afterwards.
Fig. 3 Modeling complete – Applying lighting, materials and textures

After the material shader was set up for the water, I used alpha maps to add the splashes around the oars and the bow. Once I was satisfied with the result, I made some group instances of the finished model and placed them around to make a fleet.

After I had the models, lighting, camera setup, I finished off the scene by adding a shoreline backdrop as well as more alpha maps for the atmosphere haze and mist.

3. Can you give us a short breakdown of your entry?

I didn’t have much time so I dove right into modeling the longboat, skipping concept art sketching all together. I modeled everything in Blender, starting with the basic shape of the hull and gradually adding details and visual interest.

Fig. 2 Modeling and sculpting the sail

After the modeling was complete, I proceeded to add textures and materials to the longboat as well as setting up lighting using an environment image, multiple lamps and emitter planes.

With the texturing and shading complete and the lighting pretty much set up, I starting working on the water. I used the ocean sim modifier for the ocean and then in sculpt mode added the wake at the bow of the ship. After that was complete, I started adjusting the camera settings and moving it around to find an epic shot.

Fig. 4 Camera setup and angle
Fig. 5 and 6 Adding alpha splash maps and placing additional models with group instancing)
Fig. 7 Adding mist and atmosphere with alpha maps
Now with my final raw render complete (and only a few hours remaining for the contest to close) I started in Photoshop with the post processing by adjusting the image colour, tweaking and shading diffent areas as well as compositing some details in like the birds flying, and the man in the longboat.
Fig. 8 Image colour correction and adding details
I finished off the image by adding the fire on the shoreline, some rain and extra mist.
Fig. 9 Project  finished!

4. Any advice for people who want to learn 3d art?

My advise for anyone wanting to learn would be to watch tutorial after tutorial and then apply what you learned, that’s for the most part how I got started. Also taking part in these contests I found really makes me want to push myself at what I can do and improve.

5. Who are your favorite artists, traditional or digital, and can you explain why?

I would have to say that my two most inspiring cg artists would be Gleb Alexandrov from Creative Shrimp (he seems to make even the most frustrating situations sound fun) and Kent Trammell from CG Cookie. I have learned a lot from both these guys. Also along the way there has been numerous other artists that I benefited from as well, so thanks all of you!

Thanks for the interview Clayton!