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Introduction to Patterns

Pixar shading artists Beth and Ana explain how patterns play a crucial role in creating believable textures for animated characters like Arlo from The Good Dinosaur. They discuss color, illumination, and displacement, and emphasize the importance of adding randomness to patterns for a more organic and realistic appearance.

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Video transcript

(lazy western music) (clock beeps) - What is the holdup? - Ugh, shading artists at the salad bar they just get a little too involved. - Is it a fractal? - I think so, that puffy shape repeats itself. Oh, maybe we should talk about this somewhere else. - I'm Beth, I'm a shading artist. - And I'm Ana, I'm also a shading artist. This lesson is about patterns, which we use in shading all the time. - Shading is creating the surface appearance of all the stuff you see in our films. Cars, bugs, trees, aliens, they all start out modeled three-dimensional objects, but they don't have surface characteristics yet. - [Ana] We create and apply the textures that make our characters and sets seem like they're made out of something real. - [Beth] The word seem is really important here, because we're not trying to recreate reality exactly. - We're trying to capture the essential qualities of a surface that make it feel believable. - [Beth] And a lot of times, that quality is actually a pattern. (playful bongo music) - When we begin creating a surface, we usually start by looking at reference images, or things from the real world. - [Beth] We look at a few different qualities, color, illumination, which is how the surface reacts to light, and displacement: how bumpy or smooth it is. - Let's talk about how we did that with Arlo. In The Good Dinosaur, Arlo was supposed to feel young and fresh. We actually used the succulent plant called Titanoplis, as a reference for his skin. Looking closely at the plant, we were able to deconstruct what made it feel right for Arlo. First of all, there was a series of cells that formed the main feature of the pattern. In terms of color, these cells had one color in the cell itself, and the ring around the cell was a darker color. The surface of the plant was shiny, but it wasn't a sharp shine, it was a soft shine. Finally, the cells that made up the main pattern were displaced from the surface, so it was kind of bumpy. Once we figure out these main features, we started creating a pattern. However, to make the pattern feel organic, we needed to do something else to it: add randomness. - Believable randomness can be surprisingly difficult to achieve in computer graphics. Computers are great at modeling regular patterns, but in nature, most of the patterns you see have some variation or irregularity within their structure, giving them a quality of controlled randomness. - Getting that randomness into Arlo's shading was a big challenge, but we used some interesting techniques that we'll share with you throughout the rest of this lesson. - And you'll get to use randomness to create and manipulate patterns of your own. - I bet after this they'll all start looking at the world like a shading artist. - Hey, check out the bubble pattern in this baguette. (playful accordion music)