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Building Natural Environments using Gaea & Houdini

Environment Creation & Look-Dev Techniques with Rasha Shalaby


Rasha Shalaby takes environment artists and matte painters on a journey from concept to final shot using Gaea, Houdini, V-Ray, and Photoshop as she recreates the ancient deserts of Sinia, Egypt, and the Red Sea Mountains. Perfect for artists working in VFX for film, TV, and game cinematics, Rasha’s 4-hour workshop walks through the complete creation process of a natural environment based on a real location.

This comprehensive workshop covers all the essential steps from creating the base low-detail assets that inform the initial concepts to creating hero camera angles, updating and optimizing assets, and adding scattered elements. Rasha teaches the importance of using references to ensure fidelity between the CG recreation versus the production location and teaches the workflow and techniques utilized by artists in a real production environment. She shows how environments will go through various iterations as the level of detail is updated in every asset and the environment overall.

Gaea is used to create the terrains and output textures. Houdini is used to set up the environment build and extract displacement maps for the created terrain, and also to create layered shaders in V-Ray to ensure a high level of detail is achieved in the final renders. Rasha’s .tor files are provided with this workshop for subscribers to download.

Duration: 4h 15m

Format: HD 1920x1080

Rasha Shalaby

Senior Environment TD

Rasha Shalaby has been working in the entertainment industry since 1998 as a Visual Effects Art Director, Environment Artist, Matte Painter, and Compositor. Her film credits include The Lord of the Rings, The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, and Argo, to name a few. She has also worked on countless commercials and several Game cinematics.

Rasha has recently been focusing on procedural environments with software such as Gaea and Houdini, while still using her matte-painting skills to polish up and expedite the creative process wherever possible. She finds that a large bag of tools and tricks allows her to be malleable with the ever-exceedingly fast turnarounds required in our industry today.