View Full Version : Khaled Pamir - 2010 Character/Hard Surface Modeling and Texturing Reel

05 May 2010, 04:17 AM

I have been out of school for the past year and I have been constantly working on my demo reel in hopes of landing a job. Unfortunately this job search hasn't gone too well for me. Regardless I figure I will keep on trying despite the doubt i am having about my career choice.

Anyway enough of my babble, I would love to get some strong critiques of my latest demo reel. I have attempted to get critiques from other artists I know but I get the typical "nice work" comment. And considering landing a job has been near impossible, I think they aren't being very honest or just blowing me off.

Thank you for the input.

Khaled Pamir.

Updated link is below. Any input would be great good sirs and madams.

Demo_reel_updated (

05 May 2010, 10:17 AM
Honestly, your reel needs a lot of work. Apart from the fact that showing four models is really insufficient, the actual quality of the work is not going to make anyone jump up and say "hire that guy!". The reality is that your reel is very generic, and doesn't show anything special. You need to address this.

It's good that you show a variety of styles of models, but the models themselves are not especially impressive. You could definitely work on them a lot more. The first head wasn't too bad, but it wasn't particularly interesting or memorable either. The second character was quite interesting but could have benefitted from additional details, like props and stuff. I also think you should have shown your characters posed. The car was honestly a bit boring - it's just another of the millions of cars I've seen over the years on these forums. While car modelling is probably quite useful to demonstrate, as CG cars are commonly used in film and game production, you need to improve your presentation of them to impress viewers. The female model needed a lot more detailing too. I also felt it was quite cliched.

Your texture work is, to be brutally honest, quite poor. Your reel would frankly look better without textures, unless you work hard to improve them. Overall your texture work is lacking in realism, and attention to detail. The textures on the female character looked as if you'd done them in ten minutes, which isn't a good thing. Unless you have the time to do textures properly, don't do them, or else they actually make your work look worse. I would recommend you study some texturing theory and practice texturing more, especially working with photos in your textures.

You should also avoid having animated text with your name and you shouldn't bother putting credits at the end.

Sorry, I think this post is overwhelmingly negative, but these are my honest thoughts. You obviously have a decent foundation in 3D, I just think you need to push yourself to do better work. With competition for jobs increasing these days, you really have to make sure that your work demonstrates your ability to bring a unique and strong skillset to potential employers. At the moment, your reel makes you blend in with the crowds.

05 May 2010, 10:46 AM
Well I have to agree with leigh.
Your models lack interesting details. They look like good base meshes .
You already know how to work with zbrush, use it to add more details to models.
Texture work of characters is not very good. textures look too simple and their materials need more work.
I also did not like some of the camera movements you have done in your reel. Especially the movement in the car shot.

Just spend a couple of weeks on your reel and it will look totally different.
hopefully we`ll see an update soon

05 May 2010, 05:13 PM
Thanks for the input guys.

Leigh, how many models would you suggest? The previous cuts of my demo reel had six models in it but they were all characters. I hear conflicting things about how many models someone should show. Some people have told me if you haven't worked in the industry and are trying to land your first job you should limit the amount of models to less than a handful.

Also regarding the car model presentation, could you possibly elaborate on this a little? While I agree with you about the amount of car models around the internet, I put it in the reel to show an ability to model hard surfaces as well as organic models. Or at least that was my reasoning.

Thank you for the criticism. It feels quite satisfying getting some solid input on this demo reel. And quite honestly, I agree with every single point you guys have made. Back to the drawing board I go.

05 May 2010, 05:28 PM
Leigh, how many models would you suggest? The previous cuts of my demo reel had six models in it but they were all characters. I hear conflicting things about how many models someone should show. Some people have told me if you haven't worked in the industry and are trying to land your first job you should limit the amount of models to less than a handful.

I have no idea why someone would suggest keeping the number of models down, as showing variety is very important since it demonstrates that you have a well rounded skillset and creative interest. Ideally, a reel should be around 2 minutes long, so if you show each model for about 15-20 seconds, you could get 6-8 models in.

Also regarding the car model presentation, could you possibly elaborate on this a little?

I thought the camera movements weren't great, and the lighting didn't really show off the model at all. The shader was also a bit boring, and the background was actually quite distracting for some reason. I think this may be due to the saturated colour and the fact that it was actually lighter than the model itself. The same can be said of the first model - the blue background is distracting there too. Keep your backgrounds neutral.

05 May 2010, 05:44 PM
Thanks for the quick reply Leigh.

05 May 2010, 11:49 PM
Well I went back to work on the reel, I changed the title and end cards, and now I am working on that last model.

I discovered that the normal maps were screwed up, I need to pay more attention to these types of things. They were not created properly from zbrush (ughhh). And to boot I set up the shader network for my SSS wrong, so it wasn't getting any of the subsurface scattering effect.

As you can tell the technical side of 3d is not my strong suite. Anyway here is a slight update on the model of the lady. I am trying to get the SSS shader to give a somewhat realistic effect.

I am also going to make her a little more interesting with some props and such like you guys suggested.

You live and learn I guess.

Any feedback would be great regarding the updates.

Thanks again.

Khaled Pamir

05 May 2010, 01:05 AM
Her skin looks much better.
I don`t like some of the details on her face. They make her look a bit bumpy.
Also I think she`s going to look much better with hair on her head. Right now it looks like she`s got cancer.

Looking forward to see updates here

05 May 2010, 01:32 AM
I did want to add hair on her originally but I have very little understanding of Mayas hair systems, would you know of any good hair tutorials?

Every time I have attempted hair with Maya they just end up looking like cords of some sort sticking out of the head.

05 May 2010, 09:02 AM
Why don't you turn her into some kinda glamor model and drape her over the car. Solves the problem of having a pretty boring presentation of two models into one with more details to look at.

Also you should look into real life studio lighting techniques to help improve the presentation of you models.


05 May 2010, 09:35 AM
Or, if you think that texturing isn't your strong point you should consider leaving it out as Leigh mentioned earlier. That doesn't mean the reel needs to be grey. You can still give your models flat colours to liven it up a bit (kind of what you did to your first model) but bad texturing will distract and you really do want to mostly show off the shapes.

Present your models with good lighting. The first guy looked pretty good, especially with the rimlight helping to outline the shape, but the fat guy looked a bit flat and the car and woman very dark.


05 May 2010, 09:48 AM
Hi !

First of all, your camera moves is really distracting. Slow them down, and keep them simple..
Thereís nothing wrong with a simple turnaround without all those fancy moves you a doing..

Specially the car shot, itís spinning around like crazy.. And one other thing about the car, either show it without shading, or use another color than black, Itís impossible to see the shape.

I also think the models should be posed, because then they look much more interesting.


05 May 2010, 10:41 AM
Wow, I have never seen this before. Mostly people put loads of detail on a poor base, but you have a really good base with almost no details! For you it will be easier than if the problem was the other way around. Remarkable.

Look at the work of the best character modelers. On characters you will need to show folds and structure. On the heavy guy there are loads of opportunities to show clothing wrinkles and folds of flab. The reel itself is poorly lit and the contrast is low so it is even hard to see what is going on most of the time. Your reel and characters need a kick in the butt. However your proportions are pleasing so you should be able to get up to speed.

05 May 2010, 01:07 AM

So suddenly Maya has dictated that there are visible seams in my skin texture when viewed from a distance. For example.

But when I render it out at a closer distance, there is absolutely nothing wrong with it.

Does anyone have any idea what the hell is going on? I have a displacement map, and a normal map for the extra details on the model, and a skin texture in the appropriate slots in the MI_SSS_shader. I am using mental ray to render, and I have set up the approximation editor correctly. There is no seams visible when I render out a clay render using a blinn or lambert with the displacement/normals, or like I said above when I render a close up of the model with the SSS.

This is so random, one second it works, and then the other everything is borked!

Someone shoot me please!

Kanga: Haha thanks I guess. I find it very difficult to draw/sculpt the female form, it is so smooth and delicate. I guess that is where my problems come from. As for the big fat guy model I was going for a more stylized design for it. So I intentionally passed on skin folds etc etc. But you make great points! I am trying to get some more detail in that female model but Maya has decided to screw me!

Anders: I think I will definitely simplify the camera movements, they just never sat well with me in the first place but now that I am getting some input, all my doubts are confirmed.
As for the car colour, That will also be changed.

05 May 2010, 06:27 AM
I think your uv islands are too close together in your texture maps. You could try moving them apart slightly and adjusting your textures. You could also try filling the background colour in your textures with the general colour of your texture itself, instead of black or white. The same thing happened to me a while ago and this is how I fixed it. Hope this works for you.

05 May 2010, 07:46 AM
Thanks for the input Joey. I did fix it but it wasn't the UV placement, i made sure to leave enough space between the different sets.

Leigh suggested to fix the texture filter setting, and that seems to have fixed the problem.

05 May 2010, 02:24 PM
Oh thanks for the info. Could you elaborate on exactly what she said? Turn off filtering? I don't think it was in the posts.

05 May 2010, 06:52 PM
there's no use in repeating what others have said, so i won't.

i will repeat that there's potential here, it just needs a bit of polish and the end result will be great =)

when i first saw the big persian guy, i was reminded a bit of the heavy character from team fortress. the team fortress characters are really solid examples of what to do with low-poly stuff. the textures on them are similarly not very high detail.

however, with both the character meshes and textures, it's all about where the detail is spent that really sets them off. little things like the 5 o'clock shadow on the heavy's face and the hard hat and sunnies on the engineer. go and look at these characters, and you'll have a wealth of inspiration about how to present your work.

take special note of how they are presented. there is not a single shot that i can find of them in the t-pose. they are all posed in a way the belies their individual characters. the heavy looks like someone you don't want to mess with. the spy looks devious. the sniper looks like a hick. the scout looks like he could run for miles. and so on. you get all of this from the way that they stand (or sit).

with your characters, think about their individual stories. what makes them tick? what i found most intriguing about your female was her clothing. i think it was good how you showed the model without the clothes first (rawr). seriously, though, it lets you see the model itself, which is great. with regard to the clothes, though, are they because she's a cultist, a person in a high position, a street rat, or something else entirely? a pose will help to set this off. little details will also clue the viewer in without you having to spell it out. if she's a cultist - you don't even need to bother with hair, put a 5 o'clock shadow where her hair should be and it will look like she's deliberately shaved it off. give her some occult tattooing even maybe on her head which has been shaved. give her a snarl. do something funky with her eyeballs. put a knife or something in her hand. give her weird jewellery. put some scars on her (anywhere... face? body? arms? legs? up to you). let the detail tell the story. finally, pose her in such a way as to show all of this off. if she's a cultist, have her standing on one leg in some funky 'don't mess with me' pose.

if she's a street rat, then different things will apply. just think a bit about how your characters work and spend a bit of time coming up with details.

never, ever, show your characters in a t-pose, unless there's something that absolutely can't be shown in a dynamic pose. pose the character, and do the turnaround, show off the mesh, still in pose. think about how to light the character once its been posed.

i was really excited by the potential of the persian guy, and i'm looking forward to what you can pull out of him. same with the girl. can't wait =)

06 June 2010, 04:09 AM
Joey: In the texture node, under the effects tab I turned the filter setting down from 1 to .1 and it solved the issue.

Work has been slow on the demo reel but I have been working on it. Here is a slight update.

I am still trying to get the right feel for her gown and I am not all too happy with the way her bits and pieces are looking but I am happier with the skin. I want to add a bump map to the SSS on top of the displacement and normal maps.

Feel free to tear into it.

06 June 2010, 04:52 PM
Hey guys, another update.

Please let me know how it looks and what works or doesn't.

06 June 2010, 09:56 PM
Here is the demon head with a little reworking. I am not too happy with the texture atm I am still working on that part. It is coming out much redder than what I intended when rendered.

I want to get these posted up here before so I can get some crits and get something decent into my reel.

I have been trying to take everyone's input into account and not fall back into old habits.

Updated the above model. I am happier with the way it looks, added the bump map to it so more of the skin detail is visible.

06 June 2010, 08:28 PM
Another update, I went back to the female priestess model to work on the skin.

I added a bump on top of the normal, and changed up the skin texture a bit.

I think the bump map is a little strong in certain places, like the knees, so ill probably turn those down a bit.

Let me know what you opinions on where to improve on please.


06 June 2010, 10:11 PM
Nice progression. I think if the skin shader was improved some more it would help a lot. When it comes to skin the SSS softens the terminator a bit but not quite as drastically as what you have. If you look at your last images the skin looks very waxy and that I believe that's due to 2 things. One is the specularity but more importantly the large scattering radius. Here's an image I found that you can use as a reference. The main thing you can notice is that the terminator is a warm gradient with a fairly fast dropoff. A good way to replicate this would be to use just one light and try to achieve the same look. Then you can add in more lights. Most of the time I find people think the bounce and fill lights illuminating skin are actually the SSS but it's actually a much more subtle effect which only becomes really noticeable with bright direct light. Hope this helps you out!

06 June 2010, 10:21 PM

She looks better than before. I think her face looks a bit too bumpy.
The scars on the head should be more detailed and maybe they are a little too big.

I still think she needs hair on her head. It`s going to give her more characteristic and she will be more attractive.

06 June 2010, 02:31 AM
Hey guys, thanks for the input.

Kanooshka : thanks for the tips, I am fiddling around with the shader as I type this

Reza: I would love to add hair but I do not know enough about the hair systems to make them look right. As for her look I don't want a beautiful looking woman, I was kind of going for a somewhat unattractive model in the sense that she has bumps and scars on her face and has gone through a lot of stuff.

06 June 2010, 10:33 PM
Hello guys,

I am in the process of putting together a new cut of my demo reel, and would love to get your opinions on it.

The link is below, I am waiting on the wire frames for a couple of the models to be rendered out, but I thought I could get some tips about this cut of my reel.

Thanks again.

Here is the link --- Demo_Reel_ (

06 June 2010, 05:26 AM
I updated the first post with the latest version of my demo reel. I am also including the link in this post.

I would love some more input on what to fix/improve it if possible.

Thanks again.

updated Reel (

06 June 2010, 08:54 AM
private video =(

06 June 2010, 01:42 PM
Ah damnit!

I fixed it, sorry about that.

07 July 2010, 04:16 AM
Hey, its been a while

Here is the demo reel. If I could get some opinions about it it would be great.

07 July 2010, 06:55 PM
That is a lot better than the first reel. Or at least so I remember as the old one is password protected?
Modeling wise it's quite decent. Shows you got a sense of proportion. The lighting is good and the camera moves aren't distracting. Nice work.

I still think you should drop the texturing and shading on the characters though. Or at least just stick to the marble shader for the demony guy and priestess, it was pretty effective in your first shot. The SSS on both is far too strong and makes them look like wax or Play Doh and on the priestess at least it still just looks like untextured shaders and adds nothing to the reel.


07 July 2010, 07:04 PM
Yay someone replied! Thanks for the input Wiro.

The password is viddy for the all of the other versions of the reel for anyone that wants to go look back at what I had before for reference.

I am going back to the textures and that SSS shader, again, even if it kills me!

07 July 2010, 08:06 AM
Be carefull with the SSS depth and radius to avoid waxy look. Also playing with specular map makes big impact in this. How skin reflects light isnt totally uniform like in materials like wax or whatever.

07 July 2010, 12:59 AM
You should lose the bust rotations and the heavy set guy. They aren't helping you. Keep the female and develop it more. Hope that helps. Good luck!
Edit-the scale conversion factor is the most important sss setting

07 July 2010, 08:19 AM
DoctorMonkeyFist and GoodAsNew: Thanks for the input, I am looking at a lot of documentation for the SSS shader and hopefully it helps.

Should I not include any busts? I wanna go and do a nicer higher/better detailed and textured head. As well as texture and pose out the heavy set guy. I included the heavy set guy for a bit of variety.

07 July 2010, 10:03 PM
DoctorMonkeyFist and GoodAsNew: Thanks for the input, I am looking at a lot of documentation for the SSS shader and hopefully it helps.

Should I not include any busts? I wanna go and do a nicer higher/better detailed and textured head. As well as texture and pose out the heavy set guy. I included the heavy set guy for a bit of variety.
Do that. Including busts is fine if they convey your abilities. The heavy set guy has an interesting shape and he'll look neat textured.Good luck!

07 July 2010, 05:15 AM

I went back to do some SSS testing.

Id love some feedback , I feel like the shader is making more sense to me.

07 July 2010, 09:58 PM
In my experience, I have found that good lighting makes a huge difference in my skin shader. Your lighting is so diffuse, that it is washing out your results. I would put in a decent point light and a strong back light. Right now I think you have to much subdermal, and back scattering, but are unable to see it properly because of your current light setup.

08 August 2010, 01:59 PM

Still working away on this thing.

It is looking better...... I think.

08 August 2010, 09:54 AM
Looks much better now.

Before I start messing with shaders I usually setup lighthing with some very basic shader like lambert or blinn and get as much out of the lighting I can. I think like if im making a b&w studio photography at this stage. It's very important to bring up the form with values that good lighting creates before starting to mess with SSS shader. without good lighting it's hard to say if the problem is the lighting or bad shader settings.

When you are not experienced enough you should always do things step by step. not fiddle with every attribute and see what happens.

There's a good tutorial videos in gnomon workshop about SSS fast skin shader. Here ( There's a lot of other usefull stuff too.

09 September 2010, 07:50 AM
Hey here's another update.

Thanks for the input so far, but I need more..... moar I tells ya.

I've been continuing work on getting the MISSS shader to look like skin, also I would like some input regarding the slight seams I am getting around the deltoid/traps. I cannot seem to figure it out.

Any and all input is welcome.

Thank you good sirs/madame's

09 September 2010, 05:55 AM
Hey another update,

I would love some feedback on this guy below.

09 September 2010, 01:10 PM
Lot of improvement there. Overal lighting isn't bad, SSS isn't so over kill now appearance and the pose gives some nice mood.

The guy could use eyes tho. Looks a bit creepy without.

The front of the guy is lacking some detail tho. Could use some deeper shadows in the details or adjust litghting so that the direct light hits the front more.

Or maybe the SSS is still washing out the detail. For example the lips, nose and eye lids.

Would be nice to see a lambert or blim test render out of the scene with same lighting. That comparison would show what the SSS is actually doing.

09 September 2010, 05:51 AM
Thanks for the reply.

I went and added some eyes to lessen the creep factor, and also added some bits and pieces to the guys pants. As well as updating the lady model I had before.

09 September 2010, 06:45 PM
I don't think your lighting is helping showcase your models. Its way, way too flat, and lacks dynamic range. You need to have a strong key light that provides highlights, otherwise all your details are reduced to nondescript mush. I took one of your pictures and threw it into Photoshop, and did auto-contrast to to push the image a bit. It seems to help a bit. However, its just a quick hack, and not a substitute for properly lighting your scene. (

09 September 2010, 09:28 PM
Thanks for the example Richard.

Gonna fiddle around with the lighting and post some screens later tonight.

09 September 2010, 07:22 AM
Changed up the lighting, but now that I am looking at it, it still looks washed out.

I tried increasing the intensity of the lights but I can't seem to find a middle ground, its either too much or not enough.

Anyway let me know what ya think.

09 September 2010, 08:28 AM
The rim light you added does help pick out some detail, but you're right. The images are somewhat washed out at the moment. If these were photos I'd say they were underexposed, and to leave your shutter open longer. However, since they're rendered images we'll have to find the root of the problem.

I grabbed your latest images and one from a while back and did the "auto levels" trick in photoshop. Looking at the difference between the before/after, I strongly suspect you've got your overall ambient set to something other than black. I don't know what renderer you're using, but pretty much all of them have a way to set the ambient scene color. ( (

09 September 2010, 12:09 PM
Nice progress but you're right, the light is very flat and dim.

Maybe you need to calibrate your monitor. If that were the case you'd be seeing the images much different than us.. Follow each of these steps and you'll be golden.

09 September 2010, 06:24 PM
I am using mental ray for maya to render everything out.

I am using a photographic exposure lens on my camera, so I think I can use the camera settings that come on the lens to help out with the exposure.

As for the environment colour I have it set to black, so I dont think that is the issue, I do have a Blackbody light shader attached to my mia_exposures white point, maybe that is causing some issues.

Here are a couple of renders I did a few minutes ago. As for my monitor it seems that my monitor is calibrated properly.


Here are some renders with the whitepoint on the exposure node set to default.

09 September 2010, 08:51 PM
Some more renders, again with the whitepoint on the exposure node set to its default settings and with the environment also at default black.

09 September 2010, 09:04 PM
What do renders without the camera shader look like? I've found that lens shaders that mess with color and exposure tend to be pretty fiddly, and often take a lot of tweaking.

09 September 2010, 06:16 AM
Went back and set did some renders without the exposure node, and it was a lot worse.

I added a simple_exposure node instead of the photographic_exposure

Here are the renders with the simple_exposure.

09 September 2010, 09:26 PM
Hey guys I threw together an updated demo reel with new updated renders.

Let me know what you guys thing regarding the models, what order they appear in and what not.

I put in still images of each model as like an intro to the model and I want to add some information about the model ie. name and poly count etc. But i would like some feedback about that. Should I do that or no?

Thanks again, link is below.


09 September 2010, 09:46 PM
About the girl and the guy modeling. Their anatomy looks ok, I think it's lacking a bit here and there but what really jumps to my eyes are the arms and the shoulder. The arms are too short and the shoulder too small. I think a good tip is to remember that the elbow should be at the same height as the belly button, and the wrist should go as far as the crotch end. The guy shoulder should invade the torso a lot more, right now the pecs are too wide. The diagonal that divides the should from the pectorals should cut the clavicle in the last third at least (more ore less).

Reel looks nice, I would spend some more seconds on wireframes as they are important in demo reels (don't know if this has been told earlier, or indeed the opposite).

Good job over all though.

10 October 2010, 11:28 PM
Thanks for the input Likuid.

I knew there was something wrong with the guy but I just couldn't see it. Thanks for pointing the upper arm length.

Gotta get back at it and fix it now.

Anyway here is the latest reel for the time being.

Please keep the feedback coming.

***Updated Reel*** (

10 October 2010, 03:33 AM
I would have liked to make some paintovers, but I recently killed my wacom with coke. So as soon as I get another one, it is ok with you I can point what is wrong (in my humble opinion that is) with a lot more accuracy (I can draw a lot better than I can express myself in english) :D

10 October 2010, 03:42 AM
Please do, I am never opposed to getting help:D

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