3D Artist

Ars Thanea On Creating HBO’s Poured Gold Advert

News & Features
Carrie Mok

The inspiration behind our 100th issue tells us what it takes to simulate gold liquid

Ars Thanea On Creating HBO's Poured Gold Advert

This stunning render of melted gold poured onto a static HBO logo is part of the The HBO – Soaking in Gold advertisement by Ars Thanea.

For 3D Artist’s 100th issue, our cover was inspired by this incredible gold liquid and Ars Thanea’s art director Karol Klonowski tells us all about how they made the complex simulation a reality.


How did the HBO commission originally come about?
As far as I know, the HBO project came to us through Behance. We have had always had our portfolio there. I personally think this is one of the best ways to showcase the things you create. So yes, we were noticed, we produced the first HBO Home of Originals, and we still continue the cooperation.

Was the client quite specific about the brief or were you given a bit of free reign?
The only given materials were a short brief with a pre-sketch. But we really do understand each other, our workflow, so once you have this, plus the trust, it’s enough.

How did you start? Was there a lot of planning involved?
With the client’s full trust and the knowledge of basic assumptions, we could start working. During the next couple of days, we moved seamlessly from the concept phase to 3D blockout. Our focus was to keep the HBO logo the most standing out element of the composition. Our highest priority was to find the right positions of all elements in the image.

The most urgent question to be answered was – how to create the soaking gold?? We had two options in our heads –to sculpt it in ZBrush or to simulate it in RealFlow. ZBrush was offering us full control, but any changes would mean additional work hours. The simulation gave us more creative freedom. After brainstorming with the whole team, we made a “brave” decision to use simulation…

What were the challenges in creating such a realistic liquid metal effect?
Well… Patience, flexibility and people, who find a broken egg as a good reference 🙂
Choosing the simulation had some consequences though. During a testing phase, we concluded, that soaking several elements with gold at the same time does not work. We switched to simulate parts one by one, based on the sketches showing the edges of the gold. It helped us to control the liquid and the detail level in every section. We were working on a look development at the same time and after several tests we had the final shader.

Can you outline the tools you used to put the piece together?
We kept it simple and created most of the project in Photoshop, but please keep in mind, that some tools like RealFlow, 3ds Max or V-Ray helped us to bring our vision to life too. As always, there are people who use the tools. In this case the team that I had a pleasure to work with, was the key element. Thanks to them really, the final effect is so good.

What would you say are the benefits of working in CG/VFX for brands rather than TV/film?
I am not sure… Crazy deadlines are everywhere 🙂
The biggest advantage of CGI is freedom of creation for sure. I believe we have more creative solutions with communicating with the viewer – storytelling becomes more and more important in print ads. Of course, I don’t think that the professionals working in film industry are less creative. It’s the opposite. It’s they who changed the technology development in the business.

What are the most rewarding kinds of projects to work on?
Personally, I really enjoy working on complex projects, like the whole series of KVs, using elements of photo session and CGI too. These are my favourite as an art director. Summing up, I love demanding projects the most.

What’s the main philosophy/ethos behind Ars Thanea?
The people are the main part of the jigsaw. We spend loads of time together, we need to communicate with each other, believe and support each other. Without the team spirit you cannot be a part of AT. We are always open for new contacts – we’re actually thrilled to see new portfolios every day ☺


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