Müller draws inspiration from everyday items and situations when creating his unique computer-generated imagery (CGI). In particular, this series came to life when a hippopotamus lamp in a second-hand store caught his eye. “The shape of the lamp looked like the front hood of a classic car,” Müller described. “I thought to myself: what if a car actually looked like a hippo? Most of my work begins with that simple question: what if? These two words are amazingly powerful in kicking off your imagination as they force you to think out of the norm.”
The hippo-esque Aston Martin continued to develop a unique personality and storyline in his mind, eventually unfolding into a series of four classic cars digitally morphed into wild animals with correlating characters.
Regarding the creation process, once the concepts are complete the next step in the digital imaging process is to design and build a 3D model of the cars using computer animation and modelling software.
When modelling is completed, the 3D models are textured and shaded (defining their material properties), composited in the final scene by setting the camera angle, and the “lighting” arranged. The image is then test-rendered multiple times to fine tune the materials and lighting setup in order to achieve a photorealistic rendering.
The final steps, including colour grading and contrast, take place in Adobe Photoshop. Working in a 10,500-pixel format allows the finest of details to shine through, from the fur on the animals and dust on the wheels to squashed mosquitos on the windshield.
Grooming the Panda’s Fur
Preview Rendering for Lighting Setup
The process is not at all smoothly linear, each step requires several testing phases to produce the finished image Müller envisions. It takes lots of time to integrate the countless details: the “Rides of the Wild” series took nearly three years to complete from start to finish.
Today Müller’s studio time is split between a converted firefighter’s van and an office in Switzerland. “Being able to work remotely and getting out of the regular working environment is quite a boost for creative input,” he describes his time in his “Atelier on Wheels,” which runs on a large solar-powered battery. A substantial part of this series – research, development of the concept, sketching, and modelling of the cars – was created during adventurous road trips through Switzerland, Germany, Denmark, the Netherlands, and France.
Take a close look at the G4T0R and P4ND4 background: the sky and horizon line in the perspective images came from photographs captured by Müller while on the road. The largest resolution part of the work – including detailing, building of the CGI environments, and especially the rendering – were executed at the workspace in Switzerland, where he has more computing power.
The future is bright for this young digital artist who is dedicated to provoking feelings – especially happy ones – in those who observe his work. “To have viewers stop for a second and consider; what if this actually was real? To make people react, smile, laugh, reflect, and consider things from a different perspective. I loved (and still do love) the fact that you can express your creativity/ideas with little to no budget, except the time and effort you are willing to put into it,” Müller said.