Behind the Scene

“The Result is Never as Bright as That First Thought”

Nacho Frades talks about making “Summer Ladder”

Aug 31, 2018

Featured artists

Nacho Frades

(Read more exclusive artist interviews here.)

Nacho Frades is a “digital painter” hailing from a small city in Spain. His landscapes are at once surreal and evocative, calling to mind memories you’ve never had. With simple lines and a liberal use of form, he relies heavily on color, sometimes washing whole regions of a work with a single hue. He is also a favorite at Meural Headquarters, frequently displayed on our Canvases for both employees and visitors.

For Behind the Scene, Frades takes us through the process of finalizing a section of his Summer Ladder, a work we’re proud to say is a Meural exclusive. What begins as a monochromatic sketch without texture morphs into something truly his own—an image ready at last to be animated.

Let’s hear it from him:

“Below is the first sketch. The first idea for a work can come at any moment. I don’t plan my works, that’s the wrong way to create. The good works come into my mind as finished images, then I work to achieve that vision, but the result is never as bright as that first thought. This work came to me while I was meditating in my swimming pool. This is pencil on paper. For sketching, the computer is terrible, nothing is comparable with the feel of pencil on paper. Once I do that, I scan it and import it onto the computer.”

“Here is my first attempt on the computer, with ‘simulated oils.’ It’s a setup I do to mimic oil behavior. It’s been used in other works of mine, such as ‘Giorgio,’ an homage to Giorgio de Chirico, also featured below.”

“Here is the first 3D computer image I did. Everything seems okay to me, so I start to work in greater detail.”

“This is a 3D sketch of the scene with computer generated lights. But the perspective isn’t good for me, so I start tweaking with that. Perspective is as important as color itself, it’s what makes the feeling of serenity I look for in my works, perhaps because I have anxiety.”

“Perspective achieved! This is the wireframe of the work, which I make with computer polygons. It’s not an easy process.”

“Here’s the first model at full detail, with an ambient occlusion layer to check that everything is okay.” (Ambient occlusion is a technique used in computer graphics rendering to calculate the effect of ambient lighting.)

“Computer generated images are created by combining multiple images into a final plain image. Here you can see the water reflections of the animation, which are called caustics. In this step, it’s necessary that I begin to simulate the movement of the water. This is computer generated, and it’s very complex, for me and for the machine itself, requiring hours of tests and hours of machine calculation.”

“The composite is done. This is a HDR (High Dynamic Range) image, which means it has real light values—that is, very high levels of light intensity. You can read more here. This image needs to be translated to video. But first, I’ll perfect the image.”

“With 600 images like this, one for each water movement, I can produce the final video. That’s it! I hope you enjoy it on your Meural Canvas.”