I started working on this image sometime back in 2010. My original intention was to create a sci-fi portrait, but as you can see the scene eventually evolved into a much bigger project. Although I usually try to work with sketches and designs, on this project I let my imagination flow and the scene literally formed itself. Fortunately this was my own personal project and this meant there was no pressure on me to finish it, so I had as long as I wanted to make sure I was happy with it.
Because I didn’t have a set concept I could add and alter things whenever I wanted to. This was good as it gave me the opportunity to try out new things, which made the project more fun to complete.
Stylization and Modeling
Although my aim was to stylize the characters and avoid having them look too human-like, I did want to make them look technically realistic. When designing the appearance of the two main protagonists I tried to avoid genre clichés. I tried to think more about their personality, history and motives, and keep that in mind for their design. It was important to me that Gregor and Fixie had their own personalities that were obvious to anyone at first sight. This is why they both have distinctive traits. Gregor eventually turned into a stubby frowner and Fixie became a freckled athletic swashbuckler (Fig.01).
Whilst modeling the characters I began with the cruder forms, which I gradually softened and added more detail to. It was important to have a functional base before moving on to the details. I have learned in the past that if you neglect the smaller steps at the beginning you will pay for it later in the process when you create unnecessary work for yourself.
Most of the character models were created in ZBrush. I used ZSpheres to create the base mesh from which the rough model was created. From this point I used the Move and Clay Tubes brushes to get the shape I wanted. The whole process was very intuitive and creative, and didn’t involve any unnecessary hold-ups because of topology. Once the basic shape was functional I thickened the mesh and began to refine the model. Usually I use the Clay Tubes brush, which I gradually alter as I develop the model (Fig.02).
The moment it wasn’t possible to add any more detail to the model due to missing polygons, I retopologized the model directly in ZBrush. I then projected the resulting model onto the base and could continue with the sculpting.
One of the most complicated parts was to pose the characters in a natural fashion. Because I knew this would be tricky I began posing the characters early in the process in ZBrush. Thanks to ZBrush I didn’t have to deal with technical issues like rigging and could pose the characters with the Transpose Master. This wonderful tool enabled me to move the characters into their final pose, but also meant I could return to a T-pose whenever I needed (Fig.03 – 04).
Texturing and Shading
The bases for most of the maps were generated in ZBrush (Cavity map and Normal map), to which various layers, details and colors were added in Photoshop in order to reach the desired result.
When I started to think about the materials and textures I decided that I would adopt the same approach as I did when modeling. By this I mean that I would adapt everything to create a visually appealing result, rather than focusing on making everything look very realistic.
The most complicated material in the scene is, without doubt, the skin and its settings, to which I dedicated a significant amount of time. You can see all of the different maps in Fig.05. In this image you will be able to see the Overall Diffuse, Reflection, Epidermal, Subdermal, Normal, Bump and two Specular maps. You can also see the final render before I did any post-production (Fig.06). I also used masks for the Subdermal and Epidermal maps. By using reflection color textures I was able to isolate the color of the Specular highlights on the skin and adjust them. I mainly used azure blue and light pink at this point as I found they worked perfectly. I also combined the Specular, Reflection and Bump maps with procedural maps to get the very fine detail.
最复杂的部分无疑是皮肤的制作,他花费了我很多的时间,在下面的图中,你能看到各种贴图Overall Diffuse, Reflection, Epidermal, Subdermal, Normal, Bump 和 2张 Specular maps.你还能看到最后渲染的还没有后期的图片.我也会制作Subdermal和Epidermal贴图,通过使用高光贴图,我可以控制高光效果,我还是用蓝色的光源,我结合法线贴图,高光贴图和反射贴图来得到细节.
I used mental ray Arch & Design materials, which are really excellent, highly versatile and permit me to create any surface I want. Creating correct textures for the other objects was not that complicated. For the majority of the other items I only needed to apply Diffuse, Specular and Reflection maps as Glossiness Samples were used for the metallic surfaces (Fig.07 – 08).
我是用了MR的Arch & Design材质,真的很赞,能制作任何需要的效果,对于这个项目,我只需要使用diffuse贴图,高光贴图,反射贴图和光泽贴图用来创建金属表面.
Tweaking, Detailing, Background and Post-production
I love the part where the work is more or less finished and I can begin to tune all the details. Towards the end of the process I go through all the materials and add details here and there, adjusting the color and light intensity. My aim was to have the image function as an individual illustration and not simply a model presentation.
I began thinking about the background early in the process, but without spending too much time on it. In the end I chose the simplest method that I could think of. I was happy with the character, but the city in the background needed to convey a similar feeling so I had to make sure it was done well. Using photos of houses as references I created some simple box-like models in 3ds Max, which I duplicated. It was important that I put these together carefully as they needed to look as though there were streets in between the buildings.
The 3D models served as a good base and most of the background was created in Photoshop. The main colors and overall atmosphere was very important, as they needed to show both detail and depth. Because of this I suppressed the housing detail with fog (Fig.09). The far distance is entirely painted in Photoshop.
Given the amount of time I spent on this image one of the most important things to me was the opinion of family, friends and colleagues. They always come up with new ideas and constructive criticism. Without them this image would not be what it is today.