In Focus #3: Blur Studios’ Eric Durante’s Gladiator
Blur Studios’ Eric Durante modelled and rendered a Gladiator as a side-project and labour of love. Read on to learn about the creative process using 3ds Max and ZBrush
Artist: Eric Durante
Software: 3ds Max, V-Ray, ZBrush, Photoshop, Magic Bullet LooksBuilder
“I work at Blur Studios as a Scene Assembler, which is basically a 3D generalist. I do a lot of environment modelling, texturing, lighting, and compositing for game cinematics.
“I enjoyed sculpting this character in ZBrush and modelling all the fine little details in 3ds Max. The skin shader required a fair amount of specific maps denoting specularity, sub-surface colour, and scatter radius to achieve the look I wanted.
The biggest technical challenge was creating a good skin shader with V-Ray’s Fast SSS2, and I think it could still use some more work.”
Modelling: Using 3ds Max and ZBrush to model
01 Finding realistic reference
I was going for something that was more historically correct than fantasy with my gladiator.
I did a lot of research online and in art books. Jean-Léon Gérôme’s Gladiators (1872) was the main inspiration and the chief reference for this piece, particularly in clothing and tone.
02 Creating a base mesh
First, I wanted to create a good base mesh that I could use to practise anatomy and also have on file for future projects.
The body was box-modelled in 3ds Max and once completed exported into ZBrush to add the fine anatomical details.
03 Building the armour and clothing
Once I had a good base mesh I could start adding the armour and clothes.
I began with the bigger shapes such as the shoulder pad, helmet, leg guard, belt, and subligaculum (the skirt).
All of these shapes were box-modelled.
04 Fleshing out the details
The next step was creating the fine detail. I used splines to trace filigree elements on the helmet and the shoulder pad, plus gryphons for the belt.
The details that were too complicated to just box-model were taken into ZBrush. The helmet eagle, leg guard, and shoulder pad lion were all sculpted using ZBrush with normal and displacement maps.
Textures and shaders: A combination of tools provided realistic surfaces across the model
05 Adding textures to the models
The human body was poly-painted and unwrapped in ZBrush.
The armour was done with a variety of different methods depending on their use; parts were unwrapped using Max’s unwrapper and some were just box-mapped with a procedural texture.
For example, the metals were box-mapped with a procedural metal texture.
06 Creating realistic skin textures
For the body I used V-Ray’s Fast SSS2. With the skin shader I kept most of the standard settings and used
different maps to control the look.
Black and white maps that I painted in ZBrush and Photoshop were used to control the specular and SSS scatter radius amounts.
For the SSS colour, I colour-corrected in 3ds Max on my diffuse map to make a deeper red tone map without having to go back into Photoshop.
07 Growing and grooming the body hair
For the gladiator’s chest, head and leg hair I used Max’s Hair and Fur modifier.
I selected and duplicated the separate parts of the body that I wanted to have hair and made the geometry non-renderable.
The hair was set to render as geometry so I could then render the whole image as one.
08 Using composite maps for surface detail
I used a lot of composite maps to add in some extra detail.
I would add in scratch maps on a separate UV coordinate so I could independently move the composite textures around and place them on the model without touching the base texture.
Lighting and post-production: Adding atmosphere and the final visual polish for extra punch
09 Transpose the model
Once all the modelling and texturing was near completion I posed the model using the transpose tools in ZBrush.
In 3ds Max I had to do some manual adjustments to some of the clothes to make them sit correctly on the model.
10 Initial lighting set-up
I used two V-Ray lights to light the gladiator: a key and a rim light. The key light was a warm tone that was positioned above him, and the rim light was angled to the back and side of him with a blue tone.
V-Ray has an amazing renderer and with a simple set-up you can get some great results.
11 V-Ray render settings
I used Adaptive DMC for the image sampler and V-Ray Triangle Filter as the anti-aliasing filter.
Adaptive DMC was set to Min subdiv: 1 and Max subdiv: 8 with the ‘Use DMC sampler thresh’ option, and gamma at 2.2.
12 Post-production look tweaks
The next step and one of the most important is the post-production process – this is the part where you get to really perfect your image.
I usually use Fusion for my post work but with the gladiator I used Magic Bullet LooksBuilder after a recommendation from a fellow co-worker.
13 Finalising the image
The finishing touches were done with Magic Bullet, using an overall warm tone to put the whole image in a certain tonal range.
I added a slight vignette and some film grain to the image. I slightly desaturated the image and lastly increased the overall contrast and brightness of the mid-tones.
View more of Eric Durante’s work at www.eric3dmesh.com
If you would like to see your work in our magazine or portfolio section, send your work to: firstname.lastname@example.org
This feature first appeared in 3D World issue 139. For more great 3D art and tutorials, you can buy 3D World in either print or digital form.
on Friday, March 18th, 2011 at 4:58 pm under Artwork, Guides, Showcase, Tutorials.
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Tags: 3ds Max, Blur Studios, Gladiator, modelling, ZBrush