CG art tutorial: How to make this cool Ranger portrait
Two talented 3D World readers, Siamak Roshani and Jeremy Celeste, share their working process for this stunning new CG portrait
When we first saw Siamak Roshani’s work, Mafia Man, we were blown away by the level of detail. You may remember Mafia Man – we made him our Facebook page image and he opened the Portfolio section of issue 160?
This new image by Siamak Roshani and Jeremy Celeste is equally compelling and here they share their creative process.
STAGE 1: Sculpting, texturing, cloth and hair
01 Start with a base mesh
Siamak Roshani: For the head I used a clean topology I made before as a base mesh so that I could save some time. I tried to form it the way I wanted before I divided it.
A previously created base mesh was used for the head to save time.
02 UV mapping
SR: I made the UVs using ZBrush plug-in UVMaster and then tweaked the UVs in Maya to clean them up and form them in the way I wanted. I tried to keep the seams on the back of the head so that they wouldn’t be visible, but the best solution for me is to paint a seamless texture.
03 Sculpt the forms and shapes
SR: After forming the basic shapes it was time to divide up the mesh to give me enough polygons to sculpt more details. I formed the main shapes while the mesh had around 700,000 polygons or fewer, which would be subdivision levels three and four in my case. I mainly used the Standard, Clay, Polish, Dam Standard, Smooth, SmoothPeaks and ClayBuildup brushes.
04 Add skin details
SR: I used subdivision levels five and six (3 million to 13 million polygons) to sculpt small details such as pores. This was done using some of the ZBrush alpha maps, the Standard brush and Spray stroke, and also some alpha maps plus the Standard brush and DragRect stroke.
When the details were done, I started to clean them up and make them more natural by sculpting over them. One of my favourite ZBrush features is ZBrush NoiseMaker, which helps to add random details on the mesh. I used NoiseMaker and the SmoothPeaks brush to add some skin details and random dots all over the sculpt.
The details are important to give the skin a natural look. After sculpting the details you can export them as a bump map, cavity map, displacement map and normal map to use for different purposes.
Details such as pores are important to give the skin a natural look
05 Add textures
SR: Next, I used ZBrush Polypainting to do the base skin colour paint and after that I exported the texture into Photoshop and painted different layers over it to make it more natural.
We needed three layers of skin, as the skin shader works with different layers. When the paint was looking good enough to me I created the other two layers, which were epidermal and subdermal colour maps, and then Jeremy had to test them in a render with lights and a skin shader. The skin colour in the render depended on the three colour maps I created, so I had to tweak the colours a little after some tests until we achieved the result we wanted. For the eyes I used Photoshop and a texture provided by Jeremy as a base texture to make the bump maps, veins and colours. The iris was also painted in Photoshop.
06 Create the cloth
SR: The hat model was sculpted and resurfaced in ZBrush. I used UV Master to make the UVs and then textured in Photoshop, and Jeremy used procedural maps for the bump map. The same thing was done for the shirt and T-shirt.
For the flag I used Maya nCloth to get a more natural cloth look, and a simple US flag texture.
07 Add some hair
SR: Besides the eyelashes, which I modelled separately, I used Maya Hair to create the hair on the ranger’s face. I used four types of hair system and curves to shape the eyebrows – these were the middle of the eyebrows, the dense part, the short hairs and the inner corner.
I used three types of hair system on the stubble to give more variation and a random look. There’s also a layer of thin hair all over the head, which you can see on areas such as the ears and nose. Finally, I used three types of hair system for his head hair to make it look more natural, and curves to shape the strands.
I had to test the hair in a render, so I used a simple area light and quick renders to check how it was looking.
STAGE 2: Lighting, rendering and compositing
08 Light the scene
Jeremy Celeste: The lighting was done using area lights. This kind of light produces nice soft shadows. You can compare this light with a soft box used in photography – the larger your area light, the softer the shadows. I also worked in a linear colour space, which is the best way to produce a photorealistic image.
09 Work on the shading
JC: Multi-layered subsurface scattering (SSS) is necessary to produce a realistic face. In the breakdown below you can see two layers of specular, diffuse, epiderm, subderm and deep scatter. The scatter softens as you go deeper through the subsurface layers.
I also worked on look development for the eyes. The cornea, iris and pupil are separate. I made a shader that can produce a bigger or smaller transition between the cornea and pupil. Subsurface scattering was also necessary for the eyes – it’s essential for a believable look.
10 Render the image
JC: Here’s the beauty pass rendered with Arnold. I tried to get as close as possible to the final version, spending most of my time tweaking and balancing shaders to get the result I expected.
11 Final compositing
JC: The final step was compositing. I mainly use the compositing part to add to an image – it’s not about correcting things I didn’t get in Maya directly. I added an extra reflection pass to the eyes, added film grain and a vignette, and graded the whole picture to get the look I wanted. To me, everything needs to be subtle, like in reality.
Artist: Siamak Roshani
Title: Ranger Portrait
Software: ZBrush, Maya, Photoshop
“I’m a 3D artist based in Dubai. My main experience is in modelling, CG sculpting and texturing (organic and hard-surface). I’m always up for new jobs and new challenges in different industries such as games and film.
“I worked closely with Jeremy on this image and it took two months overall in our free time. I used ZBrush for sculpting, creating UVs and texture painting; Maya for modelling and editing UVs; Maya Hair to create the hair, eyebrows and stubble; Maya nCloth to make the flag; and Photoshop for texture painting. I’m inspired by nature, pictures created by my subconscious, images on the internet, other artists’ works, movies, games and real life.”
Artist: Jeremy Celeste
Title: Ranger Portrait
Software: Maya, Arnold, Nuke
“I’m a French 3D artist, lighting technical director and freelancer currently working as a lighting TD at Framestore London on 47 Ronin. I primarily used Maya for this image, and Arnold for rendering – you don’t need to tweak a thousand settings to do a production-ready render. Nuke was used to add the final touches, such as grade, film grain and a vignette.
“I really enjoyed the interaction with Siamak. It was a great experience. We worked closely together and, after two months, we got this picture to work. ‘Motivation’ and ‘patience’ were the keywords; it was a real challenge to do a close-up portrait and we put in a lot of our energy to bring it to life.”
If you would like to see your work in our Portfolio section, please send your images to: firstname.lastname@example.org. You could get involved in an In Focus piece like this too, and teach people how to create art like yours.
Hope you enjoyed this tutorial.
See this tutorial in print in the new issue of 3D World.
on Wednesday, December 5th, 2012 at 10:35 am under Guides, Tutorials.
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Tags: cg art