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Bringing Martha to life

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Date Added: 2nd May 2016
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The talented Ricardo Manso shows how he made the quirky Martha using Maya


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In this making of I will show how I made "Martha". I will talk a little bit about my workflow and the different stages of the character. I also will show how it was modeled, textured, illuminated, shaded and the final composition.

Step 01: The concept

Martha was commission for martee - a start-up disseminating listings for individual and real-estate professionals. They asked me to create a female character called Martha, she is the official blogger of martee. They gave me a description of her personality, with a little history and background, and what they thought she should be. With all this information I started to block some shapes that translated all that information. It was collaboration between the client and me, and I think it came out very well.

Step 02: Modeling

The client old me that Martha is a 30 something, from France, Paris; upper-middle class and single. She also has a good education, is a positive person, funny, independent, little bit eccentric, dynamic, creative, and clever woman. With all this information I could get started on the modeling process, along with some reference images. She would not be a perfect woman; she should be a little bit chubby with great curves.

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A collection of reference images to represent all of Martha's traits

Step 03: Blocking

With all that information I started to block in the shapes that best reflected all of her physical and psychological characteristics; I tried to keep it simple. I started with a clean topology and then just used the Move and Standard brushes to get the right proportion and shapes. We wanted her to be a little bit chubby, not too much. She isn't the perfect woman so to stylize her we increased the head and made the arms a little bit smaller. She is funny and cute so we made bigger eyes and a smaller nose. The hair was a very important element of the composition; the client wanted Martha to be curly redhead. I blocked the hair out in ZBrush with just simple shapes so I could use Geo Maya hair 2 Plug-in later on.

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Blocking in Martha characteristics

Step 04: Clothing and props

The clothes and all the props were a very important part of the character's background; her history - who she is and what she wants. She also needed to have a girly look. She should also convey knowledge, modernity, and a little bit of eccentricity. The clothes were made in Marvelous Designer and the props in Maya; then all were given detail in ZBrush. As she will be seen on a website, which already has a set background color (purple) I had to carefully match the clothing and props as best I could to fit nicely with the existing colors.

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Making the clothing and props

Step 05: Detailing

When I finish blocking out all the shapes, I started to add the details, followed by the texture; because she is young I did not need to go crazy with texturing the face, with those added I moved on to painting. I usually like to paint skin in at least three layers of color because for me it has more color variation and appears more realistic. Firstly I painted in some veins - reds, dark blue and some dark greens, this layer represents the hypodermis layer. The second layer represents dermis layer, and I used skin base color with the Spray brush (with an Alpha). The third layer, epidermis, is for accentuating the highlights and the shadowed areas, freckles, and small skin irregularities.

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Painting Martha's face

The clothing work was mostly done because I used Marvelous Designer. I just had to create some wrinkles to make it more believable. For the finer details of the fabric, I used some Bump maps created from some images that I also use for the Diffuse map.

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Adding believability to the clothing

Step 06: UV's and export

Because this was not for production, I made UV's in ZBrush. I just open the SubTool, go to ZPlugin > UV master, then click 'Work on Clone'. I made Polygroups in my geometry where I wanted to cut the UV's and it made quite good job. Then I used Multi Maps Exporter plug-in in ZBrush to bake all the maps that I needed and they were: AO, cavity, displacement (32bits), normal and color. With these ones, I went to Photoshop and created a few more maps every time I needed.

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My UVs

Step 07: Import to Maya

I imported everything in to Maya and made the shaders. I used Arnold to render; for the skin I used aiSkin, aiStandard for the clothing and the props, and aiHair for the hairs. For the hair I used Geo Maya hair 2 Plug-in, and because I already had modeled the hair in ZBrush it was quite easy to get the right hairstyle.

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Giving life to the hair

Step 08: Pose

To find the perfect pose for Martha I made a simple rig, this allowed me to test different poses to reflect the right attitude. For the face I used Blendshapes. I sculpted the different faces in ZBrush and imported to Maya.

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Posing the face


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Posing the body

Step 09: Light

The light was quite simple; I used mainly area light. Two back lights and one key light. I also used a card so it could bounce same light and SkyDome with HDR image.

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Lighting setup

Step 10: Render

My final passes are rendered in 32bit exr file, so I could have more control and more of a color range to work with. For the final composition I mainly used the Beauty, Z-depth and AO passes. I usually render more passes just to make small retouches. I also made some color adjustments and some refinements.

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Clay render


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The wireframe


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The final image

Related links

Have a look at more of Ricardo's work here
Check out Ricardo's other awesome redheaded making of - the twins
Follow 3dtotal on Facebook

 
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