Create photoreal sci-fi characters
Teruyuki and Yuka Ishikawa shared how they modeled, detailed, textured and lit their incredible character Courir in Maya and ZBrush
In this project overview, we will go through our workflow and creation process when creating characters. The first thing we do before creating a character is look for references to inspire the piece. For this image we were inspired by Namco's 1985 game Metro-Cross. Another important early step when designing characters is collecting references of the right type of anatomy of and high resolution skin references.
Sculpting with DynaMesh
We began with sculpting with DynaMesh in ZBrush. DynaMesh is very easy to use and is great to work with. For the base mesh we used a Clay and Clay Buildup brush, Move brush and hPolish brush.
We always like to fix the topology of the model before moving on to sculpting the detail.
To do this we exported the face object to Maya using GoZ and retopologized the model using the Modeling Toolkit in Maya.
We then used Quad Draw to interactively place points and polygons across our model's surface. Following which we created a UV map for new, lower poly mesh. Next it was time to import the UVed mesh back into ZBrush, again using GoZ.
The next step was adding details to the skin and face in ZBrush. To do this we used a Standard and Dam brush, Clay and Standard with the Spray alpha brush.
Then it was time to export out the displacement maps of the head from ZBrush. It is best to turn symmetry off at this stage of sculpting the character as humans are not symmetrical.
We then moved onto painting in MARI which is a very important part of process.
To do this we applied different texture maps to the model including a diffuse map, bump map, secular map, secular gloss map and a subsurface map, all of which were hand painted in MARI. We find this method to be the easiest way to control the look of skin cells.
Creating the scene
To create the model scene, we used V-Ray Materials. We imported the low models into Maya and enabled V-Ray Render from the Render Setup panel. The skin shader materials were then set up with the basic V-Ray SSS shader and the metal shader materials were set up with the basic V-Ray shader.
We created the final scene with V-Ray Lights, by creating a new scene file and bringing in the reference model scene and materials from the model file as this makes it is easier to change the environment.
The final lighting set up was quite straightforward, with one HDR image plus key and fill lights in a couple of scenes.
Finally, to composite the final image I rendered a beauty pass with a ZDepth pass, self illumination pass, ambient occlusion pass with extra V-Ray dirt textures. Using NUKE I blended all of the passes and finished with some color corrections.