Making Of 'Aaaa!'
Hi everybody! My name is Yaroslav Primachenko and I'd like to tell about the Making Of my work "Aaaa!" (or maybe I've missed one "a" - there's too many of them in the title, too hard to count!). In my spare time I like drawing different freaky characters - it's good for my karma. I also usually do sketches at the meetings at work - you know, especially the boring ones! This character wasn't an exception.
My sleepy, wandering mind created a strange looking guy with whom I totally fell in love (Fig. 01). It was a character living underground, wearing a carrot hat that helps him to attract the attention of rabbits... and don't ask me what he does with the poor fellows after he catches them! The character was so cool that I decided to create it in 3D and try to make an animation (later, after some tests, I decided to give up the animation part in favor of the other project I'm currently working on).
Sketching and Modeling
I made a quick color sketch to capture the idea of what he would look like. I used Photoshop with some random texture placed on top of the picture and then just moved the hue-saturation sliders until I liked the result. This can be a quick and easy way to colorize a picture, particularly when you want to get the basic idea of the color scheme, but don't want to spend too much time on it (Fig.02).
I knew from the very beginning that I wasn't going to use references of any existing creatures - they just didn't match my idea of the character - and that was the most challenging and also the most inspiring thing about working on this character. I knew from the concept that it was an underground creature, but I didn't want to make it some black-grey mole guy. Also even though it's an extremely evil character (look at the teeth, or better at the tie - good guys don't wear ties!) I didn't want it to look totally disgusting; it needed to be somehow kind of sweet and lovely (aka Homer Simpson).
I began modeling in 3ds Max, starting from the basic cube and large forms, then cutting, extruding where needed, refining and doing all the staff that you do when making a model - nothing special. I didn't draw any projections or extra sketches - just searched for a character in 3ds Max (Fig.03). If I was making the character today I would probably do it in ZBrush, but when I started this character I didn't know about this fantastic tool yet.
Unwrapping and Texturing
I unwrapped the model and imported it into ZBrush, where I made almost all the texturing and also tweaked the geometry a bit (Fig.04).
I made diffuse, reflect, and normal bump maps for the character and also an opacity map for the carrot. The bump map was also used as a specular map - with just a few tweaks right in 3ds Max. I added some textures to the diffuse map in Photoshop, using different blending modes to make it look more interesting. Then I decided to make some clothes for the character, in addition to the hat, boots and a tie he already had, to close any possible joints of texture on the body-hands parts and also add some extra visual interest. I searched the internet for appropriate references and found a picture of a jacket I thought would fit him perfectly.
The lighting was pretty simple (Fig.05). I used a V-Ray plane light for the main diffuse source (1), standard 3ds Max target spot with diffuse turned off for some extra specular (2) and also two target spots (3,4) to separate the character from the background and add extra reflections where I wanted. I also used an HDRI map for the reflection slot in the environment rollout.
Posing, rendering and applying post-effects
I was pretty happy with the result at this point, and was already thinking about making some final renders, but didn't like the fact that the work suffered from an obvious lack of dynamics and the character didn't look as insane as I sure wanted him to (Fig.06). I thought it was due to the dull T-pose he was in, which didn't match his personality at all, and I sure wanted this character to speak for itself. I didn't want to do any rigging so I switched back to ZBrush and posed the fellow according to his temper with the help of the brilliant ZBrush tool "transpose" (Fig.07). The tie, the jacket and the boots were then "posed" in Max according to the body with the help of a FFD modifier.
Then I started to prepare the scene for final rendering. Using the standard 3ds Max Hair and Fur tool, I added some hair on the top of his head and arms (Fig.08).
To add some extra insanity to the character, I also made one pupil bigger then the other so that the eyes weren't symmetrical. Then I rendered the scene in several separate layers - specular, reflect, alpha, hair and so on. Using Photoshop I combined them all together. I added a few texture and color layers with gradients on the background - to add extra vibrancy to the color. I also drew some extra specular highlights in the eyes. Using Z-depth information, I simulated the DOF effect. After that I merged all the layers together to get only one, and duplicated it. I took the top layer, desaturated it and bumped the curve levels to get the black and white (mostly black) image with only the most lighted areas still white. I set it to screen and blurred a little - this gave the image a dreamy-glow kind of effect (Fig.09). This effect is simple to achieve, easy to control and best of all - it can be used for the animation. It works best in places with high tone contrast. Sure you can easily add some extra glow where you want with a few touches of the brush on a static picture.
That's almost all about the creating of my work "Aaaa!" (Fig.10). I spent a lot of time on this character and I'm happy with the result. Right now I would probably manage to make it better and much more quickly, but it's only due to the experience I obtained during the creating of this work that I've been able to progress to where I am today. The process was a great learning curve and as I was learning the principals of organic modeling, and how to use ZBrush more effectively, I was even able to complete another image while working on this character (Fig.11)!
So here's some advice to those who have only just started their journey into art: search for inspiration everywhere. In the works of others, in photography, in classical painting and, of course, in real life. Watch carefully, try to learn and understand the principals of attracting attention to your work and then - no matter what software you use - you will be successful. Try different approaches. Don't be afraid to experiment and work out your own recognizable visual style. Because it's not only about polygons, tools or modifiers, it's about expressing your emotions and thoughts. And after all - try to have fun!
Thanks for reading and hope you enjoyed it. Good luck and inspiration to everyone. Aaaaaaaa!