Making Of 'Anhells'

Starting off

In this tutorial I will talk about some of the processes I have used in the creation of Anhells. I will not go in deep for evey aspect of the image, so i'm assuming you have a good knowledge of your favourite 2D/3D software. I used 3dsmax, photoshop and combustion as the main programs. Mental Ray and Vray are my rendering engines for almost every project. I like both two, so I use both.

This image started as a polygonal head modeling at my job place (it was for something totally different to what it is now) and after some more hours playing with polys I decided I could end up with some cool character to include in my portfolio. Later, for some reason I decided I would do a more complex scene, so I started doing things here and there... One of the most important things I would like to transmit you with this tutorial is that YOU MAY NEVER START WORKING WITHOUT A PREVIOUS DRAWN CONCEPT. What I did is start with only a few blurred images in my mind of angels, demons and hells, and believe me, it is very easy to send it all the work done to the trash just because you are lost in the middle of a creation without knowing where do you want everything placed. So, ever, ever, ever, do some hand drawing before to clearly see what you are going to create in 3D.

The first thing I created for this scene was the main character. Every anhell uses the same base but with some minor changes.
Here you can see the head in two development states. One thing I had pretty clear was that there was not going to be animation or intense texturing, so I did not take too much care about edgeloops and stuff.

The hand was done with a base mesh I use as a start for all my modelings

The upper part is almost complete. As with the hand, I used for the torso a base mesh I did some time ago.

The legs came from another character I did some time ago. They were fixed and reworked to make them look better.

The anatomy is complete. By now I'm starting to have a bit more clear where do I want to go with that character.

I used a Biped as bones and Skin modifier for the rigging. I did a very basic skinning at first stage (when I was not planning to add more characters) and I after I was happy with the pose, I took a snapshot of the mesh and started making it all look better. Also, I opened the mouth editing at vertex level.

had very clear that I wanted some demonic-angel look for the characters, so I modeled a tail to contrast with the angelical wings. Also I was looking for a very dinamic pose, so I modeled the tail in line with the direction of the action. As it is an independent object, and the back is not going to be seen, I do not need to model the intersection with the body

As you can see, the back of the model is very hard tweaked to make it look good with the camera, but not so good in other angles

The cloths. Well, I'm not too sure why they should be wearing cloths in that place, but they help me to give more action to the movement.

More cloths. Those are the same as the lower ones after some editing.

The chains were modeled aligned to and axis and after adding some bones I could move it the way I wanted. I used a push modifier to make them look better after smoothing.

For the feathers I used alpha channels. I found this one to be the best method if you use good maps. I used some wonderfull maps that came with a tutorial I found on internet (I have the files but I can't find any reference to the author, so please, excuse me for not giving the proper credits here. If anyone can help, please mail me and I'll fix it (jhotun[at]

The diffuse map for the feathers was just a very soft brown

I used a reference that allowed me to put the feathers in place without going too much wild. Later, I'd use ffd modifier to change the main shape, but at this stage I needed to start seeing where I was going to put it all. This is an important part, because later there will be too much polys on screen, and selecting objects for fixing will be harder.

Using the viewport transparency is a good idea to preview it all without renders, but be careful if you have ultrahigh maps and a low-end computer. With this method you have to put lots of planes to make it look believable, if not, it could end up looking too thin. Almost every feather should be placed by hand.
One trick I used was to attach to an editable poly groups of feathers so I could use soft selection to move and align several vertex at the same time without too much effort. After several layers the wing are complete.

The model is complete. Later I changed some things to accomodate to the other character, but just minor tweaks like the rotation of the wings and the flow of the chains.

I decided to create a more complex scene, so I added another character to the action. I got back to the rigged model and moved it to create the new pose.I did tons of tweaking on the mesh to make it look as best as I could.

The light setup is very simple. I just used two lights for the proper illumination and HDRI for the environment. I played with the decay parameters in the lights to allow the colors blend as I wanted. The wings were rendered without HDRI or Final Gather and in another layer for later compositing. I used Mental Ray for the renderings

The ambient occlusion layer is composed in photoshop. This one really makes them look more believable. The wings do not have AO because transparencies do not render good with this method. Anyway, they could have end up being too dark The skin material is the Fast Skin Material with some tweaks to make it look more "milky".

The ground texture was done by hand in photoshop. As you can see, there is tiling, but it is not noticeable on the camera, so it works.

I modeled and textured a big column to add depth to the image. I used it several times later on the final composition.

I rendered the ground in RPF so I could have control over the depth and the fog. Combustion can do a great job on static images, not only for video or animations. Be careful, a big RPF is a ram-eater, and combustion has no mercy with low-end computers.

Those are the layers in photoshop. There are a lot of tweaking here and there. Almost all the texturing has been done here. I used lots of images and textures to create fire, smoke, clouds and dust. I did some cloning jobs to fix mistakes on the render. Also I rendered some more characters to give more dramatism to the image.
I have created a video file showing each layer being added to the composition. Watch it frame by frame to see how everything works. Watch it href='images/Anhells_Layers.avi' target="_blank">here

Thanks for reading. I hope you have learned something about what you should and what you shouldn't do when creating a complex scene

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