Making Of 'Brutus'
In this Making Of, Martin Carlsson tells us how he went about creating the perfect lighting setup for his sculpt, using ZBrush and 3ds Max.
In this Making Of I'll talk about the technical steps taken to create Brutus. I will focus on the rendering part, since the goal of the project was to create a lighting setup that I could reuse for showcasing any sculpt or high resolution model.
The sculptures were done at different times during the past few months, mostly for fun and relaxation. Firstly, I'm just going to give a brief overview of the ZBrush part.
When sculpting sketches I usually start out with a very basic mesh (Fig.01). If it's just a sketch, then it doesn't matter that much how the wireframe looks, as long as the geometry is fairly even.
The one I used for Brutus isn't the greatest example of how it should be built though, since it has extra loops for the mouth and ears, but not the eyes and nose. I can't remember why I chose to make it like this, but I'm guessing I got a bit eager to start sculpting.
The sculpting process was straight forward: I roughed in the big shapes first with the Move, Standard and Clay brushes. When I had something resembling a head (Fig.02), I mostly used the Dam Standard and hPolish brushes with some custom settings (Fig.03) to add detail and refine the forms (Fig.04).
Using the hPolish brush with the settings shown in Fig.03 to both add and subtract gave the sculpt its rough texture (Fig.05).
Before exporting it, I decimated it to a manageable number of polygons.
I will try to describe the lighting and rendering process in detail, and take it step-by-step so that people new to rendering in Max can learn by doing.
So, after importing the model into 3ds Max the first thing I did was to try and figure out the composition of the picture. For this I just set the dimensions I wanted in the Common tab of the render settings, turned on Show Safe Frames (Fig.06), and created a camera with a low field of view, suitable for portraits. Then it was just a matter of moving around in the camera and finding the right angle. I also created a background plane (Fig.07).
For the lighting I used a free HDR image I downloaded from www.hsrmill.com for the ambient light and a mr area omni as a key light. I placed the key light above and slightly to the side of the model. I also had to create a very faint fill light placed just below the model and to the opposite side of the key light, in order to slightly lighten up the shadowed parts.
To import an HDR image, just open the Material Editor and load a bitmap in the diffuse slot of a standard blinn (Fig.08).
I made sure I'd selected Real Pixels (32 bpp)(Fig.09). I changed from Texture to Environ, and set the mapping to Spherical, in the Coordinates rollout of the bitmap (Fig.10).
I turned up the material's self-illumination to 100% and set it to be two-sided. I then applied the material to a sphere covering the whole scene (Fig.11).
At this stage it was time to configure some render settings. I assigned mental ray as a renderer in the Renderer rollout (Fig.12).
Then I turned on Final Gather with the following settings (Fig.13).
And lastly, in Sampling Quality, I change Filter > Type to Lanczos and set the Samples per Pixel to 1 - 16 (Fig.14). This gave a sharp look to the rendered image.
For materials I chose the path of least resistance, using an arch + design preset and modifying it a bit to my liking (Fig.15). The arch + design materials are found under the mental ray materials.
After this, I opened up the Environment and Effects window, assigned the mr Photographic Exposure Control and tweaked the settings a bit (Fig.16). And then it was rendering time.
Apart from the beauty render I usually render an ambient occlusion pass to catch some of the smaller details. There are plenty of tutorials covering this already so I'm skipping that for now (Fig.17 - 18).
When everything was rendered I brought the image into Photoshop for some final tweaking. I tend to over-complicate the compositing part, so this time I made an effort to keep it simple. I tweaked the levels of the beauty render, multiplied the AO, added a haze effect by dotting with a soft white brush and added a cool photo filter (Fig.19).
As a generic lighting setup I was certainly happy with the result, but there's plenty of room for further tweaking. I would like to continue working on the materials and, of course, improving the models themselves by sculpting lots more (Fig.20 - 22).
Thanks for reading and I hope you learned something!