Making Of 'Cool Guy'

Introduction

Hello everyone! I'm Ricardo Jost and I work as a character animator and CG artists. I live in Brazil, where I was born, and I'd like to share the creation process behind my recent personal work: "Cool Guy".

Inspiration & References

For my artistic development, I always want to piece together cartoon forms of expression, with realistic aspects that could convince human eyes. An opportunity to do this came when I was modeling a cartoon face with a poly-by-poly method for my course. The face was very narrow with big eyes and without a chin. Then, taking my inspiration from artists like Antropus - especially the work at the beginning of his career - and films like Shrek, I decided to produce a still (Fig.01).

Fig. 01

Fig. 01

The idea for the still image was to reproduce a photo session of a guy - to create a portrait. The conceptwas that he would be a charismatic nerd, and be very excited about the photo session. It would be two pictures of him in two contrasting moments: in the first moment he doesn't know that he is being photographed, and in the other he is really posing for the shot.

With this concept in my mind, I looked for some references on the internet and at stock photos. After finding a couple of interesting photos, I decided to do a freckled face with gingery-brown hair (Fig.02).

Fig. 02

Fig. 02

Modeling / Sculpting

I started modeling the face in XSI. By the way, in my opinion XSI is a wonderful piece of software for organic modeling because of its practical tools (Fig.03).

Fig. 03

Fig. 03

The method is used was poly-by-poly. After the symmetrical model was done, I made the shape of him smiling (Fig.04). Next I brought the model into 3ds Max and opened the UV Map there.

Fig. 04

Fig. 04

In 3ds Max, I modeled the turtle neck sweater. It was basic modeling from a Lathe Modifier and a FFD Modifier applied to fit onto the neck (Fig.05). For the stripes, I used a displacement map that I drew in Photoshop according to the photo texture, and a bump map to make the details of the fabric (Fig.06). A good reference for this process is Viki Yeo's "Young Girl" Making Of. (Click here to view young girl making of.)

Fig. 05

Fig. 05

Fig. 06

Fig. 06

In this step, I made some basic hair just to have an idea of what it would look like and to compose the scene (Fig.07).

Fig. 07

Fig. 07

With the face's UVs done, I exported the model as an .obj into ZBrush. There I sculpted details like the wrinkles of the facial expression and skin pores (Fig.08). For this I used many anatomy references from myself and also some photos.

Fig. 08

Fig. 08

Normal Map / Textures

Generating a normal map was a challenge because it's hard to export minimum details. So I used to ZMapper tool to merge the generated map from ZBrush with the normal map from Xnormal. It's a 4k map resolution (Fig.09).

Fig. 09

Fig. 09

With the normal map and UV template done, I started doing the diffuse map of the face. I used brushes to paint from the base color to the freckles. I did it this way because I didn't have a high reference for the character and he wasn't a specific person. I just used some photos to make some textures for things like cells and pimples (Fig.10). But the overall face design was done from a desaturated normal map layer with the Linear Burn effect over a skin color layer (Fig.11).

Fig. 10

Fig. 10

Fig. 11

Fig. 11

Lighting & Shading

Once the basic textures were done, I applied SSS Fast Skin Material and started making the lighting. I positioned the lights according to the HDRI that I used for the reflection (Fig.12).

Fig. 12

Fig. 12

From that basic illumination, I put more fill lights into the scene (Fig.13).

Fig. 13

Fig. 13

During this process I made many render tests while I was making the skin textures (Epidermal, Back Surface and Specular) and adjusting the lights (Fig.14).

Fig. 14

Fig. 14

Hair

Once I'd finished the lighting, it was time to create the final hairstyle and render the scene. I used the Hair & Fur application in 3ds Max to create it. I applied the modifier on the head of selected polygons and then I styled the hair by cutting and brushing it. The hair tools are very good to use, it's just a delicate process to get the right result (Fig.15).

Fig. 15

Fig. 15

I used Hair & Fur again to create fur on the turtle neck sweater and to make the eyebrows. These were easier to create than the head's hair (Fig.16).

Fig. 16

Fig. 16

Lighting the hair was done in a separate file. I only used two lights for hair because it was sufficient to provide a good render with a less rendering time.

Render & Composition

As mentioned earlier the hair and the bust were done separately, and the renders were different from each other. For the bust render I used mental ray because it's better for skin materials and indirect illumination, and for the hair I used Scanline because it works better with hair (Fig.17).

Fig. 17

Fig. 17

The passes were composed in Photoshop, and there I made lots of color adjustments and used some brushes to correct the shadows (Fig.18).

Fig. 18

Fig. 18



For the background I wasn't really sure what I wanted to do. In the beginning, the idea was a flat background like in a photography studio. But during the process I changed my mind to use a photo of an internal room, like the reflection that I used. In the end, when I already had the passes I was composing, I realized that using a red flat background would be better. It's good because the red color complements the green of his sweater and eyes.

To help merge the render with the new background, I used the Blending Effect > Inner Glow option with red color on the character layer.

And here is the final image (Fig.19).

Fig. 19

Fig. 19

I hope you enjoyed this Making Of. Thanks to 3DTotal for this opportunity and everyone who helped me with this character. Thank you for reading!

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