Making Of 'Dante Alighieri'

In this tutorial I will explain how I created the image "Dante Alighieri", starting from the modelling which was done in Softimage|XSI, unwrapping with Modo, detailing in Zbrush and some post production with Photoshop.

The modelling of the base mesh was done starting from the shape of the eye.

In XSI, get a polygonal sphere. Rotate it 90° on the X axis so that we have a pole facing us.

Delete half of the sphere. Now you have the mesh you will need to be able to model the eyelids for one of the eyes. After eliminating the first crown of polygons (the crown closest to the pole), to obtain the aperture between the eyelids, put another sphere behind this half sphere. You will use this new sphere as a guide to model the shape of the eyelids as adherent as possible to the eyeball.

Now we can start modelling the eyelids. To obtain the eyelid thickness, extrude the edges of the aperture inwards 2 or 3 times, making sure to leave 1 crown of edges as close as possible to the external one.


To model the lacrimal punctum, select the 2 polygons like in the image below and extrude; try to give it the proper shape moving nearby points.

At this point, we have our eye.

Now we will select the external edges of the mesh so that we can start modelling the rest of the face by extruding the edges.

Now that we have half of the face, it's time to do the ear. Model an ear a part from the rest. I modelled mine starting from a grid.

Merge the ear to the rest of the head.

Extrude the lower part of the face to make the neck.

Symmetrize your half head. Export in OBJ.


Import the head into Modo and do the unwrap.

Now re-export in OBJ from Modo and load in Zbrush to start detailing. Once in Zbrush, make sure that the UV is correct by doing a UV check and fix seams which are in the texture section of the tool menu.

It's time to start sculpting in "edit mode". Use symmetry on the X axis.


It's important to switch often between different subdivisions to check details and proportions. It is also important to use different sculpting methods like pinch for creating wrinkles on the chin and forehead, inflate for creating thickness of the skin between one wrinkle and another and nudge to simulate saggy looking skin. And of course, smooth, to smoothen things out. In the next image I had to use the green mask to save memory.

Now we will create pores, wrinkles and beard in the "Projection Master". In the next image I used the "simple brush" with the alpha "brush 40" and the "spray stroke" with Zsub to create pores and Zadd to create the beard.

When you leave the "Projection Master" turn on fade, deformation and normalized, and after looking at the result go back into the "PM" to create wrinkles and the eyebrow hairs and more details around the eye area.
In this image I did the wrinkles around the eye with an alpha "brush 40", and freehand stroke with 0 units in spacing.

Now leave the "PM" with the same settings as before. Check the result then start on the texture.

To do the colour map, open the texture menu and give the highest resolution. Click on the new button. Enter the "PM" again. (I did some deformations previously to make the face less symmetrical - ears, nose and eyebrows. In the next image I got a plane3D from the tool menu.


Load your picture for the eyes from the texture menu and draw the plane3D directly onto the model turning off everything except RGB. Use move to position the plane3D.

Enter the "edit mode" and adjust the draw size to move the plane3D directly over to where the models eyes are.

Do the same thing for the mouth.

Now use the clone brush to paint the skin on the nose and on the rest of the face making some colour correction to the cheeks and the tip of the nose. You can use other pictures for the rest of the head.


For example in this image I used the alpha "brush 22" to create some veins on the nose.

Now leave the "PM" turning on only colour and fade. Fix any eventual parts where the texture doesn't look right, drawing the colour directly onto the model with the standard draw pointer, with only RGB turned on.
To do the shadow of the beard enter the "PM" and, as in the next image, select the simple brush with alpha "brush 40" and "spray stroke" with a dark grey/green hue. Paint the shadow in the appropriate areas. Do the same thing on the other side.

Leave the "PM" with only colour and fade turned on and take a look at the result.

Now go to the texture menu, flip the map and export with the format you prefer (I use TIFF).

Create another texture map, again at the highest resolution; this will be the normal map. To do this I use a plug-in called Zmapper that you can find on the Pixologic website.


Playing around a little with the settings I obtained these results:

To leave Zmapper click anywhere out of the canvas area and you will have this:

Export the map as you did previously for the colour map.

Now we will create a displacement map which will be used later as a bump map. Open the Zplugin menu and open the multi-displacement section.

As you can see in the image, like for the color and normal maps, Max map size is important, and so is map quality (DpSubPix).

After having chosen the settings that you prefer, click on export options. A window will pop up. In this window, again, choose the settings and close. Then, in the Zplugin menu, click on create all.

The map has now been generated and exported automatically after clicking on create all, so all that's left to do is export the model (OBJ) at the subdivision with which you generated the various maps. Import the OBJ in XSI and set the scene as seen in the next image

There is a limbo behind the model, with a black diffuse and a dark blue ambient. There are 2 spot lights with area lights, of which you can see the settings in the above image. The Render Tree of the head can be seen in the next image.

Here a few render region tests.

This is the result without postproduction.

In Photoshop I did some colour corrections, I adjusted the shape of the cloak and I applied a texture on the white part of the cap covering the ears.

I hope this tutorial has been helpful! If you have any questions feel free to email me.

Thanks to my girl Vivien who helped me write this.

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