Making Of 'Dark Knight's Revenge'

Something about me

My name is Alessandro Baldasseroni , I am 31, born, raised and reside in Milan. I always enjoyed drawing as a child and my first experiments in CG were with an Amiga 500, I then learned AutoCAD working as a CAD operator in a telecommunication firm in 1996. In the meanwhile, I began to learn and practise with 3D Studio Max and enjoyed it so much I started thinking to translate my passion for CG into a job in the field. Two years ago I submitted my portfolio to Milestone, a leading Italian videogame firm and luckily they hired me where and still work as a digital artist.

Concept / Introduction

Dark Knight's revenge is a tribute made just for fun to one of my favourite DC Comic superheroes.

The main source of inspiration, apart the general imaginary of Batman's comics, movies and so on was the wonderful short movie "Batman: Dead End" by Sandy Collora. You can check out what I'm talking about just following this link: http://www.collorastudios.com/projects/bde/bdemain.htm

I loved Sandy's realistic vision of Batman's costume and the dark and dirt mood of the film, so I decided to keep that realistic aspect in 3D emphasizing even more Bruce Wayne's dark side. So I took here and there elements from Batman's iconography assembling them according to my personal tastes of how I like him.

I choose to not have a traditional beefy batman, but I preferred a more athletic and slim body. The blood on his weapon was meant to strength the "revenge" idea, because the very first idea of me was that he had a weapon in one hand and the joker's head in another...but I abandoned soon that because too much goorish, but the blooded weapon still remain to suggest the "revenge".

The first step I did was to quickly conceptualize in Photoshop the overall mood of the final picture, the pose and the background; I wanted him to look like in anger, kind of desperate at the end of a brutal fight. I even wanted to not depict him in the traditional dark bluish mood and hidden by shadows we've seen in movies and comics, preferring more a dramatic contrast between warm reddish/orange tones and cold blue/purple tones, putting him in direct light to best display all the realistic details I wanted to show.

Modelling

I started to model the batman in neutral pose with subdivision polygonal modelling tecnique in 3D Studio Max 7.0 . Of course I took a lot of anatomic references first, to help me with proportions and detail of the body and many others for the batman costumes/gear. I took some nice body and faces references from www.3d.sk and decided to give him a phisionomy in between of Michael Keaton and Val kilmer .

The first step of modelling was already pretty detailed, but I wanted it to push it to be even further, so I decided to do all the fine detail (wrinkles, costume bump and such) in zbrush and to let max render all this detail in the form of normal maps.The choice of normal maps instead of bump or displacement is because they are finally supported in rendering in Max 7 , and for a still image they`re a great chompromise between the quick low quality of a bump map and the performance expensive quality of displacement.

In order to do this I had to carefully uv map all the mesh parts I wanted to details, export them one by one in obj, import the obj`s in zbrush, detail and generate some normal maps to be assigned in the bump channel of the max`s materials (the material structure to obtain this is displayed in some pictures later - texturing and lighting section)

d_bat2_occlusion_temp=.jpg

d_bat2_occlusion_temp=.jpg

After modelling and uvmapping I had to put the character in pose, I choose for a quick solution of moving vertexes instead of boning, just because my goal was just to produce a still image, it took some time , including remodelling a "flying" version of the mantle , but I think that It saved me time in the end .

The gotham city in the background was instead generated more or less procedurally through the Greeble plugin, later I added some custon tall buildings to break the monotony of the skyline and add some visual interest.

Check out the excellent greeble city tutorial by Jhoannes Schloerb at href="http://www.schloerb.com/" target="_blank">http://www.schloerb.com/

Click to enlarge

Texturing, rendering & lighting

Texturing and material setting has been a time consuming step, because of the nature of the all hand painted (in Photoshop) high resolution textures and because of material tweaking. I choosed to use Brazil as rendering engine and basically all the clothings are modifications of  the advanced Brazil Velvet shader, while the metallic stuff are a Brazil Chrome material.

See settings below which also explain the use of the normal maps in the materials slots.

Click to enlarge

About the lighting , there`s a direct key light which lits the whole stuff and cast shadow maps, a reddish low intensity fill light on the left and a blue one on the right...plus some very low intensity fill lights here and there to light the more dark areas.

I choosed to render a global illumination pass separately, and to overlay it later in compositing for a better control on shadowing.

Here`s the lighting setup, it`s for the standard unposed model, but the one of the final scene does not differ in the parameters, just slightly on some light`s positions.

_lighting=.jpg

_lighting=.jpg

Click to enlarge

Compositing & Touches up

After having rendered all the elements separately (main body, city, and bats) it was time to finally composite, and produce the final scene...it was a Photoshop job , including hand painting the cloudy sky and adding those little touches to make the whole  thing less artificial, like dirt and subtle detail on the city buildings, some distance fog...a glow effect on the white sky in the back and on the shiny metallic surfaces, overlay the global illumination pass rendered previously.
Touches also incluse localized changing (through masks) of hue/saturation , to make the background fit with the lighting of the max rendered scene, sharpening the whole thing and adding some subtle noise in the end.

Related links

To see more by Alessandro Baldasseroni, check out Prime - The Definitive Digital Art Collection and Digital Art Masters: Volume 7