Making of 'Don Quixote'

Getting Started

Don Quixote is a well known character who has been represented by many artists throughout the centuries. One day I saw a statue of Don Quixote and since I've never seen a CG representation of it, I've decided to give it a try. I was inspired by an antique Spanish statue that has very strong lines in its form. I had no concept art or whatsoever, but I used photos and old paintings found in the internet as some reference stuff.


For the modeling part, I used the "poly by poly" technique. It is a well know technique and there are a lot of tutorials of how can you do it, so I will just show wires of the final model. The whole model was built that way.

With the model almost finished, I created a very simple rig to pose my character. After that, I exported the model to Mudbox in order to add more details like wrinkles and skin folds. I also enhanced the bone structure a little bit. It is good to remember that I UVW Unwrapped all the models in 3ds max before I exported it to Mudbox. That's because the software keeps the mapping information of the original mesh and I will import the high poly back to Max later. It's a lot easier to unwrap a low poly model than the final mesh. When I finished refining it in Mudbox, I imported the high poly mesh back to 3ds max.

I unwrapped all the parts of the model separately and almost all of them have an unique texture. For the armor I used the same material setup but changing the map.

Maps used to texture it:

Here are the parameters that I used on the shader of the skin:

And the maps


I used 3dsmax native Hair and Fur for the hair. I duplicated the head mesh and deleted some faces in order to isolate a small portion of the skull which would be used as the emitter for the hair. Then I used Vertex Paint to paint out a mask that would tell the software where the thin hair would "grow".

Not to slow down my render too much, I did the hair in a separate max file and rendered it using the default Scanline renderer. In order to make a perfect match between the Mental Ray rendered body and my Scanline rendered hair for post production, I merged the final head mesh to the hair file and used the Matte/Shadow material. This way the hair strands occluded by the head shape wouldn't be rendered.

Making of the Wheat Field

I actually got an easy solution for the making of the wheat field. If tried to make it with geometry it would take ages to render if it would render at all, so I decided to make it with mapped plans mesh distributed by Particle Flow. The only problem with that would be the shadows between, so I had to simulate them on the map itself. It wasn't the most accurate solution but it worked out just fine.

Here is the wheat model:

I rendered 6 different branches of wheat and manipulated them in Photoshop to add more volume and to vary their color and tones a little bit.

Then, I used the maps on plans in 3D with their correspondent alpha in the opacity slot.

Here you can check the Particle Flow setup I used.

The wheat had to be rendered using the scanline rendered. The raw render ended up with less volume that I wanted but good enough for post production.

Lighting & Rendering

I used mr Area Spot with retraced shadows for the main light, one mr Area Spot for the back light with shadow map and far attenuation, the last one set to the shield's distance, one omni for speculars and skylight for GI.

Mental Ray's Final Gathering configuration:

Post Production

Here you can see the final render passes.

For the background plate I started painting gradients and mixing it with wall textures. Using the windmill's alpha channel I did the shadows and defined the location of the horizon line.

Then I set the windmill layer as OVERLAY in order to mix with the background and get into the same mood as the rest of the composition. Using a new layer I enhanced the sun simulating a stronger volume light.

For the sky I mixed some different skies photographs I had and got a mask to apply it.

For the wheat layer I used the same OVERLAY blending mode as I used for the windmill. Then I duplicated the layer and manipulated it to get the idea of a bigger field.

Before I could finally start color adjusting Don Quixote I had to fix some minor render and textures errors. I usually ignore these kind of errors up to this stage because they're easily corrected here in Photoshop, but if I was making an animation out of that I certainly had to polish it in 3dsmax.

With the color as I wanted, I set an occlusion pass on top of everything with its blending mode set to MULTIPLY. It helps to settle things down and emphasize the "contact shadows".

Beard has been manipulated separately.

Final retouches to increase the whole composition's contrast, bloom effect e light up wheat's highlights a little more

Finally the final image.

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