Making of 'Dream' by Alex Kashpersky
*WARNING: CONTAINS NUDITY*
Hello to everyone who's interested in the work entitled "Dream." For the next few minutes I, Alex Kashpersky or RIDDICK, will be taking you through the creation process behind this piece of work.
Composition and working with references
Composition is a very, very important step, which should always be given the proper attention unless you want your viewer to forget your work and turn over the page. For this image, the process of composition was parallel to the creation of my work and was something that I was constantly refining. Here are a few examples of the composition if this image at various stages of my work (Fig.01).
The original idea was to make a girl on a chair, and so I started searching for the optimal form of a chair (Fig.02). In the final composition I ended up replacing the chair with water, but nevertheless at this stage I was still intending to use a chair.
The composition in this work is like a black and white photograph. A professional photographer has three colours to work with - a bright white, half-gray and deep black. Roughly speaking there are three tiers of colour: their saturation, the objects in the scene and their complexity and meaning. I try and work under this scheme.
In my own work, the figures of the girls are the central focus and so are at the forefront, the water is the second part and the third is the background. The same should be true of the colour range. At the forefront should be bright, contrasting shades and then the father the colours are from the viewer, the more diffuse and less contrasting they should become.
I also want to underline the importance of finding and working with supporting material. Do not neglect the study of the subject that you want to create. Look for similar pieces - have elements of your idea already been explored by somebody else? If so then don't hesitate to contact the author to find out about the difficulties he faced in the creation of the piece. If there are any pitfalls than can be identified in advance then you can think about how to avoid them.
When it comes to modelling and anatomy, it's important to find a dozen or so references of the part that you are working on. Even better, try and get photographs from the right angles, preferably before you start modelling, because it's easier to correct potential mistakes before you start than to have to fix them later on. And an experienced eye is sure to notice any errors in anatomy.
I would like to express my gratitude to the professional photographer Olga Shelegeda for the reference photos ... As well as that, I looked far and wide across the Internet far in search of the necessary references for hands, feet, folds and fabrics, burst water anatomical angles etc. I also photographed myself so that I could study a "living example".
In the end, I collected up to 500 various references. With all of this material, I had a much clearer idea of what I wanted to do.
Work in ZBrush - Sculpting
Working in ZBrush, I began with transposing (Fig.03) ... Plenty of tutorials have already been written about this tool and so I won't stop and explain it here.
This is how the models looked after the initial transposing (Fig.04). As can be seen, the proportions of the body aren't quite right, but gradually, over the course of the sculpting, this is something that I clarified. I circle overlaid material on anatomy and placed two monitors on my desk, which I used constantly required for reference. This is a very convenient way to work ... you only have to turn your head slightly and you already know in what direction you should go. This reminded me of real life drawing or sculpting ...
Here is what emerged over the course of my work (Fig.05). As you will see later, I did change some parts of the body, as there were still problems with it at this stage.
I continued to shape the body, consulting anatomy photographs until the result started to please me. Here is what I ended up with after all my sculpting work (Fig.06 - Fig.09).
Of course there were the locations (the skin on her back etc) that I changed later during the texturing process, but at this stage, the main sculpting was finished and so I decided to try to render a model in mental ray (Fig.10).
I like the process of texturing "live" surfaces. To render the skin in mental ray, I had to draw three different layers of skin, not to mention the relief maps and reflections. I began to paint the upper layer. I will not go into the technical details of the process; it is enough for the lessons here only to discuss some of the features.
Not all the parts of the body are the same colour. The legs are always blue (green) depending on the light. The closer to the fingers, the redder the hand becomes, and generally, the thinner the skin, the redder it will be. Fingers, knees, elbows etc. In places where there would be fat, the skin will always be yellow (for example, on the abdomen or buttocks).
Women's breasts are almost entirely composed of a special fat, saturated vessels and the skin is thinner, so it's the brightest part of the body. At this point, the model should display all these details making it a work of elusive charm, with a liveliness that is inherent in beings of flesh and blood. Look at the works of Boris Valero for examples of nuance (Fig.11 & Fig.12).
Here are the leather upper spheres models. I tried to render them with mental ray. This is the result (Fig.13).
As you can see, I have sculpted the initial shape the future fabric. At this stage I still think that it will be fully fabric and so draw a composite sketch once more (Fig.14).
At the same time, I proceeded to draw the second, deep layer. There are many veins, and lots of blood and flesh and the result looks terrible, but don't worry about it. If you put everything together, you get a very good base for render settings (Fig.15 & Fig.16).
Using the method of trial and error, I was looking for "perfect skin". There were a lot of variants and so I've only shown a few examples here (Fig.17 - Fig.19).
I would like to note that these options may have light (more about this later), and project all the maps. Here, I gave preference to the mental ray SSS fast skin shader to make the material on the different models appear slightly different (Fig.20).
I want to caution you against blindly copying the settings shaders. This will not change the results. Every time I've tried to copy the settings another artist used, the results were garbage. I did not begin to understand what the slider is responsible for and nor do I know how it relates to anything (maybe with the size bar on the "world" scenes, I don't know). In any case, the scheme is simply to help you understand the general meaning of SSS material. I also want to stop at a bump bar. I lost the file with the exact settings, so I have written the sets from memory with numerical values. This may not be accurate, but the meaning is clear.
A lot of time was spent with lighting set up. I needed light sources. I tried to use the sunlamp, but it did not work and I was perplexed. At last, I figured it out. Unscrew the brightness of lamp stands and the area will be much higher, giving me the desired result. So, to achieve something with the look of a beautiful painting, set the multicoloured light reflectors (Fig.21).
Now all the light reflexes and reflections have adhered to their seats. In total, there are three major multicoloured light source Area, one subsidiary Omni and four large coloured reflectors in the scene (Fig.22).
This particular phase of work was the most tedious thing I've ever done on a computer. I had to put 3.000 spheres in their specific place in three dimensions. In creations like this, I avoid creating copies as it violates the "natural" movement needed. Because of this, I worked on this process in short two to three hour increments, several times a day over the course of a week. By the end of the week, I almost changed my mind about creating the water by hand, but I finished it. The most offensive thing in the final scene was a large piece of cut, which was disturbing in the composition. More focus was required and a little help. I would like to thank Abramyanc Karen for "a lesson on the water", which enabled me to extrude the water from the part of the model.
I began to shape the general form of water. Next, I specified it, and made the transition from water to a piece of cloth. This is the part where the fun started (Fig.23 - Fig.27).
Here is the result of all the work. At this point, most of the work is done, now I need make it all in the water. For this, I exported it all into a file format .Obj and downloaded it into ZBrush. Then I applied the Unified Skin modifier with maximum detail and minimal (0) smoothing. After that, I went all over the surface with a smoothing brush. It was impossible to apply the initial smoothing and it lost many of the small details. If done manually, it takes 10 times longer, but all the necessary details are stored giving complete control over the process (Fig.28).
This is the wave that I ended up with (Fig.29).
To create the hair I used the plugin Ornatrix, which is a very flexible plugin that I was very happy with. However, because it is not associated with V-Ray or mental ray, I had to render it in skyline and then connect it via the alpha channel (Fig.30).
I then used Overpaint in Photoshop. Â Thanks to Elena Vuytsik for helping me with this! (Fig.31).
I did the same with the lower hair (Fig.32).
Rendering Post Processing
To render the final scene, I used mental ray for the body and water (first layer) and V-Ray to render the water (second layer). Because I wasn't able to achieve the desired type of water in mental ray, I used V-Ray for this and then later joined them in Photoshop (Fig.33).
After consolidating the two scenes, I began to draw the background. It was all painted by hand. From the top, I placed my composition, cut through alpha channel and once I finished with the background, I put the hair on (Fig.34).
And here's the final image (Fig.35).
That's all - thanks for your attention and I hope you've enjoyed this "Making Of".