Making Of 'Dwarf Hammerer'
The modeling was all straightforward poly-modeling techniques (Fig.01 - 02). I also used a method of modeling with parametric modifiers to achieve geometry that might otherwise be time-consuming to create. I give a brief example in this video. Originally I intended to put the character in a scene and created two different concept environments (Fig.03 - 04).
The UVs were generated using a combination of the "blended box-mapping technique-BBMT" (Neil Blevins soulburn script) for all the metal components and specific 0-1 UVs using the excellent little "XrayUnwrap" script, which is simple, efficient and only costs £5.00!
The texturing work was done in Photoshop and I painted bold, bright textures for the clothing using standard tools (Fig.05).
The metal diffuse/bump are 2K tiling textures that I created and utilized in the BBMT, which I give a little intro to
in this video.
Shading / Lighting
Mental ray was my renderer of choice and the terrific Arch&Design; shader was used for everything. The metal shader was the most complex and can be seen in the video mentioned above. Most importantly when rendering these days is to set up Max to operate in linear color space. For a while the whole linear workflow (LWF) was a touchy subject on forums, but it's really, really simple to set up in later versions of 3ds Max once you understand the concepts. I won't go into it here as it's well documented across the web.
My lighting setup was a traditional three-point setup (Fig.06) with a broad area light for the key/fill and a small rim of more intense luminescence. There is also a skylight on a low multiplier to soften the shadows in conjunction with Final Gather. There is also a HDR environment in a background switcher shader to achieve nice reflections on the metals. A question that often pops up on forums is people wondering why their metal shader looks so bad. Well, in a nutshell, REFLECTIONS!
Render Output / Post
I didn't use any render elements on this one and just output a straight render. Sometimes, it's easier to add more details in post rather than fiddling around in your 3D app. Especially since this is just a still illustration. A good example of this is the mushrooms and moss. At first, I modeled them and set up SSS shaders for them but after messing about for a while, I realized this would be a lot less fuss in post. Plus, this is a part of the process that I really enjoy.
Here is the raw render output (Fig.07).
And the finished image (Fig.08).
Here's a quick turntable of my character:
Thanks for reading and I do hope it's been somewhat helpful. And a big thumbs up to 3DTotal for giving me the opportunity to write this article.