Making Of 'Guitarist'
Over the last year I've had the chance to create several creatures and hard surface models, but all my human characters were left partially done. I felt that I needed to revisit my human sculpts and try to work on an organized human character, which was when I started my image Guitarist. I also wanted to improve my sculpting skill and continue to study anatomy. My artistic goal for this project was to create a resemblance of Jimi Hendrix and capture his expressions.
I prefer to keep the topology simple with clean edge loops and nice edge flow as it means that the model will look smooth and natural at the lowest subdivision level. It also means that it will be good for rigging. (Fig.01).
I searched Google for Jimi Hendrix photos, and picked several images I thought would be helpful. I think it's important not to use too many reference images when trying to create a likeness of someone as each photo will show a slightly different look and too many references may cause some confusion. I chose one main reference image that best suited my plan. Several other images were used as reference images for the rest of the model (Fig.02).
For the sculpting I used a base body created in Maya, which I put into ZBrush. I usually sculpt the head first and once satisfied move onto the body. I exaggerated the muscle shape on the body and put sharp edges between muscles to clarify the body structure. I mainly used the hPolish, Clay Tubes and Move brushes for sculpting and refining the deformation of the body. The hPolish brush is good for reducing the volume while the Clay Tubes brush is good for building up the shape. In the refining process the sharp edges were removed or smoothed out. When sculpting an organic model I prefer to use the hPolish brush instead of the Smooth brush, which removes the details with brush movement.
For the fine detail, the geometry was subdivided to 10 million polygons. As this made the model very heavy, it took quite a lot of time to undo. I stored the model as a Morph Target once I had the shape I wanted and added the detail to it. When I wanted to undo something I used the Morph brush, which is a lot faster than actually undoing. Fig.03 shows the brushes, strokes and alphas I used. I mixed them and used them like a clay scraper. It's not exactly the same, but it creates a similar outcome. This meant I could create rich details from multiple strokes.
During the sculpting process I tried to use brushes like traditional clay tools. My favorite brushes are Clay Tubes and hPolish as they are most like traditional modeling tools. Sometimes I adjust the brush settings, but I mostly use these brushes at the default settings.
I modeled the guitar in Maya (Fig.04).
Transpose is a very convenient feature for posing in ZBrush. I went down to subdivision level 1 and put the guitar in the correct position, then posed the body. I then fixed the pose at the different subdivision levels whilst checking it from different angles. Since the bending and twisting broke the deformation of the arms, I needed to fix those areas (Fig.05).
Displacement Map and Normal Map
Fig.06 shows the displacement and normal maps with their settings. To create the displacement map I went to the lowest subdivision level, stored the morph and then clicked on the Create DispMap button. For the normal map I went up two levels, stored the morph and clicked Create NormalMap. The normal map is very subtle because it isn't generated at the lowest subdivision level, while the displacement map is. The normal map is for adding the detail to the displacement map when the model is rendered.
Rendering with Displacement Map and Normal Map
I assigned the displacement and normal maps to the blinn shader and added the lighting. When it was rendered I found several tiny areas that were showing weird result caused by the displacement map. I fixed the displacement map in Photoshop. When I was satisfied with the rendered shape the body mesh was assigned to the skin shader. (Fig.07)
The texture was created in ZBrush. I used Polypaint for the body and Zappink for the guitar (Fig.08 - 09). Before painting the body I changed the material to SkinShade4. I combined the Standard brush, Color Spray stroke and Alpha 07. Fig.10 shows the settings for the brush I used for texturing.
When I created the hair I checked the Dynamic option and generated the hair using the time slider bar until I was happy with the starting point. Then I reshaped the hair follicles until I had a nice hair flow using the Move and Rotate tool. I also played around with the hair system options to adjust the volume, curl and color etc. I checked the Hair with Rendering option and continuously tweaked the hair follicles. I changed the hair shape until I was getting results I was happy with (Fig.11).
I put the color map into Photoshop and adjusted it to create diffuse, epidermal, and subdermal maps (Fig.12). The diffuse texture was de-saturated from the color texture created in ZBrush while the epidermal, and subdermal textures became more saturated.
Camera and Light Setting
I used the mia_exposure_photographic lens for a mental ray lens shader, and the physical_lense_dof lens for depth of field. The key and rim lights are connected to each mia_portal_light. The rim light setting is almost the same as the key light. The difference is that the intensity is higher than the key lights and its color is slightly bluish (Fig.13).
I tried to get as close to the final result as I could in 3D, but I did some color grading in Photoshop like adjusting and saturating the color and increasing the contrast (Fig.14).
As always I enjoyed creating this character and learned many new techniques through this project. I hope my image inspires others (Fig.15).