Making Of 'Jean-Luc Picard'
Hi everybody! I'm Miriam Bonetti, I'm from Italy and I'm a modeler and texture artist for CGI film productions. In this Making Of I'll show you how I created Captain Jean-Luc Picard from Star Trek.
As I'm a fan of Star Trek, I decided to try to reproduce Patrick Stewart. He has a really interesting facial shape and I knew it was going to be challenging to achieve a good likeness. I found some good references on Google and then got started!
I did the base mesh in Maya, using lots of photos to achieve the resemblance. I found it useful to create a couple of image planes (front/side), and to set my perspective camera with a Focal Length of around 60/80 to correct the default camera's distortion, in order to reproduce the correct head proportions.
Here you can see a wireframe view, then the entire model posed. I also decided to model a simple background instead of using a blurred photo (Fig.01 & Fig.02). For the eyes I didn't use the classic structure (outer transparent bulb, inner textured bulb) but, as you can see in Fig.03, I modeled only one bulb, a concave torus for the iris and a black disk that simulated the pupil's deepness.
When I was satisfied with the base mesh I made UVs with Maya's unfold option, which I find is a very quick and efficient tool (Fig .04). I sculpted my model with Mudbox to make wrinkles and obtain a more organic mesh. I imported the base mesh into Mudbox and subdivided to level one to avoid displacement errors. While working on this I modified the base shape, and after that I re-exported the new mesh, to replace the previous mesh in Maya, and a baked displacement map (Fig.05).
Texturing / Shading
To make textures I used Mudbox's projection brush and a couple of hi-res images to reproduce skin details. I think that Mudbox is very useful and fast for texturing. I used a front and a side view to easily project the skin onto my model (Fig.06).
Later I used Photoshop to tweak my color map and obtain bump, specular and dermal maps to build my fast skin shader (Fig.07). Here you can see how I've set it - please note that I mapped the color map also on primary and secondary specular color values, as I think it gives a more natural look to the skin (Fig.08).
To texture the jacket I mainly used Photoshop. I found a good cloth texture in my personal texture library and I made it tileable. I only used Mudbox to correct the texture seams with the projection brush method and my tileable texture as a stencil (Fig.09).
To make textures of the eyes' bulb I decided to use paint effects to achieve the classic branched look (Fig.10). I saved this image and then composited it with the rest of the textures made in Photoshop, adding some more veins manually (Fig.11). The bulb was textured with a gradient on transparency channel that made the geometry totally transparent only on the iris area. This trick helps to achieve a natural gradient effect between the iris and the bulb.
For the character's lighting I got inspiration from one of my reference photos. I started with a classic setup (key, fill, rim, bounce), and then added a few more lights and carefully tweaked their intensity values, attempting to go closer to my reference. I used only spotlights with soft raytrace shadows, and a couple of point lights with "emit specular" value active only to fake the eyes' specular spots. I didn't use pure white lights as I always give them a little bit of color saturation to give my image warm/cold contrasts. Here you can see the final light setup (Fig.12).
Rendering and Compositing
I rendered my final image with mental ray. I simply made a beauty pass of the character, a background pass and an occlusion pass.
I composed the final image in Photoshop. I blurred a little bit of my background image and mixed the character's beauty pass with the occlusion pass. To see more skin details I picked a copy of the blue channel of my image and put it in overlay over the color pass. Then I tweaked curves and saturation and added a green vignette effect. I chose a green color to represent the Borgs menace over Picard; it has a mainly symbolic meaning. I also added a little bit of noise, because I don't like images to be too clean, and a couple of small, fake specular spots on eyes (Fig.13 & Fig.14).
I'm quite happy with my final result, and it has been a big surprise for me to be so rewarded for it. I hope this brief Making Of has given you guys few little tips about how to create more realistic characters!
Thank you for reading!