Making Of 'Jungle Mecha'
This is going to be less of a tutorial about how I made the Jungle Mech, and more about the process and the ideas of things that you have to look for when creating a 3D, or any art piece. I started this Mech a while ago when I first was learning 3D and had no concept of things like form, shape and consistency. Specular maps were a mystery to me and so were unwrapping textures.
In the image below you can see my "final" Mech, that I had done a few years prior. A mishmash of parts, all thrown together as if someone had found random parts in a junkyard and threw them together and hoped that they worked. I left this guy to rest for a while and learned a lot about form, shape, and consistency in my artwork. I decided to remake most of him and keep the same basic shape. I chose an existing part of the model that l liked - the upper arm guard shoulder area - and decided to expand on that. I took the fine lines and the thick border style with the not-too-sharp corners and heavily rounded edges - a futuristic sleek look.
In the image below, you can see a, b and c shows the progress from the old arm, with no real style and flow, that I expanded on the area that I selected. I tried to make the other parts match the selected area, keeping good-looking proportions and adding consistent detail, as opposed to a cool-looking grate over here and a cool-looking, random piston over there. I chose to have latches that hold the armour in place all around the Mech. On the third arm, I decided to expand on the style I was going for and add a lot more detail to really make his parts stand out.
Below, you can see the same concept has been applied to the majority of the rest of the Mech. In the process of remodelling the Mech, I decided to make every part able to work without clipping. I added some extra joints to the shoulder for added movement, and started to define its different state, as well as defining the different materials that it would be made out of.
Below, you can see the nearly completed model with just a basic car paint texture on it. The colours and the texturing were the next step that needed to be done.
I first started to pick the two colours that I wanted most of the Mech to be, and started to define the general tone of the Mech. In the image below, I'm just getting the feel for what he is going to look like and applying some basic procedural textures to it.
Then comes the fun part of unwrapping textures. In Photoshop, I started with a base metal, similar to those found in the 3DTotal Textures Collection. From there, I added tons of scratches, marks and general grunge, by finding references on-line of wear and tear.
I used Vray to render and light the scene; just one Vray plane light illuminates it. I rendered after matching the light to the background. As you can see from the below image, there is a lot of work left to do. Vray had some errors and blocked some things out, but that's nothing Photoshop can't fix. This was the last time my model saw some 3D work to it.
Next I added in the background and foreground and did some colour corrections. As my friend put it, "Go crazy with the Wacom". Symbols and more scratches were added in Photoshop, Japanese characters and latches, bumps panels and colour adjustments to individual parts, reflection of the lights, glows to the face, caution stripes and various other things, to give it much more scale. As you can see, all the little details made a huge difference (and of course the magnificent stamp tool)
The Photoshop layer styles are your best friend in the process, as they help you to realistically blend very well. Remember to get lots of metal references and some good base metals, dents and scratches. Movies are also a good source of what to look for. Make sure to keep what you want in focus and don't let the little details distract you.