Making Of 'L'homme dans la foret'

Hello! My name is Stefan Stinga and I am from Romania. Since I discovered the 3d world and the possibilities that someone has in the 3d virtual space and I mean the possibilities of creating virtual life and building virtual emotions, this became my passion and I know that it will remain a passion for a long time. I learned 3d graphics from tutorials on the Internet, from forums and discussions with other people most talented than me and especially from those many hours of practicing and practicing the modeling until I was satisfied with the result. From my experience, I can tell you that work and exercise are the ingredients of making a good model. In this domain of 3d graphics experience is very, very
important (and when I say experience I mean the time spent in front of the computer, moving those vertices and making the proportions right, sometimes deleting the old model and rebuilding it. Do not be afraid to rebuild it, because the second time it is always better). But for that, you need to have a lot of patience. I shall not say that is easy, but if you really desire to do it, then in time your work will give results and those many hours of practicing will produce something that will satisfy you. The result you are attempting, will come for certain. In this tutorial I shall present you some ideas which led me in creating this character, called "L'homme dans la foret - The man on the wood". The tutorial will be organized in parts,
each part giving you an idea about the modelling, the lighting and the texturing process.
I must say that this is the first tutorial that I make, and in fact I don't consider it to be a tutorial, but mostly a "discussion" between me and you in which I explain to you the steps that I followed in creating the character. This is not the only way to do a character, there
are also many other methods to do it, (even better than what I did here) but this is the method I prefer and I am very glad to share with you the experience that I have gain in doing this model. I hope very much that this will help
you.So, let's start ...
 

The Modeling

As I said before, this will not be a step-by-step tutorial; I will assume you are familiar with 3ds max. The method I used here is "polygonal modeling", in which we build the character polygon by polygon and we create a so-called mesh. After that, we apply a smooth modifier. First of all, when modeling a human head, it is very important to have human references, photos of real humans. If you have a digital camera you may pick someone and photograph him from face and profile. This will be your reference. Why it is so important to have references? Well, because in this way, you will respect the right proportions of the human head, and the proportions are very, very important to a good model. I didn't had a digital camera so I took a human model (a male) from Poser, imported it in max, and rendered him from face, left, right and top view. This was my reference. Of course, you may draw by hand the sketches of your model. In the picture below, I put the references that I used...

As you can see, the model was not very good-looking guy (maybe a generic male), so I made my model using this references, in fact, I realized with those references the major aspect of the character and after that I renounced to the pictures and I continued modeling from my imagination and tweaking until I was satisfied with the result. Those two pictures were about 512 x 512 pixels in resolution. After creating the two pictures, I created in a new scene two planes and the width and height of the two planes were just as the width and height of the pictures (512 x 512). I mapped the two planes with the pictures. Here is how my perspective viewport looks in this moment:

You may ask yourself what is the green line in the viewport. Well, that's a reference I draw with splines from the top viewport ... this is the profile of the head viewed from the top side. See below...

This top-reference I made, helped me a lot when positioning the polygons of the head. In this way, the head viewed from the top side had a correct shape. Ok, so the references are ready. Let's continue...
I began creating the polygons, and I started with the shape of the eye and mouth. For now, I followed the shape of the references, and I didn't make the model very detailed, I only build the major form. The details, I will add them later.

I must warn you about few things you must know or study before doing a human head. First of all, you have to know very well the human head anatomy, so search an anatomy book or internet pictures with the anatomy of the head (in making this model, I studied a lot of time the anatomy of the human eye). Also, the anatomy knowledge is important, because you have to know the muscular structure of the human face and how the muscles "flow". This is important because of the notion of "edge-loops" which must respect the flow of the muscles.

Back to modeling now. I only modeled one half of the head, the other half will result when I will apply the symmetry modifier. I build the polygons to match the reference on the left side and the front side and then watch the result in the perspective viewport. In the pictures below, here is another stage of the modeling process ... I have finished the front side of the face, and I have added two spheres for the eyes, just for making me an impression of how he looks.
 

The nose made me work a lot, but I made a general shape of it. Later, I will tweak it and rework the shape, until I will be satisfied. The techniques I used in modeling this character were very simple: I extruded edges, cut polygons and weld vertices. When I began modeling the character I didn't worry about making him very detailed ... because many details means many polygons and a lot of polygons are hard to manage. After I was satisfied with the general shape of the head, I added the details.
From this moment, I renounced to those references from poser and I continued adjusting the vertices free, from my imagination. Also, I added details to the neck and correct the area where the ear is attaching to the head (I noticed that this area is posing a lot of problems too many people who model human heads, so I was very attentive with that).
In this stage the character looks pretty good, but there are still many problems to correct. But I put the character away from a couple of days, to free my mind. One trick that I have learned is that we need to make some pauses from time to time, and when we'll get back we will see more clearly the areas that have problems and need to be corrected. Another trick is to render the model in this stage and to import it in a 2d packet like photoshop and rotate it, turn it upside down, because making those actions, the mistakes will reveal themselves.
Like I said before, I have renounced to the references from poser, because they looked to me very artificial, and not realistic. I searched on the Internet pictures with real humans and I spend a lot of time in studying them and observing the proportions (e.g. the proportions of the eyes compared to the head, the proportions of the mouth, etc). In my opinion, what makes a head to be beautiful or perfect is this sense of proportions. You should study the human anatomy or pictures withhuman heads and try to still that secret of the correct proportion and you will see that the model will be good-looking. Another thing to do: you should observe the emotions, and the facial expressions and their particularities and then apply them to your model.
Here's another picture of the head and the ear. The ear was modeled separately and then added to the head by welding the vertices. Also, in this stage, the nose shape was finished.

The eye is composed of two spheres, one slightly larger than the other. The little sphere contains the iris and the pupil, and the larger sphere contains the cornea. The first sphere contains the white area of the eye, together with those veins, and of course the pupil, which gives the color of the eye. Those things are of course textures. And I forgot to mention that little light in the eye, the light which gives life to a digital character. That little light was created using a HDRI map. I will explain that later.
I attached here pictures which help you to understand the process of eye creation.

These are the steps that I followed:
1. I created the green sphere. This will be the eye body (the iris), I mean that part of the eye which contains the veins and the area with blood.

2. I made a copy of this sphere (Edit -> Clone) and let it down for the moment (you can hide it). That's the blue sphere. This will be the cornea (or the larger sphere, I said there will be two spheres one little - the green one- and one slightly larger -this is the blue one-).

3. I cropped a portion of the green sphere (convert the sphere to polygonal object, select some polygons and detach them). This will represent the pupil area.
4. I mirrored it.

5. I approached the yellow part to the green sphere and then attached to it.

6. I welded the vertices by pairs.

I have scaled the blue sphere to about 102% and then put it all together. Now, the eye model is completed. About the second sphere (the larger one), I did it transparent (opacity 10) and with a high specular level. These are not standard settings. For your eye, you should try different values and settings until you are satisfied with the result.

And another picture where you can see the eye model result: the two sphere (I represented them with yellow and blue) putted together.

Of course, it is import to study the eye anatomy, to know it as good as possible, and I mean not only the eye ball, but also the eye lids, and the general shape of the eye. I did this reading an anatomy chapter about the eyes and watching other people eyes. (of course, the Internet is full of pictures with beautiful eyes).

About the eyelashes, now... I created the eyelashes using splines with 3 vertices, I smoothed the vertices and I have made the splines with random length. For the thickness of the splines, I tested some values until I was satisfied with the render result. In my case, I used a thickness of 1. After that I have assigned a dark standard material to the eyelashes and made some final modifications. For the upper eyelashes, it's the same thing.

Do not forget to make the splines renderable...

For the beard area, I used shag: hair. I took some polygons from the face and detached them. This way, they formed a new object, which I called beard. These polygons will be the area that will emit the hair. I have modeled these polygons and adjust them until they took a form which satisfied me.

After that, I have created the guide lines for the hair. These splines will control the direction and the orientation of the hair.

These guidelines are in fact splines composed of three control points and having a variable length (the length resulted from some test I have done - in my case, I wanted to make a uniform beard). The spline was converted into editable spline and after that I smoothed the vertices. Then I applied a "model hair" modifier to those splines, and let the settings by default. Then, in the environment panel, in the effects rollout, I added Shag: Hair, and Shag: Render. In the emitters area, I have selected the object "beard" (those polygons that I have detached from the head), and in the model hairs I have selected the two splines which I constructed earlier (the guidelines).


The settings I used for the hair are presented below. These are settings which resulted from tries. You should try your own settings and see what happens. Do that until you are satisfied with the result. Of course, once hair was added, the render time will grow.

The next steps were: assigning a dark material to the hair, and in the Shag: Render rollout I have clicked on the "Make hair enabled lights button". Then, I have scaled down the polygons which form the beard, until they entered a little in the skin (under the mesh of the head). I did that just for creating the impression that the hair is growing from the mesh of the head. After that I hided the beard area.

 

The Texturing

In the case of the textures, I took the mesh and applied a multi / subobject material. In this way, all the mesh was subdivided into zones, which were then mapped to the texture. Subdividing the mesh into several zones gave me more controllability and flexibility, I mean, I was able to map different areas of the mesh into the area of the texture that I wanted, and it permitted me to avoid some areas of the textures which I didn't wanted to show up on the final model. Photorealistic textures are very important to produce photorealistic characters. If you have a digital camera, you may take a picture of a real person and then adjust that picture in a 2d program like photoshop, or, if you are advanced in photoshop or corel or something similar, you may draw all the texture, layer by layer, and then use it in max; in this way you have more control and you can produce the effect that you want (a more clean or dirty texture, etc). In my case I had a texture to a high resolution, about 3000 x 3000 pixels. It is shown below (the diffuse map and the bump map):

I have tried different values for the bump map and make render tests to see what happens. Like I said, when you draw your texture 100% in photoshop, you may draw what you want, in fact you may create the skin how you want, more clean or more dirty, with more or less wrinkles, you may give it the color that you want, so, if you are good in photoshop, that's the way to do it.
I wanted this character to have a clean face, and combined with that perfect trim beard to look very fresh. But as you see, my texture was not very clean, it look like he shaved 2 days ago. But I found the solution to avoid that. I cropped the mesh in zones, and I assigned different material id's to them. Then I assigned to the head a multi / subobject material. After that, I have selected the zones by their id's (using Poly Select modifier) and apply to them a UVW planar map. After all the zones had mapping coordinates applied, I have collapsed the stack. Then I have applied Unwrap UVW and adjust the points on the texture. Having different material id's, I could map a zone where I wanted, I mean I put them in the clean area of the texture and this way I avoided the areas with beard. That's the process with all the zones. In the pictures below I put an example with two zones. For the lips, it's the same thing .

The eye texturing now...

Like I explain earlier, the eye ball is composed of two spheres, for the outer sphere I used a transparent material with a high specular level. I applied textures only to one sphere. See below, the two spheres. I have erased some parts of the spheres because I don't need them, they are not visible anyway.

I have assigned to the first sphere which holds the iris and the pupil 2 zones, with id2 and id3. To those areas, I have applied UVW map (planar mapping) and then Unwrap UVW to adjust the texture. The textures I had were at higher resolution and contained veins. I didn't make the bump parts of the eye, because they weren't very visible at the final render. But if you want, you can do a bump map and assign it to the material.

The first texture was assigned to the id2 and the second to the id3. Also, the area with id3 (the iris), has that little light which we can see in the eyes of someone. This is a HDRI image assigned in the reflection slot. When I assigned it, the light wasn't in the position that I wanted, so I had to modify the controls of tiling, offset and angle. In this way I could control the position where the light appears on the eye surface.


 

The Lighting

For the lighting, I used several omni lights having little intensity (about 0.2) and a lot of GI. The position of the lights is shown below:

In fact, the lighting is not done by those lights, they are only there for making some shadows and for some effects, the lighting is global illumination. The renderer is Brazil v 1.2.21 and the render time was about 45 min.
Well, that's all about this project...I hope it helped you.

Like I said, it's my first tutorial and I tried to make it as explicit as I could. In fact, I consider it a presentation
of the way and the techniques that I used to make this character. Hope you like it!

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