Making Of 'Nightmare Stalker'
After seeing this concept online (Fig.01), I decided to have a go at re-creating it in 3D. I usually do hard surface objects and not character/organic objects so I fancied the challenge. The character was quite a simple design but I thought I could get a lot out of creating it in 3D.
Initially I wanted to create the mesh from scratch in ZBrush, using ZSpheres, but after several attempts I wasn't getting the results I wanted and so I decided to do my base mesh in Maya instead (Fig.02 & Fig.03).
Next I created UVs for the character (Fig.04). I tried hard to use as much of the UV window as possible as I knew I was going to be rendering out the image at 4000x4000 pixels and so the detail had to hold up.
So I took my UV'd base mesh into ZBrush and started sculpting (Fig.05). I subdivided my base mesh eight times, resulting in a 16 million poly mesh. I used mainly the clay brush and the damian standard brush (which is a downloadable brush from the ZBrush website and is a combination of the standard and pinch brushes. This brush is excellent for carving out large areas of detail).
I continued shaping the mesh and increasing the sub divisions. At about level six onwards, I started using the drag rectangle on a displacement brush with various alpha maps (Fig.06 - Fig.08).
I ended up on the mesh at level eight, with all the detail that I wanted in there (Fig.09 - Fig.11).
For the eyes, teeth, gums and drool, I went back to Maya. The eyes, teeth and drool were made from primitives while the gums were an extraction from the base mesh (Fig.12).
Next I did the texturing. I've never quite understood the best way to go about painting textures in ZBrush so the way I ended up doing it might be a bit odd to some who know what they are doing. I polypainted a rough color guide (Fig.13) then converted it to a flat texture, exported that from ZBrush into Photoshop and scaled it up to 8000x8000.
I then used textures from my 3D Total Textures library (Fig.14 - Fig.16) to create a higher resolution color map. Once I was happy with the general look and feel of the texture map I exported it back to ZBrush where I could tidy up bits, because as I had painted the majority of it in Photoshop it didn't fit the model 100% (Fig.17) so using the clone and color brushes I corrected any errors in the map (Fig.18).
So now I went down to a level three mesh and exported an .OBJ. This resulted in a 14000 polygon mesh. As I was doing a high res still, this was good enough; not too heavy in terms of polygons and not too light as to be reliant on displacement for all the detail. From the same level I exported a normal map (Fig.19) and a displacement map (Fig.20).
Those maps I also created a specular map (Fig.21) and a reflection map (Fig.22).
Back in Maya I set up a basic studio and lighting rig (Fig.23 & Fig.24).
This produced a base render for me to start tweaking (Fig.25).
I used V-Ray for Maya to render the character because I wanted to use the SSS it has. So I was able to set up a basic V-Ray SSS shader very quickly (Fig.26) and get excellent results in very good render times. The displacement setup was painless; it just worked! This was something I had struggled with in other renderers.
So I rendered out six passes. These were: main beauty (Fig.27), ambient occlusion (Fig.28), reflection (Fig.29), hard shadow (Fig.30), refraction (Fig.31) and material ID (Fig.32).
The main beauty render turned out pretty well so I didn't need to use the passes too much, but they just helped to lift the image and give the finishing touches. So with a few curves and a colored grad on the background, I had my final image (Fig.33).