Making of 'Odin's Final Battle'
Hi everyone, I would like to share with you a short step-by-step process of my latest artwork, Odin's Final Battle. I created this image for a competition with a steam punk mythology theme. After I decided to join the competition, I was soon doing research for a good story, and I chose to go for the Nordic myth, RagnarÃ¶k. Odin was one of the main characters in this story, and because we have to put a steam punk touch in our images, my idea was to make a human version of him, but with a metal suit of armour powered by steam.
The first process was the modelling. I usually start with the head, so I gathered some references for his face. Odin is the 'father of the Gods', so I had to make his face a little older and wiser than an average guy would look. After I create a base mesh in 3d Studio Max, I imported it and then began to sculpt the face in ZBrush (Fig.01).
The next process was to export the subdivision 2 model and create a normal map from the high poly head. In order to do this, I used XNormal, which is a very good freeware for baking normal maps. I place the subdivision 2 model in the low poly slot and the highest subdivision in the high poly slot, and then chose normal maps as an output and hit render. Here's the head model with the baked normal maps (Fig.02).
After the head model was done, I decided to texture it right away. I used ZBrush and Photoshop for this process. ZBrush was mainly used to make the base texture, while Photoshop was used to create the more detailed texture of the head. I also decided to use Mental Ray for the rendering because of its powerful SSS shader. For the hair and beard, I used extruded planes. The hair was then painted over in Photoshop later on, but it was important to have a good overall feel for the face so I had to at least make descent looking hair at this stage despite going to paint over it later. Here's a test render for the head, also with the SSS settings (Fig.03).
The next step was creating the armour and the rest of his body. For the upper armour I used a concept made by my team mate. The modelling was done in a similar way to the face, by extruding planes. Creating a good texture was again also crucial in this process. I wanted to make his armour look weathered and battle damaged, so I mixed a few images I found on CGTextures.com and on top on that I applied a little paintover and some colour adjustments. This is the early test of his armour with the texture and shader settings (Fig.04).
After I completed the upper armour I continued to make his lower body. The steps were still the same here: creating the base mesh, sculpting in ZBrush, baking the normal maps, and then creating the texture and shader. After his full body was complete, I tried to render it and here's the result (Fig.05).
I wanted to create not just a single character, but a complete scene. So I began at this stage to make the environment. The idea was to put Odin standing in front of his throne, ready for the last battle. I made the throne first, and then added a touch of steam punk and skulls (because he is the God of death). I also added some gears and pipes to complete the environment (Fig.06 - 07).
I used Mental Ray as the rendering engine. To light the scene I used just one skylight and 5 other Max standard lights (4 omni and 1 target spot light). You can see my settings in Fig.08.
I usually keep my render settings simple, so for this scene I only enabled Final Gather in the indirect illumination tab. I also used HDRI maps for extra light in the scene. Once happy, I simply hit render ... But then a problem occurred: I didn't have enough memory to render the whole scene. To be able to do this I had to decrease the size of the textures using bitmap proxy. Usually reducing the texture size is not a good option if you have close-up shots, but for this scene, since the camera wasn't going to be too close to the character, the textures would still hold up for the render (Fig.09).
The whole scene was rendered in 3 passes, which was the raw render, the ambient occlusion pass, and the ZDepth pass (Fig.10).
I composited the passes in Photoshop, and also re-painted the hair and added some more details and effects. Here is my final image of Odin in his throne room (Fig.11a - d).
To see more by Marthin Agusta, check out ZBrush Character Sculpting