Making Of 'Plunderer'
Creativity comes from real-life experiences, as well as inspirational sources.Â Orcs, robots, superheroes and aliens are nice, but I don't like to limit myself to these the subjects because you see thousands of images like that on forums each day. This time, I wanted to do something close to my reality.
Early 2011, Donglu gave birth to Genny, our first child. The kid opened a whole new world for us. Breastfeeding was a big part of my new experience. Oh wait, let me rephrase that - watching my wife breastfeeding was a big part of my new experience! The first couple of days were extremely tough. My wife didn't have enough milk at the beginning, but our little girl was so craving food. That's where the idea of a plunderer comes from.
I wanted to make a baby holding breast pumps as guns. I imagined him running into milk banks and robbing milk instead of cash. I needed to do something simple and quick, since my week-old Genny wouldn't let me touch my computer for long.
I started with the default body mesh from Mudbox (Fig.01) and quickly modified the body into baby proportions in ZBrush. The trick with ZBrush is to try and do as much as possible with a really low subdivision. There's really no need to boost up the poly count to get the shape done. As you can see from Fig.02, the poly count on the baby is 8k, only one subdivision from the base mesh.
Once the proportion was done, I worked on the low level details a little bit. The brushes I usually use are Standard, Clay, Trim Dynamic, and Smooth. In fact any brushes are good as long as I get the result that I want. It was hard to spend a straight hour working on something with a baby crying beside me. See Fig.03 for the result from the first night. It was quite rough compared to most of the ZBrush works you can easily find online nowadays.
The second night I worked in XSI to get all the props done: a breast pump, milk bottle and pacifier. Again, those are really simple objects made from basic shapes. Nothing fancy (Fig.04).
The third night I used a premade rig in XSI and posed the low res character. I also tested the composition and lights. This way I was able to get a much better idea of how my final image would look. If you are familiar with my works, you might remember the two mighty kings. I took the same approach there, posing my characters and fixing the composition before I moved onto the detailing work (Fig.05). Personally I find this step is a must-have before moving onto further details.
Once I knew what I wanted to do with my final image, I went into ZBrush and made the details accordingly (Fig.06). The entire character was less than 1 million polys in ZBrush before decimation. It was really not that heavy. I made a 5% decimation on the original mesh and exported it out of ZBrush for later use. And that was it for night four.
On the fifth night, I imported the decimated mesh into XSI. I had no UV on any of my objects. All my shaders were simple shadings. They were just a bunch of blinn shaders with some reflections. I created four passes in XSI: Alpha, Depth, AO and a default render (Fig.07). The render results were not very good, but I wasn't worried because I knew Photoshop would help me turn things around.
Paint over, color balance, level correction...It's hard to describe exactly what I did in Photoshop. I will let the following images tell the story (Fig.08 - 10).
And here's the final image (Fig.11).
Plunderer took me five nights - approximately two hours per night - so that's ten hours in total. Honestly folks, technically speaking this piece is definitely not my strongest piece; I won't lie about that. But I'm very happy with the fact that I found inspiration from Genny and turn edit into a personal work. I also got a good idea how much I can do in a short amount of time, with distractions. That helped me figure out where I need to improve if I want to quickly execute a piece so I can get some training asap.
I hope you like Plunderer, as well as this quick Making Of. I would also like to take this opportunity to give my salute to all the mom's who breastfeed. Moms RULE!