Making of 'Private Goofy'
Hi, my name is Jaime Otegui and I work in the film industry. In this Making Of I will try to explain how I made this image, following the main steps of its creation process. I hope it will be useful for you.
I've worked in video games since the beginning of my career and that's why I'm used to low poly meshes and small tileable textures. Now I'm working on a 3D movie, which is why I wanted to explore high poly meshes and HD renders.
My goal with this image was to take a highly recognizable 2D character and bring him to life in 3D.
I really like Disney characters, so I thought Goofy was a good choice to achieve my goal. We have all been watching Disney characters since we were kids, so if something is wrong with a 3D approximation then you notice it quickly (Fig.01).
This is one of my favorite parts in the creation process: making something in 3D. It's very important to know everything about your character, environment, prop or whatever. I have a huge reference folder on my hard drive where I keep thousands of pictures, renders, videos and tutorials.
In the case of Goofy, I had one main reference, a render from the cover of the Kingdom Hearts video game (with Donald, Mickey and Goofy). I love the mood and the characters of this image. I also found some great, original Disney model sheets on the internet and although these were 2D, they helped me a lot with the shape of the character. Another source of inspiration was a sculpture of Goofy I found on the web; I think it might be in one of Disney's parks (Fig.02).
Whenever possible, I believe it's important to have the best model sheet or blueprint you can find in order to keep the proportion and shape of your model correct. Create a standard plane with the size of your image; this way you can project your reference image with no distortion. If you have front and side views in the same image, you can convert your plane to editable poly. Now move your edges, preserving your UVs (check Preserve UVs under the Edit Geometry tab) to isolate your front and side view. This way you can detach your side view polygon, rotate it 90 degrees and have a good reference plane to model.
I also like to give this reference plane a self illumination value of 100, then open this object's properties dialog, make it non-renderable, uncheck the Show Frozen in the gray box and freeze the plane. This way you can model without worrying about moving, rotating, selecting or scaling your reference (Fig.03).
Scene units: Once the reference plane is sorted, it's important to work with real units, because the global illumination renderers work with standard units. So, if needed, you can scale your reference plane keeping its aspect ratio (uniform scale) to give your character a regular height (in my case about 1.90 meters).
Scene light rig: At this stage I think it's also a good idea to have a few lights around your model. This light rig shouldn't be so fancy - you don't want to be waiting for big renders while modeling - but I think it's important to have an idea of how your model will look while modeling. There are lots a great tutorials about three point lighting on the web.
I always start characters with the head, because it's the main and the most difficult part of the model. By doing this you can check with your boss or your client if the model is going in the right direction.
I usually use standard poly modeling. In almost every case, I start with a box (or a basic primitive like a cylinder, sphere, etc.). You should move it to X: 0, Y: 0, Z: 0; doing this you can eliminate half of the box, knowing you won't have weld issues when applying the symmetry and turbo smooth modifiers.
In the case of Goofy I tried a different approach, I did a spline on the side view with the few vertexes possible, then I applied a extrude modifier. Then I was able to convert the spline to an editable poly and started tweaking and extruding my edges to get the final shape (Fig.04).
The clothes were done in the traditional way. In the case of the jacket I did just the outside part of it, then I applied a shell modifier to do the inner part. Keeping this modifier alive is a good idea, especially if you're going to "skin" your character (Fig.05 - 06).
I like to set up the basic colors of the scene before texturing. This way you know the mood of your scene before doing the hard job in Photoshop. So I created a color palette for my model and checked it over before applying these flats colors to my model. There are several applications that make color palettes starting with a color of your choice (check out Adobe Kuler for instance). When doing this, I would advise that you have a medium grey background on your renderer.
I used Photoshop for the textures and I did diffuse, bump and specular maps for all the objects in the scene.
I wanted to use mental ray for this render - it's great to have it in Max - so I used mainly the Arch & Design materials. These materials are maybe too heavy to render a complex animation, but they work fine for a single render.
Here you have two examples of the textures and the materials used in the scene (Fig.07 - 08).
I'm not a setup expert, but I wanted to pose the character for the final render, so I created a biped with the size of Goofy and applied a skin modifier to the different parts of the model. Then I fitted the envelopes to match the model, so I could pose the character (Fig.09).
Although Goofy is a cartoon character, I wanted to achieve a realistic illumination, so I choose mental ray as I said before. I used two area lights (photometric) with an angle of 45 degrees off the camera; this way I was able to add volume to my model. I did not use Global Illumination because Final Gather worked just fine for me in this case. Final Gather presets usually works fine to me, so I just made a couple of changes to achieve the final result (Fig.10).
I did two renders. In this case I did not want to add Zdepth to my final image, so I just did a beauty and an ambient occlusion pass. I wanted to create the background in Photoshop so I rendered Goofy over a matte/shadow plane to keep the shadows on the ground.
I took these two render passes to Photoshop. I then put the ambient occlusion pass over the beauty render in Multiply mode with an opacity of 44 because at 100% the model looked too dark in the occluded areas.
Finally I added the background (a circular color gradient) on the bottom of the layer stack and a few layers over it to control the final curves, exposure and brightness and contrast of the final image (Fig.11).
And here's the final image (Fig.12).
As a conclusion, I would to thank the guys at 3DTotal for including my image on this great site and for giving me the chance to share my thoughts about my render on it. I hope some of these tips can help you in creating your renders.
If you have any questions or comments feel free to email me.
"Do everything by hand, even when using the computer"