Making Of 'Ratman'
Hello everybody! My name is Luca Nemolato, I'm 20 years old and I came from Naples, Italy. I'm now living in Los Angeles and I'm currently an intern at the Aaron Sims Company. In Italy I worked as an Illustrator for the advertising industry, but now I'm starting my career as a concept artist.
In this Making Of I will show you the technique I use in order to obtain a realistic concept; in this case Ratman. It's a pretty fast concepting technique, where the 3D sculpting process is done really quickly and the rendering of the final image is done completely in Photoshop, so in this article I will focus more on the 2D rendering process, using the technique of photobashing. This is when you blend various pictures on top of the rendered model.
This was a personal project where I just wanted to have fun with a fusion between a rat and an old man. So I started searching for high res images as a reference for my sculpt, and gathered some pictures of an old man, a hippopotamus and a rat. I didn't take too long on the research, because I already had a good idea in mind (Fig.01).
I started modeling in ZBrush, on a pre-made base mesh. After a quick sculpting process I had all the forms where I wanted them and I didn't spend too much time detailing the sculpture before I was happy with it (Fig.02).
After quickly posing my sculpt in ZBrush, I imported the obj in Maya where I did a really basic render using mental ray (Fig.03).
With the render ready, I imported the image into Photoshop, where the real work began. I started to blend some of the skin from the hippopotamus picture from Fig.01, with the mesh below. With the Morph tool I made the skin flow with the forms of the face below, and I set the skin picture on a Soft Light layer in order to blend the skin with the form of my sculpt. With the same process I covered the whole face of the model (Fig.04).
After covering the whole model with the hippopotamus skin, I started to integrate some human features from the picture of the old man I'd found. Again, I moved the pictures into place with the Morph tool, taking the anatomy of the face into consideration. Then I lowered the opacity of these new layers to 60% in order to make them blend with the layers below. As a final stage, I lowered the saturation and bumped up the contrast on the new layers (Fig.05).
After compositing all the human features on the face, I used the Liquify tool to move some shapes of the head around, and then I integrated a picture of a jacket on my model, trying to find a picture that matched the light of the sculpt, as much as possible. I also blended an abstract picture for the background and painted a black vignetting around the figure in order to focus the viewer's attention on the face (Fig.06).
I added some hair to the model, using the hair from the old man picture, and set it on a normal layer with 80% opacity. The most important stage was next, where I painted on a blank layer set the Soft Light. On this layer I painted shadows and lights - with a simple, standard brush with 50% hardness - in order to blend all the pictures together, primarily using pure black and white. On this layer I had the opportunity to relight the model and also paint some fine details (Fig.07).
After the painting stage, I integrated some more textures from the hippopotamus picture, such as the mustache, and again set the pictures on a Soft Light layer. Then I used the picture of a tumorous eye on a Soft Light layer, in order to obtain some interesting shade and specular on the eyes of my sculpt (Fig.08).
In the final stage I just painted a cold light coming from the left, on another blank layer set on Soft Light, this time using a really soft standard brush. I also painted some smoke on the right bottom corner in order to light that black area a little bit. As a final touch I used a Filter > Sharpen > Unsharp mask to tighten the image and the brush strokes, and I used also a Blur > Lens Blur on a mask layer in order to blur just the contour of the model together with the background (Fig.09).
And with that the image was complete (Fig.10). I really had lots of fun doing this creature and I think that the result is really tight. This technique of painting the details in Photoshop is much quicker for me than sculpting everything in ZBrush. It took me just one day of work to complete it. I hope you've learned something useful from this Making Of, and that you liked it! Thank you.
To see more by Luca Nemolato, check out Digital Art Masters: Volume 8