Making Of 'Say Cheese' by Eric Provan
This creepy fella started out as a quick sketch. Once I had a few sketches of his head to work from, I started searching 'Google Images' for some ideas on the mood, lighting, and theme for the project. Being a big fan of the classic horror film, "Nosferatu", I thought it would be a great reference piece for this project, so I gathered some shots from the film. You can see from my quick concept sketch that I had originally designed this guy to be eating a little creature. After pondering this idea a while, I decided to go a different way with the piece and have him eating cheese. I mean, who doesn't like cheese? (Fig.01)
I did all of the base modelling for this project in Maya. I always do my best at this stage to keep edge loops clean and keep polygons 4-sided. This always makes things much easier in the long run. For the head, I knew from the concept that he would have his mouth open, so I modelled the low-res base this way, instead of trying to do it with the rig. The majority of the modelling that I do in Maya is done using a combination of polygons and subdivisions, as well as the smooth proxy tool (Fig.02).
For the rigging process, I used a Maya plug-in called "The Setup Machine". With this plug-in I can rig a biped character in about 30-45 minutes. Its not a perfect rig, but it does a good job, and it's a great tool for a modeller, such as myself, who just wants to pose a character (Fig.03).
Once I had some good base meshes, I exported them as Obj's from Maya and imported them into ZBrush. Woohoo, my favourite part: time to sculpt! The main goal with this guy's skin was to make it look creepy. I gave his face and hands a lot of wrinkles and imperfections using ZBrush's various sculpting tools. For the clothing, I focused on making believable creases and folds. I can remember my Mother (who does a lot of sewing) giving me great advice on drawing wrinkles in clothing. She said to make V's and quick changes in the folds. This has always stuck with me and it really does make a huge difference. She also told me not to do drugs, but who listens to everything their Mother says? I'm kidding, I'm kidding. Whenever using sculpting programs like ZBrush and Mudbox beta, I mainly only use 3 tools: push, pull, and smooth. I also used ZBrush's Automatic UV mapping tool to lay out the UV's. Whilst this method is probably not the smartest, it does the job and works great if all the texturing is done in ZBrush (Fig.04 & 05).
I did all of the texturing for this project using ZBrush's Projection Master and ZBrush's Zapplink plug in. Zapplink is a cool little projection texturing tool which links ZBrush up with external 2D paint programs. In this case, I used it with Photoshop. You can see from the screen-grabs just how cool this little plug-in is. The hair was created using a texture with alpha and carefully placed polygons (Fig.06 & 07).
To get the moody setting I wanted for this project, I knew I had to be strategic with the lights and camera. For the camera, I went with a low angle and rotated the camera a bit to get a little confusion across to the viewer. To get the atmospheric shadow I used a light with Renderman shadow attributes, and simply placed it in front of the creep and the wall.
I've quickly become a huge fan of Renderman for Maya. The speed at which it renders displacements is insane. A lot of the Renderman options are set in the attribute editor. The first thing I did to get the scene ready for Renderman was set all the objects in the scene to be rendered as Subd's. This is done by selecting the object, going to the attribute editor, and setting the Renderman option to subd scheme. I also set the shader node to use sub surface scattering. In the rendering options I turned on raytracing and also added an environment light for a little global illumination. I also set the Shading Rate down to 1.0 (the lower the better) (Fig.08-11).
That does it for another "Making Of" article. I hope you enjoyed it and maybe even learned a thing or two. Thanks again to 3DTotal and Zoo Publishing for this great opportunity. Please feel free to drop me line if you have any feedback and/or questions. Here are some final shots (Fig.12 - 14)... Enjoy!