Making Of 'Scarecrow' by Darko Hanzic
In this article, I will explain the process of making my Scarecrow image. I will cover all aspects of creation, such as the illustration, modelling and also the texturing which i have used the below textures from 3DTotal's Total Texture Collection:
Fantasy textures v14:R2Â
- Sky: 13
- Tiles: 15
Base and layers v3:R2Â Â
- Sky: 15,(2/14)
General textures:Â v1:R2Â Â Â Â Â Â
- Fabric: 05leather used in example
Because the illustration was for a "Strange Behaviour" contest on CGTalk, I had to be very careful with the initial idea, the planning and the basic concept stage for what I wanted to do. The idea was simple: I wanted to tell the story about today's problems and the huge impact of what is happening to the environment. I thought this could be a wonderful opportunity for an illustration.
So, the first thing that came to my mind was to select a character. I decided to make a scarecrow in a field. Once the character had been decided, I began working on the initial sketch. I always try to find as much reference material as possible as this helps me to define things quicker and also serves as some nice information as to how the textures should look.
The scarecrow had to look believable and I wanted to incorporate a classic look: huge hat, old trousers, ripped clothes, exposed parts filled with straw, old wooden sticks, huge boots and big eyes. The proportions needed to be human, although slightly exaggerated (Fig. 01)
The second stage was imagining the crows. The crows had to look like flying evil creatures who were trying to wreak their anger upon the scarecrow. In the end, I wanted to retain the same bird look with bigger heads, claws and evil red eyes. With 2 characters, the story was simple.
Because of the polluted water in the nearby area the crows had mutated. The environment has been filled with radiation which has caused the birds to become aggressive, and so they wreak their anger upon the nearby scarecrow that has frightened them in the past. The scarecrow tries to escape, but it is stuck in the mud...
The environment had to be depressive, dirty, polluted; it had to be filled with radiation, dust and smoke; it had to reflect that "moment".
I drew a few quick sketches for the composition elements, to see how it would all work in the final image. Of course, at this stage, nothing was carved in stone!
Once the concept stage had been established, I began modelling the actual scene. At this stage, I was open for all the new ideas and changes to the actual concept of the main characters.
Scarecrow: I established the base body geometry from a box, and used the polygon modelling technique. Once the basic proportions had been established, I began working on the main silhouette. Once the silhouette has been defined, I began modelling details, like clothing wrinkles, pockets, small patches, buttons, rope and straw. For the buttons I used a cylinder, and the rope was a lofted surface with basic shape as a circle. For the belt, I used a subdivided plane and formed it into the correct shape, and then I made holes and extruded the faces. The belt buckle was made from a modified torus (Fig. 02 & 03)
The straw was made with paint effects in Maya, using the brush inside visor (grasses-straw). I created a few small strands of straw and put them on the scarecrow (Fig. 04).
Crow: Here is the basic process for the crow. I used a box and shaped it into a desired form (Fig.05)
The feathers were made from a simple plane and UV mapped. Then I simply duplicated it and formed them into a wing. I also used an opacity mask to form a feather, for faster rendering (Fig.06).
For the wheat, I created a small seed then duplicated and rotated it until I got the whole husk. Then I modelled the stem from a cylinder and made it more uniform. To create leaves, I used a plane and properly formed it into the right shape.
Other objects, such as the barrel, wooden sticks, and power plants, were all made of cylinders. For the grass I used paint effects to create small strands of grass. I sowed the grass onto the field mesh by duplicating them (Fig. 07).
Once I was satisfied with the modelling stage I decided to make some parts more detailed, using normal maps for faster rendering. To create normal maps I imported the OBJ format of the scarecrow into ZBrush and began sculpting each piece of the scarecrow individually. Because I had to generate normal maps inside Maya, I kept the poly count at a maximum of 2 million polygons for each piece for easier baking. The idea was to use high polygon geometry on lower resolution geometry, without losing all the detail. I decided to use normal maps instead bump maps (Fig. 08).
In ZBrush, I used a standard brush to define large wrinkles. I used the smooth tool to achieve a beautiful transition. After large wrinkles had been defined, I went into smaller detail using the lazy mouse feature to smooth curved lines. I usually use the lazy mouse at subdivision level 4, to avoid doted lines. Once the sculpting had been completed I exported the high poly mesh into Maya as an OBJ. (Fig.09)
For the barrel, I had already created UV maps and colour texture. So what I did was to use the colour texture in Photoshop and desaturate it. Then I have played with Levels and adjusted the brightness/contrast on each layer to create a mask. When a mask had been created I used it in ZBrush for masking the intensity. This mask then served as a template for sculpting and it also helped me to fine-tune the details on the barrel (Fig. 10).Â Â
To create normal maps I exported the high polygon geometry to OBJ format and used it in Maya. It's important to have high polygon geometry on top of low polygon geometry so that the objects overlap. The low polygon model had to be mapped.
For the under lighting/shading I selected Transfer Maps.
In the Transfer Maps window, under the Target Meshes rollout, I added low poly and high poly under Source Meshes. In the Output rollout, I selected normal map and set the destination of where to export the texture. The Map space was set to Tangent.
In Maya's common output rollout, the resolution for the width and height was set up to: "Sampling quality" to High, "Filter type" to Triangular and "Ignore Mirrored Faces" was ticked.
When all the high polygon parts had been baked onto a normal map, I combined them in Photoshop to create just one texture (Fig. 11).
- For the fine details, the height map had been created for parts like the seams, material textures, stitches, etc. By using the Normal map filter plug-in in Photoshop, I created a normal map from the height map.
- A normal map baked from Maya.
- The normal map, made from height map, was overlaid on top of the generated normal map made in Maya. This gave me enough detail for rendering.
When the modelling stage was complete, I began working on the textures. But, first of all, I had to unwrap all of the models! For most parts I used planar mapping projection, except for the round parts where I used cylindrical mapping. Because the image was static, I put all UV seams on the back side. By doing this I avoided all the troubles with seams on the textures. Here is a simple explanation of texturing the jacket on the scarecrow...
- First I defined basic colours for every part of the scarecrow. For the jacket, I wanted a red colour so I painted all the jacket parts with red.
- The second step was adding some shading to get basic shapes. For this step, I used the blue channel from the normal map and set it to Multiply. (I could also have used an ambient occlusion (AO) pass, baked from high resolution geometry to low polygon, but since I was creating a still image, I simply baked AO at the end for the whole image.)
- The jacket was to be made from leather, so I used a leather texture found in the 3DTotal Textures DVD Collection (http://www.3dtotal.com/textures). Before using the texture though, I desaturated and adjusted the brightness/contrast to retain the base colour. I then overlaid the leather texture on top of the base colour (Fig. 12).
- The next step was to break up the base colours and add more of an aged look. I used a dirt texture and overlaid it on top of the leather texture, and then adjusted the opacity to about 50%.
- To add more details and to define the material a bit more, I created seams for the fabric. Seams were painted by using a small brush with hard edges. I used an almost white colour because it was to be overlaid on top of the dirt layer. After painting seams, I made shadows around those seams to give an impression of depth. For a more irregular look I added small highlights using a white, small brush with the layer set to Screen mode.
- I used a lighter red colour with a low opacity to paint highlights onto a new layer, where wrinkles were mostly evident (Fig. 13).
- With a dark red brush, new shadows were added onto a new layer and the mode was set to Soft light. Shadows usually help to define normal maps on small details, such as wrinkles and seams.
- Here, I faked some of the shadows where the buttons meet the jacket (Fig. 14).
For wear and tear on the clothing I made simple opacity maps. Black pixels are transparent, while white pixels are visible. I used the same technique for the birds' feathers and wheat leaves. This was a quick and efficient way of adding more details to simple polygons (Fig. 15).
Specular Maps define the material you are making, so it is very important how the specular behaves for certain materials. I used the colour texture as a base to create a Specular map. Because I had all the layers from the previous colour map, I was able to adjust each layer separately.
- All layers were now greyscale. On a new layer, I painted some white highlights with different brushes. The layer was set to Screen mode and most of the highlights were painted where the material was to be shiny. These were edges, some wrinkles, lumps and where lighting would hit the surface first, such as the nose, bottom lip, cheeks, knees, pockets, front of shoes, seams, etc. Note: for the cotton and wool the specular is almost black, because these surfaces usually have minimal specularity. The wet parts, like the stains and stitches, have small highlights to distinguish themselves from other materials.
- The second step was the actual material texture. I adjusted the brightness and contrast to get small details out of the leather texture, which was used from the colour map.
- The dirt texture was used to break up the uniform highlights. I also emphasised the shadows between clothing wrinkles, seam and button shadows (Fig. 16).
Round parts, such as the barrel and power plant, achieve much more realism if you highlight one side more than the other. This also helps in defining a round surface a lot more.Â
For metallic parts, I also highlighted edges between paint and rust, and darkened any leaking stains.
For lightning and rendering I used Max. First, I setup the scene and put all the elements together. The lighting was very simple: one yellow Spot light was positioned in the top left with casting shadows turned on. I used ray traced shadows and decay was set to inverse. A second blue Spot light was positioned on the right side. No shadows and decay was set to inverse. A dark blue Omni light, with low intensity, was positioned on the right side, behind character. Shadows and decay were set to inverse. The last light was a yellow Omni light which was positioned on the right side, below the character, with shadows turned on and with ray traced shadows and inverse decay (Fig. 17).Â
I used a simple blinn shader for every model - I filled the diffuse, specular level, opacity and bump slots. For each part I also played with the specular, colour and glossiness slider (Fig. 18).
For the barrel I used a falloff with fresnel reflection. A reflection mask was used under map 1 to get a slight falloff effect.
For rendering I used Mental Ray. Here are the settings I used (Fig. 19) It was rendered at high resolution so I had to render in passes, and so I used diffuse, lighting, specular and shadow passes. At this stage, I also created ambient occlusion for all the models. For easier compositing and rendering, I rendered each model separately. In the end, when all models had been rendered, I composited them in Photoshop.
Here is the simplified view on how the layers have been composited in Photoshop.
Blending modes in Photoshop
Specular: Overlay reduced opacity
Ambient Occlusion: Overlay
Fog: Hard Light reduced opacity
Fog effect: Screen
Faked back light: Soft light
I hope you learned some new things from this article. Thanks again to the 3DTotal team for this great opportunity! If you have any questions, please feel free to drop me a line . Here is the final image (Fig. 20).