Making Of 'Shadow Conscious'

Hi everybody, my name is Andrius Balčiūnas and I'm going to guide you through a process of making my image "Shadow Conscious".

This project was primarily done for learning reasons. I wanted to make a realistic (well, at least natural) looking human. First of all for references, I've collected a lot of pictures of girls on the net. Now, even though I didn't follow what I'm going to say, I think it's a good idea that you have all of the angles of one or more girl references and thousands of different girls to get a decent anatomical image in your conscious.

For modelling, I've used editable poly. I simply started from a box, added edges, cutting and etc. I think the most difficult things when modelling a character is, that it's not technical, but it's accuracy to a balance of proportion and beauty (if it's your aim of course).

Here is a little tip for modeling eyes. Never make hard edge where the eye iris begins, because this will give you bad shading later, when rendering.

Also when you make a sphere around the eye for the reflection, don't leave it as a simple sphere, you need to make a cornea. This will then give you a natural reflection.

I did cilia using hairfx but any hair system will do that. As you can see in the image, I've made splines to construct the basic form and then interpolated them. I've made some variations like random strands, length, curling and etc. If you wish to use alpha maps for individual settings that's even better. Later, I converted everything to mesh.

For the eyebrows, I've used the same technique. This time I experimented with the brows, because I wanted to make them mesh, but I believe it's better to make an alpha map for the eyebrows. Except if you need extreme closeup.

For the mouth, I've used bones to open it. For posing I used a biped with physique applied to it. I didn't mess with the physique settings too much, since I wasn't about to animate her. After that I converted her to a poly and started to tweak everything around.

For the hair I used ornatrix. This was the first time I used it (I guess that's obvious). Anyway it was quite fun I think, because I could easily paint hair right in the viewport, and instantly see the results.

Here is the result.

I also added a little hair onto her face. Here is the wire.

For painting the face texture, I begin with the colour tones. It's good to have it work at a small resolution at this stage, as I increase the resolution later. Using a tablet with pressure sensitivity and using different brushes I start to paint slight imperfections detailing everything

Here is a small tip: You can clone you colour texture a few time and make a slight colour hue variations on each duplicate, then using the eraser tool or masks, you can manipulate between them, this will give a natural look of capillary blood in the skin. I've added some noisy masks and here is what I've got.

On the eye texture, you need to have some good references, in order to see how it looks. If you have a camera you can take an image of your own eye. I've used a lot of the smudge tool here as well as using some noisy textures and gradients. There is a good tutorial written by Krishnamurti M. Costa (which is by the way here somewhere in the of how to make a realistic eye.

After I finished my textures, I began to piece everything together by added the dress and earrings. The dress was made using Simcloth for simulation and then I tweaked manually.

When it comes to lighting the scene, I started to play with the lights and also the rendering setup. I've put 3 photometric omni lights as you see in the image, then added the environmental sphere and a plane below to bounce the GI and to control the overall lighting colour. In the mental ray rendering section, I turned on Global Illumination and Final Gather.

I've started to configure my skin shader and tweak everything around. It's better to start to configure your skin shader without any textures applied as you will be able to see how the light scatters on the model. Here is the image without any textures.

For the eye reflection, I've used a fresnel type fallof map in reflection slot. The black colour was changed to a very dark grey. In the environment slot I put the HDRI image. Now, I know that the eyes look to reflective, but that was done intentionally so she would look like shes almost crying, naturally the reflections should be lowered.
Here are the materials settings, though note that they are going to differ depending on the scene size or other reasons.

You can now do the rest of textures. I've used the same texture just made it black and white and tweaked individually. For a bump I painted the lip wrinkles and added some noise around the eyes (improvising, you know...). For specular and reflection maps, I've changed the values to make it look more shiny around the eyes, ears, lips, nose and forehead.

Here is the finished model wire and the render

The hair was rendered separately with standard scanline and composed with the original render.

In the post process, I've done a bit of correcting on the hair and the shadow pass.
The facial hair were rendered as white on a black head, and the result you see were used as a mask on white layer, because you can then control transparency of those facial hairs if they look too strong. Same goes for the shadow pass layer.

For the background, I've just used a photo of my room. Actually there were a lot of background tests, but in the end this was most suitable to me.

In the end, I composed the background with the final model, made some post process like colour correction, leveling and etc. and then applied depth of field using a zdepth map.

Here is the final render.

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