Making Of 'Starfleet Officer'
Hi, my name isÂ Anto Juricic,Â also known asÂ Grapix on various CG forumsÂ includingÂ theÂ 3DTotalÂ forum. I am going to talk about theÂ creation of my latest work "StarfleetÂ Officer" and what it takes to make such image.
At first I did not know what I was going to make and all I had was this interesting reference image I'd found on the internet (Fig.01), so I decided to try and use it in some way.
The first thing I did was set up a very primitive base mesh, which had enough volume for any kind of human bust. The easiest way for me to do this was to useÂ ZBrushÂ andÂ ZSpheres,Â which areÂ very easy to manipulate and it's almost like some kind automatic mesh generator.
After I'd drawn a few spheres, I converted them to polygons and from there it was only took a matter of minutesÂ to shape the existing geometry into something more human-like (Fig.02).
For that task I found using the Move brush in combination with a low pressure Smooth brush to be a best choice. If you like you can further develop your base mesh by exporting the mesh to software like Maya and adding few loops around the mouth area and eye sockets.
Also deleting polygons from theÂ bottom of your base mesh canÂ reallyÂ pay off later when you come toÂ divideÂ the model to a higher poly countÂ and it also leaves more room on the UV map for visible and more important parts of mesh (Fig.02).
If it's possible, I recommend using image plains to rough out basic proportions. The most important thing when sculpting is to gain good overallÂ proportions,Â along with solid primary and secondary shapes. The worst thing you can do is to rush too soon to higher levels inÂ ZBrushÂ and start adding wrinkles and pores without establishing good overall shapes.
After shaping the mesh to a form that closelyÂ resembled the look I was after, I started to make new and better optimized topology (Fig.03). Even though ZBrush has a great re-topology tool, I like using 3D-Coat for the task because it offers more control over the mesh.
Since the new mesh now had better topology it was ready for further sculpting. Fig.04 illustrates my sculpting progression through the levels.
As I mentioned before, patience is one of the key ingredients when sculpting. For sculpting surfaces like skin pores andÂ roughnessÂ of the skin, I used a Standard brush with the stroke set to Spray and alpha 25 or alpha 07 fromÂ the ZBrushÂ alpha palette. YouÂ don't reallyÂ need fancyÂ alphasÂ taken from photos to make a sculpt look close to real because the ZBrush alpha palette holds everything you need if you understand how the surface of skin should look.Â
A close up of the face can be seen in Fig.05.
Texturing & Rendering
Now it was time to transfer some of the fine details toÂ renderableÂ texture maps, as well to add some color to them. ZBrushÂ can generate great looking normal maps, which canÂ alsoÂ be used as templates for layering a color map inside PhotoshopÂ and that's how I did the color map for this image.
IÂ foundÂ some niceÂ photographicÂ references at 3d.skÂ and used them to cover the whole head with skin color insideÂ Photoshop. I then went back to ZBrush to cover up some visible stitching with a little help from the Projection Master.
I wanted to keep myÂ workflowÂ as simple as possible, so color and normal maps were enough. I decided to useÂ ModoÂ 401 for rendering because it's lighting fast and real time progressive rendering was just what I needed to set up a fast and good looking skinÂ shader (Fig.05).
The Scattering distance parameter is closely related to size of your model and that's why I've shown the size of my bust in Fig.05, so that you can see the height to scattering distance ratio.
For the lighting I used an HDR image, which comes withÂ ModoÂ 404, set to Environment and I did not use any additional lights. Note that an HDRI should not really be used alone, but IÂ chose to break this rule because in this case it worked well. If you are going to follow this workflow then please note that Global Illumination is your main light generator, along with an HDRI Environment, so don't hesitate to experiment with different HDR images.
At the end I decided to give him a Starfleet Officer's uniform because I felt like this would fit with his warrior-like scarred face and besides that I am great fan of Star Trek!
Here's the final image (Fig.07).