Making Of 'The Cursed Pirate'
The Cursed Pirate was a project that required a lot of back and forth in terms of ideas and modelling. It started off with some doodles / thumbnail sketches on paper and ended up with a final render in Maya.
Sometimes I got lost in the look of the character, but my friends and teachers gave me some great feedback that really helped to keep me focused and on track as to how the final look would be. A lot of time and effort was spent mainly in the idea and concept creation stages.
The Cursed Pirate is a part of the scene "Death of a Spell". As you can see from Fig.00, two characters are present in this scene, but for the purpose of this Making Of, I'll be mainly focusing on the Cursed Pirate.
First I started to do a lot of scribbles. Thumbnails really helped me to see the shapes and forms on paper,
and sometimes I even grabbed ideas from wood patterns or patterns on natural rocks. Basically I let my mind wander. It was abstract to begin with, but as I started developing the initial concept it all started to come together.
This was my first sketch that came through it all, which I then scanned into my computer and started tweaking in Photoshop (Fig.01).
I now had a rough idea in my mind, but nothing was concrete. Nevertheless, I started doing some work with a rough base mesh in Maya, just to get a feel of how it would look in 3D (Fig.02).
The more I worked on the image, the more I realised that it wasn't exactly what I was going for. It struck me as being too cartoony and I wanted something much more believable. So I drew another sketch (Fig.03).
And then finally I came up with this (Fig.04).
Once the idea and the concept were set, I broke my character down into little fragments of ideas. This allowed me to stay focused on how he should look like in 3D and what the mood of his environment should be. This character breakdown can be seen in Fig.05.
The creation of this breakdown led to the scroll shown in Fig.06, which shows how my ideas and images gelled together and which gave me a better and more grounded mental image of what I wanted to achieve.
The ground work was more or less done at this stage, and I had a better picture of where I wanted to take my creation, so I created a couple of sculpts in ZBrush (Fig.07 - Fig.09).
In ZBrush, the brushes that I used most often for the sculpting were the Standard, Inflat (for fat), Magnify and Move (to position fat, drag it around and pinch to give definition to the crustacean parts more edge definition). The barnacles were created by using a circular alpha and using Drag Rect to draw them onto his body.
Polypainting was done to create a base texture for the creature and later on repainted in Photoshop to add more details (this will be explained in the later parts). The colours used were mainly greens, for a moss-like effect, and reds,to pop certain fleshy areas out. Hints of purple were added to give a feeling of decayed skin in water. Colour spray was used while polypainting to get a good amount of colour variation on his body (Fig.10 & Fig.11).
Sculpting the mesh in ZBrush caused the mesh to lose its edge flow so I went through a process of Retopology (Fig.12)
- I exported the lowest level mesh as an .obj
- I brought it into Maya, and then made new fresh edge loops that had a proper flow (I also did my best to keep it quads). Next I unwrapped the mesh and then re-imported the newly created mesh into ZBrush as a subtool of the higher sculpted mesh.
- I subdivided the new mesh with the same amount of subdivisions as the sculpted mesh.
- Now using the Project All function, I re-projected the new subdivided mesh on to the previously sculpted mesh.
Note: Although this process works, there are times when you could get artifacts on your new mesh. The solution to this is to store a Morph target first and then use the Morph brush to slowly correct the mesh distortions.
Now that I had the new mesh with its UV's, I extracted the textures and Normal Maps from ZBrush. The Normal Maps (Tangent Space) and Cavity Maps were created within ZBrush using the ZMapper plugin present in ZBrush 3.1
The textures from ZBrush had to be worked on in Photoshop to add more definition and details to certain areas.
I used a number of photo references and sometimes just hand painted the textures.
The skin texture (Fig.13) was created by using images from the web and some parts were also hand painted. The Cavity Map was overlayed on this to make the texture pop out more.
The Normal Map can be seen in Fig.14.
The Spec Map (Fig.15) was the key texture for this model as he was supposed to look slimy and wet. He also had to have drops of water rolling down on his face and body, so I really had to push the feeling of wetness. Tip: you could add a bit of blue to your spec map to give more realism.
The shader I used was a basic blinn which was attached to a ramp and which gave a bit of redness to areas of darkness (fake subsurface). I would have used a subsurface material, but using a blinn gave me a bit more freedom to make changes faster. I also wanted to have the renders done quickly and so I kept it simple.
For the base of the model, a similar approach was used. I focused mainly on the Spec Map to get a good moss-like texture.
My lighting setup for the image can be seen in Fig.16.
A Beauty (basic render), Occlusion and ZDepth pass were rendered in various passes and then combined in Photoshop. The Occlusion pass was multiplied with the Beauty pass and a lens blur filter was applied to the ZDepth pass.
The final model can be seen from different angles in Fig.17 - Fig.19.
I hope this Making Of was helpful to you, and could be of use in your own creations. You can check out my site at www.rohanoka.com for more images and past/recent work.