Making Of 'The Last Night'

Hi, and welcome to my first tutorial (ever). My name is Carsten Holtmann, and I'd like to show you a few things about my latest work "The Last Knight".

Software used: 3dsMax6, Brazil R/S, Zbrush, Photoshop

The first step is by far the most important one - Reference! As I chose to build a fantasy medieval knight, I had to find some good references for armour, swords and a character to suit this theme. So I started with a "Google" search for all this.

The Head

I used some pictures of Sean Connery as a reference for the character, because he played a knight and has the age and experience that I'd like to show in my picture. (By the way, I'm also a fan of his.)

After all, my knight has only a little likeness to Sean Connery, but this is ok, because I want to capture the general character and not Sir Sean Connery himself. (Ok, perhaps I don't quite have enough talent to capture an exact likeness, but I won't tell.)

I used Zbrush for modelling and textures. I won't go into all the details because there are plenty of good tutorials about Zbrush all over the net. and are great places to start! So, search the net if you want to know more. For mapping, I used Zbrush GUV tiles. I've taken screenshots of the textured model, so you can get an idea of the textures.

I don't use displacement maps, because Brazil does not support microdisplacement at rendertime. So, I export the level 3 mesh and import it into 3dsMax.

Character modelling/pose and the armour

As I'm a lazy guy, I simply use a posermodel with the pose that I like best, and import it into 3dsMax. (I don`t own CharacterStudio or anything else like that.)

Now, I have a good reference for scaling and adjusting the amour.

Then I start to model the armour bit by bit. I do this with polymeshmodelling. So, I build a lowpoly mesh and look carefully for the right mesh resolution. This is important for the celtic decoration, that will follow later. I add extra polys where I want to have some decoration on the armour. I give these polys another material ID so that I can easily select them later on.

For the ornaments, I use wingdings or dingbats. (These are truetype fonts.) They can be found all over the world wide web. I convert them in Photoshop to black/white Bitmaps and take them into 3dsMax as a texture.

In the material editor, I adjust a multi/sub material for the armour.
I use a Brazil Advanced material:

Base shader: Brazil default

Basic reflection control: Raytraced and activate glossiness 75%

I chose raytracing, because I used an enviroment sphere with a hdri texture for rendering. For more adjustments, please look at the images.

I select MAT ID 2 and attach an unwrap UVW modifier. Here, you can adjust the mapping per face, which is very handy in this case.

After mapping, I applied a meshsmooth modifier and set the render values to 2 and 1.0. I do these steps for all armour-parts with different textures and settings, to get a little more variation.

The Brazil skin shader

You can find a lot of Brazil tutorials regarding rendersettings, hdri/lighting, etc here at, and on the net, so I won't talk about that in this tutorial, but it's very hard to find some information about the skin shader. I'm not a professional character artist, so please don't expect me to know everything. But I will of course try to share all the important information that I do have:

To make it functional, select the skin and activate 2-sided in the base shader settings. In the Brazil luma server, enable sub-surface effects. Now select the object, that should have the skin shader material, assign the material and open the object properties. Look at the dimensions and keep them in mind. In the material editor, activate subdermal scattering and deep scattering. Under depth, enter the biggest dimension of the selected object. If you use false data here, you'll get wrong results. Also try to use an xform modifier to be sure that the scaling of all scene objects is right.

The build in bump mapping

The cell structure only works with an applied xyz to uvw mapping modifer, using map channel:1. So, if you want to use this feature then all your other texture mapping should use another map channel then 1. The other parameters need some tweaking, so take what looks good to you.

Specular effects

If you want to regulate oiliness and wetness with texturemaps, enter 0.0 and that's it. All further effects are done by your textures. I prefer this way, because you have more control.

Under specular, use a light blue colour. Disable the highlight shader, just choose "none". This will archive a more natural look of your skin shader.


To get good skin, you'll need a colour map, a diffusion map, a bump map, a sub-colour map and a oiliness/wetness map. No more tips here as you'll need to find your own way to get this working right. If you like to simulate bones or anything else, use an sss depthmap.

A tip for the light setup: If you use a Brazil arealight, you'll also need a light that affects specular. Brazil arealights do not affect specular at all!

Lighting the Scene

Nothing special here. I used two spotlights and 2 omni lights for general effect, and a skylight for gi/ambient light.


Because I modelled the hair in Zbrush, I used the smudge tool to make it look more fuzzy.

I add the background and adjust the brightness/contrast. Then I play with the saturation controls and do some colour-correction. Most of the time I work intuitively, but if it looks good, I'll keep it. The last step is to add some grain, just to get rid of the clean cg-look.

And here we are, at the end of my tutorial. I hope I have given you some useful information and I hope that you are not angry if you find that something is missing. (Ok, there is always something missing!)

Thank you for your time.

Carsten Holtmann

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