Making Of 'The Odd Father'
This little how-to will follow my process of creating the "Oddfather". First off, let me explain that this was always meant to be a single render. This will differ from my process of how I would go about an animation. Since it is just one frame, I can spend all my time making it right. If it were an animation, I'd need to spend more time making the deformations and textures to render out as best they can.
OK, so let's start. The figure was rigged fairly well and posed, however, (Fig.01), there are several issues that were not worked out. Mainly, bad deformations. Bad deformations are OK and they were left "as is". In Lightwave I saved the pose as a endomorph (which basically means the pose was frozen in a position that could be brought into modeler). Note, this is different than saving a transposed model because that would remove all sub-patching and break up all the subpatches to hundreds of polygons and making it nearly impossible to correct deformations.
So, now the model is back in Lightwave, go to the new endomorph, (that has the posed figure). It is here were I take my time and touch up all the glitches in the pose. This includes: all the stretched buttons (Fig.02), the bad deformations at the arms (Fig.03) and the waist...even adding some muscle bulging in the arms and creases in the jacket and drooping the ends of the pants over the shoes (Fig.04).
Basically, I went over each bodypart and critique it and ask myself, "how it would look in a real pose?" Again, if this were a animation, of course I couldn't adjust every frame like this.
OK...so now i have a good looking single pose...now it's time to bring it into LW to render. My light on the character is a basic 3 point light set up (Fig.05). A key light to the front left. A fill to the right..and now a special note on the rim...if you look at the shot, the rim light (or the light coming from the back rear) wouldn't really exists in that scene.
There is no light source there (Fig.06). However, sometimes you can cheat this in the name of making a more dynamic render. The strong rim light really pops the figure out from the background. This is a technique I use in real life when i do corporate shots of CEO's in there offices.
The key and rim are pure white...helping me achieve the feeling of a raw lightbulb hanging from the ceiling. The fill is a little warm in color to add a bit of contrast. The background was some basic filling of light...again, i added a hard light on top to mimic a raw bulb. Which really pops the specular highlites of the tin ceiling. All lights are area lights, since nothing is more true to actual lights. Area lights give a beautiful look when rendered. I know it takes longer to render...but nothing is worse that spending a few weeks making something look perfect and only imaging how much nicer it would have looked if i just took the extra day or so to render the better lighting! While we're talking about taking the time to render things as nice as possible, I should mention this was rendered with radiosity on. I used fprime to render which really handles large complex files well. The only thing that wasn't rendered in fprime was the hair, since it is not supported. That was a straight LW render.
So now we have our raw render and it looks pretty good already (Fig.07). Our touch up work in modeler was worth the time! But there are still lots of little problem areas. These include some polygon glitches and pinches here and there. Now comes the real fun, adding all those extra details that would really polish this up. Let's start from the head down, here is a basic rundown...
Actually, the head looked pretty good straight from the render. I used sasquatch for the hair, but I wanted to add a bit more controlled variation. So I picked some darker grays and drew in some hairs. Heavier at the bottom and whiter as I moved up. The eyebrows needed a bit more attention. I always loved the look of bushy eyebrows on older men. Much like Martin Scorsese. You know the type, those long wirey eyebrows that just ooze expression. I mean, a good strong eyebrow just sells the emotion of the face. Especially if your model lends itself to it. So, I took a small hard edged brush and painted in some stray hairs as well as a few extra long ones at the ends. I also added a slight highlight to the water line that sits just above the bottom lid. I know you can model this, But I didn't really experiment with it until after I finished the model...and hey, that is the beauty of doing a single frame render. I created it by using a small, hard edge brush and followed right above the bottom lid. I purposely put a little movement into it so it didn't look mechanical (Fig.08).
I noticed when I did the first few pose tests, and I didn't have sub surface scattering on, some of the facial features looked a bit stronger. With an angry face, sometimes those stronger features add to the look. So I made a render without the SSS on and put it over the one with it. I then added a layer mask and with a low opacity, I painted in some of the mask and let the harder shadows seep in. Also to note, is the cigar. I added a slight orange and yellow "burn" ring where the ashes meet the outer wrapper (Fig.09).
Well, other than fixing some bad deformations, there wasn't much to fix due to our custom pose modeling. But here are a few corrections (Fig.10). Using a layer In PS filled with 50% opacity and set to overlay, I hand painted in highlights and low lights to create the pocket. I used the same technique to enhance some folds in the jacket. The biggest fix was the vest. The twisting of the body and natural UV problems made some less than desired wiggles to the pinstriping. So i re-rendered the vest again without the pinstripes and masked it in in photoshop. I then made a low res version and imported it into Illustrator. From there I drew new lines following the imaginary contour of the photo. From there I saved the lines as an illustrator document and opened it in photoshop and scaled it to size. I lowered the opacity a bit and multiplied it. With a layer mask, I trimmed the edges to fit perfectly.
hand to make it fit the actual DOF. I also added a grunge layer multiplied over the shoes, (Fig.11) since I thought they looked too clean. Using a wacom, I added some hard drawn scratches.
Well, I painted some off-white "blobs" over the cigar to simulate smoke (Fig.12). Then I took the smudge tool and created some nice whisps of smoke. Then i came back and erased some areas I though where too strong in opacity.
The ceiling had a sharp edge to it that I wanted to soften. To make a more organic edge, I drew a slightly wavy selection with the path tool, cloned the wall to fill in the part outside of the edge. I also added some more grunge to some areas of the walls. There was allot of green in the room, being such a fan of complimentary colors, I added a bit more red to the face and hands (Fig.13). This added a nice contrast to the green walls (since red is the complimentary color to green). It also lent to the feeling that he was so mad, he had a rush of blood to his head. Again, there is some artistic licensing in play here.
But most people wouldn't pick up the subtleties and I think It enhances the final look. The final touch was the overall color. I liked it, but it didn't look old. You know what I mean...ever see a movie and they show a flashback to the old times? They seem to have almost a sepia look to them. So with a bunch of different settings I settled on a yellow gold layer set to overlay at a lowered opacity (Fig.14). This gave me a rich warm feeling and that old time feeling i was looking for. At the same time, it sort of "blended" the colors to have a bit more harmony. Again, different pictures call for different effects.
The nice thing about Photoshop is that playing with layers is non-destructive. You can play with several layers and then go back and compare them all to each other...or shut them off again. To complete the look, I made a copy, flattened the image, and made it grey scale. I pulled the darks all the way up, so just the pure whites showed. I pumped up the highlights to get a nice sharp white, blurred that and put it on top of my color file and set it to screen. (You can erase areas that you don't want as strong) (Fig.15). If you need a stronger effect, you can duplicate the layer and it'll make the effect stronger. To me this gives it a nice cinematic feeling I was trying to achieve. Again, It's up to you! Have fun with it!!!
I hope this gave you all some insight. I would love to hear from you if you have any questions of comments. Happy rendering!!!