Making Of 'Warrior' by Diego Rodríguez
This project started as a personal challenge, I wanted to apply everything that I learned throughout this year in a single work. I had in mind the idea of making a scene based on the fight between a warrior woman and a dragon, inspired in some role-playing games with a bit from both oriental and western design, so I worked on this idea holding tight to this concept.
Anyways as I progressed I started changing some parts and improving others as new ideas and I applied what I was just learning. I think its good to adapt oneself to changes and not clinging to an established idea. So I took pictures of a girl friend and based on the pictures I made some drafts, to adjust the idea of what I wanted to do.
I began with the girl's body, something I had never done before; a human figure of realistic proportions. So far I had read some tutorials about the best ways of constructing her, a basic study of edge loops and other concepts that helped a good deal.
Although at the end the body would totally covered by the armor, I thought it would be a good learning exercise from which I would benefit, as I can take advantage of the experience for future works and save time.
Hands and feet are of the most complicated parts one can stumble upon in my opinion. Because of the grid's complexity and the planning of polygon placement. As it would finally make easier the animation and just the fact of placing them in the most simple, efficient and accurate way.
The face was no doubt the most import part of the work, I focuses on modelling so that it didn't resulted in a typical stereotyped pretty girl most near to the fashion bridge than my project. So I decided she must have her own charm and character to fit the with the projects concept, and this is actually more personal than the result of a study.
The subject of character animation wasn't something really within my plans, as its something I haven't decided yet to learn, therefore the model hasn't be prepared for such process, as there are for example there are some triangles in the grid. I hope to start my next project with this in mind and make a setup for positioning and perhaps animation.
Once the body was finished, I started to model the armor pieces that would cover it, following the reference of some sketches I made, and in some parts just improvising and doing unexpected changes. As I made this in my free time between professional work, I had the time to think and made the adequate changes as I learned.
All the pieces and parts of the armor were modelled using the box modelling technique, starting with a plane and a basic shape, this way there wouldn't be hidden faces and there would less polygons and I would always reoccur to the Shell as a solution.
I decided that it was important to avoid too much detail at the model itself, as my ideas was to make the volume and detail through textures done by hand with Photoshop because I am not using programs like Zbrush or Mudbox
So for this the process was the following, I created a map with unwrap above the armor part I intented to texture, I saved this map and in a new scene I applied as a texture over a plane, then over this plane I model the shapes that will be later used as bump or displace map. Using GI and painting the maps and its different channels (diffuse,reflection, bump,etc) with Photoshop.
As you can see, the textures I created are very simple, something anyone with some knowledge on V-ray could achieve. Basically it was materials composed of 2 or 3 layers and the basic parameters of reflection, glossiness, and the other channel materials.
By having simple pieces, the unwrap fitted perfectly. The most tedious of this process comes when one has to unwrap a complex and weaved grid, it can sometimes ruin a work that took long time to make. Sometimes its better to simplify the grid and take advantage of good maps to give the detail.
This is the final result of this piece, a simple metallic piece with an opaque tone, which was what I was really wanted for this part.
Here follows a sample of the mapping and texturing process for the warrior girl boots.
More parts of the armor along with the final result.
For the lighting of this project, I decided to use Hdri, which would help me to create a surrounding light around the character, with different tonalities and somehow positioning it.
Hdri mostly backs-up the armor when dealing with reflections as it offers tonal variety and an almost touchable environment.
My choice of using Hdri was very important, as it must affect the materials in the way I want. I configured my materials in relation to this Hdri. If I changed Hdri I would for sure also have to change the materials.
The lighting was also composed of three additive lights, a main light that helps defining the frontal of the character and two backup lights that would give volume and shape to the armor. Thus giving more points of interest to the lighting.
Rendering and Post-Production
Arriving at this point, problems started.
The character's grid wasn't the problem, as the number of polygons wasn't difficult for Vray to handle, but it was difficult to manage those displacements.
The solution I found was rendering piece after piece after converting to proxy each of the elements composing the armor, at the same time rendering regions, besides this I had to look for the lights and shadows so they were correct. It took me very long taking into account that the render was originally planned for 3636x2654.
Finally I had to assemble the puzzle in Photoshop.
After assembling the puzzle, I started drawing the dragon, that should look like an entity. I also added as background a symbol I had previously made in Max. Having completed all the scene's elements, I worked with the Wacom using the airbrush and eraser to achieve the effect I wanted on the dragon, to which I added cold tonalities to stress the entity appearance. At the beginning I thought that a fire effect would be more interesting, but after listening some suggestions I chose a cold tone, later adding blue lights so the whitish tone of the dragon wouldn't be opaqued by the black background.
Regarding the hair, as it was Max hair y had to render separately, but before that I turned it to grid and rendered also that way, then I made some retouches on the render, getting the result you can see.
Now having the final scene made, I tweaked the scene's levels, I worked on the contrast,thus getting the definitive image.
Now I know that many things can be improved, I have learned a lot along the process, and that is the more satisfying aspect of it, to see the traversed path.
Thanks to all my friends for their support in this proyect, all those persons that were always there when I needed it giving the tips and advise that made this image possible. Here is the final image .