Making Of 'Who is Spock?'
Here is my latest personal work "Who Is Spock". I wanted to make a Mr Spock of our day, so he could something like a simple astronaut, or even the original Mr Spock himself, who has come to pay us a visit from the future.
So... who is Spock?
Research and Concept
I started the work on Spock mostly for fun, after watching some of the great episodes of the original series of Star Trek. In the beginning I thought it would be just a great modeling practice subject
I searched all over the internet for references, but didn't found as much images as I expected to, so I thought that I should try a different approach. The best one that came to my mind was to bring Spock more into the present time. It seemed better to bring him to present then to make some Sci-Fi image or some retro image, as it would look like I was just copying the Spock from the TV series.
So I got some astronaut pictures from Google, and with the references of Spock I'd already gathered, I started modeling, bearing in mind that I was building my concept on the run (Fig.01). I usually build my concept as I'm modeling. Sometimes this works better, sometimes not, but it gets me to the modeling part more quickly, which is the part I like the most.
I started the modeling with a standard Silo base mesh, and imported it directly into ZBrush for refining. I like to work in ZBrush as soon as I have the chance, because it's so artistically friendly and lets me put in the base form in a very short amount of time (Fig.02).
This model was done in ZBrush 3.1 so I worked mostly with the Standard brush, the Clay brush, and the Move brush, to build the base form. Now that the new ZBrush 3.5 is out, I work with the same brushes, but I love the new refining brushes which I like to use from the beginning to the end of the project.
So, after I felt that my model was "in character" enough, I checked my topology to see if I could build the UVs. I found that it was better to do a fast retopo so that the model could be easy exported to 3ds Max without having a huge number of polys, so it would be easier to make the UVs (Fig.03).
I then exported the retopologized version of the model from ZBrush to Max, and built the UVs. It's very important to have good UVs for the face if you are planning to do a render where the face is the most important thing in the composition. I saved my UVs at a 4k resolution, so I could be sure that I would be able to capture enough detail on the normal map (Fig.04).
After the UVs were done I went back to ZBrush to refine the model and add the details. At this stage I also built the base mesh for the astronaut suit in Max so I could bring it into ZBrush along with the head and torso. Once I had all the elements in ZBrush, I could think about the final composition as I began adding details (Fig.05).
Now that I had all the props in the scene in ZBrush, I made some groups for the face and some for the clothes, so it would be easier to hide the parts I wasn't working on.
I started to add wrinkles on the face using the Standard brush along with two Alpha brushes I made myself, from two of the great bump maps from 3DTotal's V04:R2 - Total Textures "Humans & Creatures" DVD I've used those two textures on lots of models, especially for aged characters. They are great for adding wrinkles around the eyes and on the forehead (Fig.06).
For the details on the clothes I first painted the textures in Photoshop, and then came back to ZBrush, extracted an alpha texture from the color map - you can do this simply by going to Mask and selecting Mask By Intensity - and inflated the unmasked surfaces. I also added some stitches on the clothes with the ZBrush Stitch brush so I could have them on the normal map too, not just on the color and bump (Fig.07).
For the face and skin texture I started as I usually do, by creating a base layer. This time I used two 3DTotal skin textures, which were blended together and then I added a new layer to control the Hue/Saturation. This step is really good because it lets you easily change and preview the skin tone, before you get into the detail (Fig.08).
V02:R2 - Aged & Stressed
V04:R2 - Humans & Creatures
So, having the base layer done, I went back to ZBrush for another fun part: the polypainting. I like to mix polypainting with photo texturing, so I can constantly tweak both aspects.
I started the painting by adding some landmarks with row colors and then adding a smooth layer with the base color. After this step I exported the texture through Zapplink to Photoshop, where I used some photo reference textures to add detail to the most important parts of the face.
For the eye texture I used a texture called "Eye 07" from the V04:R2 - Total Textures "Humans & Creatures" DVD, which fitted the character really well. I've discovered lately that there is a great .PSD file on this 3DTotal CD called "Human Eye Maker", which is great as it has all the layers separated and they are easy to tweak (Fig.09).
When I did the astronaut costume, I decided to move away from the reference a bit by changing the color. An orange suit would be too common for Mr Spock, as everyone knows him for wearing blue. So I found some great textures on V02:R2 - Total Textures "Aged & Stressed that fitted perfectly on the base blue layer (Fig.10).
Starting from the Skin Color Texture I painted the necessary textures for the skin shader in Photoshop. As I was rendering with VRay, I had to have the color map, a reflection map, a sub surface scattering map (sss) and an additional bump map, to help the normal map generated with ZBrush (Fig.11).
You can see the skin shader settings in Fig.12.
Rendering & Lighting
For rendering I used VRay, and turned on Global Illumination. I also added an HDR image on the Environment map. You can see the setting of both in Fig.13.
For the lighting I did some render test. Some were just for the skin and some with the cloth beneath the astronaut costume, so I could see how each shader was affected.
The final light rig came out like this: I used three VRay planar lights as soft lights (or diffuse lights), then I added three targeted spot lights as key lights for better contrast and definition. I found that the eyes weren't getting enough light so I had to add a little spot light, which excluded the other objects in the scene, and just lit the eyes. It turned out to be a pretty complex light rig with lots of tweaks along the way, but it was effective for this scene. I'd probably do it much more simply today, but it was pretty ok for this scene (Fig.14).
I rendered just one color/light pass for this image and one occlusion pass. I also rendered the hair from the eyebrows on another pass, just to be sure that the renders wouldn't crash.
I composited everything in Photoshop and just added a few color correction layers before the final image was done (Fig.15).
And here is the final image (Fig.16)!
Firstly I must thank 3DTotal for the great textures CDs they've made, which helped me a lot in the process of creating this image. I hope you found this Making Of helpful and enjoyed reading it!