Master MODO portraits: 'My Kiwi Friend'
3D Artist Bert Heynderickx - aka Alberto Ezzy - reveals the how to perfect the geometry of a female portrait using MODO from scanned models, as well as adding accessories and details
We previously looked at how to master a portrait of The Fisherman, with a 4-part tutorial series plus video overview of the process. We'll now go on to look at a female portrait, which I have titled, 'My Kiwi Friend'. Over the next few weeks, I will reveal key secrets and techniques for an unclamped lighting workflow in MODO, as well as tips and tricks for skin and hair shading. We will also look at how to get convincing-looking eyes on scanned models, and discuss how MARI fits into the 3D workflow. As with the previous set of tutorials, I am using an AMD FirePro™ W9000 for the workflow featured here, which I personally find very responsive and a pleasure to work with when dealing with high-res character creation.
In this tutorial, I will use the Sculpt Tools in MODO to clean up the scanned geometry and also to create folds in the cloth. The Retopology Tools will then be used to create the cloth and choker (necklace) geometry. So let's get started!
Step 1: Working with 2 different models
‘My Kiwi Friend' is the result of combining two separate scanned models from Ten24. On the left you can see the geometry of the head, which is made up of 4-sided polygons. On the right you can see the geometry of the body, which is made of 3-sided polygons. To connect the head to the body without a visible seam would be quite an undertaking, so I instead opt for a choker (necklace) as a clothing accessory to cover the transition between the two models. Being a big fan of Maori art as well, I also want to give her a few carvings on her earrings and choker.
Step 2: Check the geometry
Like most scanned models, the one I am using is wearing a cap to flatten the hair as much as possible. The wonderful people at Ten24 did a great job here, as the cap and remaining hair is barely visible. This means I will only have to apply a few subtle sculpting strokes.
The Sculpting Toolset in MODO has quite a few interesting and useful brushes. For this type of sculpting I will use the Smooth tool. I don't need to worry about the hair in the neck area as this won't be visible in the final shot.
Step 3: Smooth the skull
Before I start sculpting, I apply a Matcap Shader to the model. This gives you a different appearance of the model that is better suited for sculpting - although you can certainly use it while modelling, too. First of all, choose from the list of Matcap presets in the Preset Browser Palette. Then go to the Shader Tree and Add Layer > Special > Matcap Shader. Make sure it is placed above the Base Shader. You can then choose your preset in the Image dropdown list (please refer to my Pro Tips at end of this tutorial).
Next I sculpt with the Smooth tool in a very efficient 2 viewport setup.
Step 4: Make a skullcap for the new hair
Next I decide what part of the head will have hair. From a low-resolution version of the head, I select the part I was to cover, and copy it to a new Mesh Item. I then give it a new material - this will later on become a combination of Fur and Hair Material.
Step 5: Combine the 2 models
Let's now combine the 2 models and give ‘My Kiwi Friend' her eyes and lashes. First I select the head on the body to halfway down the neck, and delete that part. Next I select the inverted part - from halfway down the neck - on the bust, and delete that too.
I have to make sure that the part where the 2 models ‘meet' is an appropriate place for a choker (necklace) that will mask the transition.
Step 6: Eyes and lashes
The next task is to make the eyes. Human eyes are about 24mm in diameter. So I make 2 spheres of that size and position them. I also assign a Material to them by pressing ‘M' and assigning a unique name to the material.
The lashes represent only a small portion of the final image and take a disproportional amount of work, but they are a vital part of a convincing-looking character. After trying out different techniques, I simply end up placing, duplicating, rotating, and scaling them all manually, as I find that gives the most natural-looking result.
Step 7: Create a choker
For the choker, I start with a simple cylinder that's a little bit larger in diameter than the underlying neck, and delete the top and bottom polygons. Now for a neat trick: I go to the Topo Tab, choose Smooth and just click in the viewport. The band of polygons will ‘snap' to the underlying neck geometry and will follow its curve flawlessly. The only thing then left to do is to Thicken this, and add some Edge Loops so it will hold when converted to a Subdivision
Surface (hit the Tab key).
Step 8: The making of the Maori carvings
I first of all searched for images of 2 Maori carvings that I think look visually pleasing. These were then loaded into MODO as a Backdrop Item, as a reference to start modeling.
I usually start with a Primitive and use classic box-style modeling. I also try to use quads-only as much as I can, so the geometry will convert nicely into a Subdivision Surface. The last operation is to apply the Subdivision Surfaces smoothing to the model by pressing the Tab key.
Step 9: Retopologizing the dress
To create My Kiwi Friend's dress, I use a set of tools that are perfect for this kind of work: the Retopology tools. As the dress is quite tight-fitting, I can use the body as background geometry over which I then lay new polygons.
It is best to begin this task by placing some initial geometry using the Pen Tool while in Quads mode, as this is especially helpful when laying down strips of quadrangle polygons. I also use the Add Loop a lot to subdivide geometry and add extra detail. Once the basic contours are mapped out, you can activate the Topology Pen tool and begin to extend edges and adjust the geometry into the final surface.
Step 10: Sculpting cloth
With the geometry of the dress finished, I add folds by using MODO's Multi-Res Sculpting tool. There's a certain setup to follow: First, Multi-Res requires the Pixar Catmull-Clark Subdivision Surfaces geometry, so if your model has regular SubDs, then they must be converted to Pixar's Catmull-Clark subdivision surfaces. This can be accomplished by selecting all the SubD surfaces, pressing Tab to disable SubD mode, and then pressing Shift+Tab to apply Pixars Catmull-Clark SubDs.
Next, you need to enable the Multi-Res checkbox in the mesh item properties. Additionally, you can introduce some additional Subdivision levels using the Subdivision Level option. After these requirements are met, simply grab a sculpting tool, and you can begin to sculpt!
Pro tip: Free set of MatCap Shaders from 9b studios
Here we have another example of a great contribution to the fantastic MODO community. 9b studios offers a free set of MatCap materials for use in MODO 601 and higher.
Download a free trial of MODO
Discover more free tutorials for MODO from The Foundry
Find out more about the AMD FirePro™ W9000
See Part 1 of The Fisherman tutorial series: Perfect the geometry of a male head
See Part 2 of The Fisherman tutorial series: Learn to paint convincing image maps
See Part 3 of The Fisherman series: Perfect the Skin Material and the Shader Tree
See Part 4 (includes video) of The Fisherman series: Learn Lighting, Rendering & Post-Processing