The making of Bane

Modeler and former ZBrush instructor, Yoongkun Kim, introduces his step-by-step workflow used to create the Dark Knight's nemesis, Bane...

This is my personal project. After watching the movie The Dark Knight Rises, I really liked the Tom Hardy version of the character Bane. I also wanted to practice some skills I know but I haven't tried out yet. These days, it's not that hard to learn new skills by watching or reading tutorials, and many people think after watching the tutorials that they know the extent of the technique. I don't think that watching or reading is enough though, which is why I keep practicing and making new things. I hope people can learn something new in my tutorial and apply to their own works.

Concept in ZBrush

I think that making a plan and visualizing the initial concept is very important. So before I started modeling with clean meshes, I worked in ZBrush to develop aspects like the proportion and clothes for the concept. I feel more comfortable using ZBrush rather than drawing on paper or in Photoshop – which is why I do concept work in ZBrush. The main benefit to doing it in 3D is that I can change things very easily; also I can check the model from any camera angle.

In ZBrush, I used a basemesh, changed the proportion, and used the Mask Extraction, DynaMesh, ZRemesher, and shadowbox to add all the extra shapes. I didn't care about topology or fine details at this point because visualizing the shape, proportion and the things I need to make is the only focus in this step.

You can make any meshes very easily in ZBrush

You can make any meshes very easily in ZBrush

Modeling in Maya

After I finished the concept work in ZBrush, I exported the meshes to Maya for retopology work. Before I exported them out, I used the DecimationMaster plug-in in ZBrush to reduce the polygons but keep all the details. Then, I used them as a guide in Maya for retopology work. Now, I don't need to think or worry about proportion, I just take my time creating clean meshes for Bane.

Maya is not the only option for this step; you can use any 3D software you are familiar with. Creating clean and acceptable meshes are the main focus in this step.

For his shirt, I duplicated the mesh from the concept sculpting in ZBrush, and then used ZRemesher and projected some of the details, then fixed some of the edges in Maya. This step is slow and not easy for me, but taking some time to work on the base is very important for the rest of my working process.

I used the Modeling Toolkit, new in Maya 2014, for re-topology work

I used the Modeling Toolkit, new in Maya 2014, for re-topology work

Sculpting in ZBrush

This is one of my favorite steps in this project. After I finished the modeling work in Maya, I re-imported all the clean meshes into ZBrush then started to add details. I studied lots of reference images from the movies and Google images. At the beginning, I planned to use Marvelous Designer to create clothes because it is a really cool tool, and I wanted to learn how to use it, but I decided to sculpt in ZBrush by hand. I just wanted to practice sculpting more at this point.

For the fine details on the shirt, vest and pants, I used the Surface Noise tool in ZBrush, which is very useful for adding fine details. I used UV mode, where I unwrapped the model in ZBrush with the UVMaster, then applied an alpha image. At this point, I used a 16-bit displacement image from Surface Mimic. You can purchase highly defined Color, Normal and Displacement images from there which is really nice. When I used the Surface Noise tool, I added in a Layer in ZBrush so I could edit the intensity after I applied the Noise to the mesh.

I also added more stuff to the mesh using the IMM brush. I modeled in Maya then created an IMM brush in ZBrush, then just dragged the meshes to where I wanted to add them very easily.

The final Bane ZBrush sculpt

The final Bane ZBrush sculpt

Adding surface noise in ZBrush with an alpha image

Adding surface noise in ZBrush with an alpha image

Creating IMM brushes in Maya

Creating IMM brushes in Maya

UV Layout

When I'd finished the modeling and sculpting, it was time to unwrap the UVs. For the UV work, I used the Headus UVLayout most of the time. You can work in symmetry and it's really simple and easy to use. I installed the Maya plug-in for Headus too, so I can send meshes between these two applications.

When I unwrap the UV, I try to unwrap them noticeably, which means when other artists see the UVs, they should know which shell is which part of mesh. Then other artists can work in 3D mode and UV mode without any confusion.

Also, I used the Maya plug-in called UV deluxe which is really useful when you edit UVs in Maya. You can transfer UV tiles, match the size of UV shells, and so on. It saves you a lot of time when you work on UVs.

I organized UVs in other tiles, but I did not use multi UV tiles, instead, I used different materials for each of the UV tiles. I just moved to different tiles to see clearly.

Unwrapping UVs in Headus UVLayout, and then cleaning them in Maya

Unwrapping UVs in Headus UVLayout, and then cleaning them in Maya

Texturing in MARI

For the texturing, I used MARI. It's a really great tool for texturing, and I really enjoy the texturing stage when I work with it. In MARI, I worked with lots of layers with masks, color adjustment tools and procedure layers. I really love to work with layers because I can change everything whenever I want to change it, I can test with lots of color or blend modes or the size of procedure patterns. In MARI, you can try with lots of brushes, and also import any images to project onto your texture layer. I use lots of texture source images and alpha images. I also use alpha images a lot when I work with
mask layers.

The other benefit in MARI is that you can test shading with several shaders and lights. Create one type of shader, and then connect texture channels like Diffuse, Specular and Normal. This is good to check what the final look is going to be. The look is not going to show you exactly the right look in Maya with lots of render work, but it helps you to work on
the texture.

MARI is great for texturing in 3D or 2D mode. Also you can control layers to change all the details

MARI is great for texturing in 3D or 2D mode. Also you can control layers to change all the details

Bane shading with V-Ray in Maya

Back in Maya, It is time to work on shading my character. I used V-Ray for Maya for this project. I'm not good at shading or rendering, so I want to study this myself this time. I used V-Ray material for all the meshes except VRayFastSSS for his skin.

Before I added color to him, I tested the displacement and normal map first. I generated a displacement map in ZBrush as 32-bit map because it gives more details. Then I generated a normal map in ZBrush and created a normal map in Photoshop with the xNormal plug-in, then blended them together.

In V-Ray, as you can see in the image, I checked the displacement option in the Shape node, (I can control the displacement settings in there), and also with the 32-bit maps, I checked the Allow negative colors setting in the file node.

After I tested the render with the displacement and normal map, I added a specular map which was based on a diffuse map in MARI. For the specular, I turned on the Fresnel which is really important to get a physically realistic look. Then I added color texture, and tested it several times with small settings changes until I got what I wanted to see.

V-Ray displacement map test with 32-bit map and color test

V-Ray displacement map test with 32-bit map and color test

V-Ray render test with diffuse, specular, normal and displacement maps

V-Ray render test with diffuse, specular, normal and displacement maps

Posing

It was then time to pose him for the final image. I created a simple skeleton in Maya because his pose was not going to be dynamic. After I added joints, I edited skin weights on some parts to maintain the right volume and shape. After the weighting was done, I then set the camera angle for the final image. I chose a low angle to give him some
weight and power.

After I was happy with his pose and camera setup, I moved to the final render settings to render all the passes.

Creating a simple skeleton in Maya to pose the character

Creating a simple skeleton in Maya to pose the character

V-Ray rendering and post-production

To create the mood for Bane's final look, I needed to test the scene with different lighting settings.
I used a V-Ray Dome Light to fill a base ambient light, then I used several V-Ray Rect Lights for all the key, fill and rim lights. After I fixed the lighting settings, I added render elements in the render setting tab.

I wanted to composite in Photoshop with all the passes, so just in case, I rendered more with render elements then I needed. I rendered with 32-bit multichannel EXR format, and then I opened them in Photoshop so I could work with all the passes as a layer.

Then, I played with lots of color adjustment tools in Photoshop, and then added background color and textures to create the final look. And that's it! Thanks for reading my step-by-step tutorial for Bane.

Final lighting setup and V-Ray render elements (passes)

Final lighting setup and V-Ray render elements (passes)

Final compositing in Photoshop with all the render passes

Final compositing in Photoshop with all the render passes

Related links

Head over to Yoongkun Kim's website for more
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