The Making Of 'Open It'
Kiteve explains some of the ideas and processes behind the creation of his incredibly detailed image, Open it
I am glad to be able to share my experience and thoughts on making the image Open It with you. The idea originally came from the spoof movie Meet The Spartans that shows a woman wearing a giant chastity belt. I used this interesting idea as a base to start developing my ideas.
To start, I read some books about medieval western clothing, to understand the cultural background and development history of the chastity belt. It also helped to look at a lot of medieval paintings about the chastity belt. From there, I began my image.
After I determined the content, working on the composition was particularly important. I tried many different versions, and finally created a sketch in Photoshop. After the sketch was determined, I then began production.
Making the model
I didn't worry about the characters and the posing at the very beginning, but looked up some of the adornment styles of the middle ages, and added them to the scene.
While constructing the scene, you need to find increasingly more specific roles, costumes, and props. Any reference to what is reasonable and correct will help; otherwise the picture won't look as convincing.
The main character
The first character model I made was a beautiful young woman. Then I noticed that it started to look a little too erotic for the scene I wanted to create, so I decided to create an old woman instead.
I gave the old woman an aura of having a prominent social position, and a lot of money. She has a lot of lovers and a lot of people who want to communicate with her.
Once the character model was made, I shot some references and took the time to refine it and get it right. I think the dress was the most difficult. I also took a long time to make the clothes, and went through a lot of trial and error to get it right.
The locksmith is a poor man. He really doesn't like the woman who employed him to open the lock. He's not a handsome man, and looks like he's always been bullied and belongs to the more vulnerable social groups. The woman looks very conceited in comparison – she has a very powerful kind of aura. This makes the picture very complex.
The contrast in the picture can also show a wonderful paradox. The woman needs freedom and the man needs money. The woman has a lot of money but is not free, and the man is free but too busy working for money. This contradiction makes it seem very interesting.
For lighting, I use the 3ds Max linear workflow. This is in order to obtain a more realistic effect, and makes it more convenient to adjust color in the final image. The linear workflow will give the whole picture more light and richer color information.
When adding a texture map to the Material Editor, manually change the gamma to 2.2 in the bitmap loader. Although they work in gamma 1.0 (linear space), digital cameras apply a total curve that adjusts the gamma to 2.2 to make the image appear more pleasing to the eye.
Unless you have advanced photography skills and you are working with RAW images, this is a helpful process for the average happy snapper. It means that, as you may have guessed, the texture map JPEG you took with your digital camera is already at gamma 2.2.
You need to specify the texture map to be 2.2 gamma on entry otherwise the image will be at gamma 4.4 and be over-bright because you have already told Autodesk 3ds Max to be at gamma 2.2 for both color selectors and the Material Editor. Please note: HDRI maps, bump maps, displacement maps and normal maps do not need to be changed to gamma 2.2.
Because the story takes place in the middle ages, the main light is a candle. I used a warm HDR map to make the whole picture better. It took me two plane lights for the main light source and some spot lights to make a complex environment.
Here's a tip. I put a light in a box to simulate the moonlight.
The final lighting
This is the final lighting setup. The brightness is average, but shows all the detail well.
I used Photoshop and Mudbox to make the texture map. Mudbox was used for positioning and repairing joints on the textures. On the model, I used a black line to draw the outline of key parts, such as the eyes, nose, and lip contours. I then adjusted the position of the photo contrast black line in Photoshop.
In creating the old woman, I couldn't find the right picture of ‘age'. So I made two texture maps: on the left is the skin of a young woman around 25 years old, and on the right is the skin of an older woman around age 70. I placed the old photo on the top, and changed the Opacity to 50% to create the right in-between age. In the absence of appropriate photos I'd recommend doing this.
I then used Mudbox to repair joints and mistakes in the texture map.
There are also some other things, like metal, glass, water, wood and paper in the scene. These things are generally fairly straightforward to apply, so I will not say too much here. The point is to control the highlights of each material and make the diffuse map simple and consistent.
I have an idea to share with you about making a Specular map. Foremost, put a colorful map on your Specular map – this allows a more beautiful rendering as a result.
I used the Hairtrix hair system to create the hair. It is one of the most commonly used plug-ins for 3ds Max. Hairfx and Ornatrix plug-ins are used effectively in combination with hair technology, and so have created the advantage of both plug-ins. The rendering speed is faster than 3ds Max's own hair system, and the Hairtrix brush can be directly used in production of a hairstyle in 3ds Max. The brush is very good – it can quickly shape a hairstyle.
It also supports FinalRender Stage 1 and other advanced rendering engines. Ornatrix also can import splines to create the hair guide. It provides a good solution when making complex styles such as braided hair.
Here, I made the top part of the hairstyle with an ox hair brush, and the lower part of the hair using a cut out model shape and extracted curves from it to complete the braid. The final effect is satisfactory.
Your choice in post-production and final effects, depends on your own ideas about the final look. I suggest you go to art galleries, look at paintings, watch movies, books and advertising photography to get some ideas.
After Effects II
Finally, as general guidance, I just want to say don't be discouraged if you're just starting out – as you practice and continue modeling, you'll slowly increase your new ideas and improve your piece. Thanks for reading about my production experience.