The making of 'The Pussycat Dolls'

Modeling and texturing lead, Rao Rohit, breaks down the techniques he used in ZBrush and Maya to create his pop-band inspired image, The Pussycat Dolls...

I created this work for the Middle East Talent Awards competition, and won the 3D character-cartoon category. I wanted to make a colorful cartoon girl, and got my concept from the Pussycat Doll's music album. I was mostly inspired by their style and pose, but at the same time I didn't want it to look too sexy.

Modeling the face

I wanted to show a lot of detail, but at the same time look cute as well. To accomplish this, I started with the face and used my base mesh, exported it to ZBrush and sculpted fresh detail with the Clay and Move brushes.

Sculpting the face structure in ZBrush

Sculpting the face structure in ZBrush

Modeling the hair

Once I was happy with the face, I started to add the hair. I got this look by using EP curves and placed them in the direction I wanted the hair to flow, and then extruded it.

Placing curves and extruding them to create chunks of hair

Placing curves and extruding them to create chunks of hair

Modeling the clothes

Since the model was going to be rigged, I paid attention to the topology and tried to keep the mesh light and clean. I didn't want to disrupt the mesh on the dress and the body. To keep the same topology for the dress, I selected the faces of the body and duplicated them.

Duplicating the body mesh to create clothing

Duplicating the body mesh to create clothing

Final topology

This is the final topology for the model.

The final topology for the mesh

The final topology for the mesh

UVs and texturing

To create convincing texturing, you just need to know where to place your UV seams. It is usually best to place seams where real clothing has seams. For instance, a shirt is made up of panels of cloth sewn together.

I use Road Kill to help with this. Road Kill Professional is a plug-in for Maya that automatically lays out UV co-ordinates and minimizes distortion in just a few clicks.

I painted textures in Photoshop and ZBrush, and used real denim texture for cloth. I also created a separate stitch layer above the denim so that it looked more prominent.

The UVs for the model

The UVs for the model

Rigging and pose

The rigging was done by my friend Alaa Aldeen Afifah. He animated this character with different cloth outfits which I made for his short:

For the pose, I tried to get the classic S pose in my model.

Creating the ‘S

Creating the S pose

Materials and lighting

The lighting and rendering of this work was done with mental ray in Maya, and all material shaders are either Mia architecture or the mental ray Fast Skin shader. I used the 3-point lighting setup.

The lighting set up for the scene

The lighting set up for the scene

Render passes

I rendered out various passes.

Various render passes for my final scene

Various render passes for my final scene

Compositing the final image

These render passes were then taken into Photoshop and composited together, and as I didn't have many passes, this was quite easy. I then did a few color adjustments, and tweaked the contrast among other things, to complete the image.

The final scene

The Final Scene

Related links

Discover more about Rao Rohit over on his website

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