It all started with this… an eyeball
After much tweaking and trial and error I managed to get it to look somewhat realistic. At this stage I decided to make a face to test it if it looked good and if I could actually use it on a project should I need to (unknowst to me at this point I had made a grave miscalculation on the size of the of the iris against the sclera the result was… terrifying and the whole thing had to be made again
This piece of nightmare was the first attempt at the face – I found an old model of mine so I decided to try and make some believable skin for it. While the technique worked as usual a small messup meant that only a 3rd of the detail showed.
Having redone the skin again I had all the detail this time showing – the issue is that it was showing in an even matter and parts with smoother skin looked dry and unnatural.
This is first render with the eyes lined up to the face with the skin being almost ready
Same model but I tried with a different lighting to see if the shapes looked good from all sides this was pretty much done for all steps
The skin bumps are finalized here and some more work on the eyes done
Eye lashes and brows are done (Phahaha – they’ll be redone a few times )
First attempt at coloring the skin – using the bump maps to mask different area and pores and such it was quick and easy yo make some realistic looking colors – but half of the details were removed.
Using magic I managed to bring the details and color back (I overlayed and blended the original greyscale 32k images over the low-res color map) – also to get rid of the plastic look I had to do two things – fist add a specular map (this will make some parts shiny and others more rough looking)
The second thing was to add translucency – that thing that makes your skin look pink and transparent when strong light hits it (mostly noticeable on the lips here)
Trying out all the addition under different lighting
Having the skin done I decided to have a go at making the hair. This a massive pain as making hair involves studying scalp anatomy and working with many different layers and groups to get to look good.
There were too many different styles tested out so I just put up the one that made it all the way to the end. There were software issues where the hair was not working properly – but I fixed that by importing the hair strands as verticies and using matcap textures for the specular and color maps with some bpr shaders for better shadows.
Looking at how the hair looks with different light
Adding some more details and loose/messy strands to make it more realistic.
Final render with the hair all done now and some make up added to the textures.
A mock up with a slightly altered expression and face shape of what I want it all to look like at the end – had some features slightly changed to make the character stand out more.
All set for final render – with some old pieces of armor
When making the final image I often start with a base light set up that isn’t too exciting but has the general idea of what I want it to look like in the end.
Then I make about 5 other images with different light set up and combine them in Photoshop – this gives great speed and flexibility when making the final image.
I also make a few images with alternate materials. In this case due to fact that I don’t have a PC as powerful as most companies, I could not simulate the microscopic clear hairs that come one’s face – so this material was blended in the image to fix that on a budge
An this is the final image. With all light setups merged and some overall lighting set up added. I decided to go with a movie like set up and added some color grading and small lens effects that sell the idea a bit better.
UNFORTUNATELY, this was all for nothing as at this stage I decided to do some anatomical changes to the face that would make a more detailed and realistic model. At this point I did several renders with a very exaggerated lighting rig so I can better read the overall shapes of the face to make sure they are working.
At this stage I decided to try out a different method for rendering the skin using the new model. After several attempts I ended up with one result that is more accurate in the manner that the skin is displayed (bottom) and one that is more realistic though slightly exaggerated (top). For my final image I decided to use the top.
For the armor piece I decided to repurpose an old design of mine.
I decided to remove the face-plate and then retexture my old model for this scene.
For my final composition I decided to have 20 renders of the same model with different lighting set up that I would later blend in Photoshop. This would allow me great flexibility, speed and control over lighting the character.