For the head I used PolyPaint as a base, and I sculpted some extra details that I missed during the modeling. I jumped between ZBrush using Spotlight and Photoshop.
I already had the UVs of the head, so the details added after wouldn't change anything seriously. Anyway, when you export an OBJ, vertex color info is included and can be baked as diffuse in Xnormal.
Before I did the shaders, I knew that I wanted a cold palette for the armor to get an aquatic feeling from it. Even knowing that, I did some color tests in the Max viewport (Fig.17
Here you can see some configurations of the materials used (Fig.18
For scratched and weathered parts of the armor, I used some generic alphas with some other dirty textures.
Rendering in Max
Once I'd got the model ready, I created a lighting scheme. I used an HDRI
as a sky light and some extra lights on the sides for getting the outline. I also used a background (Fig.19
Here you can see the render configuration that I used (Fig.20
Compositing in Photoshop
For the composition, I worked with the final render with some extra layers (AO, ZDepth and Alpha)(Fig.21
I worked on the background so that it fit with the final render, adding atmosphere, adjusting levels and adding some lights. For a better understanding of the process, check out the breakdown in Fig.22
This character was really gratifying to make. You can always learn from a new project, but this one was a step further because I did some things that were new to me.
I hope you guys liked the tutorial, I know that my workflow may be a little bit chaotic at the beginning, but I just want to say that there are no exact rules during the creative process; the better way to do things is doing it your way!
Don't hesitate to email me if you've got questions.