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The Making Of 'Open It'

By Yilu Hao (Kiteve)
Web: Open Site
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Date Added: 1st October 2014
Software used:
3ds Max

Lighting workflow

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.

The lighting set up for the scene

Lighting tip

Here's a tip. I put a light in a box to simulate the moonlight.

Simulating moonlight

The final lighting

This is the final lighting setup. The brightness is average, but shows all the detail well.

The final lighting set up

Texture material

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.

Creating the skin texture maps


I then used Mudbox to repair joints and mistakes in the texture map.

Repairing joints and mistakes in Mudbox

Texture highlights

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.

Some of the maps in my layers stack

Specular maps

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.

Adding color to the Specular map makes the result more vibrant


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.

Creating the hair using an ox brush and curves

After Effects

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.

Post-production in my piece – these are some of the layers

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.


Related links

Discover kiteve's blog for more
Check out kiteve's interview with 3dtotal
Need 3ds Max help? Try 3ds Max Projects

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