Texturing and Shading
Since I just wanted a still image, I didn't waste time organizing the topology of the head and hair. After deleting my three lower subdivision levels, I created the UVs using the incredible UV Master in ZBrush. Then I decimated the meshes to export them into 3ds Max with a Cavity map for each mesh.
I was aiming for a handmade and stylized look for the face and hair, and in this instance used the Barontieri set of brushes. I tried to keep it fast and loose, making strokes and spots visible in the final texture (Fig.07). I then used an SSS2 V-Ray shader with the brown skin preset.
I wanted to create a contrast between the face and all the accessories, so I decided to texture and shade them in a more realistic way. For the jacket I used a VrayMtl shader with a wide falloff in the diffuse slot. I then placed my Diffuse map in each falloff slot. Using color correction in Photoshop I created a desaturated and brighter version of the Diffuse map, which I then put in the second slot. I customized the falloff curve to give the jacket a very soft look (Fig.08).
For the accessories I made some quick textures with color, brightness and contrast variations to create a more interesting look (Fig.09).
Lighting and Rendering
I wanted the lighting of the scene to accentuate the character's severe and harsh appearance, so I opted for something resembling candlelight rather than strong, harsh studio lighting. To create this I used a small light source with high directional values and gave it a slightly orange tint. I used a common three-point lighting set up for the character and then added one extra light for the background (Fig.10).
An HDRI map was added directly to the environment slot in the shaders to achieve the reflections. It's funny to think that I spent a lot of time doing the lighting, when it's actually very simple. Whilst setting up the lighting I was inspired by some of Rembrandt's portraits.
I always save most of the render passes and then select those that I consider useful. For this project I used a shadow, specular, reflection, AO, falloff, Z-Depth and wire color pass to allow more control. The reflection, specular and AO passes were mainly used for metallic objects. After adjusting the Levels and making some color corrections I added some volumetric lighting, vignetting and a bit of blur courtesy of the Z-Depth pass and Lens Blur filter in Photoshop. And with that, the image was finished.
This piece was an exercise and a way to find my own style. After receiving lots of nice comments from the CG community in different forums, I feel very encouraged to continue creating my own designs and ideas. I dedicate this image to all of the artists that have inspired me since I started learning CG, especially Marek Denko and Krishnamurti M. Costa (aka Antropus).