Hair & Fur - The Gills
After finishing the sculpt, posing and texturing I exported a low resolution version of the model to use inside 3d Studio Max 2011, as the growth mesh for the gills.
Using Hair and Fur with a very simple instance node, I quickly managed to create the waving gills effect. After getting them with the density and styling I wanted, I then converted this hair into a single mesh to which I applied a Turbosmooth modifier (Fig.20 - 21).
For the render I used V-Ray 2.0. Since this was a very confined image, limited to the character and with no geometry in the environment, I exported a high res mesh with about 1.4 million polys. It wasn't the highest level of detail, but still managed to keep most of it and the remaining would easily be recovered with the displacement map in the bump channel.
For the lighting, I used a very simple light set with only three lights and a HDRI in the environment.
I find that HDRI lighting is very effective in projecting tonal variation and richness in the model. In this case I used an HDRI from openfootage.net, an amazing free site which provides lots of high quality material. I got a small, deep forest HDRI color corrected into blue tones, as well as a high res version of the same HDRI for reflections. Both loaded with VrayHDRI, to which I applied a Color Correct (a million times better than Color Correction) (Fig.22).
As for the lights, the main light was a plane V-Ray light with greenish tones, a Fill light of the same sort in blue and for the backlight a standard Omni with exponential decay also in green (Fig.23).