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Master MODO portraits: Perfect the Skin Material and the Shader Tree

By Bert Heynderickx (aka Alberto Ezzy)
Web: Open Site
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Date Added: 30th October 2014
Software used:
MODO, Misc

1944_tid_amd-foundry-sponsor.jpg

Step 6: Skin Material - Lower Dermis Subsurface Color

The lower dermal area contains more blood vessels and is typically the layer that contributes the most red because of this. Choose Add Layer > Image Map > Load image. Select the Lower Dermis SSS Color map. Set its Effect to Custom Material Channels > Skin Material Channels > Lower Dermis Subsurface Color.

1944_tid_male_lowerdermis_sss.jpg
Next in line is the Lower Dermis SSS Color map

Step 7: Skin Material - Upper Dermis SSS Color

The upper dermal layer contains tissue for cushioning the epidermis, and also houses the nerve endings, hair follicles, sweat glands and blood vessels. Because of these constructs, the light scattered from here will be differently colored than the epidermal layer. Choose Add Layer > Image Map > Load image. Select the Upper Dermis SSS Color map. Set its Effect to Custom Material Channels > Skin Material Channels > Upper Dermis Subsurface Color.

1944_tid_male_upperdermis_sss.jpg
With 3 SSS Color maps, MODO has some serious scattering to do!

Step 8: Skin Material - spec amount

The uppermost layer of skin excretes an oil that produces a shiny, specular reflection on its surface. Depending on the amount on the skin, it becomes less or more shiny. To simulate this, let's load in the grayscale map that we painted in MARI. Choose Add Layer > Image Map > Load image. Select the Specular Amount map. Set its Effect to Custom Material Channels > Skin Material Channels > Oil Specular Amount.

As we don't want to overdo this effect and want just a very subtle amount, lower the opacity of this layer to 4%. I like to use this map also for Oil Reflection Amount and Oil Reflection Fresnel, both at a very low opacity of 5%.

1944_tid_male_spec-amount.jpg
He's in sunlight and a bit sweaty, but we don't want to overdo the shininess of the skin


1944_tid_male_reflection.jpg
Told you we'd get there!

Step 9: Skin Material - Roughness

The Roughness setting determines the size of the spread for both Specular and Blurry Reflections. Choose Add Layer > Image Map > Load image. Select the Specular Roughness Map. Set its Effect to Custom Material Channels > Skin Material Channels > Oil Roughness. I also lowered the opacity a bit, to about 70%.

1944_tid_male_roughness.jpg
The Roughness Map applied at 70%

Step 10: Now for the eyes, shirt and hat

The eyes get a material that is 100% transparent, 0% Diffuse, with a Reflection Amount of just 0.5%. The human cornea has a Refractive Index of 1.376, so we dial that in as well.

The shirt is a basic material setup with Diffuse Color, Bump and Diffuse Amount layers. The stains we painted in MARI are on a separate layer, set to Multiply at 80%.

The hat fabric has a Diffuse Color and Bump layer with a Gradient Incidence layer set to Multiply, which is a common setting with fabric materials. For the metal pieces I choose the Matte Silver material preset out of the fantastic and extensive library of material presets inside MODO.

1944_tid_male_other-textures.jpg
MODO has a great set of material presets

And this concludes the materials and textures part of our tutorial. In the next lesson, we'll take a look at lighting and rendering in MODO, as well as post work in Photoshop. Stay tuned! And if you've missed out any of the previous parts of this tutorial, be sure to check out Part 1 and Part 2 to get the full picture.

Top tip: The Normal Map is a special case

Make sure the Colorspace of the Normal Map is set to None. If it is set to Default (as all other images) you will get strange shading results (see screenshot).

1944_tid_male_normalmap_bad.jpg
Bad shading


1944_tid_male_normalmap_good.jpg
Good shading

Top tip: Bump Amplitude vs Camera Distance

2mm may seem high. For close-ups I would probably lower this Bump Amplitude amount, depending on the scene and lighting. But for a medium-distance shot, this seems to work as a good value!

See Part 1 of this tutorial series: Perfect the geometry of a male head
See Part 2 of this tutorial series: Learn to paint convincing image maps
Download a free trial of MODO
Discover more free tutorials for MODO from The Foundry
Find out more about the AMD FirePro™ W9000



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