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Create stylized character scenes

By Germán Zamorano Córdoba
Web: Open Site
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Date Added: 22nd May 2015
Software used:
3ds Max, Photoshop, ZBrush

Background

As I planned to detail all the background objects in the image, I needed to know what parts will be visible from the camera. I modeled proxy meshes for the main objects, and placed them in the scene. After that, I set the camera and started the background modeling phase.

2029_tid_3.jpg
From general to particular

Rigging

I hate rigging and I didn't want to have a hard time with it, so I posed the biker using Biped. I only had to adjust it and weight all vertices.

The face was resolved using a few basic morphs. Since it was just for a static image I could keep it simple and there was no need for complex controls.

2029_tid_4.jpg
The rig and morphs for the biker character

Hair

I used the Hair & Fur plug-in for the hair. The mesh used to generate the hair was obtained from the head. I unwrapped that mesh and made UV's to paint textures that would help me control hair parameters such as density. I then created splines to use as a guide for the modifier to create the hair style I was looking for. Finally, for the eyelashes, I used a texture with opacity.

2029_tid_5.jpg
Hair created with 3ds Max's native Hair & Fur

Texturing and shading

I created baked occlusion maps for some parts of my character. Ambient Occlusion maps are a great way to give your texture that extra bit of depth. It can be used as reference when texturing, or it can be mixed with the texture itself to give more depth. Sometimes I use a gradient map in Photoshop to dye the occlusion. I tend to dye the occlusion on the skin with a reddish tint and I usually set the blend mode to Multiply.

For the skin, I used shellac material, blending the VRayFastSSS2 and VRayMtl materials to control the specular. This was particularly important to get the final aspect of skin.

As the gas station was abandoned a long time ago, I created textures by blending weathered decals and
scratched textures.

For the rocks, grass and plants, I dyed the textures using a color correction map to have more variation. The motorbike textures are 50% tiling textures.

2029_tid_6a.jpg
Character shading test


2029_tid_6b.jpg
The textures created for the biker character


2029_tid_6c.jpg
The motorbike textured and ready

Lighting and post-production

When everything was in place, I set the light. Nothing elaborate, just an HDRI and VRaySun. I then tweaked the shaders until I was happy with the result.

I separated the scene into two parts and made a render of each one: the character and the background. This was done mostly for flexibility as It allowed me to modify in sections.
I rendered different passes like beauty, specular, reflection, refraction, occlusion and Z-Depth.

Finally, I merged these passes in Photoshop, added the sky, painted in some final touches and modified some parameters like contrast, saturation, levels, curves and color correction to achieve the final result.

2029_tid_7a.jpg
Lighting test with grey material


2029_tid_7b.jpg
I split the scene into two parts, character and background


2029_tid_7c.jpg
The final image

Related links:

Take a look at more of Germán Córdoba's work on his site
Learn more about creating stylized characters in 3ds Max with our onsite tutorials
Want to expand your portfolio in 3ds Max? Try our tutorial books



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