Render and Post-Production
The render was the toughest part. Everything was rendered at once, including the Depth of Field. I did it that way because there were too many elements interacting with each other, like the reflection of every tree on the armor, the reflection of the water and the DoF (which, by the way, when rendered together in the scene gives smoother transition between the planes). All these elements would be very difficult to put together in post-production without any undesired effects. To help me treat each element separately I rendered a color mask (Fig.11).
With the render of the entire scene and a mask separating the main elements like character, helmet, gun, water and trees, I could start the post-production. The first thing I did in Photoshop was to improve the lighting and raise the contrast, over-exposing the background and making the foreground darker. This way I could achieve a more mysterious and dramatic look to the scene (Fig.12).
I created an empty layer set to Overlay, which I put over the elements I want to improve, and painted gray tones into it to force the volumes. I also adjusted the highlights and dark areas of the character. After tweaking all the lights and volumes, it was time to adjust the colors. A gradient layer with desired tones set to overlay did the trick, and also made the top of the composition brighter (Fig.13).
I painted the fog in the background with custom brushes. With a solid brush I painted effects like the lens flare and the wide glow coming from the sky. This way I could add a foggier look (Fig.14). I couldn't get the desired wet look in 3D, so to made the armor look wet I used photos of drops of water and added a high pass filter to normalize the tones (Fig.15).
This guy was fun and challenging to make. I passed through a lot of technical barriers like render time, working with a very heavy scene, texturing issues and other little things that pushed me back.
I am satisfied with the result, and sometimes I joke with people saying "I couldn't finish this work before, because I had to wait for technology to evolve". This is not entirely untrue because my old computer couldn't handle the render!