Genius lightning and great scene setup
I used a pretty simple scheme for the lightning - a basic fill VRay light and two spot lights with attenuation, one for the rim light source and second for the key light. I also put some planes with self illumination material on - a method frequently used in the car scene setup (Fig.09).
In the reflection slot of the VRay environment I put an HDRI map. I didn't use any HDRI for the additional lightning - just a sky blue color with multiplier set to 0,8. I used an irradiance map with the high preset for the primary GI bounces and the light cash for the secondary - this combination works really well for static scenes. I put a dark to light blue gradient on the background and added a plane under the character with radial gradient on the material's opacity channel, so that the floor kind of faded away to the edges of the picture. I posed the character in ZBrush using transpose, directed the eyes so that they looked in the camera, added a book and the pince-nez to correspond with the sketch and add this arrogant kind of look I wanted to achieve.
Brilliant post effects
Whoa, I love this part of work - it means you're almost free from this voluntary labor you're putting yourself through and that you get to start another one to continue the suffering. Well this is also the part when the image truly comes to life!
For this particular character I didn't do so much post effect work. First I rendered the image in layers to have better control over the final output, then I combined them using different overlay types in Photoshop - this is where experimenting plays a great role. I cropped the image to make the composition more dramatic (the original render was a horizontal frame) and to get rid of free dull space, added some space at the top and the bottom of the picture.
I put some bokeh textures on the background so that it would support the image more, duplicated the bokeh layer and also added a few on top of the character, here and there, to blend him with the background better. I merged the layers with Franky together and added the inner glow effect, just a few pixels with a blue fill color - for the same purpose. Using the information of the ZDepth channel I blurred some parts of the image to give it some extra depth. I also added concrete texture on the floor plane.
Using simple soft Photoshop brush I added a few finishing touches - some extra highlights here and there. I rendered a separate hair and fur pass to add some hair on top of the character's head - not much, as I didn't want to ruin the lizard-type character style, but still something. I also duplicated the specular layer and added a little blur effect on it. I put some layers on top of the image, set them to color and filled them with some really bright color gradients to add vibrancy to the color, then set the fill of them to 10-30%.
Finally I placed some nice textures over the image to make it look little less digital, then merged the layers and sharpened the result (always sharpen the image in the end, especially if you prepare it for the web) - ready! You can compare the image before and after applying the post effects (Fig.10).
Thanks for taking your time to read this Making Of, I hope you liked it. Here's a final image (Fig.11). And one final piece of advice - take care of your brain as zombies are coming to get it! So sleep a lot and take a rest every hour or two when working at a computer so that it tastes really good and you won't have to feel ashamed! Good luck and bon appetite!
Fig.11 - Final Render