Hi, my name is Jaime Otegui and I work in the film industry. In this Making Of I will try to explain how I made this image, following the main steps of its creation process. I hope it will be useful for you.
I've worked in video games since the beginning of my career and that's why I'm used to low poly meshes and small tileable textures. Now I'm working on a 3D movie, which is why I wanted to explore high poly meshes and HD renders.
My goal with this image was to take a highly recognizable 2D character and bring him to life in 3D.
I really like Disney characters, so I thought Goofy was a good choice to achieve my goal. We have all been watching Disney characters since we were kids, so if something is wrong with a 3D approximation then you notice it quickly (Fig.01).
This is one of my favorite parts in the creation process: making something in 3D. It's very important to know everything about your character, environment, prop or whatever. I have a huge reference folder on my hard drive where I keep thousands of pictures, renders, videos and tutorials.
In the case of Goofy, I had one main reference, a render from the cover of the Kingdom Hearts video game (with Donald, Mickey and Goofy). I love the mood and the characters of this image. I also found some great, original Disney model sheets on the internet and although these were 2D, they helped me a lot with the shape of the character. Another source of inspiration was a sculpture of Goofy I found on the web; I think it might be in one of Disney's parks (Fig.02).
Whenever possible, I believe it's important to have the best model sheet or blueprint you can find in order to keep the proportion and shape of your model correct. Create a standard plane with the size of your image; this way you can project your reference image with no distortion. If you have front and side views in the same image, you can convert your plane to editable poly. Now move your edges, preserving your UVs (check Preserve UVs under the Edit Geometry tab) to isolate your front and side view. This way you can detach your side view polygon, rotate it 90 degrees and have a good reference plane to model.
I also like to give this reference plane a self illumination value of 100, then open this object's properties dialog, make it non-renderable, uncheck the Show Frozen in the gray box and freeze the plane. This way you can model without worrying about moving, rotating, selecting or scaling your reference (Fig.03).
Once the reference plane is sorted, it's important to work with real units, because the global illumination renderers work with standard units. So, if needed, you can scale your reference plane keeping its aspect ratio (uniform scale) to give your character a regular height (in my case about 1.90 meters).
Scene light rig:
At this stage I think it's also a good idea to have a few lights around your model. This light rig shouldn't be so fancy - you don't want to be waiting for big renders while modeling - but I think it's important to have an idea of how your model will look while modeling. There are lots a great tutorials about three point lighting on the web.