This image was created as a cover for a friend's magazine. The only guidelines I received from them was the phrase "Mother's Day” and the fact that it was the magazine's first anniversary; aside from that, they gave me complete creative freedom for the final image. Since it was a variety magazine and has a diverse range of readers, I wanted to create something that was appealing to men and women of different ages. I used birth as the main theme, which suited the given guidelines. I wanted a tender and peaceful image, so I went for a stylized pregnant female character in a fetal position, resembling a baby inside the womb, all in a cozy but ambiguous environment. I complemented that with flowing hair and clothes, so that it could be interpreted as if she is floating in water, the sky or outer space. After a quick and dirty sketch I was ready to move on to the 3D phase (Fig.01 – 02).
Modeling and Sculpting
I modeled a basic cartoony head in Maya and due to some time constraints I had to reuse a body base mesh from an old unfinished project (Fig.03). I did a very basic unwrap of the base mesh using the UV tools in Maya. Mudbox has awesome and very intuitive posing tools, but for this particular project, I felt more comfortable posing the character inside Maya, so I created a basic skeleton and did some quick skinning. I didn't care that much about joint weighting at this point because most of that was going to be fixed when sculpting so I exported the posed OBJ along with some clothes extracted from the body to Mudbox (Fig.04).
The first thing to do inside Mudbox was to define the topological axis to be able to sculpt with symmetry. From the beginning I knew I wanted a soft clay-sculpture look in the final image so almost all the sculpting was done using the Wax tool, while smoothing it constantly to clean rough areas. I started sculpting the mesh with two subdivisions, which was enough to define proportions and the basic face details. For areas like ears, nostrils and nails I had to subdivide the mesh up to level five to get nice smooth details, since I needed the final output render resolution pretty high and wanted to prevent any visible faceting on the final render (Fig.05 – 06).