In preparation for the final image, the adjusted 3D base mesh was used extensively to find the best pose. Cloth studies were done based on lots of reference photos taken from a life model. This was done to study the movement of the robe and bandages. After understanding the movement and shapes of cloth it is easier to recreate it (Fig.09).
Creating the Final Image
The final image was started by choosing an earlier sketch which had a pose that was meaningful to the character. The chosen sketch was based on one of the 3D poses. Instead of choosing an action pose where he uses his lighting skill, I chose a more serene pose because it expressed his personality more. He doesn't really enjoy fighting or using his powers, he uses them only when necessary.
In his normal state he is a very serene man who is always deep in thought, and this pose expresses that serenity. The sketch was used as a starting point for the final image; since the tonal values in the sketch suggested the coloring of the cloth and not the lighting, the 3D model was used for experimenting with the lighting.
Some elements such as the crownpiece were modeled in 3D, instead of being adapted from the sketch; this was to emphasize their geometrical nature. The 3D render was used as guide for the painting and lighting process (Fig.10).
Since the entire final image was done at 600dpi I encountered some problems during rendering, Maya crashed repeatedly attempting to render in such high resolution. In the end the image was divided into smaller 4k renders and assembled in Photoshop.
The main lighting setup used only grayscale lights to indicate the tonal range of the image, then a second lighting setup was used to suggest the color of the lights. The main tonal value goes from up to down, but the color value goes across the image, yellow from the left side and blue from the right side (Fig.11).
These 3D elements were then pasted on top of the sketch. Besides that, many details on the sketch were replaced by sketches made for that specific detail, as you can see in Fig.12. Some elements such as the 3D hands and face completely replaced the sketch. At this stage the lighting was painted on the sketch using the 3D models as reference.
After the tonal values were in the ballpark, I began coloring the image using the Colorize brush and really saturated colors. In the end the lighting would be quite blue and desaturated and the cloths old, but it helped to start out with vibrant saturated colors and gradually wear them down during the creation of the image.
After the basic colors were laid down, it was time to apply some texture and detail. For this a lot of photos were gathered from the weirdest sources. A good example is the metal on the chest; the texture is a photo taken from a used tea egg. All the fabrics also used heavy photo detail. Sometimes it helps to put things out of scale; for the leather cap, photographs of worn leather close-ups were used. By using the pattern much bigger than it actually is, it will create a more textural worn effect (Fig.13).