At the end of the modeling phase I imported the model into 3ds Max, set up a very simple shader and started to throw some lights at it. It's a great way to see if there is any additional detail needed, if the surface curvature is right and if the reflections are working nicely.
3D Layout and Rendering
I used a combination of 3ds Max and V-Ray for the layout and rendering. The first important step was to match the camera and object positions. For this image that was done by eye. This was mainly because there wasn't much for camera matching software to work with. There are no three-edged corners and no planes, so this was the only option. Of course this wouldn't work if it was animated, but for a single still image, it was good enough.
I did know some of the parameters, like the camera focal length, which I typed in. I then tried to place the camera roughly in the right position in relation to the finger. I tweaked the finger orientation and rotated the segments to match the pose from the photo. To make this job easier, the finger segments had pivots aligned with the real pivot locations and were parented into a simple FK setup.
From this point onwards it was an iterative process; tweak the camera, tweak the fingers then tweak the camera again. When in this situation you will need to go through this process until the tweaks get smaller and smaller and it starts to look good. For a simple scene like this it shouldn't take that much time. Having the camera and fingers positioned, I created some simple geometry to represent the real hand and scalpel, and to provide some shadows and reflections on the CG fingers. It's all invisible to the camera, of course.
Simultaneously I was working on shaders, textures and lights. One shader worth mentioning is the carbon fiber material. I built it the way real carbon is made, with a base layer of carbon weave and strong bumps to bring out the fabric detail. There was also a shiny, reflective, clear coat on top, with another layer on the very top for the text and markings (Fig.03).
A happy accident happened when doing the test renders. I just used simple box mapping for the texture. As it turns out, if you resize and rotate the gizmo a bit, the texture placement actually looks very similar to real-life carbon fibre. It's one of the very, very few cases when UV seams and texture stretching are of any use (Fig.04).
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