I modeled a simple jacket along the body's surface. I don't like to cut off body parts which will be covered with clothes and transform and use them as a coat, because it's much easier to create a new object. When you cut them off, the edges of the mesh are not always good enough to create proper wrinkles from. Most artists don't like triangular polygons in their models, but I find that there are certain cases when these polygons can enhance a wrinkled effect - they add a more realistic appearance.
I divided the coat and hat into different parts with different materials, using multiple materials on each object (Fig.06). I unwrapped the different parts to create the UV maps. I didn't use just one large baked/drawn texture map for the coat and hat; rather, I used small 512 by 512 pixel sized tileable color and bump textures. I set the repeats between 25 and 30 and the map's Input to UV/Flat. This way it was much easier to set the right size of the weave of the fabric. In a close-up view the weave is much more visible and clearer, so the weave needs to follow the wrinkles to make the clothing much more realistic-looking.
The last step was to give a slight shine to some of the fabrics, for example on the edges. I did this with integrated textures - the Blend option - by selecting the sphere blend and setting its map Input to Reflection. This method uses reflection vectors as the coordinates of the texture.
As the first step for the hair creation process I searched the internet for a simple, not too complex hairstyle/shape which would fit in with the Renaissance age. I decided upon a mid-length straight hairstyle.
My personal opinion about creating hair in Blender is that it's not yet a well resolved problem when compared with Cinema 4D or Maya, so for this reason I chose to use Nurbs to create the hair for my character (Fig.07). I hope this option will be improved in the next version of Blender. But for now, I can make hair in Blender by creating Nurbs strands around the head of the model, converting them into Mesh, and then unwrapping them for the UV map. With this character I added a color and mask textures to the strands (Fig.08). In other cases I would probably use Cinema 4D to create hair and convert it into Blender, but in this instance I chose the hard way.
Rigging & Posing
This is one of the best properties of Blender! There are some easy and logical ways to rig a model in Blender, but for this character I mixed the weight paint and weighting vertex group options. With the original character (see Fig.01) I tried to find a pose which expressed faith/hope in a better future (which is why I titled the image, "Believer"). I wanted to use the same pose again, to convey the same sense of hope and belief in the character (Fig.09 - 10). I've also seen something similar in an old Superman comic, where he's stood on a skyscraper and looking out into the horizon.
Lights serve to make the details visible and to give atmosphere to the image. For this portrait I used four point target spotlights, plus Ambient Occlusion. Only one light - the main light - casts shadows; I set its color to light yellow. The other lights were given medium and light blue colors. For the shadow I set shadow maps to dark blue and blurred them. I find that Ambient Occlusion plus three to four lights can produce a nice, realistic effect when working in Blender (Fig.11).
Of course, post-production work was done in Photoshop for this piece, the same as most other artists do. I rendered the character with an alpha mask so I could easily match the background behind the character in Photoshop.
The background was a premade hand painted image (by me) which was set behind the character. The last step in the post-production phase was to give homogenized lighting to the whole image. For this I used the gradient ramp option, giving the main atmosphere to the image, choosing to work with warm colors, as can be seen in the final image (Fig.12).
And that's about all I can write about this image. I hope you've enjoyed this insight into how Blender was used to create my Neo-Renaissance Girl. Thanks for reading!
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