The render settings for V-Ray are shown below. Most of the settings are pretty standard, but I'd like to mention that I had to increase the Dynamic memory limit from the default number to 6000mb, since I was getting an error that pretty much froze the rendering process and I read that increasing this value to half of the RAM installed on your computer would solve it. And it did.
Render settings in the V-Ray tab
Render settings in the Indirect Illumination tab
Render settings in the Settings tab
Lastly, here's a screenshot of the V-Ray Render Elements I decided to use for the post-production phase, which is just a fancy name for render passes. This tutorial explains the steps to render each pass (element) and how to composite everything in Photoshop:
Compositing V-Ray Render Elements
I pretty much used the same workflow explained in the tutorial except for the fact that I didn't use the raw lighting and GI passes that need to be composited together with the diffuse filter pass in Photoshop. Instead I used the lighting and GI passes that come with the diffuse filter incorporated (VRayLighting and VRayGlobaIllumination). Also, instead of using VrayMtlID to render the color masks, I decided to complicate my life and assign separate object IDs to all the parts of my model and used VrayObjectID, which pretty much produces the same result.
Render settings in the Render Elements tab
And this brings us to the final phase, which is where you bring all the render passes together and try to make your final image as pretty as possible without going overboard (no lens flares, please!) The render passes are shown below.
The various render passes used in my final image
Compositing each pass
The first step in post-production was to composite each pass on top of each other, which was pretty simple as all the passes were added (Linear Dodge) except the AO pass, which was multiplied (Multiply). The only extra stuff that I added in Photoshop was the eye reflections and the glow on the neon sign.
Composting each of the passes on top of one another in Photoshop
The object ID masks were essential for selecting parts easily. For each part I made minor adjustments on areas like hue and saturation. And finally, I merged everything together and did some minor fixes here and there before I considered it done!
This personal project was a good challenge and a great way to learn new software and techniques. I am always surprised by the amount of resources out there that will help you along the way and I hope that I have made a small contribution with this Making Of article. As an afterthought, I realized I spent too much time researching, though, and sometimes the best way to learn is to just dive in and get your hands dirty. Thanks for reading this and feel free to write if you have any comments.
The front view of the final image
The back view of the final image
Visit Esteban Pacheco' website
MARI tips and tricks
UV Layout's website
Helpful Linear Workflow tutorial – 'The Whole Shebang!
Helpful rendering tutorial