I find fashion photography very good for lighting and posing references for character work, and have used it as reference in my own lighting. The lighting set up I made is fairly similar to standard 3-point lighting; the only difference is that I used 2 kick lights (one on each side), with variable strength, to give as much outline of the character as possible. I kept the key light and fill relatively dark to create a strong contrast with the strong kicks, but made sure there was a good range of tones to make the image interesting (Fig.09).
Rendering and Compositing
I like the flexibility of making as many tweaks as possible in Photoshop. So the rendering for this image consisted of many render passes; key light pass, kick light pass, reflections, ambient occlusion and material ID (Fig.10). Compositing this image was fairly straight forward, since it is simply a character on a background. I stacked up the key light pass and kick light pass in Photoshop with lighten overlay. I like to make separate render passes with different lighting so that I can adjust the strength of each light by blending layers within Photoshop. However, with many complex shaders and dense geometry, each pass still took a fairly long time to render, so I only made a key+fill light pass and a kick light pass to keep things simple. The ambient occlusion pass can really help bring the picture to life as it can help to create an effect similar to global illumination lighting. I usually layer the ambient occlusion pass on top with a linear burn, or colour burn, to a degree natural to the eye. It could also be used as a mask to decrease reflection levels in darker areas.
From my childhood memories I can remember watching Battle of the Planets after school, and as I grew up I thought about these characters, and they are now cooler than ever - amazed by their strong colours, bold designs and iconic silhouettes. So, I decided to create a character from the G-force team, choosing Tiny, simply because I think he's probably the last choice people would make out the 5 members, yet he has one of the most unique designs and forms. As references, I gathered whatever I could find on the Internet. Main references included cover illustrations by Alex Ross, and screen captures of the original TV show.
Although it wasn't intentional, the final image did carry a lot of influence in style from Alex Ross. This is my first image created with the intention of creating a complete detailed character model, and I think I did a fairly good job on it. Overall, I am very happy with the result, and will practice more work of this nature in the future. The techniques covered within this overview can be applied to any CG project, and I hope you will find my workflow helpful to your own projects. "Finally I would like to give my special thanks to Anthony Puttee, a fellow workmate who was kind enough to help me on skinning Tiny for posing. His enthusiasm was also a great motivation to me in finish the work. Cheers mate!"