With this technique I sculpted the final version of the character (Fig.05 - 06).
It was then time to apply some colour to the character, to inject a bit more life into him (Fig.07):
For the first step, and because it's always good to keep a global vision of the colours on the characters, I use the Polypaint function in ZBrush to define the main volumes and areas
I then use XNormal which is the best tool I've found so far to generate an occlusion and a normal map from a high density mesh. The occlusion you can see comes purely from XNormal. The only thing you have to take care of is keeping all the extremities in order to have the best diffusion of light. The normal map will then be generated from the high-res mesh to be applied on a mid-res object, simply to avoid a memory crash in Max
I usually use a couple of generic dirt maps to remove the uniformity of the colour
This is the kind of final map I come up with
Step 8 - 9
The render was done in Max with the amazing renderer, V-Ray (Fig.08 - 09):
The different pieces were imported separately into Max with several XRef Objects in order to save memory during the render (when you start to render a scene including high-res meshes, it's good to use some tricks to save memory, otherwise you're likely to encounter multiple crashes)
So for all the different pieces, I use mid-resolutions of the original ones, and on them I apply a Normal map without any displacement map (to save both time and memory)
I create three different V-Ray materials: for the skin, the gold and the rock. It's still better to use a V-Ray material when you use it as a renderer - you'll have better results
For the lighting set up, I used a basic "studio" one. First I create a "special background object" for the light bounces. I then put two big V-Ray lights on both sides and one on the top, but behind the character in order to create more bounces. I use different colours on the lights to change the ambience. It's up to you then to play with the intensity, if you want to
I turn on indirect illumination and play with the different parameters to get the result you can see in Fig.09
After some quick renders, I took them into Photoshop to make some minor saturation/colour tweaks. And that's it! You're free to see more work by me and to contact me for requests or more via my website: http://www.khalys.net.