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Making Of 'Barack'

By Patrick Harboun
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Date Added: 7th August 2009
Software used:
Photoshop, Maya, ZBrush

Since my goal was to create a single artwork, I could have cut some corners and simplified the whole texturing process by using techniques like camera mapping. However since I work as a character artist in a games studio, I also wanted to hone my skills in traditional UV texturing. As I was aiming for a realistic look, I had to use photo references as a base for the textures. Using Photoshop I matched several high-resolution photos of Obama from different angles, i.e.: from frontal to 3/4 to profile views.

The first thing I had to do was get rid of every shadow and every specular highlight on the photos, so that in the end I had a solid diffuse color map. To achieve this, I painted masks on Level and Hue/Saturation adjustment layers, and even performed a Select > Color Range and filled up a selection with a solid color (Fig.05).

363_tid_fig05.jpg
Fig. 05

The second task was to match the different photos using more Level and Hue/Saturation adjustment layers. To blend the photos into each other, I gave them each a layer mask that I painted to add or remove their visibility (Fig.06).

363_tid_fig06.jpg
Fig. 06

In order to make the whole fit to the UVs, I used Liquify and the stamp tool. Unfortunately finer details got lost in this process, so sometimes I had to use the Healing Brush to grab details from an intact zone to a blurry zone. At points like this it's important to respect that skin pores and wrinkles are quite different in the various areas of the face, i.e.: nose pores are not like forehead pores.
The next mission was to paint details and highlight areas like digital make-up. This was done especially around the mouth, eyes and the hairline.

Finally, I created a specular map and a bump map (Fig.07). The latter was used on top of the ZBrush displacement map, in order to reinforce the diffuse map and create the skin pores.

363_tid_fig07.jpg
Fig. 07

Once the textures were done, it was time to start some rendering in Maya. For lighting setups, I tend to follow the Occam's Razor principle and use as few lights as possible (Fig.08).

363_tid_fig08.jpg
Fig. 08

The right side of the image was deliberately kept darker to add a particular mood. I used an HDR image as an Image Based Lighting environment for my reflections. When adjusting the lights and reflections, I just had a basic lambert or blinn shader on the model (Fig.09). Once my lighting was set and I started working on the SSS skinshader, I tried not to tweak the lights anymore as that would unbalance all the shaders.

363_tid_fig09.jpg
Fig. 09



As you can see from Fig.10, I used Mental Ray's misss_fast_skin_shader with some reflection. I ended up not using any G.I. or Final Gathering, since they didn't provide noticeable results.

363_tid_fig10.jpg
Fig. 10

For the hair, I duplicated the head polygons where the hair would appear and applied Maya Hair.  You can see the settings I used in Fig.11.

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Fig. 11





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