Having all the UV shells unfolded and no overlapping helped me a lot. It allowed me to add details with repeatable patterns in Photoshop, especially for the dresses, and also gave me the chance to export various maps from ZBrush.
Usually I work this way (Fig.15):
Creation of different flat color islands following the UV snapshots in Photoshop
Application and deformation of clean patterns or textures
Dirt and scratches: with blending modes in Photoshop or using masks previously created in ZBrush (I used this method, for example, to isolate the chipped off paint in the helicopter)
Ambient Occlusion bake multiplied on top to add detail
Specular and Normal maps creation
I was testing V-Ray for Maya so I decided to try the V-Ray materials. Vrmtl shaders are really easy to set up in Maya and give good results in rendering. The only exception is maybe the fast SSS, which is good but not as good and flexible as the mental ray Fast Skin SSS (Fig.16).
I didn't want to animate Charlie, so the pose was the only thing that would help the viewer understand his attitude. After creating a fast rig (no extra controls, only joints) I tried to characterize him the best I could, experimenting with different poses. I wanted something exaggerated but still believable. Once I was satisfied with his pose I exported everything back to ZBrush for the finishing touches. I modeled his facial expression and fixed some interpenetration issues (Fig.17).
Lighting and Rendering
The final scene was pretty heavy so to avoid long‐lasting rendering, I tried to keep the light setup as simple as I could. I decided to use a V-Ray sun light, an HDR image to simulate the sky and a hidden V-Ray light inside the helicopter to brighten the pilots' area. I also used Global Illumination (irradiance map + light cache). The cloudy background of the final image was the same HDRi used for the render, retouched and color corrected (Fig.18).
Before rendering I set up some V-Ray render passes in order to have more opportunities to retouch and enhance the image in Photoshop. I also created two ambient occlusion passes: one with narrow shadows to catch small holes and details, and another with very wide shadows to give some more shading where needed.
In Photoshop I isolated five different parts: helicopter exterior, helicopter interior, Charlie, pilots and background choppers. I added contrast and details to every object using passes and textures from my library, and then I created some depth of field and fog with the ZDepth pass. Finally I created some vignetting and glowing effects (Fig.19).
That's all (Fig.20)! I hope you liked this Making Of, and if you have any further questions about the process feel free to drop me a line at
Thanks everybody for reading.