Shading & Lighting
In Max I imported the lowest subdivision level from ZBrush(the retopologized mesh) already posed. I then applied to the mesh the "Skin+"Mental Ray material by HÃ¥kan Andersson that combines the "fast SSSskin" shader with the nice, glossy reflective capabilities of themia_material. Once I found the rightSSS values I started the lighting phase. The result I was looking for was realistic, but with some hint of an illustration. To achieve this result I used Area lights with some typical sci-fi colouring (Fig.12).
I firstly created a star background with a soft transition to a deep blue, almost black colour to the sides. This was done by searching Google for "starfield" images. I then added a central line coloured in orange that was going to represent a sort of portal through which Zenoth is appearing.Over the solid colour of the line I added several images of nebulae found on the internet, with different blending modes, to get the final glowing effect I wanted.
I placed the rendered image on top, adjusting Levels, Curvesand Colour Balance. Between the rendered image and the background I placed a blurred copy of it. I also painted some tendrils with special brushes, and then screened everything to have a "halo" effect behind the character (Fig.13).
The glowing "power ball" was a bit tricky to get. I started with some handpainted smoky strokes and then added several images fromstars and nebulae with different blending modes, creating the right layer mask for the fingers for each one. In the end, I used some really cool brushes created by "r0man-de" on DeviantArt.com, to get the tendrils the way I wanted, mixing them with some other handpainted tendrils just where I needed (Fig.14).
I hope you've enjoyed this project overview, thanks for taking the time to read it!
To see more by Federico Scarbini, check out ZBrush Character Sculpting