For the lighting I used Mental Ray's Daylight system (with HDRI), which was actually the first time I'd used it on an image of my own.
This is a trick I usually do to see where the shadows are falling off: just a grey shaded head rendered with the lights I want in my scene. The shadows were soft on the right part of the image and strong and sharp on the left - I thought they may have been a little too harsh, but then I realised that this might look good for achieving more realism in the final image (Fig.07).
I knew the hair would be difficult, but it was also one of the main reasons that I chose to make a realistic human. Since I love to make hair, I wanted to push my hair modelling skills forwards and learn how to make better hair. For this image, I used the Hair & Fur modifier to create it.
Before I actually made the hair on Medkova, I ran some tests on a different file using a ball full of hair. I wanted her hair to be spiky on the tips, just like her hair is in real life. After spending some time experimenting, I ended up with this hair with this colour (Fig.08).
Her hair has several layers; each layer was carefully brushed and modelled to look like her real hair (the long version), and I created a different hairstyle from her own, yet still one that would look great on her if she had such a haircut (Fig.09)!
Here is one of the earlier tests of hair on her head (Fig.10). It was starting to look good, but it needed more hair still, so I cranked up the hair count for the final render!
The final step was to render both elements (hair and head) on different renders and bring them both together for one final image. I rendered the hair and the hair's shadows in scanline, using a different lighting setup to what I had used for the model of the head, but which still resembled the sunlight system I had for Mental Ray (Fig.11).
The hair colour wasn't so good so I had to give it some colour correction in Photoshop (Fig.12).
And there it is: the final render (Fig.13)! Putting the hair and head together was one of the most difficult parts for me, since the hair's shadows tended to be quite strong in some areas. It took me sometime to manually erase some of them.
For the final image, I wanted a somewhat of a 'cold stare' expression from her. It's very subtle so it's not very direct. I think really subtle things help in bringing the realism along!
I hope you have enjoyed this making of, and perhaps have taken some useful info from it. Have a nice day and see you soon!