The helicopter pilots are a variation of the main character. Instead of giving the pilots a new face I tried to characterize them through the helmet itself. This way the viewer is driven to Charlie's Face and the pilots are forced to be secondary characters in the image (Fig.07).
The helicopter was a new challenge for me because I had never modeled something with that level of detail before. I started with a low poly proxy model, and in the first phase I followed a blueprint of a real chopper used in the Vietnam War: the Huey UH"1B. Then I placed the characters inside the model and rebuilt it around them, trying to create a realistic environment, where they could easily move around and reach every button. Thanks again to ZBrush I was able to try a lot of variations before choosing the one that actually suited Charlie and pilots (Fig.08).
After that I started to replace the proxy model with more detailed meshes. I also created a little in"scene library of UV mapped objects (such as buttons, bolts, screws, etc) to quickly insert where needed (Fig.09 - 10).
UV Mapping, Shading and Texturing
I treated the UV mapping and texturing phase as a pipeline exercise, working more than I should for a static image. I wanted to test my workflow with high res textures and multiple maps for the same character. I also wanted to apply an ambient occlusion bake directly in the diffuse texture to every mesh in the scene. To achieve this result I UV mapped every single object (everything but the screws), trying to create a map for each material, and keeping the maps separated (the helicopter exterior, helicopter interior, weapons and characters) (Fig.11 - 12).
Then I created a PSD file with the UV snapshot reference in it, and recorded some actions to save and overwrite automatically the maps (mostly diffuse, specular and normal) in order to speed up the testing phase (Fig.13 - 14).