The fun part! What about some materials?
I personally love the process of creating materials. I don't really like the lighting process and I'm not very keen on the rigging-stuff. But I love materials! Choosing the right materials, you can even make a bad mesh look better. When I look back, I would not create the materials for "Lonely and left behind" the same way as I did it. I still like the orange parts, but I would certainly choose a different material for the rusted parts.
Anyway - Most of those materials are mixed procedural materials, that means the materials don't need any real bitmap textures, they work - well procedural! Also the objects don't need any mapping-coordinates, which also speeds up the whole process. The problem with procedurals is, that you can hardly define creative details within your texture, like single scratches or bumps. As I said earlier, I wanted to finish this model in a short amount of time, so I decided to create procedural materials.
I always work in the same way: I first create a clean base-material. For example, a fresnel reflecting orange material was used for the base-layer of the face.
Then the material is getting transformed into a "blend" material and a second material is inserted in slot 2. This time I would go for a slighlty brown shaded grey colour with a crusty surface. I wanted this poor old bot to look like he had been forgotten in his docking station, still starring at the sky where his ship disappeared. He's standing in the rain, getting covered with dust and dirt over the years.
So I created this dirt-crust layer and mixed both materials with some fine-tuned noise-maps (high contrast, high detail-level). I also used some glossy-reflections which looked great combined with the raindrops. It just gave the whole material a very greasy look. I often use simbiont materials as well (simbionts is a free-plugin and can be downloaded here: http://www.darksim.com/html/simbiont.html)
All of the materials were created in the same way. I first decided, which basic material the object is made of (for example: metal, plastic, rubber...) and created a clean version. Then I thought about how the material would probably behave when getting into contact with dirt and fluids. Afterwards dirt-layers were created and mixed into the clean materials.
The cables were really fun. I chose simple splines and ticked the box for automatic uv-coordinates. Then I played around with some bitmaps of black and white lines to create regular segments, differences in colours, reflection and bump-depth. It helpes a lot to make the textures visible in the viewports to adjust the tiling-value for the textures.. For some of the cables I chose a dark rubber-material as base-material, for others I chose a metal-look. Well - those are cables! Not a miracle, only cables.
The raindrops were also created using a scatter-compund object. Because I wanted those drops on the entire mesh, I selected every part of the model, grouped them and cloned the group. I hid the first group and then ungrouped the second one. I did this just to make sure that I don't accidentally create one part twice and forget to delete it afterwards, that would produce render-errors. Now I converted the whole selection into editably polys and ataached them to one object. Now I created a simple sphere (very low poly) and applied a water-material to it. Then I used the scatter-compound-object to scatter 2500 raindrops on the whole model, which were then randomly scaled, squashed and rotatet to alter the look of the individual raindrops. I know that the behaviour of the raindrops is not realistic! If you'd put a model under strong rain for a longer time, you wouldn't see any raindrops at all because the whole model would be covered with a thin layer of water. Also raindrops would normally run down a surface and create a trail - but first of all I didn't have the time to really think about how to solve this problem... secondly, I had decided earlier to create greasy surfaces and that actually made sense. Water doesn't run down greasy surfaces and create trails at the same time - only little drops. So that was fine.
Lighting the scene
The lighting for this scene was very simple.
I basically wanted a rainy, cloudy, dark atmosphere, on the other hand I wanted a clear direction for the light. It looked good to align the light with the rain, it created a harmonic look. I also decided that the viewing direction of the face would probably be the best direction fot the light and the rain to come from, so that issue was clear.
I placed a quite strong spotlight above the model and moved it slightly into the direction of the camera to avoid a perfect symmetrie of light and shadows. Two additional spots gave a little bit of "contra-light" which is helpful to avoid black shadows and to light the darker areas.
Then I made rough a light-sphere (also refered as light-dome) consisting of 24 omni-lights which are aligned in an almost spherical shape (I did not keep to the basic spherical shape here, I adjusted the position of the lights to simulate diffuse light coming from above, from the sides and reflected light from the ground!). They're all instances (except the upper lights) and have the same intensity and color. This way you can fake a global illumination for most of the "stand-alone-models". Some fine tuning on the shadow-paramteres gave the lighting some smooth shadows (Shadow-Map: Paramters-Rollout - Bias set to 0,01, mapsize set to 1024 and sampling rate set to 15).
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