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Making Of 'Close-up Portrait'

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(Score 4.69 out of 5 after 80 Votes)
Date Added: 15th August 2011
Software used:

Apart from this, I created extra geometries to create the tear line and to improve the blending between the eyeball and the face. I also adjusted the eyelid to the shape of the eye for the different poses (Fig.25).

Fig. 25


Once I'd modeled the teeth I used photos to create the textures. For the shader, I made several tests to simulate a good translucency. Finally I used the SSS fast skin shader with this configuration (Fig.26).

Fig. 26

The reflection is in an extra pass. I made it with a blinn shader to compose later in Photoshop.


For the hair there were two stages: the generation and the shading.

Hair Generation

I made many tests to create the haircut that I wanted, and it was so painful. The best that I found was shave and haircut, using nurbs curves to create the hair (something like a loft, but with hairs). With this method I could control the style of the hairs.

For that, I selected two or more curves, created the hair and selected "Interpolate Guides". I created different hair systems for each style to give some variety. If you only create one, the result is very "smooth" (Fig.27).

Fig. 27

I created two different hairstyles and also a bald version (with the hairs from the skin texture. So I then had three different hairstyles to choose for each pose. In this image you can see the different systems used for each style (Fig.28).

Fig. 28

Once the systems were created, I ran a dynamic simulation to lay down the hairs in the final position.  I used a version of the geometry with smoothed ears to avoid problems with the dynamic simulation.

Hair Shading

For the shader, I used "shaders_p" hair system. I played with different shaders and this was the one that gave me best results. It can be downloaded here:

To use that shader instead of the shave and haircut one, you have to uncheck "OverrideGeomShader". Then you can apply the shader that you want to the hair system.

I made different shaders with little variation in the position of the specular and assigned these to the different hair systems. I then rendered the hairs in a different pass ready to be composited later in Photoshop.


I wanted to add fur to the face because the camera is so close to the face and I think this adds a lot of realism. I created different systems, each one with a different width, length and orientation. I used the Paint Fur Attributed tool to paint the baldness of each system.

I rendered in a separate layer, and composed in Photoshop with the blending mode set to Screen (Fig.29).

Fig. 29


I merged all the layers that I had previously rendered. Nothing special here; I just configured all the layers and passes in Photoshop.

Finally I added a layer of noise, a bit of blur and some chromatic aberration to try and reduce the CG appearance (Fig.30).

Fig. 30

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Readers Comments (Newest on Top)
Mouslim on Fri, 09 November 2012 7:13pm
David, Please make a dvd of it. Everybody will buy it
Alix on Sat, 11 February 2012 9:28am
I think adding noise to the final image was unnecessary. Awesome tutorial none the less, I learnt something!
Jeremy Schichtel on Wed, 19 October 2011 8:50pm
I was so glad to see this tutorial. My coworkers and I marveled at these images. You had lots of us second guessing if it was cg
Khanh Pham on Wed, 24 August 2011 2:49am
great tutorial. Thanks
Thomas on Fri, 19 August 2011 1:06pm
Incredible work man, just amazing. I would kill to see a video tutorial for something like this.
Mohammadyashar on Thu, 18 August 2011 5:33pm
stunning!! working with max's hair and fur is so painful. but you did it in the best way. I don't know what to do with a frizzle hair.
Nico on Thu, 18 August 2011 12:49pm
Nice work, but will have one problem with the teeth, they are not oriented in relation to the lips, I think. Bye Nico
David on Wed, 17 August 2011 11:02pm
Thank you very much, guys!
Esteban on Wed, 17 August 2011 5:15pm
Never mind my previous question about the cavity map... I just noticed that you used it as a specular map :)
Esteban on Wed, 17 August 2011 5:12pm
Thanks for the tutorial! I just have one question about it: how are you using the cavity map? As a bump map? I've always wondered how to get a nice bump map out of ZBrush...
MoteOne on Mon, 15 August 2011 7:38pm
Hey there, one of the most realistic renders i had ever seen in my live :D very nice
Munkybutt's Avatar
Pak3dark (Forums) on Mon, 15 August 2011 7:15pm
The boos The work is incredible, modeling, texturing, lighting and postpro ...... is total, I particularly liked the effect of facial hair and the detail of the eye, David is a work of 10, congratulations ...........and go to work ....jiji....
Vince on Mon, 15 August 2011 5:50pm
Love the images and tutorial...! Great inspiration for many artists out there no doubt! Keep it up ! Love your site too !
Luis F�bregas on Mon, 15 August 2011 1:06pm
Nice tutorial David, thanks for sharing.
Munkybutt's Avatar
Perversonality (Forums) on Mon, 15 August 2011 12:55pm
Love the attention to detail on this one, especially the facial hairs. Nice write-up too :)
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