About the Clothes
Creating clothes is always my favorite part because it is a huge challenge. Their details influence an image in a huge way. I think well created, detailed clothes are half the success of any image.
In a close up view I don't advise using normal maps to create wrinkles - I don't think it looks very good when we see the shadow of a gap without a fabric hill. My wrinkle technique is very simple. Most artists want to avoid triangular surfaces but I dare to state they are necessary for creating realistic looking clothes. I don't like clothes with surfaces that are too smooth and where the wrinkles are only made of normal maps, but that's just my personal taste.
Of course, in some cases, I will also add tangent normal map textures to the materials of the cloth to enhance the wrinkle effect, but not in this case. My model technique is the following: I created - in this case - a simple female dress along the body surface. I then divided her cloth and jester king hat into different parts with different materials and I used multiple materials on each object. After that I unwrapped the parts of the clothes for creating UV maps. I didn't use only one huge baked/drawn texture map for the coat and hat. Instead of that I used small 512*512px, tileable, color and bump textures. I set their repeats to 25-30 and the map input to UV/flat. In this way it's much easier to set the right size for the weave of the fabric and in a close view the weave is much clearer and will follow the wrinkles of the cloth, making it much more realistic.
The last step was to give a bit of shine to some of the fabrics, for example: edges. I did this with the integrated textures blend option; I selected sphere blend and set its map input to reflection - it uses reflection vectors as the coordinates of the texture - and the 2D projections to Z,Z,off (Fig.04).
Fig. 04 - click to enlarge
Rigging and Posing
I basically chose a daydreamer pose for the character. I think this pose is expressive enough and I was trying to convey a believer who lives in her dreams.
Blender can offer some very easy and good ways of rigging a character. In this case I mixed the weight paint option (painting the weight with a brush) and weighting vertex groups. The weights of each vertex point or vertex point groups can be determined manually, so you can attach the vertex points to the proper bones very precisely (Fig.05).
Lights and Camera
The lights are very important to make details visible and besides that they also add to the ambience of an image. In this image I used four spotlights: two light yellow and two blue. Only one of the light yellow lamps cast a shadow and it had the most energy (1.200). I set the edges of the spotlights to very soft, just like the edge of the cast shadow. Beside the lights I turned on the ambient occlusion option.
After I set the lights, I moved onto the camera setting. I moved the camera far from the character and then zoomed in. The lens was set to 160 units (Fig.06).
Fig. 06 - click to enlarge
All post work was done in Photoshop, naturally. In general, I rendered the character with an alpha mask so that I could easily match the background behind the character in Photoshop.
The background was a pre-created, hand painted image and it was set behind the character.
The last step was to give lights to homogenize the whole image. For this I used the gradient ramp option; this step gives the main ambience to the image. As can be seen, I chose warm colors (Fig.07).
And that's all I can write about how I made this image.
Very Best Wishes!