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The Making Of Qunari

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Date Added: 19th December 2013
Software used:

Decimation Master

The final thing I did in ZBrush was to decimate my model for rendering, in order for Maya to be able to handle the polycount. With Decimation Master you can bring down the polycount of your model substantially without sacrificing detail. You can find this under your ZPlugin tab.

The menu tab for Decimation Master


Now we jump into Maya for light setup and rendering. I'll be using V-Ray for rendering but you can easily do something similar with any other render engine.

I'm only using a few lights to create the mood I'm going for. A nice feature of VRayLights is their ability to create light color based on temperature (degrees Kelvin). This gives the lights a nice feel and you don't have to worry too much about the color being wrong.

Settings for the V-Ray lights

Placing the lights

I'm basing my setup on a 3-point light setup, which usually consists of a Key, Fill and Backlight, but I've added a few extra lights for detail. The extra lights just serve as tiny bounce lights because I'm rendering without an environment. They also help to add a bit more color variation.

The color of the main lights shift between 3000 (yellow), to around 4200 (light-blue) degrees Kelvin.
On the extra lights, however, I go as low as 1500 (deep-red), and as high as 8000 (dark-blue) degrees Kelvin. I keep the Intensity multiplier very low on these lights to only add a subtle effect.

Placing the lights around the model


I always render with the VRayPhysicalCam just because it gives me real world options. So I try to stick to realistic apertures and shutter speeds. This is also important if you render things like motion blur and depth of field directly into the image. For this Image I just used depth of field.

I guess there are a lot of opinions about rendering effects like these directly into the picture, but the fact is, what you get is artifact-free. You might sacrifice a little rendering speed, but V-Ray is still pretty fast. This might not be ideal for everything, but in my experience nothing beats it for this kind of work.

For this particular setup I used a Focal length of about 70, which is great for portraits as it flattens the perspective a little. That way you avoid characters looking a bit like a fish.

V-Ray Camera settings used to capture Qunari

Depth of field

Here's a little trick to help you figure out the distance to an object in Maya for the depth of field. In the Display tab in the top bar you can enable Object Details, which gives you the distance to your currently selected object based on your current camera.

Calculating the depth of field using the Object Details tab


First of all, I used the V-Ray Frame Buffer, as it has a nice feature that allows you to preview your render with Gamma Correction. After previewing, I always try to work linearly when actually rendering out. Linear workflow is a massive subject and would be too big to cover in this Making Of. Simply put, working linearly will get you better results in terms of noise, if you change the Gamma in Color mapping from 1.0 to 2.2. This tells V-Ray to render as if you are going to gamma correct the image later to 2.2. The reason for working linearly is because it gives your light more depth and you can achieve realistic results much easier.

Along with that, I rendered using a combination of Brute Force and Light Cache. This combination works very well for animation, but for just rendering stills you might be better off using a mix of Irradiance Map and Light Cache.

I find that Brute Force and Light Cache produce a satisfying result without too much noise. If you do have noise problems you can try and up your samples in your light, as well as in your Brute Force subdivision.

Calculating the depth of field using the Object Details tab


After the render was complete, I exported the image as an EXR and composited it in NUKE. This is just to add the final touches to the image. I usually adjust the contrast and color balance a little.

Adding the final touches to the image

Final words

I think the best advice I can give is just to look at life and everything around you, and to use it as inspiration. I would also recommend practicing regularly, maybe even a fast sculpt every day, to improve your skills. I hope some of this was useful to you ? it was definitely a fun little project and I hope to do more of these raw textural sculpts in the future.

The final image

Related links

Check out Morten Frølich Jæger's website.
Download the Pores brush from ZBrushCentral.

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