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Making of The Warrior Kangrinboq

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Date Added: 14th September 2016
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Step 7: Back to Z Land

Back in ZBrush I smoothed out the brush strokes on my original sketch, imported the new topology model, projected the details, refined the anatomy, and got the model ready to receive the skin detail. At this stage all the primary and secondary forms are in place, the only thing missing is the detail sculpted with alphas.

My seven division model still wasn't big enough to hold all the details I wanted; time to take advantage of the multi tiles. If you hit UV groups inside polygroups, ZBrush will group the model based on the tiles we created in 3ds Max. Splitting the model by groups allowed me to divide the model one more time. You need to remember to keep a copy of the SubTool before splitting. Now I had the polygon resolution needed to detail the model.

Naked guy's polygroups by UV tile

Step 8: Having fun

Detailing the model is one of the most enjoyable steps. First I like to drag some directional alphas to give a general Specular break. It's important to respect the direction when dragging alphas as the pores usually get stretched perpendicular to the skin compression direction. I use a combination of scanned alphas from SurfaceMimic and the classic skin brushes from ZBrushCentral. Different parts of the body have different kinds of pores and wrinkles so it is nonsense to drag the same generic skin alpha all over the place and call it done.

Tiny details make me happy

Step 9: The hard part

After sculpting details all over the body I was left with seams on the SubTools borders. To fix that I had to go back to the un-split SubTool and make a polygroup containing a section of the neck and a section of the body with the seam line in the middle. I projected the details of both the head and the body into the corrective fragment. After that I had the seam line in a single SubTool and was able to clean it by smoothing and re-dragging some alphas. Last thing to do was re-project the seamless fragment in both the head and the body models. I can't wait till the computers evolve so ZBrush will be able to handle one more division level.

It's confusing but it works, I promise!

Step 10: Battle with my inner blacksmith

After I dealt with the body, it was time to give some attention to the armor. No matter how much I know the model will look cooler after a Damage pass, it is always hard to destroy those beautiful hard edges, but destroy them I did and it felt great! Before I began with the damage I added an additional layer of ornaments to the metal and the leather. Done, now every piece will receive a 32 bits displacement map. Luckily I've just bought some additional RAM!

We all love details!

Step 11: Hair and fur

Yep I'm running out of cool headlines. Man, I hate going to the barber, but doing hair and fur is actually kind of cool! For this one I used Ornatrix and it runs so smoothly with V-Ray - it's like they were made to each other. I was generous on the hair-counts and still the hair the fastest.

I used two different workflows for hair. The beard started in ZBrush with FiberMesh - I love FiberMesh, it is fast and intuitive - the trick is how to get them out of ZBrush. I like to go in to the FiberMesh options under Preview and set the fast preview number to a drastically lower value but keeping it high enough to define the shape. This way when you go in the Export Curves option it will only export those visible ones and they can be used as guides in 3ds max.

A painted black and white map with faded borders helps to define where the hair should grow in the mesh and also to control length and thickness. This way the hair eases in to existence and eliminates that doll-hair look. For the fur I grew the guides directly in Ornatrix. No hair is born to be alone so clumping it to form meshes is the path to making it feel right. Ornatrix does an awesome job at it by letting you clump the final hair, as well as the guides.

Avoiding baldness

Step 12: Life in Technicolor

For the textures I like to do a sub-dermal diffuse that looks terrible by itself, but is a great base for the skin tone. I do it first, using the Normal brush with the default ZBrush veins alpha and some color variations respecting the skin natural color temperature. I started to paint the color tone over it, in this case blue, at a low intensity taking care not to cover the previous layer completely. I love to do this in layers so I save each step to do a final comp in Photoshop. On top of those layers I painted a darker version of the skin color in places where the tissue is under more tension. I also like to give some color variation between the light and dark areas using a noisy type of alpha, painting some pits, stains and other sorts of skin defects. The last thing I do is bake a cavity map and overlay it in Photoshop, this way the alpha sculpted detail becomes part of the diffuse and helps to give another layer of complexity to the skin.

For the armor a cool trick is to use different textures like rocks or concrete to achieve some color variation on the metals. The leather I did in a very simple manner by painting a lighter tone in the worn parts and overlaying the cavity in the end.

Under my skin

Step 13: The waiting business

My drug of choice is V-Ray and how I love it! There's not much I can say about it that Grant Warwick hasn't already (seriously look him up, the guy is awesome), but I'll give you some encouragement words:

- Don't be afraid of the linear workflow. The whole thing is a little confusing and the color picker goes bananas, but it's worth. Materials and lights make much more sense in linear gamma.
- Always use Fresnel in conjunction with the correct ior, ggx shading mode and if you want to be fancy use a falloff curve to control the glossiness.
- Almost anything worth rendering deserves a good map to give some variations in the glossiness.
- Metals don't have diffuse (or have little diffuse). Leave it black. What you paint as diffuse goes into the reflection channel.
- SSS2 doesn't work well with environment. If you are planning on using HDRi to light the scene, put it in a V-Ray light dome.
- A color correction node is a good way to control maps that go in the reflection and glossiness nodes.
- 32 bits displacements goes into V-Ray HDRi map that feeds a V-Ray displace-ment mod modifier.
- Play guitar while you wait for renders, it's good for you.

Kangrinboq hanging out in his ice cave

Step 14: The waiting is over

After the render it is just boring Photoshop post stuff. I used Curves too to make color correction, Lens Blur to do depth of field using a ZDepth map and Lens Correction to fake the chromatic aberration. I hope you have enjoyed this making of. Sorry for the bad jokes, but I tried to make up to you by packing it with as much useful information as I could and where I couldn't, at least point you in the right direction where I've found my own answers.


How do I look?

Are you messing with me?

Protein is good, look at my muscles

Last small stuff

Related links

To see more of Marcelo's work check out his website
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