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Making of 'The Joker'

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Date Added: 9th December 2009
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Texture painting seems to be the most time consuming part for me. I often rely on Photoshop and I use ZBrush for refining seams, using the Projection Master. Sometimes I use ZBrush to create what I call a "guide map", for those areas that are hard to recognise in Photoshop. For instance, when I'm texturing a face in Photoshop, it's quite difficult to say where exactly the textures for the lips or the eyes, or a certain wrinkle on the skin should be, and that's where the guide map may be useful. I know that there are several techniques for such problems, but this is the method that I'm comfortable with and I believe that, whatever workflow you like, as long as it gives you neat results and doesn't take too much time, then it's OK.

The face was one of the areas that I spent more time on and it was the only area for which I used photos for the texture painting. For the rest of the character I painted textures using different Photoshop techniques and, of course, lots of dirt masks and different brushes (Fig.05). 

Fig. 05

Lighting & Rendering

After I was finished with texture painting I exported all my textures as .tif files and I was then ready for the shading and rendering. One thing about importing .obj objects from ZBrush 3.1 to Maya is that, for some reason, it imports them with Visible in Reflections and Refractions turned off, so I had to turn them on for all the pieces before I started shading.

I used regular Maya blinn shaders for all my objects, except for the head. For the head I used a Mental Ray fast skin shader because it's so user friendly; it's great for skin shading and it's cheap in comparison to complex shading networks. I set the reflections to 0 for all the clothes, except for the gloves. For the gloves I took "sample info" and a "ramp texture", connected the "ramp" into the shader's reflection channel and turned the reflection blur on. Then I started bringing in textures (colour, bump, normal map, and specular colour) for each piece, one at the time.

Once I was satisfied with the shading for all my objects, I started to work on his hair. I used Joe Alter's Shave and Haircut for the hair, and I think it's the most user friendly hair plug-in for Maya - it works amazingly with Mental Ray (Fig.06)!

Fig. 06

Once the hair was finished I disabled it and took my source images directory and copied it somewhere else. I took all my textures and resized them to 512 by 512 so that I could set my lighting faster and at less expense. I turned final gathering on and started to set up my lights.

The major light that I used was a big poly plane on the right side. For this, I turned primary visibility off and assigned a lambert shader to it; I then mapped its incandescence with a ramp. I had a white area light on the right side and a greenish blue poly plane on the left side, both illuminating the head and the shoulder area. I used a spot light with some drop off for the back light. Once I was happy with the lighting I enabled the hair and replaced my resized source images directory with the original one that I copied earlier, thereby rendering the whole character (Fig.07 - 08).

Fig. 07

Fig. 08

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