Character Setup for Posing & Rendering
I used a biped and skin modifier to create a simple rig for the character so that I could pose it with ease (Fig.21 - basic rig and skinning). I carefully weighted the vertices so that the different parts wouldn't self intersect. With some planning and neat geometry you can get quite a nice range of movement without serious break-ups! I also added a few extra bones for protruding parts that weren't deformed naturally by body envelopes. One good idea is to create separate skin modifiers for separated items; this might speed up your rig a bit, too. Small parts like metal rings, plastic locks etc. were skinned. Larger accessories like grenades and the radio were linked to the closest bone.
I used a simple studio setup using a floor that had a transparent gradient which faded at the edges; this way it blended into the backdrop (Fig.22 - studio setup).
I used a physical sky shader to create the background colour gradient. Direct light was used to create the main light source. I added one area light that would be reflected in the eyes and metal parts. Skylight with an HDRi map on it was used to soften the key light's effect and to make the lighting a little more varied. I also added a few point light sources to create more interesting reflections and highlights.
The final image was composited and colour corrected in Photoshop; some sharpening was applied and a glow effect was created with an additional layer. No other post work was done (Fig.23 - colour correction).
I tried to make the colours more dynamic and impressive, so I first adjusted the contrast and brightness quite a lot, and then applied a curves layer to alter the colour palette towards a more yellow/green colour. I then de-saturated the image more to get a more monotonous and militaristic feel, and finally applied a photo filter to tone the image with a dull green colour (Fig.24 - end result).
Fig. 24 - End Result
I think the character ended up how I wanted it to be and I managed to achieve the resolution and precision in the close-up views of the character, without making the overall feel heavy or clumsy.
I hope you've enjoyed this making of!