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Making of 'Lady of Shalott'

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Date Added: 9th December 2009
Software used:

Materials & Shaders

There are different kinds of materials used in my works, including wood, metal, glass, plants, skin, and so on. What I needed to do was to make them look different. Fortunately, Maya is a great software containing many different kinds of shaders. I generally used Blind to do wood and rough metal; Phong for glass and water surfaces; Lambert for dry grass and cloth (Fig.29 - 30).

Fig. 29

Fig. 30

Someone once asked me how to connect Mental Ray Fast Skin shader, but everyone has their own way. In my own opinion, I think that it's best for controlling every parameter as best as I can. I therefore used about eight maps to control the more important parameters (such as Diffuse Colour, Epidermal Scatter Colour, Subdermal Scatter Colour, Primary Weight, Secondary Weight and so on). My own experience is that we can connect a Colour map to an overall colour or diffuse colour, but their effects have great differences. If there is some pure black in your colour map then you shouldn't connect it to overall colour, because if you do so then your final rendered image will have some pure black. In addition, the SSS effect of some places, like the ears, cannot be too high, that is not being too reddish, because a real man wouldn't be like that. Instead we need the feeling of skin to be somewhere between plastic and wax. My network and parameters can be seen in Fig.31 - 32.

Fig. 31

Fig. 32


I was then able to move onto testing my lighting, for which I used Mental Ray's IBL with an HDR picture and several lights, for this special purpose. Some were used to simulate the lighting of the original oil painting, some were for Global Illumination, some were for achieving higher details with negative intensity, and were used some for highlights. I also added a Spot light in the top, left corner of the whole picture, to create a beam of light. The purpose of this was so that I could make the whole scene more unified and hopeful. Because the beam of light was formed from Light Fog, in order to achieve more detail I overlaid a Noise layer onto the Light Fog.

Hair & Fur

I used Paint Effects to finish the character's eyebrows and eyelashes in Maya (you can also use textures to do this, of course). The character's hair however needed much more time. I extracted curves from the original NURBS patches to become the guide of the Maya plug-in, Shave And A Haircut, by Joe Alter. The hair had to be in harmony with the tone of the face, and also needed to be blowing in the wind (Fig.33).

Fig. 33

Matte Painting & Background Plants

Because this is not a matte painting tutorial, I won't say too much about this stage. I used a Maya plug-in, Xfrog V4.0, and a 2D texture plan technique, to create the woods. I must thank Xfrog here, because it makes enough details of 3D plants for matte painting, however I did spend a lot of time adjusting and testing this plug-in so that it would work better for me (Fig.34). (You can visit where there are many tutorials about Xfrog.)

Fig. 34


I rendered the image multipass, which allowed me to easily modify and control the passes. How many passes, and how to set the render passes, is different for other works. I rendered the character, clothing, boat, and water, separately. This cost a lot in time, but I was able to easily compose them this way. You can see some render passes in Fig.35.

Fig. 35


I put all the layers into Photoshop and made use of my skills to get them working better. For example, I used the Lens Flare to create an atmosphere, adjusted layers to correct colour, added a Noise effect, and so on (Fig.36 - 37).

Fig. 36
Fig. 37


I finally refined my picture even further, to make it better still, by adding more details to the grass, sharpening the picture, and so on.


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Readers Comments (Newest on Top)
Paul on Tue, 02 October 2012 2:09pm
I just saw the original painting only last week. This is extraordinarily good. You captured the mood and the colour of the painting beautifully.
Ali on Sat, 17 March 2012 1:02pm
the modeling is awesome
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