Just posted this on Zbrushcentral and thought I'd post it here as well... Being a production artist at EA, I rarely get the opportunity/time to push one final image to completion. This is my second piece using render layers from Zbrush. My goal this time around was to focus on lighting and mood. Something that lacked in my first piece. Aaron Sims has been a huge inspiration for me over the years. He has a keen eye and is able to capture his ideas and imagination so vividly in his concepts. Also props out there to Vitaly Bulgarov and his wonderful tutorials on his workflow and process. I've learned a lot from these gentlemen and hoping to give back with insight on my project.
The idea of Marinus is the premise of a maiden who fell to her death into the ocean. Once she hit the bottom, she found a magical rune and was transformed. Now not living, nor dead, she has powers of oceanic creatures and has a symbiant jellyfish which provides protection and powers. Marinus is now on a mission to bring down BP for craping in the Gulf of New Mexico. (I just made the last part up. )
New Final Image Comp:
I took the old model and began further developing the silhouette and internal shapes. The hair felt a bit too afro so I tuned it to be more flowy and to portray an underwater vibe. Having read on the zbrushcentral regarding the DAM brush, I used that for cutting in detail into the model such as the open chest etc. It works great!
Once I felt the model was satisfactory, I began working on the final pose with Transpose Master. One tip is once you click TPoseMesh, export out that .obj. You can save out your neutral pose and any other pose for that matter and re-import them on top while activating layers. This allows you to evaluate multiple poses with the same tool and allows you to check deformations with your neutral pose (nothing has gotten too wonky and the volumes are correct). Another good practice is to always add a ground plane with posing. This will help plant the feet when posing and avoids that "floaty" feeling common to many models.
3. Zbrush Passes
I can't wait to play with the new Zbrush multi-pass exporting. This will help speed up the workflow tremendously.
Here are the passes I made:
1. Specular 1
2. Specular 2
3. Reflection (used very sparingly)
4. Xray (used for the jelly fish)
5. Jelly Bean (used for the jewel)
6. White (used for the shell suit)
7. Polypaint (kinda crappy, touched up in ps later)
9. Main light
10. Bounce light
12. Ocean Fog (pretty much inverse of the zdepth but at a different rate of depth)
A tip for this section is to use layer sets in Photoshop to your advantage. I would basically breakup the image based on material or elements. Once you have tuned a specific "receipe" for that material using different render layers and blend modes, you can use masking and the same layerset to buildup different areas of the same material properties.
4. Bringing it together with Photoshop
1.Previs of the final image. This is quick pass i did raw out of zbrush. With a quick lighting effect out of photoshop to get the basic idea.
2. Here I was focusing on the character and the jelly fish. Trying to get a sense of the lighting and the relationship/balance between the character and her "pet".
3. Added in elements of the background. Water noise effects using render difference clouds. Glow effects added to the jelly fish and the jewel.
4. Toned down some of the glow, adjusted the contrast on the character to make sure your eyes focused on her first. Added slight hue shift gradient to the top of the image.
There's a many great comp'ing tutorials out there. Lots especially with Gnomon. Aaron Sims has a couple there. Also there's a great one tutorial that's fairly new entitled, " The CG Surival Kit" by Jeremy Cook. It's mainly a world/prop tutorial... but the last chapter provides some really valuable information on how to create a great final image. ie. how not to overmodel. quick ways to get masks working for you etc.
I've hoped I shared something useful for you guys in this post. I finally got my Zbrush 4 activation today, so I'm off to play (ok maybe not right now, but as soon as the kids are alseep!) I am also teaching a 4-week online session entitled, "How to model a realistic highpoly bust" with the Rydan Workshop (www.therydanworkshop.com) next week. This session is free as they are currently in beta and are looking for students to try out their teaching environment. Contact them if you are interested. Thanks guys.