The goal of the project was to create a character similar to a certain actor, specifically Morgon Freeman. In addition, it was a task to practice texturing the head, do an anatomy study, and try to achieve the effect of realistic skin.
For the sculpt, I used ZBrush. The hair was made in XGen Maya.
The UV unfolding of the model was done in RizomUV. The baking of textures and the texturing itself were done entirely in Marmoset.
In my opinion, one of the most important stages is the selection and analysis of references. I would like to share a way that I have been using lately. I was taught to use it at an online sculpture school.
I start by finding refs of the actor I am making from multiple views (front, side, 3/4, back).
It is also very important to try to find the images in a certain time period so that he/she is the same age in most of the references, as age plays a big role.
After the general ref is found, I outline as many references as possible, dividing them into groups of muscles, fats, boney landmarks, and silhouettes. This makes it very easy to understand how shapes and their directions are formed. Moreover, it speeds up the production process as a whole.
Since we have outlined a lot of references, our work becomes much easier. I began sculpting all of my personal projects from spheres. This is how I try to keep my skills and knowledge in good shape. On work projects, of course, we have to use base mesh because of shorter and clearer deadlines.
First of all, I sculpt the silhouette and large shapes according to my prepared references. This stage is all about the planes of the face. This is one of the most important stages. The main thing here is to catch the silhouette that was drawn on the references. Again, since we did the silhouette sketches earlier, it makes this process smoother.
After the general planes/forms are sculpted, I delve into the anatomical forms where I sculpt the fat, muscles, and so on, beginning to work in more detail. This is where the anatomical sketch I did before helps me a lot. Then, after some work hours and some coffee, I get my model to a stage where I feel like I can start doing micro details.
The next step is to add micro details. I do it in layers as it gives me the possibility to increase or decrease intensity, make changes or completely remove them, so it is a very safe way to work. Small note here: layers are very memory intensive, so make sure you are constantly saving your work. Here are the brushes I used to do these details. I did the pores with the alpha, which I got from the school course.
This was my very first experience of creating hair through XGen in Maya. So to learn, I decided to go all the way and make a hairstyle in Xgen from scratch. It was also a challenge for me to create African hair because it needed a completely different approach than doing straight hair.
After experimenting with the settings, I came up with this result. In almost every modifier, I used a random function with various parameters. Also, for flying hair, I used the stray function with a percentage of 30. Here are the parameters I used.
For the beard and eyebrows, it was the same approach and a similar set of parameters.
I took the eyes from my very old project and repurposed them for this project.
These eyes consist of 2 meshes, one for the cornea and the second for the sclera. They are made of the same sphere, only Cornea has a small offset and a convex lens. Their UVs are made so that they overlap. This is done so that the normal map on Cornea corresponds to the capillaries on Sclera.
This is how they appear in the marmoset and the material configuration.
One of the tasks was to set up the project completely in Marmoset. I really love how the toolkit is implemented in this program. For most of my career, I was a 2D artist and drew in Photoshop, but for some reason, this program reminds me of Photoshop. It’s very convenient for me because all these layers are so similar and intuitive.
I decided to create the Albedo map in Marmoset just to hone my skills. I usually make a polypaint in Zbrush. I think that polypaint is a very convenient and simple thing to use.
There is nothing unusual in the process of drawing the albedo of the map itself-basically it is a lot of layers with colour correction and drawing lights. I used several more procedural layers with noise to achieve a similarity to the texture of Freeman’s skin.
I took the curvature map as the basis of the roughness map, lighted it through the levels layers and finished some places manually. For example, on the eyelids, the skin is more glossy due to the moisture of the eyes, and the nose and ears are more oily.
I decided to add some colour to the Spectral map. I chose a shade between green and blue. In my opinion, the highlights of this colour look great on dark skin tones.
I also wanted to tell you a little about subsurface scattering. I baked a thickness map for this, but Marsomet usually puts it in the scatter slot. I prefer to put it in the Transmission mask, as it seems to me that it gives dirty colors in the Scatter slot. And in Scatter, I use pure colors or textures that go with the skin material in the marmoset. (Marmoset actually has wonderful materials).
I didn’t spend much time texturing clothes and used ready-made materials from Marmoset, adding several occlusion and scratch generators to them.
In Marmoset, I always use Tone Mapping ACES. I find it always improves my picture. I have set up my own colour profile for each camera. I am also a fan of black and white photos and decided to make a profile for them.
Also, in the latest version of the Marmoset, the ability to add a film grain has been added. I couldn’t miss this opportunity! In my free time, I am fond of film photography, and this function completely suited me.
In general, this is all I wanted to tell you about my work. It was a very interesting project for me. I hope you enjoyed my story and you hope to be able to learn something interesting for yourself!