UN­DER THE SKIN Crea­ture artist Do­minic Qwek demon­strates the steps needed to truly bring char­ac­ters to life, layer by layer Pub­lisher The Gnomon Work­shop Price £30 For­mat DVD/Down­load Web www.theg­nomon­work­

ImagineFX - - Contents -

Mak­ing skin look real in your pic­tures is a mat­ter of un­der­stand­ing light, and how it af­fects the sur­face of the skin. It’s a cre­ative chal­lenge for which 3D soft­ware is well-suited.

In this two-hour video, Do­minic Qwek re­veals his own process for de­tail­ing and ren­der­ing skin in 3D, al­though there are plenty of take-home points for 2D artists, too. Do­minic breaks his process into three dis­tinct stages, us­ing dif­fer­ent soft­ware in each.

The most time-con­sum­ing stage in­volves Do­minic tak­ing a ready-made crea­ture model into ZBrush and de­tail­ing the skin, metic­u­lously build­ing lay­ers of tiny pores, wrin­kles – any­thing that breaks up and scat­ters the light as it hits the skin’s sur­face. This, Do­minic ex­plains, is how you avoid the silkys­mooth ‘CG look’.

You’ll need to know ZBrush to keep up with what he’s do­ing, but you’ll deepen your knowl­edge of the roles var­i­ous brushes and al­phas play in cre­at­ing re­al­ism. The clos­est this process gets to tra­di­tional paint­ing is when Do­minic ap­plies tex­tures over the model. You’ll recog­nise many con­ven­tions of 2D paint­ing, such as us­ing red and blue to in­di­cate the blood and veins be­neath the skin.

The re­main­ing stages are eas­ier to get into. The ZBrush model goes into KeyShot, which is a spe­cialised but ac­ces­si­ble tool for light­ing and ren­der­ing 3D mod­els. The half-hour spent in KeyShot serves as an ap­pe­tiser if you’re new to the pro­gram, but you’ll need to ex­plore it on your own to ap­proach Do­minic’s re­sults.

The last stage in­volves Pho­to­shop, as Do­minic ap­plies scum­bled tex­tures that blend into the ren­der. He nar­rates the ac­tion with quiet author­ity, but tends to fo­cus on the 3D process in favour of the anatom­i­cal and painterly knowl­edge that in­forms his de­ci­sions. You’ll fin­ish the video with some un­der­stand­ing of skin, but far more of 3D soft­ware tech­niques.

From ZBrush sculpts (above) to fin­ish­ing off in Pho­to­shop (right), Do­minic Qwek’s got his skin in the game. Skin tex­tures start with a Poly­paint base layer in ZBrush.

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