Creating a Photorealistic Chimp
- Collecting References
- Background Templates and Key Facial Zones
- Step 1. Creating the Initial Design
- Step 2. Dividing the Work Into Zones
- Step 3. Plotting Points in 3D Space with Rail Molds
- Step 4. Developing the Cage Further with Key Facial Zone Object Rails
- Step 5. Modeling Isolated Key Facial Zones
- Step 6. Connecting the Key Facial Zones Together
- Step 7. Creating the UV Map for Painting
- Step 8. Mixing Mediums for Texture Creation
- Step 9. Applying the Fur
- Step 10. Fur Combing
- Step 11. Fur Coloring, Shading, and Shadowing
This article will be explaining a few techniques that were used for my latest digital creation, a photo-realistic chimp named Pan. Pan evolved both on a personal development level and a Research and Development basis for the studio. He was primarily created to investigate the Sasquatch fur shader by Worley Laboratories, but also used to investigate various areas of production and the ever-increasing suit of tools from Newtek. Although the majority of what will be explained is unique to Lightwave itself a lot of what's outlined crosses over to many different 3D packages. Much of the investigation is based on method and approach, to look at things from a different angle.
When you are going to undertake recreation of any kind it pays to know the subject matter you are trying to emulate. Gathering the following types of information can be your most valuable asset:
Using real-world examples. If you collect as much reference material as possible, it's going to make the steps that follow a lot easier to understand. Real-world examples show a multitude of points you have to address with a photo-realistic project: proportion, texture subtleties, and the mass variety in fur patterns, of course. Pick the best of the bunch and make a collection of reference sheets like the one shown in Figure 1, highlighting key attributes can go a long way.
Studying real bone structures. If you can get your hands on skeletal reference materials, then all the better. I find this gives you an extra understanding of what actually drives everything. This can be especially useful when tackling something like the head. Take the skull in Figure 1, for example; it holds key measurements to proportion that prove to be one of the pinnacle factors in portraying believability. Although not to scale, it still gives you vital clues as to how things should sit in relationship to one another.
The Internet is a good source for reference material, not only for images, but general information about your subject. It makes good sense to have as much knowledge about your subject as possible. It can also be said that nothing beats a good book!
Figure 1 Examples of reference materials used to carry out the project.