Jack Zhang fashions a portrait of Liu Yifei (刘亦菲) for a CGChoice Award and a place in EXPOSE 5.
Two and half years ago I decided to switch from computer engineering to 3D animation. Ever since then, CGSociety became my second home. I grow up from there, learnt many of my skills and met many talented artists. I had four goals: make to the CGPortfolio front page, get into CGChoice Gallery, have my work printed in EXPOSÉ, and get to the top three in a CG Challenge. My recent work, ‘Flower Messenger,’ has made three of my dreams come true. I remember a morning, couple of months ago, when I found out that ‘Flower Messenger’ got placed on CGPortfolio front page, I was jumping and running in the house, with a joyful tear in my eyes.
Having ‘Flower Messenger’ printed in EXPOSÉ 5 has pushed me to a whole new level. It doesn’t only give me more recognition, but also allows me to re-evaluate my own abilities. Becoming a CGPortfolio featured artist will surely make my future a lot brighter. And one thing I now know for certain: if I work hard, anything can happen.
One of my colleagues suggested to me to make a portrait. I then set my target on Liu Yifei, a young Chinese actress. She is now quite famous in China, which makes it very easy to find tons of reference images on the Internet.
eventually found one image of her from a TV show. The level of details in her costume totally amazed me. So I decided to take use as my final reference.
I first started with the head, in Softimage|XSI, using around ten photos to check the resemblance from different angles. When I had about 80% resemblance, I used the final reference for facial detail adjusting.
I didn’t know much about ZBrush, so I just modeled the folds
on her dress.
The hair accessories are fun to see and also fun to make. I modeled two objects: a round shape and a sharp shape. After duplicating these a couple of times, I located their final position by rotoscoping.
Many people like her dress. Personally, I also believe that the quality of the dress pushes the image to a certain level. The making of the dress texture was in fact quite simple. What was hard was actually working out how to make it.
Due to the limited resolution of the reference images, I couldn’t generate most of the shapes of those details on her dress. After weeks of attempting different approaches, I still couldn’t get the resemblance.
That’s where the idea of “Flower Messenger” took place. Since her hair accessories are formed by dozens of flowers, why not make her dress the same as well? Her identity would then be more focused and clear. Maybe I could name her ‘The Goddess of Flowers’ or something like that.
So I found several flower patterns, using them as an alpha in Photoshop. Instead of creating bump maps, normal maps or displacement maps, I simply used Layer Effects in Photoshop to simulate the bump effect.
The result is surprisingly good.
Hair making is always fairly complicated. To reduce the amount of work and rendering time, I created only partial hair to cover what is visible to the camera.
For example, I used two ellipses as the base to generate some hair, and then placed them at the two ends of her hair bun. The center of her hair bun is covered by the hair accessories, so I didn’t have to worry about it too much.
I used mental ray for rendering. Several passes were rendered; a character pass, background pass, ambient occlusion pass, Z-depth pass, and couple of mask passes that helps me later on retouching.
The final compositing was done in Photoshop. I added a bloom on her dress and face, hand painted a few more hairs, corrected a few areas of her face and hands to cover the bad spot. After a day of retouching, I arrived at my final piece of the ‘Flower Messenger’.
My name is Jack (Qiang) Zhang and I am 26 years old. I came from a computer engineering background, and have been doing 3D for two and half years. I am currently working at the Electronic Arts Inc. Montreal studio as a modeler.
Beside my working title, I would like to be a digital sculptor and scenery creator. The road is long and I still have tons to learn. Yet I have the confidence to have more achievements in the not-far future.
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