Managed to put in some solid time over the past couple weeks to finish this one off. I'm actually really happy with how this one turned out. I definitely feel I've improved a lot in a few areas. Always learning though, never 100% satisfied, but great to call another image done.

Sculpting and poly-painting in Zbrush, modelling, shaders in 3dsmax and rendered in Vray. Post production in Photoshop

Things I like
I think the number one thing I like most about this project is the rendering and lighting. I went for a brighter image and used HDRI image based lighting. Definitely helped add some life to the character. My Zbrush to 3ds Max workflow is much smoother now, especially in the areas of normal maps and displacement.

Things I Dislike
Some of the smaller objects shaders and textures are not very polished, I also don't particularly like the glass shader used on the windows, I think that could have been improved. I also had issues with 3ds max hair and fur and had to resort to straight fibermesh export for the beard, but I actually think it looks ok.

Things I Learnt
Lighting would be the number one area I feel I improved. Also the SSS skin shader is also the best one I have done yet!.

Next i'm going to do some more low-poly art and work on a Unity project for a while. No doubt another character render will be on the cards at some stage.

Heres the final image.

Slowly found some time to work for on my Gnome character. I had some instability issues with Zbrush when I was trying to apply various surface noise on the hat, so I ended up going with texture based bump and displacement.

I'm now about 1/4 the way through the texturing and shaders so hopefully another update really soon.

The idea for my next image came to me from a few different points of inspiration. One part came from the mother of one of my step-daughters friends bought us a small hairy gnome ornament, it intrigued me as it had a lot of hair and a beard and its hat covered its eyes. Another part of inspiration came from chatting to some mates at the pub who were talking about living in a giant hat..all very bizarre I know! Ultimately the idea was born, I wanted to create an interesting gnome character that had a village or house in his large hat! Lets see how it turns out.

Heres a couple of WIP screens.

Building a base mesh in Zbrush.

Creating some clothes in 3ds Max.

I've been working on and off on this character for quite a number of months. I've called it done on 31st December 2014.

I feel like i'm always saying i've 'learnt a lot' doing this project. But I really have learnt a lot! From sharping up the displacement workflow, to experimenting a lot more with shaders and Vray render settings. So ultimately I think I've improved in a number of areas, but still so much more to learn and try.

I'm going to try something new to accompany my completed images, a small summary of things I've points I like, points I dislike and things I have learnt.

I'm next project will be something a little less intense and hopefully a bit more 'fun loving'. Keen to spend some time sculpting in Zbrush again!

Things I like

I'm happy with my displacement workflow this time around and I feel I can now get decent quality displacement maps out of Zbrush and rendered in 3DS Max Vray

I'm also happy with some of the shader work in the this project. Especially spent a lot of time working with the SSS2 shader for the skin.

Things I Dislike

Hair! Hair was definitely a challenge and I spent a lot of time testing different work flows for hair. In this project I settled with a mix of 3ds Max Hair & Fur modifier and also exported Zbrush Fibermesh.

The character also has very little hair because I was not happy with any other hair styles I came up with.

I also had trouble with post production again and still couldn't get multiple render elements to work as layers in Photoshop or After Effects. I also find that by that stage of a project i'm usually ready to move on. I'll need to do some more research in this area.

Things I Learnt

I learnt a lot about Vray in this project and many different render settings and parameters and how they effect the final look. I also spent a lot more time playing with shaders and textures.

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