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In this Start to Finish, character artist Dan Roarty walks us through the process of creating one of his hyperrealistic 3D portraits, "Happy Birthday, Nana," a tribute to his late grandmother. Dan shows how he uses the sculpting tools in Mudbox and Maya to create the basic bust form and adds the layers upon layers of detail, texture, and tone with programs like Knald and Shave and a Haircut. Finally, he lights the scene and composites the final render passes in Photoshop to create a realistic portrait that honors his grandmother's memory. Dive in to find out how he does it.
Dan Roarty: Dan Roarty: It's definitely become a little bit of an obsession to try to get something to be as photoreal as possible, and doing it by hand. Happy birthday Nana is a project I did, which is dedicated to my grandma. She was always a huge inspiration, and being an artist herself definitely drove me to become an artist as well. Once I have the basic wrinkles kind of set up here first, that's when I'll actually go in using some of the pre-made stamps and brushes and start putting in some of the surface details.
I've created all the eyes in Maya. It's easy enough for me to grab the eyes I've already created and change the color or the amount of reflection it gives off. So, for the hair, I used shave and a haircut. The basic style here is kind of what I'm going to try to match. You literally have to go in and adjust each spline. I want her to have a nice cardigan. Looking at some reference, I've started sculpting in basic wrinkles. So I just select the mesh I want to use. I can just place it right on top of the geometry. I can look at my art pieces, and I'm definitely happy with them, but I'll keep obsessing about it until I feel that I can't push it any further.
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