Created as a tribute to one of his favourite Studio Ghibli films Laputa, also known as Castle In The Sky, UK-based digital illustrator Nik Ainley chose to create this scene to be a simple character study, with the grass and plants used to test ZBrush’s FiberMesh system.
“I did the majority of the modelling in 3ds Max as it is the 3D environment I am most familiar with,” Ainley explains, “Once this was done I imported the model into ZBrush for the next stage. A very simple clay-like material was used for the robot as this matched what was described in the film.” The scene was then lit with a simple three-point light system, and ZBrush was used to produce a series of renders at different settings to give more flexibility in post-production. It was then that the renders were taken and composited in Photoshop to complete the final piece.
Importing from 3D “First I imported the main diffuse render into Photoshop and used the rendered alpha channel to extract the model from its background. Since I wanted the focus to be on the model, I added a very simple background, just a few gradients and clouds using the Brush tool.”
Applying masks and adjustment layers “Using a render with different parts of the model in red, green and blue allowed me to create masks from the different RGB channels. Adjustment layers with various blending modes and masks produced in the previous step then allowed the image to be tweaked in a controlled fashion.”
Final details “Blending other renders, such as an ambient occlusion render and cavitymap, helped to bring out detail. The final step was to add a little bit of depth of field blur. Using the depth map feature in lens blur and a rendered depth map made this more precise.”