Hi! Sorry for the delay but I've been busy these few last days! D;
Thank you for the kind's words really appreciate them.
I don't think its anything fancy at all just mainly contrast play and maybe some fake tilt-shift lens, anyway I'm just gonna break up it from zero maybe help's somebody or something.
So first off all this is an interpretation of the amazing Sketch of Aaron Griffin.
First before anything I m sorry I started geeking out while writing this and I got a little bit overboard, I've recently ended colleague and I don't have any real experience so I may talk out my ass. Also, Naming and Grammar or other things may be wrong in the end I m from Spain and still trying to improve my English so sorry.
Also is so long because I was learning a lot about my process and learned a lot and I think I realized a lot of things that I can improve. And as I was going throw this because I was hooked on seeing what I can improve on and learn about my process I thought maybe somebody can see it useful or something. (If not is okay to just learned a lot and I was already writing it down soo)
If i didn't explain something properly or want a more in detail explication ask and I ll try to respond i want to get more active in the community! And meet different artist
Rant about why I choose it.
Soo when I saw for the first time the sketch my mind directly told me you have to do this. Just because this.
In the left, I've killed all colors except Blue, Purple, and Magenta. And it looks exactly the same that is an analog harmony of hues.
(Just a fancy way of saying that the colors are close in the wheel).
And that's not all, Not even close the great thing that he does is that he "breaks" that harmony or creates a Value Contrast ( Whiter vs Darker) that pull's apart the background and the figure but also focus your attention to the face by adding small amounts of dark values around the face. ( That's also a kind of contrast called small vs big which helps it a lot.) I mean usually isn't anything really fancy but mixed with the harmony made me fall in love. There are a few other secondary things like this but I m not gonna lie I 've realized of them later.
For example, one that I used myself that I really liked its the reds in the face or better said in the front of the piece that's a Warm vs Cold Contrast that helps pull apart the background and the figure apart and doesn't break the harmony.
(this is a exagerated white and black image to be eazier to see)
I start by sculpting everything in ZBrush. Nothing fancy just plain and fun ZBrush sculpting (This is where I think I need to improve more than anything (feelsbadmen)).
I don't use any fancy brush or anything like that mainly Clay, Damn standard, Standard, and move. Sometimes I use pinch or some other brush but is rare.
I also from time to time i polypaint to help me see the things better proportions and things like that. I did this one a few months ago and I wasn't using polypaint that much now I can't live without it.
I try to keep everything with subdivisions, even if they're just Zremeshed. Makes everything easier if you have divisions to work on.
Now i tend to go back and forth between Topogun/3dsmax and ZBrush to clean the meshes. But for this one i finished the model in ZBrush (I should have cleaned it way more) and then went to Topogun/3dsmax.
Soo this part is the most fun one Kappa. Like really its just retopo and uvs nothing fancy here.
The huge topology is because I have loaded all the high poly parts.
The retopo I do it in Topogun, And 3dsmax is for cleaning and doing Uvs ( I use 3dsmax because I m more used to it but for the use that I give it I could have used literally anything).
Its supposed to be game ready I mean in the end is a 14K tris and two 1K texture sets I could have fit everything in just one set. But yeah, in the end, I was more worried to make something cooler than playing with a technicality( I've improved there a lot and I m starting to love it lol everything except unwrapping).
Then we export everything to Substance Painter.
I m not gonna lie I really really enjoy this part! Colors are my thing(I m not as good as I would like but I really enjoy it). Here is where my Graphic design background kicks in!
Soo I really like to work in Substance with Photoshop at the same time and Marmoset (to see how everything is looking).
The first thing I do is project the high poly to the low poly just to check if something is wrong topology normals anything. Once everything works I start to get my mojo and start to paint.
I really like to work procedurally at the time I wasn't that good at using the software and I tackled a lot of things in a way that is totally contrary at how I would do it today.
Now I like to start giving some values and start building from there maybe use some parts of the polypaint that I had even if I end up changing it.
Nothing fancy really. Then I send everything to Marmoset and play with colors lights and the camera a bit to get the feeling. Till I got something like this.
( I'll explain why I chose some things later).
When I have something that I kinda start to feel like I like a go back to add thing's in Substance Photoshop or Marmoset.
Soo lets point the objectives that I had for my final image.
-That sweet Hue Harmony.
-The Value Contrast.
-I wanted to get a more Ethereal look I loved that realistic vs fictional contrast that Aaron did but I feel I would look cool for
the 3D model to play with the same analogy but from another point of
view the painting/realistic/ethereal/physical.
-Warm vs Cold contrast.
Here is what I got and how.
Sweet Hue Harmony.
This was kinda easy just use the colors that you need and lights you can "cheat" by using color lights. Use a bloom/flare to blend the lights use omnis they don't make so harsh lights. I mean this one was pretty much done when we first tweaked things in marmoset.
Besides that I used a prepainted background, The blur was added because I was having in mind to fake a tilt-shift lens that always makes everything look cartoony/painted/toy alike
Also, I used a handmade HDRI that was similar to the background with a few changes in saturation and contrast to exaggerate the colors.
The prepainted background helped with the background values just moved it a little bit.
The rest is light positioning I m using 3 lights with a heavy rim to get that really hard pull apart from figure and background.
I moved the lights a lot and repainted a few times lips eyes some other parts, to exaggerate it.
The most important thing is I hand painted on top of pretty much everything on Photoshop not too hard especially on some parts. Just smooth brush and repainting on top of the PBR textures.
The second most important thing here for me is the fake tilt lens just used an 85 mm with the prepainted background and a Depth of Field having 2 different "blurs" makes it look like you re using a tilt lens. Also, a little bit of Chromatic Aberration helps to sell that effect. (It's not really the same and the effect isn't really that close to the real lens but kinda does the trick).
The final camera.
The blurs making it merge with the background helps a lot too make it look like a painting.
Another thing is the contrast os Saturations. I did from front to back this is the most technical thing.
The theory is similar to this.
(This is contrast of values)
But from Front to Back and with saturation being the front more saturated than the back including the background.
I do this by exporting the additional maps from substance painter or just the World Normal/Position map I usually like to have them all but yeah for this you just need the World Normal/Position.( you can do it in substance but I did it in photoshop as details for the final texture set mainly the albedo)
I used the World Normal. Because takes the light into account and has interactions with the rest of materials so it usually has more contrast.
You discard all Channels except the ones you re interested in this case for me was the blue channel (Was the front to back).
Select the range you want to touch with a gradient.
You move that selection to the albedo and change the Saturation/Hue/Value/Whatever
Also, the position of the Warm colors vs the Cold and the Analog Harmony makes it look painterly.
Warm vs Cold.
This is me just trying to be checky the blues or colds are in the face and the background is purple, But the Magenta is in the white parts of the clothing that makes an optical effect that makes that Magenta more warm in this case Yellow ish because its trapped in between 2 cold colors, And it does not break the Hue Harmony because it really doesn't have any real Yellow in it in reality is a "cold" Magenta.
That makes you focus more on the face because has that subtle warm vs cold contrast but doesn't break the harmony making it look flat at first sight because has that color Harmony.