Last month, Ian Spriggs has shared another realistic portrait of Graham and Amanda and today He is kind enough to share CG Record his workflow to make that using Maya, Mudbox, Photoshop and Vray. We’d like to Thanks Ian for his work and nice support and here is the tutorial:


I use pre existing models I have built in the past. For most of my characters I will always build from the same base model, it is useful if I ever need to transfer uvs, textures or blendshapes to my current model. The topology should be kept pretty simple, it is good to have loops around the eyes and mouth, making sure that the outer most edgeloop are the same for the top and bottom. Edge loops should follow closely to the contours of the face such as the nasolabial fold, eyelids and forehead as it will be a lot easier to sculpt if you don’t have to fight the topology. My base mesh has been rigged with the SetupMachine. Posing is one of the most important steps in creating a mood and likeness to the piece, most people you read are read though body language and expression. I checked that the hips and shoulders were in position first as they define the pose then work on the arms,legs and head next, fingers last. For Amanda I made her pose tense and ridged and Grahams more relaxed and loose.


in Maya I do a quick pass on the clothes and prepare the model to be taken into Mudbox


I start fixing the pose, proportions, volumes, and get the underlining anatomy down first. I constantly check with my photo references, if my imagination gets in the way and I start making up areas the likeness and realism will lack. As I started the face my first objective was to get correct eye placement.


Should be kept pretty simple. It is good to have loops around the eyes and mouth, and to make sure that the outer most edgeloop is the same for the top and bottom. Edge loops should follow closely to the contours of the face such as the nasolabial fold, eyelids and forehead, as this makes it a lot easier to sculpt if you don’t have to fight the topology.


Hands can quite easily be overlooked, they are an incredibly complex machine with bone, muscle, tendons, fat, and skin which all needed to be sculpted in. Once again I work primarily on proportions and pose before any details.

Sculpting clothes:

You should be able to tell the material of the fabric without the use of textures. Tension in the tighter areas and softer folds for lose clothing. I will sometime do a quick pass on the body underneath to make sure my anatomy is correct before creating tension points in the clothes.


Once the model is close, I will take the basemeshes back to maya to be uv’ied, uving before the sculpt can sometimes create unwanted stretching in the textures.


Before I start to texture I take the model to the lighting stage. I work in V-Ray. With this portrait I only used two lights, a rectangle light which is the main light from a window on the left and a dome light. I use an orange HDR to give a warmth to my image and kept the Key light white. I will always play around with rotating the HDR image as it gives quite different results.

Texturing the face:

I started of with flatting the shadows and highlights on the photo reference and projecting what I can. The rest I create seamless texture maps in Photoshop and project them. The nose, eyes, ears and mouth needed to be hand painted. I added blush to the check and some soft highlights which I could not get from the photo reference. I did a Highpass of the photo reference to help make bump maps.


For the skin I tried two different shaders, first the VrayFastSSS2 and then the VraySkinMtl. I kept both as close to default settings. With the VrayFastSSS2 I used a vray blend with a vraymtl to add the specular. The VRaySKinMtl I used the diffuse texture and matched the colours to the various scattering maps, orange for the medium scattering and red for the deep scattering. I chose to use the VRaySkinMtl as it worked out much better, the subsurface colours matched the photo reference better and there was less dirt in the shadows.

Creating the hair:

I simplify it into sections and work on each section separately. I created the nurb curves one by one, I wanted to have complete control to match the likeness of the subjects. As I have one section ready I would select all the curves and head mesh and ‘Make Selected Curves Dynamic’. Then with the HairSystem selected ‘Add Paint Effects Output to Hair’. Selecting the airSystem go to the attribute editor – attributes – Vray – Hair shader, switch it on, then add a VRayHair3Mtl in the extra attributes. You will be able to control the hair in the attributes of the HairSystem. I would repeat this step for every section.

Amanda’s tights: I had to use a sampler info node and a ramp shader to get the look I wanted. Lighter colour on the non-facing planes and a dark colour on the facing planes. In the connection editor of the sampler info node, connect the facingRatio to the vCoord of the ramp shader. Then connect the textures to the ramp shader, you will have to adjust the sliders to get the results you want.

Eye shader setup:

Keeping it as simple as I can, I will have two pieces of geo, lens and the sclera. I would just have diffuse and bump on the lens. On the sclera I would use a blend material, vrayfastsss2 for the colour and bump with a vraymtl used for refraction and spec. I would create a mask on the blend amount to allow transparency through to the lens.


Above all composition and contrast is what I try to work most on. It will focus the eye on what to look at and set the mood for the piece. I wanted these two characters to be opposites yet the same, Amanda is posed in straight lines yet Graham is posed in diagonal curves. I didn’t want your eye to get confused with the direction of lines so I made a high contrast between them and the background to allow them to pop out and be more readable. I tried to pay attention to straight vs diagonal, light vs dark, ridged vs relaxed, soft vs hard. Hopefully these opposites reflected in their personalities as they are connected but unique.


In the final render I did some slight adjustments in photoshop, added a little orange to the shadows and a hint of blue on the back wall. Finally I added some blur to the edges.

Final Result

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