View Full Version : Character - Conehead WIP - Skin Shader Tests

09 September 2004, 04:32 PM

Working on the skin material trying to get as much into 1 render pass as possible. The tests below are still 2+ render passes but I am getting closer. I will post the Material and Light setup when I finally get there. Everybody familiar with multiple render passes in Zbrush?

C&C on the shading(preferably) or the head is most welcome.

09 September 2004, 12:06 AM
What a wonderful surprise! How are you doing pal?
About the skin, I believe you have achieved a very
special mix, kind of pleasing and radiating. Have you
tryed to test it under less lighting exposure?
I had several attempts to simulate sss under Z2 which
in my case all looked much better within darker surroundings, to
emphasize the contrast, and of course all MPR which
were composited later. i'm still trying to refine it further
and you will be the first to know about the results.

On the character, I like the elongated composition and
the feel of innocense in his characteristics. Hope to see
more progress on him (eyes, body, pose? )

Good to know about you again!

09 September 2004, 06:55 AM
Hello TVeyes,

Multiple renderpasses on Zbrush ???
I know that for transparency you can render the layers separate, but i know nothing
of using multiple renderpasses in combination with multiple material settings ,...if it is
this what you mean !

Share this arcane knowledge with us, please :wise:


09 September 2004, 09:12 AM
Good to see you here Varma! How are things in the chilly north of Norway?

Thanks for the comments. I've tried a lower intensity light setup but the results did not turn out as I expected. But it has been a while since I've experimented with materials and lights in Zbrush, more practice needed.

I am using the ColorizerTriShader material and a 3 point light setup. The material uses small amounts of CavityColorize with both a + and - CavityRadius. The Colorizer in the materials S1 slot overrides any texture, all the coloring is from the material and lights.

I have yet to cut down the render to 1 pass and I think that I will keep doing 2 pass renders. Highlights are easier to create in the second pass (IMO) and since I only render with shadows on the first pass, adjusting the shading is nice and interactive.

To quickly get the most out of a 2 pass render you should have 2 sets of materials and optionaly 2 light setups, 1 for each render. If anyone is interested I will post a Zscript together with the material(s) showing how to do 2+ renders.

Back to testing. Varma, please feel free to add to this thread.

A couple of threads at ZBC with skin materials:
Sokar's Skin Shading Tests (
The first thread with the TrisShader and ColorizerTrishader materials (
Dickie's modified Sokar Skin Shader (

09 September 2004, 04:32 PM
With 2 pass renders do you mean the "supersample" option in the rendermenu ?
I had not much succes with that : longer rendertimes and a minimal change in the render !
If you mean something else, i would be very interestred !


09 September 2004, 02:09 AM
Hei Mark;
You blew my advanced cover, yes, things are pretty cool up here, quiet and
peaceful, very little Zbrushing though!
You are absolutely right about using more than one mat and light setup, but
I haven't yet found a fasit answer to how to use layer blending modes to get
the best result, I guess that's very individual for every scene and model type.
By your permission I wanted to post a little pic to share with you my test,
which is still far from where I want to be going. I guess I have to reach a 30
post count to be able to use attachments/avatar, so I'll mail it instead.

On your model you posted here, I saved it to have a better look and the fact
is the more I look at it, the more I like it, especially the chin area. Very sensitive
design! And then I read in your interests list that you are quite fond of drawing,
Which makes two of us. Do you sketch your concept before starting modeling?

Have a very productive day!

09 September 2004, 04:46 PM

Although I use Zbrush to render multiple passes it is not a conventional multipass rendering. More of a material tweaking through multiple renders. The "secret" is Baking and the Bake Blend Amount in the Layers palette. When you Bake (Ctrl+B) in Zbrush, each pixol is assigned the color currently shown on the canvas. Baking with a Bake Blend Amount of 100 will also assign the Flat Color material (material #0) to each pixol in the current layer. A Bake Blend Amount of 99 lets the pixols keep their original material. That is the general theory hopefully the picture below will help you with the steps needed. If needed I'll try and expand more on this some other time.

Sorry for the delayed answer, work caught up with me.


I'm not sure we are talking about the same render procedure. I am only using 1 layer for the final render, due to the nature of Baking. The picture below only uses 1 material but each time I Bake I change that material.

Thanks for your kind comments, the model is not really finished, it is still "only" at 29000 polygons so lots of possibilities for improvements. I do sometimes make sketches before modeling but in this case no. It is actually a hugely deformed version of the 2nd head below. Thanks for your interest.

How is the skin shader now?

09 September 2004, 07:25 PM
Hi again;
I'm sorry if I misunderstood your point at the first place. I thought your
experimenting envolved in rendering out different shots with diff. settings
and then assembling together in an image processing prog, as you mentioned
"multi pass rendering."
Well, you are way ahead of me doing stuff with baking and multiple renering
within Z. I haven't really thought about the opportunity just yet. Sounds
cool and thanks for the description. I sure will get down to it and give it
a go.
The models you have posted are great, especially the one to the right with
more kilos. His ears and the way you have merged his eyebrows to the ears
is facinating. Hope to see some more of this kind.
Now that I can post attachments, I would like to upload an intermediate pic
of what I have been up to, well this time MPR from Zbrush and ps layering.
I was just in need of some "subsurface scattering-lookalike" shader to dress
a few models I have sketched.

09 September 2004, 07:46 PM
I'm sorry if I misunderstood your point at the first place. My fault. I did say Multi Pass Rendering, which is sort of true, but MPR Zbrush style:)

The models you have posted are great, especially the one to the right with
more kilos. Why could you not have picked the one in the middle;) The model on the right is by Benjamin Sauder aka. ki oku here on CGtalk. The model is part of a pack he and Steffen Unger (Neox) made available to CGtalk members. Check this CGnetworks page ( if you want to examine the model.

The SSS effect you have going is looking good, a touch to much dark orange for my tastes but difficult to tell without the whole face. How are you doing the multiple passes in Zbrush? Are you isolating the various material modifiers and rendering?

09 September 2004, 01:59 PM
I have never "baked" a material, but i'll give it a try :p
Thank's for the info, for a moment i was worried that this was a "Scandinavians Only"
sort of a thread .


09 September 2004, 06:54 PM
Hei Tv;
I use two diff. material and with each one render 3 separate outputs with
diff. lightings and material settings, that's 6 total renders which I save
separately out. Then I use layering modes in Ps and composite them all
together. Two over-exposed shots ( one with each material ) will have
to use layering masks to highlight the lightest parts.
I could try to setup a tutorial on this as soon as I've got the best results,
though this procedure can pretty much depend on the model ans skin tone.

Sorry Jantim, but this is a private party, but now that you'r in, ... :p
See you guys later!

09 September 2004, 10:50 AM
Interesting work, I like the 3rd character a lot, it has a lot to it. The other 2 seem bland and boring.The first image is a testament to that.
The skin shading is good. And works well.

10 October 2004, 09:06 PM
Thanks for the comment Cgstripe, I fully understand you, they were boring. Think I must have stared at the screen too long while tweaking the skin. Varma's comment and yours made me put him on a super size diet:)

I am fairly pleased with the shading right now, especially around the mouth, but I regret using such an instense side light and I am not very pleased with the dark shadows.

Again a ColorizerTrishader material with a single light, 99% bake , a second render to soften the skin toning and add some red to the creases, another 99% bake for the final sidelight rendering.

I am still trying to work out how to do it all in 1 render pass. But as I said earlier I will probably still do the highlighting in a second pass because it is easier and more controllable.

Comments welcome

Cheers Jantim, I did not see your first post as it was your first post as a CGtalk member and there is a delay while they check what you wrote. But no worries, Dutch and Scandinavian people are allowed here:)

10 October 2004, 01:43 AM
I hate to put a negative spin on such a good thread, but I was really hoping to see Dan Akroid when I saw the thread title. :)

10 October 2004, 10:04 AM
Now that's the best alien skin I've ever seen! Looks like your time researching this
was very well spent. It's amazing how much one can accomplish with just one light.
The color on his lips was a very righteous move!
Hope to see more of this kind!

10 October 2004, 03:19 PM
hi tveyes, you might get a better softer look by using Pix's tip about moving the left side of the material diffuse curve up mid to high range.

10 October 2004, 03:23 PM
Supernice alienskin! One of the best I've seen.

10 October 2004, 06:38 PM
Hey TVeyes!
That subtle SSS-ish skin looks really delicious :scream:
Have to try the ColorizerTrishader again and go for this 'baking out technique....
The specular pass really brings the form out too; niiice!


10 October 2004, 07:30 AM
Im working with an alien, I realy suck on the material and rendering part, always been my weakness. Making an modell and texture that I realy like then blowing all in the final rendering.
Got any tip for skinmaterial on this one? (The pink/purple surrounding the eyes is just an test)

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