Here is brief breakdown of this piece. I used Zbrush to model the face and for most of the texturing and then rendered in Vray to 16 bit tiffs.
I prefer working in Maya but I only had Vray for 3dsmax…
Using Vray elements I could break the shot down into tons of passes to have complete control in photoshop. And obtain a very nice balance between the gobal illumination and direct lighting. This is a terrific tutorial on how to use render elements and also composite them:
The feathers I just modeled very basically and cut out the shape using an opacity map.
The fur (which was probably the most challenging\frustrating part) was made using hair&fur, converted to polys, and then did a ton of post work to get it to match the rest of the image.
The model for the eyes was pretty standard. I think if you texture and model the eyes decently enough the reflections and realism takes care of itself…
I used Vrays sss2 for the skin, which is a really nice looking material. Im not sure if I set it up the maps correctly but I was pretty satisfied with the result I got. Also, attached is the specular map and diffuse map for the skin.
I spent the most time modeling the face in Zbrush because it was obviously the center of the piece. However, I believe, like most things, sculpting is never completed, only abandoned…
I attached the pictures to my post over on Zbrush Central: