The “Winning Tips & Tricks” series covers practical workflows and techniques shared by winners from the “2021 iClone Lip Sync Animation Contest”. To let users see the full spectrum of the iClone facial pipeline, we are introducing projects that are rendered with different 3D engines including; Unreal, Unity, iClone, Blender, and Cinema 4D. Let’s now take a look at Jasper Hesseling’s: “Jessica Rabbit”, combining Character Creator (CC3) / iClone workflow and awesome iClone native render.
My name is Jasper Hesseling. I’m a solo 3D artist for more than 15 years. Based in Utrecht the Netherlands, I create under the name “Mayonnaise”. Mayonnaise as a name came up because I sometimes have the feeling that I create the visual sauce for concepts and ideas next to the fact that it is a very popular sauce in the Netherlands to emphasize my roots. From traditional 3D model and sculpting to texturing, rigging, and animation, I am an all-around 3D artist that understands how to leverage the advantages of each 3d tool and assemble them into the ideal animated character pipeline. Originally my background is in motion graphics but I transitioned to 3D art and animation because therein lies my passion.
Why I created this showcase
I am a fan of Jessica Rabbit since I was a child. Her charm and radiant character are something really special that I wanted to present to the competition. With the use of my talent and paying details to capture her likeness, I hope my submission can be seen as a tribute to the iconic film “Who Framed Roger Rabbit”. During the competition, I thought my 3D skills would be a good asset and help me bring my A-Game. But I think, in the end, the ultimate goal of this is to test my creativity while having fun!
How I do it with iClone
Step 1: Finding reference
References are very important – I think a lot of people usually forget about them. I found a lot of materials online. Some are actually original still frames from the movie without all the character poses, and I also had very nice finds from some fan art. It was difficult to find some images from the side of the head, so I really need to guess what it’s gonna look like. The program that I use here is called PureRef. It’s pretty handy and you can use this as a window to drop in all your reference materials, or just let it lid somewhere else on your screen.
Step 2: Cloth modeling in Cinema 4D
The dress was poly-modeled in Cinema 4D, and I changed the breasts a bit, pulling them closer together. It’s a basic approach that allows me to get some proper cloth UVs out there. With me following the meshes, the deformation and the weight painting are pretty solid as well. Now there’s an option to actually hide clothing, or hide stuff under the clothing. But I just wanted to be flexible and sometimes it doesn’t really work well when you export because when you hide stuff in the meshes inside of Reallusion (software), then you get a triangulated export so this is not really perfect.
Step 3: Accessories – Gloves, Dress, and the Shoes
I used the hair materials for the glove, and it’s because the hair material has this nice anisotropic and specular going over the surface. This allows you to mimic silky fabric. You can play around with the settings and adjust the shininess or roughness. It also works well with normal maps on the Modify Tab, even on the wrinkling parts.
As for the dress, I used a texture that created myself. I created that in the Substance Designer, and it’s actually available through my website. You can change the color and it works pretty well. I was pleased with the result that actually came out of its shader. It’s nice to play around with the texture, making things shiny and bling-bling.
The shoes are from my own Reallusion webshop, but they came very handy in this case. They are available for you guys if you would like to have them inside your collection.
Step 4: Facial appearance and Make-up
For the rest, I hand-painted the texture out and I am using Substance Painter. But it was pretty simple because it’s so toony, and I didn’t really have to go in there and do a lot of details. Creating a comic style for animated characters is simple, all you need is to match up with the whole reference library that I had on her. There weren’t many details in terms of texturing. But pay attention to some details like the bump map, just to break it up a little bit, and the lipstick is just shiny as it can be.
Step 5: Edit the hair in ZBrush
The hair is a low poly model, and I use sub-division inside of Reallusion so it’s working pretty fine. And you can just use brushes to adjust the hair. Another big tip for you guys is that when using ZBrush, the scaling is pretty large coming from Reallusion, so what you need to do is change the dynamic brush scale to about fifty (the number that I normally I use), and now you get a proper brush size going.
I use the move topology brush, which allows you to move things without moving the rest of them. It just focuses on cross meshes. So if I do like a standard move the whole meshes change.
Rotate the hair, select the Display Properties table and click the “double” button. That will give you a better vision when editing the inner hair. Click the GoZ button and you’ll be back to Character Creator and see the result.
Step 6: Earrings creation and Lighting settings
The earrings were pretty easy, it’s just to wear. What I did is make attributes out of those ones so that they will follow the head. Another thing that is really important is the lighting. Looking at the whole scene, it’s pretty simple. Select the minimal mode so you can see what it consists of. Since it was a lipsyncing contest, I’m just focusing on the lips, and no need to build the whole theater. I turned on the auxiliary light, and we will get some more detail in here. One important tip is to start doing the character poses and block the animation and create.
Step 7: Camera settings and the Environments
Once you’ve completed the lighting, then you can start working on the camera. I started with a medium one. Because the background was pretty minimal, you can see the total view. With a lot of darkness in there, it was quite forgiving to use only basic meshes in the background. I even use the meshes that were inside here to mock up the curtains. I got my inspiration from there and with a little clever lighting, you can actually just use the darkness. Tip: No light is also lighting as well! You can also apply some PBR here. I used the shader, change the tangent type to green color, and I use diffuse color and play around with the settings here. I use an HDRI in the background to shine and get some nice reflections going on in the dress, but the main lights are in the scene as you can see. I use a very strong key rim light to actually create this sole stage sheen a bit like a spotlight that’s following her around.
Final Step: Post-production in After Effects
So once when I was done with the animating in iClone, I rendered the whole thing, and it gave me a PNG sequence. I would have preferred an open EXR 32-bit so you can actually tweak the colors a bit more. But for now, it was okay. And what I did in After Effects is actually bringing it back to 24 frames per second, so that the animation was really looking choppy and fit the whole style a bit more. And I tweak the colors a bit more of course.
Final Thoughts and Conclusions
That’s it, it’s quite amazing that you can actually get results like this in like two weeks of production time. Looking at the whole finished thing in two weeks it’s quite amazing!
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