Besides genetically modified humans and supermen, a common theme in science fiction is the mechanically augmented human, or cyborg. Such combinations of man and machine are often terrifying but sometimes tragic, as seen in this composition, Being Human, by Ian and Dominic Higgins, a partnership also known as Eon. Here’s how they did it.
artists: Ian and Dominic Higgins
software used: Curious Labs Poser, Adobe Photoshop
Step 1: The character was created and rendered in Poser. Our starting point for the cyborg was the Victoria figure from Daz Productions. Using a combination of Morph Dials and Magnets, we reshaped her features. With the modelling work done, we positioned her and selected the camera angle. We then set up the lighting. Be prepared to spend a lot of time on the lighting of your scene, since it determines the whole mood of the piece. We used high-key lighting on the face to soften its features. All shadow maps were increased to their maximum settings.
Step 2: We produced a second render of the character complete with ‘hair’ piece. Next we opened the Figures library, selected the female skeleton from the Additional Figure Library and chose Replace Current Figure. We made sure to click all the options like Replace Figure, Maintain Figure Height and Pose. We now had a skeleton posed in our character’s place. A little adjustment of the camera angle was necessary, however, as the new figure’s height was dramatically less than that of the higher-resolution model we’d used for the character. The skeleton was then rendered out.
Step 3: In Photoshop, we created a new canvas and named it Being Human. We opened up the first render we did and made an alpha channel selection of the figure. We then copied and pasted the figure into our new canvas and named this layer Render 1. Next we opened the skeleton render and again, using the alpha channel as a selection, we copied and pasted the figure into the new canvas. This layer was named Render 2. With Render 1 as the top layer, we carefully began to mask away parts of the image to reveal the skeleton beneath.
Step 4: Next we worked on the figure’s mechanical elements. After searching, we found some interesting images and textures of such things as old circuit boards and rusting metal. Cutting and pasting sections of these images, we began building up the torso area gradually, using the Distort filters and the Liquify tool to shape them. When using Liquify, we chose a light pressure setting so as to not blur the image too much. We also paid attention to the direction of the different elements’ shadows and highlights to make sure they all matched the 3D render.
Step 5: We then opened the second render we produced – the figure complete with hair – and cut around the outline of the hair. This was then added to the Being Human composition. Using the Masking tools, we blended the hair to the skull. We then began to paint in the details, such as the wires and the tearstain. We masked away the area around the ear to expose the metal skull beneath. Using the Burn and Dodge tools, we enhanced the shadows and highlights. Once we were finally happy with everything, we blended all the layers together.
Step 6: We began work on the background, then flattened the image and worked further on lighting and colouring. We used several adjustment layers and experimented with various lighting modes. By using the Masking tool on these layers, we could quite literally paint on lighting effects. When the lighting and colouring work was done, we flattened the image once more. We duplicated the layer and applied the Gaussian Blur filter, set to 40 pixels diameter. We faded this layer to 15 per cent Opacity to soften the shadows and highlights a little. Finally, we flattened the image and saved the composition.
Author’s URL: Ian and Dominic Higgins – www.ilex-press.com/digit.