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Brian Haberlin- Creating the "Hair" Image Using Poser And Photoshop

Follow acclaimed artist Brian Haberlin (Witchblade, Spawn, Spider-Man) as he steps through the process of creating the "Hair" image using both Poser and Photoshop....

For use with Poser 6 or 7 and Photoshop CS, CS2 or CS31.Figure 4.1 shows my first sketches for this design. I kind of know what I want before I start sketching/doodling, but a sketch helps me nail down the design. I only do a couple of quick sketches. I want the design to focus on the hair.

Figure 4.1

Sketch out the design on paper as a roadmap.

2.After I decide on the basic design, I further refine the sketch. You'll notice details in Figure 4.2 that did not make it to the final. For example, the subject has less clothing here and details that are in the final that are not here. That's okay. The sketches serve as a road map only. The sketches shouldn't be so tight and detailed that they bind the creativity.

Figure 4.2

Let go with the sketch; don't let it bind your creativity.

Tip- When doing portraits in Poser, change the camera's focal length to 75mm or higher to minimize distortions from the figure.

3.Once I have an idea for the basic design, I fire up Poser. I pose the figure, set up the lights, dress her, and render. I try to be as down and dirty as possible about using 3D applications, because I feel the work only comes to life after being stepped on by hand or by a hand with a stylus in a paint program.

In the close-up raw render in Figure 4.3, the skin texture is not quite right. The fingers look a bit broken, and the hair is definitely not what will be the final. But it's a good starting point.

My motto is to fix it in post! It's faster and more fun that way.

Figure 4.3

Rough out your Poser figure; the details will be fixed in post.

Tip- Render as high a resolution as your machine allows so that you have more options in post.

4.In Figure 4.4, I move the render into Photoshop. The first thing I want to do is pump up the volume on the figure's hair. She needs more- much more! I select her hair and go into the Liquify filter. I use a big brush and just start pushing and pulling the hair closer to my original design.

If you are not familiar with the Liquify tool, it basically turns your image into a live putty-like surface that you can move around and distort without smearing. Liquify is one of my favorite tools for fixing eye placement or reshaping a figure.

Figure 4.4

Use Photoshop's Liquify filter to add more hair.

5.Okay, I got wider hair, but I need more. The easiest solution is to copy and paste what I already have into another layer. See Figure 4.5. I copy the head and hair twice to two different layers. Then, on each layer, I use the Free Transform tool and resize and rotate so that on one layer will be the right side extra hair and the other the left. Next, I place them behind the render. The model now has lots more hair. If anything is showing through that I don't want from those underlying layers, I just erase it.

Figure 4.5

Copy the head twice to create more hair; erase the parts that don't belong.

6.Okay, this is my thing, probably from my love of comic book art or even old poster art like Alphonse Mucha. I start creating a holding line around my figure. If you want to do this automatically, you can simply load the alpha channel that Poser creates and stroke it in Photoshop. Sometimes that gets you where you want to go. But here I have a lot of hair, and that doesn't stroke too well. The hair uses a lot of transparency to create a sense of softness at the edges; making a hard-edged line around the hair might ruin the effect. So I use the stroke in some places and hand-draw it in others using the Brush tool with a hard-edged brush. See my version in Figure 4.6.

Figure 4.6

Create a holding line around the figure.

7.In Figure 4.7, I use a glamour photography trick to soften the model but not lose too much detail. The trick involves copying the layer with the image on it (flatten it if you have to) and then pasting it in another layer. Use the Gaussian Blur filter at about 10 pixels and lower the opacity of the layer to about 30 percent. The result of the render is an old movie star gloss and odd pixels that are smoothed out.

I copy that blurred layer again, place it uppermost in the layers, and change its mode to Overlay at about 50 percent, which helps bring back some of the color richness. I also add a black background.

Figure 4.7

Use a glamour photography trick to soften the figure without losing detail.

8.I want to add a design element. Mucha uses all kind of star imagery, and if it's good enough for him... Figure 4.8 uses the star shape from the custom shapes under the Pen tool. I make one and then copy, paste, and rotate each into position in a circle. I apply a scanned texture that I made to grunge up the star a bit.

Figure 4.8

Create and add the star design element using Photoshop.

9.Now it's time for details, starting with her face. The model looks a little too stern. I use the Liquify filter to make her expression a bit more playful. See Figure 4.9 for the before and after.

Figure 4.9

Before and after: Use the Liquify filter in Photoshop to alter the expression.

10.The last bit to do is to add interesting fingernails. I go back into Poser and give the model some nails with a morph. I rerender and paste the new fingertips over the old ones, adjusting as needed with Levels to match. See Figure 4.10.

Figure 4.10

Add the blue fingernails for the finishing touch.

Tip- Remember to save the PZ3 file of your final render. That makes it easy to change elements- such as longer fingernails I added at the end of this piece- and composite onto the original render in post.

11.She's done. Figure 4.11 is the final image.

Figure 4.11

"Hair" final image.

This tutorial can be found in the Thomson Publishing book,