In Art Spotlight, we invite Sketchfab artists to talk about one of their designs.
Greeting, E Lynx here! I am a veteran game artist, with 16+ years of game production experiences, fortunate to contribute to many game projects ranging from various consoles to mobile platforms. I started out my career as a character modeler, and throughout the years I’ve broadened my skill sets to also rig, animate, and environment building.
Making commercial art for a living aside, I always want to find time to visualize some of my favorite classic paintings in living 3D realm. Working as an art outsourcing organizer, it took me too long to finally realize that life is short, and I got to do what I’m passionate about. So instead of fear of joblessness, I quit that job and set sails to find creativity again.
So the first personal project I chose to do in 2017 is to bring Vermeer’s iconic Girl with a Pearl Earring alive in 3D. The following 6 steps summarize my process:
- In Maya, I projected the original art (from Wikipedia) on an image plane, as a reference to block out the shapes.
- Laying down with primitives spheres and locators, I used those to figure out the essential positions and angles of the head and key facial features. For animation purpose, I also create a skeleton based on the head measurement and get the joints to match the pose at early stage.
- To properly model the head, I duplicated an instance of the head, then zero out rotations so I can sculpt in clean world axis, while able to see the original mesh matching the source art. For an example, in order to figure how wide her face is, I have to rely on both meshes to help determine how far I push based on the silhouette from the painting. Modeling her torso took some effort in terms of research, as it lacks the detail to define not only the style of her garments, but the fundamental understanding of her posture. So I ended up crafted her clothing and torso based on Scarlett Johansson’s costume from Girl with a Pearl Earring the film, and from various life photos from painting recreation enthusiasts.
- After somewhat satisfied with the model, I named the mesh “Source”, and planar projected the source art on it. then I duplicated a copy of the mesh, named it “Target”, then proceed to unwrap the UV of the “Target” mesh with even-out texel density.
- Once I I got a decent UV layout on the “Target” mesh, I used Maya’s Turtle Texture Baking tool to bake the projected source art on the “Source” mesh to the properly UV-ed “Target” mesh. With this process completed, I then painted in the missing details via Photoshop. Figuring out the light source is the key, and to make sense I added polygonal planes to block out the direction of the light in Maya while painting in Photoshop.
- With the model painted and details finalized, I binded the mesh to the skeleton, painted in proper skin-weights, and fine tuned the idle animation until I thought it was presentable. For the animation I always know for fact that eyes are the key to bring a character alive, and her innocence gaze is the most essential element of the painting. So I animated her gaze as if she is carefully reading you, the viewer, while almost going to speak her mind to you, but chose not to due to shyness.
Finally the model is ready for Sketchfab! Initially I had the ambition to add a specular map to highlight the shininess and specular color of the pearl earring via material settings, but after I realized the lighting original painting is so iconically fixed, I ended up copping out with Shadeless. As a sucker for the Post processing Filters, I can’t resist adding a little bloom effect. Attempted to match the painting better, I reduced the Field of View to 24°.
I am grateful within a week since I uploaded this project to Sketchfab, it got staff picked, generated 13.8k views/240 likes, and received positive praises including Mauritshuis, the museum housing the iconic painting.
Vermeer’s Girl with a Pearl Earring truly is a captivating masterpiece, and I hope my tribute of it does honor the original, in our digital age.
Feel free to check out my profile, which includes my resume and other contact infos.