The Recreation of Thalia

Project Details

There was one painting in the Tretyakov Museum that everyone gathered around and the guide spoke passionately about. It was Thalia, muse of comedy by Jean-Marc Nattier

The first thing to do is measure the scene, as well as adjust the perspective, angle and framing. This is done by modeling the key objects as boxes and cylinders, and arranging the people from biped. To find perspective in 3ds Max, use the "Perspective Match" tool. When placing characters and other objects, you have to take into account the focal length of the lens. 

Comparing the original picture with the examples of photographs, we make sure that the focal lens used for the picture is about 65 mm. It is not uncommon for authors to paint their works with assumptions for the sake of compositional integrity. And Thalia is no exception. According to measurements, the distance from the main character to the actors on stage is 42 meters.

The foreground is the portrait of a woman, the middle is the column, and the background is the group of actors. 

The next step is to study the anatomical features of facial expression. For example, the average height of a European man in the 18th century was 167 cm, the average height of a woman 153 cm. This is useful information for calculating the dimensions of objects. The typical lighting in French theaters in the 18th century were massive candle chandeliers, oil lamps, and ramps that filled the bottom of the forecourt - that's how to determine the position of the light sources and its stiffness. 

When modeling people, the most convenient tool is DAZ Studio. Firstly, set up the pose of our main character. It should be natural and elegant. 

The drapery in the original painting is very present and very airy with many folds and big gaps. The creases play the role of lines leading to the scene. Marvelous Designer is great for setting up the basic shape.

We made all the adjustments needed in ZBrush, softening the roundness of the shapes, landed the fabric in a few places and added pleats. The scene started to look a lot more expressive and vintage.

The background of the composition is a very minor area. I did the architectural elements in low polygonage, adding chamfers. Chips, scuffs, and other surface defects were drawn in Photoshop.

I often use high-poly models, and I do not have to worry about the growing polygonage of the project because I convert objects in VRayProxy. I upload HiPoly objects in separate files, and leave LowPoly preview in the 3ds Max scene. During rendering only those objects that fall into the frame will be loaded, which reduces the use of RAM.

Texturing in Substance Painter is done in 4K resolution, which is sometimes not enough for key models. The advanced UV scanning tool, UDIM, allows you to use several UV blocks at once for texturing the model. So in the case of the heroine, the total of textures is 7 times larger than 4K. 

By adding more and more light sources, the process of lighting the heroine became tedious. To manage the lighting, Add a VRayLightMix component to Render Elements. This gives a render in which the lighting from each lamp was recorded in separate layers. 

Setting the Secondary engine in Vray to BruteForce to get more realistic shadows will help here. 

DAZ Studio has many quality character models with customized materials. Therefore, the fastest way to get a render of a character is to make it inside DAZ Studio. The lighting and camera are set up just like in any other program. It is important to place the light sources and camera in the same positions as in 3ds Max. Because of the fact that the work was done in natural units (millimeters), theres no problems with the conversion of the scene from 3ds max.

The render in Photoshop is 32-bit. There is where you can do the lighting correction.

Classical painting is a good example to learn to see through the eyes of an artist. The emotionality of the work is important. That graphic authenticity sometimes goes into the background for the sake of the story. 

Subscribe to our designer newsletter

Subscribe now to receive all important information and announcements.

Come on board!

Within our amazing community of talented designers, you'll have access to challenging projects from big companies, work remotely and be creative.

RenderThat Kreativ-Talente bei der Arbeit.