Making of – Game Of Thrones

Creation of Charles Dance as Tywin Lannister from Game Of Thrones

My first step was finding as much reference as I could of the actor himself and the armor that he is supposed to be wearing. When I say as much as I can, I mean it: you want the references to be from every possible angle and very detailed, so you would know exactly how the object that you are sculpting or modeling looks like.

I wanted my character pose and feel to be very similar to a certain picture of the actor in the TV show. I chose this image:

19.jpg (670×378)

Another reference for armor (I had a lot of these, as well as face reference):

23.jpg (670×378)

I started the process with sculpting the head. I chose to use 3d Coat for this model, for a number of reasons: I wanted to practice and get more experience in the program, as well as 3D Coat has outstanding retopology an texturing tools which are superior to those of Zbrush in my opinion (Granted, in retrospective, I prefer Zbrush for sculpting organic and human forms, and 3DCoat for the hard surface stuff).

Using various brushes, I started from scratch, created a couple of spheres and tweaked them and merged them to create the base for the head. Working from the reference images (important to have side, front, and ¾ views – well lit without studio lighting) I sculpted the head detail until I reached a satisfactory result, in voxels:

33.jpg (670×378)

The next step I had to do is retopologize, UV, and bake the normal maps. I used the 3D Coat Autopo tool for creating the mesh. This model wasn;t supposed to be game res, so I did not worry too much about polycounts, but wanted to capture as much detail as possible with the geometry. At that time I did not intend the face to deform (at least not extremely) so I only suggested proper looping on the face, only using Autopo curves.
Retopology result, with UV seams (created the UV’s in Maya, importing into 3D Coat as a retopo mesh):

43.jpg (670×378)



After retopology was done, I baked the normal maps in 3D Coat itself, and then started laying down the base texture for the head, to be modified later for creation of the maps for the MR SSS shader in Maya. I used some pictures for skin from my references and 3D SK website to polypaint the skin texture. One of the great features of 3D Coat is the ability to use layers like Photoshop, and overlay textures one on another, as well as the ability to paint Diffuse, Specular And Normal detail separately with full control. I added the tertiary normal detail (pores, small wrinkles) using masks and by painting it in.

UI with the textured head:

Face Texture


3D Coat’s texturing bar:


face texture


After these steps with the head, I started blocking in the armor pieces in Maya, using an older version of the head mesh as a prop for now, using my references as image planes for modeling. I layed down the uv maps in maya, using Zbrush’s uv master for cleaner uvs (It’s great!):

UV Map


I took the base meshes into Zbrush for sculpting detail, used polygroups to create the creased lines, and the new Z Remesher tool for retopology of each piece:

Zbrush Pose










I exported high and low poly meshes of each piece and used X Normal for the baking process. I should say that I kept the texture sizes high (4K) since I wanted to preserve as much detail as possible, and since the final result is going to be rendered in a software render.

After baking, I imported the maps to 3D Coat and textures detail, diffuse and spec maps for each piece, later combining them into one bigger maps in Photoshop. For the ornaments on the armor, I used custom masks that I created by tracing the ornaments in the references I had :

front Armor




After all the textures were done, It was time to set up the Maya scene and apply mental ray materials. Most of the metal materials are mia X materials, with certain tweaks – especially additional gloss maps.

The tricky one is the fast SSS material, which required constant tweaking and a lot of maps for proper result. Here is the maps breakdown:

sss shaders






In this material graph, you can notice that the specular contributions were taken from the miaX material, rather then from the SSS one, by connecting it to the object’s shading group in the appropriate slot.

The Maya scene with a camera set up (in this case I used a simple 3 point lighting – and an mip matte shadow material on the plane behind, for blocking the spherical environment from rendering):

light setup


For the environment lighting and the reflections I used the rayswitch node, while hooking the lookup nodes to it in the appropriate slots – using an HDRI map:



Since I wanted to composite the image in After Effects later, I used the separate to contribution method, where I export the diffuse, specular and reflections each to a separate render pass, and composite them together in post.

Example of the set up:

render pass


result of the separate passes:

Diffuse only:
separate passes




Spec only:





Relection only:



AO pass:



For the hair, beard and brows I decided to use 3DS MAX’s hair system (Hair and Fur modifier), for it’s easy combing tools (equivalent to the Shave and Haircut plugin for maya, which I didn’t have). I imported the FBX mesh of the head to MAX, created haircaps and grew hair on them, using a custom made black and white density maps. Here are some settings I used:



fur setup


I rendered the hair separately as well, putting a matte shadow material on the head itself:

hair render


After combining all the layers in After Effects and tweaking each one to receive a desired result, as well as blending in some background and environmental effects, this is the final result:

male character

 Artist Name : Vadim Shlompher
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