Making of “Unexpected Traits”

I’ve had this “Wolverine-type” concept for several years. But just never had the time or expertise to pull it off. The hitch was the mirror. Using flake blades just never worked. -With the mirror that it. Trust me. I tried. So why use the mirror in the first place? Difficulty. I enjoy challenges. But after 3 separate attempts, over several years time, I concluded 3D was the answer. This is where Jason Byrne entered the scene. He gracious lent his 3D talents after hearing the overall direction. Which was this…


The above photo was a quick, proof-of-concept. The goal here was to give a peek at camera angle, lighting, mirror angle, color tone, positioning of character, expression, and resolution. The real setup,which came much later, looked like this…


Here’s the ingredients to what turned into a 2-hour shot at midnight on a week day.

A – Sentimental prop.

B – iPhone headphones to dig music while I setting things up.

C – Canola Oil. I had to rub it on my arms and face to increase my skin’s contrast.

D – An army green wife-beater t-shirt and jeans. Which ultimately looked totally forced so I kept the short sleeves.

E – All the “real” items I had to remove from the counter top before shooting.

F – Clippers. I had to shave-down the stubble alil’ since it appeared too thick/dark in the test shots.

G – Tripods placed on the same marks at those used for the test shot.


This image says it all. I used Adobe Lightroom to help organize the 57 shots. Of those I chose 3 as “possibles.” Not a single slider was touched in Lightroom since the  final pick had to remain unprocessed. The various notes on the above image were the factors I weighed during review. One detail that’s hard to see is my actually body position. Due to the camera angle I had to stand on a stack of towels to be at the right height. I also had to stand half way beyond the view of the mirror in order for the camera angle (again) to work. So…standing on your tip toes, leaning far forward, over ‘n over again for well over an hour tends to wear on your nerves a bit.


Finally, I had to shot a panoramic of the room. Five shot per view were necessary to generate an HDR of the environment. The HDR information was necessary for the 3D engine to guarantee proper lighting data. Not like I wanted those claws to look like some obvious CGI. After all that I sent Jason the final pick, HDR, and reference.

A few days later and Jason sent me this…

Upon approval of the above he rendered the model and provided a Layered .tif file. Here’s what that .tif looked like.


Ten Photoshop files followed. The first few were simply about Masking the blades to the character’s fist, then creating a convincing sense of “insertion” of the claws, and finally tonal and texture treatments. Here’s a summary of those ten stages.

ud_090716_files…and that’s that. Here’s the post with the final composite.

-Hope you enjoyed the overview.

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