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Using Nuke with Mudbox for V-Ray SSS Skin Conversion

I’ve been doing a lot of skin stuff lately and getting into the proper SSS workflows for V-Ray. While many people have different settings they prefer for a different type of look, some favouring ultra-realism, where I set mine to be slightly on the illustrated side, the workflow is the same between those two looks: you make a V-Ray blend mat with a V-Ray SSS2 base material with its reflectance set to black (none) and use a coat V-Ray Material with black diffuse (contributing nothing) but a mapped, glossy reflectivity for the shine. That is blended by a Fresnel material, which is extremely important – it handles all of your reflectance and gives your skin the healthy Palmolive shine that nosy witch Madge always carries on about. This shader softens your hands while your girlfriend asks you to do the dishes:

Here’s the general layout of the V-Ray Blend Mat shader network:

and a snapshot of what those three input textures within the V-Ray SSS2 material:

You can see which they drive in the title bar name of the image.

Since this workflow has you create at least four materials (diffuse, SSS, overall and specularity), one of the things I learned to do early was to use Nuke to convert my single Mudbox-painted skin texture to these four output textures that have completely different balance and contrast. Since most of my skins are pretty similar and I often revise things mid-project, this non-destructive workflow is a staple of all my skin pics (nyuk). Here’s a peek at the Nuke scene that I use as a template:

At the left is the flattened Mudbox texture and the right half is the SSS material generated from the adjustments to the Mudbox diffuse texture. The initial rotopaint is a dodge to lower contrast since any contrast with SSS textures will show up a lot. The second rotopaint at the right is a painting in of increased finger nail reflectance. All our textures done in one shot. Not bad.

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