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Photorealistic Character Look Dev in Maya & Arnold

Lighting, Shading & Rendering a Photorealistic Portrait With Sefki Ibrahim


Whether it’s in movies, TV shows, music videos, or video games, digital humans are everywhere. This comprehensive workshop by Sefki Ibrahim demonstrates how he approaches the look development of a digital double, and covers his complete process for lighting, shading, and rendering using Maya and Arnold. 

Starting in Maya, Sefki shares his techniques to light the character model, utilizing area lights, HDRI maps, and light blockers to establish the right mood before adjusting the camera to achieve the very best likeness of his digi-double. 

The look-dev process begins with the set up of the shaders for the eye geometries, including the sclera, iris, pupil, caruncle, and meniscus, using the Arnold Standard Surface shader. Once the eyes are in place, Sefki demonstrates how to set up the skin shader, plugging in texture maps and fine-tuning values for a photorealistic finish. 

The workshop advances from there into some procedural techniques that will push the look of the skin using specific nodes in the Hypershade window. Finally, the tutorial concludes with shading the hair groom using the Arnold Standard Hair shader, as well as setting up a leather and cotton material for the clothing. 

Duration: 2h 49m

Format: HD 1920x1080

Sefki Ibrahim

Senior Look Dev TD at ILM

Sefki Ibrahim currently works as a Senior Look-dev TD at ILM specializing in high-end digital doubles and characters. After graduating with an MA in Computer Animation, he started working as a freelancer, primarily for digital human demos and ads — from scan data and texture clean-up to digi-double modeling, texturing, grooming, and look dev. 

He’s previously lectured in computer animation, training students in the character art pipeline, and has developed a variety of tutorials for companies including Reallusion, TexturingXYZ, and 3D Artist magazine.

  • Sefki has a meticulous eye for detail and the ability to apply what he sees to generate hyper-realistic CG versions of real-world objects.

    - Sam Jackson
    Director, Sample and Hold

  • I had the pleasure of working with Sefki for a few months on creating a digital version of Einstein at The Mill. Simply put: he elevated the CG to an incredible level of photorealism. He’s clearly passionate about his work and the detail he puts in is second to none.

    - Alex Hammond
    Joint Head of 3D, The Mill

  • Sefki has a rare qualification of being both a sought-after expert in his field as well as an inspiring educator.

    - Richard Cunningham
    Computer Animation MA Course Director, Kingston University