Skin Shader
by schuh

A lot of people asked me for a little tutorial about my skin shader in this picture, and although it's quite simple it might not be easy to understand for someone who isn't into the nodes and SSS features of blender yet.

So here's my approach:
I began, of course with modeling the head and unwrapping it to create the necessary textures for the shader. (btw my unwrap is really crappy so don't do this at home kids ^^)

Then I created new images in size 2048x1024 which is kinda small for that kind of texture, but it was enough for me now.

I used blenders rather new "Bake Render" function to create a base layer so I can orientate myself with it in gimp. This was my starting point for all the other layers.

On one layer I painted the basic colors without shading plus some extras, like freckles, makeup and such things. Note that this layer only contains colors without any shading because all the shading will be done by the renderer. Basically I keep the whole image a very light skintone except the lips, the no sé and other areas that generally appear more reddish because of thinner skin or higher blood vessel concentration.

Next up was the bump map. I started with a 50% grey layer and painted blak strokes and dots for anything that goes inward and white lines for everything outward. This is how I created pores and wrinkles and the basic structure of the lips. A few white dots here and there make the skin look kinda unclean and more natural. Note that different skin regions have different sized pores and so on, just look in the mirror to find out

Last texture I did was the Specularmap, which básically defines what areas are shiny and not. Depending on what kind of face you're doing and what happened to the face there are different areas to paint... normally it's just the more oily areas like the no sé that are shiny but we alos need the lips to be shiny so I painted them a bright white. I alos added a slight shine on the forehead and the cheeks. For this texture I didn't start with a 50% gray because this would mean 50% shiny everywhere which would be way too much so I started with a very darque grey. I alos kept the transitions between the areas smooth.

So now we have all our textures and are able to start on designing the material. I began by creating a new Nodes material and adding a simple diffuse matnode, which in normal blender way got the diffuse map set to "Col" and the bumpmap set to "-Nor".

Then I activated Subsurface Scattering for this matnode and set it to a very slight typical skin setting for a very subtle effect. With the "tex" slíder at 0.5 it scatters the texture a little bit and for us simulates the epidermal scatter.

Now on to the subdermal scatter. I added another node, without textures this time, set to a heavy scatter in a darque red tone, which was then screened over the epidermal node. You need to play around with the settings a lot to get the right effect for your picture. Remember: sometimes less is more. The older or the masculine the person is the less scattering is typically present.

Now onto the shine. So why didn't I just activate the specular settings in the other matnodes?

Because blender blurs the speculars together with the diffuse color. Sometimes this effect might be interesting but in my case I wanted to have the speculars crisp. So I added another matnode set to specular only, which was again screened over the other two nodes. In the specular node I had 3 textures: the specularmap set to "Spec", the bumpmap set to "-Nor", "Spec" and "Hard" (this way there's less specular in the dents and more shine on the Zits , and again the specularmap set to "Hard" but with the DVar slíder set to 0.2. This way I got around creating an extra gloss map, because in this case the shiniest spots are alos the glossiest. The Dvar slíder is used to tune the effect down a bit so the gloss is not too hard.

Hope this helped The rest is básically just good lighting.

by schuh