Crimson Storm

The character of Crimson Storm was created by Brandon McKinney. He provided me with a wealth of information, including this sketch he created when designing the character. He also described the scene he was looking for; Crimson Storm flying with an escort of fighters into the desert. Between her red outfit and the desert environment, I chose to give the piece a warm color scheme that would compliment her colors well.


I modelled the character in Poser using the figure of Victoria 3. V3 is one of the most widely known Poser figures and has thousands of pre-made clothing and props available. I already had the gloves and boots in my model library from previous purchases, so all that was required was loading up the V3 body suit and creating the required Transparency Map to create the leotard.

Her hair was created by the incredible Kozaburo. I love the hair he make so much, I use it in almost every piece. In this particular one, however, I planned to have Crimson Storm flying and would most likely need to re-paint it (since the model hair is formed to drape down, not back).


I was looking for a powerful flight position that showed her as directly as possible. Instead of a side view, I chose a front view to push the drama.

I'm including the side view to show that figure positions can be very odd when seen from the wrong angle.

Fortunately, I was planning on a straight-on view and the top camera was giving me what I wanted.


I imported Crimson Storm into Vue Infinite. I added a couple of aircraft models and placed them in rought formation, scaling the further ones down slightly to push the perspective. I added a bright, noontime sun and soft clouds to set the lighting, but wasn't pleased with the direction the piece was headed.


I decided the previous aircraft model wasn't detailed enough for the resolution I intended to render, so I called a few modelling friends and was directed to this superior model.


After getting the placements correct for Crimson Storm and the aircraft, I decided the noontime setting wasn't getting the drama I was looking for. I started to play with the environment settings in Vue and, with each modification, found myself gravitating towards a setting sun.

I set the light source to be from the direction Crimson Storm was flying to help balance the composition.


After the render is complete, I go over the main figures to correct oddities that show up. In this case, Crimson Storm had a number of sharp shadows and odd pixels that appeared. Her skin was also 'cold' in tone, and some of the skin blemished on the texture appeared in greater detail than I desired.

Using Photoshop, I went over the piece in detail to correct the issues.

Cleaned up!

Compare these two images and you'll see the level of clean up that every piece gets. Her outfit is smooth, the shadows are soft, I smoothed out the nipple and breasts, warmed up the skin tones, and added the soft cloth items that weren't on the original model.

Because clothing can look so stiff, I often choose to photoshop in softer details. In the case of Crimson Storm, her sash was a prime candidate for post work.


Here's another close-up look of the raw render. It's acceptible, but it could be a lot better.

Looking it over, I notice sharp shadows across her torso, and one in particular on her jawline that HAD to go. Her eyes ended up being shaded by her hair, and the hair is somewhat stiff (as I thought it might be). Her skin is lifeless and her eyes are dull. This is where clean-up becomes manditory.

WIP (Work In Progress)

Some pieces don't require extensive clean-up, but in the case of Crimson Storm, I wanted a really cute face and just wasn't getting it from the renders. I created a seperate layer in Photoshop (actually 3... one for the face, one for the hair, and one for her mask) and started to paint.

2 hours later, I had a face I was happy with. In the image on the left, you can still see the original hair on the layer below. That is because I use the rendered face below for scale to ensure the repainted head remains the same size.

Cleaned up!

Here's her cleaned up face with the original head removed. I also spent time cleaning up the body to make sure the two matched skin tones. I softened more shadows, polished the hair, and cleaned up the skin blemishes.


I added additional clouds to the background of Crimson Storm to push the drama of the piece further, making sure the sun was set appropriately to match the lighting from the render. I also added special effects to Crimson Storm's hands. I didn't know what effects Brandon McKinney used when he'd illustrated Crimson Storm in the past, so I selected something that would compliment the colors of the piece. With my luck, she shoots blue ice...