After talking with Aurelius Legion about his Tycho conversion (seen above) using the idea of faux painting, I got his permission to share some of our discussion with you all. The idea of faux painting is not a new one, we do it all the time with battle damage. It really gets interesting when you apply it to other places though.
I've talked about doing it with hair to create texture that is not actually on the model.
In this case, it was applied to Tycho's face mask.
The face on the left is what he started with. Not bad at all, but there are a few key things I convinced him to do to really seal the deal and make it even more convincing. The face on the right is my example done in photoshop.
The biggest difference is a line highlight and a single shadow where the face mask meets his skin. By adding a highlight to the one you want to be on top (the metal mask) and a shadow to the one you want to pass underneath (his actual face) you create the illusion that one is sitting on top of the other one. Of the two effects (the highlight and shadow), the shadow is the more important one I believe.
In reality it's nothing more than paint. The illusion works because the two pieces do not have a drastic change in surface height. The mask is not a foot thick and we wouldn't have an actual change in surface depth.You could model this if you wanted to, but knowing this trick might save you from a potentially troublesome sculpting job depending on your skills. I'm not sure I'd want to try sculpting half of a face myself.
So next time you think you need to sculpt something on your model, take a closer look at it. Maybe you don't need to sculpt it on. Maybe you can fool the viewer into thinking it's there just by the way you paint it.
And last but not least, check out the post with all the pics of Tycho for the full effect.
A special thanks to Aurelius Legion for allowing me to share this.
Make sure to check out the other Hobby Focus Articles too!