Aging Monika

Skin-deep beauty

Aging is one of the fun tasks of a texture artist. The true power of beauty is in the texture artist's hands. With a hi-res photography pipeline aging becomes very specific. A vague question like "how old is old?" becomes "do you want Monika age 50? or age 75? or Monika the mummy?"

In fact, it is very hard to create a young beautiful face from a CG point of view. Young people have really tight pores, which make for really weak bump maps on smooth skin. Villains and older people have really large pores which really make for great specular and bump maps. So older is often easier.

Strange things happen to the skin when it ages. Skin actually gets thinner with time, so whatever is in the subdermal layer really starts to peak through. If I skinned Monika alive, her epidermis would have virtually no color in it.

The seven layers of epidermis (commonly thought of as your skin) are a semi-translucent layer kind of like a latex glove. This layer has no blood in it. In essence, the human body is a bag of water, bones and blood. The subdermis is where all the action is, with fat, blood, bruises, pigmentation, nerves, red, blue, and yellow veins.

As the body gets older, anomalies happen in the skin—especially in the subdermis. Skin sags and wrinkles. Blood circulation slows down, because your heart is weakening. This means less oxygen in the blood and blueish skin. A lot more blue veins occur. Weird fatty deposits pop up leaving blemishes. Dirt, crap, melanoma, and the tough road of life itself get embedded in your skin as you age. Your pores get bigger, and dirt gets in them. Zits become blackheads. Stress and income all play into the aging of your skin. It's a very interesting concept to argue that it's age, beauty and life that makes the skin.

152 ESSENCE The Face

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