Sub-surface skin like in Iron Man 3!!!!

Just wondering if anyone had any ideas on how to create sub surface skin with a glow like the bad guys in Iron Man 3, I believe.  I was able to find one tutorial, by Andrew Kramer, who was using after effects.  I seemed to do ok until I had to create depth underneath the skin. Fractal noise worked good for the first initial layer. Appreciate any help especially if someone knows an easier way.  Thank you!


  • Triem23
    Triem23 Posts: 20,065 Ambassador

    Really, that Andrew Kramee tutorial wouldn't be where I would point you. 

    You're HF 3 Pro, yes? I ask because there's a way to get mocha to track the face planes like Kramer did. I haven't viewed that tutorial in awhile--didn't he use multiple fractal noises for each layer? What are you using as veins? Trying to remember who did it, but someone did this effect in Hitfilm 2 Ultimate. Looked good. 

  • @triem23, Hitfilm 4 actually!  Yeah, he used fractal noise for the first initial layer, then two different vein layers after that, then multiplied them several times and added Gaussian blur to create the depth.  I again, as usual, have trouble with the terminology with using after effects in using them in correlation to hitfilm, so when I try to follow along its only one mistake and im hit. Honestly, I have started building short films around @simonjones tutorials.  The newest helicopter one he put out was awesome! Anyways, im sending this out, any ideas on how to make this better. The microchip is tracked in nicely and I just dropped the opacity but the color scheme is horrible. I just want to create a little depth behind the  skin where the microchip is for best realism. If I cant create depth, maybe theres a way glow or something to take the focus off a microchip plastered to a wrist.  Heres the shot, let me know what you think?


  • Triem23
    Triem23 Posts: 20,065 Ambassador

    It's actually pretty close to what it needs to be. My main advice is move it down the forearm, shrink it, or both. You have it extending into the wrist joint where it would impair movement and hurt like hell! 

    So, once you put it between the forearm bones, you've made your composite easier--being on the wrist means you have to deal with major creases, bumps and deformation. 

    Forearm, you only have two bones and really the one vein to worry about. Don't put it under that vein. There's no way to do that surgically that's not a pain in the arm, and above the vein would be skin deformation. Change the angle of the chip to be parallel to the vein. 

    Ok, from here there's one more easy step. Take the same camera you shot the footage with, give ut the same white balance settings  and put the brightest flashlights you have thru the back of your fingers, hand and arm. Take pictures. 

    Now, take that picture into Hitfilm. You can shrink it down to like 500 pixels high. You want an embedded copy in your main comp. When you build glows and fills and effects, use the eyedropper to pull colors off this picture. Sampling the color of light coming through your own skin on your camera should get you close to what you need to be. 

    Otherwise, Kramer's shot had the flesh emitting light obscured by tissue. Your shot is the chip glowing through flesh, which is a different thing altogether. 

    Hold on, I need to watch the VCP again. 

  • Interesting take on this! Let me give it a try, light coming through the skin is worth the try alone. Thanks, as always!

  • FlyingBanana78
    FlyingBanana78 Posts: 477 Enthusiast

    tuckerkras12 I did this one in Hitfilm 3 Pro just messing around and trying to get the same results as the subsurface tutorial did. Will have to try and put together a better one that this but yes it can be done in Hitfilm especially with Mocha

  • Stargazer54
    Stargazer54 Posts: 3,425 Ambassador
  • Triem23
    Triem23 Posts: 20,065 Ambassador

    @FlyingBanana78 yeah that does look right on.

    @tuckerkras12 I think another reason you're having trouble getting a good parallax movement from your shot is you're more-or-less straight on to the camera. Notice that both Andrew Kramer and FlyingBanana shot so the respective faces were at an angle to the camera--this is what would allow deeper layers to be seen. By looking straight at the chip you haven't left yourself anywhere to add in deeper parallax layers because there's no parallaxing movement!

    After re-watching the VCP tut and putting some thought into it, I think that yeah, Kramer's technique will do what you want. What he's doing isn't actually that complicated when you think about it--he's just kind of creating a blobby black and white alpha matte to drive some glows. Everything he does with fractal noise and veins etc is all about making that Luma Matte.

    So--general tip for translating After Effects to Hitfilm. Whenever an AE tutorial does something like "Set the Track Matte to >whatever<," AE is doing something Hitfilm can do, but in a different way. In Hitfilm you'd need to move the layer you want at your matte into an embedded composite shot, bring it back to your main comp, then apply the Set Matte effect to the face layer using the embed as the source for a Set Matte/Luma.

    For making your Luma Matte I'd start with a White copy of your chip, since that's what's emitting light. Do a fractal Noise UNDER that, but maybe set your "White" to something like 200, 200, 200 instead of 255, 255, 255. Maybe set the chip blend mode to Screen and lower the opacity to see some of the fractal through the chip. The fractal noise will give you the muscle and fat diffusion. In fact, I'm thinking copy your white chip to yet another embedded composite shot, make sure it's pure white, then add some glow to that! Bring this back into the comp where you're making your luma matte and use this glowed copy of the chip as a luma matte to limit the fractal noise. That will help tie the shape of the glow to the shape of the chip.

    For the veins, I really don't have too many hints--that's a certain amount of exploration. However, what's going on with the Luma Matte is that anything pure white is 100% effected by your glows and curves, where anything black is 0% effected. So Kramer's map ultimately glows where the white parts are and shows the regular skin where it's black. His sharp black veins represent areas where the vein is close to the surface and blocking the glow. His blurred veins are the ones deeper under the skin and closer to the light source, thus blocking less light. I wouldn't use those branching, "360 degree" veins like he did. Those work well for a face because there's a lot of complex muscle interaction in the face. The forearm is a lot less complex. Take a glance at this image or Google more medical images to get a feel for how the blood vessels of the arm are laid out. (Notice that in this post and my last I suggest a lot of reference. This is a general note--if you're trying to make something look like it's under skin, look at the anatomy. If you're trying to create an explosion, look at the real thing. If you're doing lightning, look up the real thing. Reference is your friend... Taking my own advice, I'm adjusting a 3D model of a "Buck Rogers Earth Defense Directorate Starfighter, using screencaps from the show to sample the correct colors for the materials and textures. The modeller made it pure white, but the shooting model had a bit of orange in it.)

  • @triem23 Yesssssssss! Awesome, very easy the way you just explained that.  Really wish you had the time to put more tutorials out!!!!!!!!