What I do with skin (for glossaphile)
@glossaphile I started a new thread here because some folks follow the SF/FF render threads and don't want to wade through the shop talk.
Here is a good example of what I do with skin.
Bump map is pretty subtle but a little more exaggerated on the lips. I'm using a map, not a procedural. Procedurals do not follow the natural bumps in the texture map and look real out of place and fake on the skin. I use a bit of contrast on the bump maps and make a second inverted layer in Photoshop just for the eyebrows so they are bumped in the right direction.
I paint out the fake shadows on the nostrils and sometimes have to paint out burned in speculars on lips or eye shadow.
You might think the amount of bump I use is too little but most photographers get a makeup artist to cover up rough pores before a photo shoot so why should my models face look like the surface of the moon?
There are some wonderful textures out there but not all look real. Fabiana is a great artist and does an awesome job on her character textures but they all make the figure look painted and that is not what I'm going for. I have several of her characters for V4 but I only use the morphs. My rule is if the promo pictures look real enough then I can get it even further. Here is an example.
Thanks for taking the time to offer your advice! I tend to go for a very natural look, and I don't like baking any lighting effects (shaddows, reflections, etc) into any texture.
Your remarks confirmed my suspicions that my SSS map was washing out much of the raw texture map's detail, and I hope to have solved that with this latest revision. I'm back and forth on whether the bump is too strong or not, and there is a seam on the neck where I haven't updated the shader yet, but hopefully this is a noticeable improvement.
@glossaphile The Eye whites are too bright/glowing in your renders. This could be just a problems with the eyewhite texture map being too bright. You can use a HSV or HSV2 node between the map and your diffuse to darken that up. Eyebrows don't look real and are throwing it off along with the strange bump. Check your image in a variety of lighting conditions- it should look good anywhere.
Thanks again! I do often test my shaders with various lighting and angles. Here's a frontal view under more dramatic lighting. I decreased the bump strength and did some work on the eyebrows, so this should look at least a little better. I also reduced the eye glow a bit, though I'm not sure I want to reduce it too much, since I have seen photos where the sclera does seem to have a slight glow to it.