The first step: I have created a low poly head in Maya and then I have imported it into ZBrush. The goal is achieving the normal map from the hi-res model and using it in Maya. Nothing fancy here, I need a simple model: the pilot will be visible in a few frames during the animation, the fighters are very detailed and I can't "spend" a bunch of polygons. I found out some interesting photographs browsing the internet to use as reference for my 3D head.
The image on the left is the result of my work. Using the standard brush and the move tool, I have sculpted a simple head in 30 minutes. I'm pretty happy about my head, I'm creating a tough, die hard pilot! I have used a couple of alpha brushes to add details like the beard, the eyebrows and hair. Probably this step is useless, but ZBrush is so amusing! Now I can create the normal map to "smooth" my low poly head.
The next step is boring (for me): it's time to use Photoshop to paint a texture on the UV map. Probably it's the moment where I waste a lot ot time. I can create a model very quickly but I'm never satisfied when I use Photoshop. Actually I'd like to send my model to the texturing department but I dont'work for Pixar, it's all home made. In this case I created the texture in 3, 4 hours making it again, and again, and again. I used a lot of references I found in internet. The result is not phenomenal but I can live with it. I really don't like flat hair but I cannot use fur, it's too expensive. No eyes at this moment, this guy is still blind!
The day after: I have tought of using a technique for video games to have my hair. The idea is simple: creating a lot of cards to fake the hair. The result should not be terrific but this guy will have a helmet and I won't spend a lot of resources for the hair. The problem is that I have to come back to Photoshop to create a new texture with a good alpha channel. The image on the right shows the cards on top of the head.
What a crew cut for this guy! I think the result is pretty good, considering I'll must model the helmet. It's very important to program what we are going to see in the animation not to waste useful resources. The final texture is a tga file with an alpha channel for the transparency. I used a single hair wisp scaled, mirrored and altered a lot of time to achieve a minimum of variety. 1 hour of Photoshop for this work. As said before, this result could be better but I have to model the helmet, the body, the boots and the hands yet. And this guy will be visible for a few frames. Ok for now, it's time to find a reference of the helmet used in Battlestar Galactica.