Creating a Frost Gun with Blender

Mikhail Kovyatkin did a breakdown of his Frost Gun made with Blender,  Substance Painter, and Toolbag.

Mikhail Kovyatkin did a breakdown of his Frost Gun made with BlenderSubstance Painter, and Toolbag.


Hi, my name is Misha Kovyatkin. I am a 3D Environment Artist and Hard-Surface Modeler.

I started learning 3D five years ago by watching Youtube videos. In the beginning, it was just a hobby, then freelance, and finally it became a full-time job. After about 3 years of studying, I got hired by the company Unigine, the developers of the engine with the same name. I spent around two years with them, and it was a great time. I created lots of assets, tried my hand at level design, lighting, materials, animation, and post-processing in game engines.

Here is Oil Refinery, one of the projects I had the chance to participate in as a member of Unigine Art Team.

After Unigine, I moved to Saint Petersburg and got a job at Trace Studio, where I have been working until now, making an AAA project.

Frost Gun


It all started when my colleague Gesy Bekeyei gave me an idea to create a sci-fi Nerf gun. I got inspired and began looking for references. I opted for one of the first pictures I found which was a water gun. My idea was simple yet interesting: make a sufficiently close to the reference model with more realistic materials.


The creation of the base took a couple of evenings.

There are few things deserving attention at this stage. The model was created in Blender with Hard Ops, textured in Substance and baked in Toolbag. While texturing, I wanted to add more anisotropy to the cylindrical elements and to make severe wear. The last one looks too generic now, I think I should have put more effort into it.

I have my own Wear Generator that works on Anchor Points. It contains a few different masks which take the information from the same generator.

The Anchor Points were also used for the reservoir. I used them with High-Pass Filter to add a small height to the pieces of the paint.

At first, I thought that good texturing would be enough to make the model interesting. I made something like chemical slime, but it didn’t look great enough, so I started considering what else to add.

The intermediate result:

Then, I involved our lead artist Iskander G into the project and we got down to concepting. Together we invented this super-duper thing:


From realism to stylization

The creation of the most complicated element turned out to be not so difficult. Modeling in Blender is easy as pie! Go to Sculpt Mode, take the Snake Hook brush, turn on Dynamic topology (aka dyntopo) and create.

The result:

The mesh is fairly dense because we are going to add some displacements made from cloud textures.

I used Boolean Modifier to create the gun and reservoir from the ice.

The texture is quite simple. I made the thick places darker while the thin places were pure white. Here we need a Thickness Map, it could be baked right in Substance Painter.

The key stage was to adjust the material in Toolbag. There is no point in describing all the things I adjusted, but a good deal of the time was spent on Subsurface and Transparency.

The final settings:

I also added some Emissive, made on the base of the Thickness Map with tweaked Levels.

I also needed to add a smooth transition from the metal surfaces to the ice on the reservoir and gun texture. This was done with a Trim Texture with alpha placed under the ice.


Big crystals are middle-poly meshes, small ones are textures with transparency.

In Blender, they consist of two particle systems:

  • for big meshes
  • for planes with alpha channel

The process of drawing the small crystals:

To create a base for them, I made transitions on the gun texture: lots of spots from the Noise and Procedural masks.

One of the spots is a Tile Generator with Warp Filter:


The high-poly was created in Marvelous Designer and ZBrush, with retopology made in Blender.

Once, while surfing Artstation, I found an interesting reference of the cloth with wire for wrapping a cold weapon and got an itch to add something like that to my project.

I gave the texture some dirt, blood stains, snow spots, and some pattern to break the solid color.


The rendering was done in Toolbag, with rather default settings. As for the lighting, there are three main light sources with a few flares.

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