Lary Kummer talked about the production of Junkrat’s RV in Substance Painter and Toolbag and the way he experiments with PBR and hand-painted workflows.
Hello! I’m Lary Kummer, a 3D Artist from France. I studied at a video game school in France. I decided to go full-on stylized art and build a portfolio with pieces showing what I love doing. After a few months, one of my post on Polycount was noticed by multiple companies and I got recruited by Mediatonic Games in London where I’ve been working for around 3 years on PC and mobile titles. My last project was “Gears Pop!” releasing in 2019.
I’ve just joined an indie studio called Shiro Games in Bordeaux (France) where I’m working on a new IP called Darksburg.
When I started developing my style, it was only on hand-painted assets with a “diffuse only” workflow. It took me a while to get into the high poly/low poly and PBR workflows but now that I’m more comfortable with both, I like mixing them. It offers the advantage of both workflows and I can push my style much further.
With my last projects, I learned how to balance hand-painted and PBR. Creating a piece with an already established style is a good way to learn new techniques and workflow. Making the Junkrat’s RV with an Overwatch style was the perfect opportunity.
Even though it’s stylized, I think sometimes it’s important to have a realistic approach in your choices. For the RV, I looked at many references from various vehicles and extracted elements I liked: objects, details, wear, and tear, etc. and adapted them with the style. For the rest, I’m trying to add details where it makes sense. Having these elements helps to anchor the piece in reality.
Obviously, I’m using references from Overwatch. From high poly to final in-game textured assets, everything is useful.
For the modeling part, there’s nothing really impressive. I always try to keep my workflow simple and easy so I’m not getting lost in small tasks. I’m spending a lot of time rotating around my model, checking every object in every angle to make sure everything looks in place. I’m keeping in mind the fundamentals: silhouette, readability, connection/transition between objects, and so on. The Thumb war article by Paul Richards really inspired me, even though is originally meant for concept artists. These rules translate really well in 3D.
My high poly stays really clean and simple, I handle all the details during the texturing phase (Explained later on).
Beveled edges are a big part of the style, it will impact the feeling of your asset and all your future baked maps. It’s important to keep a consistent bevel size throughout your assets, harmonizing your details will give a solid style.
Projecting details is a really good way to keep your model clean and easy to edit. Just make sure your cage is big enough to include all the details. I’m baking in Marmoset and I highly recommend it, you can edit your cage and the skewing super easily. Here’s an example of a projection:
For the low poly, I was aiming for an optimized model but with enough polygons to have fun. The key points are a silhouette and the investment of polygons where it matters. When you’re done with your low poly, check it from every angle from your game camera (that will vary depending on the type of game you’re working on). If there’s any hard edge that breaks the illusion, it’s worth checking if you can add polygons to keep your silhouette.
Moving on the texturing phase was much more challenging than anticipated. Everything was done in Substance Painter except the custom brushes and alpha made in Photoshop. Even though I used Painter, you’ll see that I tackled the texturing similar to a hand-painted process.
I started by applying my materials using the ID map and searching for a nice color scheme as the concept was in black and white. It was really exciting to dive into the detail but before starting, I had to figure out a way to work on the big picture.
Folks on Polycount really helped me on this one, giving me precious feedback! That’s a before and after feedback:
Here are the key points for the texturing phase:
- Adding enough AO to help to separate elements and create volumes, coloring it adds more vibrancy.
- Strong top to bottom hue gradient combined with a Baked lighting filter to add even more volume.
- More separation between materials. Having a reflective material next to rough one creates an attractive look.
- The Curvature map is playing a huge role, I’m using two: the first one is at 100% and the second one at 20% with a blur, both in Overlay mode.
- Material-wise, I’m keeping the metal pretty rough to keep the albedo visible (0.85/0.9 Metallic channel and 0.25 Roughness channel).
- I added a “Dust” layer to have a uniform look on the materials and colors. In this case, it’s just an orange tone at 15%.
Thanks to Substance Painter, you can now easily add details in the normal map. All the damages are painted by hand and some alpha are used for polish (like graffitis and stickers).
After adding anything in my height channel, I’m baking the curvature again. You can either bake it in another program or directly in Painter by exporting your normal map that includes painted heights details and import it back into Painter.
As a result, all the new details added are included in the curvature:
I’m using custom brushes for the detailing, these guys were so useful for adding hue and roughness variation everywhere. I tried to use them in corners/places to break the monotony and not overuse them as it was bringing to much noise.
Rendering & Presentation
Lighting and renders are done in Marmoset, I’m using a custom skybox from a modified image of Junkertown and a few lights. For that one, I really wanted that nice blue visible on the metal bits and that warm orange from below. I always spend the necessary time to find the lighting setup that fits my asset, renders are so important after all the hard work you put in a piece!
It’s the same for the presentation, I try a few things with different fonts, effects, and layout. It can really make a difference to have a catchy presentation on your portfolio.
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