Manish Rawat shared the process of modeling and texturing an Indian vehicle and keeping its authenticity.
My name is Manish Rawat, 27 years old, and I am a video game artist specializing in vehicles, weapons, and props. I come from a quiet and peaceful foothill called Gairsain (Chamoli), situated in Northern India (Uttarakhand).
I kick-started my professional career and have spent the last 5+ years with one of the oldest gaming studios in India, Dhruva Interactive.
My work consists of creating assets/content for video games. Some of the released titles I have worked on are Forza 6, Metro Exodus, Days Gone, and Memories of Mars.
Before starting any work, it’s very important to know exactly what you want. As a healthy practice, I picture the final scene in my head, the look and feel of the asset, what kind of the story, environment, and ambiance I want to see.
If this vision is clear from the start, half of the work is done. Then, I search for references exactly for those moods and feelings. Often, references don’t picture exactly what you want, but you can get certain pieces out of them and put the puzzle together.
For this project, I also walked around and took pictures of local trucks. This would allow me to get a touch of realism and also excitement about the asset creation process.
I highly recommend artists to do this kind of activities. Also, don’t forget to politely ask permissions to take pictures if the owners are around.
Once enough references are collected, the blocking stage begins. In this stage, dimensions, proportions, real/virtual world scaling are taken care of. It’s a good practice to block out all elements and move on to the next stages. However, that also depends on the skill level of the artist. If you are confident and experienced and you know exactly what risk you can take, always go for it. Restricting yourself and setting rules can ruin the fun.
With this specific truck, I aimed at making an authentic local Indian carrier truck and I stuck to it until the end. During the blocking stage, I answered the questions What elements of the truck I need and where they are situated. It is very easy to get carried away as one might be tempted to add more cool and flashy elements from other sources. Almost every art piece consists of primary, secondary and tertiary details to make it interesting and complete. Blocking is the stage where you ensure that all the primary details are blocked in.
Here’re a few examples of how the blocking stage of this truck looked like:
- High Poly
Once the primary details are blocked and the middle stage is complete, the “tiny elements” are what is targetted next. The creation process is similar: block in mid-level details and then refinements.
These details complete the asset look and define the style and origin of the truck. That is why it is important to choose the correct designs. For example, choosing an American truck mirror will throw off the feel of an Indian truck.
However, the design should not only be authentic but also complement the primary shapes and details. It’s not just about finding the right design but also finding the right placements for its details.
High poly screenshots:
- Low Poly
For this truck, I used the mid poly model and created the final low poly model out of it. If you are in the gaming industry, low poly is the only thing that matters as this is what goes in the engine.
During the process I kept the following things in mind: maintaining good line flows, good mesh shading and as much optimization as possible. Optimization is a variable factor though, in personal artworks we can be quite generous.
Foreseeing whether the high poly details will get a good bake on your low poly will save lots of time. If you can’t foresee, test bake. In some situations, high poly meshes/designs are iterated again to benefit the low poly quality.
Substance Painter is my choice and I can’t get enough of this software. It is currently the texture artist’s best friend.
When it comes to the material creation, “feel” is the most important part. If I cannot feel the coldness and hardness of the bare metal, then it will not justify the metal elements in my artwork. Once the base materials – steel, plastic, rubber, etc. – are applied, the next step is to work on the details. What kind of plastic is it? Is it new? Is it used? Is it dirty? And so on. These texture details answer the questions about the truck’s origin, ambiance, and history.
I considered this truck a personal piece, hence I was quite generous with the budget. Therefore, all the texture details are from the main texture page. In a professional process, most of the text, colored patterns, images, etc. would have been achieved through alpha planes.
- Glass Texture
The glass was one of the most important materials in the scene and I wanted to take special care of it.
Before going into the details, we should think about how this particular glass has been used to make it logical and believable. I also tried to stay as close to the reference as possible and create interest by adding a few clipping patterns and an overall semi-dirty feel. For adding the smudge and details I used some alpha brush and did a bit of painting to get the right look. I also added some wipes we usually get while cleaning the glass, a bit of dust, wear, and aging.
The renders were all done in Marmoset Toolbag. It was a slow interactive process as I’m quite average in lighting and rendering.
I can’t say much about the process as I have little knowledge, but I should say one of the advantages of being an artist is having a community. Fellow artists are always helpful, and I am proud to say that the final renders are the result of feedback from many people. After every round of my render set up, I asked for feedback from friends, seniors artists, etc. and improvised from those.
I can see that I need improvement in every aspect – the textures can be more detailed, the low poly can be much more optimized, and so on. And the clue to making it better is always in more hard and smart work. It’s very important to get feedback from others and work based on it.