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Yury Vorobiev did a breakdown of Behemoth from Horizon Zero Dawn fan art made with 3ds Max, ZBrush, Substance Painter, and UE4.
Hello. A lot of new stuff happened since our last interview: I changed my job position to the level artist at Sperasoft Studio and was lucky enough to contribute to Overkill’s the Walking Dead game. Last year, I participated in the ArtStation Wild West Challenge and created a Ghost Town environment. Also, I learned more about lighting art, made few relighting projects and still continue to explore this field.
Actually, I started this project with thoughts of making Horizon-inspired environment and building some big mechas from the game. However, the mecha took to much time, so I only focused on it. Maybe later I will create an environment for it as I originally wanted.
The main goal was to practice hard-surface skills and create something super cool. Also, I wanted to create something very complex and learn how to connect basic forms into something complicated.
Reference & Planning
My PS4 was super helpful in gathering references from all the sides, especially small things which you don’t immediately notice. ArtStation portfolios of the artists who created the original models were super helpful as well. In my mind, I separated the whole model into 8 pieces: the bottom parts of the legs, the upper parts of the hind legs, body, the big battery in the center, the upper parts of the front legs, neck, head, and accessories such as additional batteries and other stuff.
Different parts in color:
The most important thing for me was to save the original feel of the mech. I changed some small things and made several parts simpler than the original, but the main shapes are the same. I also paid a lot of attention to the armor as it immediately catches the eye.
Modeling the Body
I started with the lower parts of the legs and the big battery in the center. With the central piece, I could control the scale of other elements comparing them to the battery. First of all, I created the armor parts and added the secondary elements beneath and fiber layers beneath them.
Some stages of the high poly model:
For most of the elements, I started with the rough mesh inside of 3ds Max. During that step, I prefer to keep my mesh as simple as possible in order to be able to easily change geometry. I also added all the concave and convex surfaces which would affect silhouette. Then, I sent my mesh to ZBrush and tweaked it to bring more smoothness and fix some shading issues.
After that, I took the model back to 3ds Max to set up smoothing groups and use Chamfer Modifier which affects only unsmoothed edges. After this, I looked if I needed to correct shading somewhere (Set Flow function and Relax help a lot in that). And here I have my high poly mesh. Now, I only need to add some floaters if needed.
For the low poly, I picked the mesh I had before Chamfer modifications and added more geometry where needed to make the silhouette smoothed and not so edgy.
Base mesh ->Base mesh with Chamfer->High Poly -> Low Poly:
Wires Under the Carcass
First of all, I started with blocking out the wires in ZBrush. When I was happy with the form I sent the mesh to 3ds Max and started creating splines along my basemesh. In some places, I changed the wire direction and overlaid the wires for more visual interest.
From ZBrush base mesh to splines in 3ds Max:
For every leg, I made the upper and lower fiber parts. It was a pretty meditative process in creating all these splines and setting the directions. Also, I made a connection between the legs and the body with them.
All fiber elements:
All the deeper neck part consist of wires. There is a quite simple form behind the main decorative elements.
Neck and head fibers:
For texturing, I used Substance Painter. I knew that I wanted to render the final image inside of UE4, but there is a difference between the images in Substance Painter and Unreal. To minimize this difference, you can use ACES LUT for Substance Painter by Brian Leleux.
Comparison between new and old LUT:
I had to split my model into 8 separate files to be able to texture it comfortably. I made a basic color pass of the whole model to make sure I’m on the right track. After that, I decided what parts were going to be metal, painted metal, rubber, plastic and what basic roughness parameters they would have.
The next step is to add some details such as color and roughness variation, surface details, edges highlights, and scratches if needed. These depend on the material you want to create.
The final step is a dirt pass for all the elements: first some AO dirt, then some surface dirt and some light dust in the end.
Here is my material setup inside Substance for the lower parts of the legs as an example:
Leg material setup:
A big challenge here was to combine all the materials together and make them work together.
Lighting & Post-Process
When I was done with texturing I sent everything to Unreal and made some simple color grading to make the picture look juicier.
I set up unique lighting for every separate shot. I started with two directional lights: one is for the main light and the second for the ground shadow and additional highlight. Then, I placed many rim lights to highlight the contours and edges. After that, I add some highlights to the different surfaces.
Lighting setup for one of the shots:
Before and after the lighting setup:
The biggest challenge for me was the texturing part. In order to keep good texel density, I had to split my model into 8 textures and it was pretty complicated to handle all of them.
It was quite challenging for me to get together all the elements, keep the proper scale and handle the forms during the high poly stage. Also, keeping the same design across all the parts can be tricky at first, but later, you get used to it.
I hope you’ve enjoyed this breakdown. Thanks for reading and good luck!