A 3D artist Munkhjin Otgonbayar has shared some helpful workflow tips on production of a mesmerizing Sci-Fi melee weapons. The entire project was textured with Substance tools.
Hi! My name is Munkhjin and I am an artist from Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia. I graduated from the University of Science and Technology and also studied Computer Graphics in college.
I was first introduced to 3D when I was a sophomore. As I dug deeper, I was feeling like I met my destiny – the thing that I was born to do. Unfortunately, 3D was not present in my major, which meant no mentors or close references to ask for help. Only after spending days and nights staring at the screen, I turned into those who people call “the greats”. I also studied biographies and workflows of successful and recognized artists such as Vitaly Bulgarov. He does so much hard work one can’t really comprehend. I realized that the correct mindset is the single key to growing and making the impossible possible.
His knowledge and life experience saved me and perhaps thousands of more people like me.
I made my mind to cultivate a creative mindset in me and only then take any commercial projects. Therefore, my portfolio is full of personal works, as you may notice. Making this Melee Weapon Set, I’ve focused on improving the design elements.
- Maya is my main tool for making things in 3D. I mostly use it for hard surface modeling and render setup.
- Substance Painter – texture painting
- Substance Designer – tileable textures
- Redshift – rendering
- Nuke – compositing
- AE – post-production such as color correction, and other additional effects
One of the tricks that I’ve learned while I was studying 3D (especially modeling) is strictly sticking to the plan. Having a clear step-by-step technical process helps you work faster, bolder and most importantly – work in a well-organized way.
Blocking is everything. To create a scene at the conceptual stage, it is crucial to illustrate your ideas at exceptional speed. A common flaw in most 3D artists is giving too much importance to the topology part. It gives you modeling barriers and limitations. If you disregard the topology work while you’re blocking out a scene, it provides you the appropriate shape in the fastest way.
Functionality and durability
Considering applications and tools is an important part while you’re blocking out a scene. All “beautiful” assets and structures should develop on the underlying practical purpose of the item. As the French architect Louis Sullivan said: “Form follows function”.
Beveling decides how “beautiful” the form will be.
Support edge should be added after the block out, and after the beveling stages are completely done. Furthermore, providing an additional topology gives you a better layout for UV maps.
It’s safer to add the small details like bolts and nuts after beveling and supporting edge. (Skipping or disarranging any of these steps can possibly result in an unfixable model.)
I always try to push beyond my limits in every project. However, simpler texture solutions allow me to explore other facets of the render, such as lighting and composition, etc. I created some ready-to-use “Smart Materials” and “Tileable” textures, using “Substance Painter” and “Substance Designer” for such this occasion. I think that these programs are the best in the industry. The UI is extremely user-friendly, even though it is not amateurish.
Here’s a short overview of my texturing breakdown:
- List the necessary materials for a particular asset
- Accumulate/assemble a reference library for said materials
- Test the color palette
- Catalogue the materials by defining each core characteristic
- Configure all the “Base colors” and color variations for the materials
- Place all the decals
- Layout the height and normal information
- Add a pattern to provide an extra texture depth
- Add macro surface imperfections
- Work on roughness (Configuration of surface roughness is the predecessor to material realism)
- Damage and Wear
- Edge Damage
- Final Touch (By adding the strength of the final touch, the material can be brought to life)
- Micro Roughness Information
How you present your scene to the audience is just as significant as the execution. No matter how excellent the concept is, one must respect the critical role of submitting an idea to the judgment of the audience.
If you’re creating materials for a number of assets in a considerably complex scene using texture painting programs can be quite tedious. It requires sophisticated rendering capabilities from the computer. For an elaborate scene, “Procedural Shading” can accelerate the texturing process and alleviate the rendering demands. However, “Procedural shading” mitigate expected render quality comparing to the painted texture maps. Recognizing an appropriate technique for your particular scene will provide you with fast and satisfying rendering.
Before you start lightning, turn the Redshift Render View>Settings>Gamma> to 0.75. This will allow you a versatile color correction process in the post-production process. Using “Clay” shader at the pre-lightning stage will provide easier configuration process for general lighting though. If it’s possible, minimize the number of lights to only the essential ones. Few and accurate light sources mimic realistic lighting situations.
Nuke is perfect for compositing raw renders to achieve effects like:
- Depth and Focus
Post-production and correction can make or break your render, being relatively short processes though.
I prefer using Adobe After Effects for all of my post-production works. There you can edit videos as well as still images, with an extremely powerful presets and plugins for color correction and lens effects.
Post-production steps which I recommend:
- Configure the Gamma and Exposure settings
- Sharpen the details
- Configure the vibrance
- Split toning- for shadow and highlights
- Curves to refine RGB
Don’t forget about these lens effects for an extra touch of realism
- Lens distortion
- Chromatic Aberration
Thanks for taking a look at this project and if you have any questions or feedback, feel free to reach out here in the comment section, or on artstation.com!