Rahul Dey told us about the workflow behind the Antique Hand Drill project, talked about recreating a worn-out look of the materials, and shared the stages of texturing.
Hello everyone, My name is Rahul Dey, I am from Assam, India. I started my journey in this awesome industry in 2018 as a student in a small animation institute based in my city but after a year I realized the course was not worth it because of the current industry requirements, so I dropped out of my college and chose the path of self-learning.
I always wanted to work in the awesome game art industry as from a very early age I was really passionate about playing games. So I started teaching myself online and I must admit that many 80 Level articles have helped me a lot, I have really learned a lot from the awesome articles, including many modeling and texturing tricks.
After that, I started to work for a few small outsource studios in different cities across my country to learn the industry's updated stuff. But soon after I had to leave my job because the money I was making was unable to pay my rent and support me, so I decided to go for full-time freelance and polishing my art skills.
It was the best decision I have ever made because after that I got an opportunity to work with a lot of good international clients in a variety of projects, from game art to VR and simulation. Currently, I am working as a full-time freelancer and a project manager in an awesome Leartes Studios.
In this article I’m going to walk you through the creation of my Antique Hand Drill prop, I hope you’ll learn a thing or two.
The Antique Hand Drill Project
The idea of the Antique Hand Drill project came to mind when I was visiting a carpenter store a few months back and saw one of them lying on the carpenter table, The asset looked really interesting to my eye as the color variations and the worn-out feel looked really good. So I was thinking in my head that I should make this asset and use the texturing part to polish my texturing skills.
My reference collection:
For reference, the hand drill I saw was a good start but I needed something more to push it further, so I went on the internet to find some cool old hand drill references. I tried to collect references for every material: metal, dent paint, grease, and wood in detail so I could get a good idea from them. I want to really emphasize that having good clear references always helps while you want to push something further.
For that reason, I also got some help from some disassembly videos. You can always find some restoration or disassembly videos on YouTube or Google.
Also, it's always great to have a good 3D benchmark or artwork from any artist that you follow so that awesome artwork always gives you some inspiration. For me, for a couple of months, I was looking at a hand drill art by Jason Ord. Since then, the peeling off and rust variations he did beautifully were always a benchmark for me.
For the modeling stage, I had a plan that I would make most of the details in high poly so that I could bake out a good Curvature and Occlusion Maps which will help me a lot in the texturing stage. And the most important thing was adding good bevels, metal denting, and welding. As it’s a kind of vintage asset, I wanted to keep the look of a used tool with lots of human repairs.
So I started working based on that. Here you can see how I kept good bevel variations in the poly modeling stage.
After that, I took it to ZBrush and mostly used DamStandard and Pinch brushes for the metal denting and Clay and Blob brushes for metal welding. Though there are some good metal cutting and welding brushes available out there, I prefer to do it by hand, it gives me more control and helps me to achieve the desired look.
I also kept in mind that at a later stage, I will animate it for presentation and will show the blast breakdown, so I created it as per the real-world mechanism and kept all the working parts.
After finishing the high poly, it is always important to create a good low poly. Because it’s a portfolio asset, I didn't focus too much on creating a super optimized low poly, rather than that, I tried to keep all the rotundities proper by keeping some loops as not having to optimize every possible loop saved me some time and I was able to use that time in later stages.
UV and Unwrapping
Once the low poly was done, the unwrapping was pretty simple. Every UV island needs to be straightened and aligned with the U/V axes. It prevents aliasing artifacts when baking, and it also helps in Normal Map editing if any artifacts appear.
I recommend using Marmoset Toolbag for baking because it gives you a lot of control over your projections and it is just overall the cleanest and fastest option available.
For the UV stage, I did most of the things by hand and a good UV layout because I wanted to have a good resolution in every part of the object, and manual UV packing always helps with that. Sometimes, I also use RizomUV for UV packing, it also gives a good output.
I kept all the small parts, like bolts grease, UVs more than 20%-40% bigger than the other parts, it helped me to achieve a very sharp texture resolution even in the small parts.
Finally, it was time for texturing! In this stage, I gathered more refs for each element of the model. This allowed me to get a clearer understanding of what I needed to achieve with the texture work.
I started by breaking the entire model into base materials and setting up the layer structure. I took time to carefully study my references, break down all the texture details and materials that make my asset, and gather additional references when needed. It’s also a good idea to research these materials to see how they are made and how the texture is affected by time.
Most of my materials were made from scratch. To start, I assigned a base Fill Layer to all the different materials and gave each a Base Color. After this, I started with the paint material adding some normal/height variation, more would be added later, this was just a base. As this is a vintage object, I planned to make multiple paint layers for the worn-out fading paint as such objects usually get roughly painted by hand to cover rusting and because oily paints wear out very soon.
I have divided the texturing into the following stages:
- Base with color variations and height details
- Edges and curvature variation
- Peeling off paint
- Scratches and weathering
- All sorts of dust, dirt
- Color correction layers where needed
1) Base with color variations and height details.
For the color, I first thought I was going to use a single-color tone with underlying bare metal but soon I realized it did not look good in 3D, although it was nice in references. So I thought – why not mix multiple compensating colors and make a multi-paint layer look?
At this point, I also did a lot of back-and-forths because I was not able to get the worn-out paint look. And then, after reading multiple articles on 80 Level, I found how to use super sharp and tight paint layer masks. Controlling your mask as much as possible and doing some manual hand-painting will really help you to achieve a more realistic worn-out paint look.
2) Edges and curvature variation.
As this asset had underlying exposed bare metal, creating good edge variation was very important. I had done some trimming in ZBrush on the edges, which helped with a good Curvature Map baking, so I used the Curvature Map to make nice worn-out edges and variations.
3) Peeling off paint
To create a nice peeling off paint, I used some pictures from Textures.com, a great website to get free textures and maps.
Then, I made the images greyscale and used them as paint masks, which had given me my desired look. I also used some masks and imperfections from Poliigon Texture Library.
Another important texturing aspect of this asset was greasing. From the very beginning, I wanted to create a very realistic grease material that would also help me in presentation and give this asset a battered look as such hand drills mostly have multiple layers of grease to keep them working smoothly. Grease collects dirt with time and turns it into an oily mud kind of thing, and I must say achieving this look was the most challenging work for me.
5) Adding dirt, dust, and final touch-ups.
Usually, I prefer to add the final cover of dirt and dust at the very end grouped on top of the texture layers. It helps me prevent the texture from getting noisy with too much dirt or the dirt and dust variations getting suppressed by other layers.
During the texturing process, it’s important to systematically check the final look in the engine to see exactly how the materials react to the lighting and reflections. For the lighting, I chose the same HDRI that I used in Substance 3D Painter – Tomoko Studio – because it has nice soft and hard lights. Then, I added Directional and Point lights to highlight different elements of the texturing. I made a test scene every time while texturing to export the texture from time to time and check its look in Marmoset. It reduces the chance of sudden surprises during the final rendering.
I chose ACES tone mapping to get nicer exposure and contrast. Sharpen and Vignette can bring some details up. I used Raytracing in Marmoset, it gives a nicer reflection for metal and oily kinds of things, which also helped me pump up the asset. Lastly, I did some post-production in Photoshop – enhanced the highlights for the final shots.
For the videos and animated GIFs, I used default Marmoset renders, didn’t do a lot of exaggeration in them.
Advice For Aspiring Artists
This might be the most interesting part as I really have no idea what advice I can give because I know that all of us who chose the awesome game art industry for our career are really passionate and can do really amazing stuff with our imagination.
So all I will say is stay calm and keep practicing! This is the only key to getting good work done as there is no better way than doing a thing thousands of times because every time you will figure out something new. I didn’t have any formal education for this industry, all I know I have learned by practicing and learning from other articles and tutorials.
And now, ArtStation Learning is free for everyone, you can always find some awesome tutorials there. Also, websites like 80 Level are always there to boost your knowledge.
In conclusion, this project allowed me to really work on my texturing skills. Seeing what I’m capable of also gave me some motivation to keep working on personal projects. As I got the chance to work on my personal artwork after a really long time, this was really special for me. And I am so proud that it turned out well and I got a chance to write an article for 80 Level.
I thank the whole 80 Level team for giving me this opportunity, also I thank my teammate Sudipta Chakraborty for always keeping me motivated and supporting me with knowledge. Thank you, everyone.
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