Andrea Uriarte shared a working process behind the Monomoto project, giving particular emphasis on texturing techniques in Substance Painter.
Hi everyone! Andrea Uriarte here. I am a 3D Junior Environment Artist. My studies are artistic: A Higher Degree in Image and a Degree in Film with a Specialization in Art Direction.
After working on TV series art departments as a prop assistant, I decided to give a chance to 3D creation. To make me a place in the industry, I have focused on perfect the workflow and learn some professional software. How am I doing it? Making some online courses, being tutored and guided by professionals, self-learning, and time, a lot of time.
In this article, I will let you know about the Monomoto project, giving particular emphasis on texturing techniques. Let’s get started!
Let face the computer, sip some coffee, and immerse in a bit of work. First, I choose an object I want to make for my portfolio. This means not only a convenient prop but also a piece I like very much and want to spend time with. I enjoy making original, rare, and historical-related pieces.
Monomoto is an environment priced based on an Enzio Bandini frustrated machine, but it is influenced by many other sources.
I search for each one of the components of the vehicles in old motorbikes. Then, I select the ones I think will fit better structurally and in the creation process.
From my point of view, the memory of an object is usually not enough to replicate It. Real photos and understanding the basic object functioning are frequently very useful.
That is why I used Google, Pinterest, and YouTube to create a mood board. Which was very useful as a reference to make: real shapes, components links, materials, dirt accumulation, wear, rust, scratches, etc.
I made this by keeping track of images and organizing references on the industry-standard PureRef. And establishing sections for each component: engine, gas tank, etc.
This helps me a great deal in the texturizing process since I have many references to approach the final look.
With a photo as a reference and a human model, I establish the basic Monomoto scale with a measured bounding box at 3ds Max.
Based on the wheel, the rest of the parts are blocked out roughly one by one. I choose the wheel to start because it encloses the most pieces and determines their size and shape.
Once I am satisfied with the overall block out, I am ready to continue with more detailed meshes.
At this point, it is when 3ds Max high poly modeling starts! This is one of the most thrilling pipeline parts. I enjoy making a detailed component analysis, I try to trace the prop in different meshes and add personal designs.
The main modifiers and tools I use are Array, Mirror, TurboSmooth, Chamfer, and Swift Loop.
The high poly modeling is usually a learning experience since there are not two equal objects.
As modeling high poly is not an individual process, it is crucial to think about the next steps. What do I mean by this? It is here where I have my first thoughts about simplifying some pieces. I will tell you more in the low poly modeling section!
This time I decided to make a low poly mesh in 3ds Max and TopoGun.
I try to optimize the prop to make the bake easier and lower the polycount. Some examples are:
- Shock absorber: It is made in a unique piece, the spring included.
- Cylinder barrel: The lower metal sheet is modeled in one straight object. This was important to think about while modeling high poly as well!
- Chain: The leaf chain is made in one mesh.
- Bolts: I model once and, I duplicate it the times I need after UVs.
A perfect topology is one of my shattered dreams. Meanwhile, I try to avoid unnecessary edges, follow smoothly the shapes with the trace, and make a regular grid.
For potential in-game usage and to continue the process I ensure the pivot is in the correct place, object names are clear and, modifiers are applied.
Before baking, I always make 3 steps that guarantee me an easier process: Reset XForm, Edit Normals, and Weighted Normals.
I prefer making the UVs manually in 3ds Max, this way I can choose where I want the seams. What I bear in mind at this point it is which parts of the object are going to be more visible and how I would like to texturize them later.
I use UVW Mapping Clear and, Unwrap UVW to work in its editor. Of course, I use a material checker! I prefer to make the UVW of each object, and once I finish putting it all together. At this personal project, I decided to use UDIMs to go beyond my comfort zone. A system that assigns an image onto a specific UV tile inside Unwrap UVW modifier. It produces a higher resolution result without having to resort to using a single, ultra-high-resolution image. To organize the UDIMs I divide the Monomoto components into 4 groups, one for each UV tile. To make it easier, I choose a different material color for each ID group. At Unwrap UVW Editor, I add 3 tiles. Then I fill them with the already made groups UVS information.
Baking is definitely not my favorite part! I prefer to do it in Marmoset 4. To bake, I need to have the same four groups in high and low poly, drop them to the files, and bake them one by one. The offset painting tool allows me to decide how far is the low poly mesh to the high poly mesh. This way, I have better detail control and can able to assemble the meshes.
I use 16 samples per pixel, 4096x4096 resolution and I select Normal, Curvature and, Ambient Occlusion maps. Once I do this, I import maps to Substance Painter. I drag them to texture set settings > mesh maps. I bake the remaining maps at Substance.
Let’s give some color to this gloomy grey mesh!
Texturing is one of my favorite parts of the pipeline and I do it using Substance.
First, I look for a color palette as a reference. This way I can be sure the final result is harmonious. After that, I divide the prop into basic materials, establishing chosen colors. The Monomoto have 10: green metal, grey metal, blackish metal, etc. Each one is organized in a folder with a black mask demarcating how is going to be affected.
Once the division is made, I look for some materials that fit, avoiding using recurrent Substance materials. Sometimes I make changes on Photoshop to them. When the match is not possible, I make my material.
To avoid repetitive and boring textures, I work on the materials. Here you have two examples:
Metal: I use mainly two materials: metal and, rust added with a procedural mask and stylized with brushes. Yellow, green, and orange are added with a brush to give a tone to some rusty parts. And I avoid an arrhythmic rough, adding levels to a black mask and painting with brushes.
Also, I use height to incorporate the self-design “mono” logo, a plate, etc. But also to create relief at the chain, the rustiest parts, etc. Dirt and edge damage are made using generators and retouching them with several brushes. I use normal to add some bolts as a detail.
Leather: Three leather materials are coloring the objects. I decide to use two for flat surfaces and one for suede lather borders. As the surfaces were dull, color and roughness variations are made via black masks levels, and brushes. Adding wear-away surface is made with a generator and brushes.
Here I use height as well, to seal some “genuine leather” and “made in Italy” with a black mask fill. To add a final touch, I added a seams layer and grunge oily spots to decorate the leather elements.
During this process, I secure catching even the smallest details from references and I try to avoid excess. I deduce while adding an element to determine where would the rust, wear, dirt, scratches, and stains be.
In the end, I add a sharpen-filter (Passthrough) to emphasize details and a general curvature mask in a light tone to make Monomoto feels worn out. I do this only at base color and roughness info.
After adjusting Substance textures information to Marmoset, I take into account:
- Image composition and frame size: whereas it is a unique prop render, I position It in the middle of the shoot and I focus on the composition. Photo knowledge is useful here. I choose extreme close-up images to show texturing and modeling details, and mid shots to show the whole Monomoto. I like to think about the final image as a whole. Giving it an style as in a photo. Helping to fix the gaze at the main render points with focus and choosing lenses.
- Lights: I use Alley Bike preset to give the image the general style I am looking for, I change the skylight color to beige, add Monomoto front and backlights and, I finally add an orange low light to make color contrast.
- Additional elements: to visualize the object as in a game I add a wall and ground.
I am thrilled 80 Level allowed me to share the Monomoto process with you. Working on this project has been an exciting challenge and an attempt to learn. A goal supported with the feedback of digital artist and mentor Lucas Pareja Almodovar.
Also, if you ever need help, a suggestion, or would like to contribute with your feedback, contact me.
Have a creative day, and cheers!
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