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Matthieu Gouault discussed the way he created some nice candles to use in games.
Hello 80 Level! My name is Matthieu Gouault, I am 21 years old 3D Artist from Angers in France currently doing Freelance and some contract work for games in Hollywood. I moved in Los Angeles 3 years ago and graduated from the LA Film School last year with a degree in Computer Animation & VFX.
I do not have any full-time within game studios yet but I did some Game Texturing for Bluepoint Games, 3D Environments for Starbreeze Studios and QA Testing for Ubisoft. I have been actively looking for full-time 3D Artist positions within games studios to create some awesome games and to push my boundaries as an artist.
For my latest project, I was looking around as usual through Artstation to find some unusual 3D props that could be fun and original to create within a 3D art workflow for games. I was quite inspired by the candles 3D models you can find in the games Dishonored 2 and The Witcher 3.
I started the modeling on Maya 2017, I quickly created a low poly cylinder with which I extruded its top cap (upper part) to obtain a rough shape of a candle. After that, I directly imported the model in Zbrush 4R7 where I used Zremesher then Dynamesh to give me a good base to start sculpting the high poly model.
For the sculpting of the high poly, I used two brushes which are the basic Clay brush and a custom brush to easily give me a melting wax effect on my candles. (Link to download the brush)
To talk more of this brush, it is fairly easy to use, it consists in dragging down on a steep or vertical part of the mesh you are trying to sculpt on to instantly create those awesome melting wax drops.
One the high poly is done, it is time to get it back to a low poly, I did some retopo in Maya 2017 along with creating the UVs for all the pieces for this projects. It is totally possible to get away with a quick retopo just using Zremesher and Decimation Master on Zbrush.
For the small parts as the candle’s fire, the porcelain pot, the metal plate and the ground mesh, I created and UVed those on Maya 2017. I quickly gave them to decay and scratches on Zbrush.
Before jumping on the texturing, I baked the high poly onto the low poly using Knald. I decided to 3 maps – Normals, AO and Transmission/Translucency. I’ll use this last one to do some subsurface scattering on the candles later on.
With the baked maps done, it is time to have some fun with the texturing. For this project I’ll be using the Quixel Suite which is my favorite texturing software due to how easy and fun it is to use it.
Onto the Quixel Suite, I used a Wax preset material that I tweaked and cleaned to hide the UV seams. Afterwards I added on the top a soot effect that I painted using various Quixel decay brushes. I tried to bring as much realism as I could. For the sake of showcasing the candles in the best way as possible I used 2K textures for this project.
The real time rendering on this project was achieved in Marmoset Toolbag 3. I tried to break any bug symmetrical chunks in the scene, that’s why I gave the candles different heights, shapes and colors to bring give the scene setup some contrasts. For the main light, I decided to use two different HDRIs, one for a day light mood and another for a night time mood. I added two both the scene, for both moods, a back light to make the scene less flat. The night time setup needed a bit more work. I added the candles fires, on the top of the candles, I made them glow using an emissive map. To add some warm light and brightness, I decided to place three omni yellowish lights inside the candle fires.
Going back to the candles, I added the translucency map to create the subsurface scattering, it is up to you to take is to your taste. This whole rendering process is about making eye candy renders and having a working setup within a game workflow. It is even better is you can do some Marmoset Viewer to add to your portfolio.
I hope I could give you a good breakdown of this project. If you need help or have any questions regarding the creation of those sweet melting candles. To all the artists out there in need of advice, always seek to create something you like, do it for yourself first and be proud of it. Another great piece of advice is to step by step making sure each step is solid and works has it should, do not be scared to do something over and over and to seek help from other artists.
A big thanks to 80 Level for this featuring and thank you for taking the time to read about me and my work. I hope I gave you a good breakdown and in-depth look at my take on some of the props and environment modeling workflow for games.
If you find yourself interested in my work or would like to reach out, please visit and take a look at my ArtStation!