Environment Creation with Maya
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Environment Creation with Maya
7 December, 2016
CG artist Benjamin Kavoosi talked about his switch from Blender to Maya and discussed his approach to environment building.



Hi, my name is Benjamin Kavoosi, I’m a CG Artist from Philippines. I currently work at Klab Cyscorpions Inc. and previously at Ladyluck Digital Media. The most notable games that I got the chance to contribute to throughout my career so far is The Last of Us (environment), Battlefield 4 (gun), Tiger Woods PGA Tour (environment) and the list goes on.

My Academic training consists of a Multimedia Arts degree focused in game development at the Asia Pacific College.   


My love for modeling was the motivation, so what comes with love? Love requires action, so I grabbed my pen and planned the concept for the environment of what I had in mind, gathered all the references that would fit or somehow influence the visual style that I was aiming for. Along the way, the environment concept itself is iterated while assembling to get a better design. Overdose is a portion of an industrial production area that fills fuel for advanced marine exo-suits and small aircraft units and serves as a gateway to other locations. The set goal for this is to efficiently produce a final art material and if I was able to inspire a person with my art, I would be most happy.


In Maya, after building the necessary modules for this scene, I just needed to assemble a portion of the whole environment which is the first quadrant and duplicate that into four to make a whole, but before doing that, models were already finalized in terms of UV mapping, polycount optimization, naming conventions, mesh normals and history cleaned, normal maps baked, and materials are already set up. It’s always a good practice to put attention in all those things


The models consist of interchangeable components, the parts are set in tileable textures with 512×512 maps for the walls, center platform, and tubes. While the other parts are set in unique texture maps, 2048×2048 pixels for the door, machine, and pipes. Considering time is also a big part of the challenge in the planning, I needed a sequence of actions steps to achieve the specific goal so I can finish it within five days time. the effort took me 27 hours to finish.




Switching to Maya

I used to be a Blender user but then Maya introduced me to a whole new level of software capability when I started to use it for my first job. In terms of software use, everyone has their own preferences, 3ds Max has its own advantages. What I like most about Maya is the hot box and its ability to make vast complex scenes. One other thing would be the customized tools based on scripts which I use a lot, it also can be a very helpful tool for pipelines when working with a team. Thanks to our technical artist friends.


Substance Painter

For this project, I think Substance Painter‘s material library had the hard surface shaders that I needed, which was a time-saving approach since I needed to take note of the time. Credits to Anthony Carmona for the tileable thread plate texture that I used for the center piece. Smart materials for Substance can also be found at share.allegorithmic.com or Gumroad may help on your production but it shouldn’t end there, tweaking, adjusting, and adding a little more to the material’s definition is advisable in accordance to what you need, but if you really have time for a more hands on work to specifically craft the materials that you need, Designer definitely has a more procedural approach. I baked all the necessary maps in Painter, layed out the material IDs and proceeded with materials and texturing, all done there to get the albedo, roughness, metallic, normals, ambient occlusion, and curvature. I started learning the program just for my hand painted character art before and eventually knew it was definitely set to be an industry standard software in PBR texture production. The first result that I got was my orc character art, the approach and intuitiveness of the program eventually made me switch my pipeline from Photoshop to Substance.


Given that I set a personal time to finish the project, after texturing I was looking for a quick way to see the render of the environment that’s close to the latest real-time game engine render and has the capability for physically based shading. This was actually my first time lighting up an environment scene, just a simple approach – wanted it to get that ambient lighting for the first version and tried a bit darker version for the second one, some of the lights were simply placed in the weirdest part of the area just to get the highlights to see what would look nice and what wouldn’t.


After setting up the scene and the lights it’s pretty much easy to iterate the scene itself on real time to give me the look that I was looking for as I update iterations while working with Maya, Marmoset, and Substance running all at the same time. Now that Marmoset is intergrating itself with other game engine programs with its new features, things are getting much more exciting to produce more game art.

Benjamin Kavoosi, CG artist

Interview conducted by Kirill Tokarev

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