Gökhan Katmer showed us how the Vespa 400 project was made, discussed the workflow in Blender, and explained how the rust and mud were created.
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Hi! My name is Gökhan and I live in Istanbul, Turkey. I was born in 1987, and I have been drawing with pen and paper since I can remember. I grew up with my brother's comics and I think it had an impact on my imagination. I graduated from a non-art-related department at the university and started working in that field. But meanwhile, I continued to follow artists as my area of interest.
Since the beginning of 2020, I started to spend a lot of time with Blender waiting on my computer, thanks to the pandemic. During this time, I had experiences with mobile games as a freelancer. I follow the developments in this field, and I am still trying to improve myself.
The Vespa 400 Project
My first goal was to simply try texture painting and geometry node using Blender. I started to think of objects for the stage and the light details in my head.
Before I encountered the Vespa 400 model, I thought of Vespa scooters, to which I could add mud and rust details. While searching for reference on Pinterest, I saw the car model produced by the Vespa and it changed my mind with its cuteness. This Italian car would look cliché on the clean old Italian streets and didn't give me the muddy effect I wanted. I carried it to a place where it stopped on country roads. The color of the car and the blue tone I used for the background reminded me of Van Gogh's Almond Blossom painting. And the blossom tree covering the top of the car also helped me with the lighting.
First, I started modeling the main body of the car. I placed the images I would take as a reference on my screen in a way that I can extract them in 3 dimensions. Then I started to assemble the main body of the car with the plane mesh. I used the SubDivision modifier at this stage to be able to move more flexibly. After modeling half of the car, I created the other half with mirror modifications.
After I finished the details of the car, I prepared muddy and wet ground. I used Noise Texture for the ground. Using Roughness and Color Ramp, I identified areas on the floor that would appear wet. I provided the mud effect with the bump node. Finally, I tried to make a smooth transition between the edges of the floor and the background by using the texture I created as alpha.
Then I started to prepare the objects that I would use in the environment. I created the main trunk of the tree and the tall grass piece using the Sapling Tree Gen add-on. It helped me do it quickly for an organic look. I tried texture paint for grass and blossom leaves. I used the Translucent and Transparent nodes for the light transition and transparency for the blossom leaves. A beautiful tree emerged with the intensity of the leaves and the effect in the light.
I used a geometry node to place the grass, stones, and blossoming flowers. I determined separate regions for each object with weight paint. And I specified these areas as density in the Geometry node.
Topology and Unwrapping
When we start modeling, we need to think a few steps ahead. The attention we give while creating the topology of the model helps us in future corrections and allows the light and shadows to stand properly. It provides us convenience for UV mapping. While generously used geometry and edge loops help the model stay upright, it can get harder to work on the scene as you progress. I'm trying to keep things simple at this stage. I determine the minimum edge loops when creating a shape.
The other two points I checked for a correct topology are duplicate vertices and normals. To get rid of unnecessary vertices, I selected “By Distance” with the ALT+M shortcut after selecting the entire mesh.
For Normals, face orientation is selected under Viewport Overlays. The surfaces indicated in blue are considered as outer surfaces and the surfaces indicated in red are considered as inner surfaces. If it is in a different state than it should be, the error was corrected by selecting Recalculated Outside with the ALT+N shortcut.
Matcaps can be used to quickly check how the topology looks, light, shadows, and reflections.
For mud stains on the main body, I added two separate principled BSDFs to the material. One for the color of the car itself, the other for the tint of the mud. And combined them with the Mix Shader. As a Fac input, I used the texture where I painted the places where I wanted the mud spots to be.
I used a Bump node and Color Ramp to add dimension to the mud and define fine details. The same method is used for bumpers and wheels.
I used the texture that I painted for the windscreen as a transmission. I adjusted the opacity of the stain I gave to the windscreen with Color Ramp.
Rendering and Lighting
For the light setup, I mainly used 3 types of lights. These are called Rim Lights, Key Lights, and Fill Lights. Before starting the light setup, I only kept that light source visible so that I could see how each light affected the scene.
Rim Light helped me to separate the car from the background and highlight it and add depth to the scene. I tried to place the lights so that the car was between the camera and the rim lights. I placed two Rim Lights on the front and rear of the car. Small Area Lights can be used as a type of light. The sharp appearance of shadows and the formation of a thin line of light around the car were the points I paid attention to in this light. Key Light helped to reveal the shadows and shape of the objects in the scene. Although the Rim Light is usually brighter than the Key Light, the strongest light I used for this scene was the Key Light. I used Sun Light for the light type. Fill Light helped me fill the shadow areas with light. Fill Light can be used to adjust the contrast of the scene. A weaker Fill Light can be used for higher contrast, while a stronger fill light can be selected to reduce contrast. I used a softer light than the key light for a balanced image. HDRI was used as the light source.
After rendering, I used Blender Compositing for brightness, contrast, and color settings. I slightly increased the saturation. Finally, I added very little lens distortion.
One of the things I had difficulty with while making this scene was the texture paints I created using Blender. I tried to make sure that the mud and stains on the glass did not spoil the reality of the scene itself.
The advice I could give to others would be the same as the advice I would give myself. Personally, I always try to keep my interest alive and when I see something new, I jot it down in my mind. I try to understand how the details that I see in the works of other artists are made and I try to use similar ones in my own scenes. I love low poly work, but I don't want to just focus on it and miss out on what I can learn in this world.
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