Making a Custom Arena for Hearthstone
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Making a Custom Arena for Hearthstone
31 July, 2017

Florian Neumann talked about his fantastic 3d fan art, inspired some of the best games in history.

Hi! My name is Florian Neumann. I’m 25 and I live in Vienna, Austria. I am a 3D Artist at RabCat Game Art where I have to opportunity to work on all kinds of great projects. I try to keep my Artstation Profile as updated as possible, so if you are interested in specific projects I worked on, you can take a look there. Prior to that I studied MultiMedia Arts with the focus on 3D at the FH Salzburg.

But enough about me, lets talk about my the pipeline I used to create the Hearthstone – Starcraft Board.

1. Modeling

This first part will explain how all the models where created. Going from blockout to high poly and finally to the in-game version of the assets. For this process I only used Autodesk Maya.

Because I knew from the beginning, that the final result of this project will be a top down image just like a screenshot from Hearthstone, I started by doing a fairly simple blockout of the board with a kind of final camera. After that I started with the blockouts for all the assets on top of the board. For this I used screenshots from Starcraft 2 as image planes and created the blockouts based on them as you can see in the image below.

After I got all blockouts done, I started detailing them. I just used basic hard surface modeling techniques to add detail while keeping an eye on the blockout and the reference images I gathered. As a guideline for shapes and details I used the Starcraft assets in Heroes of the Storm. I decided to use Heroes of the Storm as a reference because I think they created a serious but kind of cartoonish vibe, which I wanted to recreate for my Board.

Then after all the highpoly models were done, I created all the final game resolution models for marmoset. Therefore, I used the highpoly models as a basis and tried to get rid of as many polygons as possible without losing the silhouette of the model. Next I went over every asset and created the UVs. There is not much to say about that, except I used three different texture sets. The first for the Background and the Badge on the right, the second for the board itself, and the third for all the corner assets.

After all that was done I finally got to take all the assets into Marmoset Toolbag. There I baked the normal maps and the id maps, which will be used later in the texturing process. At this point I started lighting the whole scene, but just for testing purpose. The light changed a lot while rendering.

2. Texturing

For the Texturing I used Substance Painter. Again I used Heroes of the Storm as a guide line and tried to pick colors that resemble Starcraft as well as Heroes of the storm. All the scratches were supposed to look cartoonish, that’s why I didn’t use generators but I painted them directly onto the model. The same is true for the dirt, to give everything a nice handmade look and feel. For the roughness I did not use physically correct values you can find on the internet, I used the trial and error approach to get to the final values. I just exported the textures a bunch of times with different values to marmoset and chose the best looking value.

As you can see in the Image below, I created a folder for every material on the asset. Every folder looks basically the same. I used different colors as a base for every material and blended them using the position bake inside Substance Painter. Next I created one layer for painting the dirt and one layer for painting the scratches. On top of all the material folders I used an MG Light Generator to get some nice shading information into the color map. At last I stamped on the logos and applied an AO on the Roughness, to get rid of some highlights that were showing up in marmoset where materials met.

Next to Substance Painter I used nDo to create details like the terran logo or the wood in on the backdrop. I just painted those details black on white and generated the normals inside Photoshop. Another thing I did in Photoshop was the emissive map. This is basically a black and white map which tells the shader, which part of the model will emit light and which part won’t. Later in Marmoset this texture will be plugged into the emissive slot on the bottom of the shader attributes.

While texturing all the assets I always exported the textures into marmoset to take a look at how all the pieces are coming together and who the light interacts with everything. After I was happy with how the textures turned out I stared doing the effects.

3. Effects

Basically I used two different approaches for the effects. There are the simple ones, that basically use a plane with a translucent shader and some emissive. For example the healing beam from the medivac. And there is the rather intense smoke trail. To create it, I stared with a simple sphere. I placed duplicates of it on top of each other and rotated and scaled them, so they were all a bit different. Then I loaded this mesh into Marmoset and created a custom shader for it. This shader uses a combination of tessellation, displacement and subsurface scattering. And finally to create the light coming from the engine I used some point lights and stuck them into the trail itself.

Unfortunately the Marmoset Viewer does not support displacement in the online viewer. So all you could see are just the spheres, that’s why I did not include them in the online viewer version.

4. Rendering

The final step was to create one good render. Because I have already tested all the lights, shader and effects while creating them, this process was fairly quick. And because I just wanted to create one image I used the brute force approach, I just used the maximum values on all the quality sliders and rendered huge 5760×3240 picture.

And that was basically it. I had a blast creating it and hopefully all my next projects will run as smoothly as this one 🙂

Thanks to everyone who read this and I hope that it was kind of interesting insight.

Florian Neumann, CG Artist – RABCAT Game Art

Interview conducted by Kirill Tokarev

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1 Comment on "Making a Custom Arena for Hearthstone"

Florian Neumann
Florian Neumann

Thanks again for the opportunity 🙂