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Making a Stylized Hand-Painted Drilling Machine in Blender

Lucile Thyrard told us about the workflow behind the D.17 project, thoroughly explained the hand-painting process, and talked about making animation with 2D FX.


Hello everyone! I'm Lucile Thyrard, I'm a Handpainted Environment and Props Artist, I studied at Isart Paris, then Montreal, I worked for several studios including Axis Studios and Brunch Studio, on various Riot Games cinematics, such as Valorant Duality, Before Dawn, Absolution, L'accord – Chamber Agent, and more.

The D.17 Project

I started this project for ArtStation's Untamed Challenge. What I like about these challenges is to be able to give myself a line of creations, to tell a short story. Here we followed the daily life of an animal transformed because of a genetic mutation, humans leaving the animals in control of the planet.

Dereck is a site manager protecting the city. Since he is a mole, I wanted to dig a little around its animal side, which digs holes, and adapt it to a more modern side – a giant drilling machine. As I started to make my concept, I wanted a little cartoon shape – a mix of a drill, a submarine, and a rocket.


All modeling was done in Blender, I'm slowly learning the software, so what is better than a challenge to keep exploring?

Also, my concept wasn't very precise, so I had to leave some room for creativity and exploration in the modeling part. The most important thing was to keep balance in the shapes and different materials, really emphasizing the huge size of the drill.


As for retopology, even if it's a bit of a rendering challenge, I'm used to doing low poly, so even if my poly count can be reduced, I still kept it pretty low overall.

For the UVs, in this case, I unfolded almost everything in Planar and Symmetry, stacking parts of my mesh so that it has the same texture and separating those where I wanted to work on details:

1) In edit mode, select what you want to project

2) Press U and choose Project from View

3) Here's your UV projected!


For the color, I take a lot of references, realistic materials in photos, images from films or cinematics, screenshots of games. Out of them, I try to get the palettes of color that I like and that I think would fit well with my object. It's always nice to have cold colors and warm colors that oppose each other in their texture.

I start by painting a light-line pass on my model to give me a quick overview of the details or elements that I would like to paint on top. Here is my work process:

1) I create a quick sketch of the details I want to give to my piece

2) I define my color bases

3) I add variations of my colors to make the material more interesting

4) I work on the highlights and shadows and start my edge work

5) I push my color differences and add scratches, rust, and weathering to all elements

6) To change the contrast of the material, we can enhance the bright parts with a layer of Color Dodge and the dark ones – with the Multiply one.

I try to avoid lightening in white and darkening in black as much as possible because it can quickly burn the render and lose some textures. I almost always use hard brushes and play subtly with the Eraser as well to remove some material.


Here comes my favorite part! I like to mix my hand-painting with 2D FX. I made a little rig with Bones and Empty on my mesh and added lighting to my scene,

I started by imagining the animation in my head, making a quick animatic of the camera movement and different shots. I put the key poses in order to have the extreme position of my object to help me afterward.

Once done, I changed the timing so that it sticks to the rhythm I want – faster descent, slightly slower rise, etc.

The animation already worked well, but to accentuate the cartoon side, I also applied the animation rule of Squash and Stretch so that the rendering is more exaggerated

The only thing left was to animate the camera so that it gave the plans that I had in mind which also helped to exaggerate my animation. I also animated my camera's Field of View to create even more exaggeration.

For the FX part, I imported the PNJ sequence of my animation into Clip Studio Paint.

Next, you need to:

1) create your timeline, make sure you make it at least as big as the number of your images

2) create your first animation file

3) import your images into your folder by selecting them all. As you can see, they are in your folder but not yet on your timeline

4) open the animation menu (Animation > Edit track > Batch specify cels)

5) Click on the second option, it will automatically select from your first to your last frame

Now that you know how to create an animation folder, you can create other folders for your effects with new animation cels.

Next, click on the creation of a new cel, this will create a layer that will be the length of your timeline. By clicking again on the cels button, depending on where you are on your timeline, it will split your layer into new cels, allowing you to create your effects frame by frame.

I usually separate the Base Color, my shadows, light, and glow in different folders for each FX. I simply added the special effects to different animation folders frame by frame, for example, Dereck who opens the door of his vehicle in a violent but nevertheless graceful way. 


I had one render in Blender and one – in Marmoset. I prefer the render of my Rim Light in Marmoset, so I decided to continue making my renders in it. I worked on the Ambient Occlusion especially, because I like to color lightly in my scenes. Here are the settings of my lights and their locations:


For me, it is important to keep some principles in mind, such as taking the time to work on the project's shape and forms, having a good understanding of color to create something coherent and that blends well, and having the interest to make research and do the testing. Also, not neglecting any part of rendering and lighting to highlight the work of texture and helping to make a point of focus on the object easier for the eyes.

I hope this will help you to make your own stylized project and that it will help you to evolve as an artist. See you soon!

Lucile Thyrard, Environment/Props Artist

Interview conducted by Arti Sergeev

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