Jakub Piotrowski has walked us through the production process behind the Volkswagen Kübelwagen Type 82 project, explaining how the WW2-era car was modeled, retopologized, textured, and rendered.
My name is Jakub Piotrowski. I'm 33 years old and I was born in Poland. I've always liked to draw and paint, as well as play video games.
I graduated in computer graphics and started my first job as a Junior Level Artist in the video games industry in 2011 in CI Games studio. Then I was working at 11 Bit Studio. Now, I work as 3D Senior Environment Artist in Flying Wild Hog studio in Warsaw. I like making game levels, but I love making 3D props, especially vehicles.
The Volkswagen Kübelwagen Type 82 Project
I love old cars and the history of WWII and the military, so the best idea was to create a legendary German vehicle called Kübelwagen Type 82.
I started my work by collecting various references. I was looking for these references on Google, Pinterest, and ArtStation. I used PureRef to organize the references.
Modeling the Assets
I start each asset by modeling blockout, and then I create a high poly element. The next step is low poly modeling. I enjoy using 3ss Max, but for sculpting, I prefer Blender.
As of this vehicle, I started straight away with modeling high poly. I tried to reproduce as best as possible every visible element from the outside of the car and from the bottom and the interior.
I analyzed every element of the vehicle very carefully, from the general shape to small elements, such as, for example, mirrors or headlights. The seats and the folded roof were sculpted in Blender.
Here's my secret to speed-modeling the high poly:
- I'm modeling the mid poly element first and then adding an Edge Chamfer modifier. With this method, I get nice edges on which soft light is reflected, and the element looks like high poly.
- Then, I make a copy of such element and turn off the Chamfer modifier, and I get mid poly element or low poly element.
- In difficult situations, I use the TurboSmooth modifier.
- I also use floating geometry. It speeds up the work a lot.
Every asset I make for my portfolio is game-ready.
Retopology and Unwrapping
First, I spread the UVW in 3ds Max, and then export the FBX file to RizomUV and automatically arrange the islands there. For me, this is the best way to accurately locate the UVW islands. I also try to optimize the model so that some repetitive elements are mirrored. The whole model has a unique UV texture. The final set of textures is: 3x4K + 1k for the glass. I also used decals for the inscriptions and the car license plate.
Texturing and Materials
I had to spend some time on burning normal maps and other textures (AO, Cavity, etc.) Baking materials in Substance 3D Painter is easy, but you have to remember to use correct naming because artifacts may occur. In Painter, the car was divided into 4 elements: body, parts, chassis and glass elements. Thanks to this, it was easier for me to divide the whole thing into burning sets of textures.
I create materials from the materials already available by default or from the library in Substance 3D Painter and then mix them, but I also often have to create new materials. For example, I started the paint material with the base metal, then added a layer with the color of the paint. The next layer is scratches and rust and three layers of dirt.
The first layer of dirt is AO dirt, the next layer is dust, and the third layer is gradient dirt at the bottom of the car. There is also a layer of leaks on the vehicle.
Finally, I added AO, which sharpens the entire material. The mud visible on the model is decal made in Photoshop with mud material added. I made other materials similarly.
I made all the inscriptions, numbers and the license plate on a separate alpha texture as a decal. I prepared the texture in Photoshop on the atlas and implemented it on a separate ID to the model.
Rendering and Lighting
I used Marmoset Toolbag 4 for rendering. In my opinion, it is the best renderer to show portfolio assets. Easy and user friendly.
At the beginning, I import the model and set materials and then set the HDRI and the rest of the parameters like Ray Tracing, Ambient Occlusion, and Reflections. Then, I create folders in which I have separate camera and light positions for each frame. For example, 8 folders with 8 different camera and light positions and model placement.
I pay a lot of attention to the lights. I use the three-point lighting rule and for this project, I used the following lights: directional light, area light, and sky dome light.
I also try to take care of the golden ratio to make every frame perfect.
I render the final screenshots in high 4K resolution and then upload them to Photoshop and add a high pass effect to sharpen them.
I worked on the Kübelwagen project for about six months in my free time, trying to work about 2-3 hours a day without weekends. Unfortunately, there were days or weeks when I didn't have time to work on this project. This vehicle required a lot of time and dedication, as well as patience. You can't do it in one month! Unless you work 24/7 and only do one project. Keep working and you will be great.
I would like to thank you, my friends, for support and feedback, and 80 Level for posting the content.