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Modeling and Texturing a Steampunk Pneumatic Rifle

Oleksandra Sokol discussed how she created a 3D weapon based on Anton Lavrushkin's The Order: 1886 fan art piece.


Hello! My name is Oleksandra, I am from Ukraine and I am a 3D Artist.  I create both characters and props for games. Currently, I am working at Edkon Games Gmbh.

I studied Software Engineering at the Kharkiv National University of Radio Electronics. When I was 19 years old, I saw how artists perform in ZBrush and fell in love with 3D. That’s where my journey began. I learned the basics of 3D modeling at 3dmaya.com and also finished the course “3D PRO. Game Environment Pipelines” at Artcraft in 2020. As a huge fan of the Dishonored series and its art style, I decided to choose Alexandria Hypatia's apartment as my graduation work.

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The Order: 1886 - Pneumatic Rifle Fan Art: Reference

I played The Order: 1886 and it inspired me to create one of the guns from it, so I started researching on ArtStation and found a wonderful concept by Anton Lavrushkin. When I saw it, I fell in love with it!

After choosing a concept, I created a task list in Microsoft To Do. I started to use To Do lists when I was working on a Dishonored scene because when you need to create a lot of stuff for a project it is better to actually see what you should do. The next step was to find references and images of similar guns, wood, damages, etc. For the reference board, I use PureRef.


And this is where the fun begins! I usually model in Maya but my pipeline is suitable for other 3D modeling programs as well. I start with placing a reference image, then create some big shapes, and after that – details. Usually, I work with mid poly meshes and then make low and high poly based on those. But with this model, I decided to have a mid poly. It is important at this stage not to rush and not to be afraid of deleting and starting over if you fail something. I also decide which parts should be symmetrical and which parts will be reused. If I have some booleans, I use ZBrush, then Dynamesh with Polish and Decimate. If my model needs just a chamfer on the edges, I use the Bevel tool. There are also some ornaments on the gun – they would be added in Substance Painter later.

Retopology and UVs

When the high poly is ready, I retopologize some parts that need it and create UVs. As you can see, my low poly is not so low. It is all right to have a wireframe like this for a portfolio piece but not for production.

I wanted to test RizomUV for this project, and I can say it's a really amazing program. If some of the parts are symmetrical, don’t forget to move them or you can get seams and errors on your bake.
Also at this stage, it is very important to remember one thing: every hard edge is a UV seam, but not every seam is a hard edge.

I have two UVs, one for the gun and one for the scope. Now it’s time for baking. I usually use Marmoset Toolbag for it because it gives me nice results and it's fast. I bake Normal, Curvature, AO, Position, and Thickness. At first, I did a test bake to see if everything is ok and adjust the cage size on some of the meshes, and then baked in normal resolution.


I texture my models in Substance Painter. First of all, I added the ornaments and additional details, exported the Normal map only with them to Substance Designer, combined them with baked Normal, Curvature, and AO, and exported them back to Painter. I prefer this pipeline instead of using anchors. When I have a lot of details, I want everything to be visible on the maps (in order not to forget about them).

Then, I decided how many different materials I'd have: there are two types of wood, brass, a few metals. I already had some smart metal and wood materials, which I used as a base. I changed their colors and roughness, added dirt, rust, and damages, aged them, etc. Also for the Color map, I add a bit of baked environment  – this makes it more interesting.
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For rendering this gun I used Marmoset Toolbag 4. My render scene was created a long time ago, however, I am still using it for everything I've ever created. I have a sky with 3 directional lights on it and a back spotlight. In fact, my render settings are simple:

Then I decided at what angles I would render my gun and what'd be the color of the background. I took the background color from the concept and started rendering.

Also, I took a rendered a few small shots to capture more details and created two basic videos to demonstrate the gun from different sides.

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When you create something, it's great to share the progress with other people like colleagues, other artists, even family and friends. They can give you nice feedback on your artwork, so don't ignore them but analyze what you can get out of those pieces of advice. Also it’s also good to post your WIPs – I do it on Polycount.

For rendering 3D guns, I can recommend Emre Karabacak's article "Lighting and Rendering Guns in Toolbag". I created my own scene following this guide. Also, I usually watch Georgian Avasilcutei's streams, he is a great artist from whom you can always learn something new.

It’s very important to love what you do, so don't rush and enjoy the process!

Oleksandra Sokol, 3D Artist

Interview conducted by Arti Sergeev

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