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Recreating A Japanese WWII Aerial Camera With Blender & Marmoset

3D Artist Yaroslav Tyshchenko provided a behind-the-scenes look at The Konishiroku Aerial Camera GSK-99 project, a 3D model of the smallest aerial camera produced, sharing his vintage props painting techniques in Substance 3D Painter and rendering setup for Marmoset Toolbag.

Yaroslav Tyshchenko is a Kyiv-based Ukrainian 3D Artist, specializing in creating 3D props and real-time environments. His recent work has featured some wonderful incredibly detailed vintage 3D models, and to learn about Yaroslav's latest project, we reached out to the artist himself, who explained the step-by-step process behind recreating a Japanese military aerial Konishiroku GSK-99 camera and shared useful resources for other 3D and Prop Artists.

Speaking about the inspiration behind this project, Yaroslav mentioned that he wanted to work on a prop but didn't have anything particular in mind so he went through eBay in search of inspiration, looking for anything World War II-related filtered by price.

This is how he came across the Konishiroku Aerial Camera GSK-99, which immediately caught his eye. "It has an interesting history and looks unusual. The big plus is that it is made of different materials: metal, painted metal, wood, and plastic", explained Yaroslav.

"At the beginning of each project, the main thing is to find a sufficient number of references, ideally filter them out so that you don't waste time looking for something later."

Having gathered everything he needed, Yaroslav started working on the camera. He began with making a blockout, a very rough shape, but the main thing here is the proportions.

"After I worked a little more with the proportions and they suited me, I started making high poly, the main work was done in Blender by using SubD modeling with some parts thrown into ZBrush."

Yaroslav shared, that he used this Blender to ZBrush Bridge tool to export the model into ZBrush because he wanted to refine the edges in some places. For that, he used TrimDynamic Brush with square Alpha: 

"I made the rope by hand in Blender, using the CURVEmachine add-on, which is very convenient for working with splines."

As the low-poly model was almost ready, Yaroslav applied the first Level of subdivision and cleaned it up manually, not wanting to limit himself to a polycount to not waste time. Now, everything was prepared for the retopology.

"All UV was done in Blender, for this I used Zen UV, which has a bunch of cool features that greatly facilitate the work with UV. All UV Shells must be aligned, so my baking won't have any artifacts."

As for baking, Yaroslav got it done quickly with Marmoset Toolbag:

"After checking that all the naming conforms, I triangulated the entire model and fixed a seam found where the Hard Edge was. Then I sent it to Marmoset and everything was baked without any problems."

Moving on to texturing, Yaroslav revealed that he decided to use Substance 3D Painter and chose the Metallic/Roughness workflow:

"At first, I started with basic materials. For metal, I used a lot of Grunges with different Base Colors and Roughness because I wanted to have variation.

Then I started working with the basic material of painted metal. I took some of them from the Megascans since I like their textures because they also have Normal maps."

"I broke up the Color and Roughness with Grunges and used different ways of overlaying, which made it even more variable and realistic."

That was all for the painted metal and Yarsolav started manually adding details:

"I started to add some details like scratches, threw on metal edge wear, broke it with grunge texture, and then used Stencils to add scratches manually, checking it with the reference."

"At first, I took the base material of wood and played a little with its Roughness and Base color, adjusting a little to achieve the color I needed, and after I was satisfied with everything, I started working on the wear."

"To the base layer of the wood, I added Anchor. In order to work on different scratches on the wood, I created a new Fill Layer, and in this layer, I uploaded the Anchor of the main wood layer and with the HLS I made the scratched wood lighter."

Yaroslav applied the same technique to Stensils, putting Anchors on them to use this mask in the future for a variety of colors and roughness:

All these names and scratches were taken from reference photos and then processed into Stencils with Adobe Photoshop. Yaroslav suggested anyone interested in learning this technique check out Rick Greeve's Creating and Texturing With Custom Stencils tutorial.

The final Base color, Roughness, and Metallic look:

Before moving on to the rendering, Yaroslav recommended a few tutorials on Marmoset Toolbag renders he personally found very helpful:

"First, I prepared my mesh for the background and then placed black and white material in Marmoset Toolbag. I downloaded several environments from HDRi Haven and chose the one that gave the best result, added a few lamps, and started to rotate it to give an interesting flare."

"In the camera, I set the Field of View to 85-89 and Tone Mapping as ACES. In the render settings, the main thing is to enable Ray Tracing."

In conclusion, Yaroslav added that he enjoyed working on the Konishiroku Aerial Camera GSK-99 project and gained some new experience in the process. He also shared a bit of advice for other 3D artists:

"The main thing is to move on, not to stop, and always develop."

Yaroslav Tyshchenko, Prop / Environment Artist

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