Hello, my name is Denis Zadoeny! Since school, I was greatly interested t in video games and spent a lot of time playing or studying them. One day, when I was playing Stalker, I had a desire to change the interface of the game - so I began to learn how to do it, and learned more and more about game development and what kind of people are needed to make games. Since childhood, I also loved to draw and was very inspired by the world of the Lord of the Rings. I adore this universe.
Studying gamedev, I lost the desire to change the Stalker interface, but a more ambitious idea appeared - to make my own game. Eventually, I came across FPS Creator, a program that combines a game engine, development environment, and level editor. At that time, I just started getting acquainted with 3D modeling software and while learning to produce computer graphics, I tried to make the game of my dreams.
From the beginning of my studies at the university, I worked as a freelancer in visualization and carried out various tasks rendering sofas and all that... That kind of work did not fuel my creative interest, but it helped me gain experience and make money. However, I always wanted to participate in the development of video games, and such an opportunity came to me when my friend suggested I participate in the development of a few locations for a small game. Unfortunately, that game was never published, but the team liked my performance and I was transferred to work on the Skies project at Eforb studio. This project has become a real career boost for me.
After Skies, my associates and I opened an outsourcing studio GAZ Games (later, we found out that there already was a studio with the same name, but that’s another story). At the studio, I worked as a Team and Content Manager as well as Lead 3D Artist and had to spend a lot of time modeling stuff. I contributed to many projects including Insomnia, Last Survivor, Steam Squad, and Mutant Year Zero: Road to Eden, plus mobile games like Infinity Ops, World War Heroes, and Modern Strike.
For a long time, we collaborated with Whaleapp LTD, a company that specializes in the development of mobile applications. This cooperation was very fruitful, and after some time, we saw that we were ready to create a whole commercial product instead of just making digital content. Thus, we joined Whaleapp LTD and our studio was renamed to Whaleapp Humpback. I hold the position of General Manager and Producer/PM of projects developed at the studio.
We already managed to release one project named Bubble Quest of Vikings which is our debut. Very soon, we are going to release a new project with incredible visuals, and I'm proud of our team and the excellent job they did - make sure to check it out! Currently, I no longer create any digital content for our projects and only deal with management-related tasks. However, my love for 3D content creation did not disappear, and I try to embody it in my personal work.
With that being said, let's go directly to my recent Revolver project.
In my opinion, these models could look great in an old-school “meat” shooter with a modern graphic design, where the player fights off waves of enemies within an arena. For this project, it was necessary to create various weapons, and at that time, I already had a heavy gun and a melee, so I thought of a lighter barrel weapon. That's why I started the Revolver project where my main goal was to create a revolver close to a real-life version but with a more powerful muzzle.
Manurhin MR 73 revolver was chosen as the basis for the model. Studying various references, I thought about the style: I wanted something futuristic, but not too fantastic. In order to organize and view the ref images, I recommend using PureRef - a very convenient thing!
First of all, I studied the Manurhin references to prepare myself for modeling. Initially, a primitive model was built, the so-called "blank", which became a foundation for further work.
Previously, I tried to immediately do the most detailed parts, and this is not entirely correct since you are more focused on the details and not on the integrity of the composition. If you have a very detailed object, then editing some elements will take much more time. Therefore, first of all, it is better to make a low-detailed model and proceed to details only when you are satisfied with the silhouette and proportions on the whole.
In addition, one of the most difficult and time-consuming parts of the work at an early stage was the creation of a good starting model (blank). When developing a revolver or a weapon alike, one of the challenging parts is the process of inventing unique parts. During development, I did not use any concept or a specific reference in order not to limit my creative flow of consciousness. Instead, I got inspired by different artworks before approaching modeling.
After completing the whole model and filling it with the necessary details, I start shading. It is important to carefully check the geometry so that when smoothing you do not have any scars or stretch marks. The lighting should spread smoothly along the planes. For verification, I make the model a little dark and adjust the specular color - this helps to better see errors.
Next, I gave a little character to the materials in ZBrush - chips, scratches, and various marks. When I finished sculpting and double-checked shading again, I set about creating a low poly model in 3ds Max (for some objects, I use TopoGun 2). Since the revolver was planned for my imaginary game with a first-person view, I limited the number of triangles to no more than 35 thousand. The final version is 32668 trs.
Also, when developing such content, it is important to take into account the camera’s positions and objects close to the screen. Close objects should have more detail than distant details, especially with regard to textures. I will describe this peculiarity in more detail below.
When the model was ready, I moved to UVs. I can confidently say that this is the most boring part of the process for me, yet it is very important. If it's done poorly, you will have a lot of problems with baking and texturing, and all the good results that you obtained during the previous steps can be spoiled.
When I lay out small objects (regardless of the padding), I increase their size by 30-50%, especially when it comes to the elements that are close to the player’s camera: the mode button, bolts, shutter, etc. If you have some free space left, don't let it stay empty.
After UVs are done, I am tuning up the final smoothing groups. In the past, I did all smoothing groups manually and it took a lot of time, so I automated my approach with the help of TexTools for 3ds Max. It has a mode for automatically adjusting anti-aliasing groups. After that, I go through the model once again to see that the smoothing groups work correctly.
When working on textures, I divide my work into several stages. First of all, I select the appropriate shade for this or that object and then adjust the metalness and roughness. When the results look good, I start working on the details. Using AO, I generate dirt and other necessary layers, then add scratches and all kinds of wear on edges. Do not add scratches around the entire perimeter of the object - it looks unrealistic.
The next stage is to work mainly on the roughness of the material, applying masks to get micro scratches, dirt, and various defects that will give an interesting reflection. The main part of the revolver had a very strong reflection, so in order to better distinguish micro-scratches, I made them not shiny, but rather non-reflective.
The wooden part was easier. I already had a material from a previous project, which I modified to fit the weapon: tweaked the roughness, added abrasion, varnish, and fingerprints on it. By the way, the muzzle of the weapon wasn't intended to be yellow at first. I decided to add that color later when I realized that the front of the barrel looked boring and too uniform. I didn't want to make another type of metal, as it would break the unity of the weapon, but giving the scope a different color seemed like a good idea.
PBR Validator filter in Substance Painter helped me a lot when checking whether each material worked correctly or not. Remember that your shading should work well in any lighting scenario, not only in a scene created exclusively to show your model in a favorable light.
When the textures were ready, I exported them into Photoshop for additional touches. There, I added various inscriptions and stickers. As for the inscription “Caution” on the wire - I got the idea from the recent Resident Evil 3 Remake announcement, the same text was used on the Nemesis costume. I love this series, and the meaning kind of fit my model - the wire comes from a small generator that enhances the gunshot, so it’s better not to touch it.
The scene was rendered in Marmoset Toolbag. I do not use a lot of settings there. Initially, I set Sky to the standard Lands End preset, set up additional light sources (one white, one red with the shadow display turned on, and one blue). In the camera settings, I set Sharpen to 2.917 for clarity of the picture. Also, in the Render tab, I turned on the Enable GI parameter to get beautiful shadows and reflections. After that, I adjusted the image size to 2560x1440 and thus prepared the scene for rendering. I did not use any post effects or color correction.
Since the revolver was developed for in-game use, it would be interesting to see it in action, with animations and effects. Perhaps in the future, I will work on that. But that's it for now!
To those who are just starting to make game content, especially weapons, I'd say the following: you definitely need to collect multiple references of various weapons and create your own library. Study the work of your colleagues and other artists, focus your attention on how details and textures are made.
If you want to make game weapons, first of all, play video games and research their production. When developing a weapon, approach the geometry consciously, use symmetry for repeating sides, duplicate elements to save space for the UVs.
And of course, practice! Find ways to speed up your workflow but don’t lose quality. I hope this article was interesting and you found something useful in it! Thank you all for your attention!