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Texturing a Post-Apocalyptic Car in Substance Painter

Gabs Hega talked about modeling and texturing a Mad Max-inspired car in Blender and Substance Painter, shared some WiP videos.


Hi, I am Gabs Hega and I am very happy to be sharing my experiences with 80 Level. I originally majored in Cybernetic Engineering and Computer Systems at La Salle University in Mexico, where I was lucky enough to enroll in a course focused on graphics animation, in which I clicked with my inner artist and met my first 3D software, Maya. Once I completed my studies, I started to work in network technologies but kept thinking about Maya and the amazing things I could create with it, so one day, I decided to quit my job and study a 2-year specialty in 3D Modeling and Animation.

So far, it has been the best decision I ever made in my life, besides marrying my now husband of course, who is a concept artist by the way.

In order to become a better artist, I try to always keep myself updated because this industry changes very quickly. I have managed to do it through teaching, because if I want to lecture my students about the latest workflows, first I have to know them well so I can be able to explain each tool and methodology.

Another thing that helps me to stay ahead, is working on projects while always improving my abilities because I constantly face different challenges using different and new platforms or tools, but once I get to a final result, I keep learning when I share my work in forums where you can receive feedback from colleagues. 

Post-Apocalyptic Vehicle Project

This project started when I had to learn how to use Blender, so I was learning some things from a tutorial about how to model a vehicle, and I finished it. After that, I thought it was the moment to prove what I had learned, so I started to look for references and thought I could model one of my hot wheels cars.

I finished the model, but there was something telling me that I could do something more original. I told Charly, my husband, that I wanted to transform my vehicle into something Mad Max-style, so he made a quick and funny overpaint. I loved the idea and got to work.

Modeling Workflow

I feel more comfortable modeling in Blender because it has modifiers like Mirror, Solidify, SubDivision or Boolean, that can easily be turned on and off without permanently affecting the geometry.

I started with blocking and then I added more details step by step. I added a few extra props like the gas bottles, the tire, chains, and ropes because I thought it would enrich the concept. 

I actually never thought about texturing the model because my goal was to work on the insights I got from the tutorial about modeling tools, but the years passed and I decided that this vehicle had the potential to be a model with textures, so I opened the old file and exported it to Maya because I prefer its UV tool kit.

I decided to use UDIMS because I wanted to get more details with the textures. A funny and interesting fact is that I am probably one of the few artists who actually enjoy doing the UV layout process, so it was very relaxing for me.  


My process usually starts by looking for textures references then I follow these steps:

1. Before starting the texturing process, I changed the environment to Tomoco Studio in Substance Painter. This allows you to see the actual color of the texture.

2. I think about how the texture of the metal looked like before it was painted at a factory, so I look for references and try to replicate them while creating my Smart Material in Substance Painter.

3. I look for references of what a painted car looks like and make the paint material.

4. I think about the history of the car, how it was worn down over time until it got rusted. So I add layers of roughness over the paint, make the material from the rust, and add dust.

5. I give it the style that I want to get from the references. To achieve this purple rusty effect, I added a blending mode of difference.

6. I use this workflow for the other assets. Then I export my textures Maps.

7. I made the maps connections in Blender using only one material to connect the 24 maps.


To create the lighting setup I used two lights. First I set a skydome light with a strength value of 2.5 and used an exterior HDRI file.

Second I set sunlight with a strength value of 25 and an orange color.

Then I combined both lights.

And finally, for the last step, I set my rendering values using Full HD resolution:

Result with a little time-lapse:


This project helped me to define my texture workflow because if I had textured it when I finished the model for sure I would not have obtained the same result.

The best tip I can give is "Use References". References will definitely save you from wasting a lot of time thinking about what else you can do to your textures because you feel like "something" is missing. After you have the references it is time to study them and separate the large, medium, and small details to replicate them in your material. I also propose the following questions to search references:

  • How the material looked when it was created and in what year?
  • How does nature affect the wear of the material?
  • How does the human affect the wear of the material?
  • In what natural climate the material is wearing out, wet climate, dry climate ...?

When I finished this texturing project I wanted to share this knowledge so I created a Substance Painter Texture Tutorial for beginners.

In my next projects, I want to focus on creating materials with Substance Designer to continue practicing observing patterns in textures and how they react to light.

I hope it's been useful to you and thank you very much for the interview, it was a pleasure and I really appreciate it. 80 Level Rocks!

Gabs Hega, 3D Texturing Artist

Interview conducted by Ellie Harisova

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Comments 2

  • Anonymous user

    Thanks for the post. Nice knowing the process.


    Anonymous user

    ·3 years ago·
  • Anonymous user

    nice done :)


    Anonymous user

    ·2 years ago·

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