The Crystal Ship: Creating a Breaking Bad-Inspired Scene

Environment Artist Bondok Max talked about the Crystal Ship project, inspired by Breaking Bad, shared the workflow, and explained how to work without concept art.


Hello! My name is Bondok Max, I am from Egypt and I’m currently working as 3D Environment/LookDev Artist as a freelance with many studios around the world. I have 10+ years of experience in CG, mostly for film and commercials.

I started the Crystal Ship artwork this year. I can't remember when it actually started because of the much downtime caused by working with clients. I didn't have specific concept art, just in my mind, and I was working on the concept based on the Breaking Bad series and building a structure from a movie called Ready Player One. One of its main purposes was to get more used to Redshift and to discover the boundaries of my big-scene workflow when working inside a GPU-based environment.


First of all, I started with quick blocking of the composition, setting the camera and basic lights, as usual, and seeing how far I could take it. Then I filled the scene with more simple objects. This step gave me a great vision for the entire scene, then I started modeling simple primitive objects like a box, cylinder, sphere, or plane using the same workflow.

After that, I used simple Maya's Modeling Tools Kit to give these simple objects a lot of details like Cut, Weld, Bridge, Extrude, etc. For the pipes, I used Curve Wrap Deform it's a great and useful tool to make pipes. For scattering objects on the land, I used amazing Mash tools in Maya


I created all textures in Substance 3D Painter and it was a great experience to try a new workflow with SP and Redshift. For this artwork, I used the "UDIM" workflow to make sure that each part has a lot of details and to have the freedom to add whatever I need. I used the PBR method (Metal/Rough)for all materials for giving a more physical look


To achieve the composition, I was working on each corner of the artwork separately so that it looks like it is realistic, and it must have a story to confirm the idea of the title story and of course, this does not happen without a lot of references for each asset to see how the assets details in the real-life

Rendering and Lighting

For lighting and shading, I used Redshift with a simple render setup for lighting. I created two source lights, one for the sky (RS-Dome Light with HDRI) and the other for the sunlight (Directional Light), and used GI Burte force for the Primary and Secondary bounces. It's a very simple setup and works fine for almost all outdoor scenes.  


The main challenge and the most time-consuming part was the idea itself. As you know, when you are working without a concept, you will be lost for some time and dive into searching on the Internet for things in your brain that you don't know how to put into keywords, but when you take enough time you can do it. I believe that was the main challenge for me in this artwork, I wanted to create something unique and increase my imagination and creativity.

My tip is, you always have to work on some personal project, even if you working full-time. Not just to update the portfolio itself, but to create and study ideas and techniques.

Feel free to contact me via Behance, ArtStation, or Instagram.

Bondok Max, 3D Environment Artist

Interview conducted by Arti Sergeev

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