During the making of the set I tried to identify myself with myself of the past when I used to go to school, and with what I used to feel and think… Although the scene is vivid and colorful, it also describes an act of bullying. A post-it (“Loser Inside”) is stuck up on the locker, where somebody has been locked up.
As usual, I begin with the making of a single prop. In this case, the first prop is the bag in front of the central locker. Then I create a little world that can tell a short story.
All the assets have been made by me in order to be completely game-ready. Trying to keep a clean topology and a little number of polygons has never been a boundary to me, but a fun challenge.
After the gathering of several online references, I begin with placing some approximate volumetrics into the scene in order to have a better focusing of the composition and fix proportions, spaces and frames.
During the modeling process, I begin with the making of a model by an average number of polygons which I call “source” with the aim of defining the silhouette of the structures. From the “source” model my pipeline divides into two parts: the creation of a High-poly model for the baking, and, always starting from the “source”, the making of a Game-ready model.
At the beginning I intended to add more details to the scene, such as a mop leaned against the first locker on the left with the “Caution! Wet Floor” sign, but for reasons of time, I had to cut some details. The whole process of modeling (High and Low-poly) has been made in Blender.
As for the texturing, I used Substances Painter and Substance Designer. I have a library of materials and procedural tools made by me in Substance Designer.
I often start with some materials of mine in order to be consistent with my style. Then I adapt them to the single props. All three lockers have the same tone, but the one in the middle is a little lighter in order to attract better. One piece of advice which I can give about the stylized texturing is to force a little the ambient occlusion that comes from the bake in order to give more compactness and depth to the single props.
During the texturing process, I decided to distinguish the lockers by some stickers. I intended to give the owners of the lockers a basic background. The first locker on the left has got some hearts and cats: I intended to outline a sweeter figure as well, maybe a feminine one.
The second one has got a Jurassic style branded bag, with a pin shaped like an egg of a dinosaur. It suggests that the owner is fond of dinosaurs.
The last one, both for the stickers and for the poster, suggests that the owner loves the space. Because of the content of the locker, it is also understandable that he likes sport. Moreover, the poster in the last locker is a reference to an old work of mine: “Space Burger”.
As to the lighting set, it is based on a lightly blurry HDR to not have gleaming glares on the surfaces, and on some area light by which I underlined some borders of the structures.
I believe that the lighting, as for the texturing, is one of the fundamental parts of stylized scenes. I don’t think I am very good at lighting, in fact, I intend to increase this aspect.
The scene has been rendered in real-time by Blender Eevee in order to stay loyal to the game ready. There is light postproduction made with Blender Node Compositor.
The lockers have been given some bones in order to move them as I want during the animation. I intended to suggest the idea that somebody had been locked up inside. The movement shakes the lockers which, consequently, move the object with which they are in contact.
The outward bend of the central locker door is made by bone that influences only the central part of the locker’s door. As for the bag and the objects I intended to animate them by physical simulations but then I preferred to animate them by my hand in order to control them better and let the scene loop.
My advice to all the artists is to stay very near the community (Artstation, Instagram, Facebook groups, Discord, StylizedStation, Sketchfab, etc…) where you can learn a lot and where you may confront other artists.
I also recommend reading many breakdowns in some online magazines and practicing as much as possible, I think that practice is never enough.