06 September 2020

Airtronic PSRL Missile Launcher – Gioele Minigher

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Intro

Hi!

I’m Gioele Minigher, an aspiring Hard-Surface 3d Game Artist, with the main focus on weapons. I’m 19 years old and started 3d when I was about 15/16 and started playing around and learning the basics, in fact, I’m a self-taught artist. It was only about one year ago I decided to take more seriously this path and started
to improve.

Currently, I’m working as a contract artist for Dekogon Studios on various projects.
So in this article, I’m gonna talk about the making of my latest weapon, a PSRL missile launcher, basically an American manufactured RPG.

Main Idea of the project

With this project, the idea was to create a new piece for the portfolio, and also view my improvement from last year, it was a bit more than one year ago I modeled an RPG, this time though, I decided to create something a bit different, not the classical missile launcher.

(Below is my newest version, and below that is the old version)

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Gathering references

As always I started searching for as many references I could find, which is necessary for both modeling and texturing. For this particular model I didn’t find many references, but the shapes weren’t too hard to figure out, so it wasn’t much of a struggle.

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Modelling

My favourite method to model low poly assets is to first create mid poly meshes, from there, it will be easy to get to both high and low poly meshes. I prefer this workflow as it’s fast and less boring in my opinion.

After the mid poly creation, I made the high poly, which was a combination of chamfering the edges based on smoothing groups and then applying turbosmooth, and another method I really like for complex shapes is just to import the mesh I want to smooth out in ZBrush and use the Dynamesh workflow.

Of course with all those rails… I couldn’t leave them empty! So I started by adding an optic, and then I wanted to tell a bit of a story of this missile launcher, I added some details that showed that it’s been used.

My favourite is the foam sheet on the back, I also decided to add a couple of rubber bands and some nice tape on the rear handle.
Finished preparing both high and low poly… it’s time to unwrap it!

UV

I’m not a fan of making UVs, but I don’t hate it either like I know many people do! I find it almost relaxing, sometimes a bit repetitive but still not that bad.
So I unwrapped everything manually, and the main thing I always try to keep in mind is to keep the shells as straight as I can, of course by not causing too much distortion, because this will result in better normal baking.

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Baking & Texturing

Finally, after all this work, we’re almost at the texturing stage. I baked and textured inside Substance Painter, as I prefer to bake my maps inside the software I’m going to texture with.

My texturing workflow consists of creating a nice base of all the materials, and then gradually start adding details to each channel, from base color to roughness and height.
Some tips I would like to give are:

– Try to avoid using smart masks and generators alone, try instead to combine them with other smart masks and grunge maps, to achieve a certain look, which will make your textures much better and fell less procedural.

– Play around with colors, when I can I try to add objects with different colors to my asset. In this case, there is this particular color of the polymer, which makes a nice contrast with the black foam sheet in the back, and for me, it makes it more appealing. Also on the rocket, I added a paint mark, which I like and makes the whole asset better personally, it also adds a personal touch to it.

– Study your reference images, and look there which details you could be adding next. Of course, also experiment yourself, I always think it’s better to add a physically unrealistic detail, that will make the weapon look good, then sticking to reality and making it look boring, we’re making game art after all!

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Rendering & Presentation

For the renderings, I used Marmoset Toolbag.

My usual lighting setup consists of a standard 3 point lights to show the main shapes. Then for the HDRI, I mostly like to use interior images, and from there I add directional lights directly on the HDRI image with which I try to highlight the details of the asset. In this stage, you really want to make your texture work pop out.

I tend to keep my lights’ color white to show the actual colors of my textures.

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You can see here that my setup it’s pretty simple, even though I got more than 10 lights inside my sky!
Just be careful that with that many lights some unwanted shadows may come out.
After that I add some contrast in my camera and change a bit the curves, but nothing too extreme. And then enable GI, set all the settings to max and it’s time to render it!

I like to render it with the background transparent so I can add it in Photoshop later, and make small adjustments if they’re needed.

Animation

This time I wanted to push the portfolio presentation a bit further, by adding an actual animation, seeing the weapon like you see it animated in an actual game. So I contacted my friend Oliviero Moretti (here is his portfolio: https://www.artstation.com/mor3), who is an amazing first-person animator.

He rigged the weapon and added the arms meshes and made the whole animation. The animation is probably the part I like the most of this portfolio piece, cause it really brings it alive, so big thanks to Oliviero for that!

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That’s it! I hope you like this article and I want to say thank you to GameArtist.co.uk for making writing this
article!

You can find me on artstation here:

https://www.artstation.com/gioele_minigher