Prop Breakdown

Ilia Kurichenkov


Ilia Kurichenkov

Hard-Surface Artist


Hello, my name is Ilia. Iā€™m a hard-surface artist at Highland Games with five years of experience. I am focused on creating models of military vehicles and weapons.

I came to game development from motion design because games are magical.


The motivation behind this project stems from my passion for firearms, and more specifically, submachine guns.

This work aims to create a customized B&T MP9 and to enhance the level of texture and rendering through the use of techniques that I will describe below.


For this project, I used:

  • Blender
  • Marvelous Designer
  • RizomUV
  • Substance Painter
  • Marmoset Toolbag
  • World of Guns: Gun Disassembly

Research & References

The first and most important step is to find relevant references.

Based on my work experience, I have encountered many mistakes, most due to insufficient preliminary research.


I also use the World of Guns: Gun Disassembly app to learn how weapons work.

This app allows you to take a weapon apart down to its smallest parts, which is essential for understanding the inner workings of the gun.



I began my work on the project by creating a gun cartridge, which is the part of a weapon that determines its overall dimensions.

The size of the cartridge, in turn, determines the size of other components such as the barrel and bolt.

The size of these components, as well as the silencer and sleeve extraction mechanisms, depends on the size of the barrel, making it an important stage in the process. Therefore, I usually start my work with this step.


During the process of creating a model, I test the model to ensure that it is functional.

I check the movement of the mechanisms that will be used in the game to make sure they work correctly.


Simulation of Soft Bodies

The process of simulating fabric, in my case rubber, is very exciting.

I can spend a lot of time on it, creating interesting folds and shapes in the fabric.


From an artistic perspective, a good way to improve the design would be to incorporate twists, curves, and other elements.

These would add complexity and interest to the overall look of the surface.



There are convenient and, most importantly, fast tools available to convert low-poly to high-poly meshes.

First of all, it is necessary to set the Crease parameter to 1.00 for hard edges.


After that, I set the parameters for Subdivision, Ramesh, and CorrectiveSmooth. You can see the details below.


I believe this is a crucial feature that has significantly accelerated my work.

UVs and Baking

For UVs, I used a bridge between Blender and Rizom. When creating a UV map, it’s important to align everything correctly to ensure there are no visible seams. Additionally, cylindrical shelves should be transformed into rectangular shapes.

I separated the model into different IDs, considering which pieces could be modular:

  • Base body part
  • Top body part
  • Stock
  • Magazine
  • LAD
  • RD sight
  • Suppressors

I was working on baking maps using the Marmoset Toolbag. Nothing too exotic, just verifying the correctness of the names and checking for any artifacts.


I devote more time to the texturing stage of my work than to other stages of my pipeline. During this stage, I look for additional reference materials in various lighting conditions, with different weather, angles, and levels of aging to create a more realistic depiction.

I pay close attention to the strength and hardness of the material, which allows me to more realistically depict scratches, dents, and other signs of use.

In my case, the main material was polymer plastic. Secondary materials are anodized aluminum, weapon steel, and soft body materials.

Therefore, the main work was carried out on polymer plastic.

To ensure consistency in lighting between the painting and rendering stages, I used identical HDRi in Substance Painter and Marmoset Toolbag.


Base layers are composed of many individual layers. I include a variety of noise layers using different blending modes.

Additionally, I add height and normal map variations.


I would like to bring to your attention an interesting aspect, which is the “extraction” of the original text from an image.

In most cases, it is not possible to perfectly match the font, letter spacing, and other elements. Therefore, I usually employ a method that I will describe below.


Rendering and Lighting

In the process of creating renderings, I rely on three main points:

  1. Reflection ā€” this is a crucial aspect of visual perception and renders, adding depth, volume, and realism to images, emphasizing shapes, textures, and details of objects.
  1. Contrast ā€” contrast helps to enhance the perception of an image, making it more dynamic, interesting, and emotionally charged.
    It is an essential element of rendering that helps create a strong visual impression.
  1. Study of Visual Sources ā€” the study of other renderings helps to understand context, trends, and techniques in the industry.
    It is also an essential part of professional development, as it allows you to stay up-to-date with the latest trends and improve your skills.

Presentation Artwork

I would like to add that it is important to keep the person who is viewing your artwork on Artstation engaged and interested.
You can do this by diversifying the background. You could use a realistic or abstract background, or create a contrast by using a light or dark background.

Also, try placing the object in a realistic environment, as this will create variety and keep the user interested in the artwork.

These techniques will help you to create a more engaging and enjoyable experience for the viewer.



I would like to thank everyone who has read this article. I hope it was informative and interesting for you.

I appreciate the opportunity to share my knowledge, experience, and working methods with other artists and enthusiasts in this exciting and dynamic world of game development.

I thank the Games Artist team for their support and the opportunity to participate in this project.

I am looking forward to new projects and challenges that will help me continue to grow and improve in my profession.

Ilia Kurichenkov.