02 April 2022

Carriage – Prop Breakdown – Camilla Pontiggia

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Intro

My name is Camilla and I’ve been working as an Environment Artist for a couple of years in a AA game studio in Milan, Italy.
With this piece I wanted to challenge myself modelling a very ornate hero prop and explore the potential of UE5’s Nanite.

The plan was to create a carriage inspired by both gothic architecture and victorian furniture/ cabinets (and a bit of Bloodborne of course). Online I found a few references that were interesting but none fit the concept I had in mind of making a decorated carriage holding some kind of relic inside.

So I decided to develop the design as I modeled which proved to be a great challenge and a way to improve both my technical skillset and design work.

The blocking phase had a lot of back and forth of ideas that kept changing the design. After a while I settled with the screenshots you can see below:

Most of the elements were blocked out and refined as I went, adding textures and materials helped for sure to see which direction was the best for this model.

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Modelling, Material, Sculpting

Most of the elements were blocked out and redefined as I went, adding textures and materials helped for sure to see which direction was the best for this model.

In the end, the carriage was split into parts so I could easily tweak proportions and try different combinations and solutions to get the result I liked best.

This proved to be a good way to keep the work agile and allowed me to experiment freely without sacricing too much of the work that I was already satisfied by.

In terms of geometry, I managed to keep the structure of the carriage pretty optimized and lean by modeling it fully in 3dsMax.

Given the size and complexity of the different modules, I decided to give it a go at texturing the whole model using just a trim sheet. To achieve that I made a high poly model of the different ornaments and baked them into a plane. Smaller designs were made in Substance Designer and then merged with the rest of the texture.

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Metal and wood surfaces were made in Substance Painter.
While the structural parts were created entirely in 3dsMax with polygonal modeling, most of the ornaments were sculpted from scratch in Zbrush or started from a base mesh to be tweaked later on. I focused particularly on the design of the main window and the capitals.

Most details sculpted elements started either from a base mesh made in 3dsMax using Turbosmooth and rened in ZBrush while others (like the main rose window) were sculpted from scratch starting from spheres.

In this case, I used a lot of snake hook and Sculptris pro to define and find shapes that worked. All the remaining processes of modeling and texturing (like Retopo and UVs) were made within ZBrush using Decimation Master and UV Master.

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The capital was approached a bit differently. I had fun in Zbrush creating a design that worked with the rest of the ornaments and then optimized it by hand in 3dsMax in order to get a clean topology that would make mapping the trim easier.

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Cloth Simulation

For the statues, I started from a base female model that was posed and tweaked. Most of the work concerned the cloth was simulated in Marvelous Designer.

Most of the fabric parts for the scene consisted of curtains and drapes inside and out of the carriage.

Curtains you can spot from inside the carriage were fairly simple: I created stripes of cloth that got frozen to emulate the window perimeter and worked as a good help to keep the curtains in place with stitching. To get the dramatic draping effect I created an internal line and made it elastic to gather the fabric in place.

Exterior drapes on the other hand were a bit more elaborate as I wanted to create a cover for the niche in the front, so I created smaller panels to give it a more elegant look than simple curtains draping from the roof.

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The seat ended up being fully made in marvelous, then retoppoed in Max using the SkinWrap method and textured in Substance Painter. I wanted to achieve a more decorated look by inserting small golden stripes and a small geometric pattern that would recall the ornaments found in the rest of the model.

These details were added to the height and roughness maps, in order to give the seat a nice shine.

Conclusion

After final details to the scene like the candles (that were sculpted and textured in Zbrush and Substance Painter), I brought the whole carriage into Marmoset where I got my rst lighting setup ready and started to work on shaders.
Most of the work required at this point had to do with glass.

All images are real-time shots from Marmoset with little to no post-process.

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Thank you for reading through the article. It has been a lot of fun designing and creating my model without a concept or a precise reference even though it often caused me to spend a bit of time in trial and error.

Still, I have learned a lot during this project, redefining and trying out different workflows and being able to assess which was the best course of action; it has been a great teaching experience and I’m quite happy with the result.