Cutlery Set Material Breakdown – Yann Esparbié
Hello everyone, I’m Yann Esparbié, I did 3 years of cabinet making at Boulle school Paris, then I did a 90° turn to learn game development. Now I’m a student at Lisaa Paris, currently in the first year of game art Master and I developed a nice attraction for procedural materials.
Idea and references
I had the idea to create an old silver fork with ornaments, I always try in personal projects to challenge myself, because there are so many things that I want to explore, it’s why I try to find ideas that will bring me something.
It may not be visible at first glance, but this is a 100% procedural material made with Allegorithmic’s Substance Designer, just a simple plane.
Alex Beddows said in his awesome interview “Asking the masters – Material art” (Asking the masters) “ There are two types of materials, production showcase and skill showcase” and that’s exactly what I think too, in my opinion, material artists should do both, to show that they are able to work in the industry and to show what they can achieve with their skills. You can imagine, this project belongs to the second category.
You’ve probably read this 1000 times, but just in case I’ll say it again, work with references! that’s a very important phase to start a project and develop it correctly, don’t hesitate to spend hours in this phase if needed, in my case I won’t show you my board because it’s very small.
01 – Get the global shape
The first part to do in Substance Designer is to work on the volumes of the material, in other words, the height and normal map.
One of the key points of the project is to make the plane follow the fork to avoid huge distortions that couldn’t be erased by opacity, so the path I have chosen is to model the fork flat then combine it with a plane that has the shape I wanted.
02 – Modeling
I don’t have special advice for modeling the height map, the only rule is to avoid 90° extrusion angle to avoid extreme polygon distortion, after that it’s only a question of training and knowledge of nodes. I will still show you how I arrived at my result.
Here’s a render of the main graph, I hope that this will help you to find your way around.
Nothing fancy here, with the combination of gradient + curve you can draw tones of shapes.
Cross Section is a new useful node that will automatically transform your curve in shape, if you don’t know it, I will recommend you to check it out on Substance’s Youtube channel. It can do a lot of things.
I combined different bevels and non-uniform blur together with masks, with this method I can control each segment of the fork and further add some details.
Here’s are two closeup images of the graph:
03 – Ornaments
All the ornaments are made in a second graph. It’s a good way to organize and optimize, here’s also a screenshot of some output and how I input them back into my main graph.
After that I only use tones of transforms, blends and mirrors to combine the ornaments together, my last blend is set to max lighten which adds the ornaments on the fork.
It’s also possible to do a pre-subtract, to get an outline effect around the ornament.
04 – Surface Effects
Now, all that’s left for us to do is create noises for the metal effect then work on albedo, roughness, metallic. The most important is to play with different noises, find many ways to blend them together and test again and again.
Here’s an advice for texturing in general. To achieve a good result in texturing, ( any method or software included ) I impose one rule to myself, “don’t keep any map empty or with flats areas”. I always keep this sentence in mind, sometimes there are some exceptions ( for example, the normal map can stay flat for polished materials ) but you get the idea…
You can see this in the map breakdown ( Albedo > Normal > Height > Metallic > Roughness ).
In the library there is a category called “Mask Generators” where you can find nodes that can generate super cool masks, based on Ao, Curvature, World Space Normal… they help a lot to bring life to roughness, albedo, metallic.
Here’s the last part of the graph.