The original goal of my project was to learn new software, modelling techniques and improve my texturing skills to add it to my pipeline.
- Base Modeling – Fusion 360
- Retopology – Moi3d & 3ds Max
- Highpoly Sculpting – Zbrush
- UV – UVLayout & RizomUV
- Texturing – Substance Painter
- Rendering and Baking – Marmoset Toolbag
Inspiration and References
The starting point of my new project was a tutorial by Duard Mostert – AAA Game Assets with Fusion 360.
Initially, I aimed to create a model of a laser designator as in the tutorial, but noticing many designators on Artstation, I decided to craft something new.
I found the form I liked: Deckard’s binoculars from Bladerunner 2049. However, I didn’t want to merely copy the model, so I chose to blend this form with modern digital binoculars.
I began by refining base forms to the correct dimensions, considering the functionality and ergonomics. Main regulators and buttons were placed on the left side, with the ON/OFF button and the charging socket on the right.
I cut the body into smaller shells, added large details, and included final details and small fillets.
Later, I realized that adding small fillets in Fusion 360 was a mistake; these fillets were easily created in Zbrush during the sculpting pass. The model was then exported in STP format for the next stage.
For the transfer from CAD format to mesh, I chose MoI3D for its predictability. After importing the STP file to Moi, I exported the model to OBJ.
Subsequently, in Zbrush, I divided the mesh into different subtools, applied dynamesh to all parts, and used Zbrush primarily for edge damage, large scratches, and dents.
The detailing involved brushes like TrimDynamic and ClayTubes for edge damage and OrbCracks for scratches. After grouping parts for baking, I exported them.
The base lowpoly model was created in Moi3D, then split into pieces with different export settings tried for each one. Final adjustments were made in 3dsMax, removing unnecessary edges and welding nearby points.
As this project was not intended for a game, extensive time was not spent optimizing the model.
Some tricks used in 3dsMax included hotkeys for faster workflow, maintaining edge counts in multiples of 2 for easier LOD creation, and creating quad polygons where possible.
UVs and Baking
UVLayout was used for unwrapping, with adjustments made in RizomUV when necessary.
General rules for creating UVs included keeping islands as straight as possible, unfolding cylindrical surfaces into straight pieces, and aligning shells along the axis.
The model was divided into parts without intersections, named correctly with ‘low’ and ‘high’ suffixes, and imported into Marmoset for normal and curvature texture baking.
Substance Painter was used for other textures, occasionally including the curvature map.
Texturing, the favorite part of the process, involves creating base materials with simple fill layers to determine color and material. The choice of a gray-blue color as a base, with dark variations on large details and beige on small details, was made.
Height layers with text details were added, and anchor points were created using a decal mask in Photoshop. Color variations were introduced with careful consideration of realism, avoiding overly saturated or dark/light colors.
Roughness layers were added using masks downloaded from Quixel Megascans.
Then I began to add color variations. I painted some beige dirt spots to break the monotony of color.
For this purpose, I used a fill layer with a grunge mask I downloaded from the internet and added hand paint above this mask.
I also used different stencils for painting. Then I continued to add different color variations to the base colors. I used a multiply blend mode for dark spots and a screen blend mode for light spots. I try not to make spots too contrasty because it makes a model too unrealistic.
After getting the desired result, I added wear and tear layers.
First, I created a layer with an edge wear anchor point and two groups: metal and grout. In the metal group, I created a mask with the anchor I created before.
In the grout group, I added an inverted edge wear mask and put a little blur effect on top of it; then I added an edge wear mask in multiply blending mode.
After making all these arrangements, I began to paint a mask. I made the Metal Edge Wear Generator as a base, then I began to draw on top of it.
In the next step, I added details in the metal and grout groups and painted other wear layers (stains, smudges, drops, dirt, dust, etc.).
For them, I used stencils and grunge masks combined with hand paint.
I’ve done all the other materials in the same way. Here are my final textures for diffuse, metallic, and roughness.
For rendering, I use Marmoset. I created a plane with material from Quixel Megascans. Then I put binoculars on top of it. For lighting, I use an HDRI map.
I created lighting spots by clicking on the image of HDRI, then I adjusted the brightness and color of the light.
I used a rectangular shape for the lights. Here are my settings for render and camera.
In conclusion, I would like to share a few insights I gained during my work as a 3D artist. The main conclusion is that you should always learn something new and improve your skills.
If you’re an artist, always pay attention to real objects in the world around you. Observe how they behave in different light, how they reflect light, and how dust and dirt lie on them.
Also, always look at other artists, observe how they approach their work, and incorporate the best practices from them. If you’re working on a lesson, try not to copy everything thoroughly; instead, add something of your own.
Do not overload your attention; after working hard on one part of the object, give your brain a rest and work on something else. Don’t be afraid to make mistakes; they help you move forward.
I’d like to thank all the artists on ArtStation, Game Artists, and 80lv. These are great resources where you can find inspiration and ideas for further development.