Gold Rush – Prop Breakdown – Omer Handscher
Hi everyone, my name is Omer Handscher and I’m a self-taught prop artist.
For the past few years, I have been studying 3D art. In this article, I will break down the workflow of my latest project – Gold Rush.
The goal for this project was to create a realistic 3D asset for my portfolio that will demonstrate my skills, I wanted to show both organic and hard surfaces shapes and materials.
I started my work by searching for an interesting model to create, that will allow me to further expand my abilities and achieve my goals. After I found what I was looking for I began my research, Understanding exactly what I’m dealing with in terms of:
– The model itself – shapes.
– Scaling, Mechanism.
– Setting, Environment, History.
– Use, Condition, Wear, Damage.
– The story behind it.
Gathering many references to have a clear image in my head of what the result will look like, but still be open to changes.
I’m doing my modeling in Blender, trying to maintain a non-destructive workflow as much as possible. Starting with the big shapes to have a sense of the scale and capture the dimensions of the object. I have a human model ready in my file that helps me with the proportions.
Prepare your favorite playlist for this step.
The wood and the coal were done in Zbrush. For the wood, I used the Zremesh tool to get a nice edge flow, subdivided it a few times to have enough polygons.
When I sculpt in Zbrush I always use layers and Morph target for a non-destructive workflow.
I started with the large creases of the wood grain and the edges. (The smaller grain will be done in the texturing process, to have control of the color and roughness).
In the beginning, it is helpful to use alphas as a base and take it from there, also working close to the reference is very important because we don’t know how things really look like, stepping out and observing the model as a whole is another good tip.
Zbrush has excellent brushes, I experimented with some of them until if found what works best for me:
The Trim Dynamic, Trim Smooth Border had square alphas.
Sculpting might be a long process so it is good to be efficient, since the inner parts of the wood aren’t visible, sculpting them would have been a waste of time.
For the coal, I created the base mesh from a sphere and used just about the same brushes, with the Standard brush, as Jeremy Estrellado once said “never underestimate the power of the Standard brush”.
To make the asset look more interesting and break the generic look, I added some story with the broken metal at the front and the hook held by a rope at the back.
This part wasn’t too complicated for this project, most of the shapes were simple. I deleted The Hidden parts of the wood since they weren’t necessary.
For the coal parts, I used Zbrush’s Dynamesh, after merging all of the rocks to form one mesh for the baking, then I removed more unnecessary edges that don’t affect the silhouette.
Although this part is technical it is directly attached to the texturing stage, better to think ahead here. I knew I would make wood grain in the texturing stage, so I rotated all the wood’s UV shells to turn in the right direction before I packed (and make sure rotation is disabled before packing, happened to a friend)
Some parts can’t be visible at the same time (Like a few of the metal parts and screws) I decided to Mirror their UV to save texture space.
Taking the time to make sure the bakes look very good saves lots of headaches, finding out a stretching error in the middle of the texturing process is a pain (happened to another friend…)
Everybody’s favorite part, mine as well.
To create a realistic material it is important to study it in real life, knowing how it works science speaking, different wood types, oxidation and corrosion process, aging effect, etc. Substance Painter uses a layering system as real-life materials do, so I start from the very basic layer working my way up, If the base layer doesn’t look good, no amount of details will do it.
There is a good tutorial by Alexander Zelenskiy https://www.artstation.com/artwork/35Kng that explained it best.
I like to spend extra time on the color variations, it helps to sell the material and brings the asset to life.
It has 2 aspects: The color itself (Hue, Saturation, Value) and how it is presented (the mask). I choose grunge with a pattern that has the same direction as the wood pattern so they will fit in nicely.
Make sure to leave enough time to experiment and make mistakes, it is hard to get it right the first time.
For the knots I used scans from Quixel Megascans, I created a layer with the scan, scaled and position them like the reference, added a black mask, and painted (White) the knot I wanted to be visible, that way I only take the desire parts of the scans and blend it in my material.
The shovel (with its wooden pole) is placed near the cart, so to avoid repetition and make the prop look more interesting and appealing the wood of the shovel had to be different from the cart, I made it more saturated and orangy, so it will stand out.
Many thanks to Games Artist UK for the opportunity to share my work and contribute to the community. Also big thanks to my mentor Paula for providing me guidance and feedback along the process.
Being a self-taught artist requires high motivation, discipline, and most importantly the curiosity to explore, keep practicing, and learning every day, as well as enjoy the journey.
‘The Pursuit Is The Reward’