References and inspiration
This project began with finding old ads for Hoosier Cabinets from the 1900s. I am a history nerd so I love finding pieces from the past that I can recreate.
I fell for this prop as it displays a different time and views in our history particularly women, as it is advertised as the “Housekeepers Dream”.
From here I started gathering references for my prop. When searching for references, don’t limit yourself to just Google searches.
If you know what you are looking for, websites such as YouTube, eBay and Pinterest are great for finding high-quality pictures.
I can especially recommend this if your prop is being sold on eBay, as the person selling it usually take lots of pictures from different angles for the ad.
When gathering references, I tend to separate references for the prop itself and the references that I want to use when texturing.
The idea was not to have it painted in the beginning, but while looking at references I got inspired by painted wood cabinets and flowers.
Blockout and high poly modelling
I started by creating a quick blockout of my prop to get a feeling for scale and proportions. I use a basic character model for size reference. This prop is not very advanced when it comes to modeling.
It consists mostly of square shapes so the process was simple.
Therefore I won’t go into much detail, but I would like to talk about some general tips when it comes to doing a blockout.
The 80/20 rule
The first 20% of an art project will lay the foundation for the rest of the 80%. Therefore it is important to nail the first 20% – the blockout. If we look at a prop from a pure modeling perspective (we disregard texturing etc.) it is important that the prop is interesting at an early
If the prop is boring to look at as a mockup, it most likely will be boring when it is finalized as well. Therefore it is important to pay attention to silhouette, composition, empty spaces and details during this stage.
Can you add/remove something to break up the silhouette, or maybe increase the size of detail to keep the viewer interested? Maybe add some contrast to your prop by utilizing soft and hard shapes? Returning to the 80/20 rule, this also applies to readability.
To increase the readability of your prop, it can be beneficial to clump up the details (20%) and have areas of rest (80%).
This goes for both the modeling and the texturing process.
Using my blockout as an example, I liked the asymmetry of the different cabinet doors and the interior shelves, while keeping the overall shape of the prop simple.
Creating the high poly for my asset was pretty straightforward, as I did not do any sculpting for this prop. It is mainly subdivided into Blender.
My original idea was to fill this cabinet with props typically found around a 1900 kitchen.
While that would have definitely made my prop more interesting, so would the size of this project. Therefore I decided against it, as my main goal was to practice texturing and I wanted to keep the scale down.
Lowpoly, UVs and Baking
When creating a low poly model, the most important thing to keep in mind is the silhouette. Only add vertices if it adds shape to your prop.
Also, try to keep your UVs in mind while doing low-poly, as you might want to mirror something, or add a loop for cutting UVs.
I bake my textures in Marmoset Toolbag, as it in my experience has the best tools when it comes to baking.
In Blender, I name my assets with assetname_low and assetname_high, as I can then use the Quick Loader tool in Marmoset. It will sort your assets into the correct folders, based on your naming.
If I want something to bake on top of my high poly, such as bolts in my case, I simply name it assetname_high_bolts and it will be added to the correct folder. This is also useful if you have to update something in your assets when baking, as the Quick Loader will automatically Reload your asset upon export.
My textures were created in Photoshop and Substance Painter. Whenever I start a new texturing project I always set up my scene in Marmoset Toolbag with some basic lighting and plug-in my textures. I do this to order to view my textures as they will be rendered in their final form, as there will always be a difference in rendering between engines.
Creating painted wood
For my painted wood texture, I started by finding a pretty basic photograph of some wood that I liked on Google. It did not tile and only had a base color. I cropped it down to a 2048×2048 texture, and then made it (somewhat) tile in Photoshop.
You can clearly see where these texture tiles are here, but since this wood is mostly going to be covered by paint I did not give this more time and effort.
My freshly made texture was then plugged in as an albedo in Substance Painter, but also as roughness as this would serve as my base roughness. I inverted the roughness and adjusted the values using Levels. I also “saved” my roughness values in an Anchor, as I will reference this later in my material.
Adding height variation
After this I added some height to bring my material to life. I used my roughness values as height, adjusting it with levels, and added some rough scratches. I also added small amounts of dirt.
I finished my wood material by adding some color variations. I darkened the base color, and added some lighter scratches.
Creating the paint
I found a material on Quixel that I think was some sort of concrete. The material itself is not what I was looking for, but the normal map was perfect for my material. I used only the normal map and painted in areas of flaking where it made sense in my prop.
What I found particularly interesting in the texture was the vertical lines, acting as cracks between planks in my wood material.
I finalized my paint layer by adding some dirt on top. I then used different masks, and some hand painting, to bring forth my underlying wood material in damaged and unpainted areas of my prop.
Detailing my asset
Details can bring your prop to the next level, and this is where your references really come into play. Things you would not normally think about in a texture, small things that be a difference maker for your prop, can often be found in your references.
For example, I loved this blue trim that I found around the marble in the reference below, as well as the hand-painted squares on the inside of the cabinet.
Here is the difference in my prop with and without the blue trim and the painted flowers. In my eyes, these two details completely change my prop for the better. Again returning to the 80/20 rule, the white painted parts of my prop are areas of rest (80%).
The blue trim and flowers are areas of interest (20%). Without these details, my prop would just be a big area of rest and frankly be quite boring.
When deciding where to have my white paint and where to keep the raw wood, I imagined myself painting this cabinet. I can be a bit lazy and messy, so I imagine myself only painting nthe outside, and spilling a lot of paint in the process.
When I finish textures I always add a slight sharpen filter as it adds some “pop” to my textures. Be very careful with the sharpen filter though, as too much can make your textures look grainy and overturned. I tend to set my sharpen at 0.25. This of course varies from prop to prop, but its a good starting point.
On top of this, it is of course incredibly valuable to ask for feedback. It is always a great idea to take a break and come back later with “new eyes”, but having someone else look at your prop is even better.
One of the feedbacks that I received was that my edgewear looked too generic with no thought put into it. I tuned down my edgewear by a lot, and then added small hand-painted edgewear where it made sense.
Lighting and rendering
I rendered my prop in Marmoset Toolbag, with a pretty basic setup. I have one colder light behind my prop, and one warmer light in the front, as well as a Skylight in my scene. My tip when it comes to setting up lighting in your scene is to start basic and with few lights, as it quickly can become hard to adjust your lighting with too many variables in the equation.
My render and camera settings are also pretty simple. I add some slight grain, sharpen and vignette and change the tone mapping.
Thank you for reading I hope you learned something new
● Keep the 80/20 rule in mind throughout your project!
● Keep looking at your references, you can never have enough!
● Ask for feedback, even if you are happy with your prop!
Thanks to Games Artist for the opportunity to show my work!