Hunter’s Knife

Prop Breakdown

Abhishek Dhiman


Abhishek Dhiman

3D Artist


Hello, I am Abhishek Dhiman, and I'm a 3D Artist at Mandali Games, India. I am fascinated by games and always wanted to make weapons and learn how to make games.
After my primary education, I enrolled in university and pursued a Bachelor's in Game Design. I started working professionally in the game industry in 2020 and have worked on various projects over the last 3 years.


The initial aim of my project was to delve into new sculpting techniques and enhance my skills in texturing and lighting, essentially integrating them into my pipeline. Originally, it started as a test, but as I progressed, I found the inspiration to recreate and elevate the project, incorporating additional details and pushing myself to acquire more skills along the way.


I embarked on a project driven by my love for weapons, aiming to enhance my skills and create realistic representations. The goal was to achieve photorealism, and I chose a small knife as my subject.

This decision enabled me to focus my passion on refining my abilities and pushing the boundaries of realism in my work.



  • Maya
  • ZBrush
  • Rizom
  • Unfold 3D
  • Substance Painter
  • Marmoset


I started by making a knife and pouch, first focusing on the main shapes and proportions. Once I had the basic forms, I moved on to refining the small details, not worrying too much about the topology at this stage.

After completing the initial blockout, I added supporting edges and subdivided the mesh to prepare it for ZBrush and sculpting the finer details.



I brought my subdivided mesh into ZBrush after making sure Maya and ZBrush units were set up the same to avoid issues.
Before diving into details, it’s crucial to set up a Morph Target and use layering options for flexibility later on.

Starting with the wood, I used brushes like Dam Standard and Trim Dynamic to tell a visual story.

Then, I applied the same approach to add metal details. For leather, I created damage and cracks using the DamStandard brush and adjusted intensity with alphas.

Quick Tip:

  • Begin detailing with more visibility initially and adjust layer intensity later.
  • Save micro details for the texturing phase, as baking may not capture them, and it’s harder to control afterward.

Retopology & Low-Poly

I prefer using the Quad Draw Tool in Maya, but artists can use different tools since software is just a means to an end. When creating the low-poly mesh, my target is to keep the tricount around 3K for the entire model.


For a good low-poly mesh, it’s crucial to ensure that the silhouette has an adequate number of segments, especially in curved areas. This helps minimize baking errors later on.


Once the low-poly mesh is done, I always go through a checklist and follow naming conventions for organization and efficiency.


UV Mapping & Baking

I handled UVs using Rizom, a real-time-saver. After packing the UVs with good texel density and padding, I used Marmoset Toolbag for baking. By importing the mesh through Quick Loader, my high-poly and low-poly models were automatically organized into separate baking folders.

Ensuring correct names and suffixes for both made this possible. I baked all necessary maps (normals, AO, curvature, normals object, position).


Quick Tip:

Scale your model accordingly to the real-life reference before unwrapping to avoid issues in the texturing phase.


Before I start texturing, I ensure I have different mesh versions for good lighting from all angles. The most enjoyable part for me is texturing, focusing on creating textures that tell a story. I use the “ACES_UE4_Log” color profile and Tomoco Studio HDRI for neutral lighting.


Megascan library is my go-to for high-quality textures, adding a unique touch to my project with its imperfection maps.

I begin with basic materials and gradually work on my roughness breakdown using Megascan resources, Substance Painter with real-life references.

I tried to show many color variations for its beauty and realism.

I blend scan maps with layer blending modifiers.

Details like dirt, dust, and wear are broken down to be accurate to real-life references.


Rendering & Lighting

Personally, Marmoset Toolbag is my preference tool for presenting artwork. It provides a more accurate representation of how a model will look in an engine compared to other programs.

For consistency between Marmoset Toolbag and Substance 3D Painter, use the same HDRi (Tomoco Studio in my case) during rendering.

To enhance the overall composition, I added fog in the scene for a subtle dusty/unclean feel.

Additionally, I incorporated props from the Megascan library to create multiple compositions for effective storytelling.



Remember, the key to success in a project like this is patience, attention to detail, and a passion for your subject matter. Good composition takes time and patience to build. Don’t forget to take feedback from non-artists too for a fresh eye view.

Here is my Discord server (

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