Prop Breakdown

Denis Yablonskiy


Denis Yablonskiy

3D Artist


Hi all! My name is Denis Yablonskiy, I am 20 years old, and I live in Ukraine.

In 2020, I first became interested in 3D, and in the summer of 2022, I began actively studying 3D modeling. I really like modeling various small props.


By creating this model, I wanted to strengthen my knowledge of creating high poly and texturing wood and metal.

I also wanted to consolidate my knowledge of the standard pipeline for creating a model for games.


  • PureRef – Collecting references
  • Blender – Blocking and low poly
  • Zbrush – High poly Marvelous Designer – Electrical tape simulation
  • RizomUV – UV
  • Substance Painter – Texturing
  • Marmoset Toolbag – Baking and rendering
  • Photoshop – Post-processing renders


I started the project after watching a documentary about Okinawa, which was about the agricultural life of farmers. The goal was to achieve photorealism, and I chose kama as my subject.

By the way, the kama is used not only in agricultural life but also as a cold weapon.

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


There were no particular problems with finding references; I found several photographs of very old kama and several photographs of completely new ones on the Internet to better understand the shape.

The documentary also helped me with my understanding of shapes and textures. This helped me add more detail to such a simple object.



I started by making the kama, first focusing on the basic shapes and proportions. Once I had the basic shapes down, I moved on to finalizing the finer details, not worrying too much about the topology at this stage. Well, I was planning on using it as a Low Poly.

Marvelous Designer

For a better look of electrical tape on the object, I decided to use a very useful tool, Marvelous Designer.

Which I will further refine at the High-Poly stage. The simulation settings can be seen in the screenshot below. They give a result similar to the one you get in life.

It is also necessary to convert the topology into quads polygons before exporting to a 3D editor.



I transferred the model to ZBrush using the very useful GOB addon for Blender.

Before going into detail, it’s very important to set up the Morph Target and use the layer blending options for more flexibility later on.


I started working on high-poly with a wooden handle. This is one of my favorite parts of creating a model.

I achieved this result with the help of free alphas that I downloaded on ArtStation.

I started with general, large details and moved on to smaller ones. I also recommend using a layer system in ZBrush, which allows you to work with sculpting as comfortably as possible. Also, don’t forget about setting up the Morph Target, which I also actively used in this work.


I almost didn’t touch the blades and bronze elements. Added some sub-d interactions and added some impact and damage marks.

I added several folds and signs of use to the electrical tape that I had previously made in Marvelous.



The low poly mesh was built mostly from my intact, undivided mesh, but some were created from scratch when the mesh didn’t give me a useful starting point, such as the duct tape I exported from Marvelous.

(Reminder: Before exporting from Marvelous, you should convert the tris mesh to quads, to make it more convenient to work at the low poly stage)

At this point, I switched to Blender to get a better handle on the topology. Once the low poly is built, I will send it to Rizom for unwrapping.


I processed the UVs using Rizom, a time-saving program. As for me, this is the best program for UV unwrapping, I recommend that everyone who is just starting to study this issue take a closer look at this program. Since the object was a simple UV, it didn’t take much time, I followed the standard rules for unwrapping, namely cuts on hard edges and cuts on cylinders.

After packing the UVs with good texel density and padding, I move on to the next step, baking.



For baking, I used Marmoset Toolbag. By importing the object via Quick Loader, my high-poly and low-poly models were automatically organized into convenient folders for baking and managing them.

This was made possible by providing the correct names and suffixes for both (_low – for low polygons and _High – for high polygons). I only baked some maps (normals, AO, curvature).


Quick Tip

I can recommend baking normals object, position maps already in Substance Painter for better texture mapping and correct operation of various generators.


Before I started working with textures, I set up the scene inside Substance Painter. You can see my settings in the photo below.

I also usually use the free “ACES_UE4_Log” color profile and White Umbrella HDRI for neutral lighting.


I usually start with wood textures. For the base, I use either high-quality photo wood or material that can be easily edited at any stage. For the damaged wood, I used a high-quality photograph, which I later worked with through a mask, and caused damage through generators and various stencils.

This allowed me to achieve a good result with 2-3 layers.


The next step was to add the micro-texture of the wood, well, since I already had a well-detailed High-poly version, I didn’t stay long at this stage.

Then I added several layers of dirt and dust and added a little background to the object.


The interesting thing about textures is the blade. Before starting it, I spent a long time studying real photographs of blades.

The texturing process is standard, but it’s an interesting robot with different alphas/stencils and masks.


Quick Tip

After you’re done with the textures, don’t forget to check your materials for PBR errors; this can be done using the filter – PBR VALIDATE.

Another tip, if you think that the clarity of the textures is small, you can use the SHARPEN filter. I use it very often.

Use Megascan and the Substance Painter Library to search for photos and materials.

Rendering & Lighting

My friend and founder of the Polygonster studio – Vladyslav Mashchenko helped me with rendering, presentation, and post-processing.

Lighting, rendering, and post-processing in Photoshop are very important parts of creating the final result – a good portfolio work. These steps can sometimes take as much time as creating a high-poly model or texturing.

I used Marmoset Toolbag 4 for rendering. For post-processing – Photoshop.

The lighting scheme is quite classic:

I start lighting the scene with a white Spot light with a large Spot Angle value, above the asset. This gives an overall soft lighting of the asset from above. I also blur the shadow into it in the settings, increasing the Diameter parameter.

I also use 2 Directional light sources from different sides of the asset: The first one is orange. The second is blue. So that there are no shadows in different directions, you need to turn off Cast shadows for one light source in the settings.

I like to use black and white HDRI maps, no color. Bright or colored HDRI maps are not always appropriate, or will have a bad effect on the final result. There may be highlights of the asset, or a strange result, due to color.

Color accents on the asset can be added separately using, where necessary, Spot or Directional light sources. This way there will be much more control over the lighting.

In the Camera settings in the Post Effect section, I like to change the Tone Mapping from Linear to ACES. This gives a more contrasted picture and richer colors.


The main task of post-processing is to highlight the cool elements of the asset, make some accents, focus the viewer’s vision where the author would like, and also somewhere to hide flaws or some micro artifacts.

In post-processing, I often use the vignette effect; it allows you to focus the viewer’s vision on the object. I use several different layers with different vignette patterns with different levels of transparency.

Also, the ID map is a very important element in post-treatment, I highly recommend everyone to use it. It gives a lot of control over all elements in the frame, any material can be individually controlled by brightness, saturation, etc.

With the help of the environment, you can set or emphasize a certain atmosphere in the work. For example, in this work, we decided to add fabric. With the help of folds of fabric under the blade, we emphasized its weight.

This added a bit of realism to the scene. Fabric simulation was done specifically for this object in Marvelous Designer.


Original render without post-processing.


Render with post-processing.


I strongly advise everyone to devote a lot of time not only to the creation of the asset but also to its presentation and post-processing. By not neglecting these stages, you can bring your cool work to an even better level!

Good luck to everyone in presenting your assets. Have a nice day and thank you for your attention!


Thanks to GamesArtist for the opportunity to write this article and tell a little about the process of creating a small prop.

I would like to express my gratitude to everyone who helped me in the process of creating this asset and gave me very important feedback.

Remember that the key to success in a project like this is patience, attention to detail, and passion for your subject. Creating a good composition takes time and patience.

It is very important to receive feedback from other artists or your friends; this is one of the most important points in creating a model.

Thank you for reading to the end. I hope this information will help you become better!