Knife & Leather Cover

Prop Breakdown

Nelia Butsko


Nelia Butsko

Junior 3D Artist


Hello everyone, my name is Nelia Butsko, I’m a Junior 3D Artist from Zakarpattia, Ukraine.

I've been drawing for most of my life, and the subject of art has always been interesting to me. I have little skills in traditional and digital drawing. I finished 3 courses in 3D and continue to improve my skills. I haven't worked on projects yet, but I’ve been in 3D for 2 years now.


Inspiration & Goals

The primary aim of my personal project was to improve my skills in sculpting and texturing. During all processes, I’ve studied and practiced sculpting the most in ZBrush, unlike texturing, where I’ve mostly experimented.

The question of what to create for my project didn’t take long. I’m very inspired by old, damaged, retro things, namely their textures, execution, and uniqueness. Therefore, the next goal was to get closer to achieving realistic texturing of the models


  • PureRef
  • ZBrush
  • RizomUV
  • Plugin TexTool in Blender
  • Substance Painter
  • Marmoset


Gathering references for the reference board is my favorite part.

I carefully select interesting, high-quality, and attention-grabbing references.

For the uniqueness and attractiveness of the portfolio, I choose rare main references and different details for creating a model.

Also, sometimes I look for more suitable textures separately to implement them in my project and thereby increase the interest of the model. I use Etsy, Pinterest, and sometimes eBay to gather different references.

I like Etsy the most – many old, retro, and antique things, various and interesting products that you can even buy and have a reference. pinterest is more like an inspiration for me.



I’m making basic blocking of the main and large pieces of the cover and knife with a little help from a spotlight reference in ZBrush; this didn’t take long as the model is simple and the main purpose of this blocking was to create the basic shape and real size of the model.

You can make the blocking the way you prefer; I do it with a dynamic subdiv as it is the most convenient way for me


Firstly, I want to say thank you to Michael Pavlovich and Isaac Oster for their awesome ZBrush tutorials on YouTube that are clear and concise, and it was a pleasure to watch them and learn.

During sculpting, I didn’t use secret functions; when sculpting, I just used basic brushes and knowledge that I learned from YouTube in a short time.

Also, I never do very detailed sculpting as I add extra small details with texturing.

I made the knot by using ZSphere and the lace around the wooden handle was created by using 3 cylinders, twisting them, duplicating, and making a long lace.

The bound for the cover I created by spiraling the cylinder and using the Move brush to achieve the results I liked.



Since this is a personal project and my main goal was sculpting and texturing, I didn’t focus on retopology and the size of the topology.

For this, I used decimation master in ZBrush and decreased the number of points of my high-poly model.

UV & Baking

There was nothing special about UV and baking. I just unwrapped and packed my models using RizomUV and the plugin TexTools in Blender for the fast adjusting Texel Density. Texel Density 150 px/cm with a final resolution of 4k for high-quality textures.

I baked Normal, AO, Curvature, and ID Map. I have a few bake groups and materials for each part, and for the fast organization of baking, I always use the naming low/high.


Before starting with texturing, I want to thank the MykhailykArt channel on YouTube, because the knowledge I took from Dmytro Mykhailyk’s streams and tutorials.

Worked with references, various ways of using anchor points and stencils, working with different materials, and lots of other useful information that helped improve my skills in texturing.

In the texturing of this work, I used some different filters, anchor points and stencils, I also focused attention on shades a bit.


I also experimented with details for a long time and not to overdo it, tried to add various details, spots, dirt, cracks, irregularities, damage to leather, wood, and metal.

Lighting & Rendering

I’m a total noob in lighting in Marmoset. I just used 2 spotlights (one of the spotlights has a yellowish shade) and one directional light; frankly, it’s my first time when I adjusted the light in Marmoset.


In rendering all is simple as in lighting.

I like to experiment with different angles of the model and then choose a few of the best renders.

In my opinion, the brighter and more saturated the cover of work, the more likely your model will be noticed. For the cover, I make the render closer and in Photoshop I slightly increase the contrast and brightness.



Thank you for reading. There are still many things I need to learn and practice better, but I hope you find something useful for yourself in this article.

I also want to thank the Games Artist Team for taking an interest in my work and inviting me to write this article.

This is a great experience for me and motivation to do more and better!