04 February 2022

Motorola Handie Talkie – Prop Breakdown – Robin Tomar




Hi! I’m Robin Tomar, an aspiring 3D Prop & weapons Artist, with a main focus on weapons. I’m 22 years old and I’m a self-taught artist. it was only about one year ago I decided to take this path and started to improve.


Main Idea of the project

With this project, the idea was to create a new piece for the portfolio, make a high-quality prop, and use all the skills I gained from my last studio.


As always I started searching for as many references as I could find, which is necessary for both modeling and texturing. For reference gathering, you can use websites like eBay and Youtube to find more references for what you making ( In eBay if you want a close-up of a model you are making and you find someone selling it message the seller and ask for a close-up shot works every time ). Building a good reference sheet before starting a project is important to understand exactly what you are making.


I use Pureref for building ref sheets. I think it’s a solid tool for quickly collecting and arranging reference images while also offering other useful functions like adding Notes etc


For modeling, I use the basic hard-surface modeling approach, i.e. Blockout-highpoly-lowpoly.


While Blocking out the mesh I try to stay true to how the model is made in real life and the size of the model. For Highpoly I use Zbrush Polish method. I learned a handy way to make edges look smooth there. You need to make quick UVs based on the hard edges and use them to create polygroups in ZBrush. Next, you need to use Dynamesh and create a mask by feature (grow/blur/sharpen mask, etc.). After that, polish masked edges until you achieve the required result.


Once I was done with the meshes from ZBrush, I gathered everything into Maya and move onto the low-poly. I use the elements that I made before the ZBrush pass As my low-poly and optimize those parts if needed.
While I was aiming for a realistic look for the prop, I wanted to keep it optimized for games, thus I went with the approach of mirroring/stacking to maximize the texel density on the various parts of the Motorola Handie Talkie. I also decided to use a single texture sheet to layout my UVs. The way I approach UV mapping is easy I try to layout the UVs using the layout tool in Maya’s UV tool kit.


There are a few crucial rules I follow every time during my work with UVs:
It’s very important to keep UV shells straight where it’s possible. Tilted shell borders may affect the quality of the final texture and you will have jagged (aliased) lines. It may become more noticeable when texture resolution decreases.
When you make smoothing groups and hard edges are created at the joints, those edges are needed to be cut and given some padding. This helps to avoid issues such as gradients on the normal maps.
Always keep your pixel density consistent and use UV space as rationally as possible, with similar items arranged together.


After giving all the separate parts of the low-poly and high-poly meshes proper names (with _low and _high prefixes) We bring our low and high poly for Baking. I use marmoset cause of the ability to fix a lot of baking issues live. After baking all the maps we need we jump into Substance painter for texturing.


To create a realistic material it is important to study it in real life, knowing how it works. 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. The best texturing tutorial you can find is Substance Painter: Pushing Your Texturing Further by Jason Ord There’s nothing fancy about my metal material. I was talking to Leon Fotevski and he said he’s working on a Hammerite material and gave me the material after some editing I got the look I wanted.


I also made a few custom masks from the reference to give it a more realistic look. you can watch Creating and Texturing with Custom Stencils with Rick Greeve to get an idea of how I did it.


For the chipping effect, I used a method by Substance Painter Peeling Paint Tutorial by Stanislav Teslenko



For the renderings, I used Marmoset Toolbag. My usual lighting setup consists of standard 3 point lights to show the main shapes. Then for the HDRI, I mostly like to use Tomoco Studio. In this stage, you want to make your texture work pop out. I tend to keep my lights’ color white to show the actual colors of my textures.



As a conclusion of this article, I want to thank the games artist for allowing me to write this article and Bhanu Singh For helping me out with the rendering and Leon Fotevski for helping me out with the base material, and a lot of artists from 3D fast track, Experience Points and The Dinusty Empire Discord for giving me all the valuable feed.