10 April 2022

Old Typewriter – Prop Breakdown – Namjo Son



Hello, I’m Namjo Son, a Korean 3D modeling artist.

I have worked as a 3D Designer for low poly hand-drawn projects and I’ve always been curious about how realistic assets are made. 3DS Max is commonly used as 3D tool in Korean Game Companies, I also found that there are many projects that use Maya and Blender in domestic Video Game teams and overseas projects. So, I decided to start a new project and learn a new program. I heard that Soha’s Maya hard surface class was starting at the time. Luckily, I was able to join the class. Mentor Soha gives one keyword as homework for each class. It was nice to be stimulated and inspired just by looking at other works that were made on the same subject.

The keyword was typewriter this time.



I wanted to make this typewriter as old and as realistic as possible. The first step was finding a good reference quickly. I could see and refer to high-quality typewriters on sites such as Artstation, but I wanted to create a perfectly realistic scene. I researched for some data on Google, Pinterest, and free high-quality photo image sites.

I finally found a good picture. It was an AEG typewriter made in the 1930s. I could make my own story based on this information. I imagined The main character in this photo was a journalist and The place of this picture was him, on his desk. This imagination helped to add objects to this scene.


I finished the base block out after looking at the reference and added V-ray lights and rendered them in advance. When the mood of the scene was complete, I started to model and make sub-objects.

After some basic modeling, I exported the model to Substance painter. The main object, the typewriter, and the background object were separated and each material was distributed separately. For high-quality work, it is recommended to use high-quality baking as much as possible, but the file becomes heavy. So the curvature was baked at 4k and the rest was baked at 2k.


I focused on the highlighted part below and drew this part similar to the reference using alphas. It is recommended to prepare a variety of alpha sources before working. I usually take pictures and make them in Photoshop or buy them on Artstation. This is the most helpful way to add the details quickly.


I thought about how to express the roll part. This part couldn’t be expressed in one alpha. So, it was made by blending the above alphas to express vertical scratches. After blending the uniform sprites and scratches, I then mixed a diagonal scratch using a fur alpha and added a blur slope to break the straight line feeling.


I came back to Maya and checked to see if the textures were being expressed properly and in the same way as in Substance painter. Sub-objects other than the main object was expressed by adding the necessary parts to the basic smart material. Free photo sources helped here.


I came to realize something went wrong when I added a newspaper texture. Newspapers were laid out cluttered, and the main object, the typewriter, looked like an asset that just blended in with the background.

I used images of real newspapers, but the real newspaper had too many letters and distracted the overall feeling. The picture on the back was the same. And the shape of the typewriter felt too new and needed more weathering.
The part that mentor Soha Yeon emphasizes the most, is value and layout. His advice was a great help and helped me a lot. I tried to use many colours for the texture0 whilst paying attention to his advice.


Since the surface of the old typewriter body was not smooth, I tried to express the feeling of it being dented and used as much as possible. By adding Height, I added it randomly and naturally with alphas. The roll of newspapers in the back looked too dark, so I added a light and re-adjusted the overall value.

Now! It’s my favorite time to add details! Stickers & patterns helped me to express the object naturally. I also put a little ember on the tip of the cigarette, I thought it would feel more natural if I added smoke.



Finally finished!

In projects I had worked on in the past, I rarely did PBR work, so the process of applying and understanding that part was a big task for me.

I always thought that I was an unskilled 3D Modeler, so learning from scratch with a new tool was both a challenge and a pleasure. The lighting, materials, color usage, and angles installed to decorate the scene was all calculated by me. Hopefully, everyone who reads this article will also enjoy this new challenge.

Thanks for reading the story of my last assignment. And thank you to the GamesArtist Team for providing this opportunity. If you have any questions, please contact me on.


Best Regards,
Namjo, Son.