For this project, I used:
● Substance Painter
● Substance Designer
● Unreal Engine
● Marmoset Toolbag
Goals and references
I wanted to recreate these props as realistic as possible with an eye kept for optimization and pushing further my texturing and modeling skills.
Before starting modeling, I’ve taken the accurate dimensions of my PlayStation and a few pictures of any sides and a few closeups. I’ve used a simple reflex with an 80mm prime lens to reduce perspective distortion. I use these pictures in an orthogonal view, that’s helped me maintain some proportions of the models, especially with the tricky tiny parts to measure.
My modeling projects always start with blockout, just simple meshes. Then, I try to have all the primes shapes there and achieve the silhouette that works for me.
After the blockout, I started modeling the high poly. I usually use Sub-D with this kind of hard surface; I add support edges and try to make it look nice and smooth, keep my topology clean with quad and proper flow guarantees me to be far away from artifacts and helps me in the following stages, sometimes on flat surfaces I use N-gons, and triangles are welcome.
Besides, I use floating mesh, a geometry that sits right above the surface of a high-poly. If you align it closer to the surface, you can trick the bake into thinking it is a part of the high-poly model, an excellent and quick way to create details, avoid topology issues, and save time.
Making the low poly is nothing too special I collapse, merge, and delete all the unnecessary edges from a smoothed mesh. I’ve set up some restrictions for the polycount to align me to game industry-standard,
for props like these size, lod0 20k tris is perfectly fine in specific:
● Consol: 17k
● Controller: 6k
● Games Cover: 2k each
● MemoryCard: 700
Uvs And Bake
I’ve done all of my Uvs in Maya; for me is the perfect tool for unwrapping, I straighten as much as I can the shells, using as much UV space as possible to obtain a layout that minimizes bake errors and makes texturing easier., I save space with symmetrizing and deleting repeated parts it is worth ( like the button or plinths: you can unwrap one and duplicate it after baking). As the camera is close to the props, the texel density is relatively high, especially for the smaller parts. I use different resolutions across the texture sets to keep a good even texture quality overall.
Ending the Uvs, I Triangulate my low poly; it is then ready to export to Substance Painter for bake. Always use “baking by mesh name.” you have to name your low-poly like “gg_low” as well; for your high “gg_high,” it helps me to be away from artifacts. Bake as much quality as possible 4k is more than okay; I toggle off average normals and use anti-aliasing subsampling 4×4; it can improve the quality of baked textures and reduce aliasing where different geometries connect.
Texturing Part is my funniest one. It is where the things come alive if you are lucky to have the object you try to mimic, look at it from many angles with different lights condition. If you can’t, collect many pictures and try to catch every detail to put on your maps, especially in the roughness. I think breaking down the elements of the surfaces and understanding why they are is essential; that helped me create believable textures.
Before starting in Painter, you should do two things: enable the UE ACES LUT made by Brian Leleux and use a neutral HDRI; I like Studio Black Soft.
This will give you a better idea of your textures in Unreal Engine or ACES in Marmosets.
So In my texturing work, I start creating a Folder structure in Substance 3D Painter to define the primary materials (plastic, metal, etc.). After I begin to layer on top details such as surface imperfection, wear, scratch, graphic elements, and dust/dirt, I use pretty much the fill layer with masks by procedural noise or alpha stamps and clean up by hand. Trying to balance everything for not to be too noisy and unreadable, I don’t have a clear explanation of how to do that is much of a try-and-error process to find what works and cut the unnecessary to create interesting props.
For prop art, I use Designer to create support elements such as grunge masks, screws, Normal details, decals, etc. In this case, I’ve used it for creating screws that you can find at the bottom of the console and the cd interior case that you cant see in this project ( but I hope in another soon), as well as helped me to tweak the value of the original artwork of the Playstation games as well labels graphics.
When the textures are done, you can check the values with PBR validate to ensure everything is right and ready for export with Unreal packed output or whatever you want; I always use the Targa format for my textures because it stores all the information without loose information in the Engine.
Rendering: Unreal and Marmoset
I Import all of my mesh in Unreal separately, including the textures and a backdrop. Be sure to switch the compression of Linear Textures to “mask(no RGB).” My lighting is pretty simple a three-point light set up with a few rim lights to stick out the details; when lighting props, I suggest desaturating everything into black and white; you can evaluate the scene light exclusively in brightness and contrast.
I shoot all of my props renders with a very high focal length; I usually use 120mm or 150mm, sometimes 200mm, to reduce the perspective distortion I don’t like so much for the presentation, give intimacy, and nicely show the details and overall images look more natural. In the end, I add Post-process volume.
First, I add lumen GI and reflection and remove auto exposure. Secondly, adding camera imperfections such as grain and chromatic aberration are very subtle but improve your realistic feeling image overall. In the Marmosets, I used the same techniques above, but I added an HDRI; I often use Alley Construction, switched Aces, and on the RTX features, take your work to the next level in a minute.
The Playstation was a great project; I hope this article will be helpful for someone. If you are a beginner or not, try to do something you are interested in 3D; it could be an excellent reason to enjoy the process, learn new stuff and not lose motivation. I’m always happy to answer any questions, so please message me on ArtStation.
Thank you to the Games Artist team for giving me this opportunity.