Goals and inspiration
Initially, the goal of this project was to replenish the portfolio in order to get a job in the gaming industry as a weapon artist. I received a job offer before I finished and the goal changed to improve my texturing skills and try to make photorealistic renders.
I saw this gun in a video on YouTube, as a presentation of a new pistol for the Russian police, and I liked it right away. But I just didn’t want to make an ordinary gun, but to customize it a little bit. I picked up a new barrel and a muzzle brake for him.
This is a very important stage and I approach it very scrupulously. I spend a total of about two days on references. One day to get acquainted with how the gun is arranged and what forms it has. The second day on the ref-board for texturing. At this stage, I have to pause the video every second to find interesting variations in the material in color and roughness. I usually do searches on YouTube, google, google patents, online gun stores, flickr.com and something from my library, which I often replenish.
And I almost forgot about the useful application “World of Guns: Gun Disassembly“. It will give you a basic understanding of how weapons work.
All the time i use Modo + Zbrush for modelling and UVs. I create the blockout = low poly meshes & meshes for booleans in Modo, then I’m exporting in Zbrush and apply live booleans. More details about this method can be found in the tutorial “Handgun for Videogames” by Eugene Petrov or a slightly different method from Ben Bolton and Red Storm Entertainment.
In order for your weapon not only to look plausible, you definitely need to observe the correct proportions. No matter how hard you try in the following stages, failure to observe the proportions will spoil your work right away.
Before I start making the main blockout, I create a cartridge on a real scale. Next, I create a rough blockout of the magazine and place the cartridges inside. This will allow me to understand approximately how wide the weapon will be. And finally, I create a cylinder with a radius of the caliber of the bullet, so that the muzzle hole at the barrel looks right.
In production, you can still be provided or you can ask for a blank of hands yourself. This will make it even easier to work with proportions.
At the stage of detailing, it is worth paying attention to various small details. People who do not understand weapons may not notice them, but their presence makes your final result plausible.
As I have already said, I allocate myself another day to search for references for texturing. I start by searching for videos on YouTube where people review their weapons, which they have been using for a long time. Such videos matter to me because they show the story of how a person used them. Then I go to the forums dedicated to weapons. There are sections where people want to sell their weapons. You can also find good references there.
Now let’s go directly to the software.
First of all, I set the settings so that the resulting picture is similar to the picture in the marmoset. I always use the HDR map “Tomoco Studio”, because it’s color neutral.
Then I activate the post-effects and change the function to “Sensitomic” in the Tone Mapping parameters and adjust the exposure and contrast so that it is not completely dark in the scene. And last I change the color profile to sRGBf. These settings give the correct color values. now the black color looks like black.
As for the shader, I always use specular gloss. I can’t answer why, but by the way, it gives out the result, I like it more than metal rough.
The first stage in working with textures starts with a normal and height map. At this stage, you can transfer details and usage history. Each material has its own texture. Plastic is usually granular, metals should have their own information on the height channel. It all depends on what production stage the metal went through.
In my pistol, I tried to convey the story of how the person who uses it was hindered by the protruding line that is formed due to the compression of plastic and he rubbed these places so that they were smooth.
And then we work with the material. First, we do basic things, as if our object has just come off the assembly line. It seems easy, but in fact, it is the most difficult stage. The task is that the basic materials should look interesting. By base materials, I mean not just a single fill layer, but a whole stack of layers, where there are variations on the diffuse, specular and gloss channels. To add volume, you can use the “Mask Builder” generator to make the edges a little lighter and make them a little glossy.
As soon as your base material looks good, then you can start working out the details. It can be scratches, oil stains, light wear, dirt, etc. But do not add all this just like that. You need to follow the logic and understand how the weapon was used. The front part of the weapon most often wears out more, because it often comes into contact with the holster, powder gases remain on it over time.
In this example with a Glock 17 pistol, you can see how there are traces of powder gases on the slider and frame. Plastic and metal have wear due to the fact that the gun is in contact with the holster.
For rendering, I use Marmoset Toolbag 3. I set up the first scene when I start texturing. And there’s nothing special there. I add a model, load maps with substance painter and add light.
As soon as the texturing stage is already coming to an end, I start setting the render settings, set the camera and light and prepare the model for rendering. At this stage, I have to go back with Substance Painter and adjust the values or add something if my textures look boring.
First of all, I turn on Local Reflections and Global Illumination in the render settings. First of all, I turn on Local Reflections and Global Illumination in the render settings. Then, in the camera settings in the “Post Effect” section, I change the “Tone Mapping” profile to “ACES”. And I tweak the “Sharpen” parameter to add a bit of sharpness.
After the settings, I proceed to the setting of the light. I set up the fill light first. As a fill-in, I use an HDR map, I reduce its brightness and rotate it.
Then I put a light on the back to emphasize the outline of the gun.
As soon as I have separated the background from the gun with the help of light, I start adding additional light sources to the HDR map.
And finally, I add the usual point lights to lighten the dark areas.
I recommend reading these articles on how to put the light on.
And on this site, there is an explanation of how the photographer of the weapon puts the lighting. It was very useful for me.
Thanks for reading, I hope you found this useful!