SOTAC DBAL-A2

Prop Breakdown

Dimitriy Yuriev

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Dimitriy Yuriev

Hard Surface Artist

Introduction

Hello everyone! My name is Dimitriy Yuriev I am HardSurface/Weapon 3D Artist from Ukraine and I have a passion to make Weapons.

Inspiration and goals

I love modern weapons, most modern weapons have attachments like IR lasers.

We see this attachment everywhere, in games and films. SOTAC DBAL-A2 is one of the most popular IRs in the market, so I decided to make it.

I think the best part of 3d Modeling is learning about the props that you model. Learning about how it works and how things were used.

My main goal was to improve my skills in Fusion 360 and learn a little bit more about Metal/Rough PBR because most of my time I textured in Spec/Gloss PBR.

Software

  • Fusion 360
  • Moi 3D
  • ZBrush
  • Maya
  • RizomUV
  • Marmoset Toolbag
  • Substance Painter
  • Adobe Photoshop
  • Adobe Illustrator

References

As everybody knows it’s one of the most important parts of the process. Usually, I try to spend some time searching for a good amount of quality images. For this project, I decided to have only one ref board, but I think it’s better to have 2 ref boards, one for the modeling process and for texturing process. I am always trying to find blueprints, it speeds up the process a lot.

I think a good ref board = fast modeling.

refboard

Modelling

Before the modeling process, I want to learn about the diffrent parts of the prop. Where I can bake parts in the future or where I need to model them on the low-poly parts. First, u must know where these props are used. I aim to have quality close-ups shots. Between 20-30k tris.

So we start with Fusion 360. Fusion 360 is the almost perfect software for hard surface modeling. When I touch Fusion for the first time I really saw a huge difference in speed between basic non-destructive methods and CAD modeling.

As always we start from a block out, putting a couple of images in Fusion for the start. The main goal of the block-out process is to get a nice silhouette and all shapes that we need.

I start to add some details until I like how the shape looks. Fusion has got some powerful tools for hard surface modeling.  I love working with bevels and chamfers in Fusion, it’s fast and easy.

Highpoly

After we finished the modeling process in Fusion 360, we need to export our model to Moi3D. It’s a great tool to export CAD models to OBJ. Unfortunately, Fusion doesn’t have good tools for exporting mesh in obj with ok topology. I used Moi3D 2 times in this project, before hi-poly and low-poly.  In settings for export meshes, I choose output – triangles only and on angle-1.

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After exporting all meshes from Moi3D, we go to ZBrush and start doing some dynamesh and polish things! I use Dynamesh and Polish crisp edges in ZBrush.

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For the metal parts, I’m not rushing for too much polish. After all the steps in all the meshes, we need to decimate the meshes. Usually, I use 15% or less.

When the whole mesh is ready I export all parts to Maya and we have 2 things to do here. First of all, we need to assign soft edges to hole mesh and assign a good Blinn material to our parts, taking into account future unwrapping and texturing parts.

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Lowpoly

So we are already on the low-poly part. I have two ways to start making the low poly. We can clean up our mesh in Fusion by simply deleting all details we need to bake or clean up these details in Maya. Personally, I prefer to make this in Fusion. The third way is more logical than others but I always forget to do this, you can just copy those meshes before adding details to them.

For export, we use the same method but different settings. First of all, I choose the FBX format for exporting low poly meshes and settings, this can be different, it depends on what you need. So like I said before, I need between 20-30k polys for close-ups renders. I put n-gons for output and 11 in settings for angle and it looks good to me.

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In the next step, we need to work with the low-poly in Maya, just to make sure the geometry looks good. It’s my least favorite chapter of the process. This process is pretty basic, working a lot with geometry marking all edges hard/soft, fixing normals and combining meshes to correct groups for future baking.

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UVing

My unwrapping process has been changed numerous times. Right now I am doing basic unwrap in Maya and exporting mesh to RizomUv for packing and optimization. For this project, I choose to make 1 UV set for IR mesh(2k) and 1 for mount mesh(1k). I edit texel for those meshes which are not visible a lot.

Baking

For the baking process, I use Marmoset Toolbag. Most of the time Marmoset works great but I always know if I have some problems with a normal map (sometimes it happens) I can use Photoshop to fix this. I only bake normal maps and AO and in certain cases id maps.

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Before we go to the full process of texturing I need to do a few things. We go to Substance Painter to add a few things to our normal map. I make everything I need for this process in Adobe Illustrator, it’s pretty simple software but it makes our life easier for sure.

I made all markings there, sometimes if u can find them on the big web it’s good but it’s better if you are able to make them by yourself. I put all my decals in Photoshop where I have already downloaded the UV grid and after that, I export them as alpha in Substance.

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When I am happy with the result I just export the Normal map and switch with my previous one so we get a normal map with all decals and we do not need to use anchors in the future. In the last step of the baking process, we just need to bake the rest of the maps.

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Texturing

Here we go. Texturing process is one of my favorite parts of 3D modeling, I like to divide my parts into separate groups for Metal/Plastic/Glass. That makes my process a little bit easy.

Usually, I start to work with metal parts, everything starts from an understanding of the props material, what kind of metal is, and how it can be created, so I spend time to search some info about that. After this I decided to choose something for the base material, we have great resources like Quixel Megascans.

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In my opinion texturing is the most important part of 3D Modeling, so I usually spend a lot of time on this part. I guess the best way to achieve good results in texturing is to learn the fundamentals of the materials surface.

The best way to make textures look good is to bring some history to our props, we need to think about how that object can be used in real life. I am always trying to think about details.

We can see some differences in material between the mount and the main mesh. I decided to make the base color and material completely by myself. I need to bring a lot of roughness to the material, lightest way to make this is by using a white noise mask and playing with settings.

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After this, we can fix the color land and add some juice, usually, I use some previous grunge and layers that look appropriate in certain scenarios. I don’t like to focus on generators, usually, I use generators on multiple modes and bring the paint layers under the bottom to make things where I want.

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Rendering

For rendering, I use Marmoset Toolbag 3. My rendering process is pretty much based on default steps. I use default settings, you can see all camera settings that I use. It is important to pick a good HDRI for the scene, I used studio HDRI from HDRI Haven.

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It’s hard to explain but set lightning is a tricky point, you can show the best things from your model but on another side, u can downgrade your work. I always try to put a light behind the object and bring light behind the camera to reveal dark spots and one more light for dark details.

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Golden means is the best way to describe this process because too much light is bad and not enough light is not good for you.

Summarize

It’s always cool to create what you love and what you have passion for. Thanks to everyone who read my article.

Huge shout-out to the GamesArtist.co.uk team for inviting me to write this article.

I hope you enjoyed this article, follow me on my ArtStation to not miss my new artworks. Feel free to write me if u got any questions. Peace.

Links that helped me create this prop:

https://80.lv/articles/creating-an-aiming-laser-with-narrative-texturing/
https://www.artstation.com/learning/courses/Wm7/fusion-360-for-games/chapters/YPj/intro
https://duardmostert.gumroad.com/l/JWnuwd