09 November 2021

Spikes Tactical Billet St Compressor – Prop Breakdown – Filippo Morale




Hi everyone, I’m Filippo Morale, I’m 22 and I’m a hard surface artist.

I studied for 2 years at Event Horizon, a school specialized in game development. Then I decided to become self-taught mainly focused on Hardsurface.

In this article, I will cover all the steps I followed in order to make the weapon. I would like to clarify that I’m not an expert in all the software that I will show you, so don’t take my explanation as the only and right way to do things, you rather try yourself and experiment.



 The goal I wanted to achieve with this project was to learn new software and a new workflow, in order to understand which could be the best for me. I also wanted to create a weapon that was as realistic as possible because I love photorealism.


Over the years spent in this market, I have understood how important it is to have an excellent references base in order to always have an eye on the real images of the object. This means being able to better understand the shapes, the functioning, the materials and how it reflects the light. I used Pureref to collect all the necessary references as it gives the possibility to merge them into a single file.


As you can see I grouped all the images according to their function and use.



For the blockout, I used Fusion 360 because it was the software that I wanted to learn. I started with some basic shapes like the front rail and the suppressor.


I created the front view sketch, then I extruded it and at the end, I made all the holes with some booleans.

I started with the easy parts in order to understand how the software works and then I moved on the hardest like the stock, magazine, iron sight, receiver, foregrip, holographic sight, laser pointer, etc. The main grip is the only part that I made with Blender because I prefer to make that kind of model in poly modeling software.

The hardest part of using Fusion is that with this kind of software, you have to use a different mentality. With a cad you can’t move or rotate the geometry however you like, you can’t move the vertices or the edges but you have to create everything with a sketch and modify it with extrusion and booleans.

After the blockout, I added all the details. Here is the result.


High poly

Once I completed the blockout, I exported piece by piece, everything on MOI 3D, a software that gives you the possibility to convert a cad file into a poly model. I didn’t always keep the same export parameters but I changed them based on the model I had to work on. My advice is to keep as many details as you can, in order to save all the details

Here’s an example:


After I exported everything from MOI, I imported the models on Blender for quick merge of the vertices and to triangulate all the faces (you can do this step during the export from MOI too but I prefer to triangulate on Blender, personal taste). At this point comes ZBrush providing tools like “groups by normal”, “dynamesh”, “polish by groups”, “polish crips edge” and “decimation master” to  get the high poly.


Low poly

 For the low poly, during the export from MOI I kept in mind the poly count. I removed different details and I left the model slightly edgy.


Then I imported everything on Blender to clean up the geometry leaving some details and imperfections. Furthermore, I merged the vertices and got a quadrangular model in order to get the UV islands with as few artifacts as possible.


For the UV’s I decided to create 5 layouts, 1 for the holographic sight and the zoom (4k), 1 for the laser pointer (2k), 1 for the stock (2k) and 2 for the gun including the magazine (4k). Once I decided on the seams and the hardened edges, I used 2 add-ons for Blender in order to better arrange the islands in the UV space. With the first one, “TexTools”, i fixed the curvature of the UV making it more squared by clicking on “Rectify” and with the second one, “UVPackmaster2” I packed the UV islands precisely and fast, using as much UV space as possible.




Because of the complexity of the weapon, I used the “quick loader” tool of Marmoset 4. It loads the FBX divided into different meshes and creates instantly the bake groups. This function saves you a lot of time. Furthermore, when the FBX will be updated and exported again from a 3D program, it will also update on Marmoset too. I used also the tool called “paint skew”, in order to get a bake of the details like screws, etc perfectly perpendicular to the surface.



For the texturing, I used Substance Painter. I started by creating 2 main folders ( plastic and metal) masking according to the materials in order to not touch the plastic parts with metallic values and vice versa. I set the base material (i haven’t used smart materials because I want to learn as much as I can to create them myself), so i added metallic and roughness bases. Then I added 2 or 3 roughness variations like fingerprints or dirt.

Then it was the turn of the scratches and edges to be masked with the AO texture in order to avoid any damages on the areas which are not very exposed. I added a dirt layer in order to create some color variations and I ended up with the decals I created before with Photoshop.




As for the bake, I used Marmoset 4 also for the rendering. I started by importing the gun with its attachments and then choosing the best camera angle. At this point, I added a fill light and then I created the highlight on the weapon to get a nice cut out of it from the background. For the environment, I used an HDRI preset with white light.


For the laser I exported a cylinder from Blender, I created a green emissive material with alpha value and then I added a spotlight at the base of the laser pointer in order to light up the gun with the ray tracing. At this point, I decided to give more dynamism to the scenes by buying a pair of rigged and textured arms with gloves made by Alex Khaliman. I imported them on Blender deciding the pose I wanted to achieve and then I exported them again to Marmoset rendering scenes.




After concluding all the renders, I used Photoshop to work a little on the brightness and the contrast.




In conclusion, during this project, I used Fusion 360, MOI 3D, Blender, Zbrush, Marmoset 4, Substance Painter and Photoshop. After concluding this weapon I can say that I will add Fusion and MOI to my workflow because they are perfect for my way to work on hard surface assets.  The whole procedure took me a lot of time but it was worth it. I just want to thank GameArtist for giving me the opportunity to share my experience with all of you. I hope it could help you. See you on the next weapon!

I’m available for job opportunities about hard surfaces (mech, weapons, props).