Week 1 – Final Semester

This is the start of my final semester, after this is it the job hunt. After tons of research on what to include for my portfolio I have decided on what I have left to accomplish to get where I need to be.

Here is the first draft of my plan for the semester, up until GDC everything is planned out pretty well, after that things are going to be changing most likley as time goes on.


Project 1 – Small game environment, focusing on non-realism. Either stylized or sci-fi.

Current Idea: Sci Fi throne room for polycount’s Throne Room competition.

Project 2 – Small game environment, focusing on mainly realism in terms of modeling and texturing.

Current Idea: Rundown gas station

Props: Bi weekly extra props, focusing on studies for texturing and modeling.

Textures: Bi weekly Tiling textures. Using a variety of tools such as nDo, Substance, and sculpting.


Week 1 – Setup and Global Game Jam
Week 2 – Block out Project 1, Tiling Texture 1: Bricks
Week 3 – Lighting and reference gathering for Project 1, Prop 1: TBD
Week 4 – Modeling/Texturing Project 1, Tiling Texture 2: Rock
Week 5 – Modeling/Texturing Project 1, Prop 2: TBD
Week 6 – Finalizing/Fixing Project 1, Tiling Texture 2: Tile Floor
Week 7 – GDC Prop or texture study possibly
Week 8 – Block out Project 2
Week 9 – Reference Gather Project 2 and Lighting
Week 10 – Modeling Project 2
Week 11 – Modeling Project 2
Week 12 – Modeling Project 2
Week 13 – Project 2 Finish up
Week 14

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How to Fix Maya 2015 Contour Batch Renders

I’ve discovered that Maya 2015 can have an issue with batch rendering contours for things like wireframes. When I went out to find a fix I couldn’t find much at the time. So instead I poked around until I figured out a quick solution.

If this solution doesn’t work for you I suggest exporting your file out as an .obj and reimporting it back into a fresh maya scene.

Below you will find a video tutorial with the fix, followed by a quick image of how to setup your shader group for those a bit more knowledgeable.



How to Fix Maya 2015 Contour Batch Renders
How to Fix Maya 2015 Contour Batch Renders

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Troubles in Texture Town

I did some tests with TURTLE vs xNormal the other day. As much as I want to like TURTLE it just doesn’t hold up when it comes to the quality of xNormals AO bake. The normal maps are pretty similar so that there is pretty much no difference. But the AO has numerous issues, ranging from the max color value not being represented where it should be, to it ruining a tiling sculpt because it seems to have a very slight gradient color change from left to right giving you a seam between tiles.

Where TURTLE excels is in bake time. About 2 minutes to bake a 2k normal and AO map is pretty impressive, and if I were making something that tiled would be pretty acceptable. I could always go in and play with levels and such in photoshop to fix the max color value of the AO, but fixing a subtle color change is more work than I want to do for a subpar bake.

xNormal on the other hand took close to half an hour, but the bake was excellent.

Another method, the one I ended up going with, was to bake my information in Substance Designer. I ended up getting a similar quality bake in the AO but with different details emphasised (the normal map wasn’t half bad either but I prefer the one created by xNormal or even Turtle for what I needed). I then took my bake from SD and multiplied it over the one from xNormal. This allowed the quality of both The bake times were similar to that of xNormal, so I wouldn’t suggest this method for quick work since it is close to an hour.

At this point you have a good base for your texture work. I will be updating some of that on Wednesday most likely. I need to go in and compile screenshots.

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Character 01 WIP Post 01

For the longest time I have focused entirely on environmental and prop modeling. Here and there I have made animals and characters, I understand Edgeflow for bodies and faces, as well as the other complexities of being a 3D Character Artist, so the workflow isn’t new to me, but I have never created anything Reel qualit. Most of the characters I have modeled and textured were used to teach myself something or to keep my skills at organic modeling up to date. But I have always wanted to focus on characters. Like my previous post about how excited I am about working with a PBR workflow for a project this semester this post is to express similar excitement for my ability to work entirely with character art for a class.

Meet Finlay:



Finlay (my name for him) is a concept created by Alexei Samokhin in 2011. I took the character as is and created some orthos out of him and at the same time created a backstory/personality for him to help flesh out the turntable for my reel. The most immediate thought about this guy was that he was an oafish sidekick of a hero. Lovable, reliable and protective, but a bit clumsy while at the same time being a strong fighter.


The next step of the process, after establishing the character and creating the orthos, was to decide how they would be textured. For this I gathered some references and threw them together into a ref-sheet that I can keep open while I work.

Once that was all done I got to modeling. I approached this model from a more traditional workflow. First I created a base mesh in maya, focusing on topology, with extra attention paid to the facial area.blerpOnce that was done I separated the mesh into parts that would be skin, and parts that would eventually become clothing. At this point I got a tiny bit ahead of myself and decided to see what the final textures might look like in a preview state. I separated the arms and face and threw them into Mudbox. Here I sculpted some details and did some quick suggestion of muscle groups on the arms and neck. The character himself has a bit of a soft look to him instead of rigid well defined muscles so this worked out very well.NormalsAt this point I tried throwing it into substance painter, but having recently updated my drivers this was impossible due to technical issues (it is working great now!). Instead I baked out my maps using TURTLE in maya and threw it back into mudbox and started using the paint tools there.

One thing that helps out a bit was using the blur tool to fix any weird issues with the normal map in areas like the tips of the fingers, that don’t bake very well when going to a much lower polycount.

Right now all the textures are in a temporary state and will remain so until the rest of the character is modeled, sculpted, and baked out for painting.



As a bonus: While I was sculpting the head I found these great reference images on Polycount showing off the planes of the face.planes_of_the_head_-_male_3d_model_obj_1841fa60-a307-4dbf-b6ec-8fd99a12b194 4jBHZT Plane Head



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PBR Resource Gathering


Or at least that is the way that PBR makes me feel.  As a 3D artist working in games PBR is something I have been devoting a large chunk of my time to. Sadly I have had no projects focusing on using a PBR workflow since most of my work in the last few years has been for Unity and focused towards mobile.

This semester I am finally able to create some PBR work, across multiple projects. I will be working in UE4, and using Maya, Substance Designer/Painter, Photoshop, and Quixel’s new suite.

I also plan on going a bit more stylized with the look, partially because I love stylized texture work, but mostly because I feel this is an area that has yet to be fully explored with PBR and would love to work through it. When most people think of this workflow they think of realism, in fact there was a lot of people wondering if stylized/hand painted looks would even be all that possible.

I’ll just leave this here to answer that: http://www.polycount.com/forum/showthread.php?t=135431

To start out this series of updates I thought I would throw together the resources I have gathered so far on Physically Based Rendering.

The first things I want to list are meant for those new to PBR:


Both of these are great resources for starting out with PBR and gaining an understanding. Once you have your footing however I suggest you take a look over at marmoset’s website since they they two great write-ups on the subject.



Another great resource for those looking to dive even deeper into technical aspects:


And the following is more of a “PBR in practice” type section:


I hope to add more in the future as soon as I have enough for a post.

Next week I will be posting some peoples work I have gathered to show off some of the great work people are coming up with using this workflow.

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