Hi, I'm Piotr Nowacki, Lead Asset LookDev from Platige Image. Our studio is known for VFX, short films, but most of all, video game cinematics. We've been working with Ubisoft, CDProjekt Red, PUBG Corporation and a bunch of other fantastic publishers and developers. Today, I'd like to tell you about our recent project – the cinematic trailer for Hyper Scape.
Hyper Scape is a new vertical shooter from the Battle Royale genre, where colorful characters clash in cyberpunk environments.
The texture work for the trailer took our lookdev team about 8 weeks to complete, with texturing work continuing to some degree pretty much for the entire duration of the project. This was necessary to add details based on what stands out in any particular shot, and to achieve the consistency of quality.
First, let's look at some of the stuff that we’ve created for the trailer. We'll talk mostly about faces and clothing, hence the selection below.
My job was (mostly, but not limited to) leading our lookdev team, making a good use of multichannel texture packages, and shading Nahari’s and Palladin’s faces.
I also created quite a lot of secondary maps, based on Rafal Kidzinski’s displacement, which, by the way, used XYZ textures as well. For these, I used a Utility texture to control specular and roughness. The level of detail on these is really something. Notice also the eyes, made with XYZ’s iris maps.
Now, let’s dive into details!
Let me start by saying that we believe that textures are one of the most important visual elements of any animated film. They decide if the scene is readable, if the shader does its job, and how the art direction feels. Of course, everything must be aligned with the model it’s supposed to work with.
We work on 4K textures. Having an appropriate amount of UDIMs lets us balance between their amount and quality. Our main tool is Substance Painter, but we also employ Mari, Substance Designer and the immortal Photoshop.
Making textures that reflect the real world is easy. You can touch the thing you’re imitating, you can see how it acts in different lighting, you can take pictures, take a closer look. But, we weren’t making a realistic video, and materials that don’t exist in our world, created for a strong artistic vision, are the real challenge.
So, you have to start from the beginning, by which I mean that you have to work out what could be the base of your material. Our inspirations were futuristic fashion shows, sci-fi films, and our Art Director’s concept art. We took the time to establish how every surface will react to light and how it should look in the shadow. We analyzed how these materials are made, how they get dirty, what they are made of.
We used XYZ textures to quickly create a foundation for our artists to work upon. These textures let us achieve the desired level of realism much faster, and also add a specific quality and character to everything you see.
The key challenge was to make the textures look good overall, but also from up close, in micro-detail. We’ve gathered references that also showed our source materials magnified, so we could analyze its structure and figure out how to recreate a slick or ruggy surface.
Balance between quality and optimisation is crucial, so we work on a large number of UDIMs to make the materials as sharp and detailed as possible. We also test the texture before we put it into the film. We need to be sure that it works well in different lighting, it’s aligned with the shader, that specular and roughness reflect light in the right way and render without any errors.
Ultimately, our goal is to make the texture ‘obvious’ for the viewer. One look and you know if it’s hard, soft, slippy, porous. Even though we make stuff that doesn’t exist, it is rooted in the real world, so it has to follow the same rules.
Platige Image Asset LookDev Artists working on the project: Piotr Nowacki, Piotr Orliński, Filip Adamiak, Sebastian Deredas, Żaneta Szabat, Arya Sowti, Łukasz Lesiak, Artem Gansior, Paweł Brudniak.