When following a concept art as a reference, I try to extract as much informations as i can. Materials, lighting, color mood, the level of dirt and wear. even simple background colors are very informative. I want my character’s shaders to be as realistic as possible that is why it was also important to reference myself from real life material as well , There is a balancing game between art direction and realism and to me that is the most challenging aspect of look development .
Maya Scene setup
For this part I used Vray and Maya :
- I imported the assets in my scene
- I Created a vrayLightDome and put an hdr in the Dome Tex slot. My choice of HDR wasn’t random, I intentionally picked a forest environment to immediately set the mood
- I also added 3 spheres in the scene to help me check that my lighting setup is working the way i want to. one white ball, one grey ball, and a chrome ball.
We are now ready to proceed.
I use Lut files to get color corrected previews directly in the framebuffer.
Texturing in substance Painter
When working on handmade assets , it is very important to feel the craftsmanship and the aging process occurring on them, it adds up to realism and opens the door to storytelling. who would you pick as a champion in a trial by combat ? A guy with a shiny new sword or the one who has blood all over his rusted blade ?
I mostly use the pbr-metal-rough Template, select your mesh, if you have UDIM tiles , check “Create a texture set per UDIM tile”
First thing I do is bake textures with a resolution of either 2K or 4K, substance will need those to make the mask generators work. Because I am using vray to render, I added a Diffuse channel ( it will be required to export maps with substance’s vray presets)
I added two leather materials I previously made with designer, there is probably some uv scale or map rotation adjustments, you can also change the colors with an HSL Filter in the diffuse slot and some pattern look stronger with a sharpen filter.
Substance has interesting textures straight out of the box : one of them was ‘grunge leather Damaged’ I used it to add up height to the leather pattern and add some surface damages,I played with MG Dirt masks to blend the leather layers the way I want. This part was mostly eyeballing and reference matching.
Here is another example following the same principles with wood
Tip: group your setup/layers into a folder and create a smart material from it, it might come in handy if you have other assets with similar properties in future projects
Once I am done I exported the maps in 8K with the vray preset.