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Palm Piraban
by PalmPiraban on 1 Jun 2022 for Rookie Awards 2022

The organic material project "Salmon Steak" in the raw and cooked versions. I use Maya, Substance Designer, Substance Painter, and Unreal Engine 4.27 This work is one of the assignments of GAME 722 - Real-Time Materials and Shaders at Savannah College of Art and Design (SCAD) ​

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Salmon Steak in UE4

Responsible for all aspects except music: model, material, texture, shade, lighting, and rendering

The organic material project "Salmon Steak" in the raw and cooked versions.
I use Maya, Substance Designer, Substance Painter, and Unreal Engine 4.27.

This work is one of the assignments of GAME 722 - Real-Time Materials and Shader at Savannah College of Art and Design (SCAD)


          Hi everyone! My Name is Thitaphon Palm Piraban, I'm a lookdev and lighting artist from Thailand. I've been working as a lookdev and lighting in animation and visual effects for 8 years before studying MA visual effects at SCAD. In this project, I create 2 versions (raw and cooked) materials from a substance designer, texture from a substance painter, and set up the scene in Unreal Engine.

Inspiration and Reference

Food is one of my interests. So, I combined CGI and food in this project. To study subsurface scattering by researching steak recipes and taking a photo by myself. And then I research mood and tone on the internet.

Work Process

Step 01: Model

I make a model from Autodesk Maya by using the basic shapes: sphere, cylinder, oval, and cube. I start from a low polygon create a bevel at the corner and add more division.

Step 02: UV Mapping

In this project, I need to make it close up as much as possible to test the texture resolution. Unreal Engine version 4.27 doesn't support multiple UV Mapping. I use the UV checker in 4K resolution. I change a repeat UV attribute in the place2dTexture node in Maya hypershade (1024x1024 to 4096x4096) to test how close I can make the most detail.

  For the tomato model, I combined green and red parts to become one object but separate materials. When I separate material in Maya, UE will follow the material element same as Maya. So, this is a good way to make object has more details.

Step 03: Material and Texture

I start material work in Substance Designer. For the salmon material, I create a strip and use the Cartesian To Polar node, warp node, and creased node. You can see each material creation in the "Material Breakdown" in the next part.

Texture Setting in Substance Painter

Subststance Painter is very helpful software. For me, 3D paint texture creation is easier than 2D paint because I can see all around the object. In this chapter, I will explain the salmon texture creation process. however, you can see each material in the "Material Breakdown" chapter.

Salmon Texture Layering

After I got the salmon base material in step03, I separate the top face into 5 zones and adjust each.

You can see the salmon texture and mask in the first video. For the salmon skin, I create the base color, and color detail, and add a normal map to it in the second video.

Material Breakdown


I create a simple anisotropic noise and blend color same as reference in bolt unpeel and peel. After I got a base material, I assign it to Substance Painter and make a mask, change the color for the cooked version.

Red Onion

In the process of the full red onion, I make a directional noise first and change color with the blend node. For the slices of red onion, I create it from the "Splatter Circular" and change color with blend node.

Salmon and Salmon Skin

I create a strip and use the Cartesian to Polar node to convert a straight line to the circle pattern. Before coloring it with blend node, I use wrap node and creased node to destroy the pattern. For the salmon skin,

I create a wave node and use a tile generator node pattern.

Lemon and Lemon Slice

Lemon skin has a lot of noise patterns, I use a dirt procedural for the base noise and add more contrast before blending with the gaussian node. To make a different visual, I connect different links to base color, normal, and roughness.


The mushroom texture is analogous color and has low contrast. I start with light brown for the base color, and add a white color on the root part. Next, I make a burning part by using a mask and dimming it.


I make tomato texture in Substance Painter directly. I use the fill layer and add another layer to control roughness. You can see my breakdown in the following images. 


In nutrition fact, asparagus is high in dietary fiber. so, it contains a lot of vertical lines in the texture. I use the anisotropic noise and blend it with the creased node.

Shader (Unreal Engine)

  In this part, I will explain more about shader and material connection in Unreal Engine. Because subsurface scattering is a complex effect that is related to material and light, I use both subsurface scattering systems: sss and sss profile. 

Step 05: Sequencer

Step 06: Lighting

          I got a reference from fine dining food photography. Almost my reference is soft lighting in low-key lighting. so, I use 1 sky light and 2 medium size area lights

Step 07: Rendering

In this project, I use raytracing because I need to study more about real-time rendering. The following slide image shows the comparison between ray tracing and no ray tracing render from Unreal Engine.


​Real-Time Shading and material in Unreal Engine are really new for me. It's out of my comfort zone. I created a bunch of works with traditional rendering in both CPU and GPU-based rendering. however, real-time stuff is a new trend recently. In my opinion, it would be a great opportunity if I know this process. I can expand my existing skills and study in-depth. When I was working on the shader, I was very impressed with the pace. When I enable the ray tracing, the shadow is softer and the sample quality is much better than before. I will study more in lighting and material in Unreal Engine and will use it in my MA Project.

In addition, I have edited the transition and juicy look for the sliced lemon from the professor and professional artist's advice. I think Unreal Engine can solve problems and go back and forth very easily. so, this is the before and after image.

Finally, Thank you, Professor Manuel Prada, Ariyawat Meechoui, and Gen Li for helping and giving me a useful suggestion.

I hope this article will help you guys who have a passion for building visual imagery, lighting, and rendering can find a solution. if you need more information please contact me at [email protected]

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