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Zaculeu // Tavern
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Zaculeu // Tavern

David Marques Matias
by davidmm on 17 Apr 2024 for Rookie Awards 2024

3D modelled assets for games done during the 1-year Game Art diploma at 3dsense Media School.

10 238 5
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Hi everyone! It's an honor to present the works I created during my studies at 3dsense!

Character Modeling

For character modeling, I chose the concept from Tooth Wu, so big thanks to his kindness for allowing me to use his work.

There's a lot I want to say about the development process of my character, but I'll try to be concise.

For the blockout, my main concern was getting the proportions correct first. This was a part where it took me quite a few tries to get right. I focused a lot on honing the facial anatomy since most of his body is covered.

Figuring out the armor was quite difficult. I focused on the basic shapes first to achieve his powerful silhouette.

I took some freedom adding details in areas that are not visible in the concept to add to his story. For me, tertiary details are what take it yo the extra step towards a realistic feel. I worked on the surface of leather, cloth, and added pores to the skin, small cracks in the jade, and scratches or dents in metal parts. Towards the end, I didn't add too much wear since I felt it made the overall look too noisy. I felt like the character's flair came from all the accessories he had.

Baking takes time, but I was lucky to have somewhat clean bakes on the first try. I felt like I could enhance some of the surfaces since the details sometimes appeared blurry or soft. I fixed this by tweaking them in Photoshop. It's incredible what a bit of playing around with the levels can improve!

My model is a bit high on the triangle count, but I believe it's justified by the number of garments and the armor details. Some pieces were tricky to get right during retopo but I managed to fix the issues.

Most UVs were relatively straightforward. I struggled with texel density because his four long cloth garments occupy a lot of space. I had to assign other objects to different texture sets to fit them better. If I could improve this aspect, I would stack the long cloth pieces to allow more UV space for the overall model, rather than having these cloth pieces have unique details.

Texturing was enjoyable. I was quite tight on time, so I had to work smart. 

I created smart materials and used them across the different texture sets, specifically for the gold, jade and leather. Then I added detail manually in areas where I felt it had to catch the eye. I added emissive values to his eyes and spell effects. A lot of subsurface scattering was added to the jade material.

Once the texturing was done, I quickly exported to Marmoset and assigned everything to the character. Creating the shader and setting up the lighting was definitely a trial-and-error process that took me several attempts.

One extra thing my mentors taught me to religiously follow was keeping things organized and always triple check. It helped me juggle the hundreds of little objects needed for this project, and it definitely allowed me to finish this four-month adventure with success!

Environment Modeling

The concept I chose for my environment is from Dora G; big thanks to her for allowing me to work with it.

The start, as usual, is looking for reference. Compared to my character this time I understood how much reference one needs. I first studied my environment, splitting it into areas (A, B, C, etc.), listing how many assets in each area. Then, I separated them into groups (tileables, trimsheets, modular or unique). In total I had 100+ assets to do. This helps with organization and time management.

Blocking the environment was fun but difficult to get right due to the very wide FOV necessary to achieve the beauty shot. The main challenge for this environment was replicating its dimensions while maintaining its organic feel.

I used a combination of Quixel Mixer, Substance Painter and Photoshop to make my trimsheet and tileables. I changed this a lot of times since my wood often felt too grainy in the engine while testing. For tileables, I have a cobblestone wall and a cob wall. Cob walls were used in the medieval era for budget construction, often made out of a clay-based subsoil mixed with straw, sand, and water. I had a lot of unique assets, so it was quite the workload. The reference PureRef and an excel sheet worked wonders to tackle this environment!

Lighting was definitely the hardest part of this project. The main goal is to show your assets nicely and maintain accuracy to the concept and its mood. Sometimes objects are lit up a bit differently, and we have to use the different light channels in UE5 to achieve the correct feel.

Final Thanks

I want to take the opportunity to thank my lecturers in 3dsense for all the knowledge they shared and the Rookies team and judges for providing us this awesome contest!

I appreciate any and all support and feedback you might want to share with me.


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