The Scandinavian VW Kombi House
My entry for the Rookies "Substance Texturing Challenge - Bus". Main idea was to build a small house Kombi inspired by the cliché Scandinavian architecture. My personal goal was to finally get more into Substance Painter for asset texturing.
Update - 16 Jan 2021
"Mandatoy Renderings Turntable"
As this ins one of the first few assets that I am trying to seriously texture in Substance Painter, here is what I learned and noted:
- As I am used to texture VFX/Feature Animation assets, I found the workflows and tools within Painter to be limiting at times, but did not specifically miss anything.
- > SP Shader Management is a bit rough and not very flexible within Iray, so that cause me some headaches in the end, but I will continue to create and export textures in SP and take them to my favorite renderers for proper Shading.
- > Learned tons about management of displacement, geometry resolution and subdivision within SP
- > Also got more modest with my usage of 2K and 4K textures
- > I noted that I haven't used the stencil feature at all, which was one of my most used tools in Mari. I guess this comes from having procedural substances as a base to fill out all channels with most important material information.
- Still confused about how to properly handle refractive materials in SP/Iray, will have to look into that again at some point, but still think this goes hand in hand with whatever renderer and shader is used.
- I learned to streamline my workflow immensely. Using substances to block out my materials, adding procedural masks, expanding them by painting in and then working into additional decals and channel-specific details.
I had super much fun texturing this VW Kombi and super happy I convinced myself to save up some time to take part in this challenge!
Many thanks goes to TheRookies for organizing and Allegorithmic/Adobe for sponsoring this contest, enabling artists like me to challenge themselves and providing them with a platform to share art and knowledge with one another.
Also BIG THANKS to Christina Ryan for letting everybody texture her model!
Finally, thank you to all of you, who looked at my entry, gave some feedback or supported questions on Discord!
Update - 16 Jan 2021
Last WIP Update
Because of work and other life stuff I haven't updated my entry for the whole week, but I have been working on my Kombi every now and then before doing all the rendering today!
This last late update mainly covers the Kombi up in dirt. I decided to go for a look that told that the car was in use and taken care of, but just not cleaned up properly.
"The Scandinavian Explorer just returned from one of his travels and is happy to finally be home again after driving through the north. It's been an adventure, regularly taking the muddy side roads through the fields and woods to the farms. But now he's home, and the Kombi's owner hasn't had the energy yet to properly clean it up."
For this I oversaw extensive reference of mud covered cars and looked for pics of "older" more dirty Scandinavian houses. I saved four concepts that I though most useful and took them as a loose reference, mainly paying attention to ground dirt, chipping of the wood, and the direction of heavy mud splatters and their sharpness.
Wood & Sun Bleach
Luckily my wood base substance had a nice wood chipping parameter, which I used and only had to complement very little with painting. Additionally I added a very subtle sun bleach to the top part of the Kombi.
The actually mud was more of a challenge and I ended up painting most of the splatters, multiplying them with world position and AO masks before sharpening them again with a filter layer. The same process was repeated for green moss to complement the brown mud. Still nagging on me is the relatively low geo resolution and the fact that Iray would crash if I gave it too many subdiv iterations, so I was struggling a bit to model and define the height map that already was covering the wood planks and would go awol whenever I added too many small displacements. It took me quite some time to paint and level these height details until I was content with them for most parts of the model.
All the more fun it was to decide how to mess up my model. I tried to loosely mimic the way the dirt gets flinged around the tires and hits the car bumpers and outer walls and it was super fun to see the whole texture coming together by getting dirtier and thinking about where it would make sense to add more dirt and where to leave it be.
Red Paint & Metal Stains
Specifically on the bumpers and on the small black metal hinges I added some red paint splatters and sprays. In my head the Kombi had to be repainted every now and then and of course our traveler does so himself, which lead to a not so perfect job, with some paint finding its way to places it is not supposed to be. It's very subtle though. The side mirror metal is completely covered in red paint as they would always cross with the white wood panels and would look confusing if they were white, too.
Also just mentioning it: the vents on the sides got some additional roughness and color stains on them, to make the metal not look to clean and basic.
I just couldn't hold myself from adding bird poo. I found this cool "bird droppings" decal on Substance Source by accident and I just had to use it. Now thinking about it, I might have overused it a bit on the roof... :D
Update - 10 Jan 2021
A bit slower today. I mainly added some stickers to the windows and researched about car tolls in nordic countries. Apparently in Norway you can get a small electronic device called autopass to glue to you window. I tried to integrate it with a Heigh map (which I created a small Designer graph for to get a decent alpha) though low geometry resolution of the window didn't give me much to work with and it more or less looks like another sticker from the RenderCam's points of views.
Sources for two sticker images:
"Helm Of Awe Sticker" by ValhallaDesigns (Instagram & RedBubble)
"Scandinavia Explorer Sticker" by dasilvawolfgang (RedBubble)
Iray Tests and First Render Optimizations
Additionally I tried out more of Iray rendering and I found it to be a pain in the a** to come to a new renderer that seem so "limited" or not well optimized as Arnold or Vray are from my experience. I had to fight with a lot of crashes and it reacted very slowly. It will certainly take me some time to learn the tricks and quirks of Iray, I will definitely have to calculate some extra time in for that!
Here is my first quick rendering, in which I tested different resolution for different texture sets (according to their general visibilty in the renderCams) and subdiv counts. So I already have some feeling how what's possible and when my workstation will loose the fight.
Thanks for reading/watching/high-fiving or whatever you're doing here in my entry-page! :)
Update - 9 Jan 2021
It's getting there, step by step! Todays update includes most yesterday's To Dos:
Redid all the metals. and adjusted the small objects colors to fit to the rest. I found a nice base metal to use. It's copper! My historic research from a few days ago is glad to get some attention. And yet, I had to replace the nice copper color for a more grey-ish one. On top of that I layered white paint, some rust and basic dust and dirt to make the material more readable.
That's a tough one. I tried everything my limited Painter skills would let me do, but I just couldn't get it to work in a way that would make it look nice, the displacement was always off. So bit by bit I convinced myself to ditch it entirely and some feedback of my friends sealed the roofs fate: I exchanged it for a more uniform but nicer looking wood material, the same as the framing on the sides.
I added a decent pattern to the lamp glass and adjusted it's opacity and roughness. The separation of red and yellow parts of the backlight were a bit tricky at first, but eventually came together as I intended. The lamps turned out pretty good so far imo!
Also we've got a license plate now! I decided for the German design and included an Easter eggs for my friends and colleagues to discover, if they ever lay their eyes on it^^
Some more work went into the tires, which I decided to make look used and scratched no matter how clean or wrecked the Kombi is going to look overall in the end. They're rolling round and round and need to look like it!
Also the inside got some fresh paint. I noticed that one can still see pretty far into the Kombi with my current window opacity, so my initial plan to only add some base wood and then let it be wouldn't work. I kept it simple and only added some leather padding with brighter wood frames next to each row of seats. One doesn't recognize all the materials, but it's a nice detail which is adding a bit more depth to the overall look.
- Adding some nails and stickers and other small details
After deciding on the general condition of the car:
- Iterating through all materials and adding a base edge wear, dust/dirt and some sun bleach
- Iterating through all materials and adding extra dirt, paint splatters and oil
- Iterating through all materials and adding extra roughness and color (e.g. often used surfaces, fingerprints etc.) (only of time allows)
- Though a bit time-consuming, I love keeping track of my progress with these updates. By doing so I order my mind, look more at how far I've progressed and even noticed some obvious mistakes (Gotta fix that one mask right after finish this update! ;P)
- I tried Iray for the first time! It certainly looks nicer with some ray tracing. However it was a disaster. My setup seems to be a bit too weak. With everything just 2K textures It would crash to hell every time I just opened the rendering interface. After some debugging I came to the following sad conculsion: It's not gonna get more than 2 subdiv iterations :/
- I might take the bus to a proper 3D and rendering package and re-render it with some added geo, especially making decent moss, some nice rain gutters, more subdivs for the displacement and some more creative lighting, I absolutely would love to see that!
Thanks for reading!
Update - 8 Jan 2021
Today I had more time for a little sprint and I am pretty happy with where I got to for now, given the fact that this is the second asset I try to seriously texture with Painter!
- All materials are applied and quick masks done
- All Materials had a first pass of adjustments so they would look fitting
- Added some Details like white Wood Frames on the outer body and windows to refine the house look and get away from the british touch I felt in the last Update
- Played around with emissive textures for the lamps/ligh bulbs, but decided to ditch them as they are not necessary and too time-consuming to get right within the next week. If necessary I can cheat the look in the final rendering with Iray post-effects or I will hand in an additional photoshopped cover image for presentation next to the raw renders.
White wood frames. Without them the Kombi just looks flat and not like the houses at all. They separate the different plates the truck consist of and help to emphasize special areas like the side doors and or the vents and of course they are most important for the windows. They are added over a simple achor-setup in which I only have to paint the height channel to get the full wood plank with the whole material. I have finished placing them, but if I can still find suitable spots, they are just a brush stroke away from being added ;)
Additional nails on the wood on the backside. They are barely noticeable, but they sell a lot of the look and are a nice extra. I plan on scattering some more nails in fitting places all over the model.
Bugging my mind
I am still unsure about all metals used. For the moment they seem fine, but they are still a little off. Extra worries about the copper wheel hubs/rims and the silver VW logo. They are definitely out of place and require some extra attention for integration, but I am not sure yet how to achieve that.
Also worries about the windshield glass, as they show a lot of the very basic inside of the van and I don't know how much to darken it before it will look too wrong or off-putting. I considered faking extra closed curtains, but they are hard to achieve with the simple glass geo.
Next steps are iterating through all texture sets and adjusting the textures to pop out more, including:
- Finding a nice alternative for the current metal or adjusting it to look better integrated (especially for the VW logo and the wheel hubs)
- Adding correct patterns to the lamp glasses
- Pushing the roof a little more, maybe by overdoing the moss height map and adding painted metal material for rain gutters
- Adding additional Details like white frames, nails, the number plate and stickers
After all of this I will add edge wear, dust, dirt and sun bleach layers to all objects and adjust them accordingly. Special detail adjustments in roughness or height maps for often-touched surfaces will be added if there's time, as they are most probably not noticeable in the render cams and I might not have enough time to render out extra images.
Iray is still completely new to me and I am excited to finally test it out for once and see what it is capable of.
Hopefully my system will be able to render 4k textures and a high subdiv in reasonable times!
Thanks for reading and maybe giving me some tips or new thoughts! :)
Update - 7 Jan 2021
Wood Material Sketch
Started out today throwing some materials on the bus to see if my idea with the wood house look will work out. Given the construction of the bus and its UVs, wood planks weren't exactly ideal to bring to the model, but some UV transforming and additional height adjustments made everything work together quite well. It was a bit tedious to clean up the height channel and bring the red planks and the white wood together along the model, but at least I built up some decent masks which I can always use later to easily swap the materials without having them look wrong.
The whole still looks weirdly British to me, the reason might be the mossy roof tiles on top and the coloring. I will definitely look into that and try to refine the color and looks. For now I am happy the concept is possible. Later in the process I will try to incorporate more distinctive details and small ideas to make the texture stand our more than just having the materials applied to it.
Next step is to add missing materials as fabrics,metals, rubber and glass. As they don't require too much work to integrate into the model via Displacement or similar, this should go quickly. As soon as I am satisfied with the materials and their placement, I will start finetuning their scale, repetition, and color. Finally some dirt and wearing and the thing will at least look presentable, but there's still much to do! Going back to it now, thank you guys for reading (or just looking at the pics)!
Update - 6 Jan 2021
I have recently started to use Substance Painter more intensively for smaller projects and noticed that I still A LOT to learn and what better opportunity do I get than to participate in this amazing texturing challenge?
I hope you will like my ideas and future progress updates. Starting out a bit late on the last few days, so let's see how this turn out! :)
Main idea - The Scandinavian VW House Bus
Trying to find a nice and cool twist on the classic painted metal VW Bulli, my first urge was to try out different non-sense materials. I first got stuck on candy, but I would have needed to create a ton of new substances on my own, which didn't seem right for me considering I only have ten days minus my own working days left. I will mainly use pre-made substances from the shelves and from what I collected from Substance Source and Substance Share. I will then get into Designer and Painter to adjust them to my needs.
So my mind wandered towards wood, woodplanks, wooden cabins, houses - and voilà: The idea of the Scandinavian VW House Bus was born.
Scandinavian house considerations
To sell the look easier and to have a clearer vision of what I want to achieve, I decided to go full cliché. Simple red wood planks with white frames wrapped around a simple cube-ish form. Simple details like crossed frames and fences. Plain roof tiles. If the time allows, I might try to make an overgrown roof of grass and weeds.
Next to the wood, there have to be other materials involved. As I want it to be a functional car, the lights will consist of glass/plastic and several parts obviously have to be metallic, so the car would be protective enough for its passengers. So I googled about what kinds of metals Scandinavian people would mostly use. Nowadays of course they would use every normal known metal, but I found some historical articles about their usage of copper and tin tools and I decided to go with modern polished variants of these in my project. If they don't fit I can still cover the metal with paint or swap it for simple plastic like the the rain gutters in my references and stay true to the Scandinavian house idea.
The interior is not as visible but mainly consist of fabrics and/or leather, so I gathered additional information about traditional Scandinavian patterns and boiled them down to these two, which will probably end up somewhere on the bus. Also I looked into modern simple interiors for the bus, which I don't actually will have to paint or model, but which will certainly help me for some extra reference for materials and details.
As always I would be extremely happy about some feedback and intel about other peoples' thoughts! :)
'til the next update!