Panzerkampfwagen VI „Tiger“

Panzerkampfwagen VI „Tiger“

Sven Ulrich
by sventwulrich on 26 May 2020

This is my third project that I have worked on for the rookies award 2020, for the category visual effects. The Panzerkampfwagen VI, commonly referred to as the Tiger I, one of the most infamous tanks of WW2.

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I love hard surface modeling and tanks. Ever since I've modeled the panzer IV as one of my first models it dawned on me that I want to create one for my demo reel. Therefore I decided to model and texture the infamous Tiger tank.

Turntable & Breakdowns

Model Breakdown

The UVs are split into three parts; red is the left part, blue the center part and green the right part of the vehicle. By only modeling one side, I saved a lot of time modeling and UVing when I mirrored it over. All I then had to do was flip the UVs and move them over. The metal ropes were tileable textures and were therefore going across a UDIM to avoid having to cut the rope up and have unnecessary seams.

In hindsight I could have used less unique track-links since the difference is hardly visible and it slowed me down during the texturing phase. 

Texture Breakdown

I gathered lots of refs to make sure I had multiple angles on every piece which would help during the modeling and texturing stages. However, texture wise I went for a whitewashed/snow camouflage version of the tiger. This proved to be quite complex because any reference from the time was very low resolution, and Germany's white camouflage was quite distinct during WW2, due to supply shortages their tanks were painted with a mixture of water and chalk, yielding a very rough look. Therefore camouflage reference from today which isn't based on chalk anymore would yield different results. Sadly some of the texturing therefore remained guess work.

General information:

- Environment textures (snow/dirt) are from quixel megascans, but altered in substance painter.
- Tree stumps are from quixel megascans
- Steel cable texture is from
- 21 UDIMs, 4096x4096 texture resolution each; in hindsight I could have reduced this by having less track-link variations. Currently I have 45 different track links.
- Backplate by Ilexa Yardley

What I learned:

- Getting the displacement maps out of Zbrush took quite some time since I always ended up with artifacts, so after various different attempts I finally nailed the art of exporting a displacement map for a hard surface object.
- I learned a bit of python coding and wrote a program which would help me unwrap faster by automatically doing certain steps such as unwrapping and setting texel density so I got rid of most of the manual work and could focus on a good UV layout. Thanks to Anthony ( for helping me out when I got stuck.
- Anchor points and filters are your friends. Substance painter's anchor tool is such an amazing feature which really helps with texturing and keeping your scene tidy.
- Creating clean topology for hard surface objects, for when you take them into Zbrush for the displacement maps. Having the right density is essential for good subdivision in Zbrush.

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