Blender vs Maya
All of the 3D assets used in the 360 experience were made in Blender. I decided to use Blender over Maya as I had been using it in my previous year during my placement and currently feel more proficient with it.
Figures 1-22 are all object I’ve made in Blender.
Modifiers allow the user to perform multiple automatic effects that affect an object’s geometry.
One of the main reasons I used Blender was because of all the modifiers it has, with these modifiers you can quickly and easily speed up your workflow and they can be completely removed with no detriment to the mesh.
Array and Boolean modifier
To speed up work I used both the array and Boolean modifier within Blender. To make the bricks sticking out of the wall I created a base brick and used three array modifiers to duplicate them. Using the first array I duplicated the base brick to create a top layer of bricks, offset slightly to make gaps in between them. The second modifier duplicated it below and offset slightly to the side to mimic how bricks are usually placed. The last modifier takes the two layers and replicates them all the way to the bottom of the wall.
Using the Boolean modifier I was able to place basic geometry over the bricks, subtracting the bricks from the inset sections of the wall, removing unnecessary geometry.
For all of my models that had symmetry I used the mirror modifier so that I only had to spend time modelling half of the object or in some cases a quarter, as was the case with the walls and inset arches.
Once I had done the base modelling and texturing in Blender I exported everything to Maya to set up the animation scene.
As there are two different worlds for the animation I decided to set up a Maya file for both the realistic and fantasy world, that way there would be no issues with swapping the environments part way, making handling files easier.
Gradient texture method
Using a small image colour palette you can get a nice gradient texture which is really easy to set up and has a tiny size file for the source image (Figure 23).
Instead of having to unwrap an object’s UV’s neatly you can simply unwrap from a projected view (from the camera view). To do this you change to an orthographic side view with the object in sight then unwrap by projection, giving a UV that looks the same as in the viewport at the point of unwrapping.
Then to change the colour/gradient you just move the UV shell across the texture file in the UV editor, selecting separate parts on the model if you want to have specific parts lighter, darker or a different colour.
All of this allowed me to bypass having to go into Substance Painter and being able to export straight to Maya.
Realistic vs stylised
The main reason I decided to do a realistic texture style versus a stylised texture style was to show a contrast between the real world and the ‘Other side’, using bright colours and gradient textures to give a more fantasy feel.
I thought it would also work well as a portfolio piece to showcase that I’m flexible with texturing and can do so in both styles.
For the realistic textures I used an automatic unwrap in Blender while applying bright colours in vertex paint to specific parts of objects (Figure 24) to use as an ID map in Substance. Using ID maps allows you to apply a texture to specific parts of a model by using a mask and selecting the specific colour from the ID map.
For the realistic textures I went to Substance Share, a place where you can find free high quality textures and applied a mixture of them to my environment.
- Ceramic tiles (Allegorithmic, 2015)
- Medieval pavement (Game Texture, 2015)
- Rock wall (Hugobeyer, 2015)
- Mossy rock from Substance Painter default shelf
Exporting the textures from Substance I used the Arnold renderer preset, using a mix of 2k and 4k textures. Using a guide from Substance Academy (Adobe, 2021) I set up the environment in Maya (Figure 25).
To create better, more realistic lighting I downloaded two high resolution HDRI images and applied them to an Arnold sky dome. The sky dome then uses the image to produce light from each pixel projected onto the scene, giving realistic reflections and lighting.
- Starry night-time sky (Figure 26)
- Day time field surrounded by forest (Figure 27)
Adobe (2021) Substance guide to rendering in Arnold for Maya. Available online: https://academy.substance3d.com/courses/Substance-guide-to-Rendering-in-Arnold [Accessed 13/04/2021].
Allegorithmic (2015) Ceramic 004 [downloaded]. Available online: https://share.substance3d.com/libraries/701 [Accessed 13/04/2021].
Game Textures (2015) Medieval pavement [downloaded]. Available online: https://share.substance3d.com/libraries/42 [Accessed 13/04/2021].
Hugobeyer (2015) rock_wall [downloaded]. Available online: https://share.substance3d.com/libraries/965 [Accessed 13/04/2021].
Lake K. (n.d.) Resurrect 64 palette [downloaded]. Available online: https://lospec.com/palette-list/resurrect-64 [Accessed 11/01/2021].
Mischok A. (2020) Lilienstein [downloaded]. Available online: https://hdrihaven.com/hdri/?c=skies&h=lilienstein [Accessed 10/04/2021].
Zaal G. (2017) Satara night (no lamps) [downloaded]. Available online: https://hdrihaven.com/hdri/?h=satara_night_no_lamps [Accessed 10/04/2021].