Just finished this new project.
I was heavily inspired to attempt doing my version of an Orc after I saw the ILM Cinematic shots, but I wanted to try it under all the next gen limitations for a realtime model.
So my render engine of choice was Marmoset Toolbag 2. These guys are amazing and they keep updating it with new features and it only gets better.
I started using Substance Painter this year and it has been one of my favorite tools ever. I love all the updates and the constantly search for improvement this guys have been doing. I`m writing a complete breakdown of this project and I`ll include some Substance Painter tips on it as well. But, if you wanna dig deep into it, I`d recommend watching the Christophe Desse Tutorial about it. Tks for all the help my friend!
All the sculpting was done in Zbrush and final model/hair cards in Maya.
Well, this project started when I saw the renders of the ILM orc months ago. I`m a huge fan of all the Blizzard Cinematic`s work too and I really love this “realistic fantasy” style they are able to achieve. I play a little bit with rendering but it`s not definitely my forte. Maybe I`m too anxious to wait or maybe I haven`t done as much as I should to understand it to a certain degree that I can get some cool results right away. My home computer was not built to render either which makes everything takes longer too.
Anyways, I like making realtime models. I like spending my time sculpting, texturing and playing with shader settings. I love the challenge to try achieving a “skin look” with limited resources.
To be honest, the new update of Marmoset Toolbag 2 is amazing. Great features, great lighting and shadow control, and shader features. I don`t feel that much of limitation and now with Substance Painter, it`s an amazing combination to achieve good materials and textures. I`ll be discussing it better later on. I`m a huge fan of all Allegorithmic products!
Allright. I started this project like I always do. Gathering references. I`ve been using Pinterest a lot recently. One of the biggest inspirations for this project was a sketch done by JB Monge. I like the feeling of how “dumb” and stupid this kind of “orc/troll” look like. Big mouth, small eyes, helmet with horns. But I wanted to mix a bit of “Blizzard” and some more grounded/realistic stuff into this project. After creating a reference board, I jumped straight into Zbrush and started sketching with dynamesh and simple tools. I like taking screenshots and doing some paintovers myself to explore and design ideas.
After the design was “defined” ( I ended up changing a lot), I started doing some retopo for better flow and easier sculpt/detailing later on. I`ve mainly used Topogun and 3dsmax for that (I`ve been constantly trying to do as much as I can on Maya but the modelling I still find it easier and faster on 3dsmax…BUT everything else I`m fond of Maya pipeline).
My main concern was a better edge flow for sculpting, uving and display at the realtime rendering. I was NOT concerned about best edge flow for animation or limited polycount. I deal with that on a daily basis at work and it`s time consuming, so for this project I wanted to have more “freedom” and not spend time with these stuff 😉 In the end, I had 2 small objects that were zremeshed. It does a pretty good damn job, and it`s faster!
After that, it was time to get back to Zbrush and start sculpting. I had all my main base meshes ready to go.
Nothing fancy or different than usual. Clay brush for main forms, standard and damn standard, move and some inflat. For detailing I`ve used a few custom alphas and a lot of hand work. The accessories were not detailed that much. They look even too simple for my taste. I only did the main forms and breakdown because all the fine texture work and small damaged/wear and tear will be done in Substance Painter as I paint the colors/materials and so on. It`s a little bit weird to get used to seeing this “unfinished look” but it`s worth it in the end 😉
Now it`s time to bake. I used to “hate” this process because it was so disconnected from the material creation. It used to be all separated process. Bake maps, paint diffuse, create shaders/materials and so on. Now with Substance Painter, it`s easier, fun and the process became merged into only one. I don`t have to deconstruct the process anymore.
So I grabbed my low poly meshes “subd 1” from zbrush, brought into Maya and started refining some topology and doing uvs.
Let`s use the “helmet” as an example of the power of Substance Painter. I can bake different sub objects using different high poly meshes, separated, but at the same time, in the same project. In the end, I have very clean normal map, of all my objects combined, with no interpolation but a really good AO of the completed piece. No more composing photoshop normal maps or exploding meshes and then baking AO aftwards, and so on.
All you have to do is to name your low poly meshes with _low in the end.
Make sure your renaming the actual transform in Maya and not the shape or namespace. After that, you can select all your low poly meshes named and export as just one obj (this name doesn`t matter. You can make it Helmet.obj)
Do the same with the high poly objects, using the suffix _high (you can change these suffixes in substance painter if you want to). If you are exporting them out of Zbrush, make sure you turn GRP off in the export menu. If you have polygroups or other crazy groups, zbrush will name it and it won`t work anymore.
Now open Substance Painter – File and create a new Project. Select your mesh (helmet.obj) and load it. Now click on Bake Textures and let`s import our *_high.objs.
Notice that I changed the Output size of the texture baking (usually I bake at 2k or 4k) and under *Match – I changed to By Mesh Name – This option will allow Painter to track the names and match it to bake all the maps.
I keep all the default parameters usually. I only tweak it if I have issues after baking.
Now it`s time to texture and have some fun.
I highly recommend my friend`s Christophe Desse Youtube channel -https://www.youtube.com/user/xtrm3d He has some great stuff. Just go there and watch it! I`m sure you`ll learn a ton!
Allegorithmic guys has some great stuff as well! Highly recommended- https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC-toy9WMImypmLAiU9h_SzQ
I wanna also say thanks to my friends Corey Johnson and Adam Scott for the tips as well 😉
I usually start from scratch all my materials. I like the idea of build them up but you can grab one of the presets (called materials/simple or Smart materials/complex layers) and start from that. What I usually do is to create my own Smart materials once I establish a proper look/material and use as a starting point across the other materials to keep it consistency.
If you wanna load into the same scene different objects you can. You just need to assign different materials in Maya and Substance Painter will recognize each material and assign a “Texture set” to each of them. So you can have the helmet, face, accessories, and different bakes and maps for each uv set. But I tend to find it too heavy for my machine so I like to keep things separated and simple.
This is a simple demonstration of a quick material creation.
I`m gonna start creating a group to separate my materials/objects.
I like to create black masks for each group and then using the Geometry Decal (selecting by UV Shells) I create my white part of the mask, revealing only what I selected. You can manually paint if you want to, or if your highpoly has vertex color into it, it`ll automatically bake an ID map which you can use to select colors to generate masks.
To make it easier to follow, I`m gonna add a material called Aluminium. I create a fill layer and then just double click on the material I want. This material has a proper metallic value, roughness and color added to his properties. It has also some bump information, which automatically adds to the normal map. So everything you see in the viewport will be exported to its own maps.
Now I wanna create some dirt on top. Add a fill layer, change color to something like dark brown. This dirt I want to be with no metallic, high roughness. And to generate this dirt, I`m gonna add a black mask, and a generator. The generator will create a mask using all the maps previously baked to design and “generate” it. You can add a Paint modifier on top and tweak it as well.
The great part of this process is that is super versatile because we`re painting masks. So we can change colors and material properties at anytime.
This is my basic workflow. Of course you have to keep adding layers and details, carving out some damages using the height properties/modifiers and so on.
Another thing that I really love about it is that I can change the resolution of my final maps at anytime. So usually I work with 1024 maps but at the export time I change it to 4k. Substance painter will recalculate every single brushstroke and every generator and recreate your maps at 4k. MIND BLOWING!.
My final helmet has probably more than 40 layers. And in the end, I added a final touch in Photoshop for the horns. I like tweaking my maps and doing a final pass for crispy details in PS.
After doing all the textures and maps, I did a quick pose on Zbrush on my low poly mesh.
For the realtime rendering, I like working with Marmoset Toolbag 2.
There`s a lot of material out there about it so I won`t cover it as much today.
My tip is to make sure your sliders are working properly. All the skin sliders should affect a lot your mesh. If not, re-scale your scene/model and keep doing until you find a sweet spot.
I like to make my model black to help me tweak the specular/glossiness and all the sss effects.
I have a normal map, a glossiness map, AO, colormap (diffuse/albedo) and a cavity map in this shader. I like using two speculars and usually the second one I add a bit of anistropic to it to help me catch some light in certain areas. Sometimes I paint masks for scattering but I haven`t in this particular project.
Other than that, you just need to plug all the maps from substance painter and manually tweak a bit each material. The lighting will help a lot in the final look as well, so my tip here is to make sure you`re not overexposing, something that will flatten your image and materials. Keep the final adjustment for the exposure control 😉
I`ve got a few questions about plugging some maps from Substance painter into Marmoset Toolbag 2. I don`t think there`s a huge jump between the two. But I don`t take what I get at Substance Painter as my final result either. Shader and reflections can vary from engine to engine, so the key here is to make sure you understand what look you`re trying to achieve. So in my case, I wanted this metal helmet with some “shiny” horns. I did what I thought it was looking good in Substance Painter. Exported the maps – Normal, Glossiness, Albedo, Metalness, Specular – and plugged them in Marmoset Toolbag 2. Remember that Substance Painter has their own shaders and you were painting using a specific HDRI as an reflection environment, which can affect “diffuse colors”. When you apply them to your model in a different lighting situation, it can look different or not as you expected, and sometimes even cooler/better! So bear in mind that you might have to tweak it. You can see my complete shader of the helmet and see that I`ve adjusted the Glossiness slider a bit and added a Secondary Reflection. I`m pretty sure the anisotropic reflection is not 100% accurate in reality with these materials but that`s fine. Sometimes we cheat a bit to get a specific looking material 😉
That`s it for today. Thank you so much for the support. Let me know if you guys have any more questions.
Hope you like it 😉