Monthly Roundup - June '19

General / 01 July 2019


  • Broccoli Trees, Grass, and Ground Texture for Lamb Chopped.

The 3D elements in this scene I created, implemented, and optimized for a mobile game I'm working on with a small team.  Since this mobile game marries both 3D and 2D, the style of texturing depends entirely on their finished looks.  I tested many shaders on my broccoli trees, and for now we've landed on one that gives a more cartoony feel.  

I drew the Broccoli bark texture in Substance Painter, and drew the ground texture and grass in Photoshop.  I also added a fog effect, and adjusted the default skybox a little just to give it a different feel.  

The most challenging parts of this project this month were setting up debugging, and rooting out optimization issues.  Ultimately we found that post processing is not a mobile creator's friend.  Real-time shadows aren't either! I was able to find that a post processing effect was causing our app to come to a near crawl.  It was helpful to learn how to get the build onto a device I had. I would definitely recommend that anyone looking at optimization issues read Unity's manual on the subject.  No one person can give you "the reason why everything stopped working" but this will help in sorting it out.

  • Plank Substance

    This substance material is largely the product of following along with the tutorial I followed in last month's round up.  I put my own twist on it, and gave it more of a sand-covered feel.  I've already got a plan for where to use it! Just haven't implemented it yet.  

    I'm glad sat down and gave this tutorial series the time it deserved.  Doing so has informed my work-flow in an instrumental way.  I used some of the techniques I learned to do a quick pass on old substances, and it was interesting to see the change.

Work in Progress

  • Shack & Props

    This shack is where most of my time has been going.  Not only did I learn more about Unity this month (updated Terrain! optimization! Oh my!), but the new challenges in this project definitely got me thinking and learning about new situations in modeling.The behemoth in the room is 100%. That. Netting.Since I haven't done netting before, I did a good deal of research before beginning.  I knew the optimized way would ultimately much like foliage: a modified plane with a texture applied.  But as an artist working on her portfolio.. What did the world have to offer?  Well, most of what I found was helpful in making the ropes in my scene, which I'll touch on in a bit.I decided to get the movement and draping of netting that I wanted, I would hit the ground running in Marvelous Designer.

I adjusted my values specifically to get an "up and down" look on my grid, which is visible in reference photos.  The grid system I have comes from a process where you add "Offset As Internal Line" to your 2D pattern.  Doing this makes Marvelous change parameters based on those lines as if they were in the cloth.  Doing this definitely sped up my process from previous projects.  The tutorial linked is for MODO though, and currently I'm a Maya gal.  So  When I exported, I had a new learning experience on my hands.

My version of Marvelous Designer doesn't have an export to quads option, but even if it did, I need to use the grid system I gave to Marvelous as Internal Lines.  To accomplish this, I went to the UVs.  If you follow the right procedure, you can maintain the 2D pattern in Marvelous Designer as your UVs and export them out both in the simulated format and the flat 2D pattern form.  I chose to modify my flat plane (with the same UVS as the simulated mesh) by hand since the internal lines had been maintained. With this modified copy, I was able to transfer its attributes to the simulated mesh.

Ultimately for optimization's sake, this is where the net should be taken to texture, with all of the rope detail being left to texture.

... But...

I just  had to see that detail in model form.  I found this tutorial which describes an interesting process in Maya that allows you to create a grid system fairly easy.  When applying this techniques to part of my new net mesh, I was happily left with - what I call Step 3 - Overdoing it.

This is of course way too high poly for games.  But gosh darn it; it  makes me happy.  Aren't portfolios about overdoing it anyway ??

While I did also model pleanty of buoys and knick-knacks, the last major aspect I did research on was the ropes.  I originally looked into it for the ropes, but everything I found intially was much too detailed.  If you're into Zbrush then this tutorial might be an interesting place to start, but if you're more comfortable with Maya such as myself, this is what I checked out originally.  I opted to stray from that tutorial almost entirely however.

I chose instead to create a 3 sided shape which I extruded along a curve I made.  The curve started simple, and I modified it after extruding by moving vertex points (you better believe I used references!).  Luckily, the Extrude on a Curve function also has a twist parameter, which I also modified until I got a good look.  

I will have to check performance, but I plan on only having a few ropes with the tri-circle mesh.  Since there is a lot of poliginal data in this approach, I also made some ropes that are just a low poly cylinder extruded on a curve.  The idea here being that the texture data will carry the rest of the weight on visual variety.

On a final note, I also made a personal Trello board.  I've found that deadlines are important to getting things done.  Changing when things are due to accommodate surprise tasks is fine, but going at an even pace is definitely easier this way.  You can stalk my progress here!

Plans for July

  • Vacation & Class Start
  • UV Models with correct Texel Density
  • Implement Shack models into Unreal
  • Potentially start Texturing Shack/Props
  • New ground Texture & Rocks for Lamb Chopped

Resources of the month:



Monthly Roundup - May '19

General / 03 June 2019


I started this gun as a part of the CGMA Guns and Props course.  I decided to finish it up to post here.  I fixed a multitude of things, as well as added more finite detail in both the mesh and texture.  There are things I could fix up, but I think I'll get more 'bang for my buck' by focusing elsewhere.  With this gun I got to put into practice a bunch of different skills and techniques that I've known about but never quite had the time to focus in on.  

Particular challenges I've faced with this gun are predominantly around cages and baking, as well as "when is it time to stop?" syndrome. From these challenges I've learned a better workflow when it comes to multiple Zbrush parts and naming.  

From a technical standpoint, I also ran into an issue with Substance Painter where I couldn't overwrite my file.. Going to need to look into this more.

Next time I go for a complicated prop I'll take into account the different problem areas for cages and separate accordingly.



I decided that my forest scene I'd worked on last year was missing some elements.  I'm going to rework a great deal of the scene, but I felt that adding a structure would be a good element to add to my portfolio.  The aim is for it to be a real-time environment.  I found reference for the shack based on a local trend in structures, and began on the journey.  From previous projects I recalled that having a foundation is important for elevation changes in the environment, so I added enough space for that feature.

Shingle Substance

After blocking out the shack, I moved on to considering it's exterior.  Unlike many houses, the shack has wooden shingles lining it's sides.  The non-complicated route would be to slap on a substance and move on with life. The complicated route being to model out a handful of shingles and then place those meshes.  After consulting with a few other artists in the DiNusty Empire, I decided to do a combination of the two.  I came up with this stylized looking tile, but It wasn't quite what I was looking for.

Wooden Floor Substance

This substance is predominantly finished, but there are a few final tweaks before I call it done.  I plan on putting it in the shack.  Since I wasn't happy with my shingles texture, I actually used this floorboard substance as an opportunity to learn.  I found a tutorial by Allegorithmic that I followed and tweaked to get this.  I've used Substance Designer before, but I'm glad I went back to some tutorials to pick up tricks from other artists.

Broccoli Mesh & Substance

Finally, I'm also working on a stylized mobile project with a small group.  I'm currently working on low-poly Broccoli.  I wanted to take a stab at using Substance Designer to generate procedural stylized Broccoli "tops".  I will end up testing them out in engine soon, as well as hand painting the lower part of the Broccoli.  I made these before I got into the tutorials I watched for the planks, so this was relying on my previous knowledge.  We'll see how things go in implementation :).

I decided to start a new habit so I can look back on things on a monthly basis since I have time to make more things at the moment.  

Plans for June:

  • Finish Broccoli
  • Finish Shingle & Plank Substances
  • Begin/Finish shack structure walls/roof/foundation/lattice

Resources of this month:

CGMA Weapons Course: 

Allegorithmic Tutorials on Substance Designer Planks: 

Bruce Wayne's Study - WIP

Making Of / 12 February 2019

Ever since I saw the TV show Gotham I fell in love with the set designs.  I finally decided to put some of the things I've learned recently into action.

First of course, reference.

Luckily for me, many of the seasons of Gotham are on Netflix.  I made it a habit to grab reference as I watched, but even then I ended up looking at some behind the scenes footage for additional angles of the room.

From previous classes I took at the CGMA, I found out about PureRef; a program system that allows for easy viewing of reference images.  Using this handy program, I divided my reference footage up by 

1.) different "reach goals" I had beyond the core room to potentially implement if I wanted to take time with the project

2.) Similar angles in the room that informed me of different sides of the same set of objects

After having done this, I was ready to move on to the blockout phase.

The above is one of my final blockout shots.  This came after a lot of tweaking to make sure everything was proportionally accurate, and using image planes to perfectly recreate the room from different angles.

The trickiest part of this phase is what extensive reference imaging revealed: TV sets can do pretty much whatever they want as long as the audience doesn't catch on to your tricky ways.  I'll go into these things more in detail later, but for now the important thing is: now everything is proportional to each other!

Once I was confident I had the proportions down in Maya, I brought the scene into Unreal Engine.

Bringing in the blockout now allows for me to directly overwrite the blockout meshes with their finalized counterparts.  Lighting is easier to plan out now as well.  Potentially it might be necessary for me to keep in mind the man-made light sources in the room.  


Now if you look at shots of this room in the show, you'll notice there are a lot of tiny knick-knacks that really fill out the scene.  For now I've opted to ignore these in the blockout phase due to their complexity.  I have to admit, I'm a little eager to see how things fit together

  Since these couches were the biggest thing in the scene, they were actually pretty informative to the entire space.  The scene I'm recreating also happens to have a life sized suit of armor, so using that I was able to get a better idea of what a character might size up to in the scene as well.

First I sought out reference images for the specific type of couch I wanted to recreate. My original reference pool had a lot of distance based shots that gave me a good idea of the kind of couch I was going for, but ultimately I needed to get closer reference images in order to really nail the look.

After having obtained my original reference footage, I decided on adding an extra step to my normal process:  research if anyone has done this before.

Now some artists will argue that looking at other art can cause you to recreate art and be uninformed.  I can see this as a vaild argument, but in some respects I think looking at how other people have achieved similar targets can keep you from "recreating the wheel".   The project ahead of me is a long one, and knowing how much of a perfectionist I am, I was eager to see other processes.

I ran into this pretty handy article that mentioned exactly what I was hoping it would:  

Ultimately, this article gives the general steps Eduard Caliman, an Italian Architectual Vizulation artist, did to create a couch in Marvelous Designer.  Later searching also presented this nifty find: .

I had planned on learning Marvelous Designer on the curtains in this shindig, but hey. Why not?

For starters, I used the couch I had blocked out as an avatar in Marvelous Designer.  This ensured that the couch I wanted to use would follow the same proportions as I had originally intended.   

Next, I analysed the patterns in the couch to replicate them within Marvelous Designer.  With MD,  I was luckily able to fall back on previous sewing experience, so I found it self explanatory. 

In production I opted to potentially save on polygon count and time by leaving the sides without cloth, and to inset some pieces in the front over top the messy edges. I also found out later that Marvelous Designer has buttons, and that made my day.

Currently, I'm working on these inset pieces.  Once these are complete, I will be able to bring the entire work into Zbrush to merge meshes and add greater tension and cloth folds.

3D Artist - BIM Developer - Specifi

General / 30 May 2018

Back in summer '18 I  completed a 6 month contract at Specifi as a 3D BIM artist.

Specifi owns a software that allows industrial kitchen designers to quickly choose from an extensive library of units and place them into their 3D scenes.   Think SIMS but technically accurate to whatever building you're outfitting.

I had never worked with Revit before, and with the guidance of my team lead I learned Autodesk Revit 2014 and Specifi's database software all in two weeks.  As time went on I was able to, of course, become more precise and take on more complex tasks.

For Specifi, one of the main selling points of the software is being able to know exactly, down to the millimeter, how large a unit is or where it's differing connections are located.  Having that accuracy would mean that designers could rest easy knowing that their planned out space would move along smoothly.  

 What this meant for me as an artist is that every model I ever created had to be as precise as possible. 

 A good chunk of my job would become comparing specification sheets for discrepancies, communicating with contacts at the manufacturer's company, and entering all of the data possible into Specifi's database.  This job was a huge test on my ability to parse through large amounts of data for what was vital.