In 20 weeks I set out to create 3 vehicles.
An accurate study of a 1963 Corvette Stingray, a 1940s COE Truck and a vehicle of my design.
I completed all 3 of these tasks within the tri budgets and texture budgets.
I believe that my skills clearly develop throughout this FMP and I am now a much stronger vehicle artist.
1963 Corvette Stingray
Choosing a vehicle, purchasing a model and sculpting in the initial forms.
This project was my first foray into Sub D work flow so there was allot to learn. After getting to a point where I was happy with the Shell of the car I could begin to cut out various panels. I could then begin to add bumpers etc.
I now know that many forms should not be modelled during Sub-Division, It can be allot easier, more efficient and it can yield better results to wait unto after Sub-D to model in many of the smaller forms. Sub-D should just be used for the initial sculpted shell of the vehicle. During this project I did not know this and I tried to model the entire vehicle whilst Turbo smoothing. This held me up greatly when it came to tidying up the vehicle and general retopologising
Further dressing of the vehicle
Throughout this process I am altering many elements of the mesh to fix shading errors.
Once I had finished the car and it was shading correctly I then began texturing. My mentor did some quick renders of the car with a highly reflective surface to point out some reflection errors at this point. At the time I wasn’t aware of how dramatically Brocken reflection could be on a mesh that appears to shade correctly. This was the hardest part of the project. Getting accurate reflection requires consistent quaded, neat and flowing geometry. This is difficult to achieve when you have complex forms within which are cut-outs.
Here I am baking down many areas of the vehicle as well as fixing some of the reflection errors. The last screen shot here shows the many different variations of mesh I went through in my attempts to fix some of these errors.
I am actually very happy with the final outcome. As my first vehicle project of this type I am very pleased with the forms of this model. I feel that I have accurately captured the lines and proportions of a 1963 corvette Stingray.
I can see issues with certain creases which a far too sharp. Also I do feel the interior is poorly modelled in that it isn’t as accurate as the exterior. Also the interior is extremely poorly textured. All these issues are due to the unscheduled faze of retopolagising to fix reflection issues. I don’t feel that this was wasted time as this is an area I really needed to build skill and understanding in. I still have a lot to learn in regard to the relation between functioning accurate reflections and geometry, and how to create this kind of geometry.
This issue actually is the cause of other issues with the final vehicle. Although I spent allot of time trying to fix the reflections, areas of the car still have issues. This is why the finale paint texture isn’t glossy realistic car paint. I have deliberately made the car unreflective.
Although I do like the surface quality this has given the final renders.
I have learnt allot during this project. I can now much more accurately capture the forms, lines, proportion and creases of a vehicle. I have learnt how to then create different body panels, model details into these forms, include an interior, fix shading errors via editing normals and geometry, fix some reflection and This is the first project during which I have used Marmoset.
If I was to do this vehicle again now I would model it differently from the start. I would collapse the Turbo smooth modifier allot sooner and then model in the vents. I would also adjust the mesh as little as possible as to try and keep as much of this original geometry as possible. This should help with getting better reflections. This though may result in a much higher budget car. So in regards to creating a vehicle with the same budget I would have to simply apply less multiplications of Turbo Smooth and maybe forgo some of the cars complex details.
I would also research how to create realistic car paint shaders.
I still have allot to learn in regards to geometry and how this affects lighting and reflections.
1940 Lifted COE Truck
I began this project by buying a model of a 1940s 4 wheel drive military truck. I also studies modified leaf sprung off road vehicles. This was so that I could accurately create a working and period appropriate chassis. Also as I was going to further alter the stance of the vehicle in order to make it much more aggressive, I could now realistically add my own modifications to the chassis and suspension.
This vehicle was very much a mechanical study.
Again I am happy with this vehicle. I completed what I set out to create.
What has surprised me is how the design doesn’t actually quite work. I believed when choosing this vehicle that it would be intrinsically cool. I didn’t do any design I simply found some good ref for a 1940s American COE truck, this in itself was an awesome characterful vehicle, I then though that lifting it and adding huge off road tyres could only add to its presence. Sadly this hasn’t actually translated into the finished renders. I believe this to be down to the trucks silhouette. It’s extremely simple. With game art assets we are used to extreme overly designed vehicles, even though this truck would look awesome in real life when standing buy it. As a render of a digital model your comparisons are with the extremes of the gaming world, and it falls short.
I am happy with modelling and texturing. I believe during this project I developed allot in substance painter. I believe the wheels in the renders are to a very good quality. This is down to creating a high quality low poly, which I made in Z-Brush and then Decimated. The high poly was then baked onto this. This in conjunction with the average normals work flow has created what I believe to be a high quality tyre
In regards to the presence of the vehicle I believe the inclusion of a floor plain could have really helped. The truck actual has allot of rake and this is hard to see in the render because of this.
If I was to do this vehicle again as well as the alterations I have already suggested I would physically model the doors. Physical geometry due to casting dynamic shadows/lighting etc, will always look better than normaling the information. Also I would model damage into the mesh. This is something which I will definitely take forward into future projects. Wear and damage up to this point I have always added during texturing, this doesn’t have to be and shouldn’t be the case.
This vehicle could also do with Decals/Stickers/graffiti to add character and a personal touch. This would also add colour/tonal variation.
Although the bed of the truck is missing this area could still be used to add character to the vehicle. I could have added personal belongings of the owner/ suggestions of its use and or the environment that the truck exists in. All these features are not on my truck because I never did a design pass, I simply recreated my ref.
Now that I have finished my FMP I now know that when creating your own vehicle design you have to approach it with the same incredible detail as a character artist. I should have asked some core fundamental questions what, where, when, who, why and then my design should be able answer these. This would create a vehicle with character and depth.
This is my 3rd and final vehicle. I have already learnt allot at this point and I believe this is evident.
This vehicle needed designing. I began by collecting a vast amount of reference. I had no prior perceptions of what this vehicle should be so this was anything that I was drawn to.
I then overlaid these images and then drew over the top. The example of this above is mostly many overlaid images of engines. I found this to be occasionally extremely successful and I would quickly create a few designs that I would want to take further. Sometimes this method would produce no real results.
I quickly found that I was drawn to a particular theme. This was to adhere huge amounts of complex, mechanical, ambiguous forms to a relatable streamlined vehicular form. Thus creating something extremely complex, relatable with purpose and yet alien.
After a period of time designing I decided to try designing in 3D space, in 3DS-Max. I picked my most successful design at the time and began to model and try to make sense of my extremely vague designs. I had begun this during the truck project, after putting time into this vehicle I felt like it was working and simply made it the finale design. This was going to be the finale vehicle of my FMP.
I began by making the cab of the vehicle as this was the most important form. This immediately appeared to be a really successful design.
I quickly decided that it would be important to ground the vehicle by attaching it to a real life chassi. I then put allot of work into researching 1930 hot rod chassis. I was then going to build the car on top of this. I really liked the idea of this hyper futuristic tech being bolted to this ancient 1920/30 tech. This is actually exactly what hot rod culture is doing today. It’s common with modern day Hot Rods to have the exact underpinnings as they would have had 60 years ago the main change will be a modern power train with modern induction and modern paint. My design is simply this idea but in the distant future.
I was really happy with the design at this point. But I was having a lot of trouble with the back of the car. I knew I needed something here I just didn’t know what and how much.
It was at this point that I realised the relation between good vehicle design and character design. But I was well into this project so I couldn’t push the design too much and or get too detailed with my ideas. This though did at least make me think creatively when strapping the piece of unknown possibly alien tech to the back of the car.
Looking back now I believe this area could have been pushed allot further using the thought process above.
Now that I had finished the base mesh I had a hell of allot of high polies to make and allot of baking to do. I was determined to bake detail onto every single surface.
I began baking using X-normal and then learnt how to bake in Substance Painter.
Above you can see the extent of my baking.
Now that I know how to bake complex meshes in substance painter I could complete this process much faster. This also means that I could also put more care and attention into the high poly details and thus create better designs.
This turned into an extremely complex substance file. Again I’ve come along way in substance and I’ve learnt the hard way about its capabilities. I was really trying to push my texturing, for example there are 4 shades of paint on the cab of the vehicle. Obviously the top of the cab is pink and then the underside is blue, but the extremes of the top of both these colours have a sun bleached variant. I did this by manipulating masks that used the world space normals.
This vehicle is meant to appear as a ramshackle of unrelated and repurposed parts. And I believe for the most part I have achieved this.
During what was meant to be my last day of texturing for this vehicle my substance file became corrupted. This was possibly as a result of the sheer size of it. I now know that I should have Brocken the vehicle up into areas of similar texture quality. This though was my first corrupted file of this degree (not including Unreal files).
Because of this I lost a day of progress and I also lost a day trying to recover files. This all happened in the last week. But I still managed to complete the vehicle, this if anything only altered when I would begin this post mortem.
I am extremely happy with this vehicle. I am mostly pleased the design of the cabs form and it’s texturing.
I’m also surprised with the success of the colours, I felt that I was taking a risk; initially I planned to just use dark moody metal tones with maybe some colour highlights. But I ended up using two extremely bright and playful colours on a large amount of the vehicle. I believe this may differentiate this vehicle from allot of vehicle art, it also grounds the vehicle as being domestic. It could have easily have ended up being some kind of military/dark underground cliché themed death car. I believe good design doesn’t need to have guns and or kill people to be cool. Because of this I did try and stay away from obvious use of weapons during the design process.
Again I believe this vehicle is in need of a floor plain for the same reasons as before. It could also do with more stickers etc on the cab.
If I was to do this vehicle again I would more solidly lay down some of the designs before I commit to them. The interior was made up on the spot and this was the first iteration of it. As a result it suffers. Some of the features of it are only thought through in the texture and aren’t present in the geometry. The area behind the seat is meant to be soft rubber yet it has a hard edge due to this. This is a case of designing on the fly, this method shouldn’t be planned in as it will never yield the most successful thought-out results.
I’m at a point now where I feel I have a vehicle art portfolio that is ready for applications. Although I can see issues with all of them I believe this will always be the case and if I keep waiting for a project to be “finished” I may never start applying for jobs.