Oday Abu Zaeed has returned to tell us about the Dutch Quilt project made for Nodevember, and show us the procedural workflow in Substance 3D Designer.
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Hey I’m Oday Abu Zaeed and I’m a 3d Environment Artist, I have a degree in computer science. I’m currently working at FlatterThanEarth and before that in Instinct Games. Previously, I worked on a couple of unpublished AAA titles.
Becoming an Environment/Material Artist
As an Environment Artist, you get to shape most of the game and create amazing worlds with a ton of details, and that is what I enjoy most. I get inspired form from everything – games, movies, artists, you name it, and, of course, ArtStation. I usually spent a couple of hours every day just surfing it.
Substance 3D Designer is irreplaceable for me, as its procedural workflow helps the artist as many details as he or she wants without worrying about polycount, as well as saves a lot of time and effort. Imagine you want to sculpt such a floor with ZBrush or some other program. It would take you hours of boring work, on the other hand, I made it in a matter of 40 min or so, and with a lot of details as well.
Procedural molding is one of the best techniques one can use, especially in large-scale scenes with many objects of the same type but with different shapes. It also allows to apply effects such as damage, moss, etc ., and of course, procedural modeling is one of the most powerful features but still too young to reach up to its potentials like Houdini .
The Dutch Quilt Project
I was inspired by Aleksandra Jankowska’s project and as for references, I came across an image on Pinterest that I decided to replicate with some modifications. And yeah, this project is made for Nodevember.
Working in Substance 3D Designer is the most fun part of the workflow. The Height Map wasn’t an issue here as it can be divided into 3 parts:
- Square Tiles – just a tile sampler with a 4x4 basic square shape.
- Wrinkles – a Creased node with different scales and Blur nodes.
- Stitches – just a gradient linear 2-tiled only vertically with subtle blur.
The real issue was the Color Map with 4 different shapes and more than 6 color pallets, and a custom node to help me mask these tiles, but let's discuss one thing at a time.
So, about the shapes or patterns:
- The spiral pattern – basic Splatter Circular node with spiral factor all the way up and using a circle shape with a count of 200 to make a spiral line and the same with the leaf but this time its pattern number is about 12.
- The leaves pattern – it’s 2 different shapes, one with Circle with Gradient and Directional Warp and the other with Circle and Mirror.
- The circle pattern – this is a quite basic and easy Circle, slightly sized down and subtracted from the original shape.
- Finally, the big leaf shape – just Circle and Deforming, and placing to make the whole shape.
Another challenging part was the different patterns' mapping.
So, to simplify my workflow, I made a custom node that takes an ID (a tile number) and masks it (typical Linear Mask node).
And for that, I made a simple setup with the Safe Transform node with overriding the offset parameter with a simple 2D to 1D array mapping, and that’s all!
I made a basic sheet falling on a sphere in Marvelous Designer. As for the light, it’s a 3-point light setup with a touch of sharpness. For post-production, I found Marmoset Toolbag to be the best way to render your work, especially if it’s a prop or a material as it’s easy, straightforward, and has really amazing quality. The RTX feature in MT4 is really amazing and takes realism to another level
SD is very intimidating at the first glance but when you actually try it, you will find out that it is quite logical and not that hard. For me, the hardest part of it was the beginning when I started to learn each node and what it does and ArtStation tutorials are a good start, as well as Daniel Thiger's series.
If you want to get noticed, it is a matter of 3 things – make something unique, technically skillful, and artistic. These qualities are what make you noticed by those who matter and could help you land a job in the industry.
Oday Abu Zaeed, 3D Environment/Material Artist
Interview conducted by Theodore Nikitin
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