In Art Spotlight, we invite Sketchfab artists to talk about one of their designs.
Hi! My name is Sun Dai, a product designer at Eventbrite. At work, I design UI and experiences within the 2-dimensional world for Analytics and Reserved Seating products. I’ve always wanting to explore 3D graphics, and that’s when I discovered Magicavoxel.
As a continuation of the Stardew Valley Farm project, I wanted to see how much details can be captured within a 1263 maximum size in Magicavoxel. For inspiration I picked Ilios from Overwatch – perhaps the most aesthetically refreshing and pleasing in the game.
Doing the Research
The Ilios map from Overwatch splits into 3 alternate maps, each with a “focal point” where the main “battle” happens. To start off the project, I have looked at each alternate map and decided to go with the one with a lighthouse, since it provides more altitude variations, making the composition a bit more interesting.
I’ve limited the number of moodboard items to the four above, they are sufficient for figuring out the basic structure of the map, tone and mood of the shot, while still leaving enough space for me to improvise.
Color palette plays an integral part of the look and feel of this shot. Since Blizzard did an amazing job with the colors already, I took a short cut and color sampled my initial palette.
Color Sampling. I used Sketch because all I needed was a quick and dirty way to get some base colors to work from. Illustrator can obviously do the same job. This was my method of color sampling:
Dropped the image off in Sketch, created six 1x1px squares. Scaled the image down to a point where grids are showing (like the screenshot above), the image shouldn’t be too small or you’ll miss highlight colors. Clicked “Show Pixels”, and something like this will come up:At a glance you’ll see a few colors stood out from the the rest, such as orange and light blue on the top part of the image. I kept those highlight colors for later, they could be used together because of the contrast, this would be helpful to create a focal point. Then I sampled other widely used colors: blue, green, brown, and light yellow.
Tweak colors and complete the palette. Now the fun part. I wanted to give the map a bit of “high noon”, “vacation”, “lazy” type of feel, so the colors need to be a bit brighter. After adjusting the brightness and saturation of each base color, I’ve added a few more variants to tighten up the palette, and to make the scene more dynamic. Two shades of off-white were also added to the palette.
Now all that’s left to do was to export this palette and open it in Magicavoxel.
Building in Magicavoxel
Magicavoxel is an easy to use, yet powerful tool that even 3D newbies like me can use and enjoy. The challenge was to work within a limited space, and without stitching the scenes. Best way to measure the space is to draw the ends first. With Mirror X turned on I can quickly build out the lower part of the map, as well as the mountain backdrop towards the top.
Then I erased parts of the ground layer to get the island shape. After that I moved the entire model upwards and added a few layers of blue on the bottom as ocean, and attached more layers on the mountain rectangle with the Face tool. This helped me to define the max height of the model.
After basic building’s done, I switched to Brush tool to erase parts of the structure, so that symmetrical composition was broken apart. Then I used Voxel tool to add some green spheres as plants. Spent some time stacking these cute houses, this is the only place where light blue and orange are used together, the contrast should make this a point of interest. Then sprinkling some colors to tie building blocks together, the model building was done.
Ilios was my first model on Sketchfab, and I had such a great experience using it. After uploading the obj file, getting some basic properties set up, I started to fiddle around with the 3D settings UI.
I picked “Gdansk shipyard buildings” environment light as base, it gives the model a bluish, slightly over exposed look, which matches the “high noon” tone I wanted to achieve. Then I used a mixture of cool and warm lights, stronger on the warm side, to balance out the coldness of the voxel texture and add emphasis on orange highlight. Then I went to Post Processing Filters and made the shadows tinted blue. And… done.
Sketchfab has powerful sharing features. With a couple of short html lines, the model sits perfectly well inside of my Tumblr blog, and it works great on mobile. I also really appreciate the community here and have learned A LOT about designing 3D models since my first post. There are so many inspirations and resources from Sketchfab community, making me wanting to learn more. Thanks so much for your kind support!