In Art Spotlight, we invite Sketchfab artists to talk about one of their designs.
Hi, I’m Hannes Delbeke. I enjoyed drawing since I was a kid. When I had to choose which university to go to I stumbled on Digital Arts and Entertainment by coincidence: I never even imagined you could study this. I would have been an architect or programmer if I hadn’t discovered this. Since then I dedicated myself to game art. At first I was like anybody else, a total beginner. But I did my assignments and painted a lot of 2D studies outside of school to improve my painting skills. I love handpainted texturing, and tried to do them for most of my assignments. I watched Feng Zhu Design on YouTube for motivation and industry tips. I still think I m not even close to the people I look up to, but step by step I get a bit closer.
A friend of me recently made a handpainted cartoony scene in a few days. We had a few drinks together in the holidays and when he showed me some screenshots on his phone, and I was inspired to make one myself.
I used to do hand painted models a lot but with the transition of student to starting to work I kinda stopped doing this. With the holidays I took some time for myself to relax and made this handpainted scene.
So I started browsing Pinterest for ideas and after a while I stumbled on this one. Usually when you look on Pinterest for keywords like “concept art environment game prop stylized” you find some fantastic art that never stops inspiring. I follow a few of these boards so when I am out of inspiration I just open Pinterest and dont even have to browse. It all comes to my startpage.
But Pinterest is also a dangerous thing. It s very easy to start browsing for hours searching for ‘inspiration’. Give yourself some kind of time limit. If you cant find your all time favorite piece then pick the best one you found instead. It is better to start practicing 3D on a medium concept.
So after I found the Taka scene I kept searching a bit more for 10 minutes. I looked trough the ones I found and selected this one.
Then I made a quick blockout in 3D. I use 3ds Max but any software should do. I prefer max because it has a nice symmetry modifier and I am used to the software. It also has a great tool called “viewport canvas” which enables you to handpaint inside of Max. Most 3d packages have something similar. I set up a camera in the scene with a similar view angle as in the concept. then I modeled in a different layer and when I unhided the layer I could easily spot differences.
When I had the basics blocked out I started thinking about how I would texture it. what could I tile, mirror or reuse? I wanted to stick as much as I could to the original concept so decided to do most things unique since there was no need to optimise it. So I sketched squares and rectangles on paper for each element I needed and how big it should be compared to each other. the more visible, important, and detailed something is, the more space it needs on the unwrap compared to other things. Small surfaces or surfaces that use a plane color can take less space in the UV.
Looking back I probably would have mirrored the grass instead of giving it so much unique space. First I was going to paint roof tiles on one of the roofs but it was difficult to fit it in the UV and would take more time. Since it wasn’t visible in the orginal concept I tried to to put the same texture as the other roof on it, and it worked.
Saving time is always a very important factor. You can spend weeks or even months on making something look great. only to notice that if its used in a game it is only visible for 5 seconds.
Then I painted the texture in Photoshop. Picking colors from the original design to get the exact same mood and feeling. Picking colors is a huge time-saver but if you want to train your eye for colors I recommend doing it by hand instead. This also improves your skill in case there is no concept to work from or you have to come up with your own color pattern
The final step was getting everything together, polishing the texture. tweaking some uvs, dragging a few verts to tweak the silhouette a bit. And texturing the small details such as the water bucket and the flowers and grass. For the vegetation I used a small second texture. Else I would need to add alpha to the big texture which would be kind of a waste if I only use it for the grass. I always try to think in terms of making it for games and try to optimize things.
Then I posted it on Sketchfab. and Photoshopped the background out of the original concept and uploaded it as a background on Sketchfab.
After this I lowered my field of view. Default it is 60 which creates quite a bit of distortion. Usually I go with 40 or 50.I positioned the camera in a interesting angle, took a thumbnail snapshot, and done!
Having a good thumbnail does a lot. When I looked at the frontpage my model stood out because it had contrastign colors. and a light background. Every single other one on the same page had the dark default Sketchfab background.
Most people forget about tweaking settings in Sketchfab. A custom background and tweaking the exposure and contrast a bit can do miracles.