Art Spotlight: Working Hard

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My name is Louis du Mont, I’m a 3D Artist working at a London, UK based company called Formation. I work across lots of different mediums from VFX to realtime digital projects.

I’ve been looking into different render techniques and engines lately and decided a 3D illustration would be a great way of testing out a PBR (Physically Based Rendering) workflow. The concept is very literal, but is something I’m sure other artists can relate to. It started with a low-poly mockup, playing around with composition and lighting.

I then rushed ahead modelling all the hard surface elements, UV unwrapping them all separately in Lightwave 3D, then passed them one by one into Substance Painter to work on the surfacing. I started bring the objects back into Lightwave 3D for layout but everything felt visually unconnected and a bit boring so I drew over the initial 3D mockup in photoshop to get down some of the details.

With a much clearer vision of all the elements I proceeded to collect all the geometry together, created an morph target / blend shape to give items their characterised distortions and went about resetting all of the UV unwraps into UDIM tiles so as to work on the piece as a whole.

After freezing the subdivided mesh and exporting, I was back in Substance Painter with 9 2K texture sets conveniently laid out and was very happy with the painting performance. Originally I had issues with the Nvidia GTX 970 and its slow 0.5GB vram module but upgrading to the GTX 1080 thankfully fixed the issue.

After exporting the texture sets I started building up the materials in Lightwave 3D but was not overly happy with the result, instead preferring the render coming out of IRAY, the built-in render engine Substance Painter uses. I think this may of been due to a more complex studio environment map in Substance Painter so I decided to capture an HDRI environment of our studio.

The image was captured with a Ricoh Theta S with HDR mode, that captures a high dynamic range image in a single compressed 8bit image that I then process in photoshop into a 32bit hdr image closely matching the luma values of similar HDRI’s captured with 5+ stop exposure bracketing.

Thankfully, the export to Sketchfab from Substance Painter was a 1 button affair. I was worried having used UDIM UV’s that it might cause issues but the collada format export handled the conversion and handily zipped up everything into 1 file.

After uploading to Sketchfab I uploaded the same HDR environment I’d used for painting and for the rendered still to match the look. I added a blue point light to mimic the light being emitted from the various screens. For the background, I added a soft radial gradient image further enhanced by using the vignette post process as well as a touch of filmic tone mapping.

I’m involved with more and more interactive content and having Sketchfab as a place to share realtime 3D illustrations and animations, both publicly and privately to clients, has been a massive benefit.

 

About the author

Louis du Mont

Louis du Mont is a digital artist and co-founder of animation studio ‘Formation’. He’s produced linear and interactive content for brands such as Intel, Microsoft and Nokia.


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