For this tutorial I’m going to demonstrate my process for creating my tomb environment from blockout to completion by taking a single asset through the pipeline. My goal for this project was to achieve a stylized, hand painted look while also making use of normal and specular maps. I will be covering modeling, baking, texturing, and material creation in Marmoset Toolbag 2. I hope you find this tutorial helpful!
For this environment I wanted to communicate that the character entombed there was a very opulent and sinister figure, so I was thinking sharp shapes and lots of gold. I started blocking in the basic shapes of this environment in Maya, treating it as a 3D sketch. I wanted the architectural assets to be constructed of metal and stone so I modeled each mesh with material sections in mind. The general rule was every stone surface should be supported by a gold frame. I used a cloth simulation to quickly create a long carpet that runs up the stairs.
"In this phase it’s best not to get too bogged down with fine details."
I am quite fond of creating low poly props and environments with hand painted textures. I’ve done work for mobile games full time as a 3D generalist and also the occasional freelance stuff on the side. I currently live in San Diego where Carne Asada Fries reign supreme.
When I was happy with the shape and layout of each mesh I would subdivide and smooth them in preparation for sculpting. After importing a piece into ZBrush I would use Dynamesh to even out the topology and begin sculpting. I begin with the hPolish and Trim Dynamic brushes to harden the smooth surfaces and add imperfections. My last step was to add cracks and nicks to the stone and metal surfaces using Orb’s Crack brush. During this phase I also came up with some small props to set dress the more open spaces in the environment.
"I try not to add too much noise to maintain the style I’m going for."
After I finished sculpting the asset I retopologized and UVed it in 3Dcoat and brought it into Knald for baking. The main three maps I baked for every asset were Normals, Ambient Occlusion, and Curvature. Curvature maps are great for popping out the highlights on hard edges so in Photoshop I multiplied the Ambient Occlusion map over the Curvature map to create a base diffuse texture.
"Final detailed sculpt in ZBrush"
Once everything had been baked I set the scene up in Marmoset and began populating the open spaces with the smaller props that I made during the modeling phase, adding skulls, bones, and spiderwebs for some more spookiness. I also made little cylindrical relics to place on the tables on either side of the sarcophagus. I figured whoever was buried here didn’t want to be alone. These reliquaries could contain the ashes or individual bones of high priests. On the tables there are also a couple of circular mounts for smaller crystals like the ones atop the tomb’s pillars
"Ready for texturing!"
Now that everything had been put in place I could begin texturing. I started by multiplying colors over the base diffuse and painting details on top of that. Since I intended the gold to appear imperfect and tarnished I added dark brown splotches which will break up the specular highlights in interesting ways. I worked in passes, going back and forth between Photoshop and Marmoset, making adjustments to the diffuse based on the lighting.
"Different textured stages"
In Photoshop I created a stack of adjustment layers to generate specular and gloss maps from the diffuse. I like doing this because it allows me to easily update both maps when I continue to render the diffuse. I need only toggle the visibility of these layer groups. In Marmoset I plugged each map into their respective slots, making adjustments where necessary. This allowed the gold to receive specular highlights according lights around it.
"Materials in Marmoset based on Photoshop maps."