Personal Project – Textured Cave Market Scene

As usual I ended up not having enough time to create what I had originally envisioned… I didn’t realise how heavy work with my Humain project would be and I ended up spending quite a lot of time on it but none the less I have taken what I have learnt and wrote about it in the last few posts where I went on about doing a palace interior and decided to chop it down and just do a little outdoor cave-market type scene. With the palace idea, I tried bringing it into a matte painting context instead and worked for a bit with Beata on it, but it didn’t get too far so I tried to finish off something in relation to what we had worked on. (shown in another post)

I went for a scene where I could bring in some of the simple assets I had modelled for the palace, this ended up being a tiny little market which was set up beside a large cave. I was hoping to have some sparkling jewels sticking out from the cave and also a dug up robot coming from it’s rocks. The scene looks cool in my mind but whether or not I will get the textures looking correct when rendered is another story. Below are some really quick sketches, getting some ideas down on paper.


I was inspired and continue to be inspired by my favourite ps1 game, Wildarms. In ways what I am creating is going off the nostalgia I get from it’s soundtrack. There are also some robots that had been buried deep in the ground which was a part of the story. So I took some inspiration from this and tried keeping everything looking quite rustic and simple.

I kept this scene low poly in order to speed up the process/UV mapping etc. I modelled out a cave in zbrush and then used the decimate tool to bring the poly count down. I am pleased with the overall shape.


I then took the cave into substance painter to give my first go at using the programme. I have to say, it’s just amazing, I’m in love haha. I did watch a short tutorial that went through how the layers, masks and smart materials worked and then went ahead and quickly textured the cave. 

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I modelled a very basic crystal rock type shape to insert into the rocks and textured it by following a tutorial. I love how it turned out but I am worried about getting it to render similar to how it is looking in substance. 

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I modelled a very basic robot to fit into the side of the cave. Below is a wireframe shot of him.


Below is the substance painter version, I feel I maybe went a bit over-board with the textures but I’m hoping the lighting I will use in the scene will fix this problem as I don’t have much time to fix the textures and I need to move on to  texturing other assets.

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I thought I would model some ground in case I wanted to do a 360 turnabout of the cave area. I have painted it quite simply in substance painter and tried adding a few simple textures, but not sure if it works that well. I am hoping if I set up good lighting that it’s flaws will not show up as much.

I have continued to texture some simple objects to help fill out the bottom area around the cave. I have also added in a stormy sky in unity to give it some mood. I plan to have this scene lit as if twilight or a little earlier.

Here is my next progress shot.

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I’ve added some unity foliage to fill out the scene a little…

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I had this tutorial on hand for learning how to light in Unity but I ran out of time in the end to properly light my scene correctly.

Overall I am happy enough with the look of the finished model and how it is is assembled although I haven’t got the lighting spot on at the moment, I am definitely going to have to go back and get some proper lighting in there. The lights are all too over-exposed and not as natural as I had hoped but I just need a little more time to make it work.

I modelled everything in the scene bar the foliage which was taken from the unity environment package. I took a little video of me turning around the model. I hope to render out the scene and take the passes into after effects for some fixes and maybe some VFX effects to make it look more magical.


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Studio Guided Project – Final Animation

The end has arrived and I feel our hard work has paid off in the end. I am very proud of our team for finishing something to a good standard. I spent a lot of the last week editing in after effects and sound editing in iMovie.

I feel the piece has come together really well in the end. Alistair has done a great job on the animation. Viola did great with rendering, whilst Veronika did a great job on the title card designs this past few days. Clare worked really hard on animations as well. I added in a bit of an accordion playing in the background to give it a bit of extra life, I feel it fits in nicely.




Matte Painting – Asking a Pro – Alisher Mirzoev

Today we had an amazing class with matte painter, Gerard Dunleavy. Gerard told us his story and how he ended up getting into the industry. It was very interesting finding out how he made his name known within a company and all the ways he ended up getting hired for different roles. I asked him a lot of questions and wrote everything down along the way. I learnt so much from this class and I am looking forward to utilising the new techniques in future pieces.

Gerard went through his process of producing a matte painting. I learnt a lot about ho to produce quality renders in Maya and also plenty of handy tips and tricks within photoshop. I recorded notes along the way so I wouldn’t forget. A sample of Dunleavy’s work is shown below.


Link to Gerard Dunleavy’s website here –

Talking with Artists

When browsing through ten thousand hours Facebook page I came across the work of Alisher Mirzoev, just amazing. Mirzoev had just posted some work on artstation of his latest concepts which were Wild West themed. I decided to message him asking for  permission to ask some questions (5 to be exact) on his painting process. I will include some of the tips he shared below. Although much of his answers were similar to Dunleavy’s I still learnt some new insights.

I have shared some of his work below along with a link to his art station.

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For Alisher Mirzoev’s artstation click here!

Do you tend to paint from life to expand your colour skills?

I don’t paint from life too much although it’s really good practice, the thing that helped me the most i think is traditional paint mixing, even gouache is enough, and a handful of books and tutorials on color theory, like Johannes Itten’s “the art of color” and others, and of course a lot of practice, not necessarily from life, i think i did more photo studies in my life than i did life paintings.

When creating your concept pieces do you  prefer to model your scene in Maya and then paint over the your render?

I usually use Maya or Modo for any hardsurface block outs I need, Maya just because I know it from a while back, and sometimes I use Keyshot. So yeah, it’s kinda oldschool but it’s comfortable for me atm. After I render the block outs I go to Photoshop and paint/photobash over them.

Do you ever have trouble knowing when a piece is finished?

Yeah, this is always a big problem for me, I tend to overdo things and heard a bunch of times from close people that some (most lol) of my pieces looked better at earlier stages, so yeah, I’m still fighting that – not sure if the fight’s gonna end at all. People like me need to specifically train themselves to do things so they look unfinished and finished at the same time if you know what I mean.

How long do you tend to spend on a piece?

For the time- it really depends on the task, the process is always different, some projects are painterly and don’t use any 3d blockouts or photobashing, some do, so yeah, it really depends. For these illustrations for the challenge I gave myself 2 days for 2 sets of thumbnails, so 1 day per 9 thumbs and 3 days per finished illustration – so for 2 illustrations it was like 8 days. But keep in mind that I have some experience doing this, but in general I think its a good thing to do, you learn how quick you can do things this way.

Do you use much reference when choosing colour?

Yes, I usually do. It’s a good thing to have a general lighting color reference so you always compare your concept to it.

Also, if you want to do photobashing- matte painting tutorials are really helpful. Most of the things I do quickly when photobashing, because I do matte painting for movies from time to time.

So my advices will be Antony Eftekhari’s tutorials and the matte painting course from learnsquared.

It’s an interesting fact that photobashing exists on the edge between matte painting and concept art, so gives you two ways to go if you do it well. But in general- no, there are a lot of jobs in both fields. Movies usually pay more though, but this is my personal experience. Matte painting techniques are helpful in concept art – just takes more time to learn.



Alisher Mirzoev’s artstation :

Gerard Dunleavy’s webpage :

Research – Creating PBR textures for Game Assets

I can’t wait to start looking more into this side of modelling and texturing. There are so many ways of doing the same thing I am hoping that this research will help guide me into one clear path to take each time. Other than hand painting textures there is the opposite end of the spectrum.. PBR textures. These kinds of textures are used in AAA games and can look very realistic if done well.

I came across this video which I watched and took down some notes from… in case I forget the process. I love how you can bring in photographs to help with texturing.

For PBR texturing it is best to render them in a game engine such as Unity or Unreal Engine. I haven’t used either of these programmes yet but I have downloaded Unity. Alec has showed me how to plug in the important maps when rendering PBR game textures… these include the albido (diffuse), the metallic and the normal map. Once you’re object is imported into the unity scene you can then create a folder for the textures and then drag each into its corresponding slot.

Update 9th April

An artist from Enter Yes, James Dalton, gave a class on the basics of setting up a scene in Unity. We only got as far as preparing models in Maya and importing them into Unity, then setting up folders whilst importing and adding the textures onto the models. Although we didn’t get through an awful lot it was very helpful and I am looking forward to maybe sometime building my own scene inside the programme. I would also like to try rendering some shots to see how they would compare to Maya.

In class I built up sort of a high palace looking room and though I would include it here. Unity is awesome but my Mac couldn’t handle the pressure and decided to prevent it from running any longer.

Example of PBR texture maps below. Although gloss is not needed there are a few more other maps which can be plugged in. 🙂


I came across a great article that explains PBR texturing in unity at a beginner level. It goes into good details explaining the use of each map.  Article found here.

From here I am going to bring in some models to substance and try the PBR workflow and then bring these into unity and try lighting a scene.