Shading A Hard Surface Model 2015: Texturing A SciFi Power Cell
By Neil Blevins
Created On: Nov 7th 2015

Are you a 3d Concept Artist who uses Keyshot but wishes its materials were more flexible and it had better painting capabilities? Are you a Texture Artist who works on the final asset, but are tired of waiting for complex models with thousands of parts to be UVd? Well this video tutorial shows how I texture the hard surface model of a scifi power cell using a projection painting technique that requires no UV unwrapping and gives you far more flexibility than Keyshot provides while still retaining the speed. The tutorial is for 3dsmax and vray, but the ideas can be applied to your 3d package and renderer of choice.

33 min video, $1
Shading A Hard Surface Model 2015: Texturing A SciFi Power Cell Video Tutorial (Gumroad, accepts Credit Card and Paypal)


The video is also freely available on youtube, but the quality is not as high, and its not downloadable. So if you find it interesting, please consider purchasing it above.



In addition to the video, below is more information on using the main material shown in the video, its called Combo_DirtyRustyDecaledPaintedWornMetal_B. This flexible material with a long name is great for hard surface models that need to be grungy and dinged up. It's perfect for robots, fighting suits, military vehicles, factories, buildings, etc. It's especially designed to be thrown onto a model that has thousands of objects, and without the need to make time consuming UVs for those objects.

Needed Plugins and Scripts

To set up your work environment to follow this tutorial, visit this page and follow all the installation instructions: Soulburn MaterialAssetPack MetalsAdvanced1

Preparing Your Mesh

You must first prep the mesh you're planning on assigning the material to. In 3dsmax, select the objects you want to prepare, run the "modelPreparer" script that's a part of the Soulburnscripts, accept the default values, and it'll prepare the mesh for you.
Explaining The Material

Here's a detailed explanation of how the material works. After reading this once, you can jump down to the "Using The Material" section for just the bits you need to do to get the material to work on your model.

Here's a simplified graph of what the material's components look like (both patterns and sub materials), and what sort of pattern placement method they're using...



Surface Warble Bump Layer

Here's a screenshot of the material.



The first level is using the VRayBumpMtl to apply a large scale bump to all of the sub materials. I do this to give some slight variation to the reflections. For more info on this, feel free to check out my Flat Metallic Surfaces tutorial.

Blend Layer

Down one level, we have the Vray Blend Material, that contains all of the sub materials.



You have the "SteelWorn_1" base material, and 6 coat materials. Each coat material has a mask that reveals a certain amount of the material above it in the list. So the "SteelWorn_2" material sits on top of the "SteelWorn_1" material, and appears everywhere defined by the black and white mask "WornMask".

Note: On your model, you may not need all 6 layers. If not, feel free to delete whatever submaterials you don't need. It's help unclutter the material editor, and in some cases may cause the material to even render faster.

Now lets go through the layers one by one.

SteelWorn_1 Layer




SteelWorn_2 Layer






PaintFlatBumpy Layer




Decal Layer






Rust Layer




Dirt Layer




Dust Layer


Using The Material

Ok, you've now read the more detailed explanation, now here's the cheat sheet, follow the steps below to use the material on your model.

  • Prep
    • 1) Do the "Preparing Your Mesh" steps.
  • Surface Variation
    • 2) Adjust the size of the SurfaceVariation noise to be appropriate to your scene size.
  • SteelWorn_2
    • 3) Change the noise size and output values of the "Worn" curvature based mask to get the results you want.
    • 4) Paint the 6 maps for the "Worn" mask's blended cube projection using the rendered templates. These maps are black and white.
  • Paint
    • 5) Choose a paint color.
    • 6) Change the noise size and output values of the "Paint" curvature based mask to get the results you want.
    • 7) Paint the 6 maps for the "Paint" mask's blended cube projection using the rendered templates. These maps are black and white.
  • Decal
    • 8) Paint the 6 maps for the "Decal" layer's blended cube projection using the rendered templates. These maps are color on transparent. Plug into both the color and the mask maps of the material.
  • Rust
    • 9) Choose the brightness of the rust.
    • 10) Paint the 6 maps for the "Rust" mask's blended cube projection using the rendered templates. These maps are black and white.
  • Dirt
    • 11) Paint the 6 maps for the "Dirt" layer's blended cube projection using the rendered templates. These maps are color on transparent. Plug into both the color and the mask maps of the material.
  • Dust
    • 12) Change the noise size and output values of the "Dust" top facing based mask to get the results you want.
    • 13) Paint the 6 maps for the "Dust" mask's blended cube projection using the rendered templates. These maps are black and white.

And you're done. Here's a graphic that may also help you remember the cheat sheet steps:



I know this seems like a lot of steps, but again, check out the video above and see how quick the process actually is once you've practiced it. Hopefully you'll agree that it makes texturing any hard surface modeling a breeze compared to other techniques, not to mention super fast.

Examples

Here's some more complex models shaded using variants of the above material...















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