This was the first design I had come up with a few years ago when I first tried my hand at 3D modeling. The design hasn’t changed all that much, but as I have been getting further and further ahead with my modeling skills, I found that I had to throw in a lot more detail than I’d previously considered.

From the Brochure

This Shirow Networks RX7K cyberdeck has seen better days, but despite the wear and tear on the case, the hardware inside is as strong and as capable as ever. The RX series distinguishes itself from Shirow’s flagship DX series by including a parallel neural jack configuration, allowing for two users to cohabitate the network space from one deck, or to allow a single user to multiplex for higher fidelity.

As a consumer grade cyberdeck, the RX7K has streamlined the connections necessary to get online with as little fuss as possible. A power cable and optical network cable (minimum class x90, sold separately) is all you need to hit the Net as quickly as possible [1]

The RX7K comes pre-loaded with the latest Hellfire O/S, the premiere open source operating system designed for ease of use and boasting a full-feature set. The expansive solid state drive is built around the QuantumTech TJ-791 quantum storage specification, providing over 500TB of super fast, super reliable storage for all of your movies, music, avatar customizations, and favorite applications.

[1] Always be sure to check for firmware upgrades before using your new new RX7K cyberdeck. Shirow Networks is not responsible for damage to your device or your neural connections that may occur due to older, unsecure firmware.

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This was a problematic model for me mainly because the deck itself had features that could either have been incorporated into a single object, or modeled as separate objects. I had originally worked with individual objects for the deck, the drive, the top-side display, the power buttons, the neural jacks, the vent on the side, and the plugs in the back. I tried using each of these elements to perform a boolean carve into the body of the deck, but that generated such ugly geometry that I scrapped the whole thing and started again from scratch.

Second time around I kept the drive and display as individual objects, but didn’t carve the deck object. I made loop cuts for the front, rear, and side features and worked much of the geometry into the deck body directly. Now, only the power switch, the side vent slats, the rear network plug, and the power plug are individual objects. The front jacks are molded from the deck body using subdivisions of the face and LoopTools to cut circles (which is a PITA without LoopTools).

Over in Substance Painter, I sat down and considered each layer very carefully — although I ran into an issue, and I feel that more can be done. The thing with Painter, though, is that there seems to be this culture of “grime it up!” around everything I’ve read or watched concerning the output of the app; there’s a ton of grunge textures included, and a lot of the Smart Materials revolve around making stuff look beat up. So I went with the flow.

The layers consist of a black layer with low roughness and some metal values for shininess. I thought of how game consoles were matted, and I wanted to have some level of reflection, but not too much. The red stripe, however, has a lower roughness and higher metal value, which is a feature that I believe is represented in a previous Xbox or Playstation iteration. This might not be visible in the screenshots, but that has more to do with the lights I added to the render scene than anything.

The problem I ran into had to do with the roughed-up edges. Applying scratches and dents was fairly straightforward, but doing so applied them to the whole model. I didn’t want these to appear on the display screen, so I searched out how to selectively mask height information between layers. I still haven’t found a definitive answer to that, but managed to “brute force” a solution by painting the whole model green, adding a mask to that layer, and then painting out the part I wanted to fix using Painter’s mesh painting features.

The accents were alpha paints stenciled onto the model. I created custom alpha stencils in Photoshop for the “RX7K” and the text displayed on the screen. The rear stencils are included in Painter’s default library, and although you can’t see it well, there’s a “CLEAR” label on the rear of the deck by the side vent, stamped in black and raised as if part of the case molding.

As for what could be better. First, I’d like to know how to tamp down the prevalence of the edge destruction. Every edge has it, even where it really shouldn’t occur, and I’d love to be able to paint that out to lessen or remove the damage entirely where I wanted to. I’d also like to push one of these renders through Photoshop and see if I couldn’t get the top display and power button to “glow” a little. I tried it from within Painter, but couldn’t get it to work. I think the front of the drive needs a bit of something, which is why I’d like to get a copy of DECALmachine so I can add details beyond what I can squeeze out of Painter.

These renders were taken from Blender, using the files exported from Painter. I made it in under the wire, folks: I have 1 day remaining on my Painter trial as of the writing of this post, so I think I’ll be subscribing to Substance3D’s lineup. I’m also looking into getting another drawing tablet. It’s currently a toss-up between the Huion Kamvas 16 Pro and the XP-Pen 15.6 Pro. First, though, I need to convince the wife that this is a Good Idea(tm)…


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