Here we have it. A fully-from-scratch model. I don’t know why I decided to try my hand at modeling a wagon. After playing around with the Viper for a few days, I think I wanted something simple, and something that I could visualize fairly easy with as few curveball tasks as possible. Since “chests” are done to death in the Noob Modeling World, I quickly ended up on “a wagon”.
There are 15 individual objects in this model, with some (wheels, supports, walls) mirrored in order to conserve space on the UV sheet. There’s two materials — one for the wood and one for the iron parts — which I learned I don’t have to do for Substance Painter, but which I did anyway in order to ensure that drag and drop functionality worked without issue.
After my earlier UV woes, I decided to try and do this For Realz(tm). My Smart Unwrap worked OK, but in a bid to get everything to fit in the boundaries, Blender decided that some very visible parts (wheels, the bed of the wagon, etc) should be very, very tiny on the sheet. This means that when it comes to textel density, those particular islands won’t be very populated. This lead to a very washed out look for those very visible items, which sent me back to Blender to manually mark seams and to try and organize islands by hand. Some ended up scaled down if they didn’t need high fidelity, and others were scaled up so the end result wouldn’t look so…EverQuest-y.
I initially threw some Smart Materials on the wagon in Painter, but then took out the ol’ Notion.so to break down what each layer of the material did. Then I tried to re-create something similar without doing a layer-for-layer copypasta. Compared to modeling the wagon, this was really freakin’ hard. I don’t know if I’ll ever be able to fully understand how to effectively use Painter, but I only have four days left in my trial, so I think I’ll subscribe in order to keep trying.
Whereas I left the Viper in Painter, last night I learned how to bring all of the Painter-ly work back to Blender! It’s as easy as exporting all of the files that Painter generates from the texture sets, then switching Blender over to Shader view, hitting CTRL + SHIFT + T to select the files related to a specific material, and BANG! This freakin’ mess. I had watched a few videos on CGCookie about using materials, textures, and the Shader UI so I’m not as intimidated by this window as I had been, but it’s still pretty black-box to me in much the same way as Painter’s layering system is.
Overall I am very pleased with the result. In terms of improvement, I’d like to go back to the original plan of having the wagon bed be individual boards because the flatbed seems a little weird. I’d also like to re-work the metal application in Painter, because I was getting tired after spending the afternoon working on the wood texture, and just slapped a material on the metal and dashed off this post. I also think that I’m going to have to look into lighting. This render was done with a camera and a point light in Blender’s Cycles rendering engine, and I only added the light so I could get visibility. I suspect that I could get things looking a lot better if I understood properly staged lighting for 3D rendering.
Thing is, I’m not sure what the next stage would be for this wagon. I modeled it specifically to model it, but ideally I’d like to model assets for use in game engines. It’s all part of the same learning curve, so hopefully my modeling and texturing skills will improve ahead of getting these into a game engine, but I guess that in order to learn that aspect I’m going to have to install either Unity, UE4, or both. I know that they each handle assets a bit differently, so to make “generic assets” I’ll probably have to learn how to model for both.