3D modeling cel shading stylized stylized textures texturing

Embellishing a Teapot House with Cel-Shading

Kassondra Krahn talked about her lovely stylized Teapot House made with 3ds Max, Substance Painter, and Marmoset Toolbag.

Life Updates

Read the earlier interview with Kassondra Krahn right here:

I’m so glad to talk to 80 Lvl again!  It has been a rewarding expertise working as an Surroundings Artists at Next Degree Video games in Vancouver for a few years.  I’ve also been including to my personal portfolio alongside that. To assist with that I just lately took a CGMA course online with Jeremy Huxley targeted on nature and foliage, along with making an attempt to study more about Substance Painter & Designer workflows. I’d love to study much more about these packages as they help so much to create superb environments.

For this piece, I referenced a small teapot house painted by the superb concept artist Jourdan Touffan. The image has really fascinating proportions and colour palettes, and I immediately beloved how detailed and eccentric it felt.

Taking a look at this idea I assumed it might simply mix arduous floor modeling with natural sculpting, and in addition work nicely with a extra stylized and cartoonish fashion. Along with that, I assumed including a toon-shader to outline the piece can be good with the fashion, which is one thing I’ve needed to experiment with for a whereas. My last thought was that the concept would lend itself easily to the thought of a little diorama since it was so targeted on the home itself and less on the ground aircraft round it. Usually, I really love CG dioramas because they really feel self-contained and full. They are also strategic for the artist since they often look good from virtually each digital camera angle. It will be rather more troublesome to make this for an open world shot, as it can be tough to refill a scene naturally while sustaining a respectable composition for various photographs and views. With a diorama, you possibly can transfer the digital camera across the complete model and make it feel composed from all angles, and it makes the piece more fascinating for my part.

Cel-Shading Impact

I’ve never executed cel-shading before however I’ve all the time beloved the look of it and the way graphic it will possibly make a piece feel.  Using a delicate outline actually helps an setting really feel finished and grounded in its area, plus I’ve by no means had the prospect to properly use it so I was keen to attempt. So as to add the thick define across the complete model all I needed to do was duplicate the mesh, invert the normals and add a small push modifier in 3ds Max. Then in Marmoset, I added a easy black shader without any gloss/spec to offer it a matte-outlined end. This manner, regardless of which angle the digital camera turns to, there’s all the time a slight outline across the whole mesh shifting along with the digital camera. At first, this was all I used within the scene, however it didn’t really really feel graphic enough for the stylized look I needed.  I was trying to find a joyful medium the place the picture might mimic a flat drawing or portray, and having an overview totally on the exterior wasn’t really conveying this. After some trial and error, I made a decision to paint more easy and skinny secondary outlines into the albedo maps themselves. This type of “faked” more toon-shading the place the primary mesh’s define didn’t present, and I really favored how this appeared in combination with the bigger outline.

The only space this thick outline turned a problem was with the greenery in the scene.  The foliage surrounding the house turned far too busy with its extra intricate geometry, and it turned onerous to inform visually what was happening.  To regulate this I added the outlines solely to the albedo maps and emitted them from the inverted regular mesh utterly. Finding this stability of outlines took a whereas to tune, and I needed to mentally dial myself again a bit from including them in all places (and consider me I needed to).

For all of this define work, I really relied on the Borderlands artwork fashion as a information.  Those games really feel really on level when it comes to their graphics fashion, as it’s pretty stylized but still retains a nice sense of realism within the texturing.  I studied breakdowns of their belongings to try to study the place and when to add the toon-shading, along with watching some tremendous cool tutorials on-line on tips on how to make items influenced by that type.  Making an attempt to create a graphic look on a 3D object is a lot more durable than I expected, and having some reference materials was actually helpful for this.

Primary define applied to an untextured mesh:

Inverted mesh wit flipped normal and push modifier:

Slight outlines added to albedo texture:


For this piece, I discovered that modeling and lighting went by really shortly, but the base texturing is where I actually had to iterate and change my preliminary workflow.  I went forwards and backwards on the graphic type quite a bit, and it took me a while to seek out the candy spot for the best way to paint my materials. The modeling is stylized so when my textures seemed too lifelike (which is what I lean in the direction of naturally) it didn’t really match up.  I had to drive myself to simplify my maps in Substance Painter and use broader, extra generalized brush strokes to convey particulars. In the long run, I discovered myself kind of half hand painting belongings alongside with combining them with totally different turbines in Substance Painter.

After a truthful quantity of testing between Substance Painter and Marmoset, I found my groove for texturing all of the belongings.  To begin I might add a base colour and apply to a fill layer (with colour info solely, no peak, roughness or metallic at this point).  This manner I might slot in my major colour palettes to match up with the concept art I was referencing. Masking out my totally different materials IDs helped a lot with this stage, as it was really easy to isolate UV islands and apply the totally different fill layers to them.  After that, I might add one other fill layer with solely roughness info so I might control a small amount of gloss element on the mesh. This manner when the digital camera swung around there can be some variation in gloss/spec on the geo and it wouldn’t learn too flat.  On prime of these, I might apply the curvature map that I baked using a barely lighter tone, which I might hand paint or erase into if it felt too heavy or procedural. Then came including some complimentary colors into the texture, plus painting some lighting info like primary shadows or additional highlights.  Lastly on prime of every little thing I hand painted some skinny black strains to add to my thicker mesh’s define.

In the long run, I found a pretty good representation of the fashion I used to be making an attempt to realize, and I discovered a ton of latest methods simply by means of trial and error and making an attempt different things.  I’ve a newfound appreciation for pure hand painting since ending this undertaking, and I now understand how time-consuming and detailed it can be.

Piece cut up into totally different materials IDS

Preliminary texture of the shingles when it was far too sensible

Masking off totally different supplies inside a UV area in Substance Painter:

An early part with simply blocked in colors/ textures:

Teapot House

I often start a piece by blocking in the whole model with simple types to ensure I match the proportions from my reference.  This manner I don’t waste any time later making an attempt to make things better that I’ve already taken the time to mannequin/UV/texture/and so forth. After this, I throw it into Marmoset with some primary lighting to ensure it all feels alright, and modify as want be.  Once that’s achieved I break the model down into modular bits like wood planks, wood posts, stone bricks, roof shingles, door frames, repeatable props, and so on. From there I can texture just a handful of belongings and create my surroundings much faster than sculpting and texturing each single piece of geo.  The roof tiles are a nice instance of this since all I had to do was cut up a sliver off and texture two “rows”. Once I had my remaining UVed low poly I simply used my unique pivot level and rotated the duplicated geo in succession to fill out the remainder of the roof. This was a big time saver since sculpting the roof tiles one by one can be extremely time-consuming.  I used this system with the wood planks for the stairs, the base rocks lining the constructing, in addition to for the taller picket gates.

Block in wireframe:

Sculpting sliver of roof and part of stone bricks to reuse throughout the scene:

Modular bricks


For the foliage, I only made a few crops to fill out the whole scene.  This consisted of a few clumps of grass, two ferns, and one small flower.  Utilizing a few variations of foliage you will get away with a lot of re-uses just by layering the several types of crops onto one other in order that they circulate into the scene. Foliage all the time makes an setting feel lusher and lived in, and may actually assist disguise transitions between a piece of geometry (for example, a wood plank crashing straight within the ground aircraft can really simply be hidden by a clump of grass or fern). I feel every setting artist is totally obsessed with including foliage on the end – or perhaps that’s simply me!

Grass UVs/Geo

Floor Pedestal

I feel what I iterated most on in the modeling part was truly the bottom pedestal. It’s funny since it feels like the simplest part, however I went via three or 4 totally different variations of this.  The home model was coming alongside nicely, nevertheless it all the time felt disconnected from the bottom it was sitting on. Initially I had it on a disc, which felt very faraway from how natural the piece was.  Then I assumed I’d attempt a type of “floating island” strategy, but I discovered this too visually busy and distracting, and it took away from the home mannequin itself. I attempted a few totally different shapes for this, including one very tall skinny rock model, but I wasn’t really feeling good about any of them.  Finally, I assumed I’d attempt making a type of pale out alpha that might subtly sit under the foliage that housed the teapot. This felt probably the most natural to me since it didn’t appear to take away from the model however as an alternative transitioned into it and the greenery round it. It is ironic how many occasions I modified this ground mannequin since it’s principally coated by geometry anyhow, but I’m glad I did because the pedestal is necessary to hold the piece collectively. Next time I feel I’d attempt to block this in a little higher originally so I don’t waste as a lot time on the finish making an attempt to determine one thing that matches stylistically.

Unique disc base:

Blocking in additional of a rock base:

Last wireframe photographs:

Rendering & Lighting

I usually like to use Marmoset for rendering, as a result of it’s so quick and straightforward to throw your model in and continuously replace it.  I often just use a easy Three-point lighting setup for my models with a few changes here and there. For my lighting, I used a detail/rim directional mild behind with a blue-ish tone to spotlight the silhouette, a primary directional mild in a heat shade to emphasize the featured areas, and a secondary directional fill mild reverse that to fill within the harsher darkish shadows.  Often, I try to get this lighting as far alongside as attainable at the start through the use of my blocked-in model, in order that I only have to play with it a little bit as I replace the geometry and textures. This tends to save lots of me a lot of time and I don’t have to vary issues later aside from some colour tinting and slight mild angles. For rendering, I all the time allow International Illumination, Excessive-Res Shadows, and Ambient Occlusion in the Marmoset Rendering Panel, in addition to add a bit of post-processing in Photoshop afterward to tweak the distinction and saturation. That’s actually all there’s for my rendering and lighting setup, but I am all the time eager to study more about lighting in Marmoset and other recreation engines.

Render settings:

Rim/detail mild only/Secondary bounce mild to lighten darkish shadows only

Directional mild supply enabled only/Render with all lights enabled:


General I discovered a lot from this piece, in all probability more than another piece I’ve made.  I had a great concept to work from, and I hope I did it justice. Because of 80 LVL for reaching out and letting me chat about my workflow!

Kassondra Krahn, Surroundings Artists at Subsequent Degree Video games

Interview carried out by Kirill Tokarev

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