Faced with a looming deadline and an untextured character, I sought out advice for rapidly creating those soft gradients and programatically-generated textures often seen in stylized looks. I had run across a very useful article by Manuel Sitompul a while back while investigating hand-painted looks for my Laudna sculpt, but didn’t have a chance to look into it in-depth. In reading further, I love the strong shapes and clear personality he’s created with this character, as well as his choice of creating a small grounding environment that fade outs – all of the elements are simply painted on but add a real ambiance to the piece.
Apart from a bunch of useful stylized sculpting tips, I was particularly impressed by the early-stage textures that he applied to the character in Substance Painter using (partially) automated tools, even before adding hand-painted details.
Much of this early texturing was done using a plugin called SoMuchDiffuse, which immediately looked promising from their example timelapses. It essentially combines a bunch of filters, gradients, and curve masks into a single smart material with every aspect editable. I purchased the tool to play around with in the hopes that I could put down some large, effective color onto my garment without needing to hand-paint every element.
I didn’t find the base materials to be too useful apart from the initial baked lighting, but it sped up the process significantly in that I didn’t have to make a few dozen separate smart layers for basic coloring. I ended up tweaking and customizing nearly all the settings, which went fairly quickly once I found my way around them. In the end, I applied a universal baked lighting to all of my fabric pieces, and then separate top-down gradients for additional color interest. I also made significant use of the cavity fill and highlights to bring out all those details I had previously sculpted in.
I didn’t have time to go in and add hand-painted elements to her costume, apart from bringing out a few areas of embossing or embroidery, but I actually am satisfied with the overall textures at this stage. In my previous work, I felt like much of the careful detailing was lost once textures were applied, and often I prefer the flat BPR render in ZBrush where they’re more visible, but I like the overall look of this piece.
Sitompul, M. (2019). Sculpting & Texturing a Fierce Character in 3D. [online] 80.lv. Available at: https://80.lv/articles/sculpting-texturing-a-fierce-character-in-3d/ [Accessed 12 March 2022].