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VR Car Configurator, Fueled by Substance

VR Car Configurator, Fueled by Substance

VR Car Configurator, Fueled by Substance

Pierre Maheut on October 6 2016 | News, Stories, Film/VFX, Design

We had the opportunity this week to show a great VR experience at the Paris Motor Show Innovation Forum at Paris. The whole experience was created by Han YU to demonstrate the capabilities of VR headset for interactive product experience. In order to achieve photorealism and great immersion, Han YU used the Substance toolset for texturing; let’s have a look!

Who are you?

Hello, i’m Han Yu and I’m art lead and co-founder at Afun Interactive where I’m doing mostly look development, lighting, UI and UX.

You can find my work on my Dribble, on ArtStation or on my blog!

What is your background?

I went to the Academy of Art University in San Francisco for a VFX degree.

When I graduated from school, I worked on several films such as Wreck-it Ralph and Zootopia at Walt Disney Animation Studios. I also have strong passion for UI, and UX, and I’ve founded a few startups creating social media and AR over the past 3 years. I left Disney Animation 8 months ago and founded Afun Interactive, which is a VR/AR company based in Korea.

In general, I want to be a creative director being capable of creating a new world giving people inspiration and a great experience.

You previously worked at Walt Disney, Digital Domain and The Mill. Can you tell us what you learned during that time?

I was a CG generalist at The Mill and a texture painter at Digital Domain. I participated in small commercial projects and a Hollywood film, G.I. Joe 2. I enhanced my skills at Digital Domain, where I focused on texture painting. I worked in each of these companies for about one month, which was a significantly short time for me to learn something new and challenging.

In March 2012, I was hired at Disney Animation until December of last year as Look Development artist. I mainly worked on arts in featured animations, but also worked on the Special Project teams. The Special Project team forced me to consider various perspectives and think critically to be as efficient as possible. However, in the feature animation department, every single artist needed to produce the best quality work on tight deadlines.

The movie industry is a fast-paced field, so it’s necessary to completely understand the motive and atmosphere of the movie and the storytelling background before the project begins. This independence forced me to think fast and challenge myself to push myself within a limited time frame. Also, by watching my colleagues as they worked, I learned to adapt and approach my own work in much more efficient way.

Han Yu

You decided to create your own company. What was your key motivation for doing so?

My personal goal is to provide a new and fun experience with innovative contents for viewers to enjoy.
With Afun Interactive, I believe that I can provide people with the best VR/AR experience. Furthermore, I see an amazing potential in this market. Even though AR technology is not completely developed for the mass market , I believe we are not far away from it. VR/AR seems very different, but I believe these two branches will be developed simultaneously since they are still very similar to each other.

Tell us more about the VR Car configurator project. Describe your workflow on this project?

The AMG VR project is a car configurator that shows a variety of colors and selections of interior options.
Also, it features an experience that is as realistic as looking at an actual automobile at the dealership. In order to reduce the possibility of motion sickness, the frame and the quality were increased to maximum.

Han Yu

Furthermore, the workspace preview and 1:1 export to Unreal Engine 4 is an additional plus for an efficient workflow.

Tell us more about your workflow between Substance and Unreal Engine. How do you manage to get great results going from one to the other?

In order to get great results, the first thing we needed to visually check was the difference between Unreal and the Substance suite.

Unreal Engine 4 viewport screenshot
Han Yu
In Substance Painter 2.3
Han Yu
Unreal Engine 4 viewport screenshot
Han Yu
In Substance Painter 2.3
Han Yu

The majority of the standard platforms are divided into layers by geometric groups. However, materials in Substance Painter were divided by layers, which was unique. These differences did not affect production when working on the textures.
However, later in the process, I had to change materials and colors in Unreal Engine so some of the selective optioning elements (ex: leather aluminum, car paint, etc.) had to remain in individual materials.

Material separation by colors before working in Substance Painter
Five different materials for each door
Material separation by colors before working in Substance Painter
Five different materials for each door

Two doors, the trunk and the hood needed to be recognized by the engine in order to open and close properly.

In order to achieve this goal, I separated elements in order to retrieve several texture sets in Substance Painter. For each texture set, I exported the textures and plugged it in Unreal Engine. The majority of the work was done by Substance Painter’s tools while the flake pattern of the car paint and the leather pattern of the seats were created by Substance Designer.
In Substance Designer, it was fairly simple to create car paint flakes using Shape nope plugged to a Tile generator with randomness. From this, I computed a Normal map and a Roughness map to get a realistic car paint.

Han Yu
Han Yu
Han Yu
Han Yu

What did Substance bring to you compared to previous workflows?

The initial look development process does shading and rendering after the texture process, which means that the continuity of these two processes was limited. However, after using Substance Painter, the effectiveness of the outcome was greatly improved because the final results in Unreal Engine 4 and Substance Painter were similar.

What was the size of your team and the time frame for the project?

There were only two people working on that project: one programmer and one artist, which was me.

It took us about two and half months to finish the whole VR experience, with about a month and a half dedicated to the car. The modeling and UV unwrap took us three weeks, and the texture and shading less than four.
The Environment was about a week of work with the modeling, texturing and shading. The lighting, layout and rendering took us another 2 weeks

What is the next big feature you would like to see in Substance?

I always got confused while working on complex geometry; how I could not find the location I was painting on. It would have been awesome if I could have seen in the 3D view where I would paint before actually painting in the 2D view.
If Substance Painter allowed the use of rectangular ratio textures, the texture projection feature would be more powerful. Finally, showing and hiding geometry options would optimize the workflow. Improving these areas could only increase work speed and productivity.

What are your future projects?

We are currently developing a prototype of a VR game, and also working on AR content for clients.

Where do you think VR is headed in the future?

The VR industry is in its early stage as the industry itself needs more consideration and growth to figure out its audiences. Oculus and HTC began the trend of VR, but they are struggling. The lack of content for standalone headsets has turned people’s attention away from them, I think. Personally, I believe that VR’s road to popular success will be to start from mobile VR, such as Google Daydream.
If this happens, the public’s interest in high-end VR platforms such as Oculus, HTC, and PSVR could increase interest drastically.

For exemple, here is our experience working in VR!

There is a lot of potential and trial-and-error experiments to be mined in this field. As it represents something new and unfamiliar, many industries are striving to be here and desperate to find out more.
Of course, I can’t guarantee that these experiments will be successful. However, by fulfilling users’ needs, VR can powerfully grow in a matter of seconds. Afun Interactive is working harder everyday to better serve its users’ needs.

What do you do besides 3D?

I like to do UI and UX projects on my own, even though I currently do not have enough time due to VR. I would like to be a creative director, providing people with a better lifestyle and fun experiences for the future. VR and AR is a continuation of my goal and passion to make this possible.

Personnal UI work
Han Yu

Finally, could you send us a picture of you?

Han Yu

And could you add a picture of your work desk?

The art of Car Material Rendering by Jack Darton

The art of Car Material Rendering by Jack Darton

The art of Car Material Rendering by Jack Darton

Pierre Maheut on March 30 2017 | Substance Painter, Stories, Game, Design

Who are you?

My name is Jack Davies, 25 years old from England. I’m based in a town called Warrington in the Northwest where I have spent most of my life. Anybody who knows about my work will know me as jackdarton, or Jack Darton – the “Darton” comes from a place I lived for a few years in my teens. At the time, I wanted to come up with an alias for my work, and my real surname is far too common to use, so I settled on the former!

Where can we find your work?

Most of my work can be found at www.behance.net/jackdarton, or www.jackdarton.co.uk, which links to my Facebook page.

Can you tell us more about yourself?

Absolutely! Currently, I’m a designer and artist for a large automotive manufacturer based in the US. I work from home here in the UK, which was a lucky break for me as some pre-existing health conditions prevent me from traveling. My work involves designing automotive bodies and parts, and rendering them for press releases. I enjoy the work very much, as it’s something I’ve been doing as a hobby ever since the tender age of twelve when I got my hands on a copy of Photoshop 7 and began tinkering with images of cars.

My specialties are concept design, material/texture authoring, and rendering. Throughout the almost 14 years I’ve been a digital artist, I’ve tried my hand at many, many disciplines within the automotive design field, most of which I’ve enjoyed immensely. Eventually, I came to the conclusion that my skillset would be more marketable if I focused my efforts on mastering a few well-chosen areas.

It’s difficult to pinpoint exactly where I gather my inspiration from, as it comes from a wide range of places. Fellow artists are a strong source, many of whom I’ve become close with over the years. I met a lot of them back in my early teens on a forum for modifying images of cars with Photoshop. Since then, each of us has found our niches and diverged, still keeping in close contact with one another. Another place I draw inspiration from is nature. I know it sounds a little cliché, but I’ve found that nature comes up with some of the most elegant and beautiful shapes and materials, and trying to translate their properties to something so mechanical is as much a challenge as it is fun.

Why mostly cars?

Honestly, I’ve always been a fan of anything on four wheels. I can’t really point to a specific point in my life where this became an obsession for me, as it started out like any other hobby. Alongside this, art and design have both been a huge part of who I am. Naturally, at some point on the timeline, these two things diverged and set me on the path that led me to where I am right now. It was always 2D artwork for me… I avoided ever jumping into the world of 3D art due to its apparent complexity and sterility compared to painting a picture, for example. This lasted until a few years ago, at which point I realized it was the next logical step for me – something else for me to sink my teeth into. So, for the past 3 years, I’ve been focusing my efforts on learning 3D and applying knowledge and skills I’d nurtured for the previous 10 years, finding a way to translate them into this new and exciting world of art and design.

I love working with cars because they have such a wide range of materials, each one interacting with light in its own unique way. It provides a welcomed challenge – one I enjoy immensely.

How did you discover the Allegorithmic tools?

I think I first became aware of Allegorithmic through a shared Facebook post, at which point I began researching texturing tools. I learned about the Quixel Suite, a powerful and accomplished range of software, and I also learned more about Allegorithmic and their wide range of tools. I compared the two and settled on the latter due to its incomparable ease of use, a huge repertoire of learning documentation, shallow learning curve, intuitiveness, and hidden sheer power. This isn’t an empty advocation either; I haven’t looked back since.

Which ones have you used on these projects? For which aspects?

I use two pieces of Allegorithmic software in my work: Substance Painter 2, and Substance Designer 6, and each iteration that came before. Substance Painter is amazing for working on organic projects due to the freehand tools, and the control it gives to the artist. Substance Designer, however, is where the real power lies. The node system is incredibly powerful when it comes to creating materials from scratch. Any surface you can possibly imagine can be created procedurally using a wide range of nodes to do so. In my vehicle work, I use these tools for the environment around the cars, and specific materials such as carbon fiber, plastic, leather, tire rubber, etc. The only thing I don’t use them for is the car paint itself, and this is only due to the fact that I have my own material that I’ve spent a couple of years refining inside of Cycles itself.

The Aston Martin project was an exercise in materials, rendering, and lighting. As such, the model itself was purchased so that I could skip straight to the point. Everything in the project other than the glass and paint was put together in Substance Painter. I exported the PBR maps from Substance Painter and Substance Designer (metal, roughness, albedo, normal), and used them in a PBR shader I have set up in Cycles which utilizes the maps to produce a result as identical as possible to what you see in Iray, Substance’s real-time path tracing render engine of choice.

The biggest challenge in this project was probably the carbon fiber. I set out to make a version which wasn’t dependent on a UV map for speed and ease of use on future projects. For this reason, I could focus purely on the material itself. It was a lot of fun to work on, but the hardest part was trying to truly replicate how carbon fiber behaves in the real world. So much of the material happens on such a tiny scale that you have to take into account parts of the material that aren’t readily visible until you really delve into the inner workings of it. Substance provided an easy way to do this, with the node system in Substance Designer and the real-time path trace preview showing immediate results of any changes I made.

Do you have another project you want to present in details?

One project I would like to quickly talk about is actually one of the first I used Substance software on from start to finish: The Gasmask.

I had an idea for a steampunk-esque mask that wouldn’t look totally out of place in a post-apocalyptic world. I knew it would be difficult to use trial and error to find the correct combination of materials to achieve the look I wanted, so having the result right in front of me, appearing just as quickly as I was making the changes was invaluable. I began by using ZBrush and Blender to create the high-poly model, and a combination of those two to retopologize the model for something easier to work with when it came to texturing and materials. The low-poly version wasn’t actually that low-poly. It was just low enough that I could still intuitively unwrap the model in such a way that gave no issues when it came to the textures.

After creating these two models and unwrapping the latter, I used the baking tools within Substance Painter to create the normal, curvature, AO, world space normal maps, etc. Being able to immediately utilize these maps within the same program was incredibly helpful. Everything was self-contained and clean.

I spent a couple of days taking full advantage of the layering system and my trusty Cintiq to get to the final result, one which I am very happy with.

Do you have some techniques with Substance to share with the community?

Not so many techniques as advice. When it comes to creating a material for your models, don’t be afraid to experiment, throw things out that you’ve spent some time on and start over again. If something doesn’t feel right, discard it, or at least work to find out which part isn’t agreeing with you, and change it.

I remember reading about all of the amazing features contained within Allegorithmic software, and thinking to myself, “Wow, I can’t see myself using 99% of them.” This mindset only ended up being detrimental to my workflow and the final result. It was only after I took the time to read through what the various features did and how they incorporated into projects that I realized a vast amount of them either automated or drastically lowered the amount of time it takes to achieve the same things I was already doing manually. The time spent understanding the software paid off.

I’ve been asked a few times for advice regarding 3D work, which always made me feel a little uncomfortable due to the fact that I’ve only been in this specific trade for a few years now. On the flipside of this, it enables me to give advice based on what helped me to progress at a quick pace, and that is linked to what I mentioned above.

For instance, if you’re watching a tutorial, a lot of people will get to the end of the video with one of two types of knowledge. They will either know how to replicate the steps taken to produce the same result as the teacher, OR they will have used the tutorial to question WHY the tools are used to do what they do. You can watch a man build a house, then use that knowledge to create another, identical house. However, once you take a step back and think about why he did things the way he did, you can use that knowledge and apply it to a different project.

This mindset is integral to my own learning curve because it exponentially bulks my skillset compared to remembering word for word how to do specific tasks.

How did your use of Substance change your approach to texturing?

Well, it definitely changed it for the better. It allowed me to focus more on being an artist than drowning in a pool of guesswork. It’s one of the things I love about Substance tools – they simplify every aspect of creation, except for the artistry.

Tell us more about your next projects.

I’m not really sure what my next personal projects will be due to how much work I have going on at the minute. I do have a few ideas bouncing around in my head, a lot of them natural and organic in nature (pun slightly intended), but it’s difficult to settle on something solid. I guess you’ll just have to wait to find out!

Is there a 3D artist that inspires you a lot?

I’m going to give a bit of a cheat answer here, but one I stand strongly behind. It’s difficult to name one artist who inspires me, but very, very easy to name a group of people who do: the Blender community.

I’ve been a part of the Blender community ever since I first dipped my toes into this line of work, and never before have I met a group of people so willing to help, offer ideas, advice, constructive criticism, but also the truth about your work. As you know, Blender is an open-source piece of 3D software, so the variety of characters you meet is extremely diverse and humbling.

Allegorithmic has been doing an amazing job integrating their software with others in the industry to streamline the process of going in between, but I really hope to see some support for Blender in the future. Those guys deserve it.

Can you add a picture of your working desk?

It’s impossible to get a flattering shot of my desk, however, I can describe the tools I use – Twin Dell U2515H monitors, Corsair Vengeance K70 keyboard, Logitech G900 mouse, and a Wacom Cintiq 13” tablet.

Can you add a picture of you?

Industrial Design: Injecting Realism with Substance

Industrial Design: Injecting Realism with Substance

Industrial Design: Injecting Realism with Substance

Pierre Maheut on March 9 2017 | News, Substance Designer, Substance Painter, Game, Design

Who are you?

Iskander Gallyamov (also known as kenprol).

 

Where are you based?

Ufa, Russia.

 

Where can we find your work?

https://www.artstation.com/artist/kenprol

 

What do you do?

For the past three years I’ve been freelancing, mainly working in game development. I also spent last year working as an art director and managing large volumes of work for my art team.

Can you tell us more about yourself?

My name is Iskander, I’m 21 years old. Addicted to computer graphics, I first started working with CG in 2011 and have been working professionally since 2014. I have a dream to become part of a company for professional game development.

What are your specialties?

I’m a 3D artist, working mostly with hard surface objects such as architecture, weapons, vehicles, and so on. I’m also a texture artist (PBR), developing complex textures for my projects using Substance Painter and Substance Designer. As an art director, I work with my team and train them to more effectively accomplish tasks with the best tools and pipelines.

What are your sources of inspiration?

Every day I go to ArtStation for an extra dose of inspiration as I strive for something bigger and better.

How did you discover the Allegorithmic tools? Which ones have you used on these projects?

I stumbled on Substance via the Internet and was impressed with the speed and usability of Substance Painter.

Tell us more about the “Leather Shoes” and the “DeWalt Drill Driver” projects: Why these 2 different objects?

I loved my shoes and always wanted to model them. In real life they are not leather (ha ha); I just decided to add “flavor”. For the drill, it was a commissioned project. A customer provided a scan of the drill and asked me to do retopology and textures for it. The result was a very impressed customer.

Where can we get more details about the “Leather Shoes” project and the “DeWalt Drill Driver”?

I recorded the whole process on video and uploaded it to my YouTube channel. People warmly received my work and wrote very nice comments.

Why did you decide to texture the Dusty Paint Robot [IRB 5400]?

Trace studio company saw my work (they develop 3D content for games). They offered me the position of senior 3D artist in their studio and asked me to complete a simple test task. The assignment was to make a robot which worked in difficult conditions.

How much time did it take you?

I spent about four days, working two or three hours on average in my free time, or a total of about 10 hours from searching for references to the final texturing.

What tools and materials did you use in Substance Painter?

I used Substance Painter base materials with smart masks and the mask builder. I also baked normal maps from a high-poly model. Small details like bolts and screws I did with a brush in the height channel.

You worked on both organic and hard-surface projects. Do you have a preference?

I love to make solid objects: sci-fi style objects, weapons, military equipment, vehicles, et cetera. My Achilles’ heel is organic forms. I don’t know how to do complex organics, like people, animals and so on. In the near future, I will study anatomy and start to conquer organic art.

What was your biggest challenge on each project?

The biggest problem is getting a precise statement of technical specifications from the client. For modeling and texturing however I have no acute problems, that goes smoothly.

What was your production pipeline on these projects and how did Substance integrate into it?

I model and unwrap everything in Blender 3D. After that, I send the project to Substance Painter and bake all the maps, then paint textures.

Do you have some Substance techniques to share with the community?

Before you start basic texturing, paint small details such as seams and bolts stamped with lettering with a brush with a height channel to save time on modeling. Then export the normal map with the painted parts. Next, using the blue channel of a normal map, combine in blend (mix) mode with the main ambient occlusion map to give depth to small details on the model. Using this technique you will get a more “lively” texture.

How did your use of Substance change your approach to texturing?

Before discovering Substance Painter I wasn’t fond of texturing and always found this process very complex. However, I was wrong. After I learned about Substance, my opinion completely changed. Texturing has never been so easy and logical.

Tell us more about your next projects.

The next project will be an old and rusty Soviet-made car GAZ M21 “Volga” in a post-apocalyptic style. In this project I’ll use photogrammetry – thanks to Yuri Sitov for providing photos. I will do a clean mid-poly retopology, then textures of course will be done in Substance Painter with rendering in Marmoset Toolbag 3. During the whole process, I will record a video and after completion of the project I will post it to my YouTube channel.

Is there a 3D artist that inspires you a lot?

Gilberto Magno.

Can you add a picture of your workspace?

Here is the link to the Russian Substance Community on VK: https://vk.com/club78544614