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Stylized Boat: Modeling, Texturing, Rendering

Dmitry Doryn talked about the production of a nice stylized boat made with MayaZBrush, and Substance Painter and rendered in Redshift.

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Hello, friends! My name is Dmitry Doryn, I am a 3D artist from Belarus. I studied to be an architect but left my studies after the 3rd year for the sake of working in the game development industry. I started doing 3D 7 years ago, as an Intern at Wargaming.net for the World of Warships project, then switched to World of Tanks. After 4 years at Wargaming, I became part of MSQRD startup that was acquired by Facebook. Currently, my friends and I have found a small art studio, where we are engaged in our new project Loona, a mobile application for relaxing by coloring 3D dioramas.


I have a huge stock of reference works by artists that I really like and would like to recreate in 3D. I often create models based on the concepts by other artists in order to improve my modeling skills. This concept is from the amazing artist Arthus Pilorget. At first, I wanted to create the whole scene in real-time, but I didn’t have enough free time. So I focused on the main object. I really wanted to convey the state of this old but very cozy style of the ship.

Boat Modeling

Although a lot of attention is paid to details in this work, I always advise focusing first on the shape and silhouette, as these are the first things that are perceived by the eye. At the silhouette stage, I tried to get as close to the reference as possible without worrying too much about the quality of the topology.

My basic 3D pipeline is pretty simple. To Prepare the basic geometry, I use Maya and then send the blockout to ZBrush.

Having a well-prepared basic geometry in hand I don’t spend much time in ZBrush, just adding only large and noticeable details, using alpha facture and slightly change the shapes because that I will modify the texture in Substance Painter.

Then comes the most boring part: Retopology and UVs in Maya. No secrets, just a lot of repetitive work.

Since most of the ship consists of wooden planks, I separated the model into 2 materials with 2k texture sets, one of which consisted entirely of wooden elements, for convenience in texturing.

Substance Painter

My favorite part is texture creation.

I bake all the maps in the Substance Painter and make several test bakes. The final baking is done with a resolution twice the required, antialiasing x8 and function match by name (for naming parts of geometry I use this Maya plugin).

Before texturing, I advise changing the default lighting in Substance to Soft 1 Low Contrast 2Backs so that the color did not interfere with the correct perception of textures and they did not seem better than they are.

When I create layers in materials, I try to be guided by principles from the real world. If it is a mossy painted wood, then the order of the layers will look like a sequence of wooden base, paint, moss, dirt, and dust.

The general approach to creating textures is quite universal.

To create a base for the paint, I create a fill layer and then duplicate it several times with a small HSL offset and some procedural noise in a roughness parameter to create different color for each wood plank. The next few layers go with HSL offset and a very noisy and high contrast mask to create different color spots over the paint texture. The last layer is the mask for the whole group which allows showing the wood texture. I always use procedural masks in conjunction with a paint layer where I can correct the procedural mask by overpainting. This allows to get rid of a “procedural” feel of the mixed materials and add or remove additional damage or some scratches in those places where logic requires them.

Once the base materials are ready, I work with additional damage and dirt that will spread over the whole model. The approach to this is the same as to the basic materials: a stack of layers with adjustments and noisy masks. Even moss or dirt consists of several layers with a shifted color and roughness that would give them diversity.

I like the basic dust preset in Substances Painter and often use it for the final layer in my works.

This is what the final hierarchy and all the layers combined look like.

Since I am very lazy and do not like to do vegetation, I used the good old Ivy Generator and replaced the leaves textures.


The last part is rendering. I’ve been wanting to try rendering in Redshift for a long time, so this project was the starting point. Setting up materials from Substance in Redshift is pretty easy if you use this guide for metallic/roughness pipeline.

For lighting, I used the three-point lighting scheme and HDRI taken from Substance Painter. The only trick was an additional light source underwater to fake how light bounces off the water surface.

As for the windows, I made additional roughness and refraction maps to simulate blurred refraction.

Below you can inspect all the maps for this model:

Finally, I played a bit with camera FOV and post-processing. Everything is done directly in Redshift because its new post-processing tool is very comfortable.

That’s all. Thank you for reading!

Dmitry Doryn, 3D Artist

Interview conducted by Kirill Tokarev

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Comments 2

  • Anonymous user

    Helpful read!


    Anonymous user

    ·8 months ago·
  • Sajdik Laura

    very nice


    Sajdik Laura

    ·4 years ago·

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