Making an Off-Road Racing Car in Maya and Substance

Gleb Tagirov discussed the creation process of the off-road racing car, talked about working in Maya, and showed how to create rubber tires.


Hello! My name is Gleb Tagirov and currently, I live in Prague, Czech Republic. I had worked as a graphic designer and 2 years ago I started learning new skills in the 3D field. Last year, I worked as a 3D Artist in a small local company, and currently, I am a freelancer. I had some spare time and I decided to create my personal project which became a challenge for me.

Off-Road Racer Project

My initial idea was to create a buggy because from childhood I was excited about this kind of vehicle. Nevertheless, during the time I have been searching for ideas and gathering references my focus gradually changed on off-road vehicles. Moreover, I was inspired by the design of rally vehicles from the 80s and rally VW Beetle. I wanted to rethink the concept of those cars through the modern perspective and create some kind of off-road vehicle. Mainly, I was focused on the texturing practice. Once I was satisfied with the research, I organized references using Pureref. Afterward, I made a quick sketch in Alchemy, then exported it into Photoshop with some photos and combined everything. During the next phase of the creation of the concept, I made several colorful variants to understand how it may possibly look like.


I started the modeling part with blocking, which helped me to figure out the rough proportions and dimensions of the future model. To check the silhouettes in the viewpoint I used the “7” hotkey in Maya. The better the silhouette is read, the more accurately we understand the shape of the object. After the blocking, I started making the high poly. I have been modifying the model by adding more details from large to small. I was not limited in the number of polygons, that is why the tires of the vehicle were made without baking normals. Most high poly modeling was done with basic sub-d modeling.

At the end of the modeling process, I came across Ilya Chernobrov's work, which is incredible and inspired me to add more mud. I decided to use ZBrush in my pipeline, and add some mud details using Clay and SorfClay brushes. After exporting high poly mesh to Maya I made retopology on the added details. I simply used the Quad Draw tool and "Shift" hotkey. I would recommend watching this video about retopology in Maya.

Unwrapping UV

For unwrapping, I used UV Editor, which is a part of Maya and has very useful tools. I tried to stick to a rectangular UV grid, where it was possible. As a last part of unwrapping, I moved all symmetrical details, except doors, to the next square grid, to reuse textures. Generally, I used advice from this lesson. All mesh maps were baked straight in Substance Painter.


Texturing is my favorite part of the whole process. In the first step, I created some fill layers to get a sense of the colors. Thus, breaking the car by colors. Afterward, I started to work on each detail more precisely, by setting up Roughness and Metallic. I created several layers with different kinds of pollution: dirt, dust, and rust. Those textures I reused on different details with different settings. For the rust material, I used Rust Coarse from the SP library, which was added through a mask. For additional detailing of the paint, a peeling effect was added. The process of creation of this effect contains several steps. First of all, I made an anchor point on the rust mask. Then I added this mask through fill on the next fill layer. Finally, I Inverted and blurred this mask. Detailed tutorial of the effect.
For the creation of the windscreen, I made an alpha mask from the photo in Photoshop and adding some hand-painted in SP. Additionally, I created some more layers of dirt and dust materials and played with Roughness.

For headlights, I used an approach, which was described in this tutorial, but with my own patterns created in Adobe Illustrator.

For the creation of the tires’ texture, I used the default material Rubber Tires Dirty from SP with some changes and add the second layer with Dust. Then I tried to create the mud effect. I copied the layer with Dirt on the top, providing some changes: different color, increased Roughness, and Height. I added this layer through a mask and blurred it.

During the last phase of texturing, I was combining alpha masks, quick masks, and hand paint to polish the effect of dirt and mud on the car body. Additionally, I added pre-drawn stickers.

Finally, I added sharpen and PBR validate filters, to increase the intensity of Sharpen and fix all issues with Albedo and metal Channels.


The rendering phase is one of the most important in my opinion. I usually render my models in Marmoset Toolbag because it's easy to use. I started from standard a three-point lighting setup and then I decided to add a few more lights to highlight some details and Roughness. After some tweaking, I got the desired result.


Starting the project from scratch and getting to the finish was overwhelming, but I think it's the best way to improve my artistic skills. As before for me, the most exciting part was creating concepts, drafts, and textures. I had a lot of fun working on my personal project and I'm happy with my final result.

Gleb Tagirov, 3D Artist

Interview conducted by Arti Sergeev

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