Step 3 Texturing
The texture phase is a very important part of the CGI process. This is the point at which we can give a story and personality to the objects in the scene. I created a mid-aged vehicle that creates an impression of speed and raw natural appearance. Almost the entire vehicle is created from steel and iron parts, the rest is made with other materials like rubber, plastic and glass.
The Vulture is big, but I used tiny surface damage effects in the texture. Of course, larger versions are also needed, but the finest details define the overall size of an item.
I used traditional techniques in the painting - baking parts as the hand-made edge abrasions, and texture blending for a better and detailed diffuse map. I also used texture projection in 3ds Max. This is a really easy and useful feature to get fine details on uncooperative surfaces. All texture painters know that when the UV map bends, it can create an ugly transformation and bad final texture.
I used a simple method to create details for these unfriendly areas - just separate the loops and create a line UV map. Place this on the required part of base mesh and use the Projection - Bake function.
Baking details for the various textures on the vehicle
Step 4 Shaders
After I had the textures ready, I started to create the shaders. I placed a simple steel shader on a rim object and used simple Diffuse, so as to have no roughness.
I also used two layers of Specularity. First is a thin and overall Specular Edge Highlight, and the second is a ‘real' Specular of the material. The first Specular is free, with no texture control, and I only used it with a very high set curve to get the sharpen effect. The second is a texture-controlled Specular and reflection set. It needs more render time to calculate the Specular intensity from the pixel count of the textures. The other texture controls the reflection spots on the dirty surface.
Showing a variety of shaders with layers added
Step 5 Renders
Okay, now we can start to look at how the Vulture will get shaded and detailed.
1. For the first render, I created a clay beauty render for the scene. This is also helpful to check the light, GI, AO and possible mesh problems or duplications.
2. Then I did a checker render to check surfaces and UV distortion.
3. The raw render is the first real render after the checking phases, but here I started to show the additional details that I intended to refine in Photoshop post-work. The first is the scratches. We can control them in post-work better than in the render. The render material has its own scratch effects here though - this layer is an additional detail. I called it hard - fresh scratches.
4. I did a full reflection layer for the post-work in Photoshop, because sometimes post-effects can corrupt the Specular - reflection effect.
5. I used Ambient Occlusion in the Advanced Render shader to create a sand/dirt effect for the surface. It works similar to AO, I just used a smaller subdivision to create the grainy effect.
6. A simple AO pass. I also used the Advanced Render here.
7. Leaking and dirt is a very difficult part in the detail creation. I chose to create a separate render from it and apply these on the surface in post-work. If I needed to, I could easily erase or smooth them.
8. The final detail is an additional sign - mark layer on the vehicle. These are in separate passes that I feel add a little extra after surveying the whole ship render.
9. Finally, we can see how the Vulture goes out from the render as raw.
The different renders used on the ship