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The Bi-Monthly ENVIRONMENT ART Challenge | September - October (68)

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greentooth
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alytlebird greentooth

Welcome, all! Time to get started on the fifth Monthly Environment & Prop Challenge for 2020!

Remember if you don't finish in the time allotted, just keep plugging away and post when your work is finished. There's always some good progress that falls off the radar - we want to see your work! So keep going and finish those pieces!

Without further ado, here are our official options for Challenge 68:


- ENVIRONMENTS -

HARD SURFACE:

Artwork link: https://www.artstation.com/artwork/YK3OK

STYLIZED:

Artwork link: https://www.artstation.com/artwork/v1lVEA

- PROPS -

HARD SURFACE PROP:

Artwork Link: https://www.artstation.com/artwork/1d9w8

STYLIZED PROP:
Gypsy caravan
Artwork link: https://www.deviantart.com/catell-ruz/art/Gypsy-caravan-534035833

- WILDCARD -

HARD SURFACE INTERIOR:

Artwork link: https://www.artstation.com/artwork/lVwXxJ

Once again, an interior environment to counterbalance the two exterior concepts. Much thanks to @Pinkfox for the suggestion!


Please read all the rules before starting:

-Try to post one critique for every post that you make. This will make for a better learning environment and help us all grow as artists.

-Try your best and finish as much as you can in the time frame provided.

-Post what you are working on in this thread so that way it's a more centralized place for advice and critique. We don't need to have 1000 disjointed threads littering the forums. 

-It is recommended to use a game engine to present your work. Unreal Engine and CryEngine are very common engines that can be used but feel free to use any alternatives that you want. (Marmoset Toolbag is allowed as well)

-If you want to change up your chosen concept a bit, then feel free! Interpret these concepts to your liking, especially if your aim is to add storytelling elements.


And here are some recommendations:

-When you are just starting out making a scene, it can seem complicated or imposing, so take the time to break it down. 

-Think about how you can re-use assets, re-use textures, break it down as simple as possible and plan it out. A lot of people will break it down in their own way when they start out their challenge. Gather some reference images as well for different parts of the scene, maybe gather some refs and make it your own.

-Take your time planning and blocking out, it will set you up for success later on.

-We strongly encourage you to go and look at other games and see how they make their assets as well as get concept art to give it your own feel.


All that matters is that you learn while being able to effectively critique others, as well as accept critiques on your own work. Remember to have fun!

Good luck!

Replies

  • b_beauchamp
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    b_beauchamp keyframe
    I've got a basic block-out done and started the trim for the wildcard concept. I love working with super unique environments, so this one should be a fun challenge. I'm not sure what's the best way to fake liquid inside the glass vats in UE4, so please let me know if you have any suggestions. 

    @alytlebird I've been thinking about making a post asking if anyone would like to collaborate on the creature portion of the environment since modeling humanoid figures is not my strong suit. Ideally the end result would be we both end up with a nice portfolio piece and we credit each other for our work. Is this alright or are the environment challenges meant to be solo endeavors? 

  • alytlebird
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    alytlebird greentooth
    I've got a basic block-out done and started the trim for the wildcard concept. I love working with super unique environments, so this one should be a fun challenge. I'm not sure what's the best way to fake liquid inside the glass vats in UE4, so please let me know if you have any suggestions. 

    @alytlebird I've been thinking about making a post asking if anyone would like to collaborate on the creature portion of the environment since modeling humanoid figures is not my strong suit. Ideally the end result would be we both end up with a nice portfolio piece and we credit each other for our work. Is this alright or are the environment challenges meant to be solo endeavors? 
    @b_beauchamp Yeah I think that should be fine. :) Especially since this concept has some atypical pieces in it, and in a larger production environment those creatures would likely be handled by a character or creature artist.

    As far as the liquid, I've been pondering that conundrum myself. I remember a post a while back of a Dishonored 2 fanart piece which was a potion with an octopus tentacle in it, and the effect was achieved with baking from a highpoly rather than actual geometry. That would save us the headache of retopoing all those beasties, but I can't say I fully understand the technique yet. Worth looking into. :) Thread is here: https://polycount.com/discussion/comment/2659093/#Comment_2659093  And Artstation piece is here: https://www.artstation.com/artwork/v11e6E

    I'm finishing up and posting a personal project tomorrow, and then I'll probably jump right into working on the wildcard. Stoked to be participating in this challenge again after almost a year!
  • Pinkfox
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    Pinkfox polycounter lvl 3
    I'm finishing up a personal project so I haven't put any time into this but the shader graph in Update 1 at the bottom of this blog has the beginnings for a liquid shader that has a fill height so instances could be made for variety among the different vats and containers.


    I did notice it has a drawback of using the back faces to give the impression of volume so it's not very convincing out of the box, but it at least is a good starting point to play around with if you were looking to go towards a shader solution to the liquid problem.
  • ArtNowSleepLater
    @clxddd  new to the challenge as well, looking forward to seeing where yours goes. 

    I'm focusing on the awesome caravan for this challenge. Did some block in modeling to get a feeling for the proportions, weight and overall design. I'm going to do my own work on the back side and make that where the caravan is pulled from. Planning that still. The plan is to take this in for a little zbrush love and then paint in substance. My first big project in the pipeline. My skills are a little outdated so this will be a lot of fun and challenging.

  • samA
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    samA triangle
    Hi all, everybody has made a good start!

    I decided to go with the water tank concept. Here's my progress so far

  • ArtNowSleepLater
    I got more detail work and refinement done today. Since there wasn't any artwork for the other side of the caravan I did a little research and made it the side pulled by horses. I gave it a little rumble seat and tried to match the supports with the ornate work on the door. Also added some more realized mechanical info underneath. I plan on adding a lot of personality to it with little decor, hanging lights and equipment. Great pic below to show a real lived in caravan.


  • samA
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    samA triangle
    @gastrop0d I'm not sure how I'd go about texturing that either. I think a trim sheet would make sense and then you could vertex paint and use decals to break it up. I think adding the new entrance is a cool idea, definitely looking forward to future updates!

    @ArtNowSleepLater really like what you've modelled up to now! I agrees with gastrop0d with the wheels been stretched though depends on whether you want it more practical and less whimsical.

    Here's my progress from today. Need to start looking into making some particles in ue4 for the smoke and energy beam next. Then start unwrapping the model after some more tweaks.




  • b_beauchamp
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    b_beauchamp keyframe
    @clxddd Thank you for the offer! I really appreciate it. I did get a response but if anything comes up later I'll send you a message.  :) 

    It's exciting to see so many people participating in their first challenge this round. Keep up the good work everyone! 

    I've been struggling with how to mix transparency and metal in UE4 on my vat mesh so it looks like what I made in Substance Painter. I tried applying two materials to the mesh but then my grunge leaks won't apply to the whole thing. Any advice? 




  • Pinkfox
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    Pinkfox polycounter lvl 3
    @alytlebird That does look really good! Does it look good from every angle or do you have to be a bit selective on the display angle with it?
  • alytlebird
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    alytlebird greentooth
    @Pinkfox Yeah there's definitely a "good angle" on this guy haha, but the illusion can work from other angles, and even in motion. I'm really wondering if this method will hold up at a larger scale, or I'd I'll have to figure something else out for the big tanks.
  • djbedford
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    djbedford polycounter lvl 8
    Hey!

    As it seems quite a few people are, this is the first time I've decided to take part in a competition. I'm really looking forward to it and at seeing all the fantastic work you produce.

    This is my initial blockout to try and get the right shape and proportions, as you can see I've decided to go with the hard surface prop.


  • b_beauchamp
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    b_beauchamp keyframe
    @alytlebird Your alien organ jar looks great! I've been trying to use the same baking method you linked but I keep getting a ton of distortion and weird empty spaces no matter what I change. Is it because the fish isn't packed in the jar tightly? I also haven't used Marmoset a whole lot so I could be missing something. The fish model was made by @tysiu


    I think I got the main vat looking pretty good by using two textures. The translucent material still doesn't show the roughness maps like I want it to, but I'll leave the model for now and get to working on the rest of the scene. 

  • alytlebird
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    alytlebird greentooth
    @gastrop0d Nice work so far! That grass looks like it'll fit right in with the style you're going for. At first glance, the vines look like they might be too detailed/harsh for the softer aesthetic you're doing, but that may also just be the lighting for that particular screenshot.
    ---

    I bring updates! I just couldn't help myself and I had to mess around with the alien organ shader a bit more. And I'm glad I did! I used a Parallax Occlusion Mapping node in Unreal in conjunction with the height map from Marmoset, and that produced a really great result that kinda fakes depth in the liquid, and the organ looks a lot more convincing now, especially in motion. It's not perfect; there's a seam on one side cuz my UVs don't reach the edge and wrap around completely, but I can fix that for the actual assets.



    Still plugging away at the blockout, will share that once I move on from that stage. :)

    Keep up the good work everyone!

    EDIT: @b_beauchamp yeah the distortion is inevitable if you're looking to project onto the outer surface like that. The real magic happens when you take it into Substance Painter and use the height map Marmoset generates to mask out the contents of the jar, and fill in the rest with the liquid material.
  • ArtNowSleepLater
    No feedback in this one, just want to say it's really cool watching you all problem solve the bits in jars. 
  • Donato
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    Donato polygon
    For the first time I experimented with vertex painting. I'm honestly not sure if I got a decent effect so I was wondering if anyone had any suggestions. Anyway, this is what I got:


  • gastrop0d
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    gastrop0d polycounter lvl 3
    @Donato I think you're on the right track, but the blending between the two materials is too soft. This kind of blend works great for things like grunge, rust or moss, but weathered/peeling stucco tends to have a very hard edge from what I can see.

    Grab some more references (like this) and try to break down what is happening structurally in the surface you are trying to replicate. For instance, stucco is a layer that sits physically on top of the brick and is quite thick, enough to notice light and shadow in the edges. I think hardening the edge, plus making the stucco have more height than the brick will be a step in the right direction. I've never played with vertex paint blending in too much depth before, so maybe some other people will have clearer ideas.

    @alytlebird Yep, agreed regarding the vine shading. I'm currently toying with a leaf technique for detailing the tree blobs that I'll probably reuse for the vine leaves. 

    @b_beauchamp I actually think distortion is a real strength of this technique for this particular scene. One of the great things about the extremely distorted, highly refractive jar goo is it makes it whatever is inside even more obscure, alien and ultimately horrific. Keep the monster in the shadows, as they say. I hope you're able to work out the kinks and overcome the artifacts, just thought I'd give my 2 cents. :)

    @dyceus Thanks! Many things to come!
  • alytlebird
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    alytlebird greentooth
    Blockout done! I really like the result I get by having the overhead lights' emissive material drive the main yellow lighting. It's a fun method for low-light environments like this.


    During my planning phase, I did a concept drawover where I broke down the composition, as well as other breakdowns for asset purposes. I spent a bit of time making sure the composition of my scene was close to the concept. I'm not looking for a perfect 1-to-1 match on the perspective/placement of every little object, but I want to make sure the leading lines and forms are preserved.


    I also threw the organ jar vertical slice into the scene, ran it thru ProInstance, and filled up the shelves with some placeholder jars, surprised at how well they bake with the light setup!


    Was nice to get a big burst of work done over this long Labor Day weekend, but I probably won't be posting another update for a while, tho I'll be lurking around. Keep up the good work y'all! ;)
  • thomaswmanser
    Great to see a variety of different projects from everyone, really great work so far on this page!

    @alytlebird Thanks for showing this, the result looks brilliant! Will try at some point to give this technique a shot with some of the smaller Jars n such. 

    Update on the jars - roughly sculpted some fishes/tadpoles and then I tried using a Depth fade Node within the water material, this just helped me blend some of the specimens into the shader. I do have a slight issue, when viewed from the back, the murky effect almost disappears revealing just the meshes inside the jar - Also a few clipping issues too but bound to have a few problemo's

    Blended some white specs into the shader as well, adding a panner to a texture so they slowly drift up to the top of the jars.

    Currently working on a modular kit for the jars too, so just switching out different lids or bases to create new kits. Will post that a little later but thought i'd leave a quick update as I haven't posted anything for a lil while.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2BxrGjPcirk Useful video on the depth fade if anyone is interested


  • b_beauchamp
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    b_beauchamp keyframe
    @alytlebird @gastrop0d Thank you for the advice about the height map baking. B) I think I got a pretty good result. I tried out using Parallax Occlusion Mapping as well, but I'm not sure if I got it working right. 

    @Donato I agree that the stucco effect needs some harder edges and maybe some height difference to look realistic. I don't know much about vertex painting so I can't really help with how to go about that, though. I saw a tutorial on Artstation for making puddles with vertex painting that could be helpful (since it uses height maps). https://www.artstation.com/artwork/6a8GV6 Other than that, I really like your modular elements so far!

    @thomaswmanser Thank you for sharing the link about the Depth Fade Node. I'm still trying to figure out how to create the "suspended in water" effect for the larger sculpts and it seems like that method could help. 


  • gastrop0d
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    gastrop0d polycounter lvl 3
    @b_beauchamp Loving the murkiness! Though it looks like the specular terms on the fish skin are very high, to the same extent as the glass exterior. I think murky liquid like that would largely diffuse any penetrating light. Maybe try to find a way to keep the speculars on the glass but soften them on the fish skin.
  • dyceus
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    dyceus triangle
    @b_beauchamp that baking method for the fish worked really cool, it makes it look like the glass is magnifying it (hiding the reality of the distortion of the bake).  

    @thomaswmanser I came across this method while researching what I was going to do about the water effect myself.  It involves subtracting the pixel depth from the scene depth.  The guy in the video goes into a more accurate version but the version starting around 3:30 seemed to make the illusion work, at least for a still.  It's just dependent on the angle of the camera to the object, so may cause issues there but might be worth a try.
    https://youtu.be/TObymSnTwV0?t=211

    Today I got some materials made in substance designer, including a paint peeling off of concrete material, some emissive materials for the light fixtures, and some labels for the containers.  I was just testing out the labels and will go back and do them in a more efficient way later on.  The labels were done in photoshop and designer.  Tomorrow will finally be a fish sculpting day for me.


    This is the peeling paint graph I created in substance for my walls (and also currently the cabinets), something I can keep using and tweaking in the future.

  • dyceus
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    dyceus triangle
    First attempt at fish in a jar.  Getting that suspended in water look is a tough one.



  • b_beauchamp
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    b_beauchamp keyframe
    @gastrop0d Thanks for the feedback about my fish jar! If I understand you correctly, I think the best way for me to fix the specular issue would be to erase more of the fish height map so it appears to be more obscured by the liquid.

    @dyceus Thank you for the compliment about my fish jar. I'm struggling with how to create a suspended water effect as well. Would you mind sharing how you got your labels to stand out on the jar models? I've been trying to use decals on mine but they don't work on transparent materials. 

    I've been working on making some of the glass jar props for the scene, but my glass textures look bad no matter what I do (for this material version, I'm also blending in some depth fade and refraction). I'm using two versions of my trim material for each jar, opaque for the metal, and transparent for the glass. If I turn down the opacity, the glass is practically invisible. If I turn it up, I get the cloudy, non-glass like effect in the image below. Roughness and reflections aren't appearing the way I want them to either. I want to blame the problems on the transparent blending mode, but I don't know how to fix it. Any advice is appreciated! 

    I've also been thinking about just using cardboard boxes from Quixel in the interest of time. (I've piled them up in the back of the scene in the image below). Would there be any benefit to me modeling and texturing a set of boxes myself instead? 

  • dyceus
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    dyceus triangle
    @b_beauchamp For the labels I duplicated my glass mesh in my 3d package, scaled it up a tiny bit, and then UV'd the texture of the label where I wanted it to be on the surface.  I then used multi-cut to cut around the label on the mesh and deleted the extra geo.  I did this for each label.  So basically they're just mesh planes with the same curve as the glass that I positioned raised up slightly to prevent any z fighting.

    For your glass material, is your lighting mode set to surface translucency volume as well?
  • b_beauchamp
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    b_beauchamp keyframe
    Thanks for the response @dyceus ! I will certainly be using the method you described for my labels, it should also work for adding extra leaks to the jar models. I am using surface translucency volume for the lighting mode, below is my glass trim material node set up if that's helpful. I changed a couple things and I think the material is looking much better. I think the main problem now is that the glass looks too clean. I'll add some more grunge in substance painter and see if I get a better look.


  • dyceus
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    dyceus triangle
    @b_beauchamp I think the cloudiness you mentioned is from the glass being too rough and the reflections being diffused.  Maybe the roughness on your glass is too high (its hard to tell from the packed map).  If you add a multiply into your glass shader after the roughness map to darken it does that give you the effect you were looking for?  You'll still need the opacity set to like 0.2 for it to show.  In my case I used Fresnel for the opacity as well to catch more light along edges than areas facing the camera.  And if you plug your normal map into the slot in the fresnel node it will contribute to the effect as well.


  • gastrop0d
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    gastrop0d polycounter lvl 3
    @b_beauchamp I thought about it a little after my last post about how I would achieve the dual-specular behaviour. Maybe bake 2 normal maps - one with the fish inside, and one purely for the glass tube exterior. So one detailed, bumpy normal map and one smooth glass normal map.

    Then use these surfaces to develop your 2 specular terms - low roughness with glass normal, higher roughness with fish normal, then take the maximum of the two terms together to get the overall specular for the material. I hope I'm making sense, explaining maths with words is always prone to confusion. :)

    @clxddd Thanks. That grass prototype is using non-billboarded planes with a monochrome alpha-blended grass silhouette texture. Part of me feels like its a very greedy way to achieve the "velvet" effect - the large patches of similar colour are wasting a lot of polygons. It's fine for a static screen shot or a non-mobile platform, but I would love to export my scene and run around it on a phone or in VR when I'm finished. To that end I'm going to work on the project effects with mobile optimisation in mind.

  • quotes5252
  • Donato
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    Donato polygon
    @gastrop0d and @b_beauchamp
    Thanks so much for the suggestions. Through the tutorial and the references that you have recommended to me I think I have obtained a satisfactory result. However I think you are doing a great job in regards to your projects. I'm sorry I don't have any helpful hints.







  • gastrop0d
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    gastrop0d polycounter lvl 3
    @Donato That's looking great! Big improvement. 

    I've begun toying around with how I'm going to texture this lighthouse tower. I made a very quick stone trimsheet for testing out bevelled/damaged edges. Quite new territory for me, so learning much. This is where I've gotten to in my testing:



    I used 2 UV maps to do this - one to do the coloured pattern (edge loops running horizontally) and one to use the stone trimsheet normals (edge loops running vertically and scaled differently). It's basically a full cylindrical unwrap for the colour. Texel density is decent enough, so I'm thinking I'll be able to paint the various paintbrush-like hue shifts in the concept directly into the colour map. I still think decals will be the best solution for for isolated damage such as patches of peeled stucco.

    The edge damage normal map was only meant as a test because its extremely exaggerated, but I do like the chunkiness it adds to the structure. I was originally going to use a very subtle edge bevel for the final result, but now I'm leaning more towards this bolder style.



    I made a very simple square pillar and unwrapped it cylindrically. Then I cloned it and made a high poly sculpt. I baked the normals in substance painter. Whats cool about this is it tiles in X and Y, since the pillar surface wraps around. This means I can apply it to the 8-sided lighthouse tower and still have it seamless. Bit of a happy accident.



    I did some test unwraps on all of the detailing around the top of the tower, as well as the window frames using my stone sheet. I just wanted to see how effective the edge damage would look, since the technique is new to me. I'm pretty pleased with it, so my plan is the make a wooden sheet with a similar layout to this stone one and replace the stone with wood on all the beams. This will also be reuseable for the various wooden railings I want around the stairs on the ground level.

    I switched to the universal rendering pipeline in Unity as well, which I've never used before. It's really screwing around with the project, especially the lighting, but I'm going to stick with it and learn it for this project.
  • b_beauchamp
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    b_beauchamp keyframe
    @dyceus Thank you for the advice! I've made some more improvements to the glass and water effects in the jars. I've added a roughness multiplier and a Fresnel node into the opacity, although plugging the normal in seemed to overdo the effect. I kind of like the algae texture I came up with for the water, but creating any kind of illusion of depth has proved another challenge.

    @gastrop0d said:
    Then use these surfaces to develop your 2 specular terms - low roughness with glass normal, higher roughness with fish normal, then take the maximum of the two terms together to get the overall specular for the material.
    Thank you for your suggestion! Could you elaborate on how I can get an overall specular from two terms? The whole model is just a bunch of texture layers on a single mesh. The glass layer does not have a numerical value, instead I'm using a roughness map to give more variety. I've attached a picture of my Substance Painter layers below if that's helpful. 

    @Donato I really like the stucco effect you came up with! Also, thanks for the compliment.  :)

    For my labels, I decided to buy a downloadable set of antique style laboratory labels. I clipped out the ones I liked in Photoshop and then brought the set into Substance Painter where I blended it with a parchment material and added some custom text and stains. I then modeled the individual labels from the curvature of each jar and matched the UVs. I think the result adds a lot to the scene already, but I will be making some more variations and trying the same method for things like cracks and extra grunge. 



  • jpeele
    @Zocky looking good. Cool that you planned out your modularity. I wish I had thought to plan more before jumping into blockout phase.

    I'm still working on the block out. Need to get some scale issues under control, the stairs and roof tiles are too big. I'm using megascan textures for now, but hopefully I can start on a texture pass soon. One thing I am proud of is my first time using POM materials for the windows, so they're actually just flat planes against the side of the building. It lets me scale the windows and blinds without having to adjust the underlying BSPs. More progress soon hopefully.
  • hasgan
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    hasgan polycounter lvl 3
    Hi guys,

    let me join the fun by doing the wildcard challenge!
    Here's my first block-out: tried to recreate the scene by using limited props.

    also thanks to @alytlebird for posting the fake liquid method. would love to try it myself :)
    https://polycount.com/discussion/comment/2659093/#Comment_2659093





  • dyceus
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    dyceus triangle
    @Donato you are definitely on the right track with the harder edged vertex paint.  Your wall is looking really convincing.  

    @Zocky that modular kit is seriously detailed.  I'm excited to see it with materials applied in the future.  It has come together in your blockout amazingly.

    @b_beauchamp those labels look perfect!  The detail is great, I think your decision to use the stationary you found and then customize it was a smart one.  They sit on the glass surface exactly right it looks like.

    Took a bit off of the environment to try the hard surface prop.  I just did some modeling, haven't gotten into any sculpting or materials yet.  Did get a bit carried away in Marmoset with the photoshoot though (I don't really spend much time in Marmoset and usually like to dive into everything when I'm in a software I don't use a lot).


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