Well, how is it possible that I use substance designer since years and never did a brick material?
While strolling through my references of brick materials I decided to go for it.
Please feel free to give any kind of critic feedback, its highly appreciated!
This time I force myself to really work on each detail / component / pass individually to focus my workflow. It already proves really effective not to jump ahead and do albedo to quickly (something I tend to do).
So this rather simple material excercise should help me improve my workflow and get every detail right.
For this I also first structured my ref board in the order I want to tackle each detail with images sorted by details that I liked and that I want to implement.
I used my own reference pack (https://artstn.co/m/njvw) of a big collection that I created several years ago. You can get it on my artstation if you are interested. It should be 50% off right now :)
I focused on the tiling, the overall shap variance, chipping of the shape. Now I started working on the surface details and already have some of the chipping surface done.
The grout is early wip and I just did it to get an overall feel, but I already like quite like it.
Once thing I finally (re-)learned is tiling details based on the tiles. Its a fundamental technique that I have used before, but I forgot how and stumbled across it in a Artstation Learning course. This is how i applied it to my material:
Its super powerful and simple, but it only works on tiling with 0-1 range so the flood fill can work its wonders. Based on that we assign random colors the individual tiles and use their position to vector warp the noise. This way our details are only applied to the individual tiles and are not visiible across multiple tiles (to avoid visible tiling of the noise)
I worked on the big chipping damage on the side of the bricks and I also added smaller chipping damage to the surface. I also added a beveled edge with a cloud noise to damage the edges of the brick, but its a bit too generic right now.
I think its not 100% perfect and could still use some value tweaking, but I generally like the effects.
Next up are the cracks!
I took apart the references and analyzed the different appearances of cracks. I decided to modularize the details into 4 variants for the brick cracks and one for grout cracks. I can probably reuse most of the graph, but I will create different masks, varieties through level node and also stronger/subtler blending for each variant. I will wrote down a few thoughts for each variant on my references. I like to colorize my references to better remember what I want to achieve and stay focused.
I think the most challenging part will be the appliance of the cracks, because they need to appear at places that make sense and nos tjust be randomly blended over.
I was thinking of trying different approaches of creating crackis. I mostly used the "classic" approach with the edge-detect node and a kind of generic noise as a base. What I want to try is creating the base noise that I will use for the cracks with more care and with the appearance on the material in mind.
First attempt on variant 3. It looks quite good already. I struggle to get them as thin like in the ref but still being readable from a far. The cracks also look a bit generic in some cases, but overall its a good start I think.
Tweaked the grout a bit to make it look more like the reference. The damage is pretty flexible right now, but I am not entirely happy. THe bigger chipping is how far I can push it without being too much. Its can be alot less like in the previous wip. I also added some surface noise, cleaned up the graph and started with base coloring.
Not much progress the last week since I started a new job and have less time.
Feedback on the overall shape and surface would be appreciated.
Next up is the base color :)
A bit of progress on my albedo. Still just trying to get the basics down before adding too much details. Not so easy, because the bricks vary alot. I will probably add 2-3 variations of detailing that to certain bricks.
Another WIP on the color. Still some balancing out to do. I want to add some more specific details in the color and also emphasize the overall surface roughness more.
Other than that I will give the AO map some attention and then call it done.
Let me know if you have any more feedback, its always appreciated!
This is looking ace! I'm not seeing much height variation, is that still a goal based on your references?
Thanks Eric! Yes, I want to add height variation, it will be kind of subtle though. Most bricks in real life dont (or shouldnt :D) stick out too much haha
We have a neighbor with bricks sticking out every foot or so, looks like a climbing wall heheh. Kind of like this.
Your bricks bond is very unrealistic.
Colors are bit too flat.
Thanks for the feedback. You are right, the bond looks weird now that you mention it. Thanks for sharing the reference. And the colors are a bit flat too. Thanks for noticing.
A first render setup. I incorporated some of the feedback like contrast in the albedo, fixed the brickbond and added some height variation.
For some weird reason, marmoset4 doesnt like to render my 8k textures. I exported in 8k, but the 4k and 8k renders look 100% the same. I am sure I had this problem before...
Anyways, here is the first sphere render. Not entirely happy yet, but nearly calling it done. Been too long already... Since february. Damn :D
Will also export some variations with various brick bonds, some grout variation and color. Also maybe cranking up / lowering some of the damage values for some nice variations. I might also put it on my stores, but graph definetly needs some clean up before that. Not presentable at all haha