B is for Ben: Spaceship model and texture by Rok Andic

Spaceship model is done. Here are a few renders of the final textured model.


I modeled everything in Houdini. I used Houdini’s poly modeling tools to build everything and create UDIM UV sets. I used procedural approach in a few areas like inside the cockpit where there is a panel with lots of buttons. It would have been very hard to place every single one of those buttons there. But Houdini being procedural makes things like that very easy to do.

Once everything done I exported the model to Substance Painter for texturing.



In Substance Painter I textured the whole ship using UDIMs. A few places were a bit tricky because Substance Painter doesn’t allow painting across UDIM’s at this point. For the hull I used quite a few layers to create different kind of panels. Everyting textured I exported the textures back to Houdini where I rendered the final images.


360 Render of the final model

B is for Ben: 3D model retopology by Rok Andic

Retopology is one of those things that outside of rigging and modeling nobody wants to hear about. It is however essential to good puppet deformation. It is one of those things that I constantly try to evolve from character to character. I do not know whether this is from the ever evolving technology or simply because I like to constantly try new things. For Ben I decided to go with the simple idea of “better safe than sorry” and added extra edges wherever I had problems in the past. This also means that I’ll have to deal with those edges even if they are unnecessary.

In the past I would create only as much spans as I thought I would need. The reasons being simple. Capturing (or “binding”, depending on the software you use) is much easier with less topological data and animation playback is faster which is essential when the puppet is animated. This is great if you nail just the right amount of edge spans you need, but if you don’t and you need extra edges you are in trouble. Adding those extra details later is time consuming to say the least.

The face

The face is the most important because it carries so much deformation. I spend most of the time for retopology on the face. The areas I spend most time on are always those which deform most. In this case the eyes and the mouth.

I start by dividing the character into specific zones and layout each one separately. The zones being: eyes, lips, nose, cheeks, brows. I make sure each zone works well before merging and overlapping with the neighbouring zones.

For the eyes I divided it into 9 spans and for the mouth 13 spans. This should be enough to carry all the deformation I have in mind for this character. In the past I tried with less and blend shapes are faster to create but for some specific expressions I found it tricky to support extreme shapes with less spans. As I wrote “better safe than sorry”. Also if this character would perform a lot of close up acting shots I would probably add a few extra spans.

The body

The body can be tricky, especially in the shoulder and hip area. I don’t mind adding a few extra spans here. The shoulder always needs a lot of corrective deformations and it is just better to have some extra spans “just in case” to hold the shape. The same is with fingers. Especially the thumb area. Added extra spans this time.

Rigid elements

Helmet, jetpack and front button panel are mostly rigid objects which will not deform as much as the rest of the body. For this reason I kept the number of edges on the lower side.

Next steps

This model is now going back to Zbrush to create displacement maps and final details.

Making of "A is for Al....": The Study Room by Rok Andic

“A is for Al….” has three sets. Study room was the first I designed and modeled. The reason I started with the isometric layout for the concept is that I wanted to see how the whole space would look like and where everything was. I didn’t want to accidentally build models that will not be seen or couldn’t fit the set.

Once that was clear, the shelves and table had to be populated with props. I made these quick prop sketches which were used to fill large pieces of the set. I drew them all on a single page so I could see which ones were too far out in design and whether or not they are too complex too build. Since they are space fillers I really didn’t want to spend too much time on them.

Prop list that needed to be built to fill the shelves.

Prop list that needed to be built to fill the shelves.

Set modeling was all done in Houdini. Bigger props were modeled and textured as solo pieces. More care was needed for smaller shelf props. I just couldn’t build every single one of them nor have 100 copies of a single prop as that would just seem boring.

I used Houdini’s procedural approach to build one universal bottle that allowed me to have one base model that with different parameters could look like 100 different bottles or flasks. The flasks on the left shelves are basically all one model with different parameters. If I didn’t like it I just changed the parameter and I would have a different shape. This allowed me to have a full scene without having to build every single little detail or spent enormous amount of time modeling them.

Universal flask.

Universal flask.

Texturing work for the main pieces was mostly done in Substance Painter. I recycled materials whenever possible. Exception was the chalkboard which was painted in Affinity Photo. I created different masks for washed parts & chalked lettering and then build a material based on those masks in Houdini. Smaller elements had procedurally generated materials made in Houdini where the final images were rendered.