Art Spotlight: Bone Mill

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In Art Spotlight, we invite Sketchfab artists to talk about one of their designs.

Hello there!

My name is Janis Eidins and I am a self-taught graphic designer from Latvia with 5 year experience, mostly in casual game development.
So, enough about me and let’s get to the point.

Due to the fact that for a while I was not able to create something for my own joy, I decided to dive in to the drawing madness with quick, rough sketches where I let myself completely loose.

Skulls and military theme were particularly relevant to me in the time of sketching. So I came up with this oversized Gear-of-War-ish looking mercenary “thug” with skull face/mask, huge blocks of armored plates and leatherish skirts combined with some hi-tech details.

I wanted to create a model with a relatively small polycount and with a hand-painted look, without the need for scene lighting.

With these conditions in mind, I arranged my favorite 3D modeling environment (Blender <3) so that it could be as efficient as possible and could give overall picture of character. Unfortunately … a second monitor was not available 😐

Very swiftly I created a rough 3D mesh that represented the proportions which were featured in the sketch. Gradually one after another, rough blocks were replaced with high-resolution pieces. For hard-surface modeling this time I decided to use bevel tools, to define sharp edges. These tools are more effective (unless model is planned to be unwrapped) than extra loops, wich over time can get quite annoying.
For this method to work, I had to:

  1. Add a Bevel modifier and set it’s limit method to “Weight”(and, of course, add “Subsurf” modifier on top of it),
  2. Select the edges that I want to sharpen.
  3. Under transform panel set “(Mean) Bevel Weight” to desired value. The closer value is to “0”, the sharper edges will get.

As my main purpose for the high-resolution model was to get shadows, I wasn’t particularly worried about the topology.

When the high-resolution model was finished, I continued to work with creating final lowpoly version. Since shapes were quite simple and did not included small pieces, I assumed that for some parts it would be much faster to remove excess loops and vertices than creating new mesh by hand. But otherwise I used “snapp to face” to generate new topology over high-poly mesh.

3D modeling relaxes me. But texture painting can drive me crazy. Therefore I decided to obtain all value transitions using these simple elements:

  • single baked ambient occlusion map
  • solid fill layers
  • grouping
  • masks
  • curve layers
  • hue / saturation layers
  • multiply and Screen blending modes
  • mouse+keyboard

Texturing process could be divided in 3 stages.

  1. First of all, I used a baked AO map to provide shadows and value to the final texture. Set its blending mode to “multiply”. Underneath it I placed several solid fill layers, to give basic, easily adjustable diffuse color.
  2. This is the fun part…To make texture more appealing, I wanted to add gradiental color. To achieve that, I decided to try out to manipulate with stuff I already had. I duplicated AO layer, set its blending mode to “screen”; added curve layer to define areas, that I would like to “paint”; added hue/sat layer to define color… In the end I had group of adjustable layers, to make character more colorful
  3. To give armor metallic feel. Used AO + “Glowing edges” + “Screen” blending mode to define edges. Added pattern layer with some metallic texture and set it to “Multiply” (only because it looked good). Eyes were super easy. Just used white spot with red glow effect 😛

A few words about the scene…I was extremely lazy with platform and additional elements, but anyway… main focus should remain on the character. The rest is just for support.

Gatling. Beautiful and darn complex weapon. So I kept it simple – 6 barrels, couple holding rings, a main casing, for moving parts, some lights, screens and a fuel container as it was intended to be a high-tech energy gun… Quick retopo, bake, texturing and done. To intensify overall feeling, I lit barrel endings as if they were heavily overheated during action and give some sort of story behind this image. All that I needed was to drop it into the scene.

Ground were minimalistic with some simple cube blocks, placed like rubble, to add extra shadow gradients. Dirt – same pattern, used for big-guy and gatling. Blood spatters – just random low-res image that I found in google. Even baked texture was filled with noise grain. But in the end … It looked just fine 🙂

Imported Bleder scene to Sketchfab. Picked textures to fill “Diffuse”, “Emission” slots and “Transparency” for smoke. Scene looked fine already.

And then I decided to play around with post processing filters. Darkened corners with “Vignette”, boosted illumination with “Bloom” and slightly turned up “Chromatic aberration”

And voila… Bone Mill is ready to lay waste on its viewers.

Bone Mill
by Glumais
on Sketchfab

Thanks Janis!

Visit Janis’ Sketchfab portfolio to see his other work.

About the author


Bart Veldhuizen

Head of Community at Sketchfab. 3D Scanning enthusiast and Blenderhead. Running BlenderNation in my spare time.

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