Art Spotlight: Cold Pirates

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Hello. So let me introduce myself. I’m Katarzyna Kubicz, a 24 year old artist from Poland. I’ve been working in the industry as a 3D artist for over 2 years now, but my love for arts began when I was young. I love 3D, digital painting and sculpting.

About the process and low poly style

I tend to improvise when it comes to ideas. There was no concept, initial sketch or specific references for this model. I started modeling a pirate ship and just went with the flow adding elements I believed would look nice. At some point I imagined the ship swimming through two big blocks that turned into icebergs. Then, while cutting geometry I accidentally made a cave in one of them and thought it would be a fantastic idea to hide gold in there. Then I added penguins, just because I find them cute.

The model was made entirely in Modo as it’s my favourite tool for 3D modelling. I always start modelling by creating a standard box. Then I add loops, extrude and move edges to achieve the desired shapes. When modeling things like icebergs, I select random vertices, edges or polygons and bevel them to get more interesting surfaces. I also make sure edges are hardened so that the whole scene looks sharp.

As for the flat colored low poly style, I learned it just for the purpose of Game Jams. I don’t know any faster way to make decent looking environments.

This style has one big advantage: there is no UV mapping. That’s a real time saver! All I have to do is to make lots of material IDs. There are precisely 25 materials in my artwork. I set all parameters like base color, roughness and so on directly in the Sketchfab model editor. It was amazingly simple and intuitive thanks to the ‘highlight selectable materials’ option, since I named my materials randomly and there were lots of them.

Geometry is the most important part when you can’t rely on textures (a good material with normal maps, painted details etc. can even make a simple cube interesting and we only have flat colors here) and it all comes down to diversity and proper scale. Generally I avoid having more than two identical polygons next to each other. They must have at least different proportions, general size or number of vertices. I have no problem mixing triangles with quads and n-gons for this kind of artwork.

I cut geometry mercilessly, especially when I want to add details. In some places it looks really messy and ugly, but it’s just a wireframe and only end results matter.

During the process of creating this scene, even before the modelling part was completed, I was regularly adjusting colors, lighting, background and postprocess in Sketchfab’s 3D settings mode. I really love those tools. Tone mapping and color balance did an especially good job bringing life and a really nice mood to my artwork.

The final result

For the last words, I didn’t expect my artwork to be so well received. Thanks for all your comments and likes. They are really motivating!

You can see more of my works on Artstation.

About the author

Katarzyna Kubicz

Working as a 3D environment artist in gamedev but also love sculpting and digital painting.


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