Art Spotlight: Creepy Pixel-Art Bathroom

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About Me

Hello, I’m Maxim and I am a YouTube creator and VR enthusiast from Saint-Petersburg, Russia.

I came across 3D-modelling in 1998, when I was 13 and since then it has become a huge part of my day-to-day life. After graduating university as a political scientist in 2007 I literally had nowhere to go, but thanks to my 3ds Max and AutoCAD skills I took a very generous invitation from a very old bridge engineering institute in Russia and started my career as an architectural visualization artist. I also got my Autodesk diploma as a 3ds Max + V-Ray visualization specialist at that time.

I never had a real chance to reveal my creativity at work, even later, when I became a leading architect. Not only that, but every assignment I had for ten years straight was either “do or die” or “make something, we don’t care”. I was always in a rush. At times I was making visualizations and architectural designs that no one would ever use, or even see.

When I started doing YouTube it was a great relief after my dayjob routine. Finally I could take my time, experiment, find my work ethic and be generally creative. I had spent a year or so making different kinds of videos, until I made my very first panoramic 360 video. I immediately knew this was my thing. I just needed to find my place in this medium of VR content.

I quit my job in January 2018 to become a full-time YouTube creator and turn my hobby into a job.

Most of the time I make fan art videos, turning 2D-games into 3D-scenes. At some point I decided to try out my own original design. All my latest videos were based around big scenes, representing game levels. I was fed up with the fact that I simply don’t have enough time to develop every part to the point when I’m happy enough with it. I needed a small but very charismatic location for my next horror scene and what’s a better place to be terrified than in a bathroom? Pet Sematary, The Shining, and dozens of other classical movies have memorable bathroom scenes.

Visually, when it comes to atmospheric horror interiors, my biggest inspiration comes from the Victorian era. So I took some photos, gathered a nice palette and started to work.

Why Pixels?

I’m a huge fan of pixel-art in general and pixel-art graphics in games.

My most significant inspiration is in modern pixel-art, even though I really appreciate classic games and demoscene artists.

To me – the more constraints I use, the better it works for my creativity, so 128 by 128 textures and four-color palette was a perfect solution for an elegant, sharp and heavily stylized scene.

Workflow

I use FireAlpaca for my 2D-art and Blender for most other tasks. I used to work in 3ds Max for 20 years and I know my way around it much better, but I got used to working in Blender pretty quickly.

My main goal when I place my pixel-art in 3D space is to keep the size of pixels in the scene consistent and use as little texture stretch and distortion as possible. That is why I use subdivided planes with a texture as a grid.

It is also very useful if you want to apply texture coordinates for every surface, snapped to a grid at once – just merge everything with a plane the size of a texture grid and hit “box projection”.

The modelling here is different from what you would expect. Most of the time you model, unwrap and texture objects. In my case, I create textures, wrap the models around, then “peel off” the elements from the texture and assemble my objects. Sometimes I need to shape flat objects, like this curtain.

I usually never plan the scene in 3D, I draw sketches on paper then immediately start drawing textures, matching the size and proportions of the objects with a character dummy. Sometimes I fail, correct, scale and (Very rarely. Seriously. Almost never!) stretch objects to fit the scene.

Textures are what I enjoy the most in the process. I can only give two useful notes if you’re new to pixel-art or low-res pixelated textures. Always leave pixel-wide margins around separate areas of the texture. Even if you’re using pixel snapping in your UV, you’ll still be able to see a faint but very annoying edges of your textures – margins will help you avoid this. Another thing that wasn’t obvious to me as a Blender user, is a texture resolution. In order to correctly display pixels, Sketchfab requires 32*32, 64*64, 128*128 etc. textures, when Blender can easily use any 1*1 ratio texture. Otherwise your pixels will blend.

Sketchfab

The way I set up my scene on Sketchfab is very easy to understand. Respect the pixels. Classic rendering, shadeless, nearest mipmap filtering. To anyone, no matter if you’re into VR thing or not – I suggest that you spend a few moments to set up initial position and scale for VR – there are lots of people who will enjoy your creation from the inside.

I’ve re-discovered Sketchfab as the fastest way to see my scenes in VR – one click publishing from Blender and here I am – standing inside the world I’ve just created. “My god, this washing machine is enormous. How even… but it looked so perfect on the screen. Alright, I’ll scale it and no one will ever suspect a thing”. Ooops, a staff pick. Alright then, perhaps I will leave it as is.
Seriously though, VR is a most serious test of proportions.

And also it’s so ridiculously cool! The very thought of being inside your own scene is a powerful drive to create more, try more and put more personality into every new project.

Also, Sketchfab is a place where I constantly learn and analyze – I spend hours inspecting models, composition and animation.

YouTube / Tumblr

 

About the author

Max Deacon

2D/3D Artist


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