Hi everyone! My name is Andrew Chernyshov, and I’m an independent game developer from Saint-Petersburg, Russia. For three years I have been developing and publishing games, and sometimes as a hobby I make models for Sketchfab.
I started to learn 3D when I was at school about 15 years ago. There was no regular Internet and I had to study on tiny articles from game magazines. Each new article was a holiday, I photocopied it and collected them all in a handmade book of my own, “how to model.” (Yes, there were no such opportunities for self-study as there are now :)) I’ve never studied CG art and games anywhere, but I graduated from the University with a degree in Graphic Design – it has helped me to organize all my knowledge and skills in CG.
Love for games and the desire to develop them always encouraged me to learn how to draw, program, model and animate. Love for games also defined the styles in which I work. The limited capabilities of game engines, the constant need to save resources, etc. pushed me to make everything simpler. But simpler does not mean boring – the absence of complex lighting and textures motivates to look for some other instruments of expressiveness, with more emphasis on design and the use of different tricks to achieve a good result.
On Sketchfab you can find many charming works that look like a drawing. Here is one of my favorites:
I became interested in challenging myself to reproduce a similar effect. As a basis, I chose my game Fury Turn with a very simple visual style.
As part of the work on this scene, I decided to try to use the inverted normals and pseudo-reflections (as in old games) to the fullest. All these things you can do in any 3D editor, personally I used 3DS Max.
It all started with a battery. I had an image of how the battery looks in the game, and I tried to recreate it as accurately as possible in the 3D editor. To create cartoon specular I used several layers of cylinders with inverted normals – this was how I achieved the desired effect. For specular on the upper plane I had to make a cone that dipped inward with a circle on the bottom.
Work on the scene began with a helicopter. The first thing I was interested in was to recreate the specular on the glass, as in the original picture of the helicopter from the game. This required several nested spheres with flipped normals. Some spheres also had to be slightly curved to convey the sensation of the lens (for example, along the edge of the windshield).
Working on the hull of the helicopter, I came up with another idea – to try to make a metallic glare effect using the same simple trick. After experimenting a bit, the following result was obtained:
Surely, anyone who played the old games knows about this cheap trick of imitation of reflection: the floor is not a floor, but a hole through which the reflected geometry of the model is visible. This is very often found in games on old consoles:
I recreated this effect for a puddle of oil on the ground, adding a little specular to the edge. Polygon edges can be seen only if the camera is lowered.
Reflections on ice are similarly made. Initially, I planned for it to be flat, but in the course of the work came the idea of imitating distortions. I took advantage of the fact that only two colors are used for water and reflections. This allowed the addition of details that smoothly merge with the background.
A little more about the outline. In fact, it’s just a copied inflated geometry of black color with inverted normals. This technique is often used to transmit cartoon style in not too resource-intensive games. However, the features of its implementation lead to some unavoidable artifacts. For example, in a complex form with some foreshortening, the stroke begins to look strange. To correct this defect, you have to duplicate it in problem areas and change the shift distance. This can work in a static scene like mine, but do not try to repeat it in your games 🙂
Sketchfab provides many options for detailed customization of renders, materials and post-processing. Working in gamedev, I always try to economize the resources of the device in one way or another, and this model is no exception. It has only one texture with a color palette and no lighting – on the one hand this is a limitation, but on the other hand it gives the ability to create all those visual effects with which the scene is stuffed.
To customize the scene in Sketchfab, I used the shadless shading, solid color background and single side face rendering of course (the main part of “the magic” of the scene). Besides, I used the soft grain post-effect, which makes the scene looks more like an 2D-image.
Many thanks to the Sketchfab team for the opportunity to share mу ideas and developments! If you are interested in my games, you can find them on the links below