Art Spotlight: Ice Fishing

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About me

Hello you people out there. I’m Chris Laurer and I am a 3D enthusiast from Germany.

If you ask me how all of this has started, I have a little story for you.

After I busted my shoulder into 1000 pieces with the help of my motorcycle, I had to stay in bed for quite a long time and after a lot of weeks playing video games I needed an alternative.

I tried a lot of commercial 3D software trials until I finally stumbled over Blender and I totally fell in love. I was digging through tons of tutorials and hours of videos. Slowly I realized that the quality of my work was rising, which, at that time, was such a huge motivation. Because I think I can speak for almost every artist out there, it’s often a very frustrating path to walk when learning new software, new techniques or even staying on your learning curve.

Now I can look back on projects like animated shorts and indie games where I met a lot of great people and new friends, but there is still a lot to learn and I’m looking forward to whatever the future brings.

The Art of ‘Ice Fishing’

The start of all of this was the 3December challenge here on Sketchfab. We had to make one model for each day in December 2018. This being said, I had only a very short amount of time to come up with something related to the topic for this particular day, whose topic was Ice Fishing. Unfortunately I had the stereotypical ‘hole in the ice and fishing rod beside’ kind of thing already on the North Pole topic on one of the first days in the challenge. Sooo I needed something else and voila, after shaking my brain for a few minutes I had the idea to put the bait on the hook but inside an ice cube. Because of the cartoonish nature of this idea the first character which came into my mind was Earthworm Jim; I checked some references (hook, Earthworm Jim, ice) and started modeling.

The tools of choice on this project are Blender for all the modeling and Substance Painter for the coloring job.

I started with the ice cube. It’s a very simple shape and after checking some ice cubes straight out of my freezer at home I realized there are air bubbles inside them, as well as some cracks. My focus was only on the bubbles though. After some minor tweaks on the particle system in Blender I moved on to the editor on Sketchfab. I knew I wanted to use the refraction shader on the cube but with the bubbles inside, I ran into a little problem because that geometry wouldn’t show up in the render. I had to make the air inclusions a separate material and set the opacity shader to additive. Now I was happy with the result and moved on to the hook.

It is just a basic model of a classic fishing hook. For the worm I used a curve to find the general shape and position of the little friend and, after I liked the pose, I modeled a little head and tongue.

UV unwrapping the whole thing was really easy and the texturing was basic as well.

To get a good result with the opacity shader in Sketchfab I was sure to add a subtle roughness texture to it.

Setup on Sketchfab

The majority of work here was done by the amazing features of the Sketchfab render engine.

I never thought that a simple scene like this could turn out so nicely.

First I set the field of view to a low 23° to gain more of the cartoonish look I was after.

Generating an AO ground shadow adds a lot to the depth and helps to make sense of the perspective.

For the materials I always work in the metal roughness territory. In this case I have a base color, metalness and roughness map.

Now that I had the general color of my object I could select an environment HDRI to set the lighting. For this scene I don’t even use lights.

After I had adjusted the SSS on the worm and the refraction on the ice cube the model slowly came together.

The final tweaks were the post processing effects, which are very powerful and the last step to the final render.

In this case, screen space reflections and ambient occlusion are just super subtle but I really like the effect.

I made sure not to overuse sharpness, chromatic aberrations, vignette and bloom.
One of the settings with the most impact on the final result is tone mapping. Here I went with the linear color type and played a little bit on the sliders.

Last but not least I set the shadows or mid tones a little bit towards blue in the color balance option to get a color effect I really liked.

And thats it … thats all it takes to put a worm into an ice cube.

Closing Words

I have been using Sketchfab for four years now and I use it as a portfolio, source for inspiration, selling my work, downloading props or even just to kill some time looking at art for hours.

I am so glad to have a platform for all my needs when it comes to 3D content. Thank you Sketchfab for the opportunity to write this article and thank you for reading it.

Ahhh and before we go back to work, I would love if you stop by and check out my Sketchfab profile (=



About the author

Chris Laurer

3D Enthusiast from south Germany addicted to speed, beer and polygons.

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