Hey everyone! My name is Taylor Crook. I am 24 years old and currently live in Melbourne, Florida. I just recently graduated from the University of Central Florida with my Bachelor of Digital Media in Game Design. My specialty is in 3D modeling, but I can also rig, animate, and code if I need to. My degree taught me all of the steps to game design and I had my hand in most all of it at some point or another.
Originally I wanted to animate in my career, whether video games or movies, I didn’t care. But my love for 3D modeling came about very suddenly for me in my first introduction to it. My first 3D modeling class was in the summer and lasted, if I remember correctly, six weeks (it might’ve been 8). It was fast paced, but I handled it and I picked up the skill very quickly. That’s when I fell in love with it. Other than 3D modeling, I like to play video games, spend time with my friends, and cuddle with my dogs. I also enjoy D&D, and my friends and I are currently playing through a custom D&D campaign that meets every week (or we try to).
I decided on my participation in the Sketchfab Inktober® challenge kind of last minute, like the last day of September. I set a couple of rules for myself before setting out for the month-long journey that is Inktober®. First, is that I could only use black and white, no color. Second, is that when looking at the model from the angle that I chose, I wanted the model to look like it had been drawn from ink on a 2D surface. The inspiration for this choice came from looking at this collection:
For Day 3 of Inktober® the prompt was the word “bait”. When I first thought of something to model for this, I actually thought of a mouse trap. But that was too easy. I eventually stopped at the idea of chum in the water, which led me to think of a shark following another fish. The third and smallest fish was actually my mother’s idea after I told her what I was doing. So, lo and behold, a shark hunting a fish, which in turn is hunting a smaller fish.
So my modeling process doesn’t start with touching the model at all, it starts with researching reference pictures. Once I have both a decent side view and front view of whatever I’m modeling, I can start my process. And if it’s a model without previous reference, I try to sketch out the basic proportions myself. Here are my references: side and front
With each reference picture picked out, I first import each image into the correct viewport. I usually put the side picture in the side-x camera and the front in the front-z camera, add these to a layer and lock it so that I don’t accidentally select them later.
For modeling, I use Maya as it is what I was taught on.
To start the shark, I create a simple cube and scale it so that the cube encapsulates both views of the shark. I then use the multi-cut tool to add a center-line down the front of the shark. I then delete half of the cube faces. Add more edges with the multi-cut tool to both the side and front of the model. Then in both the side and front camera views, adjust the model vertices to line up with the reference photo outlines. For this I turn on x-ray mode so that I can line up the vertices in the correct place on the reference photo.
That is the basic body shape of the shark down.
For the fins and the lower jaw, I select faces that are close to where those body parts are located in the reference photo and then extrude, adjusting the angle, scale, and direction of each extrusion as I go.
The eye and the teeth are separate meshes, with the eye being a simple sphere and the teeth being altered pyramids.
I go in to fine tune the model by adjusting the vertices as I see fit. I try to keep a clean edge topography as I go, so that if I need to adjust later it’s easier to do so. I also tend to switch the model to smooth mesh preview mode so that I can see what the end product will be at some point. I switch back before making changes to the model, though.
At this point if I’m happy with the shape of the model, I freeze transformations on the model and duplicate it. I set this duplication off to the side as a backup. I then duplicate again, but this time duplicate special, making the x scale: -1. This gives me the other half of the shark.
I make sure that both sides are lined up with each other before doing anything else.
I then select both halves and mesh combine. After that I select the mesh and both edges that need to be connected. You can select edges or vertices here, it doesn’t really matter. I then edit mesh > merge so that the edges/vertices connect, thus giving me a complete model. The final step of the shark was to select the model and soften edge.
I follow the same steps as above for the fish. I then duplicate that fish and scale it smaller for the third fish. I add a simple plane underneath all three fish, so when I texture, I can add shadows for the fish to give the impression that they are in the water.
UV Unwrapping and Texturing
I do a quick UV unwrap for these meshes. I’m not terribly concerned about them because I knew that they were going to be black and white. Since Inktober® is a daily contest submission and I don’t have all the time in the world, I don’t want to spend too much time on them.
Each mesh is a different material and a different texture set so that they are easier to work with in other programs.
As for the texturing process, I use Substance Painter. Since I am only using black and white, I create two fill layers, one of each color. I then add a black mask to the top fill layer, in this case a black fill layer, so that I can choose where the color black will show up. I’ve gotten into the habit of using fill layers with black masks because it makes the workflow easier. It lets you later change the color to your liking by changing the fill color, as opposed to having to re-paint a layer.
Speaking of simple set up, I only use one brush for the whole model, the artistic heavy sponge brush. I like the way it looks, and it reminds me of an artsy type of ink style.
To truly make the model look like an ink drawing, I only use the base color channel. Using only the base color channel allows the model to be viewed, in this case, in the colors of only black and white. That way the model doesn’t have any unnecessary shadows that don’t belong. It’s basically turning the global light off. So when viewing the model at any given angle, you wouldn’t see anything other than the color that I textured. This approach is so I can add shadows with the fill layers instead.
The set up in Sketchfab is actually pretty simple. Nothing too crazy. I keep the renderer set to PBR, but set the shading to shadeless. This allows the model to blend seamlessly with a solid black background. For each material I only use the Base color channel.
And for the post processing filters, I turn on the sharpness. I think it gives the model crisp edges that make it look that much more like an ink drawing.
And that is how I made this model.