Art Spotlight: Neko Restaurant

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My name is Elodie, I’m a French independent game artist, living in Lyon. I worked on mini/fan-games for fun, mobile games for Bigpoint, and now I’m trying to create my own game studio with some friends.

I love video games, drawing, audio fiction, Japanese culture…

I’m used to modeling low-poly 3D models with small textures, because I love optimization! However, I also like to experiment with new 3D techniques. My favorite softwares are Adobe Photoshop, Maya Autodesk and Unity.

Since I make 3D models, I like to use as few vertices as possible with lots of colors for the texturing. I appreciate cartoonish and semi-realistic styles. Recently, I discovered Joyce’s works, therefore I wanted to texture my low poly models with colorful gradients only, with very small resolutions like 32×32 or 64×64 pixels. I created a little sand rabbit and Link from the latest Zelda game to experiment with this “technique”, but I wanted to try an environment, or a landscape.

About Neko Restaurant

First, for all of my works, I try to search for things I like and some references. I wanted to eat sushi, and I love tea and cats (“neko” in Japanese). I love the Japanese concept of “neko cafés”, there is one in Lyon (you can drink hot chocolate or herbal tea and eat pastries with lovely cats!). So, I decided to model a low poly Neko restaurant scene with Joyce’s “gradient” technique.

Secondly, I searched for some references:

Then, I started to model the general view in Maya 2017. I was careful of the number of vertices in my scene.

Once the base was set, I added some large elements, and I textured them : I created a simple image composed by a lot of vertical colorful gradients with Photoshop, and I used Maya to texture.

I started to use Sketchfab editor at this point, because Maya’s basic viewport is very ugly as you can see, those are not the “real” colors…

The “gradient” texturing was easy and quick : you don’t have to make beautiful UVs, you just have to stretch the element’s UV on the right gradient (Remember: the goal is to have very low poly models with very small textures for the entire scene: diffuse maps only, no need to bake). I like to pick positive, ambient and beautiful colors. For the Neko Restaurant, I chose to replace black with violet and used warm and cute hues like pink, purple, mauve, yellow, gold… I excluded black, grey or desaturated colors.

The funniest part started: creating more details! I love adding small objects, little stories, life in the scene!

Thankfully, this looks more beautiful on Sketchfab, or with a real render!

In the end, I’d like to thank Sketchfab for offering a lot of post-process settings in the 3D editor, I appreciate ambient occlusion, sharpness, vignette and bloom for cartoon-styled renders! For this scene, I added 3 directional lights too.


I’m happy with the final render ^.^

Thank you for reading and thanks to Sketchfab for offering me the chance to show and explain my work! See ya o/

Feel free if you have any question :
You can check my 3D work in my Sketchfab gallery.
If you want to see my other works.

About the author


Indie game artist, games and cat enthusiast

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  • I absolutely love this and I love using this method to make pretty things with nice color palettes!! You did such a lovely job, this scene is so cute and I love the colors.

    Just so you know, there is actually a way to see the “real” colors in maya though!! If you go up to the “Lighting” tab and go down a few, there’s a “flat lighting” option that makes the process a lot easier (bc then you don’t have to go back and forth wondering if it actually looks good)! I wish it had a keyboard shortcut because switching between wireframe and shaded is easy, but I’m pretty sure you’ll always have to manually switch back to flat lighting in the viewport.
    Thanks for sharing your cool art !!

  • Avatar Cie says:

    Nice work, beautiful colors and great atmosphere, inspiring! I like the techniques you use, thank you for sharing!

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