Hello Sketchfab, my name is Vlad Tabacaru. I am a 3D artist at Gameloft in Bucharest, Romania. I always liked playing games, so when I was a student at a graphics academy, I said, “why not work in games?”. At first, I was a 2D artist and after a year I shifted towards 3D. Since then I have enjoyed modeling 3D assets. If you’re interested, you can also see my works on ArtStation.
Why a tram?
This answer is simple—I have always liked trains, and mostly everything on rails, as well as cars, vehicles, and things like this. I searched on Google for a nice model tram and when I saw pictures of this vintage piece, I said, this is the one! After making a lot of realistic assets at work, I wanted to take a break from realism and tried something more stylized in my spare time.
Since it’s an old model that’s not used anymore, it was a little tricky to find good quality Google images that showed different angles. But ultimately I managed to find enough for my stylized model, and what I couldn’t find, I improvised.
I used 3ds Max as the modeling software. The first step was a simple draft to figure out basic shapes, proportions, and colors.
After that, I started to make the high poly model. I tried to keep it simple since I always put a lot of effort into details. But for this project, I chose to paint the details in the texture. I tried different shapes—cartoony, inflated—but decided to go with a more realistic, basic shape.
I extracted the low poly from the high poly and reduced a lot of edges. I wanted it to look good, and since I did not have a polycount limit to stick to, I made it cover the high poly mesh well.
The next step was unwrapping. I used Unfold 3D, which I find very simple and fast to use. It took me a lot of time to arrange the unwrapped parts in the square since I wanted to have good texture resolution and not waste space. The baking process was done in Marmoset. I baked more versions of the tram with doors and other moving parts open and closed for the ambient occlusion. I made more texture sets for different elements because I wanted to have really good texture quality.
My favorite part of this model was the texturing. It involved a lot of testing at the beginning because I didn’t know how exactly I wanted it to look at the end. The first iteration was more
cartoonish, with black lines on the hard edges, but I changed it few times until I was happy with the result. I used many layers, with the hatching added at the end.
I used only Photoshop for texturing. It reminded me of the moments when I was a graphics student and I intensely liked using my Wacom tablet, which has been gathering dust.
Uploading the model to Sketchfab, I used moderate post-processing settings just to make the model look a bit sharper and more saturated.
I used values for metalness and roughness, to make it look more cartoonish. Here are my settings.