Art Spotlight: Zorki-4

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About me

Hi, I’m Marek Polívka (Sketchfab, ArtStation) and I’m a 3D artist from Czechia. I mostly enjoy making various hard-surface things: mostly military vehicles and weapons but I like to occasionally try something different like this Zorki – 4 rangefinder camera.

I was always drawn to 3D in some way. I started out building plastic models of planes and tanks, then I spent quite a bit of time in Minecraft building large-scale models of things and finally a course at an IT university I attended properly introduced me to Blender. Beyond that, though, I’m mostly self-taught.

marek polivka tiger tank

A Tiger I started in Minecraft but never finished (more screenshots here)

In the beginning, I luckily stumbled upon Notre Game, a small Czech studio working on Scratch Wars who gave me a chance to start out in the game development industry. After that, I moved on to WarFriends from About Fun. During my stay there I started working on Post Scriptum in my free time where I eventually started working full time (mostly on Plan Jaune and Day of Days) and finally, I joined Bohemia Interactive where I now work on a project that is yet to be announced.

Why this camera

I’ve been working on larger models at work that take a lot of time to finish and it started feeling somewhat monotonous. This caused me a creative itch I just had to scratch and I had to scratch it quickly.

I wanted to try something with materials I could play with that I haven’t properly done before. I wanted something that would take me a week at most to finish, I wanted it to look cool and I wanted to relax while making it.

I started looking into Soviet-era fighters (like the Mig-21) and American WWII bombers because of their unusual metallic finish and rivets. However, I always try being as accurate as possible so I probably wouldn’t let myself finish a model without a somewhat complete landing gear or other details. Those wouldn’t fit into the desired time frame.

Next, I wondered about a small tank with slightly fewer details than what I usually do to try some new approaches to the damage, weathering, etc. I almost settled on a Wiesel AWC but the complexity of the autocannon seemed daunting. It was not the relaxing task I had envisioned.

I then started thinking about smaller things. Looking at some rifles, I thought of some cool optical sights and through that, I got back to planes. I thought since Polikarpov I-16 fascinates me and I’d like to model it at some point, I could start with making its gunsight, the PAK-1 since it has nice details, interesting materials, and wouldn’t take too long to make.

The problem with this sight, however, was the lack of easily findable references. I wanted to do something like that though. Something precise and ideally vintage. I started thinking about old cameras and after a while, one photo caught my eye.

I saw the weathering on the lens, the elegant Cyrillic name of the camera, the beautiful vintage aesthetic, and I felt a need to recreate it, so I finally got to work.

Modeling

Modeling was fairly straightforward and all done in Blender. I approached it like any other high poly version of a model for a game, keeping the subdivision modifier in mind. That means, support edges everywhere!

Here’s a short tutorial:

  1. Set up some blueprints (or photos that are close enough to blueprints)
    zorki-4 blender setup
  2. Make a rough shape of the body
    zorki-4 blender blockout
  3. Model the rest of the camera
    zorki-4 blender mesh

It’s difficult to describe my approaches to modeling. They’ve become natural to me and I don’t really think about them anymore. Trying to describe them would produce a much longer article and I’d have to start a new model with the express purpose of writing that tutorial. Maybe some other time.

Texturing

This was the most fun part. I got to try creating some high-res materials since I don’t model small things very often. I started in Inkscape, preparing various bits that would look bad if I tried recreating them by hand. It’s often nice to prepare them in a vector graphics software.

zorki-4 alphas

Masks and alphas prepared in Inkscape

zorki-4 inkscape markings

Jupiter – 8 lens markings prepared in Inkscape

Next, I set up the fabric. I started with a default Substance Painter material, created the pattern by mixing the variously blurred stripes pattern, and some noise textures.

zorki-4 texture

Then I prepared the brushed metal material for the lens and the knobs. I started with one of the default steel materials in Substance Painter and added some brushing, color variation, and other weathering.

zorki-4 lens texture

The other materials were somewhat more standard for me. The main material on the body is a slightly blue metal with a noise texture dealing with the grain + some basic scratches, and the dark metal is made a little uneven through a grunge texture + some hand-painted damage.

The Final Piece

And some Cycles renders:

Conclusion

I’m quite happy about this. I achieved what I set out to do, it made a pleasant distraction from the big projects at work and it has pushed my skills a little bit.

Thanks for reading and thanks to Sketchfab for noticing and featuring my work.

About the author

Marek Polívka

3D hard-surface artist


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