Fix it Friday: zOTACHI

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In the Fix it Friday series we’re taking awesome designs and supercharge their presentation using Sketchfab tools.

I’m a big fan of Dopepope’s sculpts (and his nickname ;-). While browsing his models I did get the feeling we could improve his presentation further by tweaking some rendering, lighting and material settings. With his permission I used a copy of zOTACHI and sat down with developer Stéphane who talked me through the new PBR settings.

So let’s look at the original model first. The sculpting is amazing, but the harsh sharpening over accentuates some issues with the geometry and I think the lighting and color isn’t particularly attractive.

I’m going to try and achieve a clay render look with realistic lighting using only Sketchfab’s built-in editors

Not using textures? Switch to Physically Based Rendering

Lesson one I learned today is that if you’re not using textures, your model will almost always look better with our new Physically Based Renderer:

Set up lighting

Next, I’m switching to the Lighting tab and disable all existing lights with the toggle button:

When using PBR, your main light source will be the environment. You should really only add extra lights if you need some very specific lighting like a rim light or an extra highlight somewhere.

Now enable the environment and select an environment map that you like. For my purposes, I decided to go for ‘Foodprint Court’. Tweak the brightness a bit to make sure you bring out all the right details in your model:

Setting up materials and shaders

Now we’re ready to prepare the materials. I’ll be using the Metalness PBR workflow, and my first decision is to make this a non-metal by setting Metalness to zero. This will result in a nice dull material for my clay.

As a reminder, your Metalness value should always be either 0 or 1, not something in between as this would result in a physically unrealistic material. If you want to add Metalness details with a texturemap, set this slider to 1.

Next, I’ve bumped my roughness all the way up to 100, again to achieve that nice dull clay look.

Adjusting the base color

To finish the brown clay look, I’m going to edit the Base color. Click on the Base color icon, switch from ‘texture’ to ‘color’ to select a solid base color and edit away!

Adding some post-processing

I decided to remove all sharpening from Dopepope’s setup. The geometry is cool enough as it is, and adding sharpness seemed to introduce some distracting noise. I also wasn’t too sure about the vignette as I’m aiming for a somewhat brighter scene, but this of course (like many other things in this article) is an artistic choice.

I added some bloom to add some suggestion of size, and learned an important trick: with super bright environments, your lighting values may clip to a maximum and this will lead to large over-exposed areas. Enable tone mapping and select ‘Reinhard’ or ‘Filmic’ mapping to normalise your light and bring out a larger range of detail in your lighting:

Final result

So here you have it – by using nothing but the built-in Sketchfab tools we supercharged the presentation of the zOTACHI. What do you think?

Don’t forget to check out Dopepope’s portfolio here on Sketchfab – he has tons of amazing sculpts like this.

About the author


Bart Veldhuizen

Head of Community at Sketchfab. 3D Scanning enthusiast and Blenderhead. Running BlenderNation in my spare time.


  • I’d like to think there is an easy way to “Fix it Friday” this motel swimming pool. It looks like an un-flushed dirty toilet. I can’t fill the pool with clean water before flying the dronedeploy mission with my Phantom 3 so what can I do to fill it with blue color after the data is captured? Any hints? Thanks

  • Avatar Bart Veldhuizen says:

    You’re right, there is no direct way to edit and improve this in our 3D editor. However, you can download your own model, import it into a 3D editing app and add a transparent blue plane to the pool to simulate the water. If you then re-upload the model you can tweak the material properties in our editor.

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