Stylized Artwork

March 10, 2023

I was recently inspired to explore a new art style after playing games like Overwatch, Valorant and Sea of Thieves. To appease my appetite to design, I spent the last couple of months learning how to paint 3D models using Blender’s “Texture Paint” feature.

Here are some tips and tricks I discovered:

  1. Design the model first using quads – Unwrapping models using tris is a nightmare. Quads make it easier for computers to automatically unwrap meshes.
  2. Use the “Mirror” modifier for symmetrical models – Less geometry and smaller file sizes can greatly improve your game’s performance.
  3. Unwrap your UV map before painting – Do your best to utilize ever pixel on your texture. After you map your meshes to a 2D plane, it is nearly impossible to add new mesh info without introducing visible seems.
  4. Add the “Triangulate” modifier before painting – Avoid texture stretching by prescriptively rending tris in your Blender preview. Game engines will attempt to convert quads to tris for you, which will introduce more processing and unpredictable results.
  5. Start your texture with the darkest color – Dark colors should be the foundation of your work.
  6. Add lightest colors using quick brush strokes – Your brush is like a flashlight: use it to reveal the unseen details.
  7. Use weaker brush strokes to blend the contrast – Less transparent colors make the texture feel more hand-drawn.
  8. Paint with a peck-and-drag motion – Short brush strokes create a more appealing texture.
  9. Use the “Blend” tool to create directional textures – This is super helpful for creating wood or metal textures
  10. Use the “Soften” tool to hide errors – Use this tool to soften the contrast between 2 colors.

After immersing myself into the world of 3D modeling, I have discovered a new appreciate for artists that do this for a living. I probably invested over 100 hours of creating these stylized models, and feel like I hardly scratched the surface.

In game development, you have 3 options:

  1. Pause game development and focus on improving other game design skills (this is where I’m at right now)
  2. Focus on development and accept the fact that your assets look ugly (this is where I often live)
  3. Focus on development and purchase assets (this is where I should probably be)

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