The Sleeper Awakens. Integrating 3D Coat more comprehensively into my workflow

The recent system upgrade has finally allowed me to start putting 3D Coat through its paces in an integrated visualisation workflow. I’ve owned a copy for quite a few years however my previous system seriously limited its utility. Any moderately detailed voxel or surface sculpt would leave my old system dead in a ditch.

After an initial thumbnail establishing the overall composition a brief exploration of the visual language of the architectural forms, I dove into 3D Coat to create a collection of assets from which I could construct the interior. Through a heavy use of the symmetry tool and of Stencils (both my own and those created by others) using the Extrude tool I created the secondary and tertiary details, as well as the damage and weathering.

These assets were then individually exported as obj’s, reducing the polys in the conversion from voxel objects by 80 to 90 percent (depending on the level of detail).

Additionally, I created a rough and ready sculpt for the head and torso of ‘Cthulhu’ who will be seen emerging through a doorway. I didn’t need to invest too much time in the detail or fidelity of this sculpt as he would be quite distant and shrouded in mist.

These assets were then imported into Blender with the positioning and POV of the camera referencing my initial thumbnail.

To reduce the file size, system load, and render-times (as these are very poly heavy assets) I created Collection Instances for duplicates. For the material I wanted the cavities to be accentuated and to suggest the buildup of grime and dirt. For the materials, I created a Vertex Color instance under the Object Data Properties tab, shifted over to Texture Paint workspace, set the Object Interaction mode to Vertex Paint, and selected Dirty Vertex Colors from the Paint menu. This creates a Dirt Map based on the Cavities.

In the Shader Editor I created two copies of the Principled Shader – one for the overall material and another for the colour and properties of the Dirt Map. A Mix Shader was used to combine them, and Attribute and Color Ramp nodes were used to specify the Cavity Map and control its scale and edges.

The rest is playing with lighting with a mix of warm local and cool ambient lights, and volume shaders to create areas of mist and fog. The figure in the foreground was created in Makehuman and posed in Blender. Rendered in Cycles with a ‘Clown pass’ created with Workbench to make masking and separating easier in Photoshop.

Maybe I'll post some demonstration videos next time I use this workflow.

Posted: 28/04/2021
Category: 3D , 3D coat , Blender , Environment Design , Practice , Work in Progress