[Artist in Residence] - Graveyard Diorama

I'm also not quite sure why we choose to visit graveyards at night either but hey ho

So here's a quick breakdown on how I textured the boat :grinning:

I began by multiplying the AO on a fill layer over everything - not sure either of us have actually posted a screenshot on here before but that's the basic set up of it.

From here, I used a variety of different generators in Substance Painter to create the colour variations in the wood, but to also add different height levels to the normal. I then put dirt and dust masks over everything to create the lighter more damaged areas of the wood.

I then had to hand paint the rim of the boat with the scratched metal smart material in SP. I adjusted the roughness values and contrast levels to get the wear looking quite realistic.

From start to finish - here's an example of the way I created the wear on the wood.

Finally, I used the standard bone material in SP, and created a leather material to paint onto the straps. This was just a case of having a base colour, using a generator to affect the normal and roughness values and finally adding some fabric edge wear to the whole thing.

Here's the model!


Really cool breakdown. I've only dabbled in Substance Painter. Makes me realize how powerful the generators are to save time with this level of detail!


Thanks Paul! I'd definitely have a bit more of a play around with it, the generators and new masks that have been added into 2.0 are absolutely awesome!

Looking really spooky and atmospheric so far, also excellent texture work :+1:


Hi everyone, thanks for all the nice comments!

We're nearing the end of this project with a few small things left to add. I'd just like to share a few sneaky screenshots of the end result and also I've figured out a pretty effective way to get past the Sketchfab three light system.

So there's your sneaky preview. And here's how I got round the three light system.

Here's an image with the boat lit by an actual point light and self lit with an emissive map to get round the three light issue. The actual light obviously interacts with the roughness/metalness maps and the self illuminated emissive technique does not interact in the same way. That said it's still better as implied light than no light at all. The breakdown for it, it's essentially just painted orange with the ambient occlusion (the occluded parts of it) layed over the top. It's not perfect but it sells the effect. Hopefully that's a useful trick for some people reading.

That's all for this small post but we'll have the final project along shortly.
Thanks for reading everyone.


Thanks for all the comments guys - we really appreciate them!

We're nearing the end of this project now, it's only the inside of the mausoleum left to do and that's pretty much it.

But for now, I'll give you guys a quick insight into some of the more basic things we've done to the diorama that were in the concept. They don't really need much of an explanation - they don't have any fancy shaders or workflows behind them.

I'll start with the water. I remember saying a few posts back that we decided to make the scene on an island in the middle of the ocean. Well the water has now been added into the scene.

Instead of just having a flat plane of water with a normal on it, Chris made some little low poly spheres and placed a water foam alphas on them, to make it appear as though the water is splashing up against the rocks.

In the concept, you'll also see that we had some railings. I went ahead and created a really base mesh using a combination of standard meshes and splines to create the curved bits towards the top. I then attached this all together as one mesh, arrayed it, welded all the verts and then created a spline that followed the path of the ground. I then put a path deform modifier on the mesh, and picked the spline. Once I'd got it in the right place, I collapsed my modifier stack and applied both bend and taper modifiers to create a wonky look to the railings.

Chris also made the moon, which is literally just a plane. Nothing fancy there.

Then finally we've got the steps. I imported the ground mesh into ZBrush, created some rectangles and placed them around where the steps would go. From here, I used the same technique we used on both the gravestones and the mausoleum and stretched them slightly to make each one look slightly different. The ones that are closer to the ocean are slightly wore weathered than the ones I've placed closer to the mausoleum.

I used the same smart material created for the gravestones for these. I just added a few different masks to add variation :grin:


Hey again everyone!

So we've just now completed the project.

Had a last minute idea to treat the diorama as some sort of text based RPG, utilising Sketchfab's annotations.

But yeah, that's pretty much it! I'm not sure there's anything else we want to add to it, but if you can think of anything at all, please let us know! We'd love to hear some feedback :grin:

I'd just like to thank everyone at Sketchfab for giving us the opportunity to do this, we've has so much fun on it and was a great way to end 2016! I hope you all have a wonderful Christmas and a fab 2017! :grin: :christmas_tree:


woa, looks really great
I think it could use a bit of optimization though. While the polycount is great, you have quite a lot of textures (71)
Quite a few of those could be a bit lower probably without to much difference.

Also noticed this under the grave :slight_smile:

+ there seems to be an animation take for no real reason.
Also some items like the tombstone (near the shovel) and the main grave got a bit of a weird wireframe/retopo

But what i really like, aside from the quite detailed thread here are your little details
the light beams (why did i never think of that)
the little water orbs
and the general light setup with your occlusion map, looks really cool even if you move the light a bit :slight_smile:

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Hi man! Thanks for the kind words.

You've got to acknowledge everything that has it's own separate texture sheet still has to exist of three texture sheets (albedo, roughness and normal) for it to function in a PBR manner. I can assure you there's no sheets wasted, infact I think we used the bare minimum. Obviously a couple of assets here and there use maybe an alpha map or an emissive, but that's it.

Yeah you'll find all the meshes don't have a bottom. If it's underneath, why render it? Saves polygons.

The graves are just triangulated and decimated to save on the poly count.

No idea why there's an animation take actually.


this is spectacular!!
i need to try some of these techniques myself

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well i did mean more of a way to combine a few of the objects into one, i am well aware substance painter create 4+ maps for each texture :slight_smile:
it's sometimes better to take 4 of the 1k maps and merge them to one 2k :smiley: (except for stuff with blending/alphas , that sometimes got to stay separate :D)

And with the grave i did mean more of a, move it 2cm to it doesn't clip and looks like it just goes into the floor :smiley: I mostly remove stuff that can't be seen too, since it saves polys and texture space.

Ah kay, just thought it looks a bit weird since you have some objects with quite the nice topo and some without :slight_smile: Figured you could made those 2 a bit lower while still keeping the same look, but that was just nitpicking anyway :smiley:

I admire and respect the skills required to create models by hand using photography as a starting point. Capturing Reality has allowed me to digitize models that need cleanup. Pieces come out right, but not all of the pieces all of the time. Much of the detailed work is faithfully done by my computer, but I still need Mesh Lab or Z-brush. This effort was done to see how well I could do a wrought iron fence; https://sketchfab.com/models/6f3f77e88bea458ea573a67f3e8a7cc1

Yeah I guess you could put a few on the same sheet. I much prefer doing each asset individually, cause you'd have to texture them together if they were on the same sheet. Well actually you could put them together in photoshop afterwards. Still a lot of effort for all the maps though.

Graves could be a bit lower, you're right. They're still not overly high anyway, a couple of thousand. They're the first things made and we weren't sure what kind of resolution we we're going to have. That's why a lot of the other assets are more optimized than the graves. If that was for a game you'd probably go back and retop it again to match the resolution of everything else.

Thank you! Photogrammetry isn't something we use very often. Generally with things quite unique and complicated. Organic stuff like rocks or trees would be useful. But things that are quicker to model than the scanning process shouldn't be scanned really. Not in our line of work, but it's still interesting to see.

Don't get me wrong i really like it, just thought i give a few inputs for maybe a future sketchfab specfic project. Most engines do combine maps in the end and don't have as much issues as for example sketchfab (as an online viewer with limited power / having to download the textures)

Just thought it as a way to improve it even more just for webview :slight_smile:

Anyway great work on it :slight_smile: I will try a few of your little tricks out at some point :smiley:

Just a bit of a tangent here is that for GigaPan panoramas we can create images that are 120K x 30K pixels. The "trick" is the use of Silverlight or Ajax to store the images in a coordinate adressed files where Z means which cluster of 256x256 image blocks will be selected for the rendering to the monitor. Each click of the zoom in takes the viewer to the next level of resolution, and tier of file folders. An example - watch the resolution improve as it downloads only the part that appears on your monitor. How much texture do you want? :slight_smile: http://gigapan.com/galleries/7454/gigapans/130902

Yeah you've lost me. I have no idea what you're talking about, it seems like you're trying to get us to use your website or something? :confounded:

Stunning work! The lighting really adds another dimension to this scene, even though the details already do so much legwork. Great story with the annotations as well. So what actually happened to the ransacked tomb? :thinking:

Great way to start the year, thank you for this!

Add on: I posted about the project here! Feel free to share with everyone on your respective social networks.

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Ahh thank you so much!

The annotations were a really last minute thing - Chris' idea to try and keep the story flowing through it :blush: As for the tomb, that's something we're leaving for people to interpret as they see fit :grin:

It actually all spurred from a Mercat ghost tour we went on before an interview in Edinburgh - highly recommend doing one if you happen to visit the city! :grin:

You're welcome! It was a fab way to end the year for us and both really enjoyed doing it!

Thank you for sharing too :grinning: