This page is devoted to the pipeline of my modeling!


The Making of USS Xavier



The project began last year when my brother orchestrated a fictional Star Trek theme. We both started imagining what an interesting Star Trek Credit sequence would look like. This came to a screeching halt the moment I realized how long the render-time would take.

Animation. The camera stays in a fixed point as the models revolve.

Animation. The camera stays in a fixed point as the models revolve.

Enter Sketchfab. By using real-time 3D instead, I was able to have a lot more freedom in seeing what looked good vs. using pre-rendered video, allowing for faster trial and error. The only problem was Sketchfab, by design, had no camera animation.



I ended up creating the solution to this like one of those “Star Tour” rides: have the environment revolve around a fixed camera point! To my surprise, it ended up working perfectly and after a ton of optimization, I was ready to publish it.

The Making of 'The Making of Uh-Uh'

Thundercat Model (with weird fingertips!)

Thundercat Model (with weird fingertips!)

As far as difficult projects go, this was probably one of my Top 10, although it started mostly as a test run for 'Max 2018. 


I modeled a recording studio based off of the one I was working in back in 2009.  After that, I modeled Thundercat and his electric bass in cartoon form using the (then) new MaxtoA Arnold Render.  Getting the hair right was particularly challenging with his hat on.

Studio Set

Studio Set


And then the real fun began.

Fingering Sheet

Fingering Sheet


I transcribed all of "Uh-Uh's" bass solo on my electric bass and added the bass' finger positions as key-frames at the beginning of my animation timeline, using post-its on my monitor for reference.  With my bass transcription, I recreated the solo note-for-note using fake Thundercat. 


I worked a few days on camera swoops and background details.  After that, it was just a matter of plotting out the head explosion/mixing room camera, and rendering...the entire render cycle was about a month. Then I exported the .tga sequence to After Effects to finish it up.  

Oh, and I played the cello arrangement at the beginning based on "MmmHmm" by Flying Lotus. 

Link: The Making of "Uh Uh" 


Arcade Machine mapping

Music Box mapping

Here are gifs showcasing how my mapping on an object works.  I UV unwrapped and triangulated both objects in 3DS Max before exporting to Substance Painter 2.  The Arcade Machine has 746 verts and the Music Box has 1,130 verts, the majority from the beveling and support edge-loops. 

Although Substance Painter 2 is incredibly powerful, sometimes you need good old Photoshop for decal work.  I wanted the gritty look of old arcade cabinet art (think Data East "Commando") and experimented with brushes. 


I exported the UV layout to Substance Painter 2 after I was satisfied, and imported it as a fill layer.  If you do any work between the two, make sure you save in a transparency-allowed format to avoid frustration...

Arcade UVs plus side art

I started Outpost with the robot since I knew it would take the longest time. 

After that I worked on a low-poly character model and animation adding a small amount of subsurface scattering and reflection to save on render time later.

Finally I worked on peppering the desert landscape with objects and the camera track system, I was trying to get a perfect upward spiral at the end.

Harpoon occurred with the realization that I'd only created objects based on reference photos in Blender, never 'Max.  The goal was to get through my Create-Unwrap-Texture-Export process in three days.  I also managed to keep the vert count at around 3,100.

'Max requires setting up of any reference photos by hand, so after a brief Google image search I created two planes and attached this photo on the X and Y axis.  (Note to budding artists: the 'see through' option for objects is really hit or miss, for transparency it's better to just just lower its visibility to zero.)  

Harpoon reference photo

Harpoon UV mapping before moving to 0-1 space

Harpoon UV mapping and packing

Substance Painter 2 is quite good at grit.  I mostly use a Black Mask with a combo of dirt generators and particle brushes to get the right amount of rust in the crevices.   

Even with my new computer setup (64 GB of RAM and a Quadro K1200 GPU) I had to delicately tread around the 2048 texture resolution until the final render. As you can see, I was adding A LOT of layers.   


Odds 'n Ends

Apple Another one of my alphabet renders. I created my own showcase backdrop because I found 'Max's a little bland. Decided I wanted to go with some Neo-Brutalist walls.

Ephemeris Logo One of my first forays into Subsurface Scattering

Late Night/Early Morning An alternate angle of the Kitto HQ. I wanted the office to be running the most cumbersome Windows UI, so I decided on a system like pong where instead of clicking the icon, you had to hit it with the paddles on the bottom and side. I'm proud of my icons!

Pong Windows