Dec. 01, 2022, by Sebastian Marek
Digital Kit Bashing Using Adobe Substance 3D Assets
Sebastian Marek details how the Substance 3D Assets library helps him focus on creativity and motion design.
After this, it was time for shading development. I wanted to have the same texture scale on every element, so I created a base plastic with textures applied using triplanar instead of using UVs. I started with basic properties of the plastic, such as base color and reflective roughness, which was broken up with the roughness texture from the Troweled Concrete material. I then reused that same texture for the bump map to break up the perfect plastic surface a bit. I find that the addition of subsurface scattering (SSS) makes a huge difference when it comes to plastic shader realism. With SSS, the material appears to be a translucent object, penetrated to some degree by light – just as in real life. Lastly, I added a slightly lighter base color on the edges controlled with curvature to further enhance the impression of light penetrating the surface.
In the last shot, I wanted to end with an effective landing of the spider on the desk. To accomplish this, I needed to rig my model. Again, I took advantage of the fact that the leg on each axis was the same, so I had to build a rig for just one leg and then apply it to the rest. This saved me a lot of time, but it wasn’t ideal because this meant I couldn’t move the spider’s legs separately. Even so, this was enough for the purposes of this shot. I started by creating a hierarchy of groups for the leg and, based on that, I made a rig using the IK (inverse kinematic) method; this essentially means that, when I moved the spider’s body up and down, the legs would follow automatically (and this, incidentally, is the opposite of the FK, or forward kinematic, method, which would have required me to animate the parts of the leg one by one to get the animation).
With my rig set up, the last thing to figure out was the piston with the spring at the bottom of the leg. I ultimately used a constraint approach to build a relationship between the spider’s body position and the piston angle. So, when the spider rises and straightens its legs, the piston rotates according to the position.
Due to the small scale of the project, I decided to edit and color correct only in After Effects. At first, I prepared a previz using viewport renders to set a general rhythm and give the Substance team an idea of the entire animation sequence. Once we’d agreed on this sequence I started polishing the animation and working on the lookdev simultaneously to deliver final renders. Before I released the final files, I adjusted the color, contrast, and light on each shot separately using Lumetri Color Effect. The changes were subtle because all the shots are from the same lighting and environment.
The final animation was 12s long (30fps) and was rendered using Redshift on a single RTX3080 Ti GPU at 1920×1080 resolution. I later took the rendered video to Topaz Video Enhance AI to upscale it to 4K, while adding sharp and natural video detail. This is how my process usually looks for final outputs at higher resolutions than FullHD, and it helps me save a lot of rendering time.