Hippolyte Pitoiset is a freelance 3D artist based in Brittany. He is has a speciality in surfacing art and has worked in Dublin and Montreal. Find him on ArtStation.
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For this artwork, I did some sketches before I began. What I do normally is simply sketch in 3D and see where it goes. But for this one, I was inspired one night and started to sketch this out. You see, I do a lot of fishing where I live in in my home of Brittany, on the west coast on France. I really love fish!
Once I was done with my drawling, I chose the sketch that I liked the most and started to create it in 3D. Suddenly, it started to depart from what I had drawn in my sketches, and I was flooded with new ideas.
I had some technical issues at the beginning. I didn’t really know how to do the scales. I find Blender easy to use so that’s where I began the process with modeling the structure out, while the texturing was all done in Substance 3D Painter. I enjoy using Painter a lot as it’s intuitive to use, and I feel confident using it as I’ve used it from when I was at school, up to now in my professional life.
I did some color sketches in Adobe Photoshop on top of my structure and following this I stared to work in Painter. I drew some inspiration from Mad Max and had the idea to make this fish house in a steampunk style – a little bit apocalyptic in the details.
You’ll see things like sharp teeth. I wanted to achieve this same apocalyptic kind of feeling in my texturing. I tried to imagine the kind of character that would live in such a house, and this brought the artwork to life for me. I performed a few tests with different colors, and in the end created a smart material of a kind of yellow and red which I used for the fish’s eyes as well as for the scales.
To perfect the scales, I used some references from a few different fish. I did a gradient from the bottom to the top and added some variation too. I also added some patterns to the scales. I kept have fresh ideas as I was texturing, so there were a few times where I went back to the model to add new details.
Initially my plan was not to create any environment, but instead have the fish house as an asset for a video game. However, it was a lot of fun for me to add a layer my own layer of storytelling and in doing so the background of the house emerged. I experimented with different lighting in Blender, and I tried out different versions of the scene, with variations in the intensity of the colors and with atmospheric elements like the fog. I created a forest, also inspired by a wood near where I live, as I thought this gave a feeling of mysterious to the artwork. I wanted to evoke the sense of someone living in this house without wanting to be discovered.
I made a lot of UDIMs and created smaller resolution maps. To do this, I used the addons called UVPackMaster, which really helped me organising the UVs. I then created different material for each part of the house to be able to work on separately once in Painter. I then created different smart materials to help me achieve a first look of the asset, without painting too much. Once I was happy with the result I started adding details.
I used the same texture for the lights as I did on the scales, to add realism to the final render. To have more control, I rendered each light separately and combined them during the compositing step. In doing so, I was able to adjust the intensity of each light and could modify the look of the final image without having to render it again.
Art Imitates Life
What makes the house unique the house itself almost rises from the ground. It has no floor structure at the base. I had done this in one of my sketches for no reason, and it was something that stuck out when I went about choosing which sketch to take into 3D.
Another small point, which I think did play a significant role in the piece in the end, is that I borrowed elements of actual constructing of a house for my fictional house. My father is in the process of building a house and I helped him lay the foundation. I learned a lot during this process and made sure that when I was conducting my fish house that I included some elements of realism in the structure.
Advice To Artists
Be unafraid. Painter is a tricky software, but not for the reasons you may think. The tool has almost unlimited possibilities, allowing you to quickly make something that looks good. However, mastering the tool and creating something that’s incredible on the next level is not necessarily so easy. And Painter is an industry standard, and so many people use it, a lot of people have become very experienced at differentiating artwork that’s good from artwork that’s great. Creating great artwork in this way doesn’t only come down to being an expert in the software – it comes from considering every aspect of the scene and finding a way to engage your viewer. You must pay attention to the smaller details because there’s power in them.