3D

Free Update: Toolbag 3.05

We’re excited to announce version 3.05, the latest free update for Marmoset Toolbag 3. For this release, we’ve focused primarily on the Baker, with improvements to functionality, image quality, and stability. We’ve managed to sneak in a few extras too, like a new Advanced Microsurface shading model and a dedicated Roughness model.

Download the installer from the Toolbag 3 product page, or by launching Toolbag 3 and clicking on the auto-update prompt. See the full change log on the Toolbag History section.

Improved Cage Algorithm



The Cage Offset function has been reworked to ensure that faces no longer collapse into the low poly with complex meshes. This change makes a big difference for hard surface assets in particular, and helps provide more reliable cage extension for all assets types.

Custom Cages

Toolbag 3.05 Custom Cages

Custom Cage meshes can now be exported from your 3D application of choice. If you have a stubborn area of your cage that needs manual editing, you can override Toolbag’s automatic cage generation with a bespoke mesh.

Load your custom cage through the Quick Loader by using the following naming convention: objectname_cage_variation. You can mix and match custom cages with Toolbag’s automatic cage system as well by including cage objects for some, but not all high / low poly mesh sets. UV matching is used for Custom Cages, so you don’t need to worry about matching geometry, mesh normals, or vertex order. Simply create a copy of the mesh, expand it to fit over your high poly, and edit it as you see fit. As long as the UVs match, it should work.

Enhanced Multi-Sampling

64x Multi-Sampling
We’ve added a 64x Samples option to the Baker which provides better anti-aliasing for challenging areas such as acute lines and fine detail.



With 3.05, all map outputs are anti-aliased as well, including Material ID, Wireframe, and all material property outputs. This works for the masked, layered PSD option too.

Stability and Bug Fixes

Stability has been a priority for the 3.05 release, particularly when using the Baker. Skew maps now save and initialize properly when loading older scenes. Texture sets work correctly with multi-layer PSD files. The estimate offset feature is working as expected again. We’ve solved a number of issues with the Quick Loader; lost references now provide a prompt to search for files, and adding and removing meshes from the Quick Loader UI works a lot better now. macOS GPU priority has been adjusted to improve stability with processor intensive maps like AO. We’ve fixed a number of other minor issues as well.

New Shading Models

Advanced Roughness Shading Model

Featured art by Sergio Acevedo Ruiz.

We’ve added an Advanced Micro shading model to the Microsurface module. Advanced Micro has two modes: Roughness and Smoothness (AKA glossiness), along with some additional controls. The Minimum and Maximum settings can be used to remap texture values. For instance, if you want the 0-255 range of your texture to be limited to roughness values from 0.3-0.6, you would set Maximum to 0.6 and Minimum to 0.3. The Exponent setting controls a gamma curve that can be used to convert texture content from sRGB to linear space (2.2) and vice versa (0.455), which can be handy if you’re got a Roughness or Gloss map packed into a single channel of an sRGB image.

Roughness Shading Model

We’ve added a Roughness Microsurface model as well. This is essentially the same as the Gloss model, but with the value range inverted. We’ve updated the default material to use the metalness and roughness workflow, as it has become the clear standard over the past few years.

For those of you working with the specular and gloss workflow, have no fear, you can easily create a new Template Material that will override the default material. To do that, create a new material with blank inputs configured with the desired shading models and go to Edit -> Templates -> Set Template Material.

Try Today

Featured art by Alexander Alza.

Give the latest and greatest version of Toolbag a spin by downloading the free 30-day trial. If you’ve previously had a trial but it ran out, good news! We’ve reset all trials, so download the installer and give it a go.

Animating a Stylized Breakfast Scene in Marmoset Toolbag with Aender Lara

Interview conducted by Mira Karouta

We had the pleasure of talking to Aender Lara about presenting tasty breakfast scenes in Toolbag 3. Aender discusses the importance of visual aesthetics and gives some insight on how he modeled, animated and set up the shaders for his breakfast scene.

Who is Aender Lara and what does he do?

I am a 3D Artist, solo Game Developer, and digital nomad and I can cook excellent vegan pancakes.

In the last 10 years, I have worked as a graphic, web, social networks and UX/UI designer. 3D art and games are my passion and I really love to create and constantly learn about them.

What’s your ideal breakfast spread?

Dear lord! Pancakes, toast, jam, cheese, butter and fruit all over the table with a spectacular latte.

Waffles or pancakes?

Waffles have too many corners. But I really think the holes are great at preserving the integrity of the toppings. But for now, I prefer pancakes.

What came first, the chicken or the scrambled egg?

I’m pretty sure it was the pan.

Does hot sauce belong on breakfast food?

It’s not my thing but I cannot judge anyone’s breakfast preference. Maybe somewhere an excellent breakfast with hot sauce is waiting to be tasted.

When we were working on the baker we thought about using bacon for the icon and introducing bacon-themed puns into our marketing material. In the end, we went with bread. How does this make you feel on an emotional level?

You can ask my girlfriend (awesome human companion, fantastic children book illustrator and master pie maker) about my reaction. I cried next to her the first time I saw it. It was the perfect pun, and I love puns and baking real bread. So it was just a beautiful, emotional and personal experience for me.

What was your inspiration behind creating this tasty work of art?

It began with the intention of creating a really fluffy, bouncy pancake. Things expanded after that, like “maybe toppings” and next came the plate because it was needed. And before I realized it, I had a table. Thank God I stopped. I almost created a room and kitchen for it.

Could you give us a brief breakdown of your favorite asset on the table?

I think it is the Italian coffee maker (Moka Pot). It was the last object I created. I really wanted it there because I have a similar one that actually travelled with me through 6 countries during 2 years as a digital nomad and survived every breakfast.

During the process, I decided that I wanted to use as few materials as possible to have better control of the scene given the number of assets, for that I decided that I would create a single material for multiple objects that possibly had a close relationship, this would make the task of editing textures simple and would reduce the amount of shaders in scene to 5 for 21 objects.

How did you make the pancakes look so fluffy?

Scale and love. Actually, it’s a little hard get a perfect combination. But I also took inspiration from the pancakes created with rice cookers. I did not taste one yet, but they look really spongy and soft, nobody can hate that shape.

How did you animate the breakfast beauties?

This is the only complex animation I’ve created so far. Usually, I just create turntable animations or small camera movements to show my art, but I decided to go further with this one.

I know some of the tools for 3D animation in Maya and learned a few tricks in the last few years. But I like to think my actual principles for animating the pancakes came from working with motion graphics in After Effects (yes, the fancy 2D transition application for infographic videos). A couple of years ago, I had a lot of jobs for this line of work and I learned the basics from Youtube. Now, I use the same principles in Maya. After all, the tools are almost the same.

Featured art by Jama Jurabaev

Basically, every object has a fluffy reaction no matter if it looks like glass, metal or wood. Also, I had a vision of classic toon characters serving the table.

Could you tell us a bit about your honey shader?

The honey shader looked great and the process for creating it was the result of something I learned a couple of years ago.The honey is composed of a refraction shader applied to the glass jar and the mesh for the honey liquid doesn’t have the exact shape of the container. For best results, the liquid must be a little bigger than the inside of the container.

Presentation seems to be one of your strongest suits. What advice do you have to other artists on creating robust presentation?

It’s necessary to study how to constantly improve your portfolio and find a perfect social network strategy for your work, just like you do with your art every day. This will be the cover of your book, so makes sure it is impressive.

A really good way to improve your portfolio is to look at other artists. But above all, watch how they manage their social networks and how they communicate with their audience. Think of what artist you want to be and project yourself there.

Also, I love doing unconventional presentations for my art. I look at photographers, 2D artists, food porn presentation and how others sell their work and maybe I can create something cool from that. I recently launched a reel, which is something that is apparently really unconventional for a modeler who does not make animations. There are people who say don’t waste your time with that. Instead, I asked my brother for a song (which I love) and based my decisions for the presentation around it. I spent a month collecting all the sequences and re-rendering everything to work with it. It was amazing and people really loved it. So never stop trying to present your work in unconventional ways. If you do it well, it will delight anyone.

These days, I’m leaning a lot from talks by Seth Godin and Simon Sinek. Perhaps a friend tried showing you these talks in the last 10 years but you never found them relevant. Well, this year I realized that even though they don’t talk specifically about video games, they do talk about how to sell a product and how to understand the market. If we extrapolate that knowledge, our art will reach more people.

In a nutshell, create awesome art and impressive presentations. Maybe with an unconventional twist. These days, I cannot upload anything without showing a turntable gif. It’s amazing. It’s just a looped image that it doesn’t need a play button and it shows every side of my 3D work on any device really quickly. If you’re looking to promote your work on social networks, I think Instagram and Twitter are really essential today.

You seem to excel with visual aesthetics, do you have any for creating appealing presentations?

Learning photography skills is essential for understanding overall composition. Because I’ve never worked with food, I studied how professionals do it. For this piece in particular, I studied a lot of compositions of real breakfast on Pinterest and Instagram. Everybody loves those photographs, they are too gorgeous to be real. And with that, I’ll try to create the same feeling. This is also one of the reasons why I created the table; to help the composition. I saw some pictures with an overhead perspective and decided I wanted the same for my pancakes. It was at that point that I started working on all the tableware.

Besides putting together the best three dimensional breakfast the internet has seen, what else do you like to create?

Indie games. I really love creating my own games. For my 3D modeling, I like creating good ideas, my small obsessions or make great pictures. I don’t think I have a decided theme. Sometimes I create regular objects, regular objects with rockets (I love flying things), food or weird tech. But maybe tomorrow I’ll start working on characters because I found an idea I like. I never know what comes next.

We’ve noticed you’re living the dream and created a pancake game entitled “Pancake Tuesday”. What’s the objective of this delicious looking game?

The goal was to celebrate Pancake Day every day of the year.

It was born as an 8 hour game dev project to celebrate Pancake Day 2018, the idea expanded and is now a little project I update every month with new items and more fun ideas.

Also it fulfilled a dream I had 5 years ago when I decided to start creating video games that will be on the App Store. I’m really proud of that and I’ll be working everyday to create the best yummy experiences.

You seem to be very generous with sharing your knowledge. Where can we learn more about your process?

I’ll be using Patreon as a hub for my art, blog and dev blog. You don’t really need to support me to receive awesome things like scene models and timelapse videos of my process. You can read about my work and ask me anything by following my Patreon account, subscribing to my newsletter or following me on my social network pages. I really like sharing my work so everybody can learn and grow.


You can get a taste of Aender’s work on Artstation and learn how to assemble your own breakfast beauties using Toolbag.

 

Marmoset Summer Sale | Save Up to 50% On Marmoset Software!

Save big on all Marmoset products this summer and take advantage of discounts up to 50%. Avoid the blazing sun and treat yourself to an amazing deal on Toolbag, Hexels, Pano Packs, or all three!

You can grab licenses of Marmoset Toolbag 3 for 30% OFF, Marmoset Hexels 3 for 50% OFF, and Pano Packs at 50% OFF from June 21st through July 5th 12:00 PM CST.

– The Marmoset Team

Buy Now: https://www.marmoset.co/shop/


Promotional FAQ

  • Gifting a license? Check out the “Licensing” tab of the product page for more instructions.
  • Upgrading a license? Absolutely, though only through marmoset.co (not available on Steam). Select the upgrade license type, and proceed through the checkout process.
  • When does this promo expire? This promotion is valid from June 21st, 2018 through July 5th, 2018; the discount on Toolbag licenses does not apply to “Studio” licenses.

 

 

Telling Stories Through Character Art with Natalia P Gutiérrez

Interview conducted by Mira Karouta

Natalia P Gutiérrez is a phenomenal, narrative-driven character artist who weaves wonderfully intricate stories with her characters. We’ve had the utmost pleasure of talking to Natalia about how she approaches storytelling and her process for setting up the Toolbag 3 scene for “The Mother”, her winning entry for Artstation’s character art division of the ‘Beneath The Waves’ challenge.

Could you tell us a little about yourself and how you got involved in character art?

When I finished high school I wasn’t sure what I wanted to study or dedicate myself to. At that time, I used to mainly do 2D art, but video games intrigued me. I decided to study two one-year courses, each covering the basics of modeling, texturing, animation, etc. When I finished those I still hadn’t a clear idea of what I wanted to do, so I started sculpting characters at home. I used to play a lot of Dota 2 and saw they had a workshop on Steam where people could upload personal creations to be reviewed by Valve. If they were good enough, they would be included and sold ingame. I wanted to try my luck so I started sculpting sets of armor and characters, and I haven’t stopped doing character art ever since.

How do you approach storytelling as a character artist?

I think the most important thing is to recreate the character as faithfully as possible, not only physically but also their emotions and temper. If it’s an existing concept, a character artist should ask themselves many questions while using the character’s background as base. Where they’re from, what do they do, what’s their story, has something happened to them in the past, if so, how does that reflect on the character now? The more you get to know the character in your mind, the better you can represent it on 3D.

Art is a form of communication, so you’re trying to communicate a story with a character, and it will be successful if the audience can understand what you’re trying to portray. Apart from understanding the character from the inside, you’ll have to make use of strong anatomy foundations. Even if the character is a monster or stylized, having a solid knowledge of anatomy is a must so that you can deform or adapt it later.

Where do you draw your influences from?

My favourite style is realism, so artists like Adam Skutt or Frank Tzeng, among others. I also love dark fantasy and the traditional art of Forest Rogers. My main influence is reality itself, of course. The things I learn and observe that I later apply to my art.

Why did you choose Toolbag to present your work?

I probably first heard of it when I was doing art for Dota 2, since most of the workshop artists used it to make their presentations. It looked easy and intuitive to use and, above all, the best way to quickly visualize and test changes in real-time. It’s what I value the most about it; the ability to test models and textures on different lightning environments, quickly seeing if they work, and tweaking them accordingly.

How have you been coping with all the fame and glory since you’ve won Artstation’s Beneath the Waves challenge?

It’s been hard. I had to retire to a castle high in the mountains guarded by two dragons in order to get my peace back.

Could you give us a breakdown on your lighting and material setup for your piece, The Mother?

Sure! I’ve included some images showing my material settings and lighting setup.

Materials

For the body materials (body and shell), I just imported and set up my textures from Painter. I followed the metal/roughness workflow. I also added a bit of red scatter depth to both materials and translucency controlled by a translucency map.

For the bubbles, I created a new material using the ‘Glass Simple’ preset that comes with Toolbag. I changed the secondary reflections to ‘Newton’s Rings’, tweaked the strength a bit, and switched the Transparency mode to ‘Refraction’, setting the ‘index of Refraction’ slider completely to the left.

It was a matter of experimenting since I didn’t want scientifically accurate bubbles, only bubbles that looked artistically nice. The same case applied for the Iridescence. I experimented a lot until I got a result that I liked, achieved with a transparent material (Transparency mode is set to ‘Add’) with a purplish Albedo color.

Lighting

Regarding the lights, there is a total of 14 omni lights in my scene. I started by selecting one of the sky presets and significantly reducing the intensity of the light.

I then started placing omni lights by hand. My first step is adding the main omni light that will be on the focal point of the character, and then start building the rest around it. In this case, it was the upper middle part of her since it was a beauty shot.

I always try to achieve dramatic lighting. Lighting that won’t look flat with shadows that will help give the character better readability. In this step, I placed my omni light at the top. The character is slightly posed, so that helped create shadows and you can see her volumes much better. I also tweaked the size of every omni light so that the shadows are softer.

Instead of having one individual light as a fill or rim light, I create multiple smaller ones to help accentuate different areas of the character. Once they are all active together, I find the lighting to be much richer. Sometimes the omni lights can be really small, made just to accentuate a tiny area of the model, and that’s why I have a larger number of them.

The next step was creating rim lights. Rim lights help make the silhouette of the character pop. This was an underwater themed model, so all my lights have a blue or purplish tone. I have multiple rim lights as well, but they all concentrate on the upper middle left side of the model which was the area I wanted to bring the most attention to.

The fill lights were next. Fill lights are subtle lights that help illuminate darker areas so that no detail is lost.

These lights by themselves look flat and uninteresting, but when combined with the others, they really help bring out details that would be covered in shadow otherwise. These can be more or less subtle depending on the effect you want to achieve.

Here is a final shot of all the lights combined.

 

How do you plan and execute animations for your characters?

All my character’s animations are executed by Juan Cervilla. I just tell him my ideas and he does all the magic!

We asked Juan about his process and collaboration with Natalia. Here’s what he had to say.

Juan: First, I start building the rig for the character, using anatomy references for better joint positioning or to place them in the best spot. I usually do a first pass and a skinning test to see if the base rig is working the way I like. Then I proceed with the second pass which involves tweaking and polishing the rig. Since I work with the rig as a reference, I only really spot issues when I start animating. So it’s a bit of back and forth in the beginning, making tweaks in the original rig file while animating to refine the skinning.

Before jumping into animation, I always ask the artist (Natalia) how she thinks the character moves and we look at references to find the best way to bring them to life. We research locomotion, behavior and sometimes I also film myself for reference. Then I create a lot of different poses and try to find the perfect one for the character and show them to the character artist for feedback.

Once we are in the animation stage, I grab the references and start animating the character with a blocking pass, keeping the animation at just the main keys to see if the overall motion is solid and works the way we want. Then I start breaking down the animation with a couple of passes. When we are in a good stage, I start the refining phase, working on the root motion first until we have a good feeling. I move into the spine and then the limbs. After some tweaks, I finish with the facial animation (if applicable) and all the extra layers like clothes, tails, accessories. Now that we have our character animated, I finish my part with the import/export process into Toolbag.

What’s your advice for staying motivated when working on a personal piece?

If you’re struggling to finish a piece, my advice would first be to let it rest. Sometimes, we really pressure and force ourselves to continue working on a piece because we think that if we can’t make it work, it’s because we’re not trying hard enough. Even for someone with this mentality, it might seem like the wrong thing to do (although it’s actually the obvious step to take). It’s better to let it rest for a while and return to it with fresh eyes.

My second advice would be that, if stuck, try to concentrate on a single element at a time. If it’s a character with lots of components, try to focus on a single element, even if it’s simple. In fact it’s better if it’s simple: a leather bag, a gauntlet, even the handle of a sword. Focus on that, leave the rest, investigate it and try to represent it the best way you can. Don’t see being stuck as a problem, but as an opportunity to focus on other elements and learn in detail how they work.


Check out more of Natalia’s work on Artstation and learn how Toolbag 3 can help you create stories for your characters.

Creating Realistic Skin in Toolbag with Saurabh Jethani

Character Artist Saurabh Jethani shared his approach to skin material creation and setup for his Mass Effect Pathfinder bust.

Greetings, everyone! This article will show you how I approach creating faces for real-time characters and present them using Marmoset Toolbag 3. I hope this article helps those who are looking to learn how to create skin materials inside Toolbag.

Sculpt

The focus of the article is aimed towards texturing and setting up shaders, but there are a few things I want to cover beforehand which I think help a lot in the final result.

I start sculpting using a custom made base mesh which has correct topology and UV’s that can be used for the low poly mesh. This cuts down a lot of time. The sculpting process is straightforward; find good reference, have a strong foundation in anatomy and go crazy until it looks good.

Lately, I’ve been using texturing.xyz for my pore details. Sculpting pores by hand (dragging alpha) is easier and it doesn’t make much of a difference for games/ real-time character creation unless you zoom in real close. The choice is yours.

Tip: Adding subtle noise in skin helps to breakup the “perfect” feeling and makes it look more organic.

Textures

The texture maps I used were:

Normal, Detail Normal, Detail Weight, Roughness (inverted Gloss), Albedo, Translucency, AO, Cavity, Noise, Specular (Optional) and Scatter (Optional).

Albedo: Albedo is color information. For this project, I projected albedo data from texturing.xyz. Below is my process for how I projected my albedo map. Another option to achieve a similar result would be hand painting your textures (Magdalena Dadela’s GDC tutorial demonstrates this really well). While hand painting is fun, it’s more time consuming compared to working with scan data.

One useful tip to help enhance the feeling of subsurface scattering in your albedo map is to paint veins and redness around high blood flow areas like the nose, ears and cheeks. Make sure to keep the color shifts subtle. Multiplying your cavity map down as a red color helps fake the subsurface effect and helps align the pores in both the normal and albedo maps.

Cavity: Cavity maps can be used in multiple maps, such as Albedo, Specular and Roughness. It’s simply a black and white map where the pores are completely black. Marmoset have added Cavity maps to Toolbag 3’s baker which works really well. The method I personally like to use is extracting cavity detail from ZBrush since it’s faster than baking. However, for this you’ll need to have the same UV’s for both low and high poly meshes.

In ZBrush, fill your mesh with a pure white color then go to Tools > Masking > Mask by Cavity. The default values should work just fine. If not, play with the curve profile to get better results. Lower the blur values a bit, since ZBrush’s default values are too intense. You can change this under Preference > Transpose > Mask blur strength. Invert the mask and fill it with black, create a texture and export.

Normal: Bake down your high poly mesh onto the low poly mesh.

Translucency: This defines how much light scatters through the surface. Brighter values on the map define thinner areas such as the ears, tip of the nose, nostrils, eyelids and lips. The map can be derived by inverting the thickness map baked from the high poly. I tweak the nose area on the map to make it more intense and give it a more fleshy look.

Roughness: Personally, I feel this is the most artistic map in terms of how they’re constructed. Every artist has their own methods, but the basic principles remain the same.

  1. Have a base grey value that defines how rough/glossy the face is in general.
  2. Paint different values in specific areas of the face that are rougher or smoother.
  3. Pore details should be rougher, they shouldn’t appear shiny in engine.
  4. Have big breakups in value which are really subtle. This isn’t realistic, but it looks good when the light moves.
  5. Paint different roughness values for scars, wounds, dirt, sweat, etc.

1 and 2 are the major points. I’ve seen people only use 1 for stylized faces. 1, 2 and 3 work really well and 4 is an experimental one I’ve seen people do, but it looks good when lights move. 5 is subjective to the project you’re working on. And this is what I meant by the Roughness being the most artistic map, you use your own creative judgements and make it look good.

Below is an example of how I usually construct my roughness maps. This map used all the methods above and the new face was created with A and B. The construction of Roughness maps vary from project to project. In Toolbag, a value of 0.45 Roughness value works well as a starting point.

Scatter: Scatter maps describe the color which bleeds at the transition point from light to shadow. A flat peach color works pretty well for realistic skin, and it can be obtained by fully saturating the albedo map. The texturing.xyz data I used is extracted from the subsurface value of skin, so saturating that gave me realistic values.

Detail Normal: This tiny, tileable normal map helps make your textures look more detailed than they actually are. Substance Painter includes a few detail maps in their library that can be imported into Toolbag. For this project, I used Skin_bumpy. If you don’t own Substance Painter, you can find a good detail map by Yuri Alexander available for download from Marmoset’s Character Setup page.

Detail Weight: This is a black and white map which determines where the detail normal map will be applied. Black being the place where there is no effect. The lips have specific pore information, so you don’t want tiled pores there. You can have some of this applied to the tip of the nose and the bottom of the eyelids.

Noise: This map is used to help the fuzz look better.

Skin Material


download icon Download Toolbag Scene

Toolbag 3 handles skin shading like a champ. The material is easy to construct and looks amazing. There are no exact values for skin that make it look realistic as it varies from project to project. With that said, there are a few values that work really well as a starting point.

  1. Specular: 0.027
  2. Roughness: 0.45

Before starting anything in Toolbag, make sure the scene scale is properly set. Use Show Scale Reference to ask a gentleman for help and match the scene scale. Below is a demo of how I set my up skin material inside Toolbag.

There are three important aspects to keep in mind for skin shading:

  • Specular
  • Subsurface Scattering
  • Global Illumination

All of these components are key to setting up a good skin shader. A common problem for skin in CG is the lack of light bounceback from different parts of the skin. GI helps to achieve that effect and gets rid of the AO created by the engine around the corners of the nose, lips and fat above the eyelids. It also helps with translucency.

AO helps ground the eyeball on the face. A high strength setting and small size generally works. For GI, start with a low brightness and adjust upwards. You want to get rid of the extra AO and darkness around the eyes, corners of the nose and where lips meet. Make sure not to make the GI too intense, as it makes the skin look emissive.

SSS in Marmoset is composed of Scatter Depth and Translucency. Scatter Depth describes how fleshy or waxy the surface is. A flat peach color works fine for realistic skin. You should look for a subtle transition from your shadow areas to skin. Translucency defines how much light scatters through the surface. Place a light behind the ears and the side of the nose and tweak the values that work for your scene. The effect should be subtle with light passing through the skin.

A specular value of 0.027 is a good start for skin. Skin has two specular layers instead of one, which makes for better rendering. The Secondary Reflection helps achieve extra spec and gloss around the highlights to mimic the oily surface of the skin (Image 01).

Adding a cavity map helps remove specular reflections inside pores non-destructively. It can be baked into the specular map, but having a slider is much more flexible. It also helps salvage any pore details that are blurred by the SSS (Image 02).

Skin is all about subtleties. Find good references and try your best to match them while making sure it looks good under every lighting condition.

Eyes

The window to the soul.

One thing I care a lot about and try to constantly improve is eyes and how the eyelids interact with the eyeball. Make sure they are thick and hugging the eyeballs in both the high and low poly meshes. This helps make the eyeball feel more integrated.

Marmoset have recently added Refraction to Toolbag, but it does break on occasion and is not as complex as Unreal’s (Unreal has the prettiest CG eyes I’ve seen yet). But don’t sweat it, I have you covered. There’s a simple yet effective way to make realistic eyes in Toolbag. The method was originally developed by Peter Zoppi in his tutorial for eye creation, which I would highly recommend getting if you want more detailed instructions.

Geometry and Baking

The best way to fake refraction is to bake the geometry of the eyeball. To do so, make sure your low poly has a cornea bulge that’s duplicated and convexed inwards to form the pupil. Smooth the high poly mesh and bake it down to the low poly. The cornea and eyeball are part of the same low poly mesh and share the same UVs, but they will have different maps.

Maps

After baking, the process becomes straightforward and you can texture the eye however you want. One thing that will help make your refraction better is adding a parallax map. It’s a flat white map and a black colored pupil with gradient borders.

  1. Eyeball Normal
  2. Eyeball Gloss
  3. Parallax
  4. Eyeball Albedo
  5. Eyeball Spec
  6. Cornea Normal

The normal map for the eyeball should have the iris details and the albedo should include the color of the iris, eyeballs and the veins. The normal information of the veins should come from the cornea’s normal map with noise applied to give it a more wet look. However, make sure not to include any noise in the in the cornea bulge. Specular and gloss maps vary from project to project.

Eye Material

Tip: I’ve seen people use Photoshop to enhance the contrast in the eyes on the opposite side of where the light is hitting the eyes. The same effect can be achieve using secondary reflection. It can make eyes more attractive, but it can look overly stylized. Use your own judgement and apply it if it works for your project.

Lashes and Wet Line

The lashes are hair cards that are placed by hand and the wet line is a mesh blending the eyelid and the eyeball together with additive transparency applied. Setting the reflection to Anisotropic instead of GGX helps sell the effect. Change the direction so the highlight follows the direction of the geometry when the light moves. The wet line is something I’m still experimenting with and I haven’t found a good medium which works in every situation.

Lashes Occluding the Spec

While writing this article, I realized something was missing from my eye setup. It’s a minor change that makes a major difference; lashes and lids occluding the spec in the eyes. This is a common problem for real-time rendering, as the lashes are composed of cards and neither GI nor AO help to achieve this effect. Again, don’t sweat it, I have you covered. It does feel like something might break when the eyes are animated, but for still images, this works fine.

Lighting and Presentation

Lighting

A skill I’ve neglected, and now I regret it. You can create an awesome sculpt, perfect texture maps, but if you’re not able to showcase your model properly, none of those things are going to matter. Although I’m training myself in this area, lighting is still my weakest link. If you’re like me and blank during the lighting process, I have a lighting setup for you which works great for portrait presentation.

Presentation

Nothing is perfect in real life. Adding imperfections helps sell the believability of your character. For this project, I wanted a vignette effect and to rotate my camera in the Z axis by 2-3 degrees to make it look straight after by manually moving it.

Adding Bloom and Depth of Field can also add realism to your scene, while Chromatic Aberration can mimic the effect of a camera shot. Fog can be added to give the viewport space a sense of depth. Whatever you do, make sure it’s done with taste and compliments your piece rather than take away from it.

Tip: Renders will look different across multiple screens. My monitors have different colors and my renders generally look different on each screen. Changing the Tone Mapping setting to Filmic and tweaking the Exposure to a value of 2.2 is generally a good point for my renders to look decent on a wide variety of monitors .

Thanks to the people at Marmoset for giving me the opportunity to write this article. Thanks to the people who read it and made it this far since the article is much longer than what I wanted it to be. I hope it helps 🙂


You can check out more of Saurabh’s work on Artstation and learn more about Toolbag 3’s skin shader in Episode 6 of Getting to Know Toolbag 3.

May Day Sale | All Marmoset Software On Sale!

For a limited time only, save up to 50% on Marmoset products. Spring is a time of new beginnings, so freshen up your portfolio with Toolbag, experiment with new art styles in Hexels, and view your work in a new light with Pano Packs.

You can grab licenses of Marmoset Toolbag 3 for 25% OFF, Marmoset Hexels 3 for 50% OFF, and Pano Packs at 50% OFF from Tuesday, May 1st through Friday, May 4th.

Happy May Day!

– The Marmoset Team

Buy Now: marmoset.co/shop


Promotional FAQ

  • Gifting a license? Check out the “Licensing” tab of the product page for more instructions.
  • Upgrading a license? Absolutely, though only through marmoset.co (not available on Steam). Select the upgrade license type, and proceed through the checkout process.
  • When does this promo expire? This promotion is valid from May 1st, 2018 through May 4th, 2018; the discount on Toolbag licenses does not apply to “Studio” licenses.

 

Free Update: Toolbag 3.04

We’re thrilled to announce the release of Marmoset Toolbag 3.04, a free update for all Toolbag 3 users. 3.04 brings a number of exciting new features and enhancements to both Toolbag and Viewer. New baker outputs and workflow improvements, animation support for Viewer, and improved shadows headline the release.

Download the installer from the Toolbag 3 product page, or by launching Toolbag 3 and clicking on the auto-update prompt. See the full change log on the Toolbag History section.

Baker Updates

Interface and Workflow Improvements

New Baker Interface

The baker UI has been updated with a focus on functionality. We’ve added a map configurator to customize which maps types are active. You can define the default maps (and their settings), as well as save and load presets for different projects. We’ve also added a master tangent space setting, a custom pixel padding size option and user definable map suffixes.

New Map Outputs



Toolbag 3.04 bakes all the maps, so you can do all the things! Here’s a list of the new map types:

  • Thickness
  • Concavity
  • Convexity
  • Bent Normals
  • Bent Normals (Object)
  • Complete Lighting
  • Diffuse Lighting
  • Specular Lighting
  • Albedo (Metalness)
  • Metalness
  • Roughness
  • UV ID
  • Group ID
  • Object ID
  • Wireframe
  • Alpha
  • Emissive
  • Transparency

Texture Set Support

Texture Set Support

Featured art by Charles Metze III.

Multiple texture/material sets are now supported. You can easily bake assets with more than one UV layout in a single Baker object. For instance, a character with a texture set for the body and clothes or a gun with additional sets for the attachments.

Texture sets work by reading the materials assigned to the low poly mesh(es). For each unique material, a new set of images will be baked. Resolution can be controlled per set as well.

Image Quality Improvements

A dithering option has been added for the Ambient Occlusion output, which reduces banding by a considerable amount. AO bakes look better with fewer rays now, which means faster bakes with similar or better quality in most cases when dithering is enabled.


Curvature maps have been updated with a new Normalize setting (which is enabled by default). The Normalize setting maximizes the value range, which makes curvature maps work better with applications such as Substance Painter.

Bake Normal Mapped Material from High to Low
Normal map detail from the high poly material now transfers to the baked normal map output. This can be useful if you’ve added additional high frequency detail to your high poly material or if you’re baking from one low poly mesh to another.


Shiny New Viewer Features


Viewer has received a facelift, sporting a host of new features. Headlining the additions is animation support. Now you can bring your artwork to life with the magic of motion. We’ve also added support for refractive materials, shadowed fog, and the shadow catcher object. Rounding out the update are reduced file sizes, high DPI support, and a high-resolution thumbnail option.

Stand Alone Viewer Application

Viewer Stand Alone Application

Featured art by Baj Singh.

In addition to the new features, we’ve developed an application for viewing .mview files. Now reviewing local content is much easier for you and your client. Simply double click an .mview file to launch the stand alone viewer. The new Viewer app is included with the Toolbag 3.04 installer, and can be downloaded independently as well and works on Mac and Windows.


Improved Shadows

Volumetric Fog

Add atmosphere to your scene with our updated fog effect. Direct lights now cast shadows through fog, creating a volumetric effect that adds depth and realism to your renders.

Cascaded Shadow Maps


Directional lights now have the option to use Cascaded Shadow Maps, which prioritize shadow detail for areas near to the camera. CSM is especially useful for environments and larger scenes.

Ludicrous Shadow Resolution

Ludicrous Shadow Resolution

If you’re looking for less pixelation, a new extra-high resolution shadow option can be found in the render settings. This setting can reduce performance significantly, so it’s best used in relatively simple scenes or by those who have high-end GPUs.

Better Shadow Quality

Reduced Shadow Acne

Shadow acne artifacts have been significantly reduced, and shadow coverage is improved as well.


Optimized Animations

Featured art by Peter Vechkasov.

Along with animation support in Viewer, we’ve improved and optimized the animation system. Animated meshes are now stored directly in the .tbscene file and animation performance is significantly improved in some cases. We’ve added support for the 2018 version of the FBX format as well, which means better compatibility with the latest 3D apps.


Speedy Viewport Mode

Featured art by Juan Manuel Cervilla and Natalia P. Gutiérrez.

We’ve added a new mode to the viewport which temporarily disables advanced rendering features to make navigating in Toolbag easier. Say goodbye to juggling render settings while you work, simply click the rocket ship icon to blast your frame rate to the moon! Speedy mode doesn’t affect the render settings for captured images, which means you can enable it for maximum responsiveness while rendering out high quality images with GPU hungry effects like Global Illumination, Local Reflections and Depth Of Field.


Image Quality Improvements

Smooth Depth of Field Transitions


We’ve updated the DOF effect. Now the transition from in to out of focus is smooth. The DOF shown in the viewport matches the rendered DOF much more accurately now as well, which means no more trial and error to get your DOF looking right. The new DOF can look slightly different in existing scenes, so you may need to adjust your settings.

Beautiful Bloom

Featured art by Jose Lázaro.

The bloom effect has gotten some love as well. We’ve improved the quality greatly when using size values over 0.05.


Try Today

Artwork by Blair Armitage

Featured art by Blair Armitage.

Give the latest and greatest version of Toolbag a spin by downloading the free 30-day trial. If you’ve previously had a trial but it ran out, good news! We’ve reset all trials, so download the installer and give it a go.