Creating and Rendering Photorealistic Environment Art in Toolbag | Marmoset


Initially, the project was meant as a practice piece for ornate modeling and realistic rendering. To make the whole piece convincing, the wood needed to be the star of the show.

The type of wooden furniture often found in churches can be very old. Some areas don’t have the same thickness of varnish, some are polished, while others are wearing off. There’s also plain raw wood panels. These are the types of things our brain is used to seeing in such places, and it’s really good at spotting something that looks fake. The infamous “Something is wrong, but I can’t put my finger on it.”

Last but not least, to achieve realism, the wood grain has to be offset and go in multiple directions. Some complex pieces of church furniture can be composed of more than 300 wood pieces glued together. Using tri-planar projection here would have killed any realism.

Base Wood Workflow

With the exception of the unvarnished roof and floor, all the pieces share almost the same base procedural raw wood material. The raw wood was built with the varnish in mind, meaning that some features were exaggerated to emphasize the burnt wood grain once it was under a layer of coating. The floor, roof and interior sections were less exaggerated.

The most important map here was the albedo. It needed to be punchy and read well under the varnish. Initially, the base color of the material was a mix of grunge maps and masks. That set up was too time consuming. There were too many layers and masks to change to tweak something. Instead, I replaced it with a wood texture I found on and created a grayscale version for masking purposes.

With this setup, I can quickly make tint/hue/color variations and break up the tiling of the base color map.

  1. Base color map. I used the Color Correction filter to change the overall tint/contrast. I also added Blur because I did not want any noise, only color information. The Sharpen filter is used to keep the main grain lines intact when blurred, otherwise they look smudged.
  2. Large scale variation. I made the first and second variation passes using the grayscale bitmap and a Levels adjustment. You can get a ton of variation with various tiling/offset settings in the texture parameters of Substance Painter.
  3. Medium scale variation. I used the same process as above.
  4. Another version of the large scale variation effect.