Third Year Animated Short 'A Story Over Clouds' - Balloon Prop Procedural Material Breakdown

As promised, here's the final short film from last year! Enjoy!

An example render by me in Substance Painter and mildly edited in Photoshop.

An example render by me in Substance Painter and mildly edited in Photoshop.

The three main materials I made for the project. As they were for a relatively static prop material-speaking, I didn't implement any sort of controls. The style was slightly cartoon/stylized, which is why the proportions aren't exactly true-to-life.

The three main materials I made for the project. As they were for a relatively static prop material-speaking, I didn't implement any sort of controls. The style was slightly cartoon/stylized, which is why the proportions aren't exactly true-to-life.

The balloon material gave me the most grief. It unfortunately doesn't tile the best; definitely a lesson for the future. Still, I think it works great on the model.

The balloon material gave me the most grief. It unfortunately doesn't tile the best; definitely a lesson for the future. Still, I think it works great on the model.

The rope tiles excellently, especially in Substance Painter across UV islands. The way it's set up in Designer also allows you to non-destructively change the angle of the rope so you can have straight strands if you so desire.

The rope tiles excellently, especially in Substance Painter across UV islands. The way it's set up in Designer also allows you to non-destructively change the angle of the rope so you can have straight strands if you so desire.

As you can see, the wicker displaces beautifully. It has a very subtle height variation so that not every one of the larger 'strands' is exactly the same height.

As you can see, the wicker displaces beautifully. It has a very subtle height variation so that not every one of the larger 'strands' is exactly the same height.

The Balloon material is probably the simplest as it was meant to be a fairly simple material.

The Balloon material is probably the simplest as it was meant to be a fairly simple material.

The rope is a bit more complex than the Balloon. I didn't make a Roughness map for it as the material is fairly small on the asset.

The rope is a bit more complex than the Balloon. I didn't make a Roughness map for it as the material is fairly small on the asset.

This is easily the most complicated node graph. The albedo is fairly chunky because it's blending three colour variations & an emboss together.

This is easily the most complicated node graph. The albedo is fairly chunky because it's blending three colour variations & an emboss together.

I made the decision to split the asset into two materials mainly to maximize space and to separate unique UV islands from overlapping ones. The first material on the left is 100% overlapping islands, and the right material is individual islands.

I made the decision to split the asset into two materials mainly to maximize space and to separate unique UV islands from overlapping ones. The first material on the left is 100% overlapping islands, and the right material is individual islands.

The final short film will be rendered in Maya using Arnold. I will be sure to show off how the asset looks in the final short film!

The final short film will be rendered in Maya using Arnold. I will be sure to show off how the asset looks in the final short film!

UPDATE MARCH 2021 - I linked the final short film from last semester so the balloon can be seen in action. It turned out great and shoutouts to all the students who really pushed the project home in the last few weeks, those were crazy times.

For my third year Animation class we were tasked with collaborating on a Short Film project. My project was "A Story Over Clouds", and I served as the primary surfacing artist. One of our group's modelers sculpted the hot air balloon asset, re-topologized it and unwrapped parts of it before passing it over to me for final unwrapping and UV packing in Blender.

As procedural materials are my main interest, I chose to make three to match our general idea for the balloon; rope, wicker and the actual balloon material. For the rope and balloon I mainly went off my intuition in Designer to get the shape I want, but I really struggled with the Wicker. I got the general idea for how the shapes should work from Peter Sekula's Wicker Material breakdown and worked on it from there to match the overall aesthetic of the short film, which was slightly stylized or cartoonish, which is why the materials focused more on broad strokes details versus nitty-gritty ones.

Check out Peter's breakdown of his own wicker material if you have time, it was super educational in putting together my own Wicker material -- It really is a great workflow; https://www.artstation.com/artwork/DObYE

And check out the balloon's modeler: https://www.artstation.com/olgadannik

Date
November 8, 2020