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Quixel Workflow for No-Detail Meshes

This is the workflow I used to rapidly create the prop vehicles for TWD:M2W. A good overview of the challenge of this project can be viewed here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hUZbkqLRYus&t=2s . Quixel typically wants a detailed model to bake interesting data maps to use to apply Smart Materials. But for these very tiny meshes we can still get solid results by supplying decent base maps (particularly height and ao). This let me quickly get PBR tuned maps created with lots of interesting detail in no time.

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First, I create the simple model and create a diffuse map for it. We didn't use true albedo here because the size on screen was so small there wasn't enough space to do pure PBR.

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Next, greyscale the diffuse and slap some overlay layers on to create Height and Gloss maps. Use xNormal to generate several normals and combine them as well as an AO map. This set of base textures is enough to get a compelling result in Quixel.

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Here you can see the final result, now with lots of zazz. You will find you lean on your AO and curvature data a bit more than object baked maps for Smart Material calibration.

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The memory footprint of these tiny meshes was insignificant compared to their equivalent in texture memory. So we got variety by creating many mesh variants (which for non-military vehicles includes vertex color data for tinting).

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Another marketing screen. Here you can see a lot of props I made with this technique. Shows off great work by the whole team; Jason Booth, Greg Seegert, Jeff DePuy, Yan Dong, and myself.