Steampunk Gauntlet

For my next modelling challenge I was initially thinking of some kind of steam punk vehicle but as I researched the subject on Pinterest these cool looking, hand-made gauntlets caught my eye, which would definitely provide a modelling challenge and also be perfect for texturing in Substance Painter. It was virtually impossible to find any high resolution examples and orthographic views were out of the question. That put any kind of accurate measurements out the window so this had to be done by eye. I spent a good amount of time studying how the various gauntlets were constructed, noting the similarities and sketching shapes on paper. Approach is everything when modelling and it pays to take the time to research your subject before diving in. I didn’t want to go to far down the modelling rabbit hole – especially with something like this where everything is connected – only to discover that I’d missed a vital piece or that I took the wrong approach.

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My first approach was to rough out the shape using Plane objects wrapped around the forearm of one of the Cinema 4D sculpting presets. While this helped with proportions, it was limiting because the template was so rigid.

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Next I used a photo of my own hand and forearm but soon decided that these gauntlets are pretty much one-size-fits-all and using my own hand – which is large with long fingers – would make the gauntlet look out of proportion.

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In the end I decided to focus on one piece at a time starting with the back of the hand, using the example images as my guide, then build the rest of the gauntlet around that. I also decided that using cylinders would be more effective than planes. Here a section of a cylinder was dropped into a Symmetry object before adjusting and extruding.

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For the metal plates that sit on top of the leather I selected then disconnected polygons using the Split command.

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The gear was created by combining splines under a Spline Mask object.

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It was then extruded and curved into the shape of the plate section using the Shrink Wrap deformer.

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Following Toby Pitman’s hex bolt tutorial gave me the basic form for the round head bolt. I then took a hemisphere and stitched it to the base using the Stitch & Sew Command.

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I used the FFD deformer regularly. Deformers are a very flexible way to non-destructively modify a mesh. In this example you can see the FFD deformer is pinching the geometry into shape.

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To create the other parts of the hand section I duplicated the original cylinder section, positioned, adjusted and extruded. Notice the points on the corners have been adjusted slightly to bend them outwards for added detail.

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The forearm is also based on the original cylinder section. The main section was extruded and scaled into shape and the other sections were split off of the main section and adjusted.

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The forearm has extra layers of leather, which were split off the main section. The metal plate sections were then split off of these extra layers.

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The fingers also started as cylinders, starting at the base and working towards the tip of the finger.

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Here I’ve added some finger straps.

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Once one finger was complete it was duplicated, scaled, rotated and positioned to create four fingers. I also added some rivets to connect the fingers to the hand section.

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Knuckle studs and rivets were added using HB Modelling Tools Paste script. This script was a massive timesaver, enabling me to copy and paste an object at the cursor position and have it automatically aligned to the normals of the object below the cursor.

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The inner forearm section includes flaps which were added based on reference image examples.

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The straps on the belt were modeled flat then positioned using a spline and Spline Wrap deformer. This made it easy to fine tune the position of the holes by adjusting the Offset parameter of the Spline Wrap.

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Once positioned the strap was extruded then modified using a Bend Deformer.

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The buckle was then positioned and wrapped around the gauntlet using a second Spline Wrap deformer. Modeling the buckle straight then duplicating and curving using a Spline Wrap was a really flexible way to approach this section.

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Round head screws were used to connect the sections together.

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Nuts were positioned on the inside of the gauntlet. All of the screws and nuts were rotated to be a slightly different angles for added detail.

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The thumb uses parts of the existing finger geometry and a new section that attaches to the gauntlet.

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I started this light using Disk objects as a base, once again modeling mostly flat.

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Multiple Bend deformers were used to shape the leather section of the light plate.

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Rather than trying to bend the metal section of the plate using Bend deformers, it was much faster and more precise to use a Shrink Wrap deformer with the leather section as the target object. Using deformers in this way allows you keep the geometry parametric and fine tune the shape rather than tweaking points, edges and polygons.

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All three lights in position. Once again HB Modelling Tool’s Paste script saved a bunch of time positioning all of the rivets and screws around each light.

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One of the last main features was the cylinder on the right side of the forearm, modeled from a simple Cylinder object.

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I decided to add this light in the palm area by duplicating existing geometry.

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The light is connected to the light on top with pipes created using a Sweep object.

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To model the ring terminal I started with a cylinder and disk object. Here are the key steps I took:

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The final model, ready to import into 3D Coat for UV unwrapping.

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The unwrapped model in 3D Coat. Notice the huge amount of UV islands which lead to a really low texel density and thus resolution for the textures. I ended up splitting each major section onto individual maps in 3D Coat, which allowed me to increase the size of each individual island for increased resolution. It did however make the 3D Coat file really bloated and slow to work with.

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Once the unwrap was complete I exported the file in FBX format and reimported it into Cinema 4D. In Cinema 4D I subdivided the mesh (1×1), exported to FBX format and imported into Substance Painter. Here you can see the low resolution result caused by the heavily packed uv map.

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By switching to multiple UV maps in 3D Coat the result in Substance Painter was a much higher resolution. Substance painter created a new Texture Set for each section (based on materials that were automatically created for each individual map in 3D Coat).

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Extra details were added using custom alpha brushes, created by combining key art in Adobe Illustrator. This height detail needs to be baked into the Normal map followed by a re-baking of the Ambient Occlusion and Curvature maps in order for the new height details to be included in the AO and Curvature maps. I learned that it’s generally good practice to add all of your height detail at the start of the project, then bake it into the Normal map. I didn’t do that and had to go back and find all of the layers that had height detail and turn them off once they had been baked into the Normal map, otherwise they would be doubling up on the height detail.

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The final look was rendered directly in Substance Painter using the Iray Renderer. I enhanced the light glow in Photoshop.

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Discuss
  1. andre fry
    Reply

    Very nice.

  2. Ken Lord
    Reply

    Amazing!

    • John Dickinson
      Reply

      Thank Ken it was a lot of fun and a great learning process.

  3. asART. 3D and motion graphics
    Reply

    Brilliant work John .. Congrats !

  4. ild
    Reply

    Beautifull process and great outcome. Thanks so much for sharing this!

    • John Dickinson
      Reply

      Thanks Frank!

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