Indian Stone Sculpture – A Texturing Story by Srinivasa R. Tatampudi

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  • Interview

Could you present yourself to the community?

My name is Srinivasa Raju Tatampudi, I’m a senior modeling and texture artist based out of Mumbai, India. Currently, I’m working as a senior texture artist at DNEG VFX, Mumbai, India. I specialize in 3D texture painting, modeling, sculpting and look development.

Substance Painter Iray close-up renders

Tell us more about your professional path. What is your current role at DNEG?

Overall, I have 14 years of professional experience in digital modeling, texturing and look development for films and games. I specialize in both characters and environments.

I started my career at DQ Entertainment Gaming division. After this, I worked for other studios in India, like Crest Animation Studios, Eye Qube Studios, Pixelloid Studios, and MPC Films. For the last 2 years, I’ve been working at DNEG (India) as a senior texturing TD. Here, I do high-quality photorealistic texturing of characters, environment sets, and vehicles for major Hollywood movies.

What are the latest projects you’ve been working on there?

I worked on major titles such as Pacific Rim: UprisingThe Hurricane HeistFantastic Beasts: The Crimes of GrindelwaldAvengers Infinity: WarVenomThe Kid Who Would Be King and Alita: Battle Angel. I’m currently working on some upcoming interesting shows.

Tell us more about your personal work with the Lord Vishnu Statue. How did the idea of this project come about?

Lord Vishnu is one of the principal Hindu deities. He’s one of the gods in the Hindu triumvirate (or Trimurti). The triumvirate consists of three gods who are responsible for the creation, upkeep, and destruction of the world. The other two gods are Brahma and Shiva. Brahma is the creator of the universe and Shiva is the destroyer. Vishnu is the preserver and protector of the universe.

Vishnu is particularly associated with light, and especially with the sun. In early texts, Vishnu is not included as one of the original seven solar gods (Adityas), but in later texts he is mentioned as leading them.

I follow Hinduism, hence from my childhood I visited a lot of temples and historical places, and observed the different architecture and styles of Hindu temples. I think this was the main reason for starting this Lord Vishnu Statue project.

Before I started this project, I gathered ref images from the internet and started modeling in Maya. At that time, my thought was to create a bronze texture for a statue according to the reference. As I was working on my model, I went to Sri Ranganathaswamy temple in Srirangapatna, near Mysore, India. In that temple, I saw a really beautiful-looking Vishnu (Balaji) statue, and I was very impressed by the sculpting and design. At that moment, I changed my mind, and decided to create a rock texture surface for the statue.

Lord Vishnu references

Tell us more about your general workflow. What were the different software tools you used on this project?

I used Maya for the modeling according to my reference, and to add ornaments and other required details. I started with the base of the statue, then moved on to the head and torso parts. After completing my model, I did the UVs in Maya as per my required resolution. Then for UV layout I scaled, arranged, and divided into multiple UDIM sets.

Maya model work screenshot

Maya model UV Layout screenshot

Concerning the texturing, I created all the designs in Photoshop according to my UV layout. At first, I wanted to create the textures in Mari and the displacement in ZBrush, the very traditional way. I went ahead and did the ZBrush displacement as well, but in the end I didn’t use it. Recently, I started using Substance Painter in my office, and I thought of trying my design mask as a height map in Substance Painter for this statue. It came out really well, so I chose to start texturing in Substance Painter only.

I followed the standard baking procedures using a low/high-res smooth mesh, and used a single shader for the entire statue because the same material was needed throughout the overall look. So I started with one base color and added dirt and chipping using Substance generators, anchor points, default tileable textures, and alphas. As per my requirement, I created roughness, height, and normal textures.

Substance Painter saved time for my texture work overall, and yielded excellent output. For rendering, I also used Substance Iray and within a fairly short time I rendered my beautiful Lord Vishnu statue exactly as I desired.

Substance Painter Iray render and normal render

Could you give us a breakdown of your texturing with Substance Painter?

This is my first personal work project using Substance Painter, and it came out really well. Substance Painter was ideal for my project as I was able to work and view my output simultaneously, which was a great help.

Substance Painter screenshot

Substance Painter all passes screenshot

Substance Painter all texture maps passes render

Are there any tips or tricks you would like to share with the community?

I found that the current version of Substance Painter is very useful and user-friendly. Substance Source has a great library for textures, where we can get base textures for the projects very quickly. Substance Painter’s physically based rendering and shading are useful when doing a quick view of material properties; like that, we can easily understand how the textures look in different environments. The compatibility with other software tools is also great.

In my opinion, if you want to put extra icing on the cake, bring some assets into Substance Painter and add those lovely imperfections to them! If you have a clear understanding of masking then it’s the perfect software to work with. And I’ll keep using this workflow as it saves me a lot of time. As we all know, time matters a lot!

What are your next projects?

I’ve already started using it for upcoming texturing projects. Moreover, I’m trying to work on some vehicles and characters. Substance Painter is really handy when it comes to texturing assets. I was really curious to see how well it could be used for my next texturing projects and it definitely gives that extra bump of detail and realism to the scene. I think I may also use it heavily for my next projects since there’s a dedicated library for this on Substance Source.

What can you say about the growing VFX market in India?

The Indian VFX market has grown in leaps and bounds over the last few years. Many renowned visual effects houses such as MPC, DNEG, Digital Deluxe, The Mill, MR. X, Method Studios, Legend, Digital Domain, and Framestore have either collaborated or ventured with Indian studios to enter into this ever-growing market. With loads of talent available in the market now, Indian houses are able to cater to the Hollywood film studios regarding their requirements in terms of skill sets.

Time zone differences and subsidized infrastructure facilities from the government also are key factors that encourage overseas studios to look at this market. The Indian VFX industry also has the support of many training institutes that are constantly supplying the talent to meet the growing demand. Looking at this, even the Indian film industry is starting to use this talent on a large scale these days. And all this being said, the Indian VFX market is anticipating even more growth in the near future; we could well play a vital role for the worldwide VFX industry in the years to come.

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