Back to the Source part one: Guillaume Mollé
When we decided to release Substance Source, one of the key ideas was that, regardless of your art style, you will find relevant content on Substance Source to achieve your goal.
But rather than just saying it, we decided to show it. Therefore, we talked to some great artists with different visual styles, and we gave them a simple mission: make a piece of art of their choice, and texture it using Substance Source. If you already have seen them, you know they didn't disappoint! We spoke with two of these artists, and asked them if they could do a breakdown of their work, and share their experience with Substance Source.
So let’s start with Guillaume Mollé, freelance character artist, good friend, and pleading guilty for sculpting this glamorous witch in the “Found It” Artwork you can appreciate above.
Hey Guillaume, I am super glad to finally get the opportunity to interview you! It’s a tradition in our user stories to let you introduce yourself so please: who are you?
Hi guys, and thanks for the opportunity. Well, my name is Guillaume Mollé, I’m a french character artist, working as a freelance for now. I’ve been working in the video game industry for 10 years, switching from studio to studio in different countries.
One thing that catches the attention when watching your personal portfolio, is your ability to switch between different styles, from hyper realistic (like your version of Jean Rochefort) to stylised and cartoony. What are the main aspects you have to adapt within your workflow, when you switch between genres?
First, I’ve been studying History of Art when I was at University, and I’ve always been interested in Art in general. That’s probably why I tend to put my interest and my practice in different styles. Plus, I found out that working on various styles helps you to get better artistically.
Realistic projects requires you to work at a very technical and “detail oriented” scale , whether for stylised or cartoony work, i’ll focus more on simplification and readability of the form and textures/colors. Anyhow, both of them benefit from the other in the end, and make you a better artist.
After many years working in AAA studios like UBISOFT in Canada and Europe, you have taken the decision to go freelance two years ago. According to your experience, what are the pros and the cons of this decision? Any recommendation to someone tempted by the freelance adventure?
Well, I wouldn’t recommend to a junior or a freshly graduated artist to go freelance. Since you need experience, maturity and most of all, contacts. Furthermore, in studios you learn from the best, instead of relying on your own (probably) amateur workflows.
What I like in being freelance is the fact that I can manage my time the way I want. I try to work on projects or teams that I like. I like short term contracts too, as it prevents you from getting bored by a project (like some 2 or 3 years video game productions).
The only thing I don’t like is working on my own (physically I mean), it’s still possible to share knowledge with social medias but it’s not as cool as the real thing in front of real people. And as a freelancer, you somehow get the feeling of being “outside” of the project you work for.
You have been using Substance Painter for around one year now: how would you describe the learning curve at first?
The learning curve is surprisingly fast: I was reluctant at first to just switch my whole workflow from Photoshop to Painter. I was really interested in how fast for me was to create the base of my texture, meaning, everything I could create with procedurals before even touching a single brush stroke. The PBR and real time painting finished to sell Painter to me I think.
Which place does Substance Painter take right now in your texturing process? What does it bring to your workflow compared to your previous pipeline?
Now I texture 100 % in Painter, unless it’s for massive Cinematic Monster that requires Mari. Before I was using 3Dcoat that has the ability to use tri-planar projections, at that time Painter didn’t exist and it was a good alternative for smaller project other than using Mari. I used Photoshop during my first 10 years of professional career to produce my textures. But I switched to Substance Painter within a month, which shows how appropriate this tool is.
Is there one Substance Painter feature that you cannot live without now?
It’s gonna sound a bit stupid but the ability to create mask by filling UVs island is a time saver for me. I don’t use color ID mask so much but just the normal fill mask.
Any tip you have found that could help the community?
I don’t consider myself as an expert , so it’s more an advice. I try to avoid to work on small details at first. I gradually work on smaller and smaller details and rise the resolution accordingly.
For example : if i’m working on a skin material , I build up the different layers of color variations and big values, Then, veins, moles that add some interest when you zoom in , but the texture should be able to hold the general look without them, that means it works :)
You have been using Substance Source for texturing this piece of art: what is your general feeling about it?
It gives you a great starting point for your texturing work and the quality of the Materials are definitely at production level . And for me it’s always interesting to dissect the Library to be able to do my own.
Let’s talk a bit of your gentle ugly witch. Where did the idea come from?
I was trying to find an idea for an illustration that combine an interesting character and that reflects the diversity of the materials available in Substance Source. I first wanted to sculpt a ”Djinn“ but the subject wouldn’t showcase a lot of materials, so not very suitable for promotion.
With Halloween being very close to the release date, I finally thought of this old hag: It was a perfect excuse to use different materials.
Now what about describing the different steps of the Witch creation?
I started by sketching out in Zbrush the head, hat , hair etc... using dynamesh. I used a simple mannequin to pose the rest of the body ( I kept the hands for later ). The posing was already something that I thought about so everything was pretty straight forward.
Then I imported a very rough sculpted body as an avatar to Marvelous designer to create the robe and bandages. I kept it in quads from Marvelous Designer and imported in Zbrush for tweaking (no retopology here). Since we didn’t have so much time , there were steps in the process where I’m usually cleaner.
For sculpting the hands, I started from an old base mesh with UVs. Whenever possible, I extracted displacement maps and normal maps for the different meshes.
For the hair, I used Ornatrix for 3ds max:
Everything ended up in 3ds max : mid res mesh + displace + normal map for rendering.
On the other side, the same meshes went to Substance Painter for texturing. I used a lot the new materials, tweaked them, added some of my own textures and handmade texturing.
By playing with the exposed parameters, I was able to use the Bamboo Wood material to make two variations on the glasses:
The Witch skin is based on the Skin feverish smart material (available by default in the Substance Painter shelf) and some additional hand painting:
The teeth are based on the White marble:
For the ring, I started from the Pewter Striped material from Substance Source
Don’t hesitate to have a look at Guillaume’s Artstation page!