Far Cry 5 trailers: how Andrew Averkin relied on Substance
Today, we present you the story of Blur environment artist Andrew Averkin: from his young days growing up in a family of artists in Odessa, to his key role in some awesome projects with one of the greatest VFX studios in the world! Discover how he recently adopted Substance in his work on Far Cry 5 trailers, and on his own project named “Utopia”. This article is a summary of the full story: if you want to read the long version, click on the link below.
Hi Andrew, thanks for taking your time for this interview. Could you introduce yourself to the community and tell us about your background?
Hi! My name is Andrew Averkin and I am 3D environment artist from Blur, which creates stunning game cinematics and visual effects for films. Also, I am the founder and the head of a game project called Utopia.
I was born and grew up in Ukraine, in the city of Odessa, in a family of workers, artists, sculptors, writers, and musicians. My father is a builder and handyman but in his youth, he loved painting same as his mother, who was a wonderful artist and poet. My great-grandfather was a first-class sculptor. Mom is an engineer by education, but life tied her work with library. Books and literature became her biggest hobby. Her father played trumpet for a long time in a military orchestra. I think that in part that huge passion for art and creativity were passed on to me by all these talented people.
In my childhood I was attracted to drawing, writing poetry and music. At that time, in the 90's, my TV was full of Hollywood blockbusters: Star Wars, Terminator, Robocop, Alien, Predator - only a part of my favorite films of that time. Perhaps these films also influenced my formation as an artist!
A little later, when I had my first ZX Spectrum computer, and then a Dendy, Sega Megadrive, and PC, I began to dive deeper into the world of computer games. However, here I was wondering about how to create really great games with such wonderful graphics, storyline, and gameplay!
I remember my first and very significant meeting with computer graphics. I was in high school and a friend told me about one very interesting software. "You can create anything you want, and the only limit is your imagination!" he said. It was 3D Studio Max, version R2 if I'm not wrong. Literally the next day, I was sitting next to my friend and looking madly on his monitor, where he was spinning some amazing space stations and spaceships. All this moved and came to life in my eyes and it was absolutely beautiful! From that moment I realized that my life would be tied with CG, and since that time we have been best friends!
All these things were a huge influence on the decision of who I wanted to be and what I wanted to do.
You have worked on various projects with Blur Studio. How did you get in touch with Blur Studio and start working with them?
I first started working in advertising and architectural visualization because it was a great opportunity to gain experience and skills in 3D. Almost every day after work I continued to study other fields of CG.
After some time, when I already had several personal works and publications in a few 3D graphics magazines, I met some guys from Blur studio on a 3D forum. I already knew about Blur and was a huge fan of their work! I remember that wonderful feeling, the joy and ecstasy of getting my first big project with them: it was cinematic for Dark Souls 2, where I did few environments. This feeling was unforgettable!
With each new project, I got more experience and knowledge, and after 5 years of work I officially became an offsite 3D environment artist at Blur. I was lucky enough to take part in such projects as Dark Souls 2, Halo 2 Anniversary, Rainbow 6 Siege, Middle Earth: Shadow of War, Star Wars: The Old Republic - Knights Of The Eternal Throne, Destiny 2, League of Gods, Fallout 4, Far Cry 4 and Far Cry 5 and other stunning projects that are still under development.
Blur Studio is a company which specializes in creating visual effects and CG animation for a wide range of media - short and full-length films, advertising, concept art, music videos, computer game cinematics and much more. The art of Blur Studio was nominated for an Academy Award, among other awards. Blur Studio was founded in 1995 by Tim Miller and David Stinnett and is based in Culver City, California, USA. The clients of Blur Studio include: Disney, Universal Pictures, Microsoft, Bungie, Paramount Pictures, 20th Century Fox, Warner Bros., Activision, Nickelodeon, FOX, Bioware, Ubisoft, and others!
Blur Studio created in-game cinematics for Warhammer, Halo, Hellgate: London, Tomb Raider, Transformers, Dark Souls, Doom, Destiny, Assassin's Creed, Far Cry, The Elder Scrolls Online, Batman, League Of Legends, Star Wars, Fable and many others, as well as visual effects for the films Deadpool, Thor: The Dark World, League of Gods, Avatar and this list can be continued!
I met a lot of good people, and it's hard for me to describe the gorgeous kindness, positivity, and energy of everyone at Blur!I would like to take this opportunity to thank them. And first of all I want to thank our wonderful women's team - Monica Haley, Tiffany Webber, Laura Pepper, Jennifer Miller, Savanna Aghassian, Celine Lam, Mariel Song, Rachel Berry, Daryn Houston and other girls, and very cool guys - master of all masters, father and teacher Jerome Denjean (Master Jedi), great Kevin Margo, kind Jeff Fowler, Al Shier and Chris Youngless, super charismatic supervisors and talented artists - Darren and Evan Butler, Chris Bedrosian, Dan Akers, Peter Wildman, Colin James, James Atilano, Oded Raz, amazing Mike Johnson, Sebastien Chort, Jean-Baptiste Cambier, Gary Christian, Valerian Zamel, Jeremie Passerin, Mario Adriano! Forgive me guys, if I forgot to name someone! I also want to thank Tim Miller - the founder of Blur Studio, the director of the film Deadpool, a family man, and a very kind and positive person!
“Substance Painter became an integral part of my work, which not only allows to create professional quality textures and materials, but also allows me to do it in much shorter amount of time”
Recently you worked on the trailer for Far Cry 5: what was your role in it? How did you discover the Allegorithmic tools and can you describe your texturing workflow on the trailer?
This is an unforgettable project for me, not just because I'm a big fan of Ubisoft games, especially of the Far Cry game franchise, but also because this project has become in some way unique for all team members and for Blur as a whole.
The Far Cry 5 trailer consists of three separate stories, each with its own characters. There were many talented people involved in this project who spent days and nights working to create a series of wonderful and photorealistic cinematics! One of my supervisors, Dan Akers, spoke in more detail about creating trailers at SIGGRAPH 2017.
In the Far Cry 5 project, I had quite a lot of interesting and varied tasks, from props to complete 3D scene creations. However, this project has become unique, and a challenge for me. Since there are a lot of close ups in all three trailers, I had to be sure that all objects look as high-quality and detailed as possible.
This task and previous experiences led me to the decision to use Substance Painter for the first time, and thanks to this I was able to create a lot of great textures for a large number of 3D models. I discovered Substance Painter as well as other products from Allegorithmic about three years ago, but I fully started to use it a year ago when I started developing my personal game project called Utopia.
Subsequently, Substance Painter became an integral part of my work, which not only creation of professional-quality textures and materials, but also allows me to do it in much shorter amount of time, which of course significantly speeds up the whole workflow.
A lot of objects were made for the Nick Rye scene in the garage, mostly furniture – racks, metal tables, chairs, concrete floor and so on.
For the church scene, we made church benches, pianos, a church altar with a chair, a votive candle holders, candles and candlesticks, as well as wilted roses. All these objects were textured with Substance Painter.
Now, in every new project that I'm working on, I try to implement Allegorithmic tools and use Substance Painter almost for all models! In the near future, I want to study Substance Designer, which will also certainly help to create even better textures and save me a lot of working time.
“The Far Cry 5 project has been a huge push to use Substance Painter in order to create professional and quality textures in the fastest way possible, both for personal and commercial projects”
Did you get a chance to try some of the latest Substance Painter features ?
Definitely! And I have to say that anchor points is amazing addition! But Am allowed to say that I am very very excited but the new upcoming layer instancing feature* that I’ve had the chance to beta test: it is going to be a really helpful, especially for the VFX industry! (Did I talk too much? :-))
Now let’s continue with your own personal project: the game Utopia. What can you tell us about it? How does Substance Painter integrate into your workflow on the project?
I know that many creative people are familiar with this desire to create something unique, something that will be able to give a part of yourself to others – a part of your thoughts, ideas, feelings and even emotions!
Long ago, I dreamed of creating a project through which I could do exactly this. There are many factors that influenced the birth of this idea; however, as I said earlier, the influence of computer games really contributed to me becoming a 3D artist. This gave me a clear decision and giant push to start development of my big project.
The project is called Utopia and I want it to become an adventure game with elements of horror, fantasy and mysticism in which you have to follow parallel storylines. The game is positioned as a classic point-and-click adventure quest.
However, as the game progresses, there will be mix of other game genres such as action. Utopia will consist of several chapters, each of which has its own unique story, which will be linked to other chapters. Right now I can’t say much about the script, but I will briefly say that in the first chapter Utopia talks about one of the possible version of our life which is far from bright and colorful images that you are used to thinking about. I hope that the story of the game will be interesting!
Utopia is an indie project which I am developing in my free time. There are a few props modelers who help me from time to time, and my older brother is working on the logical aspect of the game. We are developing Utopia for PC with the Unity engine, but there are also plans to develop a version for consoles. Utopia is a young project at an early stage of development and we still have many obstacles to overcome, but things are already advancing and I am full of strength, ideas, desires and confidence to go only further and further to develop the game!
Finally, the brush packs you created for the game look super cool and helpful! Could you tell us more about them?
Recently I have been releasing video diaries about development of Utopia, where I show and tell the process of creating the game and talk about which programs we are using.
A word about Substance Painter since I use this software to texture all models for the game – because there are a lot of models inside the game and most of them do not require hand painting texturing, I decided to create a collection of alpha brushes and smart materials in different categories specifically for the Utopia project: stone, concrete, metal, fabric, plastic and paint, among others.These libraries are great time-savers, as you don’t have to do everything by hand.
You can follow Utopia on Facebook, VK and ArtStation, where I share a lot of useful information about as alpha brushes, 3D models, materials and so on. I recently released a pack of alpha brushes that can be used in any software that work with height maps, as well as a collection of hard surface 3D models. All this of course is absolutely free!
*If you're wondering what 's next for Substance Painter, tune in next Thursday for the latest news ;-)
Thanks Andrew, it was a pleasure learning more about you and your work! Lastly, can you send us a picture of you and your desk?
Thanks, Allegorithmic, and thanks to everyone who is reading! I sincerely wish creative success, good ideas and excellent games to all you artists and developers out there!