3D Game Art Tips: Making it Feel Real

Ringtail Studios Wooden Gun Art on table

With the technology and capability of modern 3D art production tools, making high quality art has never been easier. However, this accessibility also allows our expert artists at Ringtail Studios and our parent group, Magic Media, to stand out with our mastery of those same systems. For 3D game art outsourcing, in delivering this high-quality service to each our clients, the devil is in the details. 

We chatted with some of our incredible 3D game artists and asked them what details brought their 3D game art outsourcing work to life. Many of them had a similar answer, weathering and wear-and-tear. Let’s have a look at this process with this weapon, a Vickers MG, designed by our talented 3D artists.


Researching Weathering for 3D Game Art Outsourcing

Our artists expressed that the more references one could gather, the better. The early stages of the game art production pipeline is exploration, reference gathering, and concept design. These references can be found everywhere and anywhere. Get thorough with your Google searches, look into YouTube tutorials, don’t ignore historical or educational sources. One artist mentioned that references can often be broken into two different categories


This includes photos with traces of the weapon or objects operation. Damage, decals, and textures can all be found and explored with these. Every photo of a historical object or piece of equipment after its deployment or use will show evidence of that action. Weapons will have scratches and wear on places of repeated use, dust and rust will gather, damage will be inflicted. These can be used as evidence and also prompt further questions for your game art production team. Why did that happen? Why is the paint so worn in that area? What could have caused that damage? These all help in the discovery of how realistic weathering occurs.


Blueprints, drawings of weapons and equipment, photos of its internal elements and design. We frequently mention that it’s important for artists to understand much more than just artistic principles. That knowing how the object or creature functions is just as important as the artistic execution. This knowledge allows our game art services to push beyond the baseline of quality, to a place where storytelling and quality game art production live side-by-side. In this process of understanding the weaponry being created, our 3D artists look into videos of weapon disassembly and the operation of the weapons. The technical references are imperative to creating incredible looking weapons and then weathering them realistically.


Software and Processes in Game Art

For the process of weathering, Substance Painter is the primary software and tool we utilize. When it comes to these tasks, there are few tools that can beat Substance Painter.

For the process of creating and weathering a weapon, we follow the standard 3D game art production pipeline until the model is nearly completed. Great care is taken throughout in ensuring the weapon’s proportions are preserved and that technical accuracy is paramount. Weapons are often front and center for players so they need to look and feel right and real. From there, the reference images and technical resources are key. Our game artists are looking at the weapon’s moving parts, its recesses, which elements might be more exposed or more prone to being damaged.

With the Vickers MG for example, we see a lot of wear and tear in the moving joints on its tripod and where it would often be carried or held. The oil on the crew’s hands and the general damage slowly wearing down the paint. We see the imprint of fingers on the metal where hands grasped it, lifting its weight, we see scratches and wear where the cocking handle would be repeatedly used, and rust gathering where paint has been chipped away leaving gaps for water to soak and decay the metal beneath. All of these details come together to give the impression of a realistically used weapon, making it feel real, alive, and part of the visual story being told.


Common Mistakes and Challenges in Game Art Weathering

Our artists believe that viewing the weapon as a singular object is one of the common mistakes and one that hinders a greater final result. Like the early research, we must view the weapon for what it is. A complex construct of many moving parts. Assembled with great care and becoming itself only when all parts are in place. Giving it that level of detail, understanding its complexity, allows you as a game artist to truly approach the piece with the right attitude and awareness.

As for challenges, there are many! One artist expresses that the uniformity of detail is tough. You try to keep things realistic when weathering. It’s a balance between too much and too little or too simple. The whole appearance must give the impression of random and consistent weathering without sacrificing detail in any area.

If you’d like to leverage our expertize and years of 3D game art outsourcing experience, get in touch today! Our 3D Game Art Services are second to none and will seamlessly blend into your art and aesthetic, no matter the genre or style.