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Meet David Masana

I’m David Masana and I took the Environment Bootcamp here at GAI. I was born and raised in the cosmopolitan city of Barcelona. This city provides me the luck of living between unique architecture styles from very different historical sets, from Roman and Medieval, to Modern and even futuristic. I have a multimedia background and a master degree on video games and 3D art, I bet this mixture of background and location is what made me love environment art. Currently, I’m working on mods for an old MMO and some other projects here and there.

Experience At GAI

I’m glad I chose to become a GAI student. Before that, I was using very different workflows and techniques, and some even incorrect. For instance, for years I used to work with Substance Painter automatic generators to make the decay and usage, making them standard-looking. At GAI, I learned how to apply and use those generators mixed with some hand-painted retouches to give a realistic look to the props. I also learned how to focus on the final result, taking into account new intermediate processes to pipeline, in a very entertaining and personalized way.


Project: Vaar'cel Outpost

I chose this project not only because of my love for science fiction, but because I wanted to learn and apply new workflows to implement into a large scene without affecting too much on the amount of time taken per prop. The inspirations were taken mainly from Star Citizen environments, so I wanted to implement some of the techniques they use. I think the most interesting part of my environment is the ambience created by the lighting, the fog and their color palette.



Mastery is not magic. It’s process.

Evolution #1: High Res

I tried to avoid baking processes on many of the props seen. Despite that, many props had to get a High Res version, like the Hero Prop -the Artillery. I worked it with symmetry, so I had only to take care of half of it. This one used quite a lot of modifiers from 3DS Max to work it out. In general, for all the props that used High Res, I used a lot of smoothing groups to delimitate the areas where Chamfer and Turbosmooth modifiers would work.


Evolution #2: Low Res

Most of the project’s props are low to mid resolution and use mesh decals. But for those who had a higher resolution for the baking process, were pretty easy to craft. I just had to remove the Turbosmooth -and sometimes also the Chamfer- modifiers from the top of it until I got a nice and smooth lower resolutions where I could bake all the information. Somethimes, to avoid skewing, I had to make some cuts into geometry, As you can see on the Low Res of the Artillery.


Evolution #3: UV + Baking

At this point, Simon’s help was enormous. He taught me the “musts” and “must nots” of the UV process. With his help, I managed to improve the baking process tremendously. I could get many props as low as possible and still have all the details I wanted. Using free tools provided for 3DS Max to create the best UV maps, plus working on ID Maps, made the baking process lighter than expected, and removing most of the artifacts I usually got before

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Evolution #4: Texturing

Here I implemented many of the things Ryan told me about making objects come alive, with the right usage of wear, color, and more. The props that used high resolution meshes and were baked, also got special atention on those things. While for the rest of props, I used generic materials made by my own. I also created some decal textures and normal detail trim sheets. I wanted to remove as much weight on props as possible, without adding it too much onto textures.

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Evolution #5: Engine Setup

This was perhaps the hardest part. I used Unity before, but this time I wanted to go on and try Unreal Engine. I began using it since I had the idea I wanted to recreate. Since then, a handful of blockouts were made and exported to 3DS Max to model and texturize and get them back into the engine. Once I had a preliminar view of it I began the lighting. As I was learning new techniques every week, the project became a mix of different workflows. From baked pieces to trimmed ones, and even lots of mesh decals -something quite old and outdated, but quite used in games like Star Citizen. Perhaps the trickiest thing was to get all those details on the walls -mesh decals- implemented correctly.



Avoid getting stuck on what you cannot achieve. Find workarounds, use google a lot, iterate, don’t be afraid to ask on artist’s groups in social medias. Artist are quite an engaging community and this is something I’ve learnt during my Bootcmap here at GAI. And we as Artists tend to be too much perfectionists, so flush that out. We usually see all the imperfections on our work since we are the ones making it, others may not! And most important: do what you love, not what others do.



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