Tequila Sunset - Breakdowns

General / 19 March 2024

I worked with Beyond Extent and Game Artists UK to put together some breakdowns for Tequila Sunset, the Disco Elysium fan project I posted a few months back. 

I did a workshop with Beyond Extent breaking down the scene and some of my workflows in a fair bit of detail. Thanks to Timothy for inviting me on to do a workshop for the community, it was a lot of fun. 


If you prefer written content and going through at your own pace, I also worked with Game Artists to write an article breaking down similar topics for them. 

Hopefully you learn something useful! 

Detective's Room Update 6

Work In Progress / 09 October 2023

Hey all, the project continues, but there’s been an exciting collaboration in the works with Jean Zoudi and I. Jean has been generous enough to share his Harrier Du Bois piece so that the detective's room can finally have its detective.

Can’t express how cool it is to have the main character of the game in the scene, and for it to fit in nicely too! Big thanks to Jean for this, go check out his artstation, he has some seriously cool projects - https://www.artstation.com/artwork/n0JElX

I’ve been spending a bit more time on detailing, adding some torn wallpaper decals, breaking floor tiles, and just more grunge / shadow decals to help ground and set assets into the scene a bit better. 

I also started work on the broken door on the floor, which in game has this strange blue and cyan splattering which I can only assume has come from some sort of paint or maybe alcohol? It’s a bit of an odd splattering, but I really like the contrast and the strangeness of the colour so I need to contextualise where this is coming from. The door is just using my main door model with a retexture, so fracturing and smashing this thing up is also coming soon.

Figuring out what we can see outside of this big window has been a bit of a challenge, and I’ve been playing with dropping in some exterior assets with either megascans or simple geometry then adding a bit of fog. Still not sure whether I want to commit to an angle showing this side of the scene off, but it’s nice to have a bit of a foundation just in case I feel like it. 

Still noodling away on various assets, one of the more interesting ones has been the record player. I’m getting pretty close to having all of the assets textured which means I can crack on with polishing some of the larger assets that need a bit of extra attention. Things like the sofa cushions need a remodel, and some of the larger assets like the table and the record player unit need some more texture detail as they’re looking a bit rough. 

And finally I’m still working on the orthographic camera shot. I’m still getting some errors with the ortho camera in 5.3.1, but it does seem to be behaving marginally better? Maybe it’s because I made adjustments to the clipping distance, but I can’t be sure. Still unsure on what’s causing the bugger shadows but hopefully it gets fixed in 5.3.2. Either way I’m in no rush, I’ll still need to do some super rough texturing on the bathroom assets to get that up to scratch from this angle. 

That’s it for now, thanks as always if you’ve taken the time to read through :) hopefully only 1 or 2 more blog posts before it’s done. Getting pretty close to the finishing line now I think!

Detective's Room Update 5

Work In Progress / 18 September 2023

Back again with another scene update after a couple months! Been taking a bit of time away from the scene, but have been back for a couple weeks now that I've thoroughly rinsed Baldur's Gate 3. The scene has had a lot of changes, extra assets, and some additional story elements introduced.


The lighting has been changed once again! I received some feedback that the harsh contrasty lighting wasn't quite doing the scene justice and wasn't feeling much like my reference material either, so I've opted to widen the directional light so much that it's filling the room much more evenly while still leaving a bit of contrast. We've also got less noisy shadows coming in from the furniture by the window which is helping with how the floorspace reads. 

The scene has had some new assets thrown in, most noticeable from this angle would be the shirt, trousers, necktie on the fan, and the plant, amongst some other small bits of scatter and debris here and there. 

I also decided to finally wrap up the work on the loose magnetic tape, and also scattered around some empty cassettes for logic. I think I will still hang some additional bits of tape over the record player when that assets complete, and maybe also on the wooden unit, but I'm quite happy with how the chaotic tape looks for now.

I've also started working on some smaller areas where we can push the story telling a bit further. Here we're going to have all of the police equipment our detective uses laid out on the table ready for him to solve the murder of the hanged man. Also a couple of cigarettes, a fiction book about a detective, some speed, and military grade radiation sickness medication with some nice psychedelic effects! I'll be looking for a couple of other places to do something similar, but focusing on the characters other traits. I'll most likely place these around the record player and on the footstool near the chair.

I've also started working on an orthographic camera shot to mimic the angle of the game which has given me a lot of confidence as it's really starting to give me the vibes from the game! I don't quite know how to set up the new 5.3 camera, so this is just with the standard orthographic setting on the standard camera and it still appears to have all the issues of old. 

If anyone knows how to use the new 5.3 ortho camera please gimme a message, as you can see I'm running into some interesting lighting and rendering bugs.

That's all I've got for now, still lots of assets to crack on with, lighting to tweak, and feedback to work on. Special thanks to Jacob and Ben who gave some really good suggestions for how to push the scene further. 

Detective's Room Update 4

Work In Progress / 06 July 2023
Another update! It's been about a month since my last post and a lot has changed.

One of the nicest new assets is these bedsheets I simulated in Marvelous designer. It's nothing too complicated, basically just a lot of rectangle patterns. I'm making the use of these nanite budgets now, keeping the assets nice and high poly to create all those nice shadows. Thankfully Marvelous allows you to export the cloth patterns as your UV's so I saved all the effort on unwrapping and could jump straight into texturing.

The next main change was to switch the material of the ceiling. I think in previous posts I'd expressed my discomfort with how bright it was, it really didn't fit the theme, so I looked for some materials that might fix this, and I found this wood plank material on Quixel Bridge which worked really nicely to help tie the scene together. The place feels a lot grungier and darker now, though the plank ceiling looks a bit too refined for this space, so I will eventually replace this material with a wood viynl which will be grungier and have some tears and rips to help maintain that aesthetic. 

The last major update has been the lighting. I wasn't happy with how flat it was before, so I've introduced a bit of contrast and allowed the directional light to cast some more shadow. I'm struggling a lot with lighting in UE5, getting Lumen to work nicely is very different from what I'm used too. Not entirely sold on this lighting set up either, but just fun to keep experimenting and trying things. Will probably iterate on this more as I go. 

And to wrap up, here are a couple of assets I forgot to post, a couple of new books and a couple of chairs. The scene has had a bunch of different assets added, but pretty much all of them are so roughly texture I'd be embarrassed to show them this close up. 

Thanks for reading, would love to hear your thoughts on the project so far! 

Detective's Room Update 3

Work In Progress / 05 June 2023

Got another update for my scene, bit of a smaller one this time round, but I've been working on polishing a handful of different things. 

I've been refining the tiling wall textures to something a little more realistic, but still using the heavy disco brush strokes. I'm feeling like I'm starting to strike a nice blend between stylised and realism, but I'm going to let it sit for a while and see how I feel while I work on other scene bits.

I'm definitely leaning into pushing the scene to be just a bit grungier to match the tone of the game. The place isn't derelict, but needs to feel partied in and aged. More wear and tear will crop up on the assets when I get round to polishing the assets.

I've started to block in super rough textures and materials for some of the larger props in the scene and things are starting to feel a lot more complete in the living room now. Getting materials going for the sofa and speakers, even if they're really simple, has helped the scene feel a bit more cohesive. I think the next step is to work on the doors and the plants, then the record player. After that it's just a handful of simple assets.

I still need to block in the pillow and sheets on top of the sofa bed, as well as push the record tape further, but I have 0 motivation to sit and simulate shapes at the moment, just wanna keep blocking in asset textures. 

 I still feel like the room is missing a center piece, the character is supposed to be the centerpiece in the game as he wakes up from his drunken rampage in the center of the room. I'm thinking about ways to mix things up and introduce some larger pieces of dressing that fit the theme of the game and the scene that can fill the void of the character. 

On top of this, I think just more general party vibes are needed. I've started throwing around some stain decals (which are temp atm as they are just blood splatter decals made by the great Jason Ord) as well as some additional assets, but I can definitely go a bit further and make the scene feel more chaotic and partied in.

I also got the fan spinning and turned the light on to balance some of the lighting in the scene. Still not certain on the lighting, but it feels nicer than the last post I think! That's all I've got for now, would love to hear any thoughts on the progress so far. 

Detective's Room Update 2

Work In Progress / 24 April 2023

Hey all, got another update for my Detectives room scene. It's been pretty slow going on the project over the past couple of months and the scene hasn't quite progressed at the pace I would have liked, but I think the scene is progressing quite well despite some hurdles figuring out UE5 and Blender.

I've mainly been focusing on building master materials for standard assets, decals, tilables, glass, liquid, etc. It's been a lot of general scene management and set up like setting up movie render queue for screenshots, lighting, postprocessing, all stuff in a good place for me to tweak in the future.

I've blocked out most of the tiling materials for the main room and although they're looking pretty rough and dirty, they're starting to sell the vibe. The ceiling texture is currently just a megascans stucco as I wasn't quite sure what I wanted to do for that. Because the game only shows this room from a locked isometric perspective, we never get to see the ceiling and I'm not quite sure what I want to do for it yet. I think my first step might be to play with the lighting to see if I can lower the bounce on the ceiling. Also, you can see in most of the shots that there is strange lighting coming from the ceiling fan, still need to investigate what's causing that to happen.

I decided to switch the lighting from Lumen over to fully ray traced. I found that lumen was causing a few lighting bugs with my current set up (which probably isn't the correct way of doing things) and switching over to raytraced lighting fixed them. I'm not entirely sold on the current lighting set up and time of day, it's all a bit too warm. I managed to disabled world partition and I can manually add levels to the scene, so I'm going to have a few lighting sublevels to try and get a few different time of days going. The game has a few different lighting states and it would be fun to try reproduce them. 

I need to figure out a nice frosted glass solution for the exterior facing windows. I would like to do some really rough models for the exterior that just focus on primary forms that sell the exterior to prevent me from having to model an entire exterior. That said I could do some more detailed stuff purely off camera angles if the frosted shader doesn't really hold up, but I'm gunna worry about that at a later date.

I also did a bit of work on chaotic overflowing record player tape. I set up some splines, arrayed a plane across it, then applied cloth simulation to the mesh which helped it fall quite naturally. Because the planes had normalised UV's, I should be able to set up a nice tiling texture to make this all look like record tape too. It doesn't quite look how I imagined, but I've learned enough to start over and getting it looking better.

I think overall the scene is starting to get a bit more cluttered and busy, but is still lacking a lot of visual noise we'd expect to see in this scene, so I'm going to think of ways to get this place looking dirtier and more chaotic to really sell the vibe of the location in game. 

That's all for the update for now, but to see how things have changed, I've posted a shot of where the scene was at about 2 months ago. For now I'm taking a little break from the PC and I'm off to Spain on holiday. I'm looking forward to coming back onto the project refreshed and ready to tackle some of the larger assets in the living room. 

Thanks for reading!  

P.S I have given up on trying to format my blogs properly, it's too confusing. They will be messy from now on.

Detetive's Room Update 1

Work In Progress / 22 March 2023

Hey all, this is my first update for my scene inspired by Disco Elysium. I wanted to dive straight in to asset creation to start figuring out how I would go about texturing these assets to retain some of Disco Elysium's brush stroke and painterly style. 

So far I've been focusing on trying to do a variety of different types of assets to get a feel for how to get these materials feeling good while maintaining the style. I'm going to breakdown a little bit of what the assets are and some of the decisions and processes I've been taking as I've been making them.


Disco Elysium has a very wide range of books which the character can read and learn from. They're all quite unique in shape and size, but the "Man from Hjelmdall" series and how they look really caught my eye. The books are a parody of Conan the Barbarian, where the Man From Hjelmdall swoops in with his dual Zweihänders to save the day, and rescue the damsel in distress.The books each have a core colour scheme and style, with a few elements changed on each. The main element that changes is the cover art and colour. As the book only has two of the books in the series in game, I've had to come up with some of my own covers, and I look forward to making a few more as the in-game series has over 40 different books. I also adapted the design just a little bit to add some extra details to the binder which should help the books stand out if I end up placing them on a bookshelf. 


This clock was one of the first assets I worked on for the scene, and although it's location is really out of the way and may never really be spotted in the end shots, I loved the shape and materials and felt like it would be a lot of fun to make. Getting the plastics feeling right with the style was really difficult and required a fair bit of iteration, even as it stands I might go back to exaggerate stuff a bit further. I also discovered that making metals for this kind of style would require a big change in direction from what I'm used too. I initially tried to make everything really realistic, adding a lot of layers of grime and rust, but eventually had to pull back almost all of those details as it just looked too noisy and realistic. I'm still not entirely sold on the metal as is, so I might have to return to it at some point


The room is a victim of a three day drinking and party binge, and the wine and beer bottles were going to have to come in sooner or later. A lot of the branding in the game for these assets is unspecific, so I took a bit of liberty with some of the designs. Commodore Red is a cheap and sugary wine, and there isn't a great deal of description beyond that, so to stick with the political themes of the game, I decided to theme it around communism and made a drink that's affordable for all people of differently social levels. Potent Pilsner leant into a mix of being a craft beer / cheap lager. it has fairly "trendy" branding.  Both are sticking to the theme of cheap and high alcohol content which fits our character nicely. There will likely be a couple more beer / wine bottles to be make, I definitely want some green bottles knocking around the scene, and maybe a spirit bottle. Not sure yet, but enjoying the branding challenges presented by these.

Wood furniture

The scene has a lot of different types of wooden furniture, so I decided to make a wooden smart material which I could just apply to all of these assets. So far, none of the assets really have any hand painting applied and they do look super basic. At the moment, they just have a different hue depending on the color of the specific asset. Because I've slowly been working on the material as I make the assets, it looks a little different on each of the assets, and they'll be something I come back too once the material is a little better refined. Using the same smart material for most of the wood in the scene has been great for saving time and retaining consistency in the style of the scene. I've found myself making a lot of smart materials for this project and it's been a great exercise and is really helping speed up the texturing pipeline for the project. 

Wrap up

Although a lot of the assets are lacking a bit of polish, I've really enjoyed trying to learn a new style and mix it with my own. I've been studiyng a lot of Dishonored and Deathloop art to try figure out how they stylize their work (been studying the works of Yannick Gombart and Maxime Goichot, go enjoy their works, it will not disappoint), and I've found that I definitely need to study things a bit closer as I've not fully developed the style, but I'm enjoying the process. 

It's been a great learning experience so far, especially because I'm modelling everything in Blender, however I do find myself going back to Maya for the UV tools, they're just too good. So far I've just been using the marmoset scene I made for my swords to present assets, but I think in future I'm going to work on something a bit custom.

Next post should be a bit more of an update on the scene! Looking forward to showing more over the next few weeks! Thanks for reading :)

PS - To Artstation, blogs are really difficult to use, please give us more control over width formatting, it took a long time to get all of the images to not randomly stretch which would then mess with the text spacing.

Swords Breakdown - Game Artists UK

General / 16 March 2023

Hey all, I recently wrote an article for Game Artists UK breaking down some of my techniques used to model and texture my last tow recent sword projects. Read about it here! 


In the article I cover my basic sculpting process for the engraved details, my texturing process for the metal work, and how I went about making the grip for the rapier.


Detective's Room Blockout (UE5)

Work In Progress / 17 February 2023

Hey all, been a little while since I wrote a blog post, but I recently started a new project and thought it would be fun to get back into the swing of blog updates. 

About 2 and a half years back, I was recommended by a friend to take a look at Disco Elysium. I was skeptical at first as it's not the genre of game I would normally play, but after the first in-game day, I was absolutely hooked and it has quickly become my favorite game of all time. 

The art style of the game is so interesting, and I have wondered for a long time how I could adapt into a semi-realistic style, so I'm going to try give it a go. I decided to pick a relatively small space, so The Detective's destroyed hotel room in the Whirling in Rags seemed to be a great spot. I worked on a project called Will's Room back before I got into the games industry, so I think it'll be nice for me to see how my eye has changed over the years. 

I plan on studying the texturing in Deathloop and Dishonored 2 and mixing it with the brush strokey style of Disco Elysium. I've not done any texturing this stylized before so If I ended up failing this horribly I hope you'll let me know. 

So far I've just about got the scene blocked out, things like lighting are still a big wip and I'm not sure where I which direction to take that right now. This will be my first project in UE5, as well as my first project using Blender as my main modelling tool. Lots of firsts! 

Dragon Environment Collaboration

General / 06 April 2022

I recently collaborated with Sophie Shepherd on a scene for her a Dragon animation she was working on. I pretty much just re-built some stuff from my Hemlock forest project and switched up the lighting a bit. Check out her Artstation post here - https://www.artstation.com/artwork/nENmK4