Art by Nikie Monteleone

Substance Texturing for Animation

Vincent Gault on November 30 2017 | Stories, Substance Painter, Substance Designer, News, Maya, Film/VFX

If you like stylized art like we do, you will love the 3D artist of this user story! Nikie Monteleone has a very solid portfolio which impresses and inspires. Nikie was kind enough to talk about her experience in the animation industry, and to share some Substance Painter tricks in an in-depth art breakdown of one of her latest creations.

Who is Nikie?

Hey, my name is Nikie Monteleone, and I am Senior Surfacing Artist at HouseSpecial.

Recently, I’ve been texture supervising alongside Juan Antonio Ferrer Melian on "Being Good," an animated short written & directed by Jenny Harder. Catch the premier at this year’s CTN Artella talk, and for more info click here: Substance Painter was used on both characters and props throughout the short!

“Bus” and “Donnie” from “Being Good” animated short. Responsible for textures.

I'm also Lead Texture Artist on Jamaal Bradley's animated short "Substance ", described as "a bold story based on true events. It's controversially uplifting". More on that here: Substance Painter was used for all three of these main characters and will continue to be used for almost everything!

"Substance" animated short characters: responsible for textures, hair & lighting

Getting Into the Industry…

3D art is actually a second career for me. I first went to The Maryland Institute College of Art for textiles and fashion but it wasn't until my senior year that I was introduced to 3D software.

By that time, it was too late to change my major so I started integrating 3D printed "print blocks" into my work. I had various jobs for the next few years after graduation but I always knew I had to explore this need to be part of the animation industry. I ended up quitting my position as a senior graphic designer on 5th Avenue to go back to school at School of the Visual Arts in New York City. I have never worked so hard in my life to get where I am but I would do it over again if I had the choice. I make cartoons! How cool is that?

Working at HouseSpecial

HouseSpecial has been a very unique experience. I jump around from modeling to texturing to a bit of look dev on all types of projects. We have a few campaigns going but most of the time I have to come up with looks for all different types of styles. It's not unusual for me to be working on four or five different spots throughout any given week. These could be CG for stop-motion, full CG, or realistic CG on live action plates. It’s challenging but keeps me fresh as I am always looking to improve texture workflows for so many different styles!

"I had been using other paint programs since I started in this industry but I wish I had opened Substance Painter sooner."

Getting inspiration...

I wouldn’t say I have a particular style but I’m definitely drawn to characters and environments that are bright and quirky . Anything without straight lines and lots of saturation? Count me in!

I make sure to surround myself with inspiring, like-minded people: artists who love to do what we do, that I can learn from and that will give me solid constructive criticism. I seek out collaborations from people with similar styles to my own or completely different! Every project is an opportunity to learn something new :) ArtStation, Artella, Twitter and Instagram have been my go-to resources to find collaborators!

Original Illustration by Jessica Madorran - ZBrush sculpt by Berkay Oral

"I make sure to surround myself with inspiring, like-minded people. Artists who love to do what we do, that I can learn from and that will give me solid constructive criticism."

Getting into Substance

I discovered Substance Painter during a collaboration we had with an outside studio who used it for everything. It forced me to pick it up, and I haven’t put it down since. Because it's so affordable, I have been able to also use it for personal projects at home.

I had been using other paint programs since I started working in this industry but I wish I had opened Substance Painter sooner. Having an entire library of template shaders to start from and being able to see a render preview has made my life so much easier. I do a lot of small props throughout the day that I'm able to get through quickly with the default materials so I can focus more on the "fun" projects. I've been working on a project that has about 10 different assets that all have the same 4-5 materials. I've been able to set all the UVs up in the same patches, replace my FBX with the next asset and just rebake the textures since most of it is procedural. The upcoming layer instancing feature* that you guys showed me looks even more powerful! It is going to be a really helpful, especially for the VFX industry! (Did I talk too much? :-))

Substance in Animation

Substance usage in the animation industry is rapidly growing, that's for sure! If there were a few tiny updates, I think the Substance user group would grow even more. Being able to "see" what you're doing is extremely helpful. Also knowing that there is an Arnold preset in the texture exporter that I know will automatically render the same in Maya has been my savior!

*"Poor Cal" Realizes he’s not the dinner guest, but the dinner.: personal project, responsible for all.*

*If you're wondering what 's next for Substance Painter, tune in next Thursday for the latest news ;-)

Breakdown: Texturing and Rendering the Ice Cream Truck!

This Ice Cream Truck prop is from a short that I have been digging away at for a very long time! Stay tuned :)

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