Creating 3D Assets: Exploring New Styles and Getting Out of Your Comfort Zone

Creating 3D Assets: Exploring New Styles and Getting Out of Your Comfort Zone

Daniel Quick's skills, cultivated through the Game Art course at USW Cardiff and personal projects, earned him an Excellence Award in the Rookie Awards 2023. In this article, he shares insights behind his skill-enhancing journey, focusing on one of his latest projects.

Daniel Quick is a very recent graduate of the University of South Wales, Cardiff, and is currently working at Spiral House LTD in Liverpool working as  a Junior 3D Environment Artist. Daniel also received an Excellence Awards for his Rookie Awards 2023 entry.

Daniel gained his experience from taking the Game Art course at USW Cardiff, and applied that learning to personal projects created outside of school hours, featuring 3D assets and environments. In this article, Daniel shares details of how he created one asset in particle, which helped him improve on his skills even further.


The software I use in this project are:

Here is an overview steps in the overall process of creating a 3D replica of a Fender Stratocaster, commonly known as a ‘Strat’:

  • Research/Reference
  • Modeling
  • Texturing
  • Rendering

Project Aim

The Strat is an Iconic guitar used by many popular artists such as Jimi Hendrix, Ritchie Blackmore, Eric Clapton and Mark Knopfler. It's a beautiful looking instrument with many colourways. My particular favourite is the Sunburst Colour finish. As shown in the image below, there is a deep black fading into a nice orange toned Maple wood in a nice shining finish. The blend from the black to the wood is very smooth like a gradient. I picked this model not only because of its look, but the technical challenge of making the texture of the colourway was something I was really interested in achieving.

For this project, I set a specific goal: to step out of my comfort zone when it comes to texturing assets. Typically, my style involves creating well-worn, weathered, and aged objects with lots of grime and wear. While this style is popular and effective when executed with precision, I wanted to explore the opposite end of the spectrum – something clean, pristine, and like new. This was a style I hadn't worked in much but was eager to explore.

Reference Gathering

Inspiration for this project struck close to home; my father's office houses a pristine Stratocaster guitar with minimal damage or signs of wear. This served as the ideal subject for my project, offering a chance to create something immaculate and less weathered.

PureRef References

The Stage in starting any project would be reference gathering. Images of the desired object from different angles and conditions are extremely helpful as they would make life modelling and texturing much much easier. Here I have gathered a range of images of a Strat in different conditions. Websites like eBay and other selling platforms are great for reference for old objects and objects in different conditions.


With this project just being the Guitar itself the poly count could be increased to a degree, but I try to always keep it most optimised where I can. We can assume this guitar would be a ‘Hero asset’ to justify the poly count and with the technology today it should be acceptable. Keeping smooth topology where possible is also ideal; there's definitely spots where I could have done better.

You can see here my topology of the asset I've kept the majority fairly even and in quads.  I also used the Model to create my high poly by duplicating the low poly version and adding supporting edge loops and adding some turbo smooth modifiers to smooth it all out.


Here the texturing stage is the crucial part of the process to achieve the realistic look for the object.

I started with a High to Low poly bake using my naming conventions of _HP and _LP to match them up, and once I had my successful bake I dived into the texturing.

For the sunburst finish of the guitar I used a wood material from the Substance 3D Painter library to get the maple wood look. I changed the settings to get the desired effect and also changed the roughness to have more shine to the wood.

For the black fading into the wood I used a fill layer to cover the wood and erased the areas where I wanted to show off the wood. I used a soft brush to gradually create the blend between the black and the wood. I slowly built up the materials from the Substance library and tweaked the colours to get the desired look before I started adding minor wear to the object.

You can see the faint scratches and stains on the main body of the guitar which are at a different roughness level to the sunburst finish, this gives the object more depth as it's clearly been used but not abused and broken. I carried this on through the rest of the object adding dust and small bits of dirt in the cavities. These effects build up the believability of the object.


For the rendering I used Marmoset Toolbag; it is notorious for its rendering capability and reality makes artworks pop and adds extra professional look to the artwork.

I used the Marmoset template as it is a professional set up which has everything you need within for a great render. I created some extra assets to make the piece look a bit more interesting. In this case a Guitar stand and a Pedal; I even put a small Pick in the strings of the guitar.

experimented with more dynamic/cinematic lighting

This has probably been one or if not the best project I've produced so far in my portfolio and I'm extremely proud of what I achieved and how it helped me and I hope it helps you achieve new things in your own work! Thank you for reading.

You can reach out to Daniel and check out more of his work on his Rookies profile.