Hard Surface modelling test

I want to fill out my modelling portfolio a little more and create something of a reel for that. At the moment my work is very animation focused after completing the animation degree but modelling is something I really enjoy doing, and something I can’t stop thinking about now my grad film is over (kindof). What can I model and make? how could I rig it and how can I push the aesthetics?

I’ve done a number of characters and organic sculpts for previous projects and a little but of hard surface modelling for background assets, but ive never made the hard surface assets the star of the show. Recently I took some time to go back into some old games and played a little bit of gears of war. The weapon designs and aesthietcs in this game have always blown me away, and taking a deeper look into the concept work James Hawkins created for the series, it’s easy to see why they were so amazing.

So I took some time to try and model one of the weapons from the concepts. It’s been a while since I dived into the mechanics of hard surfacing so I’m afraid i have already done a lot wrong in terms of topology but it’s a good challenge to fall into my old mistakes and rememeber why it’s so important to plan this stuff out.

I opted not to practice or look up any techniques or reminders for this test, just as a way to really exercise what I remember and what my abilities are at the moment. This model took around 6 or 7 hours to create so far and serves as a very rough start point to work on my abilities. I didn’t focus on a workflow or seperate elements the same way you would to make uv wrapping and surfacing easier.

Update 1

After coming back to the model a couple of days later I wasn’t happy with a lot of the topology, It really wouldn’t work well for smoothing or up-ressing. So I went back through and remade most of the forms with cleaner topology. I’m quite proud of some of the hard surface modelling now, especially with some of the cuts and openings on the curved forms that are reading pretty cleanly now. So here’s some screenshots of the work with maybe another 4 hours sunk into it.

I haven’t modelled the stock end to the weapon yet as the concept I’m working from doesn’t show it very well, so there’s some room for interpretation there. But it will be the next step now that the trickier topology from the vents and holes is working well.

Update 2

After working on the model a little bit more, It’s close to its final form. I’m happy with the overall forms and topology. There’s still a lot I can do to improve this, even before surfacing and shading, there’s a lot I could go back into and replace model density with displacements and bump maps if I needed to drop the poly count. There are a lot of placed I could have redirected edge loops and flow to minimise the number of faces and loops, to keep the model cleaner and more lightweight.

If I were to take it further I think some nice shaders and textures would really make this model look great, some roughness maps and scratches along with selling the story and history of the weapon through its use and wear and tear. This is something I may come back to in the future and work on, but for now, I’m happy with what Ive learnt in the process. And now the urge to work on some human models with a focus on deformation and rigging is at a high, my next side project will certainly benefit from what I’ve learnt here.