For the third Mapcore challenge, participants were tasked with recreating one of three iconic movie vehicles. For this challenge, I wanted to take it a little easier than the last two (the second of which I will talk about later). I decided against making a playable game and would deliver my entry in the form of a video.
Participants were to “demake” one of three iconic cars from the movie screen as a low poly model with the following limits:
- Must be a 3D model
- Max 500 triangles
- Max 128×128 texture limit
As I’m quite new to 3D art I thought the vehicle with the simplest of shapes would yield the best results. So the clear decision was the DMC Delorean from Back to the Future.
It’s no secret that I’m a fan of retro aesthetics. Whether it be 80’s retro-revival, pixel art or in the case of this Delorean project, the technical limitations of the Sony PlayStation. I love me some retro.
For reference, I looked to one of my favourites from the PlayStation era, the original Gran Turismo.
I started by doing a little investigation into the poly counts and texture resolution of Gran Turismo. With what little information I could find, my findings were that the triangle count was similar, but the texture resolution was a higher. This took the pressure off a little. As I said before, I’m no artist; the higher the resolution goes, the more detail you have to paint in. I like to lean into the abstract, so a lower resolution interpretation of that style suited me just fine.
Using the above image as reference, I began modelling a stock DMC Delorean, rather than spending precious polys on the additional details required to recreate a true Back to the Future prop.
As the model started to come together I realised that I was quickly running out of triangles, so made the decision to ignore the wing mirrors. Honestly I could have probably lost some geometry here or there to add them, but I wanted to spend a little more time on the texturing process.
With the model completed, I started putting together a basic texture in the style of Gran Turismo, but putting my pixel art background into use. What I came up with was a little messy, but conveyed a good amount of detail.
I made a mistake early on by creating the texture at 256×256 rather than 128×128 as stated in the challenge. This wasn’t too difficult to fix as I realised my mistake early enough in the process. I simply scaled the down the texture by 50%, crunching the texture without too much detail loss. The only casualty from this drop in resolution was a minor loss of the fidelity of the tail lights. Not a huge loss.
With the texture and model in place I decided to lean further into my Gran Turismo reference by recreating the car showroom user interface. I built the required assets in Adobe Illustrator (a program I very rarely use). It was surprisingly fun! I particularly enjoyed drawing the PlayStation memory card. Memories came flooding back.
With the UI completed, I needed footage. Unreal is my “go to” engine these days, so it seemed only natural to use it as a renderer. I dropped the textured Delorean model into a blank scene, along with a spotlight and added a basic rotation component. To add the finishing touches, I applied a basic material that mimics the lack of floating point precision on vertices to give the mesh that authentic PS1 wobble.
The Final Video
I had a fun time building this asset. I think it would be fair to expect more low poly models from me in the future!
And as for the second Mapcore challenge I mentioned at the start of this post? That’s for another time…