Log inBy CategoryBy Instructor

Creating Complex Designs and Patterns

Substance Designer and ZBrush Techniques with Nate Stephens


In this title, Principal Artist Nate Stephens demonstrates the creation of a complex decorative medallion asset using Substance Designer, ZBrush, Maya, and Marmoset Toolbag. Starting in Substance Designer, complex shapes are formed and explored, leveraging the flexibility and experimental power of the software. Once a template network has been setup, and a base heightmap has been designed, he then moves to ZBrush to finalize the sculpting. Multiple techniques and workflows are explored in ZBrush to finish the model, and then begin the retopology process. The asset then moves to Maya for additional retopology and UV creation. Finally, Nate imports everything into Marmoset Toolbag to bake texture maps, and setup a lighting rig that can be used for finalizing material work. Additionally, Nate discusses the benefits of this modular workflow, Substance Designer network reuse, texel density, and lighting theory that can help all artists present their work in a professional manner.

Duration: 2h 03m

Format: HD 1920x1080

Nate Stephens

Principal Artist - Playstation - Santa Monica Studio

Nate Stephens has been working in the video game industry over the past 18 years alongside some of the biggest studios such as Blizzard Entertainment, Respawn Entertainment, Cryptic Studios, and Playstation Santa Monica Studio. Nate has been a driving force behind many AAA titles, as is shown by his work on City of Heroes, God of War 2, God of War 3, Titanfall, and the latest God of War for the Playstation 4. A true generalist and expert in many disciplines, Nate has done everything from designing, building, and lighting entire game levels, to leading teams that set the bar for fidelity and quality in today's games. Currently Nate is a Principal Artist at Playstation Santa Monica Studio, and leads the Environment Art, Lighting, and Breakables teams. Nate also loves to teach, and is an instructor at the Gnomon School of Visual Effects in Hollywood where he instructs the Environment Art for Games class. Additionally, Nate has produced videos for the Gnomon Workshop that cover modeling and sculpting in ZBrush and Maya.

  • "Nate is an Environment Artist that offers the whole package. He can model, texture, light, and manage a file with the best of them. On top of this he has the a good sense of game design, and how art can augment it. Simply put, Nate rocks. Listen and learn."

    - Stig Asmusse
    Creative Director - Sony Santa Monica Studios

  • "I had the pleasure of Art Directing Nate on God of War 3. He is a very talented Sr. environment artist that has an excellent understanding of how to make professional artwork for games at a very high creative level that is technically sound. There is a lot to learn from Nate's approach to building environments, I highly recommend this tutorial."

    - Ken Feldman
    Art Director - God of War 3

  • "It's not hard to find Nate's 3D levels and scenes in God of War franchise. His massive epic environments that were masterfully modeled and sculpted in Maya has been praised by critics and fans worldwide. I have worked closely with Nate for more than 5 years at Sony. He's truly one of the most experienced and talented 3D environment artists I've met. This tutorial will guide you through how Nate will translate my 2D concepts into 3D game assets. I recommend highly for anyone who wants to take a peek at high-end AAA game production. "

    - Cecil Kim
    Concept Artist