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Behind the Scenes: The Iron Giant Background



My name is Alex Treviño, I am an artist from Monterrey, Mexico.

I have received a lot of questions in my social networks about how to achieve good texture quality. To answer that question, I need to explain what Texel Density is. So I started to look for a beautiful and simple image to explain it. I found the book called The Art of The Iron Giant and when I saw this background painted by Joel Parod I decided that it would be the concept to make.

This is the fourth artwork of the AENDOM project, in which I explain my process making 3D images using Blender as my main tool with Substance Painter to texture my models.


The first thing I do before modeling is to add a background image so that I can focus on matching the camera angle. After that, I start blocking with simple shapes. And, when I have the block out ready, I do the first clay render. Then I draw on top of the render the missing things, which is my way of deciding what to focus on next. I do this same Model-Render-Draw cycle until the modeling is finished.

The process of modeling

Final Topology


UV Maps of every object are necessary to texture the scene in Substance Painter. First, mark the seams and hide them as well as possible, then select all faces and Unwrap using any method you prefer, always trying both angle-based or conformal to see which produces the best result.

All UVs Done

Texel Density

The resolution of the texture is measured with texel density. The goal is that all objects have the same texel density. For this next part, you need to have the Texel Density Checker Add-on installed. With it, you can choose the size of the textures. I usually use 4K, but you can use the size that suits you best. I test different densities of texels looking for the maximum density that fits inside the Tile map. Finally, I join the maximum number of objects that have similar materials per Tile map.

Uniform Texel Density

Texel density table


Always gather lots of references. Although I don't always look for 100% realism, I like textures to feel complex. There is no better way to make a texture than having a clear idea of what you are looking to achieve. The quality of details in texture increases with more and better references, so to achieve this I make a collage for each object.

Very Well Conserved Old Car


Usually, before I start texturing, I do all the necessary Alphas in Adobe Illustrator, always keeping in mind that it has to be in Black and White. Using the “Power of Two” rule to select a size for the image, I use 4096 x 4096 pixels.

Alphas for texturing

PBR Maps

Save time by adding PBR maps in a bundle. With the Node Wrangler add-on activated, I use the Control + Shift + T shortcut and load the basic PBR maps. Having selected the BaseColor, Metalness, Roughness, and Normal Map maps, they connect automatically. You have to manually add maps such as Ambient Occlusion, Emissive, or Scattering.

PBR Automatic Maps with Node Wrangler


Denoise Node

To render the final image, I use the size of the original image (1200px x 667px) at 400% using only the GPU with 1024 samples. Finally, I use the Denoise node to clean up the render.

Final Render


  • Blender 2.81
  • Substance Painter 2020
  • Adobe Photoshop CC
  • Adobe Illustrator CC

Blender Add-Ons

About the Author

alex trevino aendom 3d artAlex Treviño, The Visual Storytelling Animal, a self-taught 3D independent artist focused on making storytelling artwork and sharing the process for educational purposes.



About the Author

Abby Crawford

I've been a part of the BlenderNation team since 2018, producing Behind the Scenes and Meet the Artist features that highlight Blender artists and their work.

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