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Creating a Hero Weapon for Games

Weapon Modeling, Texturing & Rendering Techniques with Thomas Butters


Take a deep dive into the creation process of making next-gen, production-ready weaponry and prop art for games. Follow along as Thomas Butters, Lead Weapon & Prop Artist at Facepunch Studios, shares his knowledge, workflow, and tips for producing high-quality art, starting from the very beginning stage of reference gathering through to rendering beautiful portfolio shots, covering everything in-between.

Join Tom as he takes you through the entire modeling process in Blender, starting with the creation of a blockout mesh using the power of booleans while meticulously adhering to reference materials. Tom will then transition to mid-poly modeling, where he fine-tunes the details and demonstrates effective sub-divisional modeling techniques.

Next, the model is taken into ZBrush where Tom blends accurate references with artistic freedom to create a high-poly model. From there, he showcases industry-standard techniques to efficiently and accurately create the low-poly model using the mid-poly mesh as a base. He also transforms the typically dreaded tasks of UV unwrapping, and baking textures in Marmoset Toolbag into enjoyable and straightforward processes.

The final stage of this 6.5-hour workshop covers the creation of believable, detailed materials from scratch. Tom guides you through using projected alphas and hand-painted scratchwork to elevate the final look of your weapon or prop, ensuring a polished and professional result. To wrap up, we takes some time to create beautiful renders in Marmoset Toolbag, helping you to craft stunning portfolio pieces that showcase your work at its best.

While this 6.5-hour workshop uses various add-ons for Blender, students can still follow along using vanilla settings. The knowledge and techniques are all easily accessible for all experience levels and can be used in other modeling applications, too.

Tom has provided his Marmoset Toolbag presentation scene, Substance file, and PureRef image board for subscribers to enjoy as downloadable project files.

Duration: 6h 40m

Format: HD 1920x1080

Thomas Butters

Lead Weapon & Prop Artist at Facepunch Studios

With 11 years of experience, Thomas Butters has enjoyed a varied career, from specializing in character artwork, designing vehicles, environment art, and props, to currently focusing on weapons and props for video games. Tom has worked his entire career at Facepunch Studios working on Garrys Mod, Rust and s&box.

Follow Tom on Instagram @art_of_pilgrim and on X at @ArtOfPilgrim.

  • Tom is simply one of the best in the business. Tom is an expert on a wide range of 3D, from vehicles to weapons, and all the workflows that accompany each asset. His work is instantly recognisable for its quality and style, and has inspired many artists to learn 3D. Tom also creates excellent breakdowns and tutorials on all aspects of the 3D pipeline, and is especially well known for carrying the standard forBlender, which alongside Tom's easy and informative approach makes even the highest quality work accessible for an eager student.

    - Matt Isaac
    Art Manager at Facepunch Studios

  • Never have I met a more talented and capable person to teach his craft than Thomas Butters. His attention to detail — down to the smallest of nuances — takes his art to the next level, and his slow-paced-yet concise instruction is the perfect recipe for not only seeing how something is accomplished, but also retaining that knowledge for the long term.

    - Josh Powers
    Senior Environment Artist at The Fun Pimps

  • Having worked with Tom for the better part of a decade, I'm still routinely blown away by the exceptional quality of his work and his unwavering dedication to his craft. Tom is undoubtedly one of the most talented hard-surface artists in the industry, and beyond his technical prowess, Tom is also incredibly generous and passionate about sharing his wealth of knowledge with the wider community. Tom's commitment to excellence and his willingness to uplift others make him not just a phenomenal artist, but also an invaluable asset to our field.

    - Taylor Reynolds
    Lead Character Artist at Facepunch Studios

  • Tom is a Lead Weapon and Prop Artist with over 11 years experience working on a variety of different types of assets. With experience mentoring and guiding his teammates, Tom can help anyone on their path to becoming better at game art, no matter what level of skill you are. You can often see him posting online with helpful resources and information and has always been around to give feedback when needed. Teaching is in his DNA! You won't find a better guide on your journey to becoming a better 3D artist.

    - Lewis Thompson
    3D Artist at Facepunch Studios