Hand Painted Textures – How to create WoW-style Assets

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Bruno Parrela gives us a quick tutorial showing us how to create a WoW Inspired asset, using hand painted texturing techniques.

About the Artist:

Hello everyone! My name is Bruno Fortuna Parrela and I’m a 23 year old 3D prop artist from Brazil.

I have done some courses like drawing, digital painting,modeling/sculpting, and I found my passion doing 3d hand painted art especially with prop making.

I’ve always liked games like Warcraft, Dota, World of Warcraft, Heroes of the Storm, LoL, etc and I’ve been playing since I was a kid.

This year I’ve made brushforge courses https://brushforge.com/class/aeon-core/ with Jordan Powers a great artist! And this helped me a lot growing up as an artist, I HIGLY recommend Brushforge’s class if you want to learn more about handpainted art!


One of the most important things in the process is collecting references, good references always help you to do something cool about the type of art that you’re aiming for, so keep that in mind references are REALLY important!

For the references I like to research in Artstation, Pinterest and Google!

Here I have some of the references that I’ve collected for the Kael’thas Shrine:


After collecting the references I go to the concepting part! Which can be challenging but it’s really fun to do concepts I really love!

For the concepts I like to start with dirty silhouettes tests to find the main shapes of each piece!

You don’t need to be perfect in this stage , try to find the big shapes to have a better idea of what will be the next step!

After the silhouettes test it’s time to do the lineart and the painting. For the Kael’thas Shrine I’ve made blockouts of the main shapes in Blender and then I just start sketching!

As you can see,the concept is pretty sketchy and loose, and I’ve made some changes in the modeling/texturing part, and that’s fine. I prefer to do concepts like this because it helps my brain to understand what I need to do in the modeling part, and it’s not the final art, it’s just a guide for your project.

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Moving to the modeling part I used Blender to model everything.The first thing that you want to do is the blockouts, in a diorama like this it’s better blockout everything first to see if the scene is looking good and harmonious, and if the shapes are matching together.

When you have a strong composition and silhouette it’s time the fun part: doing the medium/small shapes for each piece.

For something more stylized like the blood elf stuff that i’ve made in this shrine, it’s good to think about nice curves and chunky forms like for example the curves in the phoenix wings and in the book, and the chunky and heavy aspect of the book, bookmarker, and gold trim on the corners.

For things more organic like the phoenix itself, I like to do a frontal sketch for the piece and modeling over, or you can always sculpt if you like it.

For the scene I’ve made some changes after getting feedback which is really important in the process, and I did a more vertical approach for the scene, differently than the concept that I’ve created,and I end up with this:


Uvs are a pretty important part of the process and you want to do the perfect cuts to match the forms in the model and to facilitate your life when going to paint in Photoshop.

That being said, you need to be careful and technical in this part of the process. For something like that I like to mirror the assets in the center like this:

And as you can see, I can describe which is most of the forms/shapes that I have in my 2D UV space, this is one of the most important things for Uvs when you’re doing handpainted art.



The final part and the most fun is texturing! I will subdivide in 4 parts: grayscale, color, texture, polish.

Grayscale: This is one of the most important part in my process because once I have a strong grayscale, it’s more easy to build the color over it, for the grayscale I use 3dcoat. 

The first thing that I do since I’ve imported the model is calculate the occlusion of the mesh(textures>calculate occlusion).After the occlusion I do a gradient with the gradient tool, and set the layer in overlay or hardlight. From there I just start to blockout the flat grayscale, and try to define the shapes in the painting of the model(still in grayscale). After the blockouts I like to move to Photoshop so I can clean up the painting.

Color: The first thing that I do for color is doing a color layer over the grayscale. Color is something that can be difficult if you don’t aproach in the right way,that being said find some good references and study the color pallete, for this project I tried to use warm colors to give that blood elf felling and tried to combine the strong reds and yellows with the green in the vfx and orbs.

Texture: This part I do a layer over the color and start to paint the highlights and midtones of the pieces, it’s important to variate the colors in the shadows and highlights to give the texture something interesting, like the example below in the cloth of the banner i’ve used some blues in the shadows, and for the highlights some orange redish:

This is another example of trying to variate the colors in your piece, I’ve used orange in the shadows and not a dark yellowish:

After doing that, i start to doing some cracks and deformations on the surface like this example:

Polish: The final stage is all about doing refinements and polishing your piece.

To do that, I start putting secondary color in the piece like this example:

You have to be subtle in this phase because if you put a lot of color and weird brushstrokes you can totally mess with your work, so I advise doing a new layer and put some music on your phone, relax and go to work! 

In the example that I’ve I tried to use cool color to contrast with the warm colors that I have in my scene, this helps to give a better balance on your art.


I LOVE doing this part, and I will show you how I did the orbs and the other glowy stuff so let’s dive right in!


So first thing that I’ve done is a layer with a flat green color, after that i use the alpha channel(channels>new layer) I did all the effects on a separate texture sheet. For the orbs I tried to do in a more fancy way and for the glow beneath the book I use soft:

It’s important that you use different colors for the glows, like for example in the center I have a yellowish green and near the borders I have more green:

Finishing touches

The last thing I do is using a sharpen filter in the textures, and upload to Sketchfab, there I use some post processing filters and that’s the result!

I hope this article can be helpful and explanatory! 

If you have any questions or comments you can send me a message that I will be happy to help!

You can find me on my artstation: https://www.artstation.com/brunoparrela



Thanks for your time!

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