As I’ve been developing the 10CC train set, I’ve gone through three different render “standards”. Hopefully, I won’t do too many more, as every time I change the standard I have to rerender everything!
This was my initial render style, as I posted earlier. At this point I was still thinking very pixelly – chunky stripes and distinct outlines.
My first redo involved antialiasing the sprites and filtering the textures (I individually unfilter textures which need to look noisy, such as hopper loads). I also changed the material properties so, rather than using a flat specularity, the main texture was used as a spec map. This meant dark details didn’t get washed out so much, but it did tend to make light liveries look shiny and dark liveries look matte.
The eagle-eyed will also note a change in the model here – the nose has been shortened to reveal the coupler more. The original Chief model had the nose extend out past the end of the “vehicle”, which looked fine on a lead engine, but produced clipping when it was against another vehicle (and was particularly egregious, obviously, when two Chiefs were coupled nose-to-nose).
My second – and hopefully last! – redo introduced a dedicated spec map, which allowed the darker liveries to also look shiny. I also added an additional light in the scene directly above the model, lighting the roof more evenly. This brings the back side of the model forward and makes it look a lot more “solid”, as well as showing truer colours on the top of objects – I first realised I needed this light when rendering flat-topped containers, which looked very strange with their tops much darker than their sides.