“The A-149 Gryphon is a fourth-generation, single-seat, single-engine, and all-weather tactical fighter jet. The aircraft was designed as a multi-role platform at an affordable cost, and unlike some of the larger air-superiority jets, it can also perform well in low-altitude flight. Despite its aging platform, the A-149 has still been upgraded with the newest sensors and weapons systems.”
Very closely inspired in the Saab JAS-39 the A-149 Gryphon presented much less freedom design-wise than the other elements done at the project. On the outside, my main addition to the design are the avionics details and the mixed landing gear that combines the simpler front one of the newest E version with the fuselage of current C/D versions of the Gripen. Still the iconic profile of the Gripen is still easily reconizable on the re-imagined futuristic derivation.
All these changes were created during the development of the high poly version of the model which was used as a 3D basis for the complete new low poly model. The fuel and ECM pods and a ladder to access the aircraft were also added at this moment in development. The first two for balancing effect, reducing the number of free pylons at the aircraft and the latest as a immersive element.
Both models were created in 3DS Max, which was also used to unwrapp the model.
The pixel consistency along all the areas of it was the main focus of the unwrapping process.
The model was then exploded and brought to substance painter for baking and texturing; as substance painter is still unable to properly hide geometry, exploding the different parts is still the best way to paint details that otherwise would be covered, but that comes at the cost of the correct ambient occlusion baking. A workaround that I used at certain elements was to bake the normals and AO in a temporary, unexploded model, export that AO and then load and apply that on some areas of the final exploded model.
Baking normals in a model of this complexity also required patience. Even if you match all the surfaces carefully between high and low polygon models, errors will unavoidably happen. The easiest way I found was simply export the normal maps, fix then straight in Photoshop and then bring then back to bake the other maps. I could have tried to fix the normals on substance, but I find the photoshop 2D painting tools more accurated and easier to handle.
On this step I’ve also created the substance layer combinations to create the 3 different paint schemes the Gryphon should portrait ingame: Digital camo green (the default one used by AAF), the Digital camo grey and the simple Grey (My favorite that showcases better all the aircraft details).
Final details were added at several different moments and a couple different decal versions were tested in Photoshop before the model reached it’s final polished version.
However the outside of the aircraft is just a single part of the finished product that still needed to receive the detailed cockpit visual LOD.
That version needs to be convincing to the player when he is sitted inside of it, at a very close distance, so it needs to the be much more detailed than the cockpit that is seen throught the glass when you fly the aircraft in 3rd person view.
The inspiration for the cockpit is also again the E version of the Gripen, with the multirole wide screen in front of the pilot. Plus adding another bottom screen for more information.
Consoles were refined, the sticks were completely replaced to a much more detailed version, buttons and other details were refined or added.
Textures also needed to be painted into a much higher resolution and using some tileable space so they would look nice and crips, not blurry and pixelated.
After the cockpit was detailed as it should, the ingame model was used to create the several different visual, wreck and shadow lods required by the model.
The last step in the development was the instruments and HUD of the aircraft.
The MFD located at the the big wide screen took the most work. Due to the engine limitations, most of the information there couldn’t be done dynamically so it had to be painted and use several masks to behave correctly. Also, during the development process the weapon’s camera that was located at the left section of it was replaced by a loadout display, which required further last minute adjustments. The final adjustments on HUD glass material and the MFD were done with the project already at the Development build, including also feedback from the community.
The final product is the light multirole game that is included with the Jets DLC Package bellow (using the default Digital green camouflage set).
Bellow are some ingame beauty shots of the A-149 Gryphon.