Business Lobby Environment

Hey, I've been making an environment in UDK like almost everyone on here, and I'd like some opinions if you don't mind. It's getting there, but it's still a bit empty.

I wanted to do something inspired by contemporary architecture, so I'm creating a lobby environment for some anonymous business firm.




This is the conference room window that overlooks the place on the other side of the lobby.


Right now it's just a placeholder mesh, but I'm going for an angular, geometric style like so:


Lighting has been a pain, so I left everything a stark white for now (which I may keep). I'm going to post any new props here, since some of them are still first-pass stuff.


  • leleuxart
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    leleuxart polycounter lvl 5
    I actually like the white lighting. If you keep the white light, I'd try to incorporate some more color into the scene with props or decals. I like the first shot because of the blue windows, so maybe some colored decals displaying the floor numbers or something like that.

    I'd also like to see some prop/texture sheets too. Are these a bunch of separate modular pieces?
  • euclidius
    This is awesome - I always liked this type of architecture-
  • danpaz3d
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    danpaz3d polycounter lvl 4
    Agree, this is looking great. I'm currently working on something similar to this but more on the sci-fi side.

    Structurally you could add in support beams, frames, stuff like that.
    Also I'm sure you've noticed that in the first and second shot the greenery fits in well, so put in more pot plants, vines, trees etc to give it the whole 'green energy' feel.

    Keep it up!
  • jdvi
    euclidius - If you aren't familiar with it, I really recommend you check out It's an amazing site if you enjoy architecture in that style.

    danpaz3d - You're right, I was thinking how I could incorporate more greenery somehow.

    leleuxart - Yeah I think I'll keep the light mostly white, and try to add color elsewhere like you said. Most of the walls are just generic panels with different textures at the moment. Here's a closer shot:


    Most of the props are old models from an unfinished scene (except the spotlights) so I'm going to redo as many as I can, starting with the fire extinguisher. Here's a quick render for now.

  • jdvi

    956 tris, 512 textures


    902 tris, 512 textures

    I could probably take a few more polys off by deleting more backfaces, but I'll leave it for now. Maybe I should have used a 12-sided cylinder for the bottle... might change that if it continues to irk me.

    I'm making a security camera next, hi-poly soon.
  • euclidius
    hey thanks jd- really nice architecture site, I got a new site to go to now thanks- on a side note- can't wait when you finish your building- ;]
  • jdvi

    Hi-poly for the security cam. After I bake and texture this I'm gonna work on some smaller stuff that isn't as time consuming and move things along.
  • jdvi

    804 tris, 512 textures

    I left a few polygons in there so I could rotate it around a bit. Next I'm gonna see if I can make some interesting decals/patterns to add more color.
  • Quickel
    In the top lobby shots, even if you want to go with more white light, the skylights present outdoor lighting, which depending on the day would give you some more color in the lighting. This example shows a more blue falloff to the lighting which, IMO, I think is a little more interesting. Maybe some more bloom and better shadows in those areas would look nice too.
  • jdvi
    Quickel - I definitely hear what you're saying. I ended up using plain white lights out of frustration that I couldn't capture a look along those lines. My only concern is to avoid the typical 'unreal look' with this scene, which is bloom heavy IMO.

    I'll try to re-light the scene a few more times before I finish with it - I just hate waiting ~10 minutes every time I tweak a value.

    I've been unhappy with the graphic decals I made in the last couple days, so I ended up switching back over to modeling to stay productive. I made the angular wall element with an office. I'm going to populate the offices as well, but I'm going to leave that for last since it won't be noticed as much.


  • Kon Artist
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    Kon Artist polycounter lvl 4
    Reminds me of Mirrors Edge (which is a good thing)... but cooler.
  • jdvi
    Kon Artist - Thanks, I really loved Mirror's Edge. I really hope more games take inspiration from architecture... which is partially why I wanted to make this.

    Update: Added some elevators! I created a logo/identity for my fake company, which is partially visible here. The ivy here is still WIP.

    Still need to finish texturing the buttons. The double-doors and the automatic door are older assets that I may re-do, but they are decent placeholders.


    The elevator entrance is on the underside of the angular edifice thing. I put some spotlights on it to make it a bit more 'dramatic', hopefully. It would be more interesting with night-time lighting, though.

  • leleuxart
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    leleuxart polycounter lvl 5
    I love the lighting and overall style. Definitely getting the Mirrors Edge feel, without the overexposed whites everywhere :)
  • AlexCatMasterSupreme
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    AlexCatMasterSupreme polycounter lvl 5
    It does feel flat though, and in reality there is very little true white light sources, but that's fine, I still feel that the spec and all that is not showing, it feels like it's all diffuse atm.
  • Shiskebab
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    Shiskebab polycounter lvl 8
    Could use some more color, like red and some nice radiosity lightbounces. Also missing cast shadows and Ambient occlusion.
  • jdvi
    Shiskebab - Yeah, I forgot I turned off ambient occlusion. It's difficult to control and can produce random blotches here and there, but I'm gonna turn it back on and see if I can do something with it.

    AlexCatMasterSupreme - I know what you mean about the flat feeling. I have a white-on-white look so far so it's tough to get the specular to pop without turning matte surfaces like concrete into some kind of plastic. I think I will have to use lights more sparingly and make them stronger in order to get some contrast going.

    Here's some new stuff:


    Decals for the little conference rooms.


    I sculpted a leaf and spent a lot of time tweaking the material and looking at the UDK content, only to end up using a pretty basic setup. It's setup for vertex color painting, but I haven't touched it since I wasted a lot of time baking and re-baking to lights. It's tough to light foliage properly.


    Here's a small-ish open office area I added. The chairs + desks will be re-done (don't think the chair would be structurally sound anyway).

    I'm gonna be making mostly furniture and decorative stuff from here on out. Maybe I'll even finish!
  • Bek
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    Bek polycounter lvl 5
    No crits, just want to say this is awesome. Defintely getting a Deus Ex / Mirrors edge vibe (The wooden triangular piece screams DX3 whereas the office with the PC's screams DX1 (versalife). All you need now is watercoolers :P
  • jdvi
    Sorry, I'm starting to slip with the updates. I was wrapped up re-making my website last week.

    Bek - Cool, I loved the original DX. I have DX:HR, but I only played a little bit of it so far. A lot of the environments are great, but it's just so... orange. Heh.

    I finished the hi-poly for the office chairs. Later today I'll try to finish a conference table if I have time.

  • tristamus
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    tristamus polycounter lvl 9
    VERY solid work man, keep it up.
  • jdvi
    tristamus - Thanks, I appreciate it :)

    The finished office chair is ~3200 triangles - maybe a little high. You can see areas where I could have optimized some more, but I left the extra geo in.

    I'm finding that vertex lit models often times end up looking better for "clean" textures than lightmaps since it's not so blotchy, so it can be worth having the extra polygons. Kind of frustrating that I wasted a lot of time making lightmap UVs for everything, though.


    I'm trying to populate the small office area now. The desks don't have a proper texture yet.



  • nedwork
    Love what you have going on. But I feel like you can do more to the textures. Everything is super clean and that's weird to me. The floor materials can be more reflective like this
    The open area office is pretty empty. I think you can add something like file cabinets or picture frames.
  • jdvi
    Man the longer I take between updates, the more I feel like I need to show, which leads me to not updating again.

    nedwork - I took your advice and added a stronger cubemap. I haven't touched it up yet though, so it's jaggy. I also added some more office stuff. I agree the textures could use a little more work, since they are mostly just AO. I'm going to devote my last bit of polishing to the textures for sure.


    Here's what the office looks like now. There's some obvious lightmap seams on the ceiling/floor because I'm just using modular pieces at the moment.

    I'm going to make some trash bins, some kinda painting/wall art, then finish the markerboard. Outside on the lower level, I think I'll make a bench and then I'll be done with all the models.


    I made the lighting in the lobby area darker overall. I tried to create some more contrast by using a blue skylight and using a warmer color for the spotlights.

    It's not the sterile white I initially imagined, but maybe it's more interesting in a way.

  • jdvi


    ~1700 tris

    Textures still not terribly exciting, but it's also just a markerboard. I promise to make a second pass at some of the textures!

    Gonna make a "living" art frame like this and a trash bin next.

  • JasonLavoie
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    JasonLavoie polycounter lvl 12
    Very very nice :) Fun to see these piece progress!
  • Tom Pritchard
    This is really inspiring! I'll be closely following this!
  • jdvi

    JasonLavoie, Tom Pritchard - Thanks much, guys.

    I just finished some work on the fishbowl conference rooms. Pictures:


    Here's the interior.


    Second floor conference room that's basically the same layout.


    Here's some of the new props I made. Those angular squares are supposed to be sound absorption panels.

    Instead of making every new prop from scratch I've been trying to reuse some of the models, i.e. the chair, the conference desks, the circular lights, and so on.


    The moss frame was kind of a pain because I wasn't sure what method to use to get the right look that kind of plant. I ended up resculpting it a couple times and I tried using a bunch of grass-like alpha planes, but it didn't look too good.

    What I ended up doing was duplicating a plane a couple times and using an alpha on a separate UV channel, which gives it a fuzzy look. I remember seeing this technique in Shadow of the Colossus for the fur effects on the bosses.

    The end result is subtle and probably wouldn't be noticed, but I was glad I found something that worked, anyway.


    I also tried making a frame with plants, styled after the picture of the green wall I posted. I ended up deciding that I didn't like the idea, though. I wasted a good day or two on that, but I got some reusable foliage out of it.


    This is the last area I'm gonna try to populate with stuff. I might try to break up the floor with some kind of design. I was also thinking of adding a reception desk, and a modular couch, like so:


    I'll be back sooner next time!
  • Norron
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    Norron polycounter lvl 7
    Man it feels like you pulled this thing straight from my brain. I'm absolutely loving watching this develop.
  • roosterMAP
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    roosterMAP polycounter lvl 7
    lookin good. reminds me of a white deus ex, in a good way.
  • Amberd
    That looks awesome. The lighting is perfect for a fast-paced business environment. :)
  • jdvi
    Norron - Awesome, we're on the same wavelength then.
    roosterMAP - I'll take any DX comparisons as a compliment, thanks!
    Amberd - Cool, thank you!


    Added some wayfinding decals to try and break up the tiles a bit.


    I was messing around with lens flares and some post-processing now that I'm closer to finishing. I tried to keep the PP simple and let the lighting do the work instead.


    Also redid the stairs and decided to remove the bridge on the top floor. I had been debating that, but I decided I wanted more views of the angular offices since its more or less the centerpiece of the scene.


    Conference desk at the lower level entrance.


    I haven't finished the couches yet but I'm nearly done now. I still wanted to make a bunch of mini office supplie type props, but I need to stop adding to the workload. The sub-1 FPS framerates are killing me, so I need to put this away!
  • punchface
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    punchface polycounter lvl 6
    Right now, this is my favorite project on polycount. It's not perfect, but what ever is? I love love love the sincere and largely successful attempts to avoid grunge and over-done weathering, aging, and distress on all the surfaces when it's not necessary. The design is general good workmanlike. It feels like a real hyper-modern office to me and that it makes super happy. You rock, sir. :)

  • jdvi
    punchface - I really appreciate the kind words. This project has definitely made me think about how to define materials in the absence of grime and dirt. Unfortunately, unless you're writing shaders, your options are pretty limited at the moment. As some people commented, it can look weird without the usual grunge sometimes.

    I realized I didn't have any clocks so I made one that looks like a tablet. Here's a gratuitous closeup.


    Also got around to making those couches.


    The tables in the middle will have some magazines/books, but I just have a placeholder mesh for now.

    Now I'm just tweaking stuff and making mini-props and decals. I want to finish by this weekend.
  • ae.
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    ae. ngon master
    this is pretty awesome man, keep up the great work!
  • futurepoly
    this is amazing work. You have a really good eye for materials and design. I worked on some arch vis contracts last year and this makes me feel like less of a man :)
  • tristamus
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    tristamus polycounter lvl 9
    UGHHHHH, GOD....your material definition is fucking fantastic. I especially like the carpet. My god, the CARPET!! YOU CAN SEE THE VACUUMING LINES and such subtle checker pattern....ughhhh!! >D
  • ivars
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    ivars polycounter lvl 10
    This is fantastic! I love the lighting and you really managed to stay away from that telltale "UDK-look".
  • r4ptur3
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    r4ptur3 polycounter lvl 9
    jeeeeeez .... nice work dude. Is there anything special about the carpet material? Is it just a really nice texture or is there something more devious happening under the hood? It looks really volumetric -- I want to walk on it! I'd love to see some of your enviro setup / what lights you are using / shaders :)
  • jdvi
    ae. - Thanks, dude. Almost there.

    futurepoly - Cool, I definitely think of this as a game environment imitating arch viz. BTW Celeryland is one of the best things going.

    tristamus - :) When I read 'subtle checker pattern', this was the only thing I thought of:

    ivars - Yeah, you hear people talk about the UDK look, so that's always on my mind. Glad to hear it.

    r4ptur3 - I'm sorry to say there's nothing special about the carpet, really. It doesn't even have a normal map. In fact I felt kind bad about it so I added a bump offset, but you would have to look closely at it.


    As for the materials and whatnot, the only trick I can think of is masking off parts for color and then multiplying it by a color node in UDK. That way I can just constantly tweak them and get a quick update, but the color picker is laggy.

    I think I read somewhere that they did that in Mirror's Edge. I used that for the carpet, couches, chairs, etc. I'd be glad to post more of the setup later if there's interest.
  • jdvi
    Hey again.

    It took some extra time, but I think this is wrapped up! I'd love to hear any crits you might have - I know I didn't address as many as I would've liked, but I appreciate all the help. If you see anything I overlooked or otherwise fucked up, I may still go back and change it.

    Sorry for the image spam!


    I added blurry sprite people in the style of arch-viz again. I also changed the logo to be more minimalist, because I felt it was too angular. It kinda had an outdated "futuristic" vibe that I didn't like (hope that makes sense).


    The lounge area again. Now with TVs and magazines.


    The 1st Floor Offices.


    The Overlook conference room. Decided to leave the windows tinted instead of adding another visible office. It's a bit more imposing that way, I think.
  • jdvi
    Image spam continued!


    2nd Floor Offices. I spent a lot of time redoing parts of the PC screen and TVs graphics.

    Here's an abbreviated making-of in GIF form. You can see I experimented a lot early on before settling on a style. Hope it's of some interest.


    And for the hell of it, I made a panorama.

    I'm getting sick of looking at it, but I still want to make a quick fly-through video. I'll have to bump the thread once I wrap my head around video editing again.

    Thanks for looking.
  • leleuxart
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    leleuxart polycounter lvl 5
    This looks great! I'd like to see your materials too. All of the extra areas with color are really nice with the white in the rest of the building, especially the green and blue windows. I can't help but feel like there should be a fountain or statue in the big open area by the stairs though.
    very nice. some fun design elements.

    a few of the shots have an uncanny-valley effect happening and i think thats a biproduct of the lighting. it falls flat in many areas and this environment can read a lot like previs. the blurred people dont help in that regard either. some of the materials used for your props dont read like their real life counter part. the computers and the chairs come to mind. maybe thats just because these are images and it reads a lot better in motion. it would be interesting if you pulled away from the experimental design/previs look of this environment and went with more dramatic lighting. higher contrast. lens flares. dust on the lens. things like that to separate it from that type of 3d artwork and bring it back to the exaggerated world of videogames through slight exaggerations in the lighting. personally, i thought the refracted glass was a nicer touch on the office space than the flat translucent glass you have in the final version.
  • r4ptur3
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    r4ptur3 polycounter lvl 9
    this is pretty incredible stuff!

    the blurred people cards were a cool touch. It helps to set scale / make it feel more alive. I'm sure they will be controversial, but I love them.

    This is one of the few environments I have seen that feels like it was made in a different engine. It does not feel UDK-ey at all. Huge props on that.

    Congrats! I'd still love to see some breakdown stuff :)
  • schneller
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    schneller polygon
    Not a huge fan of the blurred people, simply because they grab my attention too much in some images like the elevator areas. I get where you were going though.

    Great execution on the environments! Through lighting and materials you achieve the clean/minimalist style without it feeling clinical. My only small crit is the shadows where some pillars meet the floor and ceiling (specifically the Overlook conference room) are a tad splotchy.

    Overall, really well done :)
  • Minos
  • jdvi
    leleuxart - Yeah, I know what you mean. I thought about putting something in that big space there, but ultimately left it empty.

    BANGARANG! - You make some fair points. The blurred people definitely bring an uncanny-valley effect. If I make their features less distinguishable, I think it'll help in that regard.

    The lighting has always been a concern of mine from the outset. I think it's a weak area, but that being said I take offense to "previs". :) I actually implemented a lot of the effects you suggested already, but they are very subtle at the moment. I'll try to push the lighting/post as I work on the video.

    r4ptur3 - Yeah the sprite people were a last second idea, but I'm sticking to my guns - mostly because it's different.

    schneller - You're right about the shadows. It's tough to tweak small stuff like that since you might break everything else. I'll probably change the people to make them more subtle.

    Minos - Thanks! Good to hear.

    Thanks for the replies, everyone. Here's some breakdown stuff, as requested. I'll make a few more later.

  • Snader
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    Snader polycounter lvl 9
    I haven't commented on this for a long time, because I wasn't quite sure how to express what I felt. But I think I do now.

    Technically, this is exquisite. Materials are great on 90% of the things. Some objects like the computers and the fire extinguisher, but the architectural materials like wood, leather, and dear god the carpet are very well done. Along with that, the overall design looks great and shows some really fancy over the top architecture. The kind of office that cost five times as much as it should have.

    But. It feels somewhat incohesive. There should be some 'room' variation such as the main hall of a building feeling different than the offices, but I feel you've gone too far. You have a lot of different room designs close by, and it makes the building feel somewhat like a showroom similar to what they have at IKEA. I'm not talking about the colored glass, I'm talking about images like this[/img] where you have carpet, tiles, concrete and wood all in the space of a few meters. There are just too many different floors and design styles for one building, IMO.

    Also, one thing that really bugs me is the plaster(?) around the pipe in the last series of images. They could afford to paint over the wall afterwards, they could afford to add graffiti on there, even, but they couldn't find a... plasterer who could manage to not cover half the wall? It just feels very weird.
  • jdvi
    Hey again, small update

    Snader - You make a valid point. I had this problem early on because I experimented with a few different looks, and I tried to narrow it down a bit. It probably stems in part from the fact that I tried to mash as many cool ideas I came across into the scene.

    I know you didn't mention this specifically, but that crit about cohesion might stem partly from the fact that I used different accent colors throughout. It's very trendy to use all neutral colors + ONE super saturated accent color, and I tried to avoid that because I think it can be tacky sometimes. If I narrowed the color palette a touch, I think it will help. Also, I took your advice on the bricks. :)

    Short test video so far:


    In keeping with the environment, I'm taking a lot of style cues from arch viz, so I don't think I'll put any breakdown stuff in it.

    If you look closely (or turn on HD) you can see the blur people in motion. I need to tweak the intervals to be more random + frequent, but I think the base of it is there. I thought about animating the doors, too, but... I think it's OK.

    It's a bit tedious tweaking the matinee since the camera movement track can bug out easily if you keep redoing the keyframes.

    More prop sheets, too. Hope everyone is having a nice break :)

  • Snader
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    Snader polycounter lvl 9
    Actually, I did mention the colors, and said those weren't the issue. Using color codes is quite a common practice in real life buildings. And I noticed you had some floor-striping in place, which suggested such a coding system.

    I don't think having multiple colors is an issue at all, but I think it would be wise to unify them a wee bit. For example, you have red carpet and green glass on the ground floor - I'd make the glass and carpet the same color. You might even be able to do something hue-wise with the plants, because there is a form of ivy that's red, and there is a blue-ish variant too.
  • jdvi
    Hey Snader,

    I didn't miss what you said. I should have said "I know you weren't critical of the color scheme, but nonetheless...". I'll probably be messing around with the color picker until the last video frame is rendered, I'm sure.

    About the ivy - I was meaning to use vertex colors to add some color variation, so maybe I'll try that.

    Thanks for your input.
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