Environment Lead For A Team Of One

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Xelan101 polycounter lvl 7
Alright guys, haven't really been posting in quite a while. Feels bad >.<

Anyways I've finally returned with something new, and a new icon to boot haha

Put simply, as the title says I'm currently the one Environment centric guy on a project several of my friends and I are working out for our Senior year of college, tentatively titled "Cloth and Ashes"


Here's my other teammate's threads, if you like what you see here go give them some feedback too, and vice versa! :D

Aqua Dark: Working on the female protagonist as well as spirits and possibly some help for me on the environment side


Vivetriquette: Working on the male protagonist as well as Spirits and possibly some environment assets



The group part of this has been put on hold and because of that I've done a complete shift of the colors to get this scene to work as a stand-alone piece






I'll explain the story a bit deeper into the thread for those interested, but for now I'll keep it more art centric

Basically we want to shoot for a style that's got the color and charm of handpainted stuff, but still utilizes all the usual maps (diffuse, spec, normal) to get nice results, rather than going a fully handpainted diffuse-only route.

We'll be trying to exaggerate and push a lot of the shapes, again for more of that charm our team admires in games like WoW, Carbine's upcoming MMO Wildstar and Valve's TF2 among others.

The goal of the project is to create an industry quality level (as large as we can go, we'll start small with a hub location and add portalled areas as we are able) And fill with several interesting and memorable characters (that'll be the job of my other two teammates)

Anyways enough text for now, I'll add more info (like story for those interested) in later posts or edits

For now here's some WIP stuff for the environment so far

Rock Texture, going to work on a smooth version as well to blend with it



Heavily WIP grass started using a technique I found on Jeff Parrott's blog



And a start (not yet optimized, or unwrapped) on a model for a chair a shaman might sit on in the game, my main focus right now is the natural environment aspects, but we're trying to twist any assignments we get in other classes towards our goal, so some things will get finished out of turn from the rest, and will probably have to get tweaked later to fit the final style.

There's a plane in the center (hidden here to show major geo) that will be alphaed out for a dreamcatcher-like design made out of leather running through the back of the chair. The planes on the sides will have feathers and other shamany doodads alphaed out of them



  • Ashaman73
    Watching this.
    Basically we want to shoot for a style that's got the color and charm of handpainted stuff, but still utilizes all the usual maps (diffuse, spec, normal) to get nice results, rather than going a fully handpainted diffuse-only route.
    I've tried an similar approach in my game and I never really was happy with the combination of hand painted texture look and normal maps. IMHO the hand painted texture look benefits a lot from painted light which interfere with normalmap lit surfaces. Though spec maps are fine.

    But on the other hand I'm not an artist, therefore I'm quite curious about your progress.
  • ivanzu
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    ivanzu polycounter lvl 5
    The stone textures looks really cool and eye comfy but grass texture really hurts my eyes,you should balance the colors a bit better and play with hue and all that PS filters..
  • linkov
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    linkov polycounter lvl 8
    no offense to you and Jeff, but that doesn't look like grass. Jeff's version is better looking, but not the one he is doing in the video. the overall approach is kinda logical, but not working in this case I think. grass isn't just a plane with patterns. its a three-dimensional structure, which cannot be reproduced just by copy-pasting single blade over and over again, though an approximation can be made, you just need to put some more work on it.

    you need to rethink your lighting situation. right now it looks like each blade is being lit from one side. then you rotate it randomly and end up with no clearly defined light source, and thats basically just a mess.

    if you gonna pursue that method, I suggest that each blade should be lit from above, so when you rotate blades, your lighting won't be changing much.

    also, this has been posted here already, but once again look here (its in russian, some google translate might needed).


    couple images from that article:



    while it may look similar to what Jeff is doing, there is some important differences:

    - they're using sprites with several blades of grass, not just one blade. also there is a suggestion to make a few variations of these sprites.
    - they keep orientation of these sprites in one direction, instead of randomly rotating it. I imagine it helps with volume and structure, less noise as a result, because grass, in fact, is not random.

    stones are good, but need more color variation.
  • Xelan101
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    Xelan101 polycounter lvl 7
    Sorry to take so long to update, other classes and a part-time job tend to get in the way

    Ashaman and Ivanzu thanks for the compliments and I agree the grass was bad, much better than my previous attempts, but still bad

    Linkov, thank you so much for commenting, I've seen your advice around the board and seen your advice help my friends on the board reach new heights :D
    That said I completely agree about the grass and I should have remembered that techniques from Allods cause I've seen you post it before.

    Anyways here's the stones again, to be honest seeing you say they were good made my day, I actually had color variation on it before but forgot to save out/upload the right file >.< haha

    Still needs some smaller details (a bit of noise, pockmarks etc) but I'd say it's close to done on the diffuse.

    And then a bright version of those rocks as well. Our plan is to create two texture sets, one bright ans sun-lit and one darker and cooler. These will be used to identify "purified" areas in the game as well as points of interest and goals etc.


    And here's a much better start on the grass, still some areas that came out weird, might need to shift some of the sprites in a few areas. And then I'll get to clean-up work and fleshing out the painting a bit more. But I'd say it's a much, much better base to work with than the last one.



  • sybrix
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    sybrix polycounter lvl 7
    Grass looks a ton better now. Not sure if I'm a fan of the really saturated pink in those rocks. Looks really unnatural, unless that's what you were going for. Looks a bit too strong, maybe tone it down a bit?
  • Jessica Dinh
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    Jessica Dinh polycounter lvl 7
    For your purple rocks, I would tone down either the pink or the green you've added. That's cool you added color, but now the contrast is a bit too striking and garish. For the light version of your rocks, I would probably hit a few darker darks in the crevices (not everywhere though, that would be outlining! something I'm guilty of in my own textures sometimes >_> haha) New grass is about a million times better, that's awesome x]
  • Xelan101
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    Xelan101 polycounter lvl 7
    Finally more updates.

    Got a smooth stone texture done and tested how it blends with the cracked rocks (just using pattern overlay in photoshop), I'll probably implement some height map blending to let things smooth out the deep cracks first and what not




    We're going to be bringing in some photo-refed noise over top of the more painterly textures, just a little bit. (there's already a little bit over these rocks now)

    Next up is dirt, then using that as a base some thick ground-cover of fallen leaves/pine needles and then the last one will be a kind of clovery moss, since we realized there's not a whole lot of grass in redwood forests, which we're using for reference.

    After that I'll start in on the actual assets rocks, trees, etc
  • Xelan101
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    Xelan101 polycounter lvl 7
    Alright cranked this guy out

    Gonna use it as a base for the ground cover/clutter, not completely sure about the rocks, or at least the scale of the rocks, feedback on this and the stones would be great, one more week of ground tilables, then it's on to modeling rocks!


  • Xelan101
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    Xelan101 polycounter lvl 7
    Ok, realized I haven't posted in quite a while.

    I've got most/all of my ground textures done or started (the clovers need a lot of work, and the grass still needs clean-up), only one I might still add is a moss texture. Two things I know need work are, Color variation (and color in general) for most of the dark world textures, and value between textures, because as you'll see from the shots below, the rock is looking very blown out next to the other textures.

    Any advice, along those lines or other wise would be great.



    I've also got height map blending going on for almost every texture (the grass is exempt for the moment, as we're not certain it will be used) I'll get some up close shots when I'm running around UDK tomorrow, since right now all I have are the zoomed out shots of the block-out, which are a bit dated already.

    I'm currently working on some rock sculpts/meshes that I'll post tomorrow as well.
  • richkid
  • System
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    System admin
    grass is way way way too contrasty everything else looks great!!
  • Xelan101
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    Xelan101 polycounter lvl 7
    Ok actual bigish update!

    Did some massive color shifts on the textures, because the "dark world" was looking far too normal and without anything to compare it to, didn't really appear dark at all.

    Still probably not final, there's always more tweaking to do, but I think I'm happier with the direction it's going now. The light world textures will be an afterthought, because it's dependent on figuring out a system to have them show up dynamically.

    Anyways here's some shots where you can actually see things. The un-textured pieces are block-out and there'll be more structure stuff, come next semester.

    Also I'll be the first to say it, the cliff texture is intentionally pulling a lot of ref from Jessica Dinh's thread I'm not in any way trying to blatantly rip it off, and I just thought I'd nip that in the butt.

    The rock meshes are built so that rotating them 180 degrees gives me a second unique rock with some painted light information for each end, effectively doubling my 5 rock meshes to 10 (I could make that number even higher by not painting in some light, but the group decision was that less variation with a stronger unique style fit the project better)

    Still need to clean up values on the grass, but since it may not be used at all, or sparingly it's currently not a priority.










    Next two weeks is gonna be all trees all the time.

    My plan is to create 3 unique textures using Zbrush for normals, and then make several unique low poly meshes that share UVs and then get even more variation by vertex painting between the 3 texture sets.
  • Xelan101
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    Xelan101 polycounter lvl 7
    Back with some more updates! Trees, and height fog are the major developments this time around.




    Gonna be optimizing the trees later, they're much too high poly for sure right now. I need to bake my more individual leaf planes into single larger planes. Also I'll make the leaves much larger, because at the more realistic scale they're at now, they read as a bunch of noise from most angles.

    Out of curiosity what's a reasonable polycount for a tree of this size? (they're roughly like 20 times the characters height at least I think, I'd have to go back and measure for real to be sure)

    Anyways next couple weeks will be foliage, grass clumps, clovers, mushrooms, flowers, smaller trees etc. Been researching methods for it, 3Dmotive tutorial and what not...

    In and amongst that I want to keep tweaking all the existing stuff. Gonna add more variation to the existing trees, clean up the dirt tiling and remove the pebbles entirely.

    I also need to work some hard edge meshes into the terrain to get some more overhang, and eliminate the "doughy" look it's got. I've already built a mesh out of the cliff texture to that end, but I haven't found a way to integrate it how I would like. I'll probably set up vertex painting for the rocks and use them for that purpose as well

    Anyways Crits always appreciated, I want to make this thing shine and I've got till May, at least for school, my partners have shown an interest in continuing on this project after graduation as well :D
  • Tobbo
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    Tobbo polycounter lvl 6
    You might want to check out the videos at http://www.youtube.com/user/TalesOfNalstoneTeam

    There's a bunch of good stuff in there, including low poly trees and foliage!
  • Xelan101
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    Xelan101 polycounter lvl 7
    Big Ol' Update, keep forgetting to post progress up on here, but I guess that means the stuff just comes in big cooler chunks!

    Any feedback would be awesome! Starting to like where this thing seems to be headed.

  • PolyTech
    everything seems to be the same purple-blue. the tree trunks are really the only warm color in your scene. I think you need to push some different colors and shades. gets some variety in there. maybe some deep greens and defiantly more warm colors.
  • Xelan101
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    Xelan101 polycounter lvl 7
    Yeah, the aim was to make it feel really strange and alien cause this was the "dark world" where things were broken and unnatural. But I think things went over board in that direction. So I think I may pull things back heavily towards more natural colors and then pull out some strange colors from there, maybe even solely through post process.
  • Zocky
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    Zocky polycounter lvl 7
    Nice scene!

    Perhabs some reddish or so flowers or some other small plants, here and there, just to have some contrast with mostly blue color?

    Anyhow, keep it up!
  • Xelan101
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    Xelan101 polycounter lvl 7
    Ok, so the group project aspect of this has been put on hold, for several reasons.

    Because if that I've decided to abandon the color scheme that was being pushed and switch a purely natural scene making it a much stronger stand-alone portfolio piece.

    For the same reasons the buildings have been scraped, and replaced with a waterfall in the mountain, which I'll be sculpting and modeling into the rocks much, much better over the weekend here. Also I want to overhaul the skybox.






    By Tuesday the goal is to be able to call this thing done, or at least down to just tweaks. And having a video fly-through done for the class.

    Crits would be awesome, and hopefully it's easier to crit now that things are shooting for more realistic style.
  • Xelan101
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    Xelan101 polycounter lvl 7

    Here's the stuff I'm turning in for the final today. I'd like to tweak this further, but unless I get some really good inspiring crits I'll probably put this on hold for a while. I need a fix of some nice high poly sub-D mech stuff it's been too long.

  • sefice
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    sefice polycounter lvl 5
    Great textures mate!

    Although, I'm not liking the fog on the natural scene. Usually you want it a pale blue to simulate reflected skylight. But right now it looked like it just rained.

    But I was kinda hoping you would go for the night scene.

    Anyway a great reference would be some World of Warcraft environments (yes I said it.) Although overrated, they have great hand painted environments and I've always adored them especially the night elf environments.

    Good luck on your project its looking great so far.
  • piggyken
    Hi, we are working on a student project and we like to use your rock texture. We are wondering what's the copyright and usage limit for your textures?
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