[Ue4] Alberta Canada - Realistic lake environment

polycounter lvl 4
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vincentvangeel polycounter lvl 4
Hey Polycounters, I'm creating a realistic lake environment in Unreal 4 and I would like to have some feedback so I can improve it more. 

Refboard:


Screenshots:
(Note: Because all images are a direct link to my portfolio site some images are likely to change over time as I override them with the updated files.)



Video:
www.youtube.com/watch?v=DhoTi-3FEAc

Replies

  • Tectonic
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    Tectonic polycounter lvl 4
    I like the trees and other props you have going on. Your rocky ground texture looks really flat though, and very even. As well as the scene doesn't seem to be as brightly lit as your reference images. Also put more trees in there, your reference has a pretty dense forest going on. I can tell you've put a lot of work into this, it just needs a few tweaks :)
  • Jonny10
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    Jonny10 polycounter lvl 2
    It looks pretty close to your reference photos, I've been to Alberta, a gorgeous place! Although I'm missing the sense of scale I get by looking at your reference photos. An example would be the water, if you increase the tiling it would impose a large scale. Making your mountains large with smaller texture detail would achieve, or add to, the same effect. Remember, mountains are the main things you see on Albertan postcards ;) 

    I was surprised to read you're using UE4, because at first glance I could have sworn it was vanilla Unity. I feel like some post effects would bring you closer to your reference. I did a quick example in PS with increased brightness, contrast and saturation.

    I'd also go for displacement on your terrain material, it would greatly increase the level of detail!


  • atomander
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    atomander polycounter lvl 3
    Your props are looking pretty solid so far! I think some of the recommendations above about working on your post processing and  scene composition could help a lot.  The grass is looking fairly uniformly scaled and laid out; trying creating denser clumps (this will hide the planes better) with more height variation (thinning out your grass and scaling it down helps sell the transitions areas around the edges of your grass terrain).  

    Additionally, I think you could break up the landscape mesh with some larger mesh rock outcroppings/cliffs/etc.

    Really nice start, looking forward to see where you take this!
  • PixelMasher
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    PixelMasher polycounter lvl 9
    I would build custers of small rocks and scatter hundreds of them all over the shore. right now it looks super flat. on farcry 4 we used literally thousands of small rocks, all instanced around edges of rivers and lakes. don't be afraid of polys at this point.
  • vincentvangeel
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    vincentvangeel polycounter lvl 4
    @Tectonic: Thank you, I will definitly place around more trees and rework the terrain and textures.
    @Jonny10: I would love to visit Alberta someday. I will look into the scale, post effects and terrain displacement.
    @Atomander: I will try out your advice on the grass and the cliffs. Thank you for your advice.
    @Pixelmasher: I will definitly give it a go, I was indeed a bit scared of using too many rocks.
  • PixelMasher
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    PixelMasher polycounter lvl 9
    5-10 diferent rocks instanced hundreds of times at slightly different scales and clusters wont really effect perfomance too badly. right now everywhere a model meets the terrain, its a clear straight line. this will help with that in an insane way. the biggest learners mistakes I see when it comes to natural enviros are not enough scattered little details, and not enough grass planes. farcry had 30-100k tri trees covering the screen for most of the time, as well as thousands of grass planes. if things are built as instances of kits, its not bad at all.
  • Adik
    Personally i would use a nice parallax material instead of creating meshes for the rocks....
  • PixelMasher
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    PixelMasher polycounter lvl 9
    Adik said:
    Personally i would use a nice parallax material instead of creating meshes for the rocks....
    a mixture of both works best, otherwise at an angle you have no silhouette changes at a distance. I would go with 2 different pebbles/mud/rocks textures blended and then models of small-medium rocks and twigs/roots/dead wood etc scattered over top. once you get the recipe down pat, combine it with an awesome vegetation recipe and you can have huge areas populated in minutes. 
    right now your grass is looking super thin, almost like a balding man. i would make a couple different variations that have less alphaed out and make it dense. if you can see the rows of grass planes, it makes it look like a ps2 game. look at screenshots of dear esther for some awesome coastline inspiration. its a few years old but still looks pretty tight.
  • TheKlu
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    TheKlu polycounter lvl 2
    Same here, i would use some parallax or tessellation for the terrain it would improve the scene notably. Are you using normal maps? If you dont, create ones it will improve it too :smile: 
    Anyway, it's looking great so far! :D
  • Adik
    hey Pixelmasher, Isn't the UE4 / Cryengine pom / parallax shader already giving a silhouette ?

    http://docs.cryengine.com/display/SDKDOC2/Silhouette+POM

  • PixelMasher
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    PixelMasher polycounter lvl 9
    Adik said:
    hey Pixelmasher, Isn't the UE4 / Cryengine pom / parallax shader already giving a silhouette ?

    http://docs.cryengine.com/display/SDKDOC2/Silhouette+POM


    nope. its still a sphere, the shapes inside self occlude but the actual edge of the geo does not change, it also says its extremely expensive and only used on high end specific situations. very convincing from certain angles, but having that turned on everywhere on a console game would melt most tech artists minds. You could also use displacement/tessilation, but in most cases that is going to be way more expensive that instanced clusteres of models. Atleast it was for FC4. 

    The thing is to combine all these things to get amazing results. look at SW battlefront. some of the most amazing looking natural enviros seen to date. Endor has rocks, roots, and twigs sprinkled on top of sweet shaders and it makes it look even more fantastic. Also, actual geo rocks here and there will break the straight line of the edge of the water, poke through etc, and look way more convincing. 
  • Adik
    I tried tessilation and it's really a way to expensive... You are definitly right, roots, twigs, rocks on top will definitly look beter than just a texture...
    Your picture above actually shows the simple pom shader not the SPOM Shader... I can't tell a lot about the performnace on consoles but it works pretty fine on my home computer...
    And for the new Star Wars game... aren't they using pom or spom shaders for some of the textures at least on PC ? I mean the textures and the details are looking just amazing!


  • vincentvangeel
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    vincentvangeel polycounter lvl 4
    Hey everyone, sorry for the late reaction.
    I have been working on an update of the scene with your feedback. Let me know what you think about it. 

    I have mostly been focusing on creating a better forest scene, as the previous update only had grass, trees and stones to fill the forest with. But I also played around a bit with the lighting and post effects and re-decorated the whole level. The first few screenshots are very saturated and colorful, but I was wondering if it wasn't too much fantasy-like for a realistical scene, the last two images are less saturated.







    The less saturated and colorful screenshots (let me know which you prefer):



  • FreneticPonies
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    FreneticPonies polycounter lvl 2
    Solid mountains in the background, but the trees have far too few polys and the AO baked into them is far too dark. There are also trees that appear to be defying gravity, their leaf planes angled upward for some reason.
  • vincentvangeel
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    vincentvangeel polycounter lvl 4
    Thank you for your feedback. There where going to be a lot of tree's in the environment, so when I started with the scene I didn't wanted to make them to heavy. The dark AO in the trees is actually a combination of a dark spot in the texture of the leaf, the additional AO from Speedtree and the casted shadow from other leaves. I will definitly re-make the trees in the next update.
  • mrgesy
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    mrgesy polycounter lvl 3
    Looks like a good project! Here're are my loose suggestions:

    Increase the brightness of the directional light, things are looking too dull unlike your reference. Try to angle the directional light to produce some good lighting effect, like light hitting one side of those mountains in the background (Like in the ref again).

    Also your grass cards and the grass terrain texture colors look too different. Try to match them so they work together to produce a grassy feel.
  • vincentvangeel
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    vincentvangeel polycounter lvl 4
    Thank you for your feedback.

    In this update I have adjusted the grass to blend more in with the ground texture, I have changed the materials of all vegetation from standard lit to subsurface scattering to fix the ugly shadows with double sided planes, I adjusted the lighting to have more brightness and sun rays, and I also adjusted the trees to have less AO in the leaves so that the black spots are also fixed. I also tried to adjust my light and shadows to give a more interesting look on my mountains, but I couldn't find a decent setup, so instead I did some test with WorldMachine to generate a realistic terrain (see images at bottom for test setup terrain without props). 











    WorldMachine terrain generation test:




  • Cubik
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    Cubik greentooth
    Maybe take a look at the scale of your waves in the water shader. They look huge compared to anything in your reference. 
  • vincentvangeel
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    vincentvangeel polycounter lvl 4
    Thank you for the feedback, I will fix the scale of the water right away. 
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