[UE4] Simple Hills of Grass

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joshmtyler polycounter lvl 4
It's a sad day. I've lost everything on my HDD. It was fun while it lasted. That's okay though. I still learned a lot and will push whatever I make next even further.

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I've been making games for some time now but realized that I've not made much grass. Sure, I've made a card hear and there, but nothing of real substance. So, I figured... just do it.

Inspiration:



I work in Maya but I try and stick to Max when I work on personal stuff.

For the landscape, I've started with World Machine. I've never used the program until now, and let's just say that it's got its quirks. (What's up with that tiny preview window, amirite?)
It seems like a really powerful tool, but I think sculpting hills might be the better route.

I've moved onto creating grass objects for now. Gotta love object paint in Max.
2 filler pieces, and one edge piece.



Thanks for checking it out. C&C and even just suggestions for workflow are greatly appreciated!



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  • joshmtyler
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    joshmtyler polycounter lvl 4
    Nevermind about sculpting...my Wacom pen broke.
  • joshmtyler
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    joshmtyler polycounter lvl 4
    Man, I don't know what I am doing with consistent lighting, dynamic shadows, etc... but here's what I've got for today.


  • joshmtyler
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    joshmtyler polycounter lvl 4
    Spent some time figuring out Material and Target Layers for Landscape materials.  This is just a blockout of materials. Next step is to build a pathway mesh to lay out using the spline tool and then a few fence assets. If you've any tips on this, it would be greatly appreciated.



    Hyper fast paintover for fence placement.



  • m4dcow
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    m4dcow polycounter lvl 7
    I did an environment that included grass and hills awhile back for the artstation journey challenge, something I found to be useful was to use the color of the landscape and blend that in with the actual grass meshes, I didn't achieve that perfectly myself, but it helps to try.
  • joshmtyler
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    joshmtyler polycounter lvl 4
    @m4dcowThanks for the input, dude. I'm definitely going to have to work on the landscape colors.
  • joshmtyler
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    joshmtyler polycounter lvl 4
    Dirt Path Tile in ZBrush. It's rather simple but I will push more in substance. I will use this with the spline tool in UE4.




  • joshmtyler
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    joshmtyler polycounter lvl 4
    Here is a 3 tile bake in Substance Painter.


  • joshmtyler
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    joshmtyler polycounter lvl 4
    First pass substance materials. I don't know if I am feeling the colors. I think I might need to push the value changes a bit more.

  • joshmtyler
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    joshmtyler polycounter lvl 4
    I've finally got the blueprint set up and the path placed using a spline. I'm happy with the mesh but now need to focus on marrying it into the scenery. I need to look into ways to add variation within the blueprint because right now it is WAY too uniform.

    I've also noticed that I cannot rotate a spline point along the X-axis, which is problematic as it doesn't allow me to level the pathway along with the terrain. I'm admittedly ignorant when it comes to blueprints though.





  • joshmtyler
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    joshmtyler polycounter lvl 4
    I've got to give a major shout out to @Maximum-Dev for his latest thread on his process here. 
    http://polycount.com/discussion/183365/tips-tutorials-tricks-ue4-alirezas-art-blog#latest 

    Next stop, broken-ass fence.

  • joshmtyler
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    joshmtyler polycounter lvl 4
    Quick fence blockout. I'll start sculpting after I am happy with the placement. Time for bed.


  • rgbeard
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    rgbeard keyframe

    I think the colors look much better in Max than Unreal. Don't know if u use pngs, try targa or something if that's the case. The colors profile works better in unreal. Maybe some subsurface color as well? Looking forward to see your progress, I want to get better at grass too.

  • joshmtyler
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    joshmtyler polycounter lvl 4
    @rgbeard You're right, they do. I'm playing around with different LUT profiles in the post process color grading and am not 100% sold on my decision yet. You're correct about the SSS as well. I think I turned it off for this shot. I'll play with that as well. Thanks for checking it out, man.
  • deutschbag
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    deutschbag polycounter lvl 5
    I like how this is developing! I think the way the grass is self shadowing is still odd, as there are all those pockets of darkness. Are you using the "double sided foliage" shading model in the grass mat? and its been pointed out before, but hooking up that translucency would go a long way :)
  • joshmtyler
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    joshmtyler polycounter lvl 4
    @deutschbag Thanks. I agree. I've got subsurface in the material but it's set to a default black right now and needs to be adjusted accordingly. 

  • joshmtyler
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    joshmtyler polycounter lvl 4
    Haven't had a lot of time to work on this so this is all I've gotten done in the last week.


  • joshmtyler
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    joshmtyler polycounter lvl 4
    I removed the self shadows on the grass and I feel like that makes everything look worse. But I would love some fresh eyes.


  • JLHGameArt
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    JLHGameArt polycounter lvl 5
    I think what it might be is that currently the scene currently doesn't feel as vibrant as your reference. 
    You're lacking the yellows on the grass and the pink in the clay of the road. Your reference is nice and colourful, while this is feeling a little bland.
    The road seems too shiny for mud that is sitting in the sun, I feel like it would be more dried/cracked/dusty.
    Maybe a post process material adding some contrast to the grass would get a look you are happier with?
    Or maybe adding a power node between your base colour and base colour input on the grass with a parameter between 1 and 2 to boost it a little.

    Just some ideas :)
  • joshmtyler
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    joshmtyler polycounter lvl 4
    @JLHGameArt

    Seriously, thanks a bunch for the critique, I'll look into adding a power node.

    The ground is definitely too shiny. That's something I'm aware of and need to rectify but I don't understand why the shader is doing that when my maps do not have those levels. If you look at the difference between my substance material and the UE4 material, you can see it is definitely more dusty. :/

     As for the color,I'm really trying to get more of the broad strokes before I go in and fine tune the contrast and saturation.
  • JLHGameArt
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    JLHGameArt polycounter lvl 5
    @joshmtyler ;

    This might be stating the obvious, but have you turned off srgb on the AORoughMetal texture? assuming that's how you're setting it up.
  • joshmtyler
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    joshmtyler polycounter lvl 4
    @JLHGameArt I definitely had something plugged into Metalness... like some kinda idjit.

    I've added some color changes and more fences. Up next is rocks, then a bush.


  • joshmtyler
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    joshmtyler polycounter lvl 4
    I added some rocks.
    I Also fractured my femur today so I don't know how often I can work on this for the time being.




  • joshmtyler
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    joshmtyler polycounter lvl 4
    I'm finally able to sit at my desk for a bit now that it has been almost 2 weeks since my injury. I've done some more landscaping and world building. I've added small clusters of rocks and color variation in the hills.

    As always, C&C welcome and appreciated.




  • joshmtyler
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    joshmtyler polycounter lvl 4
    Updated the pathway. I've also got to find a way to make the different color grass blend with each other better.






  • joshmtyler
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    joshmtyler polycounter lvl 4
    Bump for critique.

    Side note, I'm working on a modular concrete building foundation set to add a little variety.
  • bigodon
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    bigodon triangle
    Hey Josh, nice work man!

    You have in mind use a custom skybox? this might help give some mood to the scene you're working on and control where the clouds will be and their position. Also check your lut files and tone mapping it for contrast and get closer for the references you have posted. I aways found this somewhat challenging, but you can get good results by relly one these settings. 

    also, how is the props for scattering for your scene? do you have in mind to make some more grass variation?, for the middle path you could use some dry grass and leave the more green ones for edges, still speaking about the path, maybe you can mix some materials with quixel megascans or do this with substance designer for have the soil more random and varied texture look and feel.

    for the rocks, you can use some more variation and make smaller ones for debris, same applies for leaves, you could make a leave layer pass on soil, not much but enough on your judgement. For soil, do not forget to use height maps, you can also try to use this https://gumroad.com/l/BVVFy for blend the rocks with soil.

    You're going to use any tree on the scene? you could use some, not much of course.. or maybe just no one?! I don't know, since this is a hill, you have to figure out something to make it less plain. Maybe review the soil configuration and sculpt it with more elevations? use some small canyons? use more plants variation with the current grass you made.

    For the fence, since this is under open area, you could bring some vertex paint maybe to break the illusion of every fence have the same texture feeling? also paint some roughness variation to it, you can do this using a simple grunge map or do it by hand one by one where the camera will shot.

    I think this is it, if you need more feedback please tell me.
    This is looking good and can't wait to see more progress
  • joshmtyler
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    joshmtyler polycounter lvl 4
    @bigodon

    All really great points. Feedback is much appreciated my man. I love how much feedback you've given.

    "You have in mind use a custom skybox? this might help give some mood to the scene you're working on and control where the clouds will be and their position. Also check your lut files and tone mapping it for contrast and get closer for the references you have posted. I aways found this somewhat challenging, but you can get good results by relly one these settings. "

    I'm not too worried about the skybox at the moment  because it basically does what I want it to for now. I have various LUT files and I have chosen one that I like. I am deviating a bit from my reference but I like the saturation I am going with.

    "also, how is the props for scattering for your scene? do you have in mind to make some more grass variation?, for the middle path you could use some dry grass and leave the more green ones for edges, still speaking about the path, maybe you can mix some materials with quixel megascans or do this with substance designer for have the soil more random and varied texture look and feel"

    I love the idea of changing up the grass in the pathway. I definitely need to find a way to vary the grass out in the hills. It's proving to be a bit of a struggle for me for some reason.

    "for the rocks, you can use some more variation and make smaller ones for debris, same applies for leaves, you could make a leave layer pass on soil, not much but enough on your judgement. For soil, do not forget to use height maps, you can also try to use this https://gumroad.com/l/BVVFy for blend the rocks with soil."

    I do have smaller rocks for debris. I suppose I need to make that more apparent. Thanks for that material. I had been waiting for that release!

    "You're going to use any tree on the scene? you could use some, not much of course.. or maybe just no one?! I don't know, since this is a hill, you have to figure out something to make it less plain. Maybe review the soil configuration and sculpt it with more elevations? use some small canyons? use more plants variation with the current grass you made."

    I'm going to make a tree for sure. I wasn't positive if I wanted to but I think it would be best. I'm working on making a modular foundation set for old buildings as well. The dried grass will really work with this. I wasn't planning on making any variation in the hills like canyons but I might just go ahead and make a creek since I am out on disability with a broken hip. I've got a lot of free time.

    "For the fence, since this is under open area, you could bring some vertex paint maybe to break the illusion of every fence have the same texture feeling? also paint some roughness variation to it, you can do this using a simple grunge map or do it by hand one by one where the camera will shot."

    I'm fine with the fence the way it is. That's might be some polish.

    Thanks for everything.

    What do you think is working well?
  • joshmtyler
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    joshmtyler polycounter lvl 4
    WIP foundation

  • bigodon
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    bigodon triangle
    @bigodon

    All really great points. Feedback is much appreciated my man. I love how much feedback you've given.

    ...

    I love the idea of changing up the grass in the pathway. I definitely need to find a way to vary the grass out in the hills. It's proving to be a bit of a struggle for me for some reason.

    ...

    I'm going to make a tree for sure. I wasn't positive if I wanted to but I think it would be best. I'm working on making a modular foundation set for old buildings as well. The dried grass will really work with this. I wasn't planning on making any variation in the hills like canyons but I might just go ahead and make a creek since I am out on disability with a broken hip. I've got a lot of free time.

    Thanks for everything.

    What do you think is working well?

    For the grass variation, you can bring some references on a image wall, take a time on it because this is a really important part of your scene, go by color, age, size, thickness, other plants influention on grass, also make it with different bend on grass cards (use lods to compensate on performance side) and make at least 5 versions. You can also use some normals on that grasses, make it two sided and subsurface, make it work with ue4 contact shadows. Believe or not, contact shadows make a HUGE difference for grass stuff as i have seen.

    An old house would bring some life to the scene for sure, you could populate the nearby of that house with relevant props and make it way more beliveable.

    Keep posting the updates so we can see how this is going on.

    see you.
  • joshmtyler
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    joshmtyler polycounter lvl 4
    Modular building foundation in action

  • joshmtyler
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    joshmtyler polycounter lvl 4
    Better, Closer, Warmer.  Added some flowers and some more grass variants.




  • RustySpannerz
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    RustySpannerz polycounter lvl 6
    It's amazing how much you've done with such a simple scene. A project like this would terrify me! 
  • joshmtyler
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    joshmtyler polycounter lvl 4
    @RustySpannerz Thank you for the kind words. I really just wanted to get my foliage down and this sort of forces me to not half-ass it. It's not without it's challenges. I think there are a lot of things I'm doing well, but plenty that I don't have down yet. I really want to take my time with this one.
  • joshmtyler
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    joshmtyler polycounter lvl 4
    I've switched to fully dynamic lighting and I've added some color to the skylight. My biggest issue now is that I do not have a real focal point. I'm not sure what I want to do about that. Any suggestions would be wonderful!






  • joshmtyler
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    joshmtyler polycounter lvl 4
    I finally figured out what I would add as a focal point.


  • joshmtyler
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    joshmtyler polycounter lvl 4
    Welp. My HDD got wiped and I couldn't recover the working files so I'm calling it done. :/
  • m4dcow
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    m4dcow polycounter lvl 7
    Damn that sucks dude.
    I guess work in or toss files onto dropbox every now and then in the future.
  • joshmtyler
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    joshmtyler polycounter lvl 4
    @m4dcow

    Yeah man. I was dumb but it happens. Just gotta learn from it. I got careless but at least my machine is all sparkling brand new!
  • GuanAndOnly
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    GuanAndOnly polycounter lvl 2
    Sorry to hear about your HDD, but I just wanted to say this one is hecka nice:
    http://i.imgur.com/YxWtMOz.png
    I think the main thing that was killing the piece while you were working on it was the skybox. Once you switched to fully dynamic lighting, I was really digging the colors of the foliage, just that the sky took away from it.
    Could always post-process the sky as a beauty shot, too! ;)
  • joshmtyler
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    joshmtyler polycounter lvl 4
    @GuanAndOnly
    Thanks for the feedback. I definitely agree. What would you suggest I do with the sky? It would have to be in Photoshop since I've got none of the files.
  • bigodon
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    bigodon triangle
    ah! thats sucks, the results with dynamic light is start to get up and looks interesting
    but don't give up on this, if you still have time and motivation to finish this.. even if this mean to start over from scratch or have to do many things again.

    let me tell you something, i remember when i lost almost half of my archviz due a windows 10 bug and haven't make backups of that progress, i had to redo a countless number of things again, this slows me like one to two months of work or more... but i decided to keep going and was able to finish the first public version. 

    and now, after moving to a new real life apartment. I'm currently heavy limited with sucks upload speed on my current temporary internet connection, wich means i will cannot upload the new versions of my archviz for a while. But difcult was made to be faced and issues to be solved.

    I hope to see more of this project very soon, and if not. A new one.
    My best luck for you my friend.
  • joshmtyler
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    joshmtyler polycounter lvl 4
    @bigodon

    Thanks for the kind words of inspiration. I think for now I am going to switch focus to something small and contained.
    I found this image and I like that it's sort of the opposite of what I was doing before.


  • joshmtyler
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    joshmtyler polycounter lvl 4
    Actually, I'm sort of torn between these but keeping the first image's color pallet.









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