Apocalyptic Corn Field Environment

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polycounter lvl 6
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PogoP polycounter lvl 6
Most random title ever!

I've been working on this scene for my Advanced Modelling Portfolio for uni. For the assignment we have been given the task of doing the Unearthly Endgame Challenge in 9 weeks, which isn't a lot of time!

This particular scene is a sort of corn field environment, but the 'endgame' part is the huge storm cloud overhead, and huge meteors will be crashing down.

At the moment I've only worked on the environment effects, there's still lots of actual assets to make, but I was just hoping for some feedback on how the environment is looking so far. How do you guys think this could be better?

environment_test5.jpg

Looking forward to your feedback!

Edit - If somebody could put [WIP] on the title, that would be brilliant.

Replies

  • Tom Ellis
    PogoP wrote: »
    For the assignment we have been given the task of doing the Unearthly Endgame Challenge in 9 weeks, which isn't a lot of time!

    Wait, so rather than your Uni actually bothering to come up with their own syllabus, they've just straight up said 'go do Unearthly Challenge in x amount of weeks'?

    Seriously?


    The sky looks awesome, like, really awesome. Good job with that.

    The ground texture, not so much. I can't tell what it's supposed to be.

    The first thing you should explore is detail maps in your material. Tiny, heavily tiled maps that will give smaller detail when viewing the material up close, as you can see it looks pretty blurry close to the player the way you have it now.

    This link explains it better than I do:

    http://udn.epicgames.com/Three/Terra...dTextures.html

    Secondly, if there's one thing I've learned with terrain in UDK it's that you shouldn't properly judge how it looks until you've got at least a few foliage meshes in the scene. Put some of the corn meshes together and just cover the terrain with them and see how it looks.

    Oftentimes, the actual ground texture is so barely visiible that if you get too hung up on making it look awesome without any foliage meshes on, you'll realise it was kinda wasted time since you can't see much of it. If you have a quick look at the actual terrain textures in most games, they're not usually very good, and quite blurry, but the meshes on top and the sheer amount of them take your focus away from crappy ground textures.
  • Wiktor
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    Wiktor polycounter lvl 9
    Wait, so rather than your Uni actually bothering to come up with their own syllabus, they've just straight up said 'go do Unearthly Challenge in x amount of weeks'?

    Seriously?

    Sounds pretty effing awesome to me. :)
  • PogoP
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    PogoP polycounter lvl 6
    Great tips Twentytwo, just the sort of stuff I was after.

    I'll address the Unearthly issue first.. Yeah it does kinda suck really. It isn't very imaginative at all. Normally the university runs very imaginative and creative modules, but it seems for this one they've just copped out. It is a massive thing to do by yourself in 9 weeks, and I don't particularly agree with it. Also, they don't run any tutorials on how to go about the scene or how to go about making assets; they say we should already know that stuff by now.

    Thing is, I've pretty much learnt all I know externally, via the internet. They've changed the course around a bit now so first years have a lot more training in basic 3d techniques for games, but when I was a first year (Im now a third and final year!) the course was just basic 3d, not aimed towards games spec.

    Anyway, enough ranting!

    The terrain is taken from another scene I worked on over Summer, I was considering re-doing it, but now you've set it in stone for me. My next step is to create some foliage and rocks/stones for the road, and I will replace the ground textures.

    Also, somebody else pointed out that the mountains on the left of the scene don't look particularly well lit, any idea how to make billboard mountains (planes) light better? If not I will have to just tweak the current gradient overlay I have at the moment, I'll make them a little darker.
  • EMC3D
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    EMC3D polycounter lvl 7
    PogoP wrote: »
    Great tips Twentytwo, just the sort of stuff I was after.

    I'll address the Unearthly issue first.. Yeah it does kinda suck really. It isn't very imaginative at all. Normally the university runs very imaginative and creative modules, but it seems for this one they've just copped out. It is a massive thing to do by yourself in 9 weeks, and I don't particularly agree with it. Also, they don't run any tutorials on how to go about the scene or how to go about making assets; they say we should already know that stuff by now.

    Thing is, I've pretty much learnt all I know externally, via the internet. They've changed the course around a bit now so first years have a lot more training in basic 3d techniques for games, but when I was a first year (Im now a third and final year!) the course was just basic 3d, not aimed towards games spec.

    Anyway, enough ranting!

    The terrain is taken from another scene I worked on over Summer, I was considering re-doing it, but now you've set it in stone for me. My next step is to create some foliage and rocks/stones for the road, and I will replace the ground textures.

    Also, somebody else pointed out that the mountains on the left of the scene don't look particularly well lit, any idea how to make billboard mountains (planes) light better? If not I will have to just tweak the current gradient overlay I have at the moment, I'll make them a little darker.

    We're doing the exact same as you but with the scene from a movie comp, although our lecturer is very organized and has put some cool spin offs on it for our university marking and some other things.

    Sky is awesome, agree with creative on the terrain, there are lots of shader techniques you can do to spice it up so there isn't much worry around that. Looking forward to seeing this pick up!
  • PogoP
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    PogoP polycounter lvl 6
    Thanks guys.

    Unfortunately we're not allowed to use UDK terrain now either, which I was gutted about because it's really good for foliage placement. But it does mean I can now make a custom material shader for the terrain and get some harder blends between the different textures. This is my first real shader for UDK, not sure I'm doing it 100% right but it's getting the job done so far.

    It's not 100% yet, I still want to add more stuff to it. It currently doesn't have a specular or detail normal, I'm going to add those soon.

    Any tips for getting the texture to look better in the distance?

    blend_example_dirt.jpg

    blend_example_corn.jpg

    And here's an update of the scene with this new material set up and some new ground textures. I have done a little foliage testing but now that I have to hand place the foliage, I've temporarily removed it.

    environment_test7.jpg

    Let me know what you think, all constructive criticisms are appreciated!
  • Em.
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    Em. polycounter lvl 10
    Those read a lot better, so far so good. Get that normal and spec going so we can check those out. ;)
  • jackalope
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    jackalope polycounter lvl 6
    It looks like there is a really harsh line in the materials right under the fence. you should break that up, make the line uneven and more organic
  • PogoP
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    PogoP polycounter lvl 6
    Ah, that's where the terrain slopes down. I'm hoping to mask it with foliage, because you can only see it from this angle.
  • cholden
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    cholden polycounter lvl 12
    PogoP wrote: »
    Unfortunately we're not allowed to use UDK terrain now either

    CURSES!

    Well, you can still use all those fancy terrain material ideas.
    http://udn.epicgames.com/Three/TerrainAdvancedTextures.html#Multi-UV%20Mixing:%20Reducing%20tiling%20through%20scalar%20mixing

    That for example, might help with the look at a distance.
  • fearian
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    fearian Polycount Sponsor
    PogoP wrote: »
    Thanks guys.

    Unfortunately we're not allowed to use UDK terrain now either,

    What the bollocks?!? Is there a reason for that bullshit rule?
  • PogoP
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    PogoP polycounter lvl 6
    "Rules say no BSP's which includes terrain. I believe it was due to the clarity of determining what had been done to the terrain.
    No BSP's no Premade UDK/UT3 assets, brushes, textures or materials."

    That's my lecturer's reply. Very strange, I know, but at least it's forcing me to explore UDK materials a little more.

    But it seems a bit of a strange answer though.. What does 'what had been done to the terrain" even mean? You could say that with any asset.
  • gsokol
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    gsokol Polycount Sponsor
    Cool assignment haha. Beats the run of the mill "make a fruit bowl" assignments.
  • sarayel
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    sarayel polycounter lvl 8
    About make textures look better at distance you could mess a bit with mipmaps. Here is one exaple what you cam achieve:
    mipmaptutorialwj6.jpg
  • Em.
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    Em. polycounter lvl 10
    Not being able to utilize the terrain is silly. I do some world building where I'm at and knowing how to sculpt and paint terrain/world build is a nice little skill to add to the list. It's definitely not the same as using their assets, textures and materials, the terrain is completely what you make it, plus way more efficient than bringing in a mesh for the ground.
    Ah well, roll with the punches.
  • igi
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    igi polycounter lvl 8
    it seems anisotropic filtering is not enabled so thats why texture becomes blurry at far distances...

    use alphas and tileable tectures for the terrain...look at this,there is lots of way to make terrain texture more detailed by using tileables and alphas:

    http://udn.epicgames.com/Three/TerrainAdvancedTextures.html
  • Xendance
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    Xendance polycounter lvl 6
    PogoP wrote: »
    "Rules say no BSP's which includes terrain. I believe it was due to the clarity of determining what had been done to the terrain.
    No BSP's no Premade UDK/UT3 assets, brushes, textures or materials."

    That's my lecturer's reply. Very strange, I know, but at least it's forcing me to explore UDK materials a little more.

    But it seems a bit of a strange answer though.. What does 'what had been done to the terrain" even mean? You could say that with any asset.

    But terrain isn't BSP ;)
    You sure he isn't confusing terrain with the age old BSP terrain that was present in the previous versions of the engine and editor?
  • whats_true
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    whats_true polycounter lvl 8
    Some of the entries for the comp had terrin. Just show him that, and tell him if its legal for that comp, it should be legal for this one.
  • Tom Ellis
    So your lecturer on a course designed to get your geared up for employment in the games industry is suggesting you use geometry rather than terrain.

    So:

    Use the engines very own terrain tool, designed specifically for the optimal handling of terrain style meshes

    or

    Use a freaking huge densely subdivided mesh as the terrain which will be handled by the engine as a complex static mesh.

    Yeah I can totally see the logic in that.

    Although I wouldn't complain, I'm guessing when you come to do characters, you won't have to bother building a low poly, just stick your sculpt in UDK... apparently that'll be fine :D

    Jokes about lecturers aside;

    The scene is looking incredible, great work. I'm really looking forward to seeing where this goes.

    Just a question, which can be answered by you or anyone else in the thread, I'm guessing it's not possible to get that kind of advanced blend with the nice tight edges on terrain? Only using advanced blending on static meshes?

    Also, are those first couple top down shots in-engine on the material applied to your ground mesh? How in the hell did you get it so damn sharp? It looks perfect. What texture res are you using?

    Also, would you mind posting a shot of your shader network on the ground material?

    Keep up the great work!
  • JordanW
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    JordanW sublime tool
    Actually the limitation seems perfectly valid if you're talking about gearing up for employment. Console's, projects, and work environments always come with their own unique sets of limitations. If terrain isn't allowed, find another method to make something cool :)

    Also to alleviate tiling at a distance you can use a macro texture to break up the tiling, create a texture that will be tiled fewer times and has some subtle noise or clouds in it and use it to modulate the tiling textures.
  • Tom Ellis
    JordanW wrote: »
    Actually the limitation seems perfectly valid if you're talking about gearing up for employment. Console's, projects, and work environments always come with their own unique sets of limitations. If terrain isn't allowed, find another method to make something cool :)

    Yeah I guess. But I was always under the impression that you should make use of every optimisation tool your chosen engine offers. And since they're specifically using UDK, it seems odd to forego a built in tool designed to handle something they've been asked not to build.
  • JordanW
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    JordanW sublime tool
    Terrain is not necessarily an optimization tool, it has it's own set of costs and limitations that static meshes don't have.
  • jocose
    What's your final composition going to be? It can make a big difference when it comes to organizing, prioritizing and building things. Unless you are hell bent on featuring each prop as a portfolio piece (which isn't really the point of an environment).

    I would recommend doing some paint overs and showing us where you think the final product is headed. You might get some very valuable feedback early on that could help a lot more than these preliminary shots.
  • PogoP
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    PogoP polycounter lvl 6
    My final composition is going to be pretty much from this angle, with plenty of overgrown foliage and huge, uncut corn, meteors punching through the clouds and smashing huge craters in the ground, fires all around (maybe!), a few farm buildings in the distance, and maybe a combine harvester in shot in one of the fields.

    Got a lot of stuff planned still, but I can't really express it in 2d as my 2d concepting isn't brilliant. It's annoying because I have so much in my head, but can't express it visually! I did do a preliminary concept sketch as it was compulsory, and it sorta gives the idea. But it is unfinished, as a lot of that stuff I mentioned isn't actually in this sketch!

    environmentconcept.jpg

    Cheers for all the feedback guys, I really appreciate it. It motivates me to keep going, not that I need any motivation; I'm brimming with the stuff :D
  • cholden
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    cholden polycounter lvl 12
    Adjusting your composition using the corn stalks (being tall and ominous) would be benefitial to sink your camera into. Looking down the road at the mountains and destruction of the sky, with no where to go around you but corn fields. Much more powerful and thoughout use of context than staring over a flat, dead field. Don't believe it? Look up Matroskin's work.
  • PogoP
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    PogoP polycounter lvl 6
    Hell yeah Cholden, that's the plan! :D

    Sorta similar to L4D I guess, they have a cool looking cornfield in that game. Or maybe it's in the sequel.
  • jimmypopali
    Just in regards to the concept, it seems like the storm has JUST started, all the rocks are falling at the same height. I would imagine some are faster than others, so some would have already hit the earth and some would still be up in the sky. Plus it's always interesting to see lots of dirt and grass and corn being kicked up in a fiery explosion while other rocks continue to fall.
  • JordanW
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    JordanW sublime tool
    Good start, I'm not super confident in my 2d art either so I do concepts at multiple stages, paintovers really help shape a piece so you should consider doing those. As you mesh more work out do a paintover for the next part, then mesh some more then experiment with a paint over.

    It'd be cool if you broke up the flat plane of the terrain, maybe twist the earth up like it's been torn by some of the comets, make it interesting, right now you dont really have any focal pieces or much that's broken up into foreground midground and background.
  • Karmageddon
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    Karmageddon polycounter lvl 7
    If I squint my eyes, it looks like hometown, Nebraska. No school on apocalypse day!
  • PogoP
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    PogoP polycounter lvl 6
    Jordan, I'm definitely going to try and seperate the different elements of the environment some more, it is looking rather flat at the minute. I'm going to have meteor craters going horizontally across the scene to try and break up the monotony and create a bit more contrast.

    Tonight I've worked on some basic foliage for the grass and corn. The textures are simple monotone black textures at the moment, just trying out silhouette and making sure it looks ok before anything is set in stone.

    All the foilage is hand-painted at the moment. I'm looking forward to colouring them when I get round to it.

    I've added a subtle rimlight effect which is why the corn is currently looking a bit green!

    environment_test8.jpg

    environment_corn.jpg
  • Minos
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    Minos polycounter lvl 9
  • Dim
    Reminds me of Van Gogh's last painting:

    Vincent_van_Gogh_1853-1890_-_Wheat_Field_with_Crows_1890.jpg
  • PogoP
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    PogoP polycounter lvl 6
    Hey Mino! Do you mean in terms of colour?
  • doeseph
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    doeseph polygon
    Hey this is turning out really nice! Did you make the sky texture yourself?
  • Wiktor
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    Wiktor polycounter lvl 9
    Great progress! :)
  • PogoP
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    PogoP polycounter lvl 6
    Thanks! The sky texture is one from CG Textures, but heavily photoshopped to take a lot of saturation out, and then re-coloured to give it that heavily darkened look.
  • Ben Apuna
    I like where this is going.

    IMHO It needs a ominous looking farm house or maybe a grain silo or barn for the zombies to sleep during the day...
  • Dis
    This looks frickin sweet. I love the lighting.

    One thing that stands out to me though is the fence. I think the high contrast of the texture makes it stand out too much with the lighting setup you've got and it doesn't match the rest of the scene. I know the grass is very WIP but right now the edges are too soft/fuzzy (could just be because of the temp texture). In contrast to that, the edges of the mountains are too sharp.

    But this is just me nitpicking. Really looking forward to future updates.
  • kysterama
    This is looking great. The lighting and mood are really selling it. Its a pity the grass can't be a little more realistic. It looks fine at a distance but the foreground grass elements are letting down such a great detail ground texture as Dis said. Really looking for the seeing more :)
  • Slum
    When there is no more room in hell...

    The corn will stalk the earth.


    Looking nice :)
  • roosterMAP
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    roosterMAP polycounter lvl 7
    looks nice. but there's no real focus. try putting a barn in the distance, or a scare crow close up.
  • SimonT
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    SimonT polycounter lvl 11
    really nice!
  • PogoP
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    PogoP polycounter lvl 6
    All this feedback is brilliant guys, thank you.

    Got a question though, how would you go about doing the meteor fire effects? I'm clueless when it comes to UDK technical effects. Bearing in mind that this scene is going to be stationary, not moving, so the meteors will be stationary but meant to look as if they are hurtling towards the earth at high speeds.
  • jocose
    Your going to want to light all your dark areas with a deep blue. The human brain perceives dim light as a blue light. Most painters know and use this trick regularly. This will also allow you to illuminate some areas a bit more and it will also help with the mood.

    Also, your paint over is fine. Paint overs are one of the most powerful tools that you have.

    One of the biggest problems most artist have is that they forget that they need to be thinking about the big picture early on. The more able you are able to hold the qualities that make up the final result through out the creation process the easier the process will be.

    Paint overs are just a tool, they aren't art. Treat them like you would the bevel, bridge, or extrude tool.


    As for the fire effect, just do it with polygons cards. Those same cards could potentially be used, after some tweaking, for real-time particles later.
  • Bon
    Maybe you could put in an object to break it up, to show that man was around at the time but has long since gone. You could put a dilapidated truck/tractor, maybe military, with someone hanging out the door, supplies fallen out the back. Or a water pump or crop spray kind of similar to the one they use in L4D to climb over in the fields. Silos in the distance. The grass may need breaking up slightly where it nears the camera.

    Keep it up! I think this is looking great :D
  • PogoP
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    PogoP polycounter lvl 6
    I'm working on some grain silos and perhaps a little farm for the distance. I would like to put loads of work into it, but time is closing in on me (this is week 7, hand-in is in week 12. plus I have other assignments) so I'm not sure how much detail to put in.

    I think the closeup focus will be a meteor crater carving a path through the road, and there will be a focus on the meteors crashing through the sky if I can get them to look good!

    Anybody got any tips for how to go about making the flame effect for the meteors? I'm such a UDK effects nub!

    Edit - Thanks Jocose. Will give it a go. Just not sure about material set ups for flames in UDK!
  • jocose
    Just search for "fire" or "flames" in the UDK content browser. You should find examples. Just copy and tweak them. It need not be complex, just a high emisive value. You can even make the emsive color contribute to the lighting so it lights up the corn field.
  • JordanW
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    JordanW sublime tool
    Nice progress, only crit of the work so far is it's rather dark.
  • PogoP
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    PogoP polycounter lvl 6
    Worked on the meteor. I didn't want to spend too long on it, as it will for the most part be covered in flames. Also worked on a grain silo for the distance.

    I'm starting to think I should have approached this scene differently. It looks good from this side, but not being able to use terrain has limited how much I can edit the ground and landscape.

    For my next scene I'm going to pay close attention to layout and making it an actual proper playable environment.

    Anyway, here's a few quick screengrabs of the grain silo and meteor. The meteor is just an ambient occlusion on a rock texture atm, need to get some handpainted cracks and highlights in there.

    prop_grainsilo.jpg

    prop_meteor.jpg
  • doeseph
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    doeseph polygon
    The silo looks good, but the meteor isn't really reading right at the moment. I thought it was just a rock. You may want to consider a more spherical shape with softer edges, it would get relatively smooth going through the atmosphere and what not.

    Keep up the good work.
  • PogoP
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    PogoP polycounter lvl 6
    Yeah you're right, I just followed my previous workflow for cliff sculpts. Doesn't make much sense here! I'm on it.
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