[UE4 – WIP] 1960’s Subway Car


Hi everyone,

I’m a second year computer games art student at Teesside University, I’m currently working on a recreation of a 1960’s New York City Subway car. I want to share my process as well as gain feedback and critique, to further push my project and future work.

I aspire to create the same level of detail and sense of atmosphere that can be seen in Clinton Crumplers work.


I have gathered various references for my environment, but have chosen the following image as my main guidance.


I originally modelled a different subway cart,  before i came across my guidance image, that I find more visually interesting. This meant that I had already created a blockout that had measurements and scale set up. I set up perspective match in 3DS Max to match my geometry to the image, meaning it's more precise. 

I spent several weeks in 3DS max, creating high and low poly models, that incorporates all my reference and research. I separated my scene into modular sections that would be easily repeated, such as the Walls, Seats and Doors.     

I have just finished importing all the modular pieces into UE4, and I am currently baking down the high poly models (using Marmoset Toolbag 3) and adding additional detail in NDO. As well as further research into texturing.  


  • Gazu
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    Gazu polycounter lvl 5
    Nice, will you make an outside environment for it? Tunnel, station ?
    Or will you really just focus on the interior ?
  • chrisevansart
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    chrisevansart polycounter lvl 2
    Looking good, the only thing that really stands out is that the handle straps look like they're floating. Good works
  • Abigail_Jameson
    @Gazu I think im just going to really focus on the interior, however i might put some lights or a sign that can be visible from inside!

    @chrisevansart I see what you mean! ill have not attempted to texture them yet, so ill be careful to make sure they have screws or something to look like there secured to the ceiling, thank you for pointing it out to me. 

  • macoll
  • gfelton
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    gfelton polycounter lvl 2
    Great idea for an environment, cannot wait to see what you do with it :)
  • LorasTyrell
    Looking great :) Something that strikes me about the reference image is the floor - it occupies substantial space so improving that texture would be very beneficial. In particular, there is a lot of great specular variation in the reference. Having a detailed roughness map could really improve the feel of it, though I suppose you already got told this from your friend.

    I also had a look at the handles, and they are very much like the references so well done. However, they are all very lined up, which makes the whole setting look more arranged. If you varied the angles of these handles, I think it would make the scene more believable. Currently they seem stuck in a kind of weird angle. 

    Lastly the references show how reflective the seats are. It might be a bit difficult to make it seem natural, but maybe adding some lights or something could make that feeling of texture stand out a bit more? Again this would also benefit from a nice roughness map. 

    Definitely very well done so far though :) 
  • Abigail_Jameson
    Thank you for the feedback! I think changing the angle of the handles is a really good idea, it will definitely make it feel more natural.   Ill also make sure to spend some more time on the roughness maps especially of the floor as i do a secondary texturing pass. The chairs have been really hard, so i might look at creating the material in designer too. 

    Could is ask do you have any ideas on how to approach the physical lights in the scene? Im not sure whether to make a glass material with an emissive behind it   :)

  • LorasTyrell
    I'm afraid not, I've used Unreal enough to know the lights in it can do incredible things, but not enough to know how to tweak it... Could definitely really complement your scene though, I'll tell you if I come across something :) 

  • Tim Lewis
    You're off to a really good start. :)

    I’m definitely in agreement with some of the earlier feedback about the handles. They feel like they’re floating from the surface and not attached at the moment.

    Your floor texture is feeling pretty good at the moment. Compared to your reference, you might want to keep tweaking the roughness map, as the ref seems to have some brighter highlights.

    For the seat material, you’re going to need to make them more glossy and more reflective. Don’t forget to place some cubemaps around your scene so they have something to reflect.
  • cmc444
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    cmc444 polycounter lvl 5
    Nice I love period based work. This is looking good so far. I would def add some dirt and information to those emissive lights. Maybe darken the edges the further it gets away from the bulb.

  • Abigail_Jameson
    Thanks again for the feedback! I defiantly think i need a much stronger contrasting roughness map on the floor, that will really help add extra highlights! I've just finished my main master material so this should really help ensure i can do easy adjustments.

    This is my master material setup working with Substance Painter Material Exports. (The normal is duplicated underneath and blended together, as i wanted stronger normal's in some areas).

    @cmc444 I see what you mean about the emissive lights and ill make sure to add dirt close to the edges, however i'm unsure how to set up the material itself. Would it be best to create a dirty clear plastic material, which i can sit am emissive tube inside and allow the light to pass through. Or create an emissive that sits on the outside and has all the dirt and normal map information? (this is what i'm currently using). Thank you! :smiley:
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