Shardbound by Spiritwalk games - Environment Art Drop! [Img Heavy]

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Cremuss polycounter lvl 7
Hi there! My awesome team-mates at Spiritwalk are all releasing their work so I'm super stoke to join in and show you all the environment work I have done for Spiritwalk's debut title SHARDBOUND

Check out the character art thread that will flooded with awesome artwork in just a moment :

Sinners Mire

This is "Sinners Mire", my very first work at SpiritWalk and the very first map I did for Shardbound. I started on October 1st 2016 so it's been almost a year already :) Nothing but good times.

Initial Concept Art for Sinners Mire by SIMON KOPP
is dope. It was more like a mood board than something to precisely duplicate. We knew for instance that, among other things, blockers would have another look and the playfield (the tile arrangement) was not the definitive one. Player 2 views was also something to experiment with.

I remember first starting to play with the look of the fractured tiles and to experiment with muddy waters. Slowly more and more of the concept art's key elements were built until we had a first rough impression of what the map would look like both from player 1 and 2 cameras. At this point, concept artists stepped in and drew paintovers to bring me a more precise direction (and new cool stuff were brought in like the Temple).

I didn't know much about Unreal Engine at the time so a lot of stuff was poorly optimized at first and was later reworked and drastically improved by good team-mate and senior tech artist Ira Goeddel.

Overall the process didn't take too long. We wanted to get it in game asap so the background was left empty and filled with particles in-game until a matte-painting or 3D background is added.

Why I love Unreal Engine... The tech stuff is just too good with UE. Vines were added using splines and I used material's world position offset to procedurally hang the moss in a random fashion. Water droplets and ripples were also added.

We spent a bit of time experimenting with the circuity looking structures we call "Chromite". Main challenge was to make it readable and to look like there's still active glowing chromite emitting light from inside the structures.

Love working in Unreal Engine... adding fake caustics, fake ray lights in water, water ripples, moss on water surface with vertex painting, vertex animation on foliage, you name it.

Thanks to Art Director Josh Nadelberg for the great support and help through this process and to Senior Tech Artist Ira Goeddel for dealing with my poor UE knowledge at the time and overall lack of optimization. He drastically improved the lighting since then as well as many other things, so download Shardbound and check all that in-game :)


  • Cremuss
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    Cremuss polycounter lvl 7

    Embassy Gardens

    This is "Embassy Gardens", the tutorial map, the second map I did for Shardbound. We went through quite a lot of iterations with that one. The initial concept art, although giving very cool ideas and strong overall guidelines, wasn't as precise as for some other maps. Just like with Sinners Mire, once we had an overall idea of the map in 3d, concept artists stepped in to do paint-overs and give Josh and I more ideas to toy with.

    Readability is a constant challenge and our main focus when we work on these maps because, in the end, all the player's focus should and will be on the tiles and on his units. The surrounding environment is here to tell a story and beautify the picture, but shouldn't never affect his ability to read the tiles. In the other hand, both the tiles and environment should look like they belong together so it's a constant battle between making the tiles blend with and stand out from the environment. Trial & Error was the key to success.

    We did not have to bother with player 2 view since the map is for now only used for solo tutorials. That was good news hehe. Just like Sinners Mire, for the sake of getting the map in-game asap, background was left temporary empty until a matte-painting or 3d background is added later on.

    The Ivy and foliage were quite interesting to do. Since most of the scene was quite basic regarding tricount and material complexity, I took the liberty to spend quite a bit of geometry on the foliage. I love how much that green pops!

    Some sculpts: you can see the king-sized balcony that was replaced for a miniature one for the sake of readability and playfield clearance.

    It was the first time I toyed with Epic's Pivots Painter nodes/script but the life it brings to the scene is definitely worth the trouble looking into it. Also added some falling leaves with a simple particle system.

    Again, thanks Josh for the immense support and help. I couldn't be more happy with the result!

  • lotet
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    lotet ngon master
    really sexy stuff, also love the little "zoom gif", really nice way to show of the depth.
  • lovingsaskia
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    lovingsaskia polycounter lvl 2
    Some cracking work and a great breakdown. Congrats on the job sounds like you're having a whale of a time
  • Chidambhar_Swaroop
  • Ged
  • Cremuss
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    Cremuss polycounter lvl 7
    Thanks guys, I appreciate it!

    lotet > yeah the dolly zoom was really easy to make in UE. Add a level sequence, animated both your camera position and focal length and voila.
  • Jedairusz
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    Jedairusz polycounter lvl 7
    Totally amazing. I love the stylised look. Thanks for sharing!
  • EricElwell
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    EricElwell sublime tool
    Wonderful stuff!
  • macoll
  • AXEL
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    AXEL triangle
    This is insanely good stuff !
    Are you going to do brakedowns of more techical stuff  ?
  • Cremuss
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    Cremuss polycounter lvl 7
    Thanks guys.

    AXEL > I did a more technical in-depth breakdown of Highlands for an interview on that hopefully should be online sooner or later. I'll post an update as soon as it's live.
  • felipealves
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    felipealves polycounter lvl 4
    Mind blowing! Loved all those scenes
  • Warhawk,
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    Warhawk, polycounter lvl 5
    This is super great looking. Thanks for the breakdown and explanation for some of the elements. It is always nice to read different approaches about tackling look and feel for a game. I love the art style and your team did a great job making it look interesting and pretty :)
  • NateMasterFlash
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    NateMasterFlash polycounter lvl 7
    Beautiful stuff, very inspiring. Thank you for sharing.  Definitely going to try and steal your spline vine technique!
  • Tetranome
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    Tetranome polycounter lvl 3
    This is so beautiful. Amazing work - I'm inspired  :'(
  • Cremuss
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    Cremuss polycounter lvl 7
    Thanks guys!

    @NateMasterFlash > Yeah sure go ahead! Spawning meshes along a spline is actually quite a common technique and quite a simple to do in Unreal Engine. I think I used something similar to this:

    For the moss I added a transparent curved plane on top of the vine that would only very slightly hang down at first. I then painted the vertices that I wanted to push down with vertex color and used it to lerp in a world displacement offset in the material.

    You can then use whatever technique you want to drive the world displacement in a randomly fashion. Here I used a XY world projected noise texture so that when I moved my spline it would generate a unique offset. It has also the huge benefit to always stretch the moss perfectly vertically when you rotate the spline. If that make sense.

  • Cremuss
  • < ASH >
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    < ASH > polycounter lvl 7
    Awesome breakdown and inspiring art ! Thanks for sharing this Cremus. :)
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