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[UDK] Sea Defenses

polycounter lvl 13
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Mr Smo polycounter lvl 13
Hey guys,

Here is something I have been working on in UDK, I posted last week in the WAYWO thread. I have been working on it for the past 4 or so weekends.

Originally I was going to do a very similar scene which I posted here, but in starting it I got distracted / scared and instead went on to do this. It is based on a concept I found by the crytek



I had to stray a bit from the concept, mainly in the lighting, The direction wasn't helpful in showing the more interesting areas of the scene. Aside from that I am trying to stay as close as I can!


I had a few different approaches in mind for this, mainly sculpting tiled rocks, that was doing my head in so I went with crazybump instead. Using displacements made from crazybump as a base for the sculpting I think I got a few nice results. Half these textures were never used in the end how ever:


The main form of the cliff I sculpted in zbrush, then took into meshlab for an ingame mesh:


This was taken into UDK and slapped with a vert material. I had unwrapped 2 channels, one for tiled

textures and one for the lightmap. I used the lightmap channel to overlay normals generated from the zbrush sculpt of the mountain and in the normal maps alpha channel I had a leveled cavity map to pop the highlights of the cliffs out more. This was added over the top of the vert painted diffuses.


In addition to this I had grass / moss texture mixed in for the z-up thingy method, thingy:


Beyond this I added decals on top for streaks and bird poo etc. There are still more decals to come in this way as well as some vegetation for the entire scene.

The end result of all this is this:





The castles are fairly simple, a few variants of the one brick - damaged clean etc overlayed with a messy 1-1 diffuse for the streaks. The base of the towers have a few extra verts to paint in the flagstones, which I have yet to properly blend :(

The walls have a different sort of brick, it inst obvious when looking but adds a tiny bit more variation. The taller towers will also have a few different bricks.

Anyway enough rambling, I am very hungry! Her are some pics of the scene as it stands today:


I have a lot planned for this as far as atmospherics go, lighting, fx, flags and seagulls are all still to come.

Any feedback good or bad would be appreciated, I tend to get lazy and leave stuff unfinished if no one notices anything wrong with it.

Some more shots / progress shots up until this point can be seen here:


Thanks for reading!


  • sipher3325
    This is looking great.
  • StormHertz
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    StormHertz polycounter lvl 8
    Is it just me, or a few of your large images didn't fully load before saving? I see like 2 or 3 that are 1/8 picture, 7/8 grey/black.
  • AkiRa
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    AkiRa polycounter lvl 6
    Phew, that looks awesome! Looking forward to the water breakdown!
  • vemadesign
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    vemadesign polycounter lvl 12
    This looks great! thanks for the breakdown. :)
  • underfox
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    underfox polycounter lvl 7
    yea same for me I want to see the water breakdown :P
  • Norron
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    Norron polycounter lvl 11
    Dang that is a super sweet breakdown of those cliffs. never knew you could do that.

    How exactly do you go about using more than one uv channel in one shader anyway?
  • Treboras
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    Treboras polycounter lvl 9
    OH I would not worry about not noticing :D this looks really great, especially the rocks! Love them!
  • Ryan Smith
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    Ryan Smith polycounter lvl 11
    Beautiful method for doing the cliff sides! Bravo, sir. Also, the Z up grass looks great.
  • PhoenixWolf
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    PhoenixWolf polycounter lvl 9
  • System
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    System admin
    this is some pretty great stuff
  • luke
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    luke polycounter lvl 12
    Awesome!! thankyou for posting some info about it, seen your post on waywo a few days ago and hoped you would :) great work on the cliffs
  • locater16
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    locater16 polycounter lvl 8
  • Clark Coots
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    Clark Coots polycounter lvl 10
    looking really nice! love the tiling rock textures. I'm a big fan of rocks.
  • leleuxart
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    leleuxart polycounter lvl 9
    Nice breakdown. Look forward to seeing more, especially the water. :)
  • Froyok
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    Froyok Polycount Sponsor
    Very nice work ! The cliffs looks indeed beautiful. :)
    I'm curious about you castle parts, you have some nice details in the diffuse. Is that a mix of vertex painting and big decals/patterns inside the material to break the tile ?
  • Blaisoid
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    Blaisoid polycounter lvl 7
    wow, this enviro looks awesome!
    rocks are very convincing and i love the monumental feel of wall structures.
  • urgaffel
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    urgaffel polycounter lvl 14
    This looks great already, very interested in how you did the water. Loving the cliffs btw, cool way of getting both macro and micro detail in there. /subscribed
  • divi
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    divi polycounter lvl 12
    i just love stuff with realisticly sized details and completly over the top proportions. looks awesome, subscribed :D
  • Mr Smo
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    Mr Smo polycounter lvl 13
    Thanks for the comments guys! I will get into the water breakdown tonight, it's a big hack :)

    Froyok - Thanks! The castle walls have a texture over the top of the brick work, the brick diffuses themselves are very basic, a few light and a few dark ones here and there :)
  • Froyok
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    Froyok Polycount Sponsor
    Mr Smo wrote: »
    Froyok - Thanks! The castle walls have a texture over the top of the brick work, the brick diffuses themselves are very basic, a few light and a few dark ones here and there :)
    Thanks for the info. Well, even if you say it's simple, it works really well ! :)
  • NickGW
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    NickGW polycounter lvl 7
    This is looking fantastic Mr Smo! Thanks for the breakdown of how you did the cliffs, I had been wondering how you did them when I first saw this in waywo. Have you thought about putting anything else out in the water?
  • Peris
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    Peris polycounter lvl 13
  • fearian
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    fearian Polycount Sponsor
    Dude your lighting! That is mind blowing stuff man, serious inspiration boner right now.

    How well does it hold up at player level? Any plans for shots at a human scale? Probably the only weakness in this atm.
  • tottot
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    tottot polycounter lvl 10
    This is all seriously awesome. The initial approach you used on the rock sculpts, with the displacment maps, look excellent. I see why you went in another direction, but those sculpts turned out great. What approach did you use?
  • lucashug
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    lucashug polycounter lvl 6
    Nice one dude! Cant wait to see it done!
    Your rock texture ROCKKKKKK!!!
  • Hellfire
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    Hellfire polycounter lvl 11
    Holyshit this is awseome!!!
  • iangoold3d
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    iangoold3d polycounter lvl 5
    that is one bad ass cliff :thumbup:
  • toolpaddz
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    toolpaddz polycounter lvl 7
    rock textures are indeed looking great. Since you mentioned vert painted cliffs I assume you did not use world-aligned textures. This means the tileable textures are UV dependant, right? May I ask then how you managed to keep the stripes and crevices of the rocks mostly horizontal although using tileable textures? I never managed to get the UV layout straight enough without incredibly deforming it. Do you have some fancy UV layouting tricks? :D Would you mind showing the UV layout for the tileables?
  • Mr Smo
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    Mr Smo polycounter lvl 13
    Thanks guys! I appreciate the comments!!


    The water shader is based on an idea I had on how to go about getting some nice tessellated waves, this was basically 3-4 heightmaps that were different scales / pan speeds controlled by how dark the output is.

    I used the output of the height maps to mask the white foam for the wave caps which added a bit of realism. When the waves crossed over each other the output got whiter and so the white foam caps came in more.

    This was working pretty well but I ran into a lot of problems that my brain couldn't handle. The result of the tessellation can be seen here
    pretty bad quality video I'm sorry :(.

    This was the base I used for the water in this scene, but instead of going down the tessellation road I used the wave set up on a normal shader.

    After ditching tessellation and keeping the wave setup I worked on the depth blending to pop out the sand bars under the water. As well as depth blending for the shore foam, which has a bumpoffset to put a bit more life into it.

    The waves are passed through a lerp with the alpha being a splotchy low res map that scrolls in the opposite direction to the waves to give it that sort of rolling foam feel, it worked to a degree, mainly in breaking up the solidness of

    The wave caps:


    The reflection is fairly transparent and desaturated then run through the normal map for its distortion. I changed the waves from simple grey scale heightmaps into nice volumed normals through crazybump, this brought the wave caps and

    depth of the wave into line, made a bit more sense.

    The Uv's for the water are bent in and around the geo from the cliffs and the beach / dock etc, again to put a bit more life into it.


    Here's the hack, it's just a bunch of low poly planes on top of the water plane - vert blended to pop in and out:


    Things still to do:

    Impression of rocks / refs / seaweed under the water itself, either through diffuse on water or maybe tiling texture on the sand bed below it.
    Fix shoreline foam! Too blue :(
    Probably lots more.

    I hope this breakdown makes sense, let me know if there anything you guys want a bit more detail on!

    The Cliff uvw:

    faerin: Cheers! I hope to do some up close shot around most of the areas, I think maybe adding a few props, like barrels, cannons, rope and a ton of decals should help alot. and vegetation!

    tottot: Thanks! I ended up taking crazybumps displacement map into zbrush, polishing it a tiny bit, then baking that, and overlaying it with even more crazy bump love from the same tiled ref texture from cgtextures! A lot of back and forth trying to get the bigger shapes to read well.

    toolpaddz: You are right I didn't use world aligned. For unwrapping the uvw I used the normal relax in max. I got very lucky as to how well they came out, there is a lot of pinching here and there but it's hidden in all the noise :)

    Here is a shot of how varied the angles are:
    Hope that helps.

    Thanks for all the feedback guys, I will be updating all this when I can :)!
  • Armageddon
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    Armageddon polycounter lvl 5
    I've been trying to make a water shader like that for months, trying to duplicate the tessellated Arkham City water. Could never get it to work. Amazing work though!
  • cmc444
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    cmc444 polycounter lvl 9
    Freaking awesome lookin stuff. Keep going with the great updates!
  • dissonance
    Mr Smo wrote: »
    Here is a shot of how varied the angles are:
    You're keeping this, right? It adds a whole lot of geologic character to the scene. All that buckling and folding makes it seem (to me) like the area is under siege from the Earth itself.
  • kasru
    Wow looks really amazing! I haven't touched UDK in forever but now I really might want to try it again.
  • Makkon
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    Makkon interpolator
    Wow! Incredible! And your breakdown inspires me, and I want to give this a shot soon.

    You said you generated a heightmap and used that as a base to sculpt in zbrush. Any particular brushes you used? And did you sculpt it in 2.5D or 3D? If 3d, how did you get it to tile?

    You said you didn't use all of those cliff textures. Which ones did you not end up using and why? What made you decide to use the ones you did?

    How did you set up your shader to paint the tiling rocks? Are they all on one image, or are they separate texture files? If they're the same texture, what do some of your settings look like that helped you eliminate texture seams?

    The only critique that I have for you is on the large wall, the partial pilaster things along the length of the wall has some funky UVs that I can see in some of your archive shots. It looks good from a distance, and I don't expect the player to really ever get that close, but it may be worth fixing that eventually.

    Otherwise this is utter perfection!
  • Mr Smo
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    Mr Smo polycounter lvl 13
    I have been working away over the weekend but no much difference to show yet.

    dissonance: I will defiantly keep it!

    Makkon: Thanks! yeah you are right the uvw's are lazy on the wall :(, I will definitely fix that up when I go back to the wall. Here is a little more breakdown for the tiled textures on the cliff itself:

    I did this in 3d on a basic plane, dynameshing as I went, flipping between perspective and ...not, i used orbs racks brush alot, trim dynamic and clay with a noisey alpha. All with the curve setting in the brushes options set to 2 so it tiles as I sculpt, then I would export that, bake the center part in max and offset it in photoshop, fix any tiling issues there may be. Bit of a redundant way but I am comfortable with it so it works for me. :)

    I experimented, switching them out for others and finally ended up with these:


    Their shapes read the best on the cliff.

    It's 1 diffuse, rgba - each channel being a greyscale diffuse and then 4 normal maps that go with each diffuse., then over the top is the macro normal map from zbrush with its alpha channel housing the edge highlights to slap over the diffuse. colour for rocks comes from another small tiled texture, it having the gradient in its alpha to mask out the z-up grass closer to the base of the cliff.

    I will upload the shader for this at some point, when I have finished this at the very latest!

    Thank for checking it out :)
  • OccultMonk
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    OccultMonk interpolator
    I really like the feel and the atmosphere of the level! The rock formations and the sea shader are especially nice. Could you maybe post a few screenshots of the water shader? How did you create the large corner stones on the buildings? (Maybe with a Second UVW and Mask?).
  • Mr Smo
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    Mr Smo polycounter lvl 13
    Thanks! The corner stones are decals overlayed onto the edge of the bricks, it's a very temperamental solution as it behaves strangely when seen at certain distances, I may go back and mesh it into the actual castle itself. I didn't think of doing those in the way you mentioned.. wish I did now !

    I took a short video of the ocean shader and will post pics of the shader / upload it once I have cleaned it up at the end of this project :)

    [ame=" sea defense - water_01 - YouTube[/ame]
  • Mellon3D
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    Mellon3D polycounter lvl 8
    Mr Smo wrote: »
    Thanks! The corner stones are decals overlayed onto the edge of the bricks, it's a very temperamental solution as it behaves strangely when seen at certain distances, I may go back and mesh it into the actual castle itself. I didn't think of doing those in the way you mentioned.. wish I did now !

    I took a short video of the ocean shader and will post pics of the shader / upload it once I have cleaned it up at the end of this project :)

    UDK sea defense - water_01 - YouTube
    Man it's AMAZING!!
  • dissonance
    This is coming along nicely!
  • toolpaddz
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    toolpaddz polycounter lvl 7
    I just realized you were the guy with the midgard environment. I loved that clip on youtube. One of my all time UDK environment favs! So no surprise you rock this one as well.
    I'm really excited for your progress!
  • Mr Smo
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    Mr Smo polycounter lvl 13
    Cheers guys! and thanks toolpadz I am glad you liked it :)!

    Progress has been slow this last week / weekend. Here are some shots of it's current state:




    I have been playing with the sky, lighting and look up table. I'm not too sure if I have gone too far with the levels of everything. Any suggestions would be welcome!
  • Bolt
    This is so impressive, I'd love to give you critique but everything is looking perfect already.. Perhaps I can suggest a type of low hanging fog or mist above the water or in the distance. Currently in the top image of your last post, the farthest tower still looks too saturated and sharp to me.
  • serriffe
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    serriffe polycounter lvl 8
    this is awesome--inspiring work man- what's your map size for the fort walls?
  • shinobix
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    shinobix polycounter lvl 14
    Damn dude! This is looking fantastic!
  • Shyralon
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    Shyralon polycounter lvl 9
    Looks really awesome, especially the cliffs :D
  • MercurialForge
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    MercurialForge polycounter lvl 7
    This is looking really amazing. I love the brick texture you used for the castles battlements. The corner stones, foundation rocks and bricks really make the wall that much more interesting. You can see some blending between the foundation rocks and main bricks but it looks great from a distance.
  • Mr Smo
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    Mr Smo polycounter lvl 13
    Thanks guys!

    serriffe - its a mix of 2 tileable 512*diffuse/normals and 1 512 overlay for all the dripping details. I will scale the tieables down to 256 at some point!

    Here are some updates, I have strayed even further from the original concept - adding an elevator for a king / nobles to escape through if they need to. As well as some variants to the towers and a lot more block outs. All of this is based on a paint over a friend did for me (much love seany bighams):

    paint over:

    block outs:

    Please let me know if I have gone overboard as I often tend too!

  • curzed
    i like the opposite angles the most, 3rd image especially. I would totally keep that composition, looks incredible!
  • AlanSMitchell
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    AlanSMitchell polycounter lvl 11
    Keep em coming thanks for the breakdowns as well!
  • ae.
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    ae. polycounter lvl 12
    awesome job man, you really need to pimp this stuff to me more often!!!! we sit like 5 desks away from eachother :P
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