TOMB RAIDER Environment Art : Rogelio Olguin

Offline / Send Message
rogelio greentooth
Little background story (keeping it short I hope)

I worked as Level Designer at Epic Game on UT2004, than went to school for a while, after that was done, I eventually got to Crystal Dynamics working on TR for 2 years. My Beautiful wife Sharlene Lin got a job down at a vfx company in LA/Santa Monica, lived separate for a year while at Crystal Dynamics to finish up TR. Started applying down at LA studios 3-4 months before the game reached a clear finality. The company I applied to was Naughty Dog I did the Texture artist test while I was in mid crunch, sleeping perhaps 2-3 hrs during the test at midnight or early mornings for 3-4 weeks I remember. It all went pretty well and I am honored I was picked up at Naughty Dog as a Env Texture/Shader Artist, and at the same time I was sad to leave a bunch of my closest friends and colleagues I have had the pleasure of working with at Crystal Dynamics.

The group I worked with in Crystal Dynamics was the Hub team. The core Art consisted of Patrick Sirk, Nicole Tan, and myself. The team either got smaller or larger depending on the time but these were the constants in that team. The team also consisted of four main level designers all different specializations. Ray Yeomans (Technical), Ian Miller (Layout), Nick Eberle (Systems), and Romulo Rodriguez (Combat)

I work on many areas in the game these are the main areas I worked on though, Village Hub, Scavenger Hub, Beach Hub, and Chasm Bridge. Did many more textures and materials than the ones shown here these are just the ones I felt were good to show in this way, others were done via shader and layering of normals and textures to get a surface look... those textures are not very interesting alone. Environment artist that worked side by side with me on these are Patrick Sirk (SR), Nicole Tan, Caleb Strauss, Jericho Green (SR), Osvaldo Villa, and Armando Calpena (SR). We did a good deal of work together and it was loads of fun. Artist in Crystal Dynamics are responsible for Environment Modeling, Lighting, Textures, and Shading; I was involved with all aspects at different times even paper map Designs for Scavenger hub and Beach hub.

Ill post more just have lots of files to go through. Also Since I kind of got out in a rush and moved down to LA I was not able to collect some of my Zbrush files so I really do not have any of those...sniff... Ill see if I can find some, Later ill show what I worked on ND TLOU but that is another thread and later later on.

On to the art





Looking back at some of the textures from the game I am shocked of how meh some of them are that I made. I have learned so much since first being at Crystal and in the past few months here at NaughtyDog.




  • leleuxart
    Offline / Send Message
    leleuxart polycounter lvl 7
    Nice work! I've yet to get the game, but everything I've seen looks great.

    How were the textures done? ZBrush? Photo? A mix? The wood and stone ones are really nice.

    Also, congrats on the ND job! :thumbup:
  • MichaelElphick
    I just started playing through TR yesterday, the environments are fantastic, are your textures sculpted in Zbrush and then assembled within Zbrush and then made tillable similar to Tate Mosesians technique?


    Fantastic work!, would love to see the Zbrush files if you can find them!
  • Synyster
    Offline / Send Message
    Synyster polycounter lvl 6
    Awesome work man! I really loved the environments of tomb raider! This is great inspiration! :) I can't wait to see what else you post.
  • rogelio
    Offline / Send Message
    rogelio greentooth
    Thanks guys :) as for the textures it is random as hell. I admit to use crazybump, Ndo, zbrush, maya, and x-normal(baking) I was being pretty experimental at times also and trying to do alot of stuff using 3D shaders in Maya rendered out using displacement. The lower Cobblestone texture was mostly procedural textures on roundish lumps of stone placed randomly on the grid in maya than the shader would displace and get all those cracks and deformations than baked out all the passes in maya and put it all together in photoshop. We did not have a whole lot of time to make textures in this game, We relied heavily on mixing textures together to get a surface quality vs putting all the info into a few textures. The best way would be a process like Naughty Dog where you have dedicated texture artist to really sculpt out the fine details and express depth and form from the modeled shapes the Environment artist does. I did see Tate's and Beh's a bit later in the process of Tomb Raider and it helped to clean up my workflow a good bit. I wish we had more time to zbrush. But every artist at Crystal was all roles, we were all responsible for Modeling, texturing, Lighting, and even Scripting to some extent. The whole Envio art team at the peak was 14 artists. I would say this team was the most versatile team I have been on. ND has far more Artists... not even sure how many I would have to really do a head count :D

    Later ill see if I can post the ND art test since I mentioned it, ill make a general wip or sketchbook style thread for my stuff soonish also.

    Oh forgot this shot :) I had loads of fun building this one room with all the bodies. I actually made the dynamic guys that are hanging too :)

  • Boyo
    Offline / Send Message
    Boyo polycounter lvl 8
    Amazing work! Thanks for sharing!

    There's so much style in this, environment are epic, with a great feel of wilderness and hugeness.

    I'd love to see your ND art test, and more "behind the scene" stuff!!
  • teaandcigarettes
    Offline / Send Message
    teaandcigarettes polycounter lvl 10
    Awesome work! I haven't picked up the game yet, but from what I'm hearing it is really good and different to what I was originally expecting. Can't wait to explore these locations :)
  • WarrenM
    Offline / Send Message
    WarrenM Polycount Sponsor
    Congrats, Rogelio! I finished this game up last week and loved every second of it. I think I wore out my screen shot button...
  • travisdreams
    Offline / Send Message
    travisdreams polycounter lvl 6
    I justs recently finished this game and goodness , i wish i was able to play this game in the maximum resolution. It was like every corner i turned was a beautiful scenery :) Thanks for contributing this, these are very inspiring & motivational!
  • jovcem
    Offline / Send Message
    jovcem polycounter lvl 6
    There were some parts of the game where I would just stop and look at the enviroment, nice job :)
  • RogelioD
    Offline / Send Message
    RogelioD Polycount Sponsor
    This all looks freakin awesome!

    oh and btw nice name xD

    This is one instance where I wouldn't mind getting confused for someone else =P
  • CandyStripes05
    Offline / Send Message
    CandyStripes05 polycounter lvl 8
    they still made you test???? man stuff is unreal

    edit: nvm, mised the "3-4 months before the game reached a clear" part :P
  • luge
    Offline / Send Message
    luge polycounter lvl 4
    this is just unreal how good it is. truly fantastic work. this may sound creepy, but i would love to just sit and watch you work, i think it would be such an amazing learning experience.
  • rogelio
    Offline / Send Message
    rogelio greentooth
    Boyo: Thanks yep will ask soon.

    WarrenM: Thanks, I did too. I actually never saw this game on a pc version till I downloaded it on my pc here. I was actually pretty surprised how it turned out the graphics we did were actually pretty expandable for higher res stuff. Now that I think about it I should have pushed to know more about pc conversion and ask for reverse lods, lods that never appear on console but only on pc, to really give more detail to mountain peaks and such, but it is out nothing can be done now. :)

    travisdreams: We just kept trying to get as much detail as possible. Heavy use of lods in here, and many tricks under the table to get huge vistas with little cost.

    jovcem: Everyone worked really hard. The people at Crystal are really passionate.

    RogelioD: Wow I thought my name was rare, Thanks :)

    Here is how I did the cobble stone normals out of Maya using procedural noise. below is the written explanation.


    This was a test I did at home since I was trying to find fast solutions of acquiring normals. Later on someone saw this texture at work and wanted to use it and it got in.

    1-First I modeled all the rocks and placed them so they would tile perfectly on a grid (alike Tate method but in Maya for reference)

    2-I setup a camera for a top view with a 2048x2048 pixle resolution and made sure to have the camera resolution gate on to know where to take the snap shot render.

    3-before doing the shaders I setup mentalray passes to store a normal pass that is camera based. below is the pass settings. make sure to doc it in associated passes. Plenty of tutorials can explain other passes too depth passes for height maps and all sorts of nifty things. (I found a limitation for the normal pass though you can not use normals or bump texture and have the normals react into the normal pass it will just show geo whatever it is without detail coming from the texture normals, I tried this and I was like damn it to hell!!! If anyone figures it out tell me I tried many things to get it work)


    4- make sure to set your rendering settings to production or my fav fine trace.

    5- I usually do a render to test it out and than see if the pass worked you can load your pass here in your render view window, it loads it and you can see how it looks.


    6- Now that I know the setup is working I move on to building my shader. The shader used for this is a simple displacement shader I mixed a stucco 3d texture and volume noise. This is where it becomes tricky to explain since once you have it setup it is just experimental. Move settings around on both your noise modifiers to get random effects. It is trial and error. You will get some horrible ugly stuff and some random broken stuff and sometimes no effects. this is where I usually tell people go to a displacement tutorial instead of trying to learn it from me... it is simple but also lots of small dials that can affect things.

    7- I get the effect I want and I make all my passes in maya and export to photoshop. The awesome part of this is that it is reusable. Say I want to make a different stone texture I just change the models up and place my displacement shader and bam brand new texture.

    -Natural random look
    -Can save time if done well
    -bake super sharp passes in maya with far less time than x-normal or any bakers... your not baking, your rendering your passes.
    -Easier to tile your textures if done correctly

    -Too Random
    -Fiddling around too much
    -Can not get exactly what you want at times
    -Some passes that you would get in zbrush are hard to get here since you might actually need to build a light rig making the time needed to get passes done far too annoying and might actually make it around the same speed of just doing in zbrush. (that is why these are kind of like material rigs you build them and re-use)
    -Lose a bit of the artistic hand ( in this case that is what I wanted I hate seeing the trim dynamic tool overused on stone in general looks awesome but it is a tool in zbrush that keeps being abused)

    ---- here is a thought how about combined these ---

    after your done with your displacement you can actually bake out the displacement into your mesh via a Maya tool than you export your high res geo into zbrush and give it that extra love it might need.

    Hope this is helpful.

    Again I wanted to show a method I used in some textures. I pretty much combine stuff to get the results as quick as possible. I like to experiment. I even did the bean test to get a better understanding of making normals. The normal I did based on real photographs on this actually turned out decent I was all Woohooo about it. I also replicated this test using maya lights on geo... that was super hacky but it still looked like a legit normal and worked.

    time to sleep now :)
  • ToffeeApple
    Offline / Send Message
    ToffeeApple polycounter lvl 7
    Brilliant method for the cobblestone Rogelio - I was very excited about this! Can't wait to try it out so thanks for making that tutorial. Congrats on all the great work you have done.
  • Anty
    Offline / Send Message
    Anty polycounter lvl 12
    I played the game, it's a good game that gave me great fillings; with amazing graphics and a good control. I love so much the environment, I took over 200 screenshots in game :). I am very interested in how you done the cliffs and the big rocks and what techniques you used.
    Have you used UDK for this game?
    Congratulations for the amazing work!
  • rogelio
    Offline / Send Message
    rogelio greentooth
    ToffeApple: Thanks definitely show me what you come up with

    Anty: Thanks. We are using a in house engine the editor is alike UDK I would say better in some ways. As for the cliffs do you mean how I made the texture? or how we built the mountain scape. For mountains modeling it was just poly modeling mostly done in maya, To speed up the process we used many modular mountain shapes than we would collect them into one unique mesh if it needed edits. As for the texture the rock textures we made are made up many tools. Mainly zbrush and Crazybump. No real secret here just sculpting and editing to get the right shapes.
  • Anty
    Offline / Send Message
    Anty polycounter lvl 12
  • JamieRIOT
    Offline / Send Message
    JamieRIOT polycounter lvl 6
    Really beautiful work from yourself and the rest of the CD team. I am yet to play Tomb Raider (slightly gutted I can't play the high-res PC version), but from all the parts I have seen so far, it looks great. Good luck with the new job at ND! :)
  • MM
    Offline / Send Message
    MM polycounter lvl 13
    congrats on this game. lovely work!

    i really enjoyed playing this!
  • akirasan88
    congratz on new job, I also really enjoyed the new Tomb raider, you guys did an amazing job!
  • dtschultz
    Offline / Send Message
    dtschultz polycounter lvl 12
    Excellent work, rogelio! I loved this game and I was truly impressed by how fantastic this game looked. Your textures looked brilliant in game, and that's what matters. Congrats on the new job!
  • rogelio
    Offline / Send Message
    rogelio greentooth
    JamieRIOT: Thanks, the pc version has some issues having to do with lighting that the xbox does not have we have something called dark lights and on pc those are just not working making some areas brighter than we wanted. So imo your not losing too much.

    akirasan88: Thanks it was a lot of fun working on this game.

    dtschultz: Thanks, I wish we could of spent more time on the textures but overall for what we need to get done I am very proud of the results.

    Soon ill post some more stuff just crunching on this end is taking time away, but I will post more and if anyone has a question on something or wants a step by step of a process let me know ill put some time in showing some of the process I went through.

    So open door to everyone to pick my mind if you guys want :)
  • Kevin Johnstone
    Offline / Send Message
    Kevin Johnstone polycounter lvl 15
    Thanks for Tombraider. I loved it, it was the first game I cared enough to complete in months and rebooted some of my passion for games that had been lost.

    I really enjoyed the setting, the worth of exploring the environment, the steady drip feed of story and upgrades. It was a brilliant experience for me and trumped games like Halo4 and Bioshock Infinite for example, which while being great experiences and incredibly high quality games, just didnt inspire me to care about their world and fiction.

    I haven't enjoyed a games environment this much since Dead Space 2.
  • LuCh!
    Offline / Send Message
    LuCh! polycounter lvl 5
    looks awesome!
    i have yet to play the came but I saw some footage of it and it looks even better when everything is in motion!
    btw, is that first one a screenshot aswell? cause it looks like a painting, and thta's a compliment!
    and if I hade to choose a favroutie, the torri gate with the stairs leading up to it looks amazing, love it!
    thanks for charing and the inspiration! ;)
    can't wait to see your ND work
  • joeriv
    Offline / Send Message
    joeriv polycounter lvl 7
    Thanks for Tombraider. I loved it, it was the first game I cared enough to complete in months


    There aren't many games that keep me so interested that I want to finish it, and with tomb raider, if I would have had the time, I would probably have finished it in one sitting.

    And a lot of time I just had to stop and just stare at the environments ^^
  • Iciban
    Offline / Send Message
    Iciban polycounter lvl 8
    Amazing art! thanks for sharing your workflow.
    Game is just sitting at my home computer. Need to find some time to play it
  • rogelio
    Offline / Send Message
    rogelio greentooth
    Kevin Johnstone: Thanks man really coming from you is awesome :) I have yet to play Bioshock. I think as a whole the Environment Art team in Crystal had wanderlust we really wanted people to enjoy going through and exploring places. I also feel that the not so polished feel of this game made it more of the individual passions of the artists came through instead of a game being so highly polished that it just has one feel all throughout if you get what I mean.

    LuCh!: I agree this game really thrives in motion we paid a lot of attention in dynamic and general movement in the world, Some areas like the Village hub Night shine way more when your actually playing it. The lightning/light rig that was made was amazingly well thought out and lent it self for optimizations as well. Glad you like the Torri gate scene that is one the art sets to get the feel for the rest of the level when it came to organics and human made structures mixing together, that was put together in a day to get a look and workflow for the rest of the level.

    joeriv: Thanks that is a huge compliment to the team :) Few games do that to me now. The few that I can say have done that is Witcher 2 , RDR, and Arkam (both). Those were the game I personally got a lot of inspiration from when doing designs or Envios for TR.

    Iciban: Hope you have fun :) Enjoy :)
  • cmtanko
    Offline / Send Message
    cmtanko polycounter lvl 7
    Awesome stuffs,
    [Time to play Tomb Raider now and enjoy the environment and the gameplay...]

    Care to share some WIPs if you have ? Env. without textures or lightings ... Anything, thats not in-game shots ....
    Would love to see more of them.... HUNGRY FOR MORE !!!!
  • Blaisoid
    Offline / Send Message
    Blaisoid polycounter lvl 7

    CGTextures spotted :)
    Not that it's a bad thing, but i was always curious if stuff from that site gets used in AAA games.

    nice explaination of stone floor process. i've been experimenting with noise in Max as a way to avoid zbrush, my results were nowhere as nice as yours though.
  • rogelio
    Offline / Send Message
    rogelio greentooth
    cmtanko: Thanks :) and yep look down below. This is actually the only level I have most of the geo from... I got lucky and the engine embedded it on a terrain file by mistake it does that sometimes it is maya bloat luckily when exported into the engine it does not take the stuff imported that does not have the proper tags applied.

    Blaisoid: Nice find :) yep we used cg-textures pretty extensively in some cases we only had 30mins per texture, the art team was so small. Most AAA studios have around 30-40 plus envio artists we only had 14 at the most :| I did not mind though :) that means a lot of work came from each artist.

    Here are some Clay renders of Chasm Bridge. Some parts are no in this scene due to them being objects. Like the tower top was an object that would eventually be destroyed that is why it is missing. Jericho Green and I were responsible for this level. Towards the end some other envio artists touched it, but it was almost left the same, 90% of Jericho and my work was retained.

    Also do not be fooled this is all lod 0 stuff. From far away most of those wood panels would lod drastically. All these buildings were done with Lego style modular kits.

    This was one of the first levels in the game to make it practically to gold well before any other level in the game. This level was pretty much gold visuals wise for like 1 yr and half or more.



    Wireframe shots from Chasm Bridge. The actual geo was not all triangulated like this when made, this how the engine spits it out.


    This is just the mountains and terrain. I did most of the geo of the terrain for this level re-topo in zbrush. When I got assigned to this level it had rough super dense poly mountain cliff side I ended up taking that into zbrush re-sculpting and doing a re-topo to keep detail where it needed it. I did a lot of hand maya sculpting at the end to get specific forms near main entry points also.

  • c22dunbar
    So You assembled the level in the editor, imported the whole thing into maya and baked light using mr?
  • rogelio
    Offline / Send Message
    rogelio greentooth
    c22dunbar: Lighting, assembly, scripting, and other stuff is done in the editor very similar to how it is done in udk. Lighting is not baked it is all realtime lights. I just did this quickly to add some lighting to these shots for presentation here. I do not work at Crystal Dynamics anymore so I can not really show the engine wire-frames or lighting screengrabs.
  • cmtanko
    Offline / Send Message
    cmtanko polycounter lvl 7
    You are the awesome, thanks alot... This would be of great reference if make this kind of environment....
    1 question: Do you make the terrain,props and assemble first in Maya then (make modullar)export it in the engine ? or just make a props separately then assemble in the engine to test ?? for eg. those wooden frames+terrain+stairs ...
  • jermaineb
    Offline / Send Message
    jermaineb polycounter lvl 8
    holy f man.
    so great. cant wait to see it textured and some atmospheric lighting :D
  • JoshuaMorrisonInk
    This is amazing, thank you for taking the time to share. It's really awesome to see even just a little bit of your work flow.
  • igi
    Offline / Send Message
    igi polycounter lvl 11
    hey i know your name from some cool custom ut2004 maps back in time.That TR scenes looking very very nice,great work.Looks like the best way to approach that kind of environment,and thanks for the extensive technical breakdown too!
  • raul
    Offline / Send Message
    raul polycounter lvl 10
    So inspiring! Great work! :)
  • nathdevlin
    Offline / Send Message
    nathdevlin polycounter lvl 8
    Stunning environments, clever and sensible use of polys. Clean meshes and overall detailed with care ....

    Sniff sniff there's a tear in my eye ...

    I can't wait to play this.
  • nksilver5
    Offline / Send Message
    nksilver5 polycounter lvl 5
    I think something died inside of me...

    Anyway, loved the game ( maybe a litle too easy, go harder on the next one ! ), and absolutely love the art.

    As an env student, this is pure gold !
  • malcolm
    Offline / Send Message
    malcolm Polycount Sponsor
    rogelio, wow, amazing work this game looked so good on pc (have not seen xbox360 version). I was really inspired by the environment work, I can't believe how much detail there is in the textures and geometry. Really loved the whole package art and game play, I 100%ed the game couldn't put it down. Excellent work!

    I was blown away when I realized this game was fully real time lit, loved the lighting quality. I'm so happy to see we are entering an era without light maps and overnight bakes.
  • Mouhsine Adnani
    Offline / Send Message
    Mouhsine Adnani polycounter lvl 6
    that is some really inspiring work !
    thank you for sharing
  • rogelio
    Offline / Send Message
    rogelio greentooth
    Just wanted to pop and say thank you all for the comments been really busy around here. Again just wanted to pop and say thank you and soon ill update with some more stuff.

    igi- Yep I was the creator of many user maps and a few maps on UT2004. Glad my name still rings a bell in those places :) Loved the UT community that is what drove me further.

    malcolm- yep this was one of the hardest challenges since all meshes had to be optimized with that in mind. A lot of trickery to get levels to run at crisp 30 with fully dynamic lighting.
    Offline / Send Message
    NAIMA polycounter lvl 10
    I was surprised by this game , its an awesome reboot of the series and I loved the landscape and environment art done ... everything is great ... incredibly detailed, awesome ...

    I would have only liked to see more variations in the environments , I mean like other places not just that Island but , it was indeed great ...
  • Eclypse
    Offline / Send Message
    Eclypse polycounter lvl 7
    Very inspiring works! I've never been a big fan of Tomb Raider until the reboot, the game rocks! Thanks for posting this.

    Are the dense geometry used for vertex blending?
  • Makkon
    Offline / Send Message
    Makkon interpolator
    Just finished the game last night. By far I love the battle heading toward the monastery, the wind and the colors and the lighting were so perfect. Everything played into that scene so well.

    And the layers and layers of history and culture was communicated so well in the game. I felt like this could have been a real island. I loved it to pieces!
  • Dylan Brady
    Offline / Send Message
    Dylan Brady polycounter lvl 8
    Man this thread is amazing. hearing your story of being separated from your wife and working on the ND test while at Crystal D has really inspired me.
    Im loveing Tomb Raider so far and its obvious from playing it that some read blood sweat and tears went into it.

    Just wanted to post this before alt-tabbing back into Tomb Raider :P
  • jsargent
    Offline / Send Message
    jsargent polycounter lvl 5
    Just finished this game, the visuals are what had me hooked the most, really gorgeous stuff well done everyone in the team :)
  • JoshVanZuylen
    Offline / Send Message
    JoshVanZuylen polycounter lvl 5
    Hey mate, first of all awesome work. Your probably getting sick of hearing that haha! May I ask the percentage of assets you created for the latest images you posted and how long you spent on it? If that's personal I understand I just wanted to know because I'm starting my first really big environment for a game soon and want a base line I guess.... Thanks mate!
  • abhishek soni
    Awesome work!
    I really enjoyed playing this!
  • Psychotic_Mike
    Offline / Send Message
    Psychotic_Mike polycounter lvl 7
    holy moses!!! I played the game but having a look from behind the scenes really opened my eyes!!!! Your stuff is amazing!!!!!!!!!!
Sign In or Register to comment.