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UE4 - The Wayback Institute.




Evening all!

So I have been working in the last few months to try and push myself outside of my comfort zone and try some different style scenes. I have always shied away from doing Sci-Fi stuff so to speak, so I decided I would delve into this and take the opportunity to learn UE4 at the same time.

At the time I was working on some gothic architecture, so I tried to push that theme into a Sci-Fi setting (not sure if that has been lost on the way..but at-least the arches echo those of a church's buttress)

I wanted to create a space that would house a device, loosely based on a similar concept to the website "The Way-back Machine" (http://archive.org/web/) an archive of the internet, that allows you to take a look back in time at how the internet looked years ago. This machine, housed in a museum of the future, would bring back relics of significance from the past into the present by opening a portal to the past, all whilst keeping the past in tact.

The awesomely talented Al Crutchley took my initial block-out and did a few awesome thumbnails with some of his own ideas in them.

From here I decided that after doing an extensive block-out, I would take one of the most unexplained areas and try and resolve it. In doing so I was able to create my master shaders and textures which I could hopefully propagate throughout the rest of the scene. I wanted to design each element, something that I don't have a fantastic amount of experience of doing.

Anyway, enough talking.. It's super WIP atm, mostly just bakes and some rough textures in areas.


Cheers for looking! Any C&C is, as ever appreciated. I will try and keep this updated as frequently as possible.



  • Chaos19
    Honestly took my breath away. Top quality work I like it a lot.
  • Quack!
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    Quack! polycounter lvl 13
    Ohhh! Nice start, knowing the quality of work you put out, I can't wait to see this evolve.
  • aajohnny
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    aajohnny polycounter lvl 9
    Digging the idea dud, good job so far, I like everybody else look forward to the updates.
  • AlexCatMasterSupreme
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    AlexCatMasterSupreme interpolator
    I think overall it's nice and the presentation is nice but it could look a bit more functional, maybe make the paneling and such seem more functional instead of having just a bolt in each corner.
    Another thing that could look cool and add some more depth and interest is having a sublte inset before where the glow on the floor is and variying the line width on the glow stips, maybe the diagonal edges are thinner and the straight ones stay that thick.

    I like the angular parts from to the wall in the floor trim for sure.

    I know it's wip I'd just try and add a tad more functionality into your details and panels and such and avoid a lot of those overused ones. Obviously looking nice ofc.
  • JamesMeader
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    JamesMeader polycounter lvl 7
    Looking good dude, cool that you're branching out to different stuff.
  • Grimmstrom
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    Grimmstrom polycounter lvl 7
    Nice start Scott, looking forward to seeing how this progresses and it's good to see you tackle something out of your comfort zone. Consider me subscribed.
  • RogelioD
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    RogelioD Polycount Sponsor
    Sub'd! Can't wait to see this come together. As far as C&C goes, nothing really jumps out at me- looking really nice so far. Keep up the awesome work!
  • RobeOmega
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    RobeOmega polycounter lvl 7
  • DInusty
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    DInusty polycounter lvl 13
    Ya you posted! Looking forward to more
  • Bruno Afonseca
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    Bruno Afonseca Polycount Sponsor
    Classy :) Looking forward to seeing your progress!
  • CreativeHD
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    CreativeHD polycounter lvl 6
    Awesome can't wait to see the progress!
  • scotthomer
    @Chaos, @Quack!, @aajohhny(John), @JamesMeader, @Grimmstrom(Neil), @RogelioD, @RobeoMega, @Frozan(Jeremy), @Fonfa + @CreativeHD - Thank you guys! Its always abit of a lurch getting through the inital stages of a project, especially using a new engine (to me atleast) but im committed now, so hopefully ill be able to keep posting updates as and when I get them.

    I think the plan going forward is to fix up some of the issues ive got in this walkway area, polish it to near final quality and then begin to develop the additional modular pieces based on this. I don't fancy doing the whole "backwards and forwards" of discovering I have made a mistake on 1 part and having to alter tonnes of modular sections to react to it.

    It's all good fun though, It's great to be doing some Environment stuff at home again. I cant recommend my Greg Amato's tools more: http://www.polycount.com/forum/showthread.php?p=2062486 for easy exporting from max, especially if you're used to the Cryengine way of working.

    @AlexCatMasterSupreme - Cheers for the feedback! Ill see what I can do, I really like the idea of varying the line width of the glows in particular, Ill see if I can implement that tonight. That same motif is used quite frequently in Halo, to great effect:


    Thank you folks for the comments and feedback! Fingers crossed ill be able to keep up the pace now that E3 is out of the way :D

  • Harbinger
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    Harbinger polycounter lvl 8
    Love the start of this so far, some great forms going on that wall! One nitpick is the light strip in the floor. As a design element it's really cool, but kind of odd they're protecting that wood floor with a glass surface but they cut it all up to install a light strip. Depends on the direction you want to take it, but maybe you could edge light the wood almost like it's in a display case. Might be some opportunity to pull out some surface normal details that way too.
  • scotthomer
    How did I miss your post Harbinger? Sorry dude! I totally get where you're coming from and I actually have spent some time making a bunch of floor patterns/variations that I will hopefully be able to post up over the weekend, so I can get some opinions on what works best etc. Really great feedback that noone else picked up on so cheers! (Ps. I loved Singularity..jus' saying.)

    A quick update, I have spent the last couple of weeks reworking some of the bakes and going through one by and one and doing a first pass on the textures/specular maps so that I can polish them off once I have made the rest of the scene. I have also been putting together all of the modular sets, pipes, cables, concrete panels etc, basically a solid foundation for the rest of the scene. Im abit more confident in the closeup fidelity, as before some of the areas (particularly the concrete panels) looked pretty ropey up close due to generally trying to map them in a backwards fashion that UE4 didn't really like.


    I will hopefully be able to do a nice big update this weekend with the feedback I have received over the last couple of weeks included.

  • radiancef0rge
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    radiancef0rge Polycount Sponsor
    love the idea, love the wip.
  • kernersvillan
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    kernersvillan polycounter lvl 9
    Looking great so far Scott. Cant wait to see the update!
  • deohboeh
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    deohboeh polycounter lvl 5
    Woah! Bellissimo! Amazing! I Absolutely can't wait to see what's next!
  • leleuxart
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    leleuxart polycounter lvl 8
    dis gon be gud.

    Concept looks great. Looking forward to seeing more models. Miss CRYENGINE yet? :poly124:
  • scotthomer
    @RadienceF0rge - Thank you! Fingers crossed it all comes together and I can do the idea justice!

    @KErnersvillan (Josh) - Thank you dude! Im loving UE4 so far, really great set of tools that compliment doing this large scale stuff perfectly.

    @Deohbeoh - thank you! Well if you scroll down I've got some updates :D

    @Leleuxart - Ahaha your Avatar never ceases to make me smile..thank you man! Erm, well I still use Cryengine at work all of the time of course, they're both really powerful engines with alot of great features. I think the good thing is that in learning both I have realized that alot of the functions at the core of most games engines share the same techniques, I haven't found it a massive leap to adjust to a different work flow because at their core the skills are more of less the same!

    - Updates!

    So I have actually began to construct the environment now, creating modular pieces as I go. There walls and ceiling are more or less "there" minus texture polish, but the center of the room and the exhibit are very WIP, (the Liberty Head is actually from Turbosquid so..that will change!)

    Anyway, less talky, more pictures:
  • Stockwell
    You said more pictures Scott :( that's only one haha! It looks slick though, with the whole middle of the comp wip, i can still see a very nice quality finished product just by how my eye moves and the level of detail we have on the outside of the shot. It's some sweet work that is for sure.

    What are you going to do for the final lighting? Are we seeing it more or less right now, or will you adjust closer to your concept?

    Out of pure curiosity too, who's head are you going to put in the middle? :)
  • oxygencube
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    oxygencube polycounter lvl 8
    Looking great man! Would love some wires and flats when you get a chance. :)
  • beefaroni
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    beefaroni sublime tool
    Hmm looking cool so far, interested to see where this goes.
  • KennyTies
    Dude your texture definition is great. I would appreciate it if you posted some of your texture flats.
  • beefaroni
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    beefaroni sublime tool
    Seeing as a lot of your work is in Cryengine, would you mind commenting on what you think of UE4 in comparison as the project develops?
  • scotthomer
    Evening folks! Thank you for the comments dudes, I really appreciate the feedback!

    @Stockwell - Cheers dude! I have pushed the lighting even more over the weekend, hopefully its slightly more atmospheric than before. Going forward I am going to push more atmospherics effects into the scene (fog..dust..dripping water..smoke..the works) once I learn the system. I decided to go for the Statue of Liberty after all, simply because the head is so recognisable, and the silhouette is so strong, even when it's digitized/distorted.

    @Oxygencube - Thank you dude! I promise ill do a full breakdown of the scene when I'm done with it, everything is fairly low poly, but there a few bugs here and there, and some optimizations to be made first (ie..let me hide all of my mistakes..!)

    @Beeferoni - Hey Beeferoni, they are both fantastic engines! I can't really comment on the pros and cons of each, but I really enjoy using them both. They both exercise very similar art skills, but the technical side is slightly different, which I have found to be a great learning experience. (I actually travelled to a local university to sit a class with them to try and catch up!) Hopefully at the end of the project I can go through and break down the project and maybe even reflect on the process.

    @Kenny Ties - Thank you so much dude! I promise, ill post some flats as soon as they're "done", they're unfinished in places so they could definitely some TLC before I start posting flats.


    So I have spent the weekend working on both blocking out the base, and working on the focal point of the scene. I sculpted the Statue of Liberty's head, and then explored the idea of converting the head into Point-Cloud data. After baking the sculpt out, I created a shader to blend the 'clean' statue head, with another shader that gave the look of a point cloud. This uses a Camera Depth node in Ue4, so the closer to the exhibit you get, the less obstructed it is, the further away..the less obstructed it appears.

    Anyway, enough typing..


  • ClusterOne
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    ClusterOne polycounter lvl 4
    Amazing as usual. Your work is a huge inspiration for me! The only real critique I have is the point cloud data effect looks really busy in that still--but I'm sure it looks a lot better in the engine where you can move around and see the fading and strengthening of the effect.

    Keep it up. Can't wait to see more!
  • whw
    Cool, you've upped the ambient (Mentioned that in my PM to you via Linkedin :)

    I would suggest looking at the head again, the face is more full with the nose more angular and tipped downward: http://imagecache.allposters.com/images/pic/PTGPOD/281537-FB~Head-Shot-of-Statue-of-Liberty-Posters.jpg

    I know there's one in Crysis 2, but that seems a bit of too.
  • Holland
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    Holland polycounter lvl 9
    It's looking good dude but I think the head is getting lost at the moment. It might be the uniform blue across the entire thing or it's the lights on the pillars. The head gets very lost in it all and I think there should be more of a focus on it. In Als initial paint over the head is the main focus and the lights reflect that, your scene is pretty evenly lit and my eyes aren't quite sure where to look.

    Something like this i guess

  • barnesy
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    barnesy polycounter lvl 9
    Hey Scott, it's coming along nicely and hats off to you for going out of your comfort zone like this.


    I don't know if it's the lighting or the perspective but her forehead and eyes look like they need to be pushed back in to the head a bit (especially by the right eye, just the bit beneath where the hair pokes out). Also I think the eyes need to be made about 10-15% smaller.

    Other than that you are killing it man :)
  • AlexCatMasterSupreme
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    AlexCatMasterSupreme interpolator
    it's looking great but i feel like it's kinda got some boring things that could be fixed, like the repetition of the pillars and the depth of them from the wall could be a bit more, and more contrasty. I feel like the middle pillars are also kinda strong but not that exciting, maybe varying the width of details on them a bit more or adding a more interesting silhouette. I like the direction you're going for sure and the lighting and shaders are top notch, but overall it feels like a very random kinda sci-fiy feel with that hallway look to it.

    If you broke up the repetition with a break in the pillars leading to a doorway or some other kinda detail (or space) it could add more visual interest. Right now it's just kinda like three pieces copied over and over.

    I agree with the uniformity that was mentioned before, I know what your focal point is but it just seems so strong overall.
    It's coming along good overall but I think you need to work on more interesting and cohesive design for it. I really feel like most of the details are kinda generic.

    Like I said it's great in everything but design I feel personally.
  • noscope
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    noscope polycounter lvl 6
    scene looks sweet its coming along nicely. First thing that I see when I look at it is lots of white/blue lights. Maybe add some other colours into the scene.

    Like ClusterOne said the effect on the head looks a tad noisy but i suppose this does look better when in engine doing its thing.

    Good job so far!
  • KennyTies
    Awesome I am looking forward to the texture flats.
  • metalliandy
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    metalliandy greentooth
    This is looking really good, Scott. Really cool idea and super original.
    You have done a great job with the general composition of the shot. Personally I like the repetition as it lends to the authenticity of the piece as a whole, grounds it and points the eye at the centre piece.
    You don't really want to add too much more detail in the background as it would distract the eye too much imho, and I think you have a nice balance. I like the fact that it seems like what could be an endless room with exhibits every so often.

    Cool shit, man.
  • Jeff Parrott
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    Jeff Parrott polycounter lvl 15
    Pfft not even making the whole Statue of Liberty body? Weak man. Real weak.

    Dig the lighting and material work. Be nice to have a bit more accent color with the lighting.
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