[WIP][UE4] Sanctuary Tomb

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JMBraley polycounter lvl 2
Hello everyone!

After getting portfolio feedback from multiple sources, the general consensus was that I have too many stand-alone props (they are 100% correct) and not enough environments so I decided to remedy that situation and work on an environment for my next project. After much deliberation and many, many different concepts I decided that I was going to model Tim Kaminski's Sanctuary Tomb Concept. I feel in love with this concept the moment that I saw it up on ArtStation and I've wanted to model it for quite so I'm glad that I'm finally getting started with it.


PROJECT GOALS

  • Learn Substance Designer
  • Implement trim textures into workflow
  • Learn techniques to create stylized foliage / grass
  • Further develop knowledge of Unreal Engine
  • Learn how to properly light an environment in UE
  • Create a polished stylized environment for my portfolio

PREPARATION

Before starting to create any assets in Maya I took some time to break down the concept so I had a reference of what unique assets / textures / trim I would need when moving into the asset / texture creation stage of the process.

Props


Foliage


Texture Sheets


Trim


During this stage I also gathered style references and compiled them into a mood-board.

Mood-board

I've always been a huge fan of stylized PBR so I want to have a similar aesthetic as games such as Spyro: Re-ignited, Crash N-Sane Trilogy, and Overwatch, while still being unique. 



BLOCK-OUT

After a few days of stressing myself out researching methods of blocking out environments and how to match perspective from a concept perfectly in Maya, I decided to stop worrying so much and to just start creating. Once I stopped stressing out about finding the "perfect" methods I started to have a lot more fun and eventually this is where I ended up with the block-out. I'm sure it's not perfect but it's a good start and it gives me a solid base that I can refine and develop further moving forward.


After a few tests and some iterating on the placement and scale of some of the objects I imported the block out into Unreal to get a feel for the scale of the environment.


Here's the scene with a 3rd person character for scale.



Remarks

Ultimately, this is relatively uncharted territory for me. I don't have a whole lot of experience when it comes to creating a cohesive environment like this so I'm figuring it all out as I go. I'm going to take my time with this project as I want to use it to test new workflows and learn new software. In the end I want to end up with the most polished portfolio piece possible.

I appreciate any comments, critiques or advice that anyone has for me during this journey. I want to learn and grow as much as possible during this project and I welcome any help along the way.  I look forward to posting more progress  (hopefully) soon.

Thank you all!

Replies

  • Chuwakcz23
    I like the preparation and how you've described it before starting the project. I was lacking in this part when starting something new. I will copy this approach ASAP 😁

    Nice work btw the blockout looks really good, looking forward to some updates 😊
  • Aydhe
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    Aydhe polygon
    so far so good, though i feel like blockout doesn't quite match up with proportions of the environment, that ring in middle seems to be quite a bit wider in terms of radius and chains appear thicker?
  • JMBraley
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    JMBraley polycounter lvl 2
    I like the preparation and how you've described it before starting the project. I was lacking in this part when starting something new. I will copy this approach ASAP 😁

    Nice work btw the blockout looks really good, looking forward to some updates 😊
    Thanks! I never used to do this kind of preparation myself until I did a mentorship with Chuy Salinas (https://twitter.com/chyslns). Since then though I've implemented it into my workflow and I've found it helps a lot to have a detailed plan early on.
    Aydhe said:
    so far so good, though i feel like blockout doesn't quite match up with proportions of the environment, that ring in middle seems to be quite a bit wider in terms of radius and chains appear thicker?
    Did you mean that the ring/platform seems wider and the chains seem thicker in the concept or in my blockout?

  • JMBraley
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    JMBraley polycounter lvl 2
    It's been a week since the last update and while I've made some pretty good progress, I'm still only just starting out on this journey.


    UPDATING ASSETS


    In the past week I've been working towards creating more detailed models and tweaking the scale of the assets while doing so. As of today I've managed to create updated versions of every model in the scene with much higher poly counts and details that more closely match the concept.

    Asset Overview:


    Low Poly:


    High Poly:



    I've also replaced each of the block-out versions with the updated higher poly assets and brought the updated scene back into Unreal to ensure the player scale still matched.

    Maya Scene:


    Unreal Scene:


    TRIM TEXTURES

    Trim textures are something that I've had vague knowledge of for a long time and I've decided that with this project I was going to finally unravel the mystery behind them. Initially I was only going to use trim textures sparingly during this project but after some suggestions I may end up implementing them more than I had had originally planned. Taking a closer look at the concept, the bulk of the texturing can be accomplished between trim textures and texture sheets with a few outlying assets that require unique textures.

    The first step that I took towards creating these trim textures was figuring out and listing what materials I would need to cover in my trim sheets. Here's what I came up with in the end:

    Trim Sheets

    • Plain Gold
    • Ornamental Gold
    • Indented Stone
    • Ornamental Stone x 2
    • Gold Inlaid Stone Panels
    • Ornamental Silver
    • Plain (Light) Stone

    Tiling Texture Sheets

    • Stone Bricks
    • Plain Stone
    • Dirt
    • Grass

    Once I had my list of required textures I blocked out some Trim Sheets to get an idea on how I was going to approach them in Zbrush / Substance Designer (Yes, I know these are very rough and not representational of what the final versions will be at all):

    Trim Sheet 1:


    Trim Sheet 2:


    Going Forward:

    Today I started going through some Substance Designer tutorials to start to learn the basics of the program. This is a vastly different workflow from what I'm used to so this is probably going to take some time to get up to speed. Hopefully once I'm done with this project I'll have another tool that I can add to my toolkit. Once I figure out how to do what I need to do in Designer, I will be focusing my efforts on creating these trim sheets.

    As always, I welcome any critique and feedback that anyone can provide. A lot of what I'm trying to accomplish with this project is new to me so I am definitely open to any suggestions that can help to make this environment as polished as possible.

    Thank you all!






  • Sweetangel0467
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    Sweetangel0467 polycounter lvl 6
    Nice progress on this James! Can't wait to see how you continue on it :3
  • JMBraley
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    JMBraley polycounter lvl 2
    Nice progress on this James! Can't wait to see how you continue on it :3
    Thanks! :) I appreciate you taking the time to check it out. If you have any suggestions please let me know!
  • JMBraley
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    JMBraley polycounter lvl 2
    Not much to show this week towards the project since I've spent the majority of my free time during the last week learning Substance Designer so that I can implement it into my workflow for this project. I've learned a lot about Designer in a very short amount of time and I'll be ready to start creating the trim textures and tiling texturing soon!

    Here's a link to my Designer progress thread with more materials to come soon: https://polycount.com/discussion/210506/learning-substance-designer#latest.

  • JMBraley
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    JMBraley polycounter lvl 2
    I've spent the last week doubling down on learning Designer and I feel like I'm really starting to get the hang of things (though I still have a long way to go). I'm still splitting my time between working on practice materials to figure out how some of the nodes work and getting started on the textures for this project. So far I've laid out the basic patterns for my trim textures and going forward I'm going to be adding the details and tweaking them as I learn better workflows within Designer.

    Trim Sheet 1:


    Trim Sheet 2:


    As always, I'm open to feedback and suggestions.

    Thank you all for checking out the project!

  • Stanley3DArt
  • JMBraley
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    JMBraley polycounter lvl 2
    solid progress!
    Thanks Stanley!
  • randomspirits
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    randomspirits polycounter lvl 3
    This is coming along really nicely!
  • JMBraley
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    JMBraley polycounter lvl 2
    This week has been been pretty busy and I didn't make too much progress towards the project. I did find some time to tweak the trim textures a bit and start working on the tiling textures.

    Here are the new, slightly adjusted trims:

    Trim 1:


    Trim 2:



    Hopefully, I'll have more time and make more progress this week.

    As always, I'm open to feedback and suggestions.

    Thank you all for checking out the project!

  • I_Art_Men
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    I_Art_Men polycounter lvl 2
    Nice progress, hope to see more soon :D
  • JMBraley
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    JMBraley polycounter lvl 2
    I_Art_Men said:
    Nice progress, hope to see more soon :D
    Thanks I_Art_Men!

    This week I did an overhaul on the graphs from my trim sheets. Originally I had each trim as a separate graph and then another main graph which linked them all into the trim sheet. While working on the sheets it was very frustrating having to open a dozen graphs to make changes to the layouts of the trim so instead I decided to just do the entire trim sheet within the same graph.

    Over the past week I've continued to create practice materials and watch Designer tutorials to figure out how I was going to create my tiling textures and trims and I've finally started to add some details and colors to my first trim sheet. It's not complete yet but it's blocked in enough where I can start to implement it into my environment soon and get a feel for what changes need to be made going forward. 


    Trim 01:


    Trim 01 Graph:


    Planned Adjustments:
    • Clean up muddy details
    • Add Edge Wear
    • Adjust Color Values
    • Color Variation
    • Edge Highlights
    • Roughness Pass

    As always, I'm open to feedback and suggestions.

    Thank you all for checking out the project!




  • JMBraley
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    JMBraley polycounter lvl 2
    This week I've made some decent progress toward my tiling textures and my trim sheets. As of right now the Tiling Bricks texture is the furthest along and the second Trim sheet needs the most work. I'll be continuing to push forward with these and hopefully have them finished and implemented soon.


    Tiling Bricks:


    Tiling Stone:


    Trim 01:


    Trim 02:



    As always, I'm open to feedback and suggestions.

    Thank you all for checking out the project!
  • JMBraley
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    JMBraley polycounter lvl 2
    What a difference a week makes. Over the past week I've taken all of the feedback that I've received from twitter, discord etc and really tried to push my tiling textures and trims to the next level. They're not quite done, I still have a bit of tweaking (especially on the ornamental gold on trim 2) and some cracks and minor details to add in but they're getting close!

    Tiling Stone Bricks:


    Tiling Stone Base:


    Trim Sheet 1:


    Trim Sheet 2:


    As always, I'm open to feedback and suggestions.

    Thank you all for checking out the project!
  • JMBraley
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    JMBraley polycounter lvl 2
    Another week down and I've managed to make a fair amount of progress towards the project and I've learned a lot along the way. Since the last week I've polished up the tiling textures and trim a bit and managed to do a first pass on dirt and grass tiling textures. I took the height map that I made in Substance Designer for the bricks and brought it into ZBrush and used it to generate a high poly base. From there, I exported the high poly and brought it into 3D Coat for retopology. I also started to clean up the low poly block-outs that I had created in Maya and then unwrapped and textured them using the trim sheets. Lighting and post-processing is a bit out of my normal skill set when it comes to Unreal so I've also been spending some time playing around with them to figure things out a bit.


    Grass Tiling Texture:


    Dirt Tiling Texture:


    Brick High Poly:


    Low Poly Meshes:


    Assets In-Engine:


    Current Scene Progress:



    As always, I'm open to feedback and suggestions.

    Thank you all for checking out the project!
  • JMBraley
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    JMBraley polycounter lvl 2
    For the past week I've spent a lot of time researching lighting in Unreal and I think the scene is in a MUCH better place than it was last week. I'm definitely not an expert in lighting and still have a ways to go before it's in any kind of finalized state. I've also been tweaking the materials and blueprints in Unreal to get them to a more polished state. While beginning to texture some of the larger props using the tiling textures I had made, I realized that due to the texel density of the scene, I would probably need a gold and possibly a silver tiling texture so I went ahead and created those using the gold / silver trim as a base in Designer. Currently I'm working on creating a more detailed version of the arches in Maya that can be easily textured using the tiling / trim sheets as well.

    Looking at the scene as it is now, I realize that the well needs to be shorter and wider so I've made note of that and will probably hold off on making those changes until I've finished the first pass of textures on the other props.

    Wall Segment (Unreal):


    Well (Unreal):


    Step (Unreal):


    Low Poly Progress (Maya):


    Current Scene Progress (Unreal):


    As always, I'm open to feedback and suggestions.

    Thank you all for checking out the project!


  • JMBraley
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    JMBraley polycounter lvl 2
    No big update on the project this week. I spent a lot of time researching lighting, tweaking some of the "final" assets and working on fleshing out the blockouts for the remaining assets. I should have more time in the coming week to work on the project and make some solid progress though, so look forward to that!
  • JMBraley
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    JMBraley polycounter lvl 2
    Last week was a slow week for me but I think I've made up for it this week. As of today, I have "finalized" all of the low poly models ("finalized" because I expect to make changes to them before I finish this project) and I've gotten the high poly bases created to bring into ZBrush for sculpting. In ZBrush I plan on just focusing on small details such as edge damage and cracks. Once I bake these down I will combine the normals / curvature generted from the bake with the tiling textures / trim I'm using to texture the assets to add more detail to each asset.

    In Unreal Engine, I took some time this week to adjust my workflow. I moved each asset into blueprints so when I need to adjust the models, the changes are automatically reflected within each of the blueprints. After some feedback, I also adjusted the lighting to be brighter and sunnier (though a lot of work is till needed).


    "Finalized" Low Poly Models:


    High Poly Bases:


    Current Progress (Unreal):



    Here's what still needs to be done:
    • Sculpt / bake high poly's for assets
    • Retopology (as needed)
    • Unwrap low-poly assets (started)
    • Implement textured assets in-engine (started)
    • Lighting / Post-processing
    • Foliage
    • Decals
    • VFX

    As always, I'm open to feedback and suggestions.

    Thank you all for checking out the project!

  • truemkar
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    truemkar triangle
    Looks great, man! Keep going!
  • JMBraley
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    JMBraley polycounter lvl 2
    truemkar said:
    Looks great, man! Keep going!
    Thanks! I'll keep doing my best :)
  • JMBraley
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    JMBraley polycounter lvl 2
    This week was a bit rough since I had to fight Maya for a few days but I still managed to make some good progress. I finally began sculpting after spending last week prepping the models and I couldn't be happier as I've been dying to start sculpting. I used the chain as a warm-up to get back into the swing of things since it's been a little while since I've played around in ZBrush. I may end up going back and cleaning it up (or resculpitng it completely) but it's good enough for the moment. I also started sculpting the door yesterday and will hopefully be finishing that up this weekend and moving onto the archways.

    My major accomplishment this week though was getting grass into the scene and figuring out (with the help of a few different tutorials) how to get it to move with the "wind". This was my first foray into foliage and I'm honestly really happy with how things have turned out. I'm sure there are better, more efficient ways to accomplish it and I'll figure that out as time goes on but for now I think it looks pretty good.


    High-Poly Sculpts



    Lighting:


    Detail Lighting:


    Textured:


    Right now my to-do list is still looking pretty much the same as last week but I'm a few steps closer to the finish line.


    As always, I'm open to feedback and suggestions.

    Thank you all for checking out the project!



  • JMBraley
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    JMBraley polycounter lvl 2
    This week I spent three days participating in a 72-hour Game Jam and there was the 4th of July so it's been a bit of a slower week for the Sanctuary Tomb environment. Fortunately I did still manage to make a bit of progress.

    This week I was experimenting with some methods of making the chains swing with physics and managed to find a relatively easy method that worked. After some failed attempts at just turning them into physics objects and let Unreal do the bulk of the work (which I figured out wouldn't work because Unreal doesn't simulate physics on objects using complex collision) I decided to go back into Maya to create the entire chain and rig it. I brought the rigged chain back into Unreal and used the physics object generated from the FBX to simulate physics on.

    I also took the time this week to create master materials from my tiling materials. I plan on sculpting high polys and baking detail normals / curvature / ao for all of my large props and figured having master materials that I could just create instances of for each prop would save me time in the long run.

    I wasn't too happy with how the door turned out last week so I took some time to clean up the sculpt and I still have a bit of work to do on that, specifically on the surface details of the gold segments.

    Master Material:

    (I'm sure there are better ways to approach this, please let me know!)


    Door Sculpt:


    Current Progress:



    Considering how busy this week has been, I'm happy with the progress that I managed to make.

    As always, I'm open to feedback and suggestions.

    Thank you all for checking out the project!

  • JMBraley
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    JMBraley polycounter lvl 2
    I'm a day late for this week's update but here it is! This week I spent some time figuring out how to combine the detail normals baked from the door sculpt with the tiling textures that I created in Substance Designer. I accomplished this by having two sets of UVs in different channels on the model, details in channel 0 and tiling in channel 1. Originally I had the tiling textures in channel 0 with the detail textures in channel 1 but I ran into issues while attempting to bake the maps in Marmoset so I was forced to flip them around.  In the master material I used the texture coordinate node plugged into the UV of the texture to point towards which UV channel I wanted each texture to apply to. I used the Curvature map that I had baked from the sculpt as an alpha to lerp a lighter color rather than directly combining it with the base color. I also combined the curvature with the roughness map to add a small highlight to the edges.

    I attempted to replicate the particles seen in the concept using the default dust that comes packaged with Unreal. I edited the particle system to fill the room and spawn larger particles. I also made some changes to the particle material to feed the particle color into the emissive channel and adjusted the particle color to match the green particles in the concept.

    I spent some time yesterday doing another lighting pass, trying to get it to feel closer to the concept. While I don't think it's quite there yet, I definitely think it's closer than it was before. At this point though I need to focus on finishing up the assets and getting them into the scene before I do a final lighting pass to hopefully tie everything together.

    My plan is to work on the other large scale assets next (Arch and Well). While doing that I plan on increasing the size of the arches by 10%-20% in order to make the room feel a bit larger to match the concept. Going forward, progress should start to speed up a fair bit now that I have the workflow ironed out.

    "Finalized" Door Asset:


    Updated Master Material:


    Current Scene Progress:


    Detail Lighting:



    As always, I'm open to feedback and suggestions.

    Thank you all for checking out the project!
  • JMBraley
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    JMBraley polycounter lvl 2
    Last week I ended up being a day late with the update and this week I'm posting the update a day early since I'm going on a mini-vacation this weekend. This week I got a lot of feedback from the fine folks in "Ryan Benno's Game Artist Hangout" Discord server. They suggested adding some spotlights in to emphasize the door and the well and to help replicate the reflections that are seen in the concept. They also suggested that I use fog cards to create the green fog rather than try to re-create it using UE4's particle system. I accomplished this using Devon Chiu's FogCard Blueprints (https://gumroad.com/l/QyRkA). These fog card are exactly what the scene needed though I will probably go in and create some custom (more stylized) masks to use for them towards the end of the project.

    I took some time this week to tweak my master materials a bit more to add in a World Space Gradient. I felt like a slight gradient on all of the objects would help with the stylization and help to make the props feel a bit more grounded in the scene. I used parameters while setting up the gradient so that each instance could be tweaked separately and fine tuned along the way.

    As for sculpts, I began working on the sculpt for the archways and will hopefully have that done over the weekend. After that the only large prop left to sculpt is the well and then just the numerous little props throughout the scene.

    Master Material:


    Archway Sculpt Progress:


    Current Scene Progress:


    Base Lighting:


    Detail Lighting:



    As always, I'm open to feedback and suggestions.

    Thank you all for checking out the project!


  • JMBraley
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    JMBraley polycounter lvl 2
    I wasn't planning on working on this project during my long weekend vacation but I ended up bringing my laptop along and managed to get a little sculpting done on the archway here and there. Once I got home though I really started to work and over the course of the week I managed to finish up the sculpts for both of the remaining large-scale assets: the arch and the well. I baked the arch sculpt and applied the normals / curvature / ao from the bake into the master materials that I had created which brought the archway into a semi-finished state. I'll probably end up going back and tweaking some of the damage and re-baking but I'll worry about that once the rest of the scene is further along.

    Besides the two sculpts that I finished up, I also spent some time looking into mesh distance fields in UE4. I still don't fully understand them but I have managed to implement distance field ambient occlusion into the scene and I will be doing more research on the topic as I continue the project.

    I've been working on resizing the scene a bit, making the area wider and re-positioning the assets in the area, which is why the chandeliers are floating at the moment and the chain doesn't properly reach into the well as it did before. Once I finish up with re-topology, unwrapping and baking on the well I'll be moving onto the smaller assets and I will be taking care of these issues then.

    Sculpts:



    Arch Asset:


    Current Scene Progress:


    Base Lighting:

    Detail Lighting:


    As always, I'm open to feedback and suggestions.

    Thank you all for checking out the project!
  • JMBraley
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    JMBraley polycounter lvl 2
    So these last we week has been pretty busy but I've managed to make some nice progress since the last update. I've spent a lot of time working on sculpts, finishing up the brazier (Is it a brazier if there's no fire and it seems to be lit by some sort of magic energy?), chandelier, water spout, step and stone. I've already begin retopology on these sculpts and have some base work done on sculpts for the three different pots, the chain mounts, the wall trims and bricks and the wall supports. I finished up the retopology on the the well sculpt, baked it down and implemented it in-engine using the master materials I had developed earlier in the project (and realized that I forgot to update a few of them with the changes that I had made, so I had to take some time to update a few materials).

    With each update I feel as if I've made some noticeable progress but that there's always so much more to do until it's finished. The plan going forward is to finish up the last few sculpts, get everything retopo'd and baked down and into engine and then create some foliage and work on the lighting / VFX more. Before the end of the project I hope to have time to tweak the textures more (and possibly go in and do some painting onto the textures so they're not 100% procedurally generated).

    Sculpts:






    Well (In-Engine):


    Lighting:


    Detail Lighting:


    Current Scene Progress:



    As always, I'm open to feedback and suggestions.

    Thank you all for checking out the project!
  • JMBraley
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    JMBraley polycounter lvl 2
    Well here we are, closing in on the finish line. The goal is to have this project finished by September 20th which leaves me exactly 20 days to finish things up and still a lot of things to do. The past few weeks I've finished up 99.99% of the sculpting (Only the back wall / trim remains) along with the retopo and baking to go along with the sculpts. I've also done a preliminary texture pass on all of the assets that were ready for it.

    In the next 20 days the plan is to do another pass on textures and materials, finish up the back wall, create fire VFX for the candles and water VFX for the spouts on the Arches, create some ivy / moss, adjust the grass length, adjust the master materials to have some world space variation to break up the tiling textures and some decals to help, adjust the fog to match the concept and do a final pass on the lighting.

    Unfortunately, a lot of what I have left to do is stuff that I don't have much experience with so any tutorials or suggestions would be fantastic to help speed up the process. I'm in the home stretch and I could really use some advice and feedback to help finish up this project by the 20th.

    Sculpts:


    Props (In-Engine):


    Distance Field:


    Distance Field AO:


    Lighting:


    Detail Lighting:


    Current Scene Progress:


    As always, I'm open to feedback and suggestions.

    Thank you all for checking out the project!
  • JMBraley
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    JMBraley polycounter lvl 2
    The Sanctuary Tomb is finished! This project was started through the mentorship program at Vicarious Visions. Going into this project my goals were to learn Substance Designer and trim sheets and to further develop my skills in Maya and ZBrush. This is one of the largest personal projects that I've undertaken (so far) and I've learned what I had originally set out to and more.

    I'd like to give a huge thanks to Josh Evans (https://www.artstation.com/joshevans) for all of the advice and feedback that he provided during the course of the mentorship. I'd also like to thank Tim Kaminski (https://www.artstation.com/tim) for allowing me to create an environment based on his amazing Sanctuary Tomb concept.  Lastly, I'd like to thank everyone on Twitter, Polycount and Discord that provided critique along the way.

    x


    Thank you all for checking out the project!
  • JMBraley
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    JMBraley polycounter lvl 2
    I thought I was finished last week but after some more feedback I decided to go back and do one more pass on the environment. I tweaked the lighting, adjusted some material and I think the scene as a whole is better for it. Thanks again to everyone that helped along the way!




    Thank you all for checking out the project!

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