[Finished] Sector 1 - a sci-fi passage in UE4

greentooth
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TheGabmeister greentooth

Finished Work:



Detailed blog post with summary on how I created the scene:
The Gabmeister Blog #3 - Sector 1, creating a sci-fi passage in Unreal Engine

Original Post:


Hello! This is my first attempt to create a sci-fi scene in Unreal Engine. My primary goal for this project is to improve my material and texture creation workflow with the help of Substance Designer and Painter. Also, I wanted to learn more about using face-weighted normals in hard-surface objects.

The main reference for this scene is a concept art created by Pene Menn, shown below:



I will summarize all the things I learned in an ArtStation blog later after finishing this project.

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  • TheGabmeister
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    TheGabmeister greentooth
    Currently working on the blockout of the scene:



    Next up, I will setup some lights to and try to match the colorful lighting of the reference image.
  • TheGabmeister
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    TheGabmeister greentooth
    Played around with the lights. At the moment, almost all are set to Static except for a single Stationary Directional Light to simulate the light coming from the bluish star. I used some placeholder materials just to get something pleasing, but will eventually replace them later on. I also thrown in some emissive materials. Some of the emissive objects are set to "Use Emissive for Static Lighting" with "Emissive Boost" carefully adjusted.



    One issue I discovered was that having a high emissive value turns an object's color to white, which is pretty realistic. This caused a mismatch as shown below:



    I might need to play around with emissive values and bloom intensity to find a sweet spot between the two. Otherwise, I'll need to make a separate thread and ask how to achieve the one found in the reference. Based on my initial research in the Unreal forums, this has something to do with the default tonemapper:
    Emissive colors turning white?

    Another thing I learned is that you should be careful with objects that are set to "Use Emissive for Static Lighting." In some cases, such as the scene I'm creating, the lighting from these objects will have a large radius of effect which caused certain sections of my scene to receive unwanted lighting. This type of lighting has far less controls to adjust when compared to actual lights, so I ended up using a different approach. I reduced the Emissive Boost of these objects to a very small value, and then placed Rect Lights set to Static on top of them as substitutes. This type of setup might be unrealistic, but it gave me a lot of control with the Intensity and the Attenuation Radius.



    I'll be working on adding more details and materials.
  • TheGabmeister
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    TheGabmeister greentooth
    For today's update, I added basic materials for each object. Some objects are still untextured. I also began placing reflection capture probes around the scene to try to put some highlights on certain sections that seem to look to dark.


    I added an Exponential Height Fog. It turns out that it has a really nice effect in terms making the scene feel more moody and atmospheric. The GIF below shows the effect:


    Here are my settings just in case you're interested. The rest of the settings not shown are set to their default.



    If you want to learn more, here's two videos by Epic Games where they talk about how to properly use Volumetric Fog:

    For the sky sphere, I'm using a simple one which I recycled from a previous project. Just some stars scattered around a sphere.


    If you're interested in creating your own space sky sphere, there's this tool called Spacespace which is a free tool for creating space skyboxes with stars and nebulae. I didn't use it for this project though. Maybe sometime in the future when I need to create a more complex skybox.
  • mrgesy
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    mrgesy polycounter lvl 6
    Personally I dislike the bloom effect. It makes everything look too soft and unrealistically bright. The blue atmospheric fog is too strong and even adds too much to the scene. I think you put too much lighting emphasis on that star. Looking at the concept, I think the "photographer" is using a super futuristic camera that allows you to capture a freaking blue star like its nothing. Blue giants are supposedly the brightest type of stars. Coming anyway that close to any will disintegrate anything. Despite this impossibility of capturing all that light in detail, you can have some artistic control and reduce the emissive on it to minimum, so the dark and light spots of the star can show through, without blowing everyone's eyes out. 

    The other side of the story is that might not be a blue star, but a planet with an atmosphere as you can see radiating out in blue. That could explain the low brightness of it.
  • TheGabmeister
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    TheGabmeister greentooth
    mrgesy said:
    Personally I dislike the bloom effect. It makes everything look too soft and unrealistically bright. The blue atmospheric fog is too strong and even adds too much to the scene. I think you put too much lighting emphasis on that star. Looking at the concept, I think the "photographer" is using a super futuristic camera that allows you to capture a freaking blue star like its nothing. Blue giants are supposedly the brightest type of stars. Coming anyway that close to any will disintegrate anything. Despite this impossibility of capturing all that light in detail, you can have some artistic control and reduce the emissive on it to minimum, so the dark and light spots of the star can show through, without blowing everyone's eyes out. 

    The other side of the story is that might not be a blue star, but a planet with an atmosphere as you can see radiating out in blue. That could explain the low brightness of it.
    Thank you for the feedback! It would actually make a lot more sense if the blue sphere is a planet instead of a star. I'll see if I can do something about it.
  • TheGabmeister
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    TheGabmeister greentooth
    Okay, finally changed the bright star into a gaseous planet. I simply took a texture of Jupiter and tweaked the colors in Unreal. Also, I added a ring around the planet and slapped a gradient texture on it for a simple glow effect:





    Here is a comparison. Definitely looks better.


  • TheGabmeister
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    TheGabmeister greentooth
    Here is my latest update. I made a detailed blog post where I summarized all the things I learned in creating this scene. You can find it here:
    The Gabmeister Blog #3 - Sector 1, a sci-fi passage in Unreal Engine


    I spent a significant amount of time playing around with fog settings until I got something that made the scene look great. The fog is a deviation from the original reference. After consultation with multiple artists, majority advised that the scene looked better with it.





    For the detailed meshes, I used the Face-Weighted-Normals approach with a few manually painted height and normal information. I tried to go for a modular approach and reuse as much objects as I can. Using decals later assisted in creating variation in certain sections.



    I used 2 simple master materials for this scene: one for a typical prop object and another one for objects with tiling materials. My setup is pretty much identical to the standard shader in Unity with adjustable parameters. I also added StaticSwitchParameters to turn off texture maps that are not needed in certain objects. Furthermore, I'm using an ARM packed texture setup: AO in the Red channel, Roughness in the Green channel, and Metalness in the Blue channel.



    Here's a quick GIF of the assembly:



    Overall, this was an amazing learning experience. I was able to streamline my workflow and reduce the friction from creating the model in Maya, texturing in Substance, and assembling the assets in UE4. I discovered that I was spending too much time in texturing because I didn't gather enough reference material. Lesson learned.

    Comparing the scene to the original reference, there are details that did not make it due to time constraints. There were supposed to be more details on the door, a control panel beside the door, holes on the floor, busted pipes on the side, and more grunges scattered throughout the scene. Maybe sometime in the future I'll come back to add them.

    Hoping to hear your feedback!

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