[Environment] Cortyard

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conflig triangle
Hi. My name is Jakub Vaja. I'm a freelance 3D artist mostly doing hard surface modeling, but for a long time, I'm fascinated by environments in video games. So I've decided to improve my skills and learn new stuff. The reason why I'm creating this thread is to receive feedback from a much more experienced artist then I am. So please share your thoughts, critique, and advice.

My goal is to create an environment in the Unreal engine using this image as a reference, but not to recreate it 1 to 1. 
Create and use mainly tileable and trim sheet textures 
Learn Lighting and overall workflow of assembling a scene in Unreal engine
Learn Speed tree
Learn Substance Designer

I was looking for some reference and come across this image 



I really like the mood and I think it is a perfect environment to start with


1. Step was to break it down to some modular pieces 

- in the first image I have just quick blockout geometry snapped on grid. Walls are 4.5 by 5 meters (In Blender 2.8 project set to meters and grid size 0.1 allows me to snap in 3D view the same way as in Unreal) 
- next image is the first iteration of the final assets




2. Assembling in Unreal Engine




For lighting as it is right now I'm using SkyLight, DirectionalLight and AtmosphericFog

I've watched many videos from 51Daedalus and some from Epic youtube channel to understand how the lighting in Unreal works. but I still need to put some work in to it.

That is all for now. I want to polish all blockout geometry and start creating some tileable textures. 

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  • conflig
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    conflig triangle
    Today I've worked on a trim sheet



    And one unique prop but I think it is too busy so I will wait with props after I make some tileable textures and improve lighting in the scene
    (UE4)

    (Substance)

  • Gustavo_Elliott
    This is coming together nicely! I shall keep an eye out for future progress
  • conflig
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    conflig triangle
    Thank you! Right now this project is really exciting because I'm learning a lot of new things. That means I probably do a lot of mistakes, but hopefully will find out and fix them in the end :)
  • mrgesy
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    mrgesy polycounter lvl 5
    Looks good so far! Will be watching this.
  • conflig
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    conflig triangle
    Hi! Some more progress. I have finished the trimsheet and then started to work on a tileable "plaster" material in substance. I am fairly new to designer and create a diffuse color is the hardest and most trickier part for me. So it will be the next step 

    Also I need to create a damaged plaster material to use it in Unreal for vertex paint 

    Same as with the asset I have made I think I have a problem with making materials too busy.. So let me know what do you think :)







  • icegodofhungary
    conflig said:
     I am fairly new to designer and create a diffuse color is the hardest and most trickier part for me.

    A good method that I picked up from either the official Substance youtube channel, or another training vid, was to use the gradient map node and use the gradient picker feature on a real photo of what you want. For example, get some photos of old plaster, and then use a gradient map on a black and white version of your color map (i use a combo of noises and AO and height). Then inside the gradient editor, choose the "pick gradient" button and draw a line across a photo of plaster. It'll pick colors from the line you draw on the photo. That way you're using real world colors from actual plaster. It also helps to do it several times until you get the result you want, and try different photos.

    I also find it's better to not have much variation in your values within a color/albedo/diffuse map. Unless the surface qualities specifically call for it. If you have too many dark areas it ads an almost faux shading that breaks the realism. So I usually manually adjust everything to be of similar values but vary in saturation and hue. Having too much contrast between values also makes tiling more obvious.

  • conflig
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    conflig triangle
    Thank you! I have used that method before on some small test. Will take your notes and hopefully come up with something nice looking 
  • conflig
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    conflig triangle
    So.. I have build a simple scene to test lighting.. and after a few days I can say I still don't understand it. I have read a saw dozens of articles and videos about lighting but not a single one answered all my questions. 

    (fully static lighting)
    So first I create directional light with some bounces. 
    Then I add atmospheric fog and skylight. 
    My understanding is that atmospheric fog creates a "Skydome" and skylight capture whole scene and uses it as a fill light. SkyLight on itself does nothing

    But I want to use a custom sky.
    So I create a dome in Blender and flip normals. Import in UE and add a material with HDRI texture. But it kills all lights in the scene. So only way to add HDRI is to change skylight from SLS captured scene to SLS specified Cube map. But it creates only the fill light and not the sky itself. 

    I am doing something wrong but I just can't figure out what I am missing. Can someone point me in the right direction? I would appreciate it. 

    Edit: Also in this article, https://80.lv/articles/001agt-004adk-17th-century-roman-modular-environment-in-ue4/ is mentioned the use of inverted sphere surrounding the level.

    And I should probably mention that I use the Luoshuang's GPULightmass. Could that cause the problem?
  • Zack Fowler
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    Zack Fowler polycounter lvl 10
    I haven't worked with Unreal in a while so I'm not super familiar with the particulars of its light baking systems at this point, but my best guess with your custom sky sphere issue is that you need to set the custom sky sphere not to cast shadows. From what you describe, it sounds like it's currently blocking out your directional and ambient sky lighting, preventing any of it from actually reaching the scene you're working on inside the sphere. There should be a way in either the material or the mesh object to set it not to cast shadows on the world.
  • conflig
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    conflig triangle
    It looks like it, but a have set the dome to unlit which should disable shadow casting..
    And I have found this article https://3dtotal.com/tutorials/t/unreal-engine-part-5-introducing-the-skybox-rob-redman-game-first-person-level-map-environment but resold is still absolute darkness 

    edit: After following this article https://evermotion.org/tutorials/show/10738/creating-custom-sky-from-hdr-image-in-unreal-engine It is finally working, but skylight again doesn't see the HDI and does nothing, so I need to add atmospheric fog to get some fill light but it ignores the HDRI
  • conflig
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    conflig triangle
    Some progress. I have spend few days playing with lighting. After that, I have started on the ground material in Designer 

    I have created 2 variants "new" and damaged. 


    In UE I did a quick test with vertex paint 


  • conflig
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    conflig triangle
    Another update. Some test with speed tree 


    Now I am trying to figure out if it is possible to get to this level of details with just vertex painting and no tessellation. If not my plan is to use decals. So I would have a base grey plaster material and on top, I would add decals with damaged plaster which would be tileable horizontally. 







  • tinyworlds
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    tinyworlds polygon
    Coming together nicely! Love the lighting in the last screenshot :)
  • conflig
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    conflig triangle
  • conflig
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    conflig triangle
    Hi! I'm still here. 

    I have gathered some good textures on my vacation in Greece and I think they are working great in this scene. 
    I will show all the textures I've created later.

    Here is a list of assets i haven't made by my self
    HDRI - hdrihaven.com
    Grass - quixel.com/megascans
    some decals on the ground are from - cgtextures.com
    And particle effects are from UE4 example scene

    So this is my scene. It is almost dome. And I would love to hear some critique on what to improve :)




  • Ashervisalis
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    Ashervisalis hero character
    Looking great!
  • stororokw
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    stororokw polycounter lvl 2
    The lighting looks nice especially the last shot. I would redo parts the trees because the planes are a little too visible, and the leaves appear to glow too much (see the first screenshot). Also, it might be nice to add some water to the fountain and leaves or something on top... make it a point of focus or you could add a hero tree like that purple one in your reference.
    Maybe add some more color variation to the tiles that are exposed to the weather.
  • conflig
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    conflig triangle
    Thank you! You are definitely right about the tree. This is the first time I am using a speed tree so I need to work on that more :)

    The hero tree is a good point, or maybe ad tree growing from the fountain?..

    Also, I have added scaffolding in the last update which I hope helps to introduce some storytelling in to the scene



  • fullpinkdog
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    fullpinkdog polygon
    Nice work, man
    Keep it up!
  • Jack M.
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    Jack M. interpolator
    Nice work so far, I love the lighting.

    I think some of your foliage could stand to be a bit brighter and more saturated. The wear could have a bit more depth to the chipping and whatnot as well.
  • conflig
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    conflig triangle
    Thank you. The lighting was the biggest challenge for me, so I am glad you like it :)

    As I said before, I had a problem with foliage being too dark and too light at the same time. What I have read that the darkness is affected mainly by the complexity of individual leaf card. So I have made them simplex and it was better but looked too low poly..
    But you are right. now when I look at it.. a bit lighter and more saturated would like nicer.

    And about the chipping.. I have tried to have a stronger normal map, but it looked too "patchy" and didn't blend that well and also in the reference pictures I have taken the blending of the plaster and the yellow paint is really flat 



  • hamigua123
    What amazing Environment lighting! Could you send your process of light? I am eager to learn it  =), Thank you 
  • JonJo
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    JonJo interpolator
    Beautiful piece dude, it's giving me a lot of counter strike vibes too, feels nostalgic! The lighting in the shot under the arch arches is so warm and Mediterranean, fantastic vibes. Great work! 
  • conflig
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    conflig triangle
    Thank you! :) 

    hamigua123:
    And the lighting is nothing special. But I suggest you to read this article 
    https://www.artstation.com/artwork/dOKzLK
    I am using fully baked lighting and only light source are sky and directional light with custom sky sphere.
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