Cemetery environment wip - UE4

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scnd22 polycounter lvl 2
Hi everyone!

So I am a little disappointed with all of the environments in my portfolio so far. Not that they are terrible but they also could be better. This time I decided to post my environment earlier in the process to get more feedback. I am working on this environment for almost a week now and here's what I got so far, feedback very much appreciated <3!

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  • scnd22
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    scnd22 polycounter lvl 2
    Update: 
    I adjusted the lighting, added a path and worked on more tombstones variations, here's my progress
  • conflig
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    conflig triangle
    Hi. The lighting on the second picture is definitely better.

    But my problem is that I am not sure what is the focal point in the picture. Is it the building? or the objects in the middle are supposed to be characters?

    Perhaps try to move those "characters" closer to the building use some fog sheets to help with focus and maybe try to incorporate some negative space to the left side? 

    Just an idea :)


    But maybe just use of some fog sheets and by moving the characters closer you would have nice lighting on the building by the lanterns 

  • scnd22
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    scnd22 polycounter lvl 2
    Hey conflig, thank you very much for taking the time to do this. I'll try moving the characters closer to see if the composition looks better, I was also thinking about continuing the path to the gate of the building and adding some candles there, but then maybe it would be too busy? Thanks again for your time!
  • corviera
    Hi, it's looking very good so far. I just feel like the stones on the path might be too big, for me it kinda breaks the sense of scale on the scene.
  • scnd22
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    scnd22 polycounter lvl 2
    corviera said:
    Hi, it's looking very good so far. I just feel like the stones on the path might be too big, for me it kinda breaks the sense of scale on the scene.
    Hey, thanks for the feedback and sorry for the late response. Last week I did my first art test, and now I better get back to work cause waiting for a response is driving me crazy :) .  Here is a small update:
  • AdrianZaplata
    It looks better and better, nice progress. I'd try to camera focus on the people there/building and blur the area little bit, because I'm still little bit confused on what to look.
  • scnd22
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    scnd22 polycounter lvl 2
    It looks better and better, nice progress. I'd try to camera focus on the people there/building and blur the area little bit, because I'm still little bit confused on what to look.
    Thank you very much for the advice. I prefer to not use post process (a lot) early in my work, but I agree that some depth of field would help the image, I'll add it closer to the end together with other post processing features thanks.
  • scnd22
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    scnd22 polycounter lvl 2
    Hi! 
    I made this gate and also added some ivy on the fence
  • JesseL
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    JesseL triangle
    Looks good, the green weed is a little too large in scale, I would also add more dirt partches in the ground while your at it. Less grass on the paths, more grass near corners of objects. Also drastically less white weed dandelions

    The composition in the main pic could use a bit more work, heres a mockup of how it could look. Basically everything much more dense and closer to the camera. You should also try making the path go directly to the door of the mosaleum. You could also try adding a large dirt patch or paved patch directly in front of the people/door to highlight that area a little more


  • scnd22
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    scnd22 polycounter lvl 2
    Hey JesseL, thank you very much for the feedback. I agree with most of what you are saying but I have a question. Why do you think I should have less grass? I understand that it tends to grow more in corners of objects, but my intentions with this were to give the impression that "humans" haven't visited this place in a long time, so after a very long time, wouldn't grass flood the whole area?

    Also, I am planning to add more props, like a statue, a shovel possibly some crows if I can get them looking good  :)
  • JesseL
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    JesseL triangle
    The reason for less grass is just to break it up, its extremely dense right now and there is little variation

    You could add higher grass in some of the parts where it builds up to show the overgrown nature of things, branches will also work well. Try to add some randomness with the grass scale as well if you can

    Vines on the moseleum would work, statues are good but you would only need a few hero props/custom props. Other than those things I cant think of anything else really to add its a good piece just as it is
  • scnd22
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    scnd22 polycounter lvl 2
    JesseL said:
    The reason for less grass is just to break it up, its extremely dense right now and there is little variation

    You could add higher grass in some of the parts where it builds up to show the overgrown nature of things, branches will also work well. Try to add some randomness with the grass scale as well if you can

    Vines on the moseleum would work, statues are good but you would only need a few hero props/custom props. Other than those things I cant think of anything else really to add its a good piece just as it is
     Ok, thank you very much. I'll experiment more with grass and probably add more types of wild plants, I'm also thinking about making the flowers some kind of yellow to give a little bit of color maybe. 

    I already worked on the statue, I don't think I have any hero props at the moment really  :), besides the building and characters.

    So here is an image of the statue together with another angle of the scene to give you guys a more complete look of the environment so far.



  • scnd22
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    scnd22 polycounter lvl 2
    Worked on the grass, I believe it looks more natural due to the variation but let me guys know what you think.
  • Nosslak
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    Nosslak polycounter lvl 12
    I think the close up shot with the angel and mausoleum looks nice, but your other more zoomed out shots look very noisy and unfocused.

    I would maybe dim the skylight so it's much darker (looks like it's supposed to be night) and then have most of the light emit from where the characters are and what they're doing. Maybe the characters are expecting more people to join them so it could make sense to place some torches along the path as well.

    It feels like the grass is too dark and there's too much variation in it, which just makes it look very noisy. I'd expect something more like this:

    You might also want to have some sand/gravel underneath the rocks in the path which would allow you to reduce the amount of grass a bit and alleviate the problem slightly while reinforcing the path further (might be too overgrown for that though).

    Could be cool to have some gravestone that's leaning over at an angle because of how old it is.

    Lastly it looks like there's something going on with the normals on your trees.
  • scnd22
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    scnd22 polycounter lvl 2
    Nosslak thank you for the detailed reply. My skylight was already pretty low so I slightly changed the exposure. 

    The grass was certainly very noisy =), so, I completely removed the white flowers and added some red ones only near the building, the taller weeds only added near edges and the smaller ones I mostly placed along the path.

    You were also right about the trees, I was wondering why they didn't receive proper directional light, recalculating the normals fixed it. I still don't understand why it happened in the first place since I exported them directly from SpeedTree. It does make a huge difference so thanks for pointing it out. 

    I also worked on the characters, added candles, and a temporary material for the building.

  • scnd22
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    scnd22 polycounter lvl 2
    Hi everyone, I've been slowly working on the mausoleum , here is where I am at the moment


  • aclund3
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    aclund3 polycounter lvl 4
    On the mausoleum, I'm not sure what you've got for reference, but columns don't typically go all the way to the roof in this style of ancient Greek architecture.  The roof sits on the beams which sit on the columns which sit on a plinth which sit on a platform (its much more complicated than this, but only architecture nerds like me are gonna care to go deeper).  The lack of a platform seems to work OK for you, but that column directly to roof is problematic.  This is a decent reference point:



    Also, that mockup by @JesseL is super where you want to go composition-wise.  The far away shots are too busy and all the excess elements are overpowering the focal point of the image.

    Your concept is really cool, keep at it :)
  • scnd22
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    scnd22 polycounter lvl 2
    aclund3 said:
    On the mausoleum, I'm not sure what you've got for reference, but columns don't typically go all the way to the roof in this style of ancient Greek architecture.  The roof sits on the beams which sit on the columns which sit on a plinth which sit on a platform (its much more complicated than this, but only architecture nerds like me are gonna care to go deeper).  The lack of a platform seems to work OK for you, but that column directly to roof is problematic.  This is a decent reference point:

    Also, that mockup by @JesseL is super where you want to go composition-wise.  The far away shots are too busy and all the excess elements are overpowering the focal point of the image.

    Your concept is really cool, keep at it :)
    Hi aclund3, thanks for the feedback. You are right about the columns, this was also in my reference, not sure why I skiped it   :) , fortunately it's an easy fix.

     So for the composition, maybe a closer shot like this would work better?

    Now using a closer shot like the above, I'll also have to rework the layout, cutting a lot of space on the right and changing the path to only going in one direction like JesseL's example.
  • MeshMuti
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    MeshMuti triangle
    What is the light source in the scene?
    I am asking because it seems fairly bright, warm and evenly lit for a nighttime scene, almost if it's lit by weak sunlight.

    I did a quick mockup in photoshop, with some adjustments to the colours and brightness.


    By darkening the scene and removing some of the general warm colours, you can focus the veiwer's attention on the warm colours and relative brightness that you intentionally introduce around the building and characters. Like Nosslak mentioned above.

    Figuring out what the light should be doing, I have now also learnt about the Purkinje effect, whereby our eyes shift to the blue colour spectrum in low light conditions. So although moonlinght would enter the scene as white light (like the sunlight which it is, only reflected) our eyes would shift the scene into a more blue spectrum. Maybe play around with faking this effect in contrast to your warm candle lights.

    Lastly, it feels like that gate is a lost opportunity, it's such a nice asset with a delicate silhouette that can offset some of the chunky elements and forms in the scene. Maybe clean some of the foliage around it and scale it up slightly. It can act as a secondary focus point to the scene, maybe add some subtle back light to it.
  • scnd22
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    scnd22 polycounter lvl 2
    MeshMuti said:
    What is the light source in the scene?
    I am asking because it seems fairly bright, warm and evenly lit for a nighttime scene, almost if it's lit by weak sunlight.

    I did a quick mockup in photoshop, with some adjustments to the colours and brightness. 

    By darkening the scene and removing some of the general warm colours, you can focus the veiwer's attention on the warm colours and relative brightness that you intentionally introduce around the building and characters. Like Nosslak mentioned above.

    Figuring out what the light should be doing, I have now also learnt about the Purkinje effect, whereby our eyes shift to the blue colour spectrum in low light conditions. So although moonlinght would enter the scene as white light (like the sunlight which it is, only reflected) our eyes would shift the scene into a more blue spectrum. Maybe play around with faking this effect in contrast to your warm candle lights.

    Lastly, it feels like that gate is a lost opportunity, it's such a nice asset with a delicate silhouette that can offset some of the chunky elements and forms in the scene. Maybe clean some of the foliage around it and scale it up slightly. It can act as a secondary focus point to the scene, maybe add some subtle back light to it.

    Hey MeshMulti, thank you very much for taking the time to do this.

    I had seen somewhere that moonlight is around 4100 kelvin and I was trying to be accurate. Didn't knew about the Purkinje effect, makes sense  =) . I shifted my lighting to colder colors, but I think I can get somethink closer to your example  later, by using a lut texture maybe?

    Also I changed the layout, made the landscape a lot smaller.  Let me know what you think.

  • MeshMuti
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    MeshMuti triangle
    Okay, I did some digging after you mentioned the Kelvin temperature of moonlight as 4100K, eg.:



    which is pretty damn warm, and close to your original sccene colour.
    I came accross this thread:


    Which goes into more detail about the nature of moonlight and it's preperties and the way our eyes percieve moonlight.
    Have a look, it might give you more context to inforn your scene, I'll definitely refer back if I do a nighttime scene.

    I'll have a look at the compositions in a bit, got to get something done quickly, good luck!
  • aclund3
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    aclund3 polycounter lvl 4
    Great stuff with the color grading advice @MeshMuti!

    I really appreciate your willingness to go after this and make big changes!  That being said, the Aug 17 screenshot is OK, but I might try using a program like PureRef and overlaying a transparent copy of that mock-up by @JesseL and matching your camera and assets to it.  Build on the image from there to make it more your own. Maybe add the gate back in with the foliage pulled back a little to show it off as a secondary focal point like someone suggested.  Use those leading lines of the path to force the viewers eyes back to your warm lights, the mausoleum and the people :)  Think in 3d to build the environment, but then 2d to show the screenshot/portfolio image.  You got all the elements, and it may just be me, but I'm not feeling the composition just yet.  Keep going!
  • scnd22
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    scnd22 polycounter lvl 2
    MeshMuti said:
    Okay, I did some digging after you mentioned the Kelvin temperature of moonlight as 4100K, eg.:

    which is pretty damn warm, and close to your original sccene colour.
    I came accross this thread:


    Which goes into more detail about the nature of moonlight and it's preperties and the way our eyes percieve moonlight.
    Have a look, it might give you more context to inforn your scene, I'll definitely refer back if I do a nighttime scene.

    I'll have a look at the compositions in a bit, got to get something done quickly, good luck!
    Hey MeshMulti, I read the link you posted.
    So the conclusion is, the light that the moon is reflecting, is actually warm but it doesn't really matter (to me =) ) since we don't see it as such. 
    Thanks for taking the time to look it up.
    aclund3 said:
    Great stuff with the color grading advice @MeshMuti!

    I really appreciate your willingness to go after this and make big changes!  That being said, the Aug 17 screenshot is OK, but I might try using a program like PureRef and overlaying a transparent copy of that mock-up by @JesseL and matching your camera and assets to it.  Build on the image from there to make it more your own. Maybe add the gate back in with the foliage pulled back a little to show it off as a secondary focal point like someone suggested.  Use those leading lines of the path to force the viewers eyes back to your warm lights, the mausoleum and the people :)  Think in 3d to build the environment, but then 2d to show the screenshot/portfolio image.  You got all the elements, and it may just be me, but I'm not feeling the composition just yet.  Keep going!
    Hey, thanks.

    I regret not doing it in the past (as much at least). That is why I don't delete my older posts. As cringey as they are, they serve to remind me how stupid I was :p .

    About the composition, have you seen my yesterdays post? Only asking because you mentioning an older one (Aug 17). I opened up PureRef as you suggested and I don't think there is a huge difference between @Jessel's mockup and my latest screenshot. I did some subtle changes anyway. Also did some color grading, I'm worrying that it's getting a bit dark, to the point that I may lose Information. I hear people pointing this out often so let me know your opinions <3 .
  • JesseL
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    JesseL triangle
    Its coming together nicely! although as stated above the composition needs quite a bit of work

    Try changing the level directly from a 2D view then build the level around it, your going after a portfolio pic, if you were going after a pure level you would need game mechanics to build it around. So focus on the end result and build around it

    The third pic up with the gate in the shot, its good although the composition is really off. The gate draws your attention with the path drawing your eye there, while the moselium also draws as much attention making your eye dance around. What if you started from the moselium and made all your changes aorund that. So adding the path directly to it, adding the tree's so they accentuate, adding the gate so it opens towards the moselium. Make everything move around that focal point

    Have you tested adding more fog and opening up the background mountains a little more, I think even something simple like adding a large moon behimd the tree's and behind the moselium would add a lot to the piece. Especially if you added godrays from said moon

    The color needs work, although dont think about that now so much except basic lighting. That's the very last thing you will do in post processing

    Keep up the work!
  • scnd22
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    scnd22 polycounter lvl 2
    @JesseL Thanks for the detailed reply :) ! I'll keep working on it.
  • JesseL
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    JesseL triangle
    Whoops, didnt read your last comment/post

    Dont delete anything above, keep them and learn from your mistakes. This is a learning forumn anyway so seeing the direct progress is interesting

    For your picture you just posted, heres an idea. Move the moselium to where the gate is, try to line it up on the rule of thirds. Add the path directly to there, in the middle add 1/3rd of the 2d picture to the ground, add another 1/3rd to the background mountains make them nice and big and the rest to the sky

    Keep the area from the middle third mostly open so you can see the background better and enclose the rest with tree's, for the gate there is no perfect place to put it. You could try putting it directly in front of the camera opened up fully, you could also try adding it behind the wheelbarrow showing the people having a path and where they came in. As above id love to see the moon shining bright and see the lighting of it, that would also darken up the scene generally and brighten up the warm candles as well

    Heres a very quick composition drawup, just very basic but to give a general idea



  • scnd22
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    scnd22 polycounter lvl 2
    @JesseL Ok, I guess I'll delete everythink except the characters and the building and start from there. In ue4 you can have a rule of thrids overlay (in cinematic viewport) so I don't imagine this will be very difficult.

    So now you saw my last post, do you think the color is better? I know I shouldn't worry about it yet :)
  • MeshMuti
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    MeshMuti triangle
    I agree with @JesseL to follow the rule of thirds with the composition.
    Here are some comments on your latest image with the rule of thirds applied:
    Not mentioned below, the stone path takes your eye to the gate maybe too strongly.

    So I did a quick mockup:
    The idea is to follow the rule of thirds, place the building at the most prominent position and set a scene from that point forward. Maybe consider including some depth in the scene, foreground detail with the tombstones, which you had in your earlier renders, and maybe moving the gate a bit back.
    You'll need to decide if you still want a path, placing the path from the viewer directly into the building seemed a bit too on the nose. You can maybe keep the rocks as highlights in the grass if you feel a part is becoming too dark.

  • scnd22
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    scnd22 polycounter lvl 2
    @MeshMulti Man I love that messy look, reminds of dark souls, I love dark souls! 
  • aclund3
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    aclund3 polycounter lvl 4
    Hey friend!  I did see the Aug 19 screenshot but kind of preferred the Aug 17 one as a starting point. Just my opinion of course.

    More importantly all of the compositional advice from @JesseL and @MeshMuti is solid gold.  Solid. Gold. Take all of it deep into your soul and keep it forever :)
  • scnd22
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    scnd22 polycounter lvl 2
    Ok  aclund3, thanks for letting me know. 

    I decided to lean towards MeshMuti's mockup.
    Of course there is still work to be done but I wanted to see If I'm heading in the right direction, don't want to do this all over for another time :p .
  • scnd22
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    scnd22 polycounter lvl 2
    Update:
    Worked a bit more, mostly on background elements
  • scnd22
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    scnd22 polycounter lvl 2
    Hi everyone, i just uploaded this on my artstation. You can find here: https://www.artstation.com/artwork/lVnEXV

    Thanks everyone for the help!
  • Ashervisalis
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    Ashervisalis polycount lvl 666
    This is dope! I think you should re-release it on ArtStation right before Halloween. Just some crit;

    - You could have reduced the poly count in the middle of the round part of the bowl statue, as well as baked those beveled edges.
    - Those candles are really, really bright.
    - The roof of the mausoleum could have a lot more dirt and dead leaves on it.
    - The tomb stones are dirty enough, but if you had carved chunks out, and broken pieces off, it would really sell the age more.
    - The moon is now competing with the attention of the mausoleum.
    - Composition-wise, if the ground the mausoleum was on was even more elevated than the rest of the scene, it would have been even more attraction to the eye.
    - You could add a dirt or grunge layer with super low opacity to the final images to get a gritty look, and it would add to the picture.
    - You could have spread out the floating dudes a bit further, and used them as a guiding path to bring the viewer to look at the mausoleum. It would have been more creepy, but right now it looks like they're having a good chat while huddled together ;)
    - I think the texture work on the door could use a little love.

    That aside, good work here, looks awesome :)
  • scnd22
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    scnd22 polycounter lvl 2
    @Ashervisalis Thank you very much for the feedback :) .

    I usually don't worry a lot about poly count since the environment is for my portfolio, but certainly it could be lower.
    I agree the candles are bright, I had to up the intensity to work for my 1st shot, so in the closer one they are very bright.
    About the tombstones, I actually had some chunks carved on the high poly
    I guess it didn't translate very well on the texturing.

    The composition on this one for some reason was a real challenge :p. For my next environments I think I'll need to focus more on a solid concept and a good blockout.

    Anyway I received great feedback and learned a lot, thanks again :) !
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