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[WIP] [Environment] [UE4] First rate ship HMS Aurora

hey guys!

Summer break starts in a couple weeks and I want to use these months to try and make a new environment piece.
What I have decided on is to make a first rate, ship of the line in UE4!

What I want to accomplish:
Well, first of all, VOC and pirate ships are just awesome! However, what I notice a lot with ships online is that they look very pristine and perfect.
I want to make a scene in UE4 that tells a small story. I want the ship to feel 'lived in'. A good example is the tank in the movie Fury.
For rendition I plan on realistic texturing and shapes, however, on top of that I want to add some of that classical, painterly feel that you get from those oil paintings.

The design will be a combination of various sorts of ships. The main shape of the hull will be based off of the HMS Victory, since that ship has the most detailed plans. Medium details will be based on Spanish ships mostly, particularly the Man-o'-war ships, and for detailing I want to take inspiration from Dutch VOC sip. 

What I want to learn:
So far the only workflow I am really familiar with is: blockout > low poly > hand painted textures > UE4 + lighting.
With this project I want to learn high to low poly workflows and PBR texturing. That will mean I will have to learn Substance and Zbrush, and this project will be perfect to do so. The ornate details on the ship's stern and figurehead is perfect to learn sculpting, and the various states of wood (mossy, wet, worn) is perfect to learn Substance.



  • Agelink
    It took many tries before I was able to capture a good looking hull shape.
    To make it I traced the reference with bezier curves and then use a loft to create the mesh. There was one major issue though; the mesh was very wobbly due to tiny imperfections in the curves.
    To fix this I got recommended to use Quad Draw to make a low poly version, and then subdivide that, which worked perfectly and it also introduced me right into retopo tools! (which was on my list of goals this project)

    Right now I got a mesh for the hull that I am really happy with, and I am excited to move forward blocking out the rest of the ship.
    But before I do that, I think it's time I flesh out the story and looks of the ship more, and make a few concepts.

    In the meanwhile, I would love to receive some feedback!

  • Agelink
    I'm back!
    School is officially over so I finally got time to continue this project.
    I have done a lot of research on the structure of these 16th century ships, and I couldn't help myself but make a blockout of the interior of this ship. Every deck is based on real ships, and thus it should make logically sense. However, I don't know yet if I will have time to complete the interiors as well as the exterior. From now on I will focus on the exterior first though.

    For the stern details I made some character poses in DAZ, I then quickly retopo'd them in Houdini and then imported them in Maya. This technique allowed me to make very detailed blockouts of characters, almost as fast as it would take to make them out of basic cubes.

    Next up is making a blockout of the bowsprit and headpiece (front of the ship), reworking the masts a little and then I feel comfortable moving forward to the final modeling phase!

  • TheGabmeister
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    TheGabmeister interpolator
    Looking great. I'm interested in how you plan to approach the water and the sky.
  • kanga
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    kanga sublime tool
    Yeah this looks super! Thanks for showing the breakdown. Looking forward to seeing this progress.
  • Agelink
    Alright, I think I am calling my blockout done. Next up is dividing the mesh in tilable and unique objects, cleaning up the outliner a bit more and then make a planning of what objects to model first.

    @TheGabmeister Thanks! I am really excited about that as well. I want the sky to be fairly dynamic. There is this amazing talk by Valentine Kozin on how they used Houdini to make volumetric clouds in Sea of Thieves, so I want to look into that, and any other mist and smoke I want to do using flipbooks in Houdini.

    @Kanga Thank you! I'll make sure to break down my thought process throughout this project. If you ever want to know anything specific, just ask and I might go a bit more into detail in my reply :)

  • Agelink
    A small update on the modeling phase:
    I have started making the final models of the top deck. To start I want to make all the objects that are 'stuck' to the deck (so not cannons, buckets, lanterns, etc). It's a very fun phase, but a lot of work has to be done, so I split it in different sections:
    -Static pieces (fences,masts, stairs, railings, etc)
    -Organic pieces (statues back and front, cannons, sails?) (I might do the sails last)
    -Details (ropes, metal rings, loose items)

    I put the blockout on a seperate layer, so it can function similar to an underlying sketch. It's a nice reminder not to forget important details, and it's a nice motivator to check off different segments.

    Some of the wireframes look way more high poly from a distance then they actually are:

    I suspect I will complete the static pieces at the end of next week (I will be away for a few days till Monday). After that it will be time to learn Zbrush for the more organic pieces. I think the cannons are perfect to start with; They will only need some weathering and detailing, so it's a perfect opportunity to get comfortable with Zbrush before diving into the more complex pieces of this ship.

    On a side note, I found some awesome and fairly simple tools to add buoyancy to objects and gravity to ropes in UE4. I am really excited because this will add realistic movement to hammocks and hanging lanterns.

  • CybranM
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    CybranM greentooth
    Its looking really nice so far :smiley:
    Are you planning on making it an "active" scene, with smoke from cannons and people running around or an empty ship without any people? "ghost" ship vibes and such.

    Looking forward to seeing this progress!
  • Agelink
    @CybranM Thanks! I'm no character artist so I am looking for a fairly cheap pirate character set to place in there. If I can't find anything I'll just leave it unmanned.
    I am planning to add some simple smoke effects and such from the cannons
  • Agelink
    Hey guys! I haven't abandoned the project, don't worry. Here's a quick update on the modeling phase. It's taking a bit longer than expected, with complex structures like the stern and the front.
    Most of the main structure is complete, as well as a part of the UV'ing. After this I plan to sculpt the organic bits, which will be a first for me so we'll see how that goes. I can't wait to start texturing the ship and I am really excited to construct the scene composition in UE4.

  • conflig
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    conflig polycounter lvl 2
    Awesome work! Be strong and patient while creating masts :D 
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