Hi all! I'm building a new environment in UE4 with another artist (Ilya) and decided to start thread here and share with you my progress and thoughts. I do this environment for a while now and at last have something to show.
The idea of this environment is to build European town with some hostile alien sci-fi architecture.
Some blockout shots, I tried to figure out shapes, size and look of the buildings.
I spent a lot of time creating building layered material, but since my environment will be populated with a lot of buildings it's worthwhile effort to invest time in it. I reworked this material several times to get a look, flexibility and efficiency that I can be happy with. Now when it's ready I'm producing these buildings with relative ease as majority of the building surface is covered with it, I just need to add modular assets and decorations to make building complete.
Cool thing about this material is that it blends several material variations per vertex color channel. For example, Red channel is for paint - 0.75 to 1.00 range of R channel is used for fine paint, 0.5 to 0.75 used for moderate damaged paint (moisture, cracks here and there) and 0.25 to 0.5 is used for heavily damaged paint and so on. This technique is similar to technique used for Witcher 3 although the logic of using vertex paint data and blending is a bit different.
On top of that I plan to use variation textures for leaks, dirt, graffiti, etc.
The result is that material holds up great at close and long distances.
I created a library of base material like paint, bricks, cement, etc.
Material in Unreal Engine
To make it easier to produce buildings I made a replica of this material in Blender. Having this material in Blender I can preview overall look while modelling and have an idea for how vertex color will look in engine.
The graph is not very pretty, but it's pretty straightforward and does the job.
In Unreal I use Blueprints as a way to replicate functionality of prefabs. I can then customize the same building swapping/adding or removing meshes and materials.
Some examples of work-in-progress buildings
A few building blockouts.
Now I'm working on making more assets like windows, doors, etc to make this kit really flexible.
Everything is still in rough state but I hope you like what you see and the progress that I've made.
I also structured my blender scenes in a cool way, linking assets and materials from main scene and exporting assets with one click. I can write about that later.
C&C, questions are appreciated.