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[WIP] [UE4] [Environment] The Big Catch

BR8
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BR8
Hey all! I am Sebastian, a 3D Artist from Germany taking the shift from VFX to Game Dev. I was a long time polycount reader in the last years. Now I am taking action by using my personal account to start creating output actively. This is my way for documenting the development progress of my environment Project "The Big Catch".

I really would love to hear your comments and feedbacks on my work.

The updates will be milestone based. The posts will be mirrored between the polycount and the UE Forums.
You could also check them out on my Artstation Blog:


Have fun browsing! :)

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  • BR8

    The Big Catch - Environment Creation Blog 01

    Intro

    Since I thought about a few possible ways of documenting the development progress of my environment Project "The Big Catch", I had the feeling that writing about it would be the best way of getting that retrospective kind of documentation I may desire in the future after I finished this piece. The upcoming blog entries will be posted on Artstation and then be (shortened and) mirrored on the Polycount & Unreal Engine forums when I think I have gathered enough screenshots of my current creations state. This will be a good solution to get continuity in progression updates and hopefully I will have the chance to gather valuable input, critiques and comments for my project.

    The Story of "The Big Catch"

    "The Big Catch" is an environment piece which tells a story of a night fishing scene where a mysterious accident took place. One night the fisherman went to his dock to go night fishing. He opened the shed and turned on its battery powered lights on its inside and its outside. He was just about to start preparing to fish, sitting in his chair but then he was pulled down into the water by an underwater creature, which lives deep down in these waters and was never seen by anyone else than its prey. While he was fastly dragged out of his chair the fisherman knocked over all the things in reach of his radius, while the creature pulled him underwater as fast as lightning. The state of the scene composition was set just a few moments after this event took place.

    Concept, References, Blockout, Composition

    At the beginning I created a story and blocked it out in a picture in my mind. Nothing too fancy. After that I started to block out the scene in Maya and validated the blockout through the storyline with the logical sequence of the story. Then I blocked out the main parts of the environment, after I researched and collected reference for the macro parts of the scene. I placed everything in its own logical place. The collection of props I gathered had the purpose to describe the character and should act like a mirror of the fishermans personality.


    The Dock is constructed as a floating dock. It has three floating parts, one bridge and one walkway. In addition to that, it has a walkway on its right, so that fishermen can walk into the water with rubber boots without having to jump inside.

    I placed a big long rug between the first and second floating decks from the right side, to get a feeling of provisionality. The fisherman is not an engineer, so he goes the fast and simple way to not stumble on niches. There is also a smaller rug on the crossing between the bridge and the walkway for the floating decks. There is a battery powered flashlight on a hookboard, as a small lightsource. A mirror for the washstand. A bucket with a rope knotted on its handle for fetching water to pour it in the washstand. There are quivers for the stick-tools. The longer stick-tool is bent by the roof of the shed.


    The loose boards in the water help the eye to finally move to the fisher hat. Everything is knocked over by the fisherman in the moment he was dragged down by the creature.

    Light

    I then created a temporary (!!) light concept which contained the two shed lights and the light of the moon.
    The Lighting concept with a skybox and the water shader will be created in the last stages of the creation process.

    Mood

    The general mood of the scene should become near this collection of images. As mentioned before, I will tackle this topic as one of the last tasks before finishing the scene. I will try to get reflection of the starts and the moon visible in the water. Also the monster will (for now) emit a green light. it will look like the usual glow sticks, which are used for night fishing.


    Destruction

    I left out the destruction pass on purpose, that is why the blockout of the dock and woodparts seem to be too clean and new. Once I finished creating the woodkit and its damaged parts, I will tackle the damage pass of the wooden pieces one by one. That way general placement was not as complex which prevented schedule issues.

    Now that I had the composition of the scene, the props and their positioning, the story element and the desired lighting with its mood in place I could start finishing the environment piece by piece.


    Gathering feedback and joining a mentorship

    One important urge I had, was that I wished for validation of somebody who already works as an environment artist. Since I never did a full environment it was utterly valuable for me to get feedback on my upcoming project. Since I am a selfthought artist, I was stuck on a point where I had to take action in exactly that matter, since the system I usually worked by didn't work for this project.

    I usually was being passive in online envolvement and lurked around and read everything I needed to know. I often thought about other ways to push myself as an artist. A few years back it worked like a charm since usually everything I needed to know was around the corner and was already asked at least once in the interwebs. But since advanced topics of game development came up I had to admit that I sometimes didn't quiet know what to ask for.

    I don't have people around me in private, that could help me with those topics I had to conquer. I know many communication designers but nobody of them ever did 3D for games. So I got stuck in a monologue which wasn't very helpful at times. I needed critique or a technical hint for progression.

    I then started a mentoring membership with Timothy Dries in July this year. Timothy was so kind to answer my big cataloque of questions that I accumulated in the creation process of the environment scene. This was an important step, since Timothy gave me valuable information of his field of work. He also gave me an oversight of the restrictions and important pillars of game dev I needed to consider while progressing with my project. The mentorship with Timothy is coming down to one call a month. In every call I had the chance to get my growing collection of questions and topics answered and I also got feedback on the parts of my project I wanted to talk about. It is needless to say that this step was invalueable to get to move on.

    Since I experienced that for every new upcoming topic or problem, I had to start researching and train my skills again and again, I have to say that I really like the repeating process of getting to know the situation and taking every hurdle to get a particular problem solved in best practice. Until now this project already proved its initial purpose to push my skills as an artist. Until now I was unsure if I wanted to post content on forums or my blog, but Timothy recommended to do so. I do admit that somewhat of a bigger 'audience' may get me a bigger and maybe more valueable pool of feedback. At least I hope that it will.

    I dont know, when I will find the time for publishing the Polycount and Unreal forum posts, but when I do, I will post the links here in my blog. Maybe I just copy and paste this content there to have it all complete in every place. But on the other hand I dont think that everybody has the time and leisure to read through a wall of text in the internet.


    Notes

    Since this is the first blog entry, I still am about to figure out if I want this environment creation blog to be a weekly scheduled entry or if I write about it in milestones. I work on this project in my spare time, so I dont know when I will be finished with it.

    General notes and plans:
    • The scene will be created in Unreal Engine.
    • Since the blockout was created in Maya - the scene will be imported to UE once I do have finished the woodkit for the dock and shed parts.
    • The (hero)props will be created one by one and presented in form of a separate portfolio piece each, at least until the scene is completely finished and I feel the desire to create a breakdown for it afterwards.
    • The lighting concept with a skybox and the water shader will be created in the last stages of the creation process.
    • The monster in the water will be visible but I dont have any clue how I will tackle this topic. I will share my thoughts, once I began working on that part.
    • From now on I will gather more screenshots, if they are worth showing.

    Outro

    The next entries may not be as big as this one. I already have a few things written down but they still need to be prepared for publishing, since the post of a blog entry and the actual state of the scene still is subject of a small delay.

    For now this was a big wall of text, if you read everything until here, I really appreciate your interest and endurance. Thank you.

    I hope that you like my project and I am thrilled to show what is coming next.

    Have a great day!

  • BR8

    The Big Catch - Environment Creation Blog - 02

    Hey there! A month back I started the Environment Creation Blog and now it is time for me to add another entry! In the last few weeks I had much work to do. Thereby I was not really able to focus on my private projects in my spare time as much as I wanted to. But the great news is, that I still do have some older screenshots to show.

    I decided to change the concept to a kind of a more fast paced one, to keep it a bit shorter:
    "What did I work on? (→ thoughts / ressources ) → What will be the next step"


    Baking / Wood kit

    For this project I sharpened my baking skills and tried out to bake down a fast wood plank sketch. This bake was just an initial tryout to see what to consider, while sculpting the wood. It will be worked on with my full attention, once I do have the time capacities.





    First Hero Prop "Vintage Thermos"

    After the wood sketches I completely finished the "Vintage Thermos" lowpoly hero prop.



    Here you can find the project including the Marmoset viewer for the thermos.


    Searchlight

    The searchlight will be the light source on the upper right side of the shed.







    It will not get a damage pass and texturing is not fully finished yet, because it is a tertiary prop. I will not invest more energy than nessecary, at least at the moment.


    2nd Hero Prop "Vintage Tackle Box"

    The material and the high poly are almost done. The high poly of the box is not final yet. The pin in the back hinge and the sharpness of the lids lip has to be corrected. The caps and the extrusions on the sides will be renewed. The damage beat up is about to happen soon! I am thrilled for the bake and texturing phase already! Until now, I do like the outcome of it quiet well!







    Conclusion

    The next focus point will be to finish the tackle box. I am very thrilled about it already and can't wait to see it finished!

    And that's it for today's blog entry. I hope you like the work. Further content updates will be created a bit faster next time, I hope.

    Have a great day!



  • BR8
    Small update:

    Final bake and pre coloring of the tackle box prop. The smaller dmg will be made in painter. I do like the missing edge on the front. Thinking about a cigarette burn on top or such. We'll see!



    Have a great one everybody!
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