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Hard Surface Blog: Sci-Fi Processing Station

mpuLse
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Hey PC!

This is my little 3D Blog / Progress thread on my current portfolio project I wanted to share with all of you.

small pre-cursor: (Skip if you don't care about back stories / starting ideas for a project)

I've been on a quest as of late to increase and refine my modelling skills, after a couple years ago of being super... super humbled by the likes of the legendary Paul Pepera, and people like Connor McCampbell. After seeing work from these super talented folk, I was inspired to make something, that would hopefully do them justice in some respect. My rabbit hole of research on Astroneer (One of my favourite games of all time) led me to learn all about him and Adam, and was a gratifying awakening to how much I could increase my skill sets in modelling. Coming from a Maya/ Zbrush background of 6 years, I begun to slowly feel limited in my creativity when modelling in Maya, and found myself relying on Zbrush way too much at times to explore my designs and conceptions. Hard surface, is hard ass work and I begun to realize you need all the tools / versatility at your disposal to soften the blow. I needed to find a way to level up. :P

This is what got me started on researching the people before us. I thought, "I need to look to those who've come before me who've done it better than I could ever do now in the present." You know, imitation being the sincerest form of flattery and all... and a great way to learn. All while working a separate job that was Maya based.. I began slowly researching, and trying to transition to 3DS late last year (round October-ish). To see what the fuss was all about. I found 3DS has a lot of aids to make hard surface easier in some respects, I found that conclusively in some aspects it felt clunky, but the level of control over your meshes.. Is fantastic, and love modelling / designing in 3DS max. It's sort of like sketching in 3D due to the modifiers. I believe art should be as non destructive as possible cause it helps get your roots laid down so to speak. I realized ultimately, it doesn't matter.. what DCC you pick to use, but you need to find what makes you most comfortable that matters most. For me currently that is max. But who knows that may change in the future.

I'm now in full production mode, and soon to be wrapping up the modelling. Although with a new job opp on the horizon, it may be slowing down a little here and there. There are some small things still yet to be finished and touch ups, but I've already begun transferring everything in UE5, where I plan to make this a full game ready environment with ray-traced lighting.

Then I got the idea to come here and blog the progress and share it with all of you guys! Share the journey with others as I push the ball forward on this little idea I had. The idea, is a SciFi Ore Processing / Hazardous Material Processing Station. You know.. the sciency unexplained futuristic processing nerdy stuff! haha

I was thinking of posting the starting block-outs from the screenshots I took when I first begun this piece, right from the start to now. I'm not sure how many of you would be interested or benefit from that, but if it's something anyone would like to see I can do that. :)

Criticism is always welcome, and I'll take it into consideration as I chisel away.

Cheers, and thanks for reading if ya did!

Matt

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  • mpuLse
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    mpuLse polycounter lvl 3

    Couple block out shots and concepts for the maintenance vehicle's arm head piece:





  • mpuLse
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    Was prepping lowp's for the main Delivery Ship, when I realized I wanted something a little extra for the hoses / pipes in the cut out areas, adn break up the bigger shapes

    Started concepting :

    Settled so far on this. Liking the coily tops. Sort of like a service panel on the outside hoses as well.

  • mpuLse
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  • mpuLse
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    Little bit of light exploration with Blender Cycles X. Accidentally put a bit too much of a contrast curve on the render :X

  • mpuLse
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    Finishing up designs on the fuel hoses - At least that's what I think they are lol - refining and trying to make sure there is interesting shape language but functional.


  • mpuLse
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    Corrected the lighting for my preview lighting tests. The light bounces are gonna be fun in UE5 lol

  • mpuLse
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    Another render then resuming optimizing meshes for UE5.

  • mpuLse
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    Decided there was still more modelling to do, to add some extra functionality to the environment to promote more 'believability'

  • mpuLse
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    3 min light setup with Arnold in 3ds max. Plus more modelling additions.


    P.s - This environment has unfortunately been put on hold due to other commitments.. I plan to get back to it when I can.

  • mpuLse
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    mpuLse polycounter lvl 3
    Finally got some more time to keep adding to this and finish this up.  After not looking at it for a while I realized it still needed some more detailing here and there. Also changed the main camera perspective for something with a little more exciting composition. Floor now has a more 'sci-fi' appeal as it curves into the background with a more layered grated look. Still fixing that up from the proxy cuts I did but it looks to be coming along quite nicely.

    Some other little details to be added here and there but, otherwise low polying / UVing and texturing is to begin, but not sure if I want to go for the environment first or perhaps begin with the delivery ship in the middle and considering showcasing that first as a separate asset. Then display it also in this environment. All in all looking forward to getting the rest of it into unreal 5, and start fleshing out what the final mood and ambience will look like for the lighting.




  • mpuLse
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    mpuLse polycounter lvl 3
    The other thing I will be considering is also doing a 'walk' through with a slow camera from the ground level as this station is quite big.. to really give that 'awe' inspiring you're tiny, and station gigantic.
  • mpuLse
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    Started detailing the space fabric for the arm on the Utility Space Vehicle that is collecting the payload from the delivery vehicle hatch. I nick named it the 'Froge'.. cause from a head on view, it definitely looks like a frog lol. It's looking fairly accurate to reference but the details / contours need to be increased / more severe, so it can match the reference better.




    More detailing was added to the docking ring to further break up the bigger shapes that could use it. Came up with this unique idea for some sort of pod / punched hole inset idea, for some sort of power / stabilization? 'Sci-fi Shtuff'




    Finally, a last minute render to see how everything is shaping up. Really liking how it's coming a long so far. Getting closer to finishing up the lowpoly's and prepare for lighting and texture setup in Unreal 5.





  • mpuLse
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    mpuLse polycounter lvl 3
    First test lighting in unreal 5 with Lumen ( although love the outcome overall, it is most certainly not game ready.) It is very taxing.

    and then here is GPU Lightmass, (a lot of pieces in the environment do not have their final lowpoly's added yet, so there is artifacting in a lot of areas. But mainly getting these locked in first for the lighting before the colours get added via materials and roughness / metalness is added.) I like to treat the lighting procedure like a painting, and getting my greyscale lighting values lookin good before adding the materials. I find it really helps dial things in.


    Overall, not entirely sure which route I want to go, but I think I am leaning towards GPU lightmass for the overall finished look. Then perhaps switching it over to lumen and releasing a version of it with Lumen as well. Just for contrast's sake. Classic baking workflow obviously takes longer, but it's also the more efficient route, for an actual 'game ready, 100fps+ environment'

    Loving the look so far though.


  • mpuLse
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    mpuLse polycounter lvl 3

    Been really busy as of late between work and other projects but finally got back to this which has been a nice change. I did some Photoshop paint overs after rendering this out, to really dial in an idea and visualize what I want the scene to look like. This is currently where I am at. The power pipes on the right side of the environment there on the wall, and the dock in the middle have received some texturing. Taking a slight break from the dock and moving on to the delivery ship in the middle of the dock. After that is done, I'll be going back to finishing the rest of the dock pieces that are not yet textured. Then I'll move on to the outside bigger areas of the environment. (I started with the floor texture on the outsides leading to the background)


  • Ruz
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    Ruz polycount lvl 666
    so are you going to bake normal maps or just use bevels and keep it slightly higher res. just curious really
    maybe just add/bake floaters on top of a mid res base?
    I supppose Unreal can handle a lot of polys these days, but still best to optimise stuff
  • mpuLse
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    Ruz said:
    so are you going to bake normal maps or just use bevels and keep it slightly higher res. just curious really
    maybe just add/bake floaters on top of a mid res base?
    I supppose Unreal can handle a lot of polys these days, but still best to optimise stuff

    Hey Ruz!

    Yeah its going to be a combination of baked and mid poly weight shading. I view it this way, for the higher detailed stuff classic baking workflow would be best, as you can capture more details and the workflow is more forgiving than mid poly weight shading. Any extreme detailing ie. (modelling you wouldn't want to do unless you enjoy bleeding time away) I leave for zbrush, and or through texturing details. That's the plan anyway lol.
    Higher priority assets that will be loser to the camera will get a classic high res to bake to lowpoly work flow. Things seen from mid to long distance from the camera to save time will be mid poly weight shaded with textures doing the heavy lifting.
  • mpuLse
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    For example here is a test bake, at 2k res, of the main ship, it's almost ready for texturing. Just finishing some artifact fixes from the bake.

  • mpuLse
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    Some bake previews

  • mpuLse
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    mpuLse polycounter lvl 3
    For some reason my images are not staying in the thread as of late.
    Anyways here is a progress update with the texturing.

    Not entirely sure if I am sold on the sliding door on the side being orange. Will probably play with the colour or saturation. I do want that part coloured... orange seemed like a good idea but finding it matches the 'burnt' areas on the port window and 'sidings' too much.
  • mpuLse
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    Another take on the door, I am liking this one better so far.
  • mpuLse
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    Continued the burning and charred areas on the outside of the hull

  • mpuLse
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     Some more progression on the Command Module  / Delivery Ship. :)
    Really liking the outcome so far. Trying to make sure my white balance is in check is always a fun struggle. Re-did the charred look as the charring wasn't to my liking when compared to my reference. (NASA and Space X charring from plasma upon atmosphere re-entry)
    Also incorporated a bug / insect inspired solar panel design which definitely sort of resemble bug eyes of some sort. I think it looks rad! I could be wrong though lol
    Moving on to the last portion of texturing for this asset which would be the hinge device that holds up the ships lid. Then on to other portions of the environment.
  • mpuLse
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    Made a change to the heat shield material and made it borrow more style of ceramic plate heat shields
  • mpuLse
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    Pretty much nearing the finish with this asset from the environment.



  • mpuLse
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    mpuLse polycounter lvl 3
    Forgot to post this update as well:

    Not sure how I feel about the front door of the ship, might change it.
  • mpuLse
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    mpuLse polycounter lvl 3
    Been a little on posts, small update.
    Experimenting with logos and company names for the ship. Plus a cheeky space slogan of some sort on the door. (It may be subject to change lol)
    httpscdndiscordappcomattachments2274808010280796181260068978085335091imagepngex668dfa2fis668ca8afhmcd3f3e83c1c6baa4da3bc3e555e46b862ad7b8e9f39e79614dd97e1520ab6744

    Also signs and materials for the scifi pillows



  • shabba
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    shabba polycounter lvl 15
    - I’d remove the light contribution that is high intensity on the back wall and have the focal point be more illuminated 

    then have secondary fill lights supporting the scene and providing a consistent fill to the surroundings so things are still visible but not matching the light intensity of the center point
  • mpuLse
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    shabba said:
    - I’d remove the light contribution that is high intensity on the back wall and have the focal point be more illuminated 

    then have secondary fill lights supporting the scene and providing a consistent fill to the surroundings so things are still visible but not matching the light intensity of the center point

    Hey Darren! Thank you very much for the feedback! You mean that bright spot at the back on the top?

    Yeah the lighting is 'roughly' set, but definitely not finished. Been tweaking the lighting after I got it like.. 75% of the way. Knowing it'd have tweaks as it went on. The background light there have some bright spots I am aware of just haven't adjusted it quite yet. Also that center back wall will have windows with light bleed coming through them (cause it's the 'control center' back there. (think shadow silhouettes being able to be seen through it but blurred, suggestive detail)


    so if I am understanding your suggestion correctly, you mean the 1) that I circled there as the 'back wall' and the indirect lighting that it's contributing to the scene needs to be lowered to create more depth? I want to be careful how dark I make it, as this scene will also have a fly through, and this won't be the only perspective shot on this piece, but it will be the main establishing shot for sure.

    It actually used to be darker back there, but something I have been keeping in mind as the materials have been added.
    I'll do some light change tests in the next updates and see how they feel!
    Cheers

  • mpuLse
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    Nearing the finish on this Command Module / Delivery ship.
    Some quick renders out of Painter.





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