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The Bi-Monthly Environment Art Challenge | May - June (78)

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Pinkfox polycounter

Hey everyone and welcome to the 78th Bi-Monthly Environment Art Challenge for the months of May and June!

This challenge is a way for real-time 3D artists to test their skills and create a piece of work based on concepts provided. It's open to those of all skill levels and we do our best to provide meaningful feedback along the way so everyone can come away from the challenge with actionable points on which they can improve their craft!

Anyone is welcome in this challenge no matter your skill level! It's a test of your own ability not a competition between members. We're all here to improve as artists and learn from each other.

- ENVIRONMENTS -

HARD SURFACE ENVIRONMENT:

Flooded library by Tarmo Juhola

https://www.artstation.com/artwork/D5KgZ0

STYLIZED ENVIRONMENT:

The Lost Grove by Neil Richards

https://www.artstation.com/artwork/oem14


- PROPS -

HARD SURFACE PROP:

Chicken Coop by Philipp Rademacher

https://www.artstation.com/artwork/YKzJyV


STYLIZED PROP:

"Swale eaters": Fish chasers pathway by Mariia Tverdohleb

https://www.artstation.com/artwork/4blYRk


- RULES -

Please read all the rules before starting:

  • Try to post at least one critique for every post that you make. This will make for a better learning environment and help us all grow as artists.
  • Try your best to finish as much as you can in the time frame provided, but remember even if you don't finish by the end of the challenge we encourage you to keep pushing and finish your piece!
  • Post what you are working on in this thread so that way it's a more centralized place for advice and critique. Please avoid creating a new thread as we don't want to spam out the forums.
  • It is recommended to use a game engine to present your work. Unreal Engine, Unity, and CryEngine are very common engines that can be used but feel free to use any alternatives that you want. (Marmoset Toolbag for example.)
  • Feel free to change up your chosen concept a bit if you want! Interpret these concepts to your liking, especially if your aim is to add storytelling elements.
  • If you finish your project and decide to post it to Artstation, make sure you give credit to the concept artist in the form of a link to their profile. Additionally, it is recommended to ask a concept artist for their permission to post a 3D piece based on their work before doing so.

- RECOMMENDATIONS -

  • When you are just starting out making a scene, it can seem complicated or imposing. Take your time planning and blocking out, it will set you up for success later on.
  • Think about how you can re-use assets, re-use textures, break it down as simple as possible and plan it out. A lot of people will break it down in their own way when they start out their challenge. Gather some reference images as well for different parts of the scene, don't be afraid to make it your own.
  • We strongly encourage you to go and look at other games and see how they make their assets as well as get concept art to give it your own feel.

The goal is to learn and grow both artistically and in your ability to both give and receive critique, but don't stress about it and remember to have fun!

Good luck!

Replies

  • Pinkfox
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    Pinkfox polycounter

    @Its0urFate Really nice progress so far! Also appreciate how you showed the various steps throughout the blockout, it's great reference for others to get an idea of how to build things up from a simple form to something more complex. 🙂

  • Its0urFate
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    Its0urFate triangle

    @Fabi_G I think I’m going to go for dynamic, but I’ll try both to see what looks good. Yours is looking awesome!

  • Fabi_G
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    Fabi_G sublime tool

    Hello! First blockout looks good. I'd note that the person in the concept looks like a child to me (for scale reference).

    Sound like reasonable options! I'd say which one depends much on the rules you set yourself.

    If it's a generic asset, option 1 seems a good way to go about it. This way one could build more assets from the same modules. One could also store masks in vertex colors if enough geo.

    I'd say 3 seems like a good optimization measure. Can make sense to group modules by material. One could also start texturing with atlas/trimsheets and add additional meshes later for details.

    Keep it up!

  • Its0urFate
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    Its0urFate triangle

    @Fabi_G Everything looks great! The grunge on the architecture really sticks out nicely and the dingy is really well done! Hope to see this project updated down the road!


    @chummyship I wonder have you considered trim sheets? You might be able to use just one material for the prop. Looking good so far!


    I managed to fix a few things scale-wise and threw it into UE5. I'm working on texturing right now (the wood on everything is temporary) through Substance Painter/Designer. I wanted to get texturing done earlier in the week but I kept tweaking scale and proportion to where I liked it. Trying to figure out water in UE5 as well, which is stumping me a bit.


  • Fabi_G
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    Fabi_G sublime tool

    @Its0urFate thanks! Certainly will improve it and potentially break off smaller tasks (book system?).

    Like the proportions!

    I'm curious how you will approach the water. It's something I didn't find a satisfying solution for yet. Using a water surface from the water plugin, I couldn't get the reflections work nicely with indoors and outdoors, like occlude the reflections with skylight. I hope the documentation and sample availably for this system will improve.

  • marko_galesic
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    marko_galesic polycounter lvl 3

    My initial blockout in Max. Next step's gonna be the lighting blockout in Unreal.


    @simonBreumier That's overall fitting the reference well. Looks like that tarp may be 3D - may be easier to manage, if it was based off a plane.

  • hile
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    hile triangle

    Nice work everyone!

    I decided to try this challenge for the first time. Maybe I should have posted more updates throughout my progression. That may help me to finish this project.

    I definetly need to change/improve my lighting, create that water and all that clutter. And the boat.


  • Pinkfox
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    Pinkfox polycounter

    @hile Awesome work on it! Really love the colors you were able to achieve and it's very crisp overall. Really awesome to see so many people doing progress gifs, too! 😀

    Some tiny nitpicks to consider for your next project:

    • I'd expect more edge wear. Not necessarily everywhere but down near the water where it's more likely to encounter debris as the water levels rise, fall, storms move through, etc. Also where the rope of the makeshift bridge is tied to the column.
    • It would be nice to see more damage on the ceiling. It's so pristine that it's hard to imagine it would be leaking like that. Even just some mold decals would just help make the connection.

    Those are definitely nitpicks though and you killed it overall!

  • Fabi_G
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    Fabi_G sublime tool

    @hile looks cool 👍️

  • Fabi_G
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    Fabi_G sublime tool

    Much success, looking forward to updates.

  • Khulim


    Hi guys! There's a lot of great stuff here.

    Here's my model right now. I haven't done any of the foliage or ground yet, since I have to learn those skills before trying it out 😂.


    I used this challenge to try and make a model that's as efficient as I could (tri-wise). I was able to get it down to 10,360 tris, with the most being from the cloth at 3,612.

    The Particle Board texture was downloaded at: https://3dtextures.me/2019/01/23/wood-particle-board-002/ . I am curious as to how often you guys download textures vs creating them in Designer.

  • Fabi_G
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    Fabi_G sublime tool

    Hey @Khulim, I think it looks cool! Still, here are a few points I think could be improved:

    • The border of the cloth could use more detail like frays and tearing (opacity mask? cards?)
    • Stones on top of the shack look too undefined compared to the rest.
    • Wood boards look pretty straight and have quite sharp edges. Maybe some break up would help to give a more used and worn down appearance. With wood constructions, I think correct wood grain (especially at the ends) is important (hard to tell in the render).
    • Maybe the amount of grunge/dirt in the textures could be controlled by a mask, so it's less uniform

    What program/engine did you render the prop with? How did you aproach the texturing?

    When texturing, I like to combine baked maps (large to medium shapes) with scanned data (Megascans mostly - especially when using Unreal) - and sometimes handpainted maps.

    Keep it up 🚀

  • Khulim

    Thanks for the reply! These are some great points! I'll have to experiment with Opacity masks and cards to have them more readily available in my toolkit.

    I used Blender for the render.

    My approach to the texturing was starting from the most primitive elements, like the grain and color of the wood, then the worn paint over the wood, then lastly the dirt and grime. I kept altering the colors of the wood until I found a nice blend variety ( like that random redwood piece on the plank) to more uniform found in the rear bedding area.

    Now that you mention it, the dirt is even from top to bottom. In the real world, the bottom would definitely be where most of the dirt would be.

    Thanks again!

  • PuuroMan
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    PuuroMan polygon

    Finally i had time to work on this project :) I got alot of the modular models done. Still alot to do. Very challenging but im learning. There are problems with lighting in particular. Because I use the new Unreal engine 5. I still don't fully understand how the lighting works in it. The environment is far too dark. The last picture as an example. I was hoping i could create the ligthing only with directional light + ambient skylight but now im not sure if thats possible. Maybe i need to fake the lighting somehow. Edit. If someone has advice how to work with UE5 lighting in this enviroment it would be very helpfull 🙂

  • simonBreumier
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    simonBreumier polycounter lvl 2

    Hey @PuuroMan ! Looking good so far! A few ways to make the outside light comes in a bit more:

    • You could increase the indirect light bounces and intensity, this will make the ligth coming from the outside bounce a bit more inside and light the scene a bit
    • You can also increase the post processing exposure (although that might be cheating haha)
    • There are interior scene when I dropped the idea of lighting interiors with bounced light coming from the outside and just added big point lights as fill lights, it's dirty but if you tweak it right it does the job.

    I think there's good explanation on bounced indirect light in this https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZWADlXyfYCk&t=1483s (although it's UE4)

    This one also (UE5 this time): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=h5_4vAMqye4&t=253s

  • simonBreumier
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    simonBreumier polycounter lvl 2

    @atunnard nice start!

    Me I've recently decided to use UE4 when I need to use heightmap, because it feels like teh current UE5 solutions don't have the quality of a "released" state.

    If it can help, you can still use heitmap in UE5 but right now the existing systems are... not bug-free. From what I've tried you can use:

    • The good old parallax occlusion, but you'll have to make a shader yourself (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4lF9H8JEQck)
    • Virtual heightmesh field (this tutorial explains well how to do it: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cV2YhjAiogY), it's supposed to be the replacement for tesselation and it works ok on landscape but: I had a few weird bugs with it, it's a bit heavy to use and it only makes displacement toward the z axis, so you won't use it for individual assets, only for terrains. It's interested to learn vitrual texturing though, you can do tons of other things with it.
    • For individual mesh, you have to tesselate them yourself, apply them the heightmap as a displacement and reimport that high poly mesh in engine with nanite support. Again it works well but it's a heavy workflow and assets tends to take a bit of space.... You can also displace the assets in UE5 directly, which is a bit better in terms of workflow because you have more control, and UE5 handles high density meshes better than blender, there's a good tutorial on how to do it here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WnUGlAtKDbI&t=60s
  • simonBreumier
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    simonBreumier polycounter lvl 2

    @Fabi_G nice take on this one! Hope to see you on the next one :)

  • Pinkfox
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    Pinkfox polycounter

    Hey all! Very sorry about getting this out late. Hopefully those in Canada and the US have been able to enjoy the holiday weekend. 🙂

    It's been very warming to see the various takes on the environment and props throughout the last challenge! This includes a participant who shared their work on the stylized prop over on the Polycount Discord. Love seeing the different approaches and the transfer of knowledge as there isn't one way to tackle these things that are perfect.

    With that said, challenge 78 is officially over and I'm happy to announce challenge 79 is under way!

    https://polycount.com/discussion/230707/the-bi-monthly-environment-art-challenge-july-august-79

    Hope to see you all over there! 😀

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