Hey everyone, I recently started going over condensing my future projects for learning environment art. Learning from my previous project I was a little 'too' ambitious, especially for starting out and never making an environment before. Though through that frustration I learned a lot and screw it, if there is no struggle are you really learning?
Anyways, starting simple enough but focusing on key aspects that could be fun and make a sick portfolio piece(s) in the end. I'm doing a few rock studies with the idea of being in different environments (Desert, sea, forest, etc.) while tackling stylized textures and shaders inside UE5. A good excuse to hone all sorts of skills and to not have the stress of making stupidly big environments.
Found some cool concepts through Artstation/Pinterest of neat rock studies. I select one, build up more references to make that rock belong in its surrounding environment from real life reference:
Starting out I chose to do a desert scene. picking a style of rock I think fits the mood I want to set.
I sculpted the rocks out in ZBrush, Retopod in Blender to be a game asset, baked textures and did a lot of hand painting and generators inside Substance Painter to create a decent looking color flow that looked cool. Never really done this, working on a focused stylized piece is really fun though.
Now it was also time to sketch out a diorama look that flows well with what I'm trying to show inside UE5. Most rock studies are really cool in 3D but I wanted to do a little more than just show a untextured rock in free floating space. Instead I wanted to try making this study have an stylized environment to complement it. and 'maybe' include some creatures (cause why not?) give it personality..
(simple paintover with my setup in UE5)
Finally at my current point in this rock study, I created a mix of different types of foliage, a mix of textured and node based grass. I also took a lot of inspiration from Sea of Thieves with their sand and how it glistens in the sun thinking it was very neat. Granted this is a desert, but I studied an article on Journeys sand as well and recreating a sort of altered flowing noise texture across my sand. Will it work? I don't know, but screw it I'm gonna try anyways and see if it works well with a flowing dust cloud (which I'm still working on). End of the day I just want to make some cool stuff for a game portfolio.
Currently I'm at this point. Not sure if I'm happy quite yet with the color and grass placement, but including some simple lights (rim and front light) I feel its getting there.
If you have feedback I'd love to hear it, otherwise i'm just rolling with it and gonna make it happen. I will be adding all my rock studies in this post and eventually a final post with all 3 styles that will be included as separate pieces on my Artstation. I feel each one should be its own thing as i'm trying a lot of different things for each one :)