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One Rainy Night (UE4 Alley Environment) Critique

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Carliflower polycounter lvl 3

Hi All,

I've been working on this piece for a while and am close to calling it done. I'd love to hear your thoughts on how I could improve it before then. Any areas that could use some more attention or adjustments? Any feedback is appreciated, thanks!


  • pixelpatron
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    pixelpatron polycounter

    Lighting looks a bit evenly distributed. Less is more. I know you want to show off all those materials and models, but having strong focal points is way better. The environment itself looks a bit clean and it's missing trash, debris and electrical wires, cable boxes, trash bags, broken bottles, AC units, asphalt patches, gutters...etc., I really think adding a police vehicle(s) and really playing up the red/blue lights would do wonders for this scene. You could even do a bit of storytelling if you wanted to do an undercover detective vehicle with the placed on roof flashing light. I'd also think about adding alley electrical boxes and gas meters. Your graffiti is also too neat and you can tell it's a decal. Where's the little bits of green popping between the cracks?

    Some ref/inspiration.

  • Carliflower
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    Carliflower polycounter lvl 3

    Thanks for the feedback. I agree on the lighting, although I think it's more an issue of pulling up the blacks of the shadows too far. There actually isn't all that much light being used. Although I think that no adjustment at all results in it being too dark, so it does need a little bit of correction. Perhaps just scaled back a bit like so?

    (No adjustment to shadows)

    (New scaled back adjustment)

    I'm unsure what you mean by adding trash/gutters/electrical boxes/etc. as those are already there? They are just placed more subtly so as not to draw attention to themselves. Maybe just a little too well then? As for the police cars - those are there as well (at the end of the alleyway on the main street), and the lights do flash red/blue although that doesn't really come across in a static image (i'll add a .gif showing that later) I'll also dirty up/fade the coloring on the graffiti some more.

  • Fabi_G
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    Fabi_G hero character


    Really like the variation in the reflections on in the image posted by pixelpatron. Maybe you can get closer to something like that with different roughness values (maybe modulate specular too?) caused by puddles, different surface smoothness, greeble. Currently the reflections on the surfaces are bit even.

    I agree with keeping the light simple (so the crime scene can pop). Some examples of pixelpatron show nicely how light hits facades on one side of an alleyway and bounces off, naturally brightening one side more. Maybe something you can try too (directional light bouncing off).

    Keep it up!

  • Joopson
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    Joopson quad damage

    Looks good! I will say, I didn't realize these were construction lamps, or whatever they're called. Their reflections are intensely bright, but the prop itself doesn't really read as illuminated to me. I'd expect the lamp itself to be as bright or brighter than the reflection.

    I also agree with Fabi_G about the ground feeling a bit too even and clean right now.

    Keep up the good work!

  • Carliflower
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    Carliflower polycounter lvl 3

    Thanks Fabi_G, I'll play around with the reflections a bit more.

    Joopson, I believe that's actually a weird thing that happens in real life too with flood lights especially when looking directly at them. The light they give off is really bright, but they are designed for the light to only go in one direction (unlike say a light bulb, which casts light in all directions). The result is that you get a well lit area in front of the light, but the device itself remains in shadow (or at the very least is dependent on other lights around it rather than itself.) You can see this happen with like sports stadium lights, for example. Perhaps a color swap will help pull it out of the shadows enough that it doesn't get completely lost though. I'll also try out some other light combinations/intensities to see if it reads better.

    Hopefully I'll have some update renders up soon.

  • YairMorr
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    YairMorr polygon

    What a cool scene! Great job :) In addition to the comments above about lighting and mood, I'd like to point out the composition. It's hard for the eye to focus on what's happening in the scene. For example, in the first image, there are about 4 points that attract the eye in equal attention, not only because of the lighting and contrast, but also because of composition - nothing is leading the eye towards the focal point of the image.

    If I understand correctly, the crime scene should be the focal point, right? To make sure it is, in addition to lighting and textures (which were great comments above), the scene can be arranged to better point the eye towards it. I would remove the police tape, as it's splitting the scene right in the middle. Maybe use it somewhere else as a way of directing attention? Also, the garbage bins could be positioned closer to the camera in the dark and used as a way to frame the scene. Maybe something like this?

  • Carliflower
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    Carliflower polycounter lvl 3

    Finally had a chance to come back to this. Tweaked the lighting and the reflections and moved some things around based on all of your feedback. Better now?

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