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[WIP] Forest Ruins Environment

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stefanWilliams_C polycounter lvl 3

Hello!

I've started working on a new environment portfolio piece where I want to put into practice more things I have learnt in regards to sculpting and modular organic assets. My idea is to have this dark, twisted, ancient Oak tree as the focal point of the scene, supported by ancient church ruins in the background and the rest of the scene being framed with larger rock formations and the end-tail of a birch forest emerging from the rocks.

These are my references at the moment. I want my quality benchmark to aim for God of War, especially in regards to using geometry-based snow clumps for the majority of the environment.

This is where I'm at with Blockout! To begin with, I want to start getting the main focal point looking good for a first pass, then move on to the other composition assets. Perhaps something more tribal to contrast the church-feeling in the background could be used on this main tree. Aside from that I'm also setting up some basic lighting to make sure I'm leading the eye towards those assets too.

Thanks for reading and Feedback is welcomed :)

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  • stefanWilliams_C
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    stefanWilliams_C polycounter lvl 3

    I've continued to work a bit on this environment, changing up the composition and shape block out a bit to experiment with what I have. I also made a first pass of a church ruin arch.

    So far I'm liking the idea of having some large blocky stone/rock monolith things that direct towards the big tree. I feel like it would add a nice slightly hard surface contrast to the currently quite organic scene.

  • stefanWilliams_C
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    stefanWilliams_C polycounter lvl 3

    Hi again!

    Since my last post I've been trying more to figure out what I really want to include in this environment. I eventually settled on focusing entirely on organic assets, keeping those more natural forms and silouhettes rather than trying to mix in some hard surface that wouldn't look as naturally fitting,

    Since the idea is that the focal point is this massive, dark, mysterious twisted tree found at the opening of an iced-over valley, I want that opening to be as visible as possible giving way to an easier to read composition than what I had before.

    Right now I'm working on the rocks and still changing things around in terms of composition. It feels like the main tree is less visible than the foreground, so I'm thinking of ways to get it working better than its current state.

    Above are the assets I've made so far. Want to finish off making a few more rocks and perhaps some more ruins to frame and bring attention to the main tree. Also gotta work on more trees and dead foliage :)

    I'm working on defining the trunk more, giving an overgrown ancient feeling with a few twisted vines

    Feedback and criticism is welcomed, thank you for reading!

  • stefanWilliams_C
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    stefanWilliams_C polycounter lvl 3

    Been able to work a little more on this environment over the last weeks.

    I prioritized getting a more modular rock workflow going since I thought the rocks currently didn't give me enough versatility. For that reason, I setup an RGB smart material mask in Substance Painter, baking out both the mask and Normal/AO from the rocks High poly. Used this workflow professionally before but this is my first time trying out something similar in Unreal, definitely got a lot to learn about different ways to do modular rocks inside the material editor! The idea with this one is that lighter edge wear on the granite rocks are masked out in the Green channel whilst the rougher, larger shapes are the main focus in the Blue channel. Hopefully I can get some extra detail in Red later on.

    The lighting of the scene was bothering me a lot with the visibility of that hero tree, so I adjusted it a little. Likely will change alot over the course of the project

    Thanks for reading, feedback is welcomed as usual!

  • stefanWilliams_C
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    stefanWilliams_C polycounter lvl 3

    Trees!

    I've made a small set of birch trees I can use to dot around the scene and add a bit to the variation, giving a sparse sub-arctic atmosphere. The main trunk meshes were made in Treeit and I put together a branch atlas using Megascans twigs and photoshop for baking.

    For these I decided to use a simple B/W vertex paint for the trunk since I felt they looked a little too smooth with just the 1 tiler running up the whole trunk. I quite like when birch trees have bits of the bark chipped away on the surface, revealing this more dirty, rugged layer underneath so i emulated that a little with a height lerp using data from the base birch material's heightmap. If I have time later on, I want to add some 'peeling' using floating geo, but it's not such a prio since the trees aren't that prevalent in the scene.

    So that's where I am at the moment! Taking it quite slowly due to the usual life business but quite excited to move forward with this one. Next up will hopefully be more Ruins and my hero tree :)

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