Home 3D Art Showcase & Critiques

[WIP] DaYong | Real-time Environmental Model | Chinese Style

Offline / Send Message
KayHuang node

I will be making the environmental scene based on the concept art done by Devins Lee- DaYong: https://www.artstation.com/artwork/B1XK3A

Week One

Day 1- I found concept art and AAA benchmark examples and knew what scene to create.

Day 2- I collected reference images for the asset about to be created. I dissected the scene to determine the modular pieces and how many asset versions were needed.

Day 3- Workday

Day 4- I accidentally replaced my latest Pureref file with the old one. I cannot recover the file afterward because of no previous version in the properties, have to recollect my reference images again. To prevent this from happening again, I will save my file to an external hard drive every day when I finish my work.

Day 5- I analyzed the scene to determine the material needed and planned the trim sheet.

Day 6- I finished the material analysis.

Day 7- I’m starting to work on the block out.

Summary: The most challenging part during this week is figuring out the modular pieces and planning the trim sheet. It took me some time to get my head around how to reuse the materials in the scene. Also, blocking out the scene that matches the concept art is a little challenging, but after tries and errors, I can get it as close as possible. I want to learn how to use Speedtree and Substance Designer in this project, so I would use Speedtree to create my vegetation and Substance Designer to create the tiling texture of the rocks. I’m glad that I started a new journey in modeling, and hopefully, by the end of the project, I will have honed my skills and stepped up a notch.

Welcome any suggestions or feedback!


  • Eric Chadwick

    Looking good so far.

    Are you planning on adding texture blending for variety and weathering? This could reduce the need for unique bits in your sheets, or at least help you increase reuse without visual repetition.

    Some links that might help ...



  • KayHuang
  • KayHuang

    Week Two

    Day 1- I finished the block out in Maya, then imported it into Unreal Engine for fine-tuning. After that, I imported the adjusted block out back to Maya.

    Day 2- I finished blocking the trim sheets and prepared for sculpting in Zbrush.

    Day 3- I started to sculpt the first trim sheet in Zbrush. Today I spent the most time learning Zbrush's interface, navigation, and standard hotkeys.

    Day 4- Work Day

    Day 5- Work Day

    Day 6- Rest Day

    Day 7- Work Day

    Summary: This week, I completed the basic block out of the scene in Unreal Engine and trim sheets in Maya. I got started on the Zbrush and learned some essential tools there. I hope to finish at least two trim sheets of sculpting by the end of next week. I wish everybody a happy new year!

  • KayHuang

    Thank you so much for the reply! About texture blending, I will consider that after I finish texturing all my assets, see if there's a need to cover up repetition. Because as far as I can see from the perspective set for the scene, it might be hard to find the repetition on the roof or the wood since they look tiny in the view. However, if I decided to do a closer shot, I would use texture blending to add variety!

    Thank you for the links! They are really helpful!

  • KayHuang

    Week Three

    Day 1- I got more familiar with using Zbrush and almost finished all the sculpting for the wood trim sheet. I forgot to export one part of the trims from Maya before sculpting in Zbrush, so I need to fix that and will finish this trim sheet by tomorrow.

    Day 2- I ran into an issue with the tilling seam on the trim sheet today. The seam is prominent and doesn’t tile properly. So then I resculpted it again, but the same problem occurred. I will either cover up the seam in Substance Painter down the line or try to paint the height map in Photoshop as suggested by someone that kindly gave the advice. I also started on the second trim sheet today.

    Day 3- I finished all the sculpting for the second trim sheet and started to work on the third one.

    Day 4- I finished the third trim sheet and fixed the seam issue in Zbrush by duplicating the mesh, then offset the seam to the middle, then sculpting around the seam area to cover up (TrimSmoothBoard+Alt draw horizontally). Thanks to the guys that advised me on the method in Polycount (https://polycount.com/discussion/comment/2776608#Comment_2776608)!

    Day 5- Work Day (Test out the trim sheet in Substance Painter, and the tiling looks seamless!)

    Day 6- I also fixed the seam for the wood trim and tested it out in Substance Painter. The Substance Painter crashed many times when baking the high poly to low poly, but after I lowered the subdivision level for some parts of the mesh, it fixed the problem. However, there are issues with my window&roof trim sheet when I test it in Substance Painter. I'm going to export the height map and fix that in Photoshop.

    Day 7- Work Day

    Summary: This week, fixing the tiling seam issues is the most challenging and time-spending thing. I want to thank the kind people in Polycount who provided a possible approach to my problem (https://polycount.com/discussion/comment/2776608#Comment_2776608). Without them, I won’t be able to have ideas on how to fix the seam and gain creative ways to solve a problem like this. The good thing is I finished all the sculpting before the 14-day trial of Zbrush expired. Next up, I will fix the last trim sheet issue in Photoshop. I hope it goes well as I expected, and then I can move on to painting the texture.

  • KayHuang

    Week Four

    Day 1- Work Day

    Day 2- I spent a lot of time trying to fix the seam issue on the height map in Photoshop. Then tried many ways to convert the height map to a normal map or generate other maps based on the height map in Substance Painter.

    Something I found during the process that I need to keep in mind for the future:

    Can’t generate a normal map in PS because my height map is grayscale only in the channel instead of RBG.

    Don’t try to use a height map as the base to generate other maps in Substance Painter

    The approach that works for me:

    1. Bake the high poly sculpt to low poly in Substance Painter (if there is an error or not tilling properly, move to the next step)

    2. Export the baked normal map from SP

    3. Import the baked normal map into PS

    4. In PS, duplicate the original map and hide the original one. Offset the map to the right. Then, use Clone Stamp Tool or Patch Tool in PS to fix the seam on the copied map.

    5. After finishing fixing, offset again.

    6. Export the new normal map from PS, then import it into SP.

    7. Drag the new map on top of the old normal map to replace it. Then, rebake the rest of the maps in SP.

    8. If any part of the normal is inverted after baking, use this method: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=U2vNX-BoRX4

    Finally, I finished fixing all the errors in the window trim sheet and am ready to paint tomorrow!

    Day 3- I finished the painting on the wood trim sheet and started on the window trim sheet.

    Day 4- I finished the painting on the window trim sheet.

    Day 5- Work Day

    Day 6- I finished the painting on the unique trim sheet.

    Day 7- Work Day

    Summary: This week mainly focused on painting the texture map, and my challenge was fixing the seam in Photoshop. I’m glad I was able to solve the problem in the end. Now that I have finished the texture maps, I can start modeling the modular meshes next week! I'm very excited about that.

  • KayHuang

    Week Five

    Day 1- I decided to create all the wooden pieces in the scene because they have taken a large part of it. In addition, I wanted to start on the wooden bridge and determine what else is needed as I go along. Today, I just created five pieces of wood that will be used to build the bridge.

    Day 2- I finished with the bridge and started working on the gate.

    Day 3- I got the basic wood structure of the first and second floors done and planned to finish the middle area of the gate tomorrow.

    Day 4- I completed the middle part of the gate and spent some time searching for the construction of Dougong that I like to add to the roof later on.

    Day 5- Work Day

    Day 6- Rest Day

    Day 7- Work Day

    Summary: This week's most challenging part is constructing the gate and ensuring the scale and proportion are reasonable and match the concept. Next week, I plan to start on the boat, which takes a short break from complicated mesh such as the gate. Afterward, I’m going to build the roof for the gate.

  • KayHuang

    Week Six

    Day 1- I finished creating one of the boats today and started on the second one.

    Day 2- I finished the creation of the other three boats and got three more left for tomorrow.

    Day 3- I finished all the needed boats and started building on the roof pieces.

    Day 4- I spent most of the time constructing the square roof and tried to figure out the best way to create the roof corner. I also altered the window trim sheet a little in Substance Painter, adding a white wooden material and darkening the certain area.

    Day 5- Work Day

    Day 6- Rest Day

    Day 7- Work Day

    Summary: I’m glad I finished all the boat meshes and started on the roof as planned. The most challenging part of this week is about constructing the roof. It took me some time to figure out the best way to build it and achieve my desired presentation. A great tool that’s helpful in the progress is the Preseve UV for the transformation, and I’ve learned more functions of the mirror tool. The plan for next week is to complete the roof construction for the gate.

  • KayHuang

    Week Seven

    Day 1- I’m still working on the middle roof of the gate.

    Day 2- I finished the middle roof of the gate and one sample of DouGong. 

    Day 3- Today, I was experimenting with the approaches from some inspiring tutorials on making pagoda roofs. I learned a lot of new tools in Maya, especially the MESH tool. However, this tool is not perfect and not working very well with curve surfaces (like the raised corner area).

    Luckily, I found the best way to deal with the curve surface is to create each column one by one. I’m going to record my steps below for future reference.

    Three tutorials that I found inspiring:

    1. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BvWEoi-ua3s

    2. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CbxE5AUh1IM&t=470s

    3. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zC0foK4Vqo4&t=1443s

    Step 1: Create the quarter base mesh and use CONNECT tool and MUTI-CUT tool to add equal edges. (Shown in Video One: 0:0-6:40)

    Step 2: Adjust the SMOOTH selection tool to the corner to meet your expectation. (Shown in Video One: 6:40-8:40)

    Step 3: Separate components using Duplicate Faces by MMB. Remember to separate the curved area into individual columns.

    Step 4: Create the needed tiles or shingles.

    Step 5: Create the straight area of the roof using the MESH tool. (Shown in Video Two: 1:11-10:25; Video Three: 14:54-23:05)

    Step 6: Create curved columns individually, plus some manual adjustment afterward. (Shown in Video Three: 14:54-23:05)

    Day 4- Continued working on the roof.

    Step 7: Create the unique edge shingles using the same method above. Then, adjust one by one manually to match well with the previous shingles. This method is like a faster way to make numerous copies of one shape along the surface in one direction, but it’s not perfect. Or, it could be that I don’t know it yet. If anybody knows an easier way to create a complex pagoda roof, feel free to share it! 

    Step 8: Do the same thing to the other side of the roof, and use the MUTI-CUT tool to cut off extended meshes on the intersection.

    This is what I have so far, and I still need to refine it further down the line.

    Day 5- Work Day

    Day 6- Rest Day

    Day 7- Work Day

    Summary: I spent most of the time working on the roof shingles this week, and a lot of tries and errors occurred because I tried to grab various tools shown in the three tutorials and combine them to achieve the best appearance that matches the concept. I didn’t complete the gate roof this week, so I will boost my efficiency and try to finish it next week.

  • KayHuang

    Week Eight

    Day 1- I refined the position on the roof tiles and added more details on the hips. Also, small statues were created on the top of the hips.

    Day 2- I completed three statuses today and had fun with the quad draw tool!

    Day 3- I finished the top part of the whole roof!

    Day 4- I started to work on the second story today.

    Day 5- Work Day

    Day 6- Rest Day

    Day 7- Work Day

    Summary: This week, I completed the whole construction of the first story of the roof. Although I didn’t meet the goal I set last week, I chose quality over time. This is my first time doing such a roof, so next time, it won’t take so long since I already have a clear workflow. And this is true because the second story was quickly built in a shorter time. Next week, I think I’ll be able to finish this roof and create a broken version, which is placed on the right.

  • KayHuang

    Week Nine

    Day 1- I finished the sculpt and retopo on the hips.

    Day 2- Today, I made a big mistake went creating the wooden part underneath the second level. I didn’t make sure the size of the roof and DouGong matched the proportion of the gate. Therefore, when I discovered I’d made a mistake, I had to redo it again. After that, I adjusted the size of the roof, and then I set the DouGong to where it should be and created a plane to cover up the bottom empty area.

    Day 3- Finally, I finished the whole gate after one month!

    Day 4- Work Day (Also, I made a lantern.)

    Day 5- Work Day

    Day 6- Rest Day

    Day 7- Work Day

    Summary: I’m glad I completed the whole gate and lantern this week. I had some troubles when doing the under area of the second story of the roof, but I managed to work it out. Next week, I will work on the buildings on the left side of the scene. I hope it won’t take too long.

  • 3Dila
    Offline / Send Message
    3Dila polycounter lvl 4

    Great attention to detail!

  • KayHuang
  • KayHuang

    Week Ten

    Day 1- I created a concrete wall that used to separate two houses and started building the first house.

    Day 2- I finished creating the first house and started working on the second house that’s to its right.

    Day 3- I created more houses for the foreground.

    Day 4- I created two more houses. Then I started to break the house into small modular meshes that can be used to build various houses in the background later in Unreal Engine.

    Day 5- Work Day

    Day 6- Rest Day

    Day 7- Work Day

    Summary: Everything went smoothly this week. Next week I will create more house modular pieces, import all the meshes I have into Unreal, and start to set up the scene using those meshes. For the rock and mountains, I plan to use Megascan if there are any that fit. Also, I will try to create a tiling texture for the stone wall in Substance Designer later.

  • KayHuang

    Week Eleven

    Day 1- I finished creating all the modular house pieces.

    Then, I created the master material first in Unreal. Thanks to the tutorial provided by Sander Agelink, I learned how to set up some basic and critical parameters: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sJyEVqvOVmQ&t=780s

    Just remember to convert the textures maps into parameters as well, so you can group them.

    To connect both opacity and normal map connected to the material, I changed the Blending Mode to Translucent, and the Lighting Mode to Surface TranslucencyVolume. I’m unsure if that is the best way, but at least it works for now.

    (I ran into issues that the master material and material instances were not displayed after applying it to my mesh, but now the problem is solved.)

    Tips I learned during the process:

    For now, Nanite static mesh only supports opaque blend mode. If we changed the Blending Mode to Translucency, we can’t apply the material to static mesh that has Nanite on. So, I created one more master material that contains opacity information and is ready to use this to non-Nanite static mesh.

    Day 2- I reset the pivot of all my meshes in Maya. Then I exported them out again to have the pivot in the position I expected when importing them into Unreal.

    I ran into an issue after assigning material on the mesh in Unreal. For some reason, the shader didn’t display correctly on some parts of my mesh.

    So, I went back to Maya to reset the UV for those parts, but it turned out that only some had been fixed. The problem even extended to the big pillar on the left. Therefore, I separated the box from the gate and imported them respectively. Then, the shader on the gate worked accurately, but the shader on the box was off, which let me know where to tackle the problem. Ultimately, the problem was solved by not building Nanite for the box mesh.

    Another problem when importing into UE5 is that some parts of my mesh appear black or disappear. The Outlog shows the error of “has some nearly zero tangents/bi-normals which can create some issues.”

    To solve it, back in Maya, make sure the dark areas or polygon UVs are unfolded or use Orient Shells, then export it again.

    Day 3- Work Day

    Day 4- The problem I encountered today concerns the opacity/Alpha. I only want certain parts to be transparent, but instead, it makes the whole UV sheet transparent.

    I’ve made a lot of tries and errors, and one good tip to remember for the future is that Nanite doesn’t support opacity.

    The best way to achieve the half-white transparent glass effect I want is first to change the Blend mode to Masked and import the Alpha mask to connect to the Opacity Mask node.

    However, the window didn’t look white tint and half-transparent (unlike the windows in the first image). They are fully transparent instead.

    After trying many methods, my final approach is to leave the house mesh like that, then create an independent glass mesh with its own opacity material.

    Day 5- Work Day

    Day 6- I successfully imported all my meshes into Unreal with the correct texture placement. I also create four more houses with modular pieces. Below is what I had by the end of the day.

    Day 7- Work Day

    Summary: This week was dominated by problems and solving problems, and many tries and errors happened. Luckily, all my problems were solved. I’m happy to finally make progress in the UE5 scene and love how it turns out. Next week, I will keep creating more houses to fill the background and create some stone walls behind the houses.

  • teodar23
    Offline / Send Message
    teodar23 sublime tool

    Qq: Why does this basic geometry need nanite enabled?

    A house with roof should be ~15k polys, right? So the whole scene is 100k at most. So why waste all that time finding workarounds for a non-problem?

    If the meshes are quite poly-heavy then maybe do another round of optimization on them

  • KayHuang

    Thank you for the comment! I enabled nanite because, due to my research, we should enable nanite for every mesh we have.😂

    I didn't know there was a standard polycount for a house with a roof or a scene like that. Thank you for telling me! I will do more learning on that. Optimation is an unfamiliar concept to me, so I will also spend some time learning it in the future.😀 Really appreciate your help!

  • KayHuang

    Week Twelve

    Day 1- I made more houses in the background.

    Day 2- Work Day

    Day 3- Work Day

    I watched beginner tutorials to get basic ideas on Substance Designer. Then I decided to follow a tutorial about creating a brick wall in Substance Designer.

    Substance 3D Designer First Steps: 01 - Overview & Basics


    Aged Wood Planks: 02 - Creating the planks pattern


    Substance 3D Designer First Steps: 03 - Parameters & Materials


    Substance Designer - Medieval Brick Wall Tutorial


    Day 4- I followed the tutorial step by step to create the brick wall material in Substance Designer.

    Day 5- Work Day

    Day 6- I was stuck on the last bit of the tutorial on Medieval Brick Wall, but able to finish the brick wall material with the help of two additional tutorials.

    Brick wall in Substance Designer (tutorial): Part 1 - height map


    (This video inspired me on how to start and end with the project file.)

    Channel Packing In Substance Designer | Channel Packing Series


    (This video helped me to pack the textures together at the end.)

    Day 7- Work Day

    Summary: This week, I finished creating all the houses in the scene and started to get my hands on Substance Designer. I felt overwhelmed when I first watched the tutorials. But, as I followed along with the tutorial on creating the brick wall, I was having fun with it gradually. Next week, I will set up this brick wall material in UE5, create the wall meshes, and hopefully, they all work well. Then, I will make two more Substance Designer materials to familiarize myself with the software.

  • KayHuang

    Week Thirteen

    Day 1- I made some changes to my brick wall textures. Instead of exporting a channel-packed map, I export every map independently using Parallax Occlusion Mapping and World Aligned Texture nodes in Unreal.

    I followed two tutorials on using or setting up height maps and World Aligned Texture in Unreal.

    Bump Offset and Parallax Occlusion Mapping - UE4 Materials 101 - Episode 8


    World Aligned Texture Setup In Unreal Engine 5


    Because I can’t find a way to use both nodes, I decided to use World Aligned Texture solely, which didn’t affect much on the wall display since it’s been placed underneath the houses and is not apparent.

    Day 2- I followed a new tutorial on creating a mossy wall texture in substance designer.

    Creating Detailed Realistic Mossy Wall Texture in Adobe Substance Designer w/ Javier Perez


    Day 3-The creation of the material had been completed!

    Day 4- I set up the stone material in unreal and tried to use material blend and vertex painting. I followed Javier’s tutorial once again. Also, fix the problem of the base color map washing out by changing the 16-bit image to 8-bit.

    Vertex Painting in Unreal Engine 4 w/ Javier Perez | NVIDIA Studio Sessions


    Day 5- Work Day

    Day 6- Rest Day

    Day 7- Work Day

    Summary: This week mainly works in Substance Designer and creating other material. The second material is more complicated than the first, and I gained more depth in the Substance Designer workflow. Hopefully, someday, I will be able to create my own material. Next week, I will search for tutorials on the correct workflow for creating rocks in the game environment and finishing all the rocks in the scene.

Sign In or Register to comment.