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[WIP] Medieval Dungeon, looking for feedback

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par94 polycounter lvl 2
This is a medieval dungeon environment I have built recently, to test modularity, lighting and unreal engine materials. Before uploading it to my portfolio, I'd like to check what you all think, and ways you think I could improve it.
Thanks in advance for any suggestions.
First floor (Entrance and Torture room):
Second Floor (Cells):

Third Floor (Crypt with Altar):


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  • ThisisVictoriaZ
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    ThisisVictoriaZ polycounter
    Hi, I like this idea but I think it could use some work overall to make this environment feel a lot more interesting. Right now your shadows are way too dark, almost completely black which makes it really hard to tell what is going on, and causes you to lose a lot of detail in some parts. Is this in unreal engine? If so I would look into the envionment color in the world settings in order to help your shadows be less intense, and it would help to take another shot at your lighting setup. I think in this case some very dark shadow would be appropriate, but only if they are part of the composition, and helping to draw the players eye through the environment, while right now yours seem a bit random. I think this is a good example of a piece with dark shadows that is part of the artstyle and helps teh viewer understand the environment Dungeon
    https://www.artstation.com/artwork/3r3n2 
    Their use of color and fog really helps this piece too! I would look into adding in some cool colored elements into your environment to help balance the hot orange lighting you have. Here is another example with less extreme lighting 
    Dungeon
    https://www.artstation.com/artwork/Lznow

    Additionally I think your materials need a lot of work, they are looking a bit blurry/low quality from your screenshots, and I think your texel density is off on some pieces such as the walls and floors. 
  • par94
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    par94 polycounter lvl 2
    Thank you, @ThisisVictoriaZ , that was a very thorough analysis, just what I was looking for! I'll start to solve those issues, specially the shadows being too dark. I'm indeed using Unreal Engine, but didnt know you can control the intensity of shadows through world settings. 
    I'll post here again soon with improvements, hope I can count on your input in the future.
  • ThisisVictoriaZ
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    ThisisVictoriaZ polycounter
    Good luck! If you're using UE4 its in the world settings under environment color, and if you're using UE5 and Lumen then you just gotta get that bounce lighting looking good. A fog will also help your lights bounce and distribute through the environment. I'm looking forward to seeing more of your progress!
  • par94
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    par94 polycounter lvl 2
    Hello, @ThisisVictoriaZ , Im back with some changes.
    I have been working on improving the lighting, and adding some assets to fill the empty hallway.
    I think the addition of a faint fog helped flesh out the dungeon, along with the addition of dust particles.
    Im worried I migth have gone too brigth this time.

  • par94
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    par94 polycounter lvl 2
  • pixelpatron
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    pixelpatron polycounter
    Solid Enviornment Par,

    Here is what I'd do to get this to the next level. 

    Introduce another light color, the warm/cool combo is always a winner. Your current lighting skews to all warm, and thus isn't very visually appealing or interesting to look at. ThisisVictoria already mentioned and gave solid direction but thought I'd echo the same sentiments. 

    Your torches are too evenly spread out and also emit light levels that do not appear to be aligned with the natural amount of light these flames would be emitting. It looks odd and kinda like when a bad 3D model of a human has an oddly proportioned head or anatomy, it just looks "off" and you can't quite put your finger on it unless you know your stuff. Artists tend to rush their lighting, and honestly it's probably more important than the assets/textures. The lighting for the torches doesn't flicker naturally like a fire would. Okay for stills, but for the video...it really sticks out as unpolished. Adding another light fixture (pile of lit candles on shelf, chandelier, candles on a candelabra).


    "The Rack" and some of the barrels and other assets look bread new and doesn't have the same amount of wear or appear to have even been used. Need to think of context and aging of assets that would have similar levels of wear or damage. Some blood pools around the flooring under the wall chain restraints, at bottom of some of these iron maiden's and other torture devices would look cool and give you some nice reflections. 
    Love how if a large pool of blood forms it becomes reflective like a  puddle of water is  rthelastofus
     

    Walls, floors, pillars; these assets could use a value/color pass just to slightly nudge the values or color to give the environment some life. Typically I recommend darker floors to help ground it more, and midvalue for the walls and lighter pillars, or introducing some other element for the pillars like wood/metal/marble/decorative. For this type of environment I'd probably suggest wood with metal supports or iron rods/nails for some contrast. Could use more variation/decals. Areas of wet or slight moss. Cobwebs?
    Wet brick wall stock image Image of exterior crack - 114223667
    Wet dark brick wall texture close-up view Stock Photo - Alamy
    Bone wall? 
    Paris catacombs The skulls and bones inside Frances Empire of the Dead   Daily Mail Online
    Letter of Recommendation Catacombs - The New York Times


    Decals, where are the fingernail and claw marks, where are the urine stained sections, and dried blood or carved inscriptions? (would need to make time period appropriate). 
    Graffiti on Jail Cell Wall - The Portal to Texas History

    From Silence of the Lambs (great flick), but kinda disturbing, (sorry). 


    I think you got a solid foundation, but you've spread out and made a larger environment when you could focus more on a room(s) and hallway for a solid portfolio piece and focus more on details, smaller supporting props and some story telling.

    Prop ideas:

    Stone wheel and stool sharpening blade
    Metal weapons rack with weapons - spears, swords, spiked ball mace, flanged mace, mallets
    Ale barrels or open wooden barrel with weapons in it
    Old jars on shelf with poisons
    Fire pit with branding tools
    Wooden fireplace bellow
    Kit pieces with metal bars/door to have sections that could be walled off to make cells
    poop bucket

    Good luck

    - Pixel

  • par94
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    par94 polycounter lvl 2
    Thanks a lot, @pixelpatron for your thorough analysis and recomendations!

    Its true that ThisisVictoriaZ told me about ligth contrast, but Im a bit lost when it comes to that. Since all the light inside the dungeon comes from torches or candles, in my mind it only makes sense that those lights are warm. 

    One way I thought of migth be to add windows and let the "nigth light" add a bit of a cool contrast to the walls and floors.

    And about having spread out the environment, would you recommend me to take a step back, maybe delete one of the levels and make it smaller?
    Maybe combining the first floor (torture room corridor) and the second one (cells) and leaving the crypt with the altar as a separate floor. Or even deleting it completely.

    I have started to make a few tweaks in a copy of the level:
    - Mixing the first and second floor
    - Adding windows in the cells to allow some night light to leak in.
    - Cooling down the environment with post processing
    - Darknening the floors


    And you were rigth many of my props are almost brand new, with very little wear, so I started solving that:


    About adding leakages, dirt, moss or blood to the walls and floors, beside using decals, would u recommend the use of vertex painting, or the use of secondary UV masking?

    And lastly, about the static torch ligths in the video, Im working on adding light material functions, but for now it looks too artificial, dosent change as the fire should.

    The wall of bones seems a bit excesive to me, maybe in the crypt, but not in the first floor. Which dosent mean I wont be adding some skulls or bones XD

    Again, thanks a lot fot your recomendations! I'll make sure to improve the environment with them!
  • ThisisVictoriaZ
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    ThisisVictoriaZ polycounter
    Hey this is some nice progress! If you're looking for a way to incorporate cool tones to your lighting what I would personally do first is to simply make your fog a light blue color, most fogs you can change that in the material graph. Otherwise what I would also try is having your ambient light be cool toned, and the warmth would be coming from your fires, candles, etc. I did a quick example in Photoshop of what it could look like! A good rule of thumb that ive learned while working as an env artist is that you want to be able to get your environment looking as good and close to your goal as possible before post processing, and then after its looking good use post to push it a bit more at the end. 


    Keep pushing it, @pixelpatron had some great tips and references! I look forward to seeing more!
  • par94
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    par94 polycounter lvl 2
    After a while, I'm back, @ThisisVictoriaZ and @pixelpatron!
    I've gone down a rabbit hole, trying over and over again new ligth setups, ways to play with the ilumination to keep a certain level of darkness without creating too dark spots again, and pushing the dungeon towards cooler tones.
    I've added some wooden supports to the ceiling that I gotta work a bit more on, but add a bit of contrast to the rest of the stone dungeon, and decals here and there to add variety to the floors and walls.
    I've started working on some new assets, and a prisoners/corpse I may add in different poses, either inside cells, cages, or chained to the walls.
    Speaking of chains...a chain spline system to add something interesting to the ceilings.
    @pixelpatron I'm working on creating some decals/marks to the cells' walls, I loved that idea, and adding some different ligth sources like candelabras.
    The skull wall seemed a bit too much for now, maybe I'll add something similar to the crypt later.
    And 
    @ThisisVictoriaZ I'm very thankfull for that image, very usefull as a guide.



  • ThisisVictoriaZ
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    ThisisVictoriaZ polycounter
    Wow loving these improvements! Keep it up, a chain spline would be a great idea, and it would be good to have some blueprints on a portfolio. Maybe this would be helpful https://dev.epicgames.com/community/learning/tutorials/39/populating-meshes-along-a-spline-with-blueprints
  • par94
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    par94 polycounter lvl 2
    Thanks a lot, @ThisisVictoriaZ
    The chains in the last two images are already done using a spline system, I'll make sure to upload a video of it soon!
    Any more suggetions regarding illumination and/or props?
  • Fabi_G
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    Fabi_G polycount lvl 666
    Nice improvements! I think the deformation/stretching on the chains looks weird. I would either fix that or, if you can't, consider using a dedicated assets instead, prioritizing visuals. With overall rooms, you could think about slight break up, that don't change the base shape but add further variation and small scale details. Maybe some dedicated pillar/trim modules. Considering feet touch the floor frequently, it having a smooth and flat surface would be an option, further adding some variation. Overpaint: 
    Keep it up!
  • par94
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    par94 polycounter lvl 2
    hey, @Fabi_G !
    Thanks for your suggestions, the overpaint makes it look a lot better!
    I agree the chains need some improvement, the blueprint need some adjusting. As a last resort I'll just create them as static meshes as you said, for visuals.
    About the flat floor, you're right, and I'm shocked I hadn't noticed something so obvious before!
    I'll correct those mistakes soon, but I'm glad it's getting somewhere finally!
  • ThisisVictoriaZ
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    ThisisVictoriaZ polycounter
    Thanks a lot, @ThisisVictoriaZ
    The chains in the last two images are already done using a spline system, I'll make sure to upload a video of it soon!
    Any more suggetions regarding illumination and/or props?
    The only other thing that I would say is about the prisoner asset you've added. It depends on what you're trying to do with this piece, if this is a dedicated environment for your portfolio I probably wouldn't waste any time modelling and rigging a character. If you're looking to be an environment artist then recruiters wouldn't be looking for characters specifically and you could just use one from the unreal engine marketplace instead, however if you are looking to apply to generalist jobs then that advice doesn't apply. Nothing wrong with either, its more of a thing of knowing what your goals are ultimately, and spending your time wisely! Otherwise keep up the good changes  =)
  • par94
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    par94 polycounter lvl 2
    @ThisisVictoriaZ I have a 3D generalist profile, due to my work experience and personal goals. The prisoner would be a static piece, the only animation would be a slight breathing. However, maybe adding him would take attention away from other parts of the environment that I would like to highlight more. Until I decide whether to add it or not, I'll keep polishing the rest of the scene.
  • Krom
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    Krom polycounter lvl 13
    A skeleton would be a good choice for a prisoner prop. 
  • par94
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    par94 polycounter lvl 2
    After a loooong hiatus I finally polished and finished the dungeon. Somethings could still be improved, but I've learnt a lot with this project.
    Thx to everyone who helped and gave suggestions!
    https://youtu.be/lKN8eDHy2wM
  • par94
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    par94 polycounter lvl 2
    I still want to use the dungeon for a little sequence using the character it was originally intended for, from a pretty dark videogame called "fear and hunger":

  • iam717
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    iam717 greentooth
    https://youtu.be/lKN8eDHy2wM?si=9pLhmixaQKGETohQ&t=79  @ this point, the flame shadows, idk if that is how it works irl, i haven't studied that, but the one on the right of the screen doesn't bug me but the one on the left does as i can see the "flex" and it doesn't feel "natural" whatever the right is doing from what i can see anyway is working.  Take that as you will, it is just something i saw and felt it was worth mentioning.  Nice environment in an imaginary setting, looks like it would be neat to explore in a game setting.  (i have to type like this as some want to recreate things irl and 'for me anyway' i like the comforts of stories, rather than experiencing places like this, i.r.l. if any of that made sense.)(cause some people somewhere are being strange and equating comments to irl situations as if the person speaking is suddenly okay with, "slaughter" houses and that is not what this comment is representing.)  Extra comments to have to explain this is silly.(i say it cause they are lurking.)
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