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[WIP] [Feedback] Water Temple UE5 (Update_3)

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(Update 2): https://polycount.com/discussion/234168/wip-advice-water-temple-ue5-update-2#latest
(Update 1): https://polycount.com/discussion/234035/wip-advice-water-temple-ue5#latest

Here's a new update for my Water Temple environment project. It's been a while since my last update. Recently becoming a father has pulled some time away from the computer but it's all worth it.

I've decided to stray a bit from the concept, and come up with my own center piece. I wanted to move towards more of a fantasy world feel, and thought of a water portal to be at the center. 

I sculpted out sections of the portal in zbrush to be flipped and rotated to make the entirety of the portal. I then baked down the sculpted detail to low poly in Substance Painter and created the material. I also created the glyphs in Painter rather then Zbrush, because it allowed me to easily export a mask of the glyphs to use for my "appearing" animation of the glyphs as you'll see in the provided animation test.

In addition to this being an environment piece, I wanted to also showcase some technical skills, specifically in materials. I have here an animation test for the portal. After animating the surrounding fire pits to light up with a blue fire, this portal animation will follow. This was all done with material setups incorporating some animation into them.

As for the environment itself, I'll be finishing up some polishing and adding some miscellaneous props such as rubble, small plant growth, some ornament pots and trinkets around the benches, etc.

Lighting also needs to be polished and finalized.

Some material breakdown shots are also shown below. 

I'm hoping to finish this one up before the new year to add to my demo reel. Any feedback is greatly appreciated!! 

Portal Animation: 


  • Alex_J
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    Alex_J grand marshal polycounter
    looking good! you should put all updates into single thread that way its easier to follow.

    I assume the final image the concept.

    I think you mentioned you will tackle lighting soon, and that is where my major critiques would go. Compared to the concept yours is too dark. It is difficult to see much on both of my monitors. In the concept, the darkest values still have plenty of saturation so it is easy to see all the details of the temple, and it feels warm and inviting.

    it may be worthwhile to add some floating geometry to some of the columns and architecture so that silhouettes are not such perfect lines. Just a tiny amount of imperfection will make a big difference I think.

    In unreal it can be difficult to get the lighting such that shadow areas are not too dark, and there is not heavy contrast between light and dark. Lumen helps a lot but it can still be a struggle to get a nice evenly lit scene. Cranking up the intensity on skylight seems like it would be the obvious thing to do but it tends to blow out specular highlights and looks weird.

    I've turned to using some toon-style shaders, even for realistic or semi-realistic rendering because then I can just directly set limits for value ranges.

    When looking at the reference and compare to your scene, I'd try to focus on like what the overall color range and value range is. Yours is overall much darker and blue heavy, but the concept is more balanced with warm and cool and not too dark. I think if you get closer to concept in these regards it will be a more interesting scene.

    if you cannot achieve similar lighting to concept within timeline, you may be able to make a color LUT from the concept and then use that in post process volume in unreal.

    congrats on the spawn. hopefully doesn't eat you out of house and home :)
  • archie_garcia_27
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    archie_garcia_27 polycounter lvl 5
    @Alex_J Thank you so much for all that feedback!
    I'll continue my posts on this thread from here on.
    You had a lot of great pointers that I will definitely incorporate. Your notes on lighting were very helpful as well. I hope to post an update soon!
  • archie_garcia_27
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    archie_garcia_27 polycounter lvl 5
    Happy New Year!
    Wanted to post an update on this project. I have a few new screenshots here. I've made some adjustments to the overall lighting, did a bit more modeling on some damaged pillar sections, as well created a new bench in Zbrush. I've added in some floating geo to the floor as well as to the pillars to add some depth here and there, and I will probably build on this some more just to get rid of any areas that may be looking too flat still. Added some more overall foliage which I will also build up on. Overall I think I'm almost there. I'm going to dial in the lighting some more till I get something I really like. Oh and one more thing I need to model in is some burning coal into the firepits. To break up the geo some more I'm going to be adding some more decals overall such as cracks, dirt, stains etc.
    Please let me know your guy's thoughts, I greatly appreciate it!  =)

  • Fabi_G
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    Fabi_G polycount lvl 666
    Hi! Cool that you keep chipping away at this scene! Some thoughts:

    Lighting-wise, scene is a bit swallowed by the volumetric fog. In the concept the light comes in more from the top, sort of putting a spotlight on the center and the indirect lighting seems to be stronger. I think re-lighting the scene with those aspects in mind could increase readability.

    I think the foliage/overgrowth could be more lush and prominent. Adding a layer of moss via vertex paint beneath could also help.

    Shape-wise it looks like you stay true to the concept, but I feel looking at the 3d scene without context, it might look a bit too simplistic. The pillars and pedestals are all pretty straight cylinders. Here I would consider going off concept and enhance the silhouettes of the elements (taking inspiration from antique architecture?), while keeping the overall theme/atmosphere.

    Here is an overpaint, trying to visualize my feedback: 

    While I think the bench asset looks good, the UVs are not very optimized. I see quite some empty space and personally, I wouldn't use this many shells. (This is nitpicky:) Construction-wise, I think resting the seat on curved supports is impractical/instable (I know it's virtual, but still). I would check the construction of real-life benches (maybe you did, and there are benches constructed that way?).

    Keep it up!
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