UT3 & Gears Environment Art



  • Kevin Johnstone
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    Kevin Johnstone polycounter lvl 13
    Nah I'm just doing it like Szark is talking about, because of exactly the problem you mentioned.
    I just save the specular image as a 32bt TGA so I can composite it neatly onto the skylight rendered image and tweak the levels of the specular so it looks right.

    I don't even put a light in the plain render version, I just turn the environment lightness up a bit, render, save the specular element as a tga and composite in photoshop.
  • IronHawk
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    IronHawk polycounter lvl 10
    yeah I love that method Kevin. I stumbled on to it a few months back. Great for showing off high poly.

    Cant wait for the vids man! Grats on your little one bro.
  • sampson
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    sampson polycounter lvl 9
    Hey kevin, (hope this q hasnt been asked before), do you have a big library of panel shapes etc, or do you just make them as you go?

    i'm working on a ut3 style turret using your work as inspiration - infact i'll make a thread soon so hopefully you can check it out.
  • Kevin Johnstone
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    Kevin Johnstone polycounter lvl 13
    Sampson: I have a number of overlay files, more of a collection of cogs, bolts, clamps, braces, indents, brackets and a few more eleborate standard shapes. I also have a deco elements collection of the most stereotypical pieces from different art styles ive played with in each theme in gears, like art deco, classical, art nouveau etc, i try to periodically re update them from the latest stuff im working on.

    I don't really do this for larger panels or design elements, I tried to initially and I found that larger stuff like this sometimes limited the effort I put into new elements as I spent more time trying to retrofit the bigger pieces into the new work.

    I think that have a stock collection of standard panels could work very well for certain things though, its all the same principal.

    I've found I tend more now to go back over the old overlays and tighten / clean up the topology more so its good for zbrush also, or just to address the fact that some pieces are from 4 years ago and suck.

    Iron: First video will be titled 'The Grid is God', don't know when it will be, but it is coming.
  • sampson
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    sampson polycounter lvl 9
    First of all kevin thanks for sharing so much with the community - some artists seem to just be in their own little shell and make amazing things and not contribute... but its fantastic that you are answering so many questions and the like... and i'm certanly looking foward to those videos!
  • Thewiruz
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    Thewiruz polycounter lvl 10
    Pure amazing!
    As Sampson said,Thanks for sharing!I also look forward to those videos(video).
  • leslievdb
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    leslievdb polycounter lvl 10
    great work, i love how smooth all of your models look while being hardedge models

    keep it up
  • Medestruit
    Neox: For sure, I suck as a character guy now, 5 years solid of env work has made what little ability I used to have in that area disappear. I still had a lot of fun with it though, theres something about making statues that make me feel more like an artist than a Lego Machine.

    It's odd you say that, because I personally like the nature of your character more. Maybe it's because I'm not a massive fan of the UT "smooth" look, but I like the hard edges on your character model. The UT enviro stuff always seems too "painless" to me. I guess when I think of an enviro where shooting and blowing things up goes on, I'm looking for hard metal edges that could cut someone in half if you were thrown into it.

    But either way, always awesome work.
  • RazorBladder
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    RazorBladder polycounter lvl 13
    I really like how you managed to incorporate your env art style into the character's clothing.

    So when's kevinjohnstone.com making it's way into my favourites tab?
  • Jesse Moody
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    Jesse Moody polycounter lvl 11
    Not sure if this has been posted yet but Kevin could you maybe share your render settings with us?

    nevermind...found it
  • Talbot
    Not sure if this has been posted yet but Kevin could you maybe share your render settings with us?

    nevermind...found it

    I'm confused... what are his render settings?
  • ScoobyDoofus
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    ScoobyDoofus polycounter lvl 13
    I somehow let pages of posts go by and weeks of time, and I've forgotten to say it until now.

    Awesome work Kevin. You've just become my SDS idol. I would love to see a timelapse or two on the construction of some of those. And the zbrushing looks fantastic!

    I have to ask....are you really better off doing this in ZB highpoly rather than using your alphas on a texture and using Crazybump extensivly to generate that normal? Just wanna get your rationale or view on that, if possible.
  • Belltann
    Hello Kevin. Thanks for all the inspiration :) Youre creations are real benchmark in your field. Ive acctually started to try and move away from the safe gardens of zbrush to try and train with hardsurface stuff in maya. It wasnt as easy as i though, damn hard acctually. :)
  • Ben Mauro
    Fantastic work! It's great to see how you manage/organize all the details without things getting cluttered, its really inspiring.
  • cardigan
    At the risk of repeating what everyone else has said: incredible work and awesome baby!

    I'm currently working on something with lots of flowing curves, a bit like your Klaw model and I'm intrigued as to whether you use splines/nurbs to create the curves or whether you just work from poly primitives and eyeball it?
  • Kevin Johnstone
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    Kevin Johnstone polycounter lvl 13
    Scooby: Well the thing is, you are trusting both CrazyBump and your photo reference to be right rather than being sure of what you're seeing and making in Zbrush. Also you are not learning more about whatever the material is because you are automating its construction so heavily and missing out on a lesson learned that you can apply to the next piece.

    It's the old debate about photosource vs handrawn textures from the previous generation, both are valid true, I've used both so I have no bias.... but each time I drew something by hand I learned a lesson about reality and questioned what I thought I was seeing and each time I photosourced I learned more about the features in photoshop like layer modes, how best to scale images into different way.

    And thats a reason for using Zrush that I beleive in because it's made me a better artist with a greater command and understanding of form. So often with photo ref, much of the magic is the lighting and I find we get tricked into learning more about the impression of a thing in certain conditions, instead of learning about the thing itself.

    I understand the undertone here when people are basically saying 'its very nice but I think you could have gone an easier road'. Of course I could have, but I would not have grown.
    Initially when I started doing Hipoly I was a lot more reliant on things like the Nvidia filters and floating geometry above and within other floating bits of geometry because I was slow and overwhelmed by what the other lads here were doing and just trying to keep up enough to be their sidekick!

    Confidence and speed in modeling come more quickly though once you slow down a bit and experiment with the harder routes, start tackling the more intricate contiguous forms in one piece and so on. When you do that you notice quite quickly that you are not sweating so much and a lot of things are less intimidating so you naturally keep on with that.

    That whole attitude is very rewarding, it takes years of patience but artists have to be patient as well as knowing when to be lazy :)

    I took time answering this question because I've been asked it now a number of times in different ways. I think its worth considering here that no one would ask a matte painter why they made the painting so detailed and realistic when people would still be able to tell what it was and be impressed if it were less detailed.

    Painting has been long established as a medium in which a higher level of detail is one of the hallmarks of excellence. Modeling to this degree for a game, the worth of that hasn't had much time to be established yet, I think it will though.

    Ben: Thanks!

    Cardigan: Thanks, sometimes using a spine set to be a renderable spline, as a box instead of a circle, set to smooth curve mode and the flow of one of the shapes intended edgeloops is a good starting point.

    You know, just draw out a softly curved 3 or 3 point line, then tweak its flow on different axis, convert to editable poly, delete 3 sides of the box and you have a great face to start edge / strip modeling , certain that your starting polys are perfectly smooth so you have a great base for eyeballing the rest of that element.

    Its good then to start the next element like this and finish it out seperate, then you try and stitch the 2 elements together. It's easier at this point because you have so many more options as to how you stitch then together or bridge the divide between them.

    It's the same principle as people use when modelling a stylized comic character's body where they rely on deformed sphere positioning initially for the limbs and then delete the caps and stich and bridge the limb sections together while creating the knee or elbow transitions.
  • Emil Mujanovic
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    Emil Mujanovic polycounter lvl 12
    You need to make some of your own training DVDs, Ror. You're a goldmine of sweet tips and handy information, we just need little men with pick axes to harvest the goodies in there!
    Posts/Threads like yours are what make me (and many others) live at Polycount.

  • ScoobyDoofus
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    ScoobyDoofus polycounter lvl 13
    Thanks for the time & thought put into the reply! The answer was pretty much what I thought, and reaffirms my thoughts on the topic, frankly.
    I find I'm doing the same thing really myself, insisting on doing things "the hard way" often to stretch my skills and grow as much as I'm able. I take forever often times to finish pieces but...in the end I've gained a lot more than an asset.
  • Zelenkov
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    Zelenkov polycounter lvl 8
    Wow, Kevin! I'm totally amazed by the last 11 pages of goodness! Seriously! Wow, I learned a lot. And thanks for going into detail and explaining all the ins and outs of your creative process and thinking!

    Right now I'm learning how to do all the highpoly stuff myself and your advice is gold.

    A little question: How do you not use floaters? I mean, I have to use them because I have no idea how to get that kind of detail onto my geo without spending ridiculous amounts of time fixing topology.
  • montana2008
    wheres the video, grid is god? man would of been great tut. shame
  • MisterSande
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    MisterSande polycounter lvl 5
    Kevin (or someone with the knowledge), I have been wondering this for a while:
    At your pillar I see you have used radial symmetry but what about the square pieces ?
    How can you model a square box/pillar using symmetry in Zbrush ?

  • MisterSande
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    MisterSande polycounter lvl 5
    nvm, I think he first did 1 side and than copy pasted/mirrored it on the other sides.
  • passerby
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    passerby polycounter lvl 7
    radial symmetry still works with just 4 points too, and can be used to sculpt 4 faces at once.
  • RaPtoR_v9600
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    RaPtoR_v9600 polycounter lvl 4
    I just read 12 pages of this topc and now i realize even more how modular assets are cool from 4 pieces maper can build awesome things.
  • ExcessiveZero
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    ExcessiveZero polycounter lvl 5
    Hey Folks,

    I've been putting this thread off for a while as I've been busy with my newest addition to
    the family ...



    Nuala Johnstone was born 8 pounds 7 ounces at 3.34pm on September 10th
    and really, thats where the majority of my time has been spent lately :)

    She's doing great, growing very fast, freakishly attentive to the world around her
    and unusually quick to develop neck muscles and the ability to turn over within a month
    when they aint supposed to until the 4month mark.

    We're wondering what next frankly but its just a wonderful time right now at home and
    at work now that Gears2 is out and doing well also so thats why I haven't updated in a while.

    I'll see about knocking out some renders soon, but Fallout3 and Gears2 + family is eating
    all my time right now :)
    No doubt this is your finest work sir! lol

    thanks a ton for your process, and awesome work of course.
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