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Building an environment - Evil Genius hidden forest base

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  • System
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    System admin
    Nice progress, the second to last image looks a little blown out in the foreground where I was expecting more definition and darkness, also the alpha grass looks a bit too low res.

    Will keep a watchin' for more.
  • adam
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    adam polycounter lvl 15
    Oof, long-time-no-post!

    Inbetween Polycount stuff, work and life I've been squeezing in updates to what I have on my scene. Rather than move forward on more assets I wanted to first establish a colour palette that lent itself to the era: The late 60's or early 70's, all while keeping it video game friendly.

    What i mean by this, is a lot of photos from the 70's were very similar in value across the board, while having a red wash to a lot of the colour. And, while I'd like something similar to this, I also want a wider range of values so I can create contrasts in the colour of the scene.

    Where I am at, so far, is here:
    forestbase_theme_06a.jpg

    I'm trying to let the colours come through, while still being influenced by the overall palette of the scene (bottom left of each image).

    This was derived from my references, seen here.

    Lighting and colour palette alone won't sell the time frame this scene takes place in, a lot of my original designs for things are being rethought. First up - since it was all I had at the time - was the camera.

    It went from this:
    forestbase_asset_camerahighpoly01a.jpg

    To this:
    forestbase_asset_camerahighpoly02a.jpg

    Between the redo of the camera, the colour grading and in-game post work to my lighting, I've also been working on the look out tower Dr. Q's henchmen will be posted at to scan the landscape for INTRUDERS (!!!). The entire asset is done, but for now here's the highpoly:
    forestbase_asset_roostWIP_02.jpg


    The highpoly for this was fun. Mainly because I put thought in to where the camera would be when I display this environment, and where it wouldn't. Where it WILL go is near the bottom, in and around the supports. Where it WILL NOT go is up high, to the roost itself. So all of the highpoly effort was applied accordingly, while everything else got treated with tiling textures. In total, a single 1024x1024 was used.


    Next up for me is:

    ----Continue on with the colour grading. It's hard to tell if I should go full-on mimicking the photos I find, or a blend between what is shown there and what works for videogames.


    ----Redo my rocks, based on some fun I was having with procedural rock creation (this is just a test and does not represent the update I'd like to do):
    proceduralrocks2.jpg



    ----This is the most important one for me, after the rocks are done: Work on my next asset. Whichever it is MUST be redesigned to fit the era. You, the viewer, needs to look at this and know which era I am shooting for. All of this other stuff with colour grading and full screen effects is just a wrapper for the entire thing and is NOT the 'be all end all' solution for representing the era.
  • adam
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    adam polycounter lvl 15
    Oh ya! Because I know there's going to be some opinions on the colour grading job I've done, if You'd like to take a crack at it yourself based on my references, feel free! It's nice when you see it closer to the photographs in there (blown out values, red tints, etc.) but once you see that "in game", IMO, things needs to be toned down a bit and contrast needs to be introduced so that there's more range.

    Here's a PSD for you, if you're so inclined ;)
  • ZacD
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    ZacD polycounter
    I think it might be a good time to rent a bunch of old movies (Early James Bond films) to get some ideas for the time period.
  • adam
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    adam polycounter lvl 15
    lol..

    Next to Eraserhead, I'm the biggest Bond fan ;). As I say, I need supporting artwork for this 'sell'.
  • Zipfinator
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    Zipfinator polycounter lvl 9
    Looking awesome, but you've been holding out on that camera update for 2 months!?! I like the new camera redesign. It's not as futuristic and abstract which is a good thing in my opinion. Watch tower is looking good too but I wish you'd give us a render of the final instead of having it way in the back of those pictures! Looking forward to seeing how you handle the redo of the rocks.
  • ZacD
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    ZacD polycounter
    Normally when I think of early 70's evil mastermind, I think of rockets, gadgets, cars, dunno how much that can help you with environment stuff,

    You Only Live Twice stands out to me as one of the more evil lair + cool gadget movies movies.
  • adam
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    adam polycounter lvl 15
    Zip - I updated the pic with a closer shot of the lookout ;)

    Zac - Totally. As I said, I have to be sure the next piece I do can be influenced by such things ;)
  • adam
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    adam polycounter lvl 15
    Just dropping this here for when I get home:
    Laverda+750SF+6.jpg
  • ScudzAlmighty
    the girl or the bike?

    either way,

    mmmmmm
  • JasonLavoie
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    JasonLavoie polycounter lvl 12
    haha scudz :P

    Adam, loving the direction you're taking this, and I think that pallet is looking ace. I think if you could get an effect with more bleeding colours (orange - red hue it looks like in that pic) I think that woudl give it that extra little kick, maybe you could mess around with the lens flare (or whatever you have going on) that may introduce that idea a bit more.

    Oh I wanted to ask you how well the color grading works? I still haven't had a chance to try it yet.
  • Alberto Rdrgz
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    Alberto Rdrgz polycounter lvl 9
    this has come a long way. im really liking it.
  • ScudzAlmighty
    question about the era:

    (don't know if you've gone over this already but I have read the thread and can't recall seeing it anywhere)

    regarding post 556, and redesigning stuff to fit, The scene is set in the late 60's-70's, but when would the base have been built? cause if the tech is from that same era than it should all still look fairly new with the detailing/aging shouldn't it? you'd get weather damage either way but the way it decay's and the general buildup would be different. especially in an environment like a forest where it's probably quite damp.
  • SHEPEIRO
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    SHEPEIRO polycounter lvl 13
    push the vingnetting further me thinks + some floating dandelion seeds and pollen would really add to that late summer feeling

    original paintover

    paintover TAKE2
    adam2.jpg
  • Zack Fowler
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    Zack Fowler polycounter lvl 10
    Great job on that camera redesign, it feels much much more consistent with the target time frame.
  • adam
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    adam polycounter lvl 15
    The colour grading works pretty well 1:1 from Photoshop to UDK. I've yet to see a vast difference when swapping from PS to UDK. It's pretty remarkable in that regard.

    You guys should grab the PSD and try out your theories ;)

    SHEP - I think that more elaborate vignette works well for a photograph and not video. What do you think?
  • SHEPEIRO
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    SHEPEIRO polycounter lvl 13
    [ame]

    was often due to the projection screen which would have a black rounded border

    also your look would be quite dependent on what time of day it would be filmed... at the current time late afternoon im guessing you would probably want to go quite high contrast... with dark shadows...or high gamma... rather than washed out like alot of the photos refs you have as they are in brighter midday sun you could then do another contrast tweak after the first one to flatten the blacks and make it look uvdamaged
  • adam
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    adam polycounter lvl 15
    Ah hey, that's awesome.
  • erik!
  • adam
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    adam polycounter lvl 15
    Very nice Erik! I love it! I had gotten to this point a number of times and immediately felt that the green would be something people would react negatively to rather than 'get' why its that way.

    What's yours and everyones thoughts on it?
  • AlexanderL
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    AlexanderL polycounter lvl 10
    That looks like it matches the references well, but I think it would be pretty eye-fatiguing in a game. I like the latest pic posted by adam a lot better.
  • Swizzle
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    Swizzle polycounter lvl 12
    What about something like this? If you lower the contrast in the shadowed areas and tint the whole thing, it looks a lot like some older photographs. This may be overdoing it a little, but it avoids some of the nuclear green at least.

    quDV8.jpg
    KIiVg.png
  • 00Zero
    i don tknow, i think the eriks version is too contrasty. its hard on the eyes after a while. i like adams because its more subdued.

    i just saw swizzles. i think theres too much grey. maybe its my monitor.
  • Swizzle
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    Swizzle polycounter lvl 12
    All the shadows in mine should be a dark maroon. If they aren't, there's probably something wrong with your monitor.
  • rasmus
    Oh cool, post fx shenanigans :) Couldn't resist going all out, maybe it'll atleast be inspiring:

    tumblr_l54i8ns0mp1qcof0v

    I kind of added some brightness to your sky and blurred everything in the distance a little, added some vignetting, bloom, noise and a level adjustment, as well as some discoloration and crap I saw in refs just for good measure. Like I said, couldn't resist :) (PM me or something should you want to pry around the PSD)
  • AlexanderL
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    AlexanderL polycounter lvl 10
    I really like that version, Swizzle.
  • Swizzle
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    Swizzle polycounter lvl 12
    Rasmus, that looks effin' rad for still shots, but it'd murder your eyes if you looked at it for too long in motion. I like the bloom in the sky and the noise, though.
  • adam
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    adam polycounter lvl 15
    So far from these posts I like Erik's the most - mainly because it feels a lot like the shots from my references. As I said, I had gotten to this result a number of times but always felt that the green's values would have a negative result on the viewer, even if it is more 'accurate'.

    The others are great as well, but a bit 'much' in their own regards. Swizzles contrast is very high (darks are dark, etc.) and rasmus, while badass, would be far too much for an in-game situation.

    With mine I find it to be a 'happy medium', but I'd like it to feel a bit more closer to the references.

    Maybe when I'm done redoing my rocks I will do a quick video to show Erik's (and Swizzle's if he's offering the PSD) and we can all see it in motion.

    Keep them coming!
  • Swizzle
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    Swizzle polycounter lvl 12
    Agreed, adam. The main thing I was trying to get across with mine was the lack of contrast for all the darks that seems to happen in a lot of older color photographs. If you could do that (though probably not as extreme as in my example, which was admittedly way over the top) I think it'd help sell the effect you're looking for.
  • adam
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    adam polycounter lvl 15
    Still have your PSD?
  • ZacD
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    ZacD polycounter
    I'd love to see some motion tests, I'm all excited now.
  • rasmus
    Yeah, I agree. I think it would be interesting to try and do animated post effects though, haev you given that any thought? Like emulating a dusty old super8, with noise and discoloration and whatnot happening as if you're filming. Or maybe just save it for some of the security-cam shots :P
  • erik!
    adam wrote: »
    Very nice Erik! I love it! I had gotten to this point a number of times and immediately felt that the green would be something people would react negatively to rather than 'get' why its that way.

    What's yours and everyones thoughts on it?

    I like it, but I might be a bit biased :) Like I said it might be a little too saturated. The green is a bit harsh, but that's really the only issue I have with it. You could probably go into PShop and tone down the greens selectively.
  • Contrails
    Not sure if it's possible in PP, but a little subtle distortion like rasmus has would help too
  • adam
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    adam polycounter lvl 15
    Erik I saved yours. I'll make some adjustments to it and throw it in then post pics and MAYBE a video.
  • danshewan
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    danshewan polycounter lvl 8
    I really like Erik's settings. To echo Alexander, it'd be interesting to see how this would work in an actual gameplay situation, but it looks really excellent for still images.

    The only thing that I'd adjust is the saturation of the sky - it could use just a little more color in Erik's image, in my opinion.
  • Grimm_Wrecking
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    Grimm_Wrecking polycounter lvl 8
    Contrails wrote: »
    Not sure if it's possible in PP, but a little subtle distortion like rasmus has would help too

    It is, but I suspect it'd get very disorienting since its hard for the eyes to focus. Screen position offset would probably be a good starting point.

    LUT_adjustments_grimm.jpg
    ^ my crack at it, but so far I like swiz's.
  • Alberto Rdrgz
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    Alberto Rdrgz polycounter lvl 9
    i think i ur crack at it grimm maybe a little darker tho
  • 00Zero
    are you using LUTs for these adam?
  • adam
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    adam polycounter lvl 15
    I'm not answering that, 00Zero :P
    Yes!
  • Dinky
    This project really did turn out looking great!

    I just wanted to say that, and I love how it reminds me of one of my favorite games "Evil Genius". It's too bad that game didn't go further.
  • Ninjai
    I tried not to overdo anything here, Hope its what you were looking for...

    Piccie

    Also, this thread is incredible, so much detail :O
    I thank you adam for this gift of detail.
  • adam
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    adam polycounter lvl 15
    Some updates!

    Lighting, art placement contrast and 90% through the highpoly pass for the rock cliff faces.


    Lighting & art placement contrast

    I've taken a lot of props out and placed them more 'strategically' as to dry the eye around the image. The biggest difference is how I'm doing my grass on the terrain. I'll no longer use the UDK terrain tool and am instead placing tufts of grass by hand around key areas.

    forestbase_theme_06b.jpg

    I cut the image to show the grass placement working:
    forestbase_theme_06c.jpg



    And, I've begun updating the cliff rocks for this scene as I don't like them any more.

    My current rock 'kick' at work had me rethink the process, so I am now doing them in highpoly first. The process will be:
    • Mudbox pass. No high frequency detail - broad & planar strokes, suggestive detail only
      • The broad & planar strokes is to help the cliff faces catch light better, and it lends itself to the cartoon look of the scene.
    • From the highpoly bake, I'll use a second normal map that is tiled over top of this bake for higher frequency detail. It won't be anything crazy, brush strokes and subtle details.
    • Simple diffuse + spec
    • I still have a few things to do before I bake it out: Smooth out some faces a bit more and reconsider some edge tightness.
    forestbase_asset_clifffacehighpoly_01a.jpg
  • Mistry10
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    Mistry10 polycounter lvl 8
    wow, looks great !!!
  • Will Faucher
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    Will Faucher polycounter lvl 10
    I agree with mistry. It does look great! May I ask your reasoning for not liking your old rock faces? I remember a few months back, I used to idolize those rocks! :P
  • adam
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    adam polycounter lvl 15
    I still think the process I wrote out can work well for rock faces, but for what I'd like them to do it doesn't work.

    They don't catch light very well and lack overall form from a distance. The new ones will do these things in the end.
  • almighty_gir
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    almighty_gir sublime tool
    adam, i believe this is the effect you were after?
    lolz.jpg

    MOSHIN BLUR + LENZ FLAREZ!


    srsly though... really love this <3
  • adam
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    adam polycounter lvl 15
    Lined up some of the sculpts together to see how it may look in the end:
    forestbase_asset_clifffacehighpoly_01b.jpg
  • Will Faucher
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    Will Faucher polycounter lvl 10
    I find it looks sort of like messy, poorly lined up quarry stones. Something feels strange about it. Granted, with vegetation and textures and proper lighting it may look better. And maybe I'm just dumb :P

    Keep it up adam!
  • adam
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    adam polycounter lvl 15
    The goal is oversized jagged cliff face, sans horizontal edging. Clean and suggestive, to hopefully compliment the rest of the art work.

    Like this, only not nearly as concentrated or surface detailed. I tried to borrow most shapes in my stone from this picture. I may add the horizontal edges tonight or tomorrow, although I didn't like how that looked when I first attempted it.

    Either way, moving on to finalizing and retopo.
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