Victorian mansion - UDK environment

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polycounter lvl 9
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teaandcigarettes polycounter lvl 9
Hey guys, I'm finally done with the first batch of my uni assignments and I am ready to do some proper work.

Anyway, I have decided to create a new thread for this project since I have swayed from the original idea. My previous work can be found here: http://boards.polycount.net/showthread.php?t=68744




The key point of this scene will be a grand, Victorian mansion surrounded by a beautiful garden and lush woods. A rather boring premise, but I will do my best to spice things up a little bit.
My main goal is to nail that Victorian/neo-classical look, while keeping everything modular. I've spent last few days looking at the references of 18th and 19th century buildings and stripped them apart in order to model their most common elements.


While there's still plenty of work to be done, I feel that I'm finally getting there. Nevertheless, I would love to hear some feedback and critique. Any ideas on the garden would be welcome since I have not started working on it yet.


Ignore the funky lighting, though; I have yet to create proper UV's.

highresscreenshot00008.jpg
highresscreenshot00009.jpg



Update on the riverside:


highresscreenshot00005.jpg
highresscreenshot00007.jpg

Replies

  • roosterMAP
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    roosterMAP polycounter lvl 9
    really good job on the lightmaps!
  • divi
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    divi polycounter lvl 9
    looks nice so far! how many polys are that as of yet?
  • teaandcigarettes
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    teaandcigarettes polycounter lvl 9
    Rooster: Haha, thanks man :) Though, to be honest there are plenty of ugly splotches that bother me.

    divi: Cheers :) I have about 350k tris at the moment. However, keep in mind that most of those objects are completely unoptimized at the moment. I could shave off about 75k tris by reducing the amount of sides on the railings alone.
  • teaandcigarettes
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    teaandcigarettes polycounter lvl 9
    Hey guys, I've got a small update.

    Not much has changed; I've done some work on the lower levels of the mansion and tweaked other parts a little bit. I spent most of my time trying to figure out how to use the terrain editor without crashing UDK.

    27965158.jpg




    I've also made a small overpaint (note to myself: I’ve got to buy a tablet) which shows the placement of vegetation, and a basic idea of how I want the garden to look like. I'm also thinking of adding a second, smaller building to the right; hopefully it would break that symmetrical look I've got right now. On the left, I want to add a river and a small bridge.




    22807237.jpg




    On a slightly unrelated note; does anyone know what kind of terrain sizes UDK can handle? Since I've got plenty of modular pieces at the moment, I figured out that I could make an environment much bigger than I previously planned.

    Anyway, I’m looking forward to your comments and critique, guys :)
  • brandoom
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    brandoom polycounter lvl 10
    looking great. Reallllllllly nice work on the building thus far.

    I'm looking forward to seeing the foliage in there as well. I would LOVEEEE to see a hedge-maze... maybe in the backyard or something. lol

    Keep going! :)
  • teaandcigarettes
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    teaandcigarettes polycounter lvl 9
    Thanks brandoom :)

    I really like the hedge-maze idea. It would work very well since I'm going for that secret-gardenish look; an old mysterious mansion in the middle of nowhere. If I manage to resize the terrain without crashing, I will certainly add it.

    I'm a little bit torn about the vegetation; to be more specific trees. I was thinking of using SpeedTree, since that would make my work so much easier and faster. However, I have yet to make any proper vegetation models and I would love to use this project as an opportunity to practice.
  • 3DLee
    I'm getting a kind of "Secret Garden" vibe from this - nice work so far! +1 on the hedge maze too. Hedges could be a good way to start on some simpler vegetation models. :)
  • yiannisk
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    yiannisk polycounter lvl 7
    i clicked expecting to see a mansion... and i see a palace :)

    looks very nice! and with the gardens that you plan to place there it's going to look more like a French palace than a Victorian mansion. 350K or even 250K is a bit on the too much side if this is one piece.

    I would suggest you try a different approach especially since your model has so many identical pieces. Why don't you try and use instances that unreal is really fond of?

    I think that many of your crashes have their source in that very fact. We have managed to push really big islands in unreal with vegetation and villages and castles and whatnot although it does crash with all vegetation etc, especially if you by mistake duplicate the terrain which sometimes can happen. Also i would strongly suggest you don't try to create one huge terrain as one piece. Define your original area in low res and then chop it to pieces that will fit your design. Similarily, your garden should comprise from many different individual pieces and not just one large chuck of the maze.

    It looks very promising and i think if you follow some basic guidelines for unreal production you will manage to pull this through without major issues.

    Expect lots of crashes on your speedtrees especially if you plant them all on the same layer.
    the lightmaps will give you lots of crashes during their generation otherwise if you plant something like a forest.

    looking forward to seeing textures on this nice thing and your final result!
    Keep it up!
  • sprunghunt
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    sprunghunt polycounter lvl 14
    looks good so far :)

    You probably don't need a terrain for this since formal gardens tend to be pretty flat. You could probably do the whole thing with mostly bsp and foliage volumes.
  • crasong
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    crasong polycounter lvl 9
    Great work so far!

    Agreed about the flat ground, also should consider to throw a fountain in that circular design you got in the garden.

    P.S Make it a rose garden, and it shall have much dignity.......gutter trash! =x it really does remind me of Dudleys ending.
  • teaandcigarettes
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    teaandcigarettes polycounter lvl 9
    Thanks for the comments, guys

    3dLee: Cheers mate. I'm planning to do some work on the vegetation soon and hedges are on the top of my list of things to do ;)




    yiannisk: Thanks, glad to hear you liked it

    I'm afraid you might have misunderstood me; I am using instanced modular pieces, hence the really big number in Instanced Triangles section of Primitive Stats.
    However, I am not sure which value represents the currently rendered triangles; Instanced Triangles shows something around 350k, whereas Triangles only 80k. I'm quite new to the UDK and I'm slightly confused about these two terms.

    My crashes, on the other hand, are probably caused by Prefabs. They started once I converted all my objects to prefabs and usually occur when I manipulate them in some way.

    I like the idea of cutting down the terrain into pieces - I will try to make my current terrain smaller and place bigger chunks of terrain (with much lower tessellation value) around it. Hopefully that should do the trick, since the landscape is fairly simple.




    sprunghunt: Thanks mate

    You're right; I was concerned at first about not being able to use vegetation on BSP's (for instance, you can't do that in CE2) but I've done some research :P
    However keep in mind that I would also like to do some work on the areas surrounding the mansion, so some terrain will be necessary.


    crasong:

    Cheers. Yeah, I was planning and adding a fountain there; mostly because I'm bored of doing lowpolies all the time and would love to make some cool hp :p Roses would be cool as well.
  • haiddasalami
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    haiddasalami polycounter lvl 9
    Nice work tea and cigarettes! How do you plan on doing the stairs? Just wanted to know which is better since I have to do stairs soon lol. Do you just plan on modeling it or building it in bsp?
  • mikezoo
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    mikezoo polycounter lvl 9
    really cool work so far. I cant say much that hasn't been already said. One thing I was curious was your texture sizes. Looks really good from a distance, how will it hold up when the camera is close up?
  • teaandcigarettes
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    teaandcigarettes polycounter lvl 9
    haiddasalami: Cheers mate :) I will model them since I would like to do HP as well; can't stand stairs with simple tiling textures.

    mikezoo: Thanks :) I was thinking of using a mixture of tilable textures and objects with unique UV coordinates. Personally I'm not too worried about the texture resolution, but the repetition (since my modular objects are fairly small). Hopefully, decals, vegetation and smaller props should be enough to break the repetition.

    I plan to use mainly multi/sub object materials.
  • haiddasalami
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    haiddasalami polycounter lvl 9
    Nice. Yeah I was experimenting with the idea of BSP but its going to leave it to tiled. Any plans on using a vertex blending shader to break repetition?
  • teaandcigarettes
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    teaandcigarettes polycounter lvl 9
    I would love to use a vertex blending shader, but the truth is I'm still quite new to UDK and I'm not sure if I would be able to create one at this point.

    But, it would certainly work much better than decals so I will make sure to research it properly once I'm done with the layout and object placement.
  • Mark Dygert
    Looking pretty cool! Nice work so far, I like the direction your heading with this too.

    For the hedges and topiary, you would be surprised how easy they are to make. http://boards.polycount.net/showthread.php?t=67620
    One box nested inside another. The inner box has a solid leafy texture applied, the second has a opacity map, a few planes with leaves here and there and you're done.
    I would love to use a vertex blending shader, but the truth is I'm still quite new to UDK and I'm not sure if I would be able to create one at this point.

    But, it would certainly work much better than decals so I will make sure to research it properly once I'm done with the layout and object placement.
    http://udn.epicgames.com/Three/MeshPaintReference.html
    It requires some pretty dense meshes to blend properly so you might want to block in your terrain in UDK, export it to a 3D app and spend some time optimizing areas and putting more verts where you plan to do blends. Then drop it back in and paint your blends using Mesh Paint.
  • Alberto Rdrgz
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    Alberto Rdrgz polycounter lvl 9
    Lookin good so far, man.
  • teaandcigarettes
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    teaandcigarettes polycounter lvl 9
    Hey guys, sorry for the late replies. Been pretty busy lately.

    Alberto Rdrgz: Thank you :) Glad to hear you liked it.

    Vig: Cheers mate. Thanks for the links; I have borrowed some of your techniques and slapped together a modular set of hedges. I'm fairly happy with the results, although the texture still needs some work.

    Thanks for the Mesh Paint article. I've been looking into it, and while it's an awesome feature I'm concerned about increasing the density of my meshes.
    I've been planning to add some dense vegetation to the scene and I would like to avoid going overboard with my tri-count. I've been looking for other ways to avoid repetition and found this tutorial http://www.chrisalbeluhn.com/UDK_Asset_Position_Offsets_Texturet_Tutorial.html
    Since it's handled solely by the shader it seem like it might be a good compromise between performance and looks; though it certainly doesn't have the same kind of control as Mesh Paint Tool.





    Anyways, I've done some work on the scene; I have focused mainly on vegetation and while it's slowly coming together, there is plenty of room for improvement.

    47679057.jpg





    I'm having some problems with my leaves texture; to be more specific with mip levels. Both trees, bushes and hedges look fine up-close.

    93412155.jpg


    However, once I zoom out they turn into a blobby mess. I kept my texture size the same as in UDK's samples and yet it looks much worse.
    The only solution I can think of is placing the leaves on my texture more sparsely; if there is more empty space between them, mip-mapping should affect them so much.

    Also, if anyone has any tips on what's the best way to align the planes then I would love to see them. My current setup works, but when looked at from some angles, you can easily tell that my vegetation is composed of simple planes.
    I will probably run Sandbox later and reverse-engineer some of Crysis' models; hopefully that will help me a little bit.


    Looking forward to hearing your comments guys.
  • 3DLee
    This is looking really great! I like the layout of the front gardens. :) Have you tried editing the MIP maps for your trees textures manually in Photoshop?

    Also, you may want to darken the vegetation or the grass - the two are blending together a bit right now.
  • teaandcigarettes
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    teaandcigarettes polycounter lvl 9
    Cheers Lee. I will tweak the contrast between grass and vegetation.

    About the mip-maps; I was thinking about sharpening them before; but something tells me that if I have to resort to such methods, then I'm certaily doing something wrong.
  • 3DLee
    I'm not 100% sure (maybe some other environment artists could chime in?), but I think editing MIP maps is a pretty common practice when there are issues with textures looking different at a distance - it's usually done on ground textures I think.

    If necessary you could probably even change the MIP levels to completely different modified images, like rendering your texture on a flat plane in Max at a distance and inserting it into the MIP level where it would look best or editing the MIP alphas manually to add more transparency.
  • Rurouni Strife
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    Rurouni Strife polycounter lvl 9
    I wouldn't worry about sharpening the mipmaps in UDK. It's there to sort of correct the DTX compression alghorthim. It's not perfect, and I think what is also happening is that your having a LOD issue. Just to test this, if you go into the UTEngine.ini file and look for the AA and AF settings, edit those to 16x AF and 4x AA (for AA, I understand you need to also enable DX10 and have a DX10 card) and see if your Level of Detail improves on those leafy textures.
  • teaandcigarettes
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    teaandcigarettes polycounter lvl 9
    Thanks for the replies, guys :)

    3dLee: You make a good point there, although upon looking more closely I've noticed that even the base texture could be improved. I will redo them when I find some free time.

    Rurouni Strife: Cheers mate :) I've been trying to play around with the .ini variables. Indeed, increasing the AF did help a little bit, however I couldn't enable the DX10 mode (something to do with nVidia drivers and Windows 7 - though I am sure it worked in the February build). But I've been looking into Crysis vegetation and I am sure now that my textures simply need more work; I will try to make the leaves less dense.
  • Rurouni Strife
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    Rurouni Strife polycounter lvl 9
  • ltrulsse
    A workaround for this is to check "Force Mip Streaming" under "Rendering" in the mesh properties
  • teaandcigarettes
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    teaandcigarettes polycounter lvl 9
    ltrulsse: Apologies for the late reply, I didn't see your post before. Unfortunately, forcing mip streaming didn't help much. However, I've been looking into other settings and enabling Alpha Dithering helped a lot. Neverthless, I have redone some of my textures anyway.



    Here's my most recent progress. I haven't really touched the main buidling, besides working on the highpoly assets but I have done a little bit of progress on the garden. Obviously there's more that needs to be done, but I am slowly getting there. To add some variety I will have to make more foliage, as well as other smaller props (benches, lanterns, fountains, etc).

    highresscreenshot00001t.jpg

    I'm looking forward to your crits guys.
  • Disco Stu
    Maybe the actual leave size could be enhanced?
    They look pretty small and fixing the scale issue would also fix some of the
    noisyness.
    The stem to leaves size doesnt fit for the tree on the left so id make it bigger or
    decrease the diameter of the stem
    Other than that its looking very nice alltough id doubt theid let trees
    grow that big in those positions with a house like that ^^
    Are you going for realistic lived in mansion or more of a bewitched overgrown garden?
    Both could work really well.
  • teaandcigarettes
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    teaandcigarettes polycounter lvl 9
    Thanks for the reply Stu :)

    Good point about the leaves; I will try to fix them today. I found a good way to bake the textures with alphas using Speedtree, so this shouldn't take too long.

    I am going for an overgrown look with an unkempt garden and lush forrest surrounding it.
  • Thunder
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    Thunder polycounter lvl 8
    Tea another thing I would do is grunge up the path a little more. Outdoor walkways are never that clean although i'm digging the moss on the grout
  • teaandcigarettes
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    teaandcigarettes polycounter lvl 9
    Thunder:

    Cheers, I was planning to add some dirt and grunge using vertex blending (or decals); indeed, it does look too clean at the moment.
  • DarthNater
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    DarthNater polycounter lvl 10
    Maybe it will look better after you add the dirt, but the walkway and surrounding pieces (minus the trees) are blending together too much. Try making the bricks around the edges a different color (but then again, maybe the dirt will give it more contrast).
  • RexM
    Nice, looking great.

    One thing I would suggest for the vegetation would be to add variation between the shades of the leaves on the trees and hedges. Also, make the texture darker with color burn on the parts of the leaves which are more likely to be shadowed. If you keep the shade constant, when the vegetation isn't illuminated, it ends up looking quite flat.

    The leaves don't seem to be the correct scale in comparison to the surrounding objects either - each leaf should be around double the size that they currently are. For the trees, anyways. Hedges look good, although larger leaf sizes would also help there too. It'll allow you to get more normal map detail in the leaves, that is if you are planning on adding normals. I recommend it though, normals add a lot to trees if done right.
  • Mazvix
    Hey Tea, this is coming to life man.

    Few crits if you do not mind: from fresh eyes you have WAY too many blue hues in your scene eg: Your trees are soo saturated, they are looking fake because of that. Add variations in your diffuse map, not ALL leaves are created equal ;) some got burnt faster than others, some grew earlier, some didn't and so on. I hope you take my crits in a positive way, I only mean the best :)

    Here is a paintover I did for what I am talking about, it is a "concept" you can offcourse tweak it to your likings. I hope you do not mind-

    TeaAndCigg_Paintover.jpg

    By the way it doesn't have to be in the 'Autumn' but I hope you got what I am saying, add reds, oranges, warm yellows and so on. I wish you the best of luck dude :)
  • teaandcigarettes
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    teaandcigarettes polycounter lvl 9
    Hey guys, sorry for the (very) late replies. I've read your replies and tried to made changes according to your suggestions but the foliage has given me more trouble than I have expected.



    DarthNater:

    Good point. I will tweak the texture and add some more colour variation to the bricks. I will probably use a vertex blending to add additional details and variation.



    RexM:

    Thanks mate :)

    I have decided to redo the trees from the scratch; increased the size of the leaves and reduced the amount of alpha planes to allow more light to pass through. I have also played around with the materials and took a look on the ones attached with the GDC demo map (the one included in the April beta). They look much better now and I will post some examples tomorrow.

    I've been trying to tweak the texture of the hedges as well. In the end I've made a new one from the scratch, but so far I didn't have much luck creating anything reasonable.



    Mazvix:

    Thanks for the paintover Mazvix :), I truly appreciate it.

    Indeed, more colour variation is something I've been meaning to add, but I've spent so much time on making sure that my alphas work well that I didn't really focus on my diffuse maps.

    At the moment there's much more colour variation than before, but I am still struggling to create convincing foliage. I went through different methods of creating the textures (photosourcing, baking down highpoly branches, etc.) Yet, when applied to the models they look flat and fake and I have yet to figure out whether it’s the problem with my materials, lighting setup or textures themselves.

    I will try to post some examples tomorrow; hopefully someone will be able to point me out in the right direction.


    Btw, I'm downloading the trial version of Maya at the moment. I've been hearing a lot about PaintFx and how it can create convincing leaves and branches.
  • RexM
    Just use photoshop to paint more varieties of color and shades where they are appropriate for your textures. That's what I used on my vegetation to create the textures.
  • Rurouni Strife
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    Rurouni Strife polycounter lvl 9
    Maya PaintFX has it's uses, but it's no substitute for hand creation. It also has a tendency to create very high poly meshes. I encourage you to look at PaintFX and to play with them and even animate them in Maya, but I wouldn't try to use them in a game scene.
  • teaandcigarettes
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    teaandcigarettes polycounter lvl 9
    RexM:

    Whoops, sorry I didn't explain myself properly.

    By having problems with the textures I meant the alphas and layout of my diffuse maps. Getting the right amount of leaves, making sure that there's enough space between each cluster and figuring out the negative-to-filled space ratio has been a rather painful process. The more space I fill with leaves, the more apparent it becomes that my branches are made out of simple planes, rather than real geometry.

    The sad thing is that I couldn't found any information so far on creating convincing alphas, size of leaves and creating a good layout. I've been relying far too much on trial and error method.

    Then again, it might be that lowpoly trees will look odd no matter how much time we spend on them and I am just looking too much into it.


    Rurouni Strife:

    Again, sorry for the poor explanation; I'm planning to use PaintFx solely to create highpoly branches that could be later baked down to a texture. I don't have too many problems with creating the meshes themselves, but alpha'd textures are giving me a headache.



    Anyway, here are the (hopefully) improved trees.

    highresscreenshot00011.jpg

    Their tricount varies from 700 (the smallest one) to 5000 (the biggest one).
    I am also planning to create a few more variations which will be used solely in the background. I hope that 400 tris in the first LOD, 100 tris in the second and billboards (appearing right after the second LOD) sounds reasonable considering that they will be used a lot.
  • teaandcigarettes
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    teaandcigarettes polycounter lvl 9
    I've decided to take a short break from doing the foliage and worked on some rocks in Mudbox. Here are the results; they look vastly different from each side so I can reuse them in many different ways. The diffuse maps are a little bit bland at the moment but I've been thinking of making a procedural moss and dirt shader, similar to the one included in the GDC demo.

    I'm looking forward to hearing what you think guys.


    highresscreenshot00013.jpg
  • RexM
    Those new trees are much better than your previous versions; can't wait to see them next to the mansion.

    Rocks look nice too, but definitely do need some moss and/or dirt on some of them. :)
  • teaandcigarettes
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    teaandcigarettes polycounter lvl 9
    Thanks Rex, glad to hear you liked it :)

    Yeah, moss is a given and I will try to play around with the shader as soon as I get some free time. I don't like putting the moss on the diffuse since it doesn't look to convincing. Moss in GDC demo on the other hand ooks very convincing and I would love to include something similar. That said, it's time to get some sleep, guess I had enough work for today.
  • brandoom
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    brandoom polycounter lvl 10
    Hey man, great updates. I somehow missed the last few.

    The rock look nice, probably even more so once placed in the scene.

    The foliage looks really nice too. Depending on what your going for, I would suggest continuing to push the overgrown look. For example, weeds and grass coming up from the cracks in the path, broken/dead branched on the ground, vines all over the friggin place, and depending on the "age" of the scene, break up the path.. displaced bricks and what not.

    The scene is looking VERY nice thus far, looking forward to more! :)
  • Saiainoshi
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    Saiainoshi polycounter lvl 9
    Ohhhh. I love your rocks! They're very believable. I appeciate a good rock.. I used to be an env artist hehehe :P
  • ZacD
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    ZacD interpolator
  • Rurouni Strife
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    Rurouni Strife polycounter lvl 9
    Love those rocks. And as for the PaintFX, I feel ya. Makes total sense now. Lol.
  • P442
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    P442 polycounter lvl 8
    love those trees, man.
  • Electro
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    Electro polycounter lvl 14
    The colour variations in the paintover are a step in the right direction imo. The sky being so over exposed without bloom flooding around the foliage looks a bit odd. It does kind of match the overcast look to the lighting though.

    The trees and the rocks are looking cool, look forward to seeing those in your scene.
  • teaandcigarettes
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    teaandcigarettes polycounter lvl 9
    Thanks for the replies, guys :)

    brandoom: Cheers! I will be certainly pushing for a more overgrown look. I was planning to make it look like an abandoned place (or at least very, very unkempt) so vines, bushes weeds are a must ;) I was planning on sculpting some branches, trunks and stumps in Mudbox next and I will do so as soon as I get my school stuff done.

    Saiainoshi: And here i thought that character artists are all about ass, tits and muscles, haha. Cheers mate, glad to hear you like it :)

    ZacD: Be careful, they're sharp ;)

    Rurouni Strife: Cool :) As for PaintFx; I didn't have much time to play around it with yet, but once I get into doing some vines and bushes I will certainly give it a shot.

    P442: Thanks mate :)

    Electro: Good point Electro; I have tweaked the lighting since then and worked a little bit on the textures to get some more hues in there. I'm not sure about the whole autumn look, but I did put some reds and yellows.
    Try to ignore the sky for now; I'm still using one of the default materials included with UDK so it might not fit the scene very well.
  • Tyler
    Great work, love the mansion's detail, and the trees have been improved greatly!

    Also, i've sent you a PM, not sure how obvious recieving a new message is made here. :P
  • teaandcigarettes
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    teaandcigarettes polycounter lvl 9
    Thanks Skullburn, glad to hear you liked it :)

    Oh, and check your PM - sorry for the late reply but I rarely check that little box in the right corner of my screen ;)
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