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[UDK] Moated Grange Environment

polycounter lvl 12
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paulsvoboda polycounter lvl 12
Final Shots:


This has been a type of environment I have wanted to do for a while now and finally have time to do so. It's somewhat based on a painting, I say that because I have decided to take it in a different direction in many ways.
I've haven't wanted to post this before as I was slightly nervous and I felt it wasn't at a place where I should. Most of it is still in an early blockout stage and I've been really trying to lock down lighting and such.

I would really appreciate critique, suggestions, advice or anything of the sort.

Here are a few of the shots:



  • ParoXum
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    ParoXum polycounter lvl 9
    I can feel the still/painterly feel in it. Great start, if like you said it's in early block-out stage, then it's really promising.

    I dig water and foliage and will wait to crit the rest!
  • ScudzAlmighty
    very, very nice Paul, hope you put up some video to go with it.

    one thing that stands out is the edges along the stairs and the roof of the house, there's some real un-eveness to the surface that feels weird to me.
  • PixelMasher
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    PixelMasher veteran polycounter
    lighting looks pretty promising, the rim lit/painterly look is nice, nice use of saturation. maybe a little less bloom so things like the tree are not blown out.

    I would tone down the godrays a tad, and maybe add a little fog to the atmosphere, barely noticeable but it should add some depth, right now its like the foggy god rays showing something in the air but everywhere else is super crisp.
  • haiddasalami
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    haiddasalami polycounter lvl 12
    How are you getting that effect first picture where the tree roots are meeting the water. There's something about it that draws my eye.
  • Envelope
    Watching! Lookin good. Care to post a "lighting only" mode with no post?
  • paulsvoboda
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    paulsvoboda polycounter lvl 12
    @ Envelope - Here's a lighting only shot.

    @Haiddasalami - I'm not exactly sure what your talking about but I believe that would be the lens flare.

    @PixelMasher - Thanks a lot. Will definitely work on those things.
  • Thor Sowards
    Very nice! Im really digging the painterly feel of, I think you could push it even farther too if you wanted too. Post Process ftw!

    Things i did notice though was the blue light (i dunno what its from, lens flare?) thats in your first 2 shots, not sure if those are needed, more so in the first than the second.
    Secondly was my eye keeps getting drawn to the tree by the house, I think its cause its more bare than the other trees in the scene, any particular reason for this? I think it makes it look outta place so adding more leaves to it would make it fit together better imo. I think adding more leaves everywhere especially to the water would help out alot too.

    Cant wait to see the house and the stairs completed too! Definitely following this!
  • James9475
    The sort of piece where you can tell you really had a vision you were trying to recreate, looks beautiful so far.
  • haiddasalami
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    haiddasalami polycounter lvl 12
    @ Envelope - Here's a lighting only shot.

    @Haiddasalami - I'm not exactly sure what your talking about but I believe that would be the lens flare.

    @PixelMasher - Thanks a lot. Will definitely work on those things.

    Its the bluish light but nvm I saw it on my LCD monitor and it's just a light. Thought I saw bokeh effects :) Excellent work I must say. Bloom is a bit too much though.

  • c0ldhands
    I think Im the only one that is upset on the high contrast that is eating out my eyes. I like how the shadows adorn on the landscape, the reflections in the water, the composition of the shots(specially shot nr 2)

    I know you want to achieve an oil painting kind of look, but I say you already achived that with the colors. I think if you did some contrast corection, added som depth of field, probably some fog out in the distance you would really hit the nail with a gigaton hammer!
  • Ben Apuna
    I really like this scene. I actually like the high contrast, but as others have said maybe some fog and dof could take it further.

    The only thing that really bugs me is the sparse foreground tree. The leaf clumps don't look too natural, maybe just strip that tree bare.

    I look forward to seeing updates :)
  • phillip.bailey
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    phillip.bailey polycounter lvl 9
    love it! i would really like to get in there and lye in the grass:)
  • paulsvoboda
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    paulsvoboda polycounter lvl 12
    Thank you all for the feedback. I will get working on some of the suggestions as soon as I can and post another update.
  • duxun
    going into my inspiration folder!!!! awesome work ...
  • Generalvivi
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    Generalvivi polycounter lvl 14
    Hawt stuff man!
  • HonkyPunch
  • Mistry10
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    Mistry10 polycounter lvl 8
    great detail, loving the colours !
  • paulsvoboda
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    paulsvoboda polycounter lvl 12
    Sorry for the lack of updates. I've been out of the country for the last two or so weeks and have been far away from any form of a computer.


    What I have begun doing:
    Texturing the house
    Toning down the Bloom and Lens Flare
    Made some new trees (which from the screenshot I doubt there will be any noticeable difference but the old ones still had very recognizable planes up close)
    Made slight adjustments to the colour

    Things which still need to be worked on:
    Finish up texturing
    Add more history and story to the house (along with doors, windows and other essentials)
    Fix the main tree
    Work on any feedback I get from the wonderful crew here :)

    I'm still working on some of the previous suggestions and haven't made any major changes to the scene. Once I get most of the texturing done I think I'll start playing around with colour, contrast and lighting more but I may start sooner since I'm getting far too hung up on details at the moment.

    Feedback, critique and suggestions are both needed and welcome. Thanks!
  • PatrickL
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    PatrickL polycounter lvl 9
    The the planes on tree in the foreground on the left seem too dense with leaves. It looks like odd surviving bunches on healthy leaves, as opposed to those that haven't fallen yet. Maybe make the leaves a bit more sparse, and double your planes?

    But that's literately my only suggestion. Looks excellent.
  • 00Zero
    looks very cool. i think it could look a lot better if the shadows didnt go pure black. its almost distracting atm.

    i wonder what it would look like if you went with a more kinkade look. purply blue shadows.
  • paulsvoboda
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    paulsvoboda polycounter lvl 12
    Thanks for the critique. I tried fixing the tree a bit but don't know if I've done anything significant to it. I probably need to do something a bit more drastic if it's still a problem. Finished the bridge and windows and played a bit more with the colour.
    @00Zero - I'm going to begin playing with the LUT as soon as I figure it out and will try that out, Thanks.

  • Rojo
    Have you considered adding rocks beneath, and mimicking water turbulence flowing around them? I'm unfamiliar with UDK but some form of animated overlays could accomplish this.

    It seems peaceful, like the water should be more still (like a mirror) with exception to some pockets of undercurrent.

    Beautiful piece.
  • Swizzle
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    Swizzle polycounter lvl 14
    Any chance of getting bigger screens so we can see all the delicious little details? This is looking amazing.
  • Vrav
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    Vrav polycounter lvl 11
    Very pretty. I love the stuff floating in the water.
  • paulsvoboda
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    paulsvoboda polycounter lvl 12
    @Tim - I never even thought of that! Great idea, I'm not sure how to go about this but will work on a couple things to see what I can do.
    @Swizzle - I'll be able to take a couple bigger screenshots today and will try to find somewhere to post them as my flickr account doesn't like anything bigger.
    @Vrav - thanks
  • Slipstream
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    Slipstream polycounter lvl 17
    My initial reaction: Holy shit!
    That's a really beautiful scene :)

    Try out photobucket for the pictures, they've been pretty okay with larger resolution and file sizes.
  • paulsvoboda
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    paulsvoboda polycounter lvl 12
    Here are some (hopefully) higher res shots :)

  • tex_cookiedough
    that looks fantastic, i love all of the foliage in the last shot
  • Bishop
    This is really amazing. Loving the first pic.

    On the second one though, buttom of the pic, where the land meets the river, is that grass? Or just something with the water? And the reflection (the yellowish areas) of the water seems to abruptly cut off nearing the middle of the river. Is that just because of the angle or anything?
  • BeatKitano
    Maybe a bit too much bloom, glowy but it works, looks like something that could come from a child book tale.

    Awesome work. I'm working with udk too at the moment, i hope to attain something near this quality in the end :)
  • an aggressive napkin
    Could you post some wireframes? I'd really like to know how you would begin to work on and blockout a larger scene like this as I am in need of some portfolio work
  • Mistry10
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    Mistry10 polycounter lvl 8
    love the colours and composition !
    great job !
  • Phones
    This is absolutely beautiful. The only thing I'd change is the reflection of the large tree on the left. It's much too prevalent. Lessening the reflection would draw the focus the the house/bridge area. Of course, this only really appears as a problem from the first picture you posted.
  • Xendance
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    Xendance polycounter lvl 7
    I think you should put some more detail into the leaf planes of the trees. At the moment they look rather flat.
  • Z3D
    It's beautiful man!
  • P442
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    P442 polycounter lvl 8
    wow. what is this rendered in?
  • Xendance
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    Xendance polycounter lvl 7
    P442 wrote: »
    wow. what is this rendered in?

    Topic name says UDK, Unreal Development Kit.
  • paulsvoboda
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    paulsvoboda polycounter lvl 12
    Thanks everyone for your feedback. Really appreciate it.

    @Bishop - The reflection cuts off because of the shadows from the trees - It's a specular reflection right now. I've fixed some of the random grass placement now and will try turning down the spec so it's not so abrupt.

    @BeatKitano - Bloom :) - I thought I had toned it down a lot but obviously still some more. Thanks a lot. Good luck on your project - I love the Alien in the WAYWO thread by the way.

    @Mistry10 - Thanks a lot

    @Phones - Thanks man. I'm still working on the reflection as I'm not entirely happy with it and will try to work on what you pointed out.

    @P442 - UDK.

    @Xendance - will do :).

    @an aggressive napkin - I'll post down here the process I've gone through for this scene. Honestly, I wouldn't be able to do the process justice as it's been a huge learning experience for me. I think the biggest help/source of inspiration has come from Adam's brilliant Evil Genius thread which I would recommend going through multiple times and just looking at different threads from other people (eg. Jason's Demon Throne)

    Honestly, It's been a constant process of updating, feeling great about it and thinking I'm pretty much the best thing since sliced bread, then looking to see how I could compare my stage with the stage I thought Adam would have been at, getting very depressed, then inspired, then rinsing and repeating over and over again :). I really wish I began posting this up on polycount sooner since I feel I would have gotten to a better stage much quicker.

    Biggest thing I've learned though is to just blockout something (Maybe and hour or two, really quick), doesn't matter what as long as its some indication, throwing it in to UDK, lighting it, and then move on from there. I also tried working on the environment first before even thinking about the house in attempt to not get bogged down by detail (which in the end I did, just with environmental stuff :) ). But I really can't do this process justice, get on over and read Adam's thread.

    I also took some screens of various stages of my progess. Here's a link to a more detailed step process.


    Hope this helps some and best of luck!
  • n88tr
    the effects draw my attention away from the house/trees but I think that was the desired effect; to create a wonderland-environment.
  • paulsvoboda
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    paulsvoboda polycounter lvl 12
    Another small update few and far between.
    I'm sort of struggling balancing schedules between this and school but I think I'm close to being finished and figuring out how to do a video of it since I do have some things animated.

    At the moment I'm trying to flush out the environment more so that when you actually walk around it there is more than just one random cottage. I've also tried fixing some of the issues pointed out and hope I'm getting closer.

    Thank you everyone for your encouragement and feedback. As always, critique is very much appreciated.

  • whats_true
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    whats_true polycounter lvl 14
    The terrain normals look a bit flat compared to the rest of the scene in the last picture. And are you putting this through the sharpen filter in photoshop also?
  • BlvdNights
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    BlvdNights polycounter lvl 8
    Awesome scene. But I agree with whats_true. The terrain needs some pop.
  • paulsvoboda
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    paulsvoboda polycounter lvl 12
    @whats_true - Thanks for the critique. I completely agree with you and I'll try working on the terrain.I am using a sharpen filter in Photoshop, maybe too much of it but otherwise it's a straight screenshot.
    @BlvdNights - Thanks a lot. I'm a big fan of your work. As said above, I agree with the comments on the terrain and will work on it tonight.
  • ZacD
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    ZacD sublime tool
    if you have some gentle tree and grass wind animation + animated water, I'd love to download and walk around in this level.
  • vcool
    Really glad you toned the contrast down, the final shots sold me.
  • Xoliul
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    Xoliul polycounter lvl 12
    Hey paul, this is super-nice looking. I have a few questions:

    -How are you keeping the colors so consistent and how did you got about finding the right postpro LUT? I find this extremely difficult, there's just so many thing affecting each other, hard to get them consistent.
    -Mind showing your rocks, something like wires or how you went and created them? I' ve had a hard time a while ago creating decent rocks.
    -The gras is really nice, how do you get those geometry planes laying flat on the ground?
  • paulsvoboda
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    paulsvoboda polycounter lvl 12
    @ Xoliul - Thanks a lot for the kind words, It's a huge encouragement. I'll try to answer your questions as best as I can but I'm not sure I'll be of any help. :)

    - The consistency in colour has been a constant battle. UDK's lightmass has some great features in it which can also be a pain to handle if you are lighting while building the level, at least, that's my experience. In order to try and get the colours of all the different materials in some sort of harmonious range what I ended up doing was, when I brought the textures in I made all my adjustments solely through the shader (desaturation, brightness, tint, etc). I set up a Master Shader which allowed me to easily make changes to any one material. Obviously, this can be really expensive and I'm not sure I'd do this again. Once I had most of my assets in though, I started stripping the shaders down and making all the changes I had made in the shader in the actual texture itself to save on instructions. Again, I'm not sure if this is the best way to do it but looking through Epic's stuff, all the shaders are very versatile and allow for pretty much any type of change in the texture. Don't know if that's what you were asking but good for me to write it down.

    - I tried a pretty standard workflow for the rocks. I made a very simple mesh in Maya, almost a box, brought it into zBrush and sculpted it. Throughout this project I've been trying to polypaint more and more as it helps me get the meshes into my scene quicker since you go through the whole process at once. I'm still struggling with finding a way to approximate colour in zBrush as it's either over saturated or grey, probably need a better Material.
    I then build a low poly, bake out the maps, do a quick texture pass in Photoshop (either colour adjustments or on or two photos thrown on top with a very low opacity) and then bring it into UDK. I also got a basic tiling rock texture and generated normals though CB and brought that into UDK as a detail Normal map to add a bit extra.
    In the end, I'm not terribly happy with my sculpt as I think it's too noisy, same problem with the texture, but I'm leaning slowly :).
    One more thing I learnt, which I'm a bit hesitant to admit :), was to flip your green channel if you use Maya - this bothered me for so long and never could understand why the objects I was bringing in looked terrible. UDK 101 I guess :).



    UDK (500 tris):

    - Finally, for the grass, in the Terrain material under the Foliage Mesh Tab there is a setting which is called Slope Rotation Blend - put that up to 1 and the grass mesh will conform to the hill.

    Hope this helps. :) Oh, and will we ever get an update on your environment? - I was really enjoying watching the progress.
  • PogoP
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    PogoP polycounter lvl 10
    What sorta brushes did you use in Zbrush to keep such hard angles? I find that my sculpts look very soft and rounded. Did you use the Planar brush a lot?
  • Xoliul
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    Xoliul polycounter lvl 12
    Hey Paul, thanks for the answer and don't worry, that was definitely quick enough.

    I guess doing texture color changes through the shader first is easier than doing it in Photoshop every time. Still the hardest part for me is getting the postpro colors right, the new LUT system is so versatile that I can barely handle it.
    And cool to see I was on the right track with the rocks, I did pretty much the same approach on my second try.
    For the grass I thought you'd be using the slope rotation blend, but it it still tends to clip the grass into the groudn or have it float when the slope is too bumpy.

    As for my env, yeah, well it took a lot longer than I expected, I sorta went past my self imposed deadline. And I still have tons of work to do for a paid job, not as fun however. I'll probably get back to it, it'd be a shame to drop it now that I got this far.
  • LokiClock
    All are gorgeous in their own rights. I would have said to roughen up the houses and stuff, but as can be seen you just hadn't gotten to the texturing on them yet. The visual style reminds me of John Bauer and the like. After seeing these lighting changes, I would like to see you animate the whole sunset on this scene.
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