[UDK] Ancient temple - postmortem walkthrough

polycounter lvl 13
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Jeff Parrott polycounter lvl 13
I wanted to do a postmortem walk-through on a piece. Adam Bromell has done this before (although better since his was a walk-through more than a postmortem). Jason Lavoie did a great video series on his Demon's Throne postmortem videos too. The finished scene is at the bottom. This is a walk-through of the process of putting a scene together. Hope it helps someone.

The first step was the statues. I used ZSpheres to block out the forms then sculpted the details in after that.


Once the statue low resolution (in game mesh) was finished then I started to work out a contained environment that the statue would be placed in. I settled on a small temple for this. Finding reference images on google image search is where I started. Just starting with ancient statue and looking at where they are placed. In my 3d package I placed the statues and created block in geometry. This took about 1 hour to complete. Immediately after the block in was done I placed it all together in my engine of choice (Unreal/UDK).


It was nothing fancy at this stage. But at least it is blocked out with 'work lights' in place so I could start seeing the composition of the piece. The next stage is adding detail in the modeling all over really. The modeling still is not near the final 'in game' quality, but it's halfway there and at least you can start getting a feeling for the whole scene. Texturing is also started for tiling textures that are not model specific (floors, walls, etc).


Next I work on more textures. The less specific textures at this stage the better. Things still might change. So sticking to tiling textures where possible is a great way to make you lose less time redoing things. Make sure you are refining the modeling while you are adding in the textures. If you put large stones on the ground there should be enough geometry to support the surface changes.


Texturing is still taking place. Usually with just different values of greyscale to make sure the piece reads how I want it so. Having the walls and floors blend together is something you want to avoid. While the texturing is advancing continuing to flesh out the modeling is important. You want small details here and there. Make things look damaged, broken, and uneven.


Trying different ideas is a great thing to do once you're 40% or so along the way of your project. Have some things in place but nothing final. You should be able to show it to friends, coworkers, classmates, or family members and get an opinion. For them to be able to recognize what the piece is, and where it's set is helpful. With this stage I went asked some friends for their opinion on different ideas for the center stone.



After this charging ahead and getting all your textures in place is a great approach. Once the surfaces in the scene are all textured you can start refining areas and adding details.


Since the surfaces are all covered the lighting can get some love. Even going so far as adding your vertex blended surfaces in (like the ground stones). More so than the lighting I was trying to get lighting in place that I liked how the shadows were working on the surface. Here are some progress shots of the lighting with vertex only lighting.



Now the lighting is showing off the scene better I start adding in accent props. Things that make the scene more lived in. The roots are added in at this stage. The largest roots were done with exporting all the geometry from UDK into Zbrush and placing ZSphere roots around the scene. All the smaller roots were created from extruding a cube along a curve then*tessellating*the geometry some.


Then plants are added in more for silhouette break up and color accent in the scene.


Once the accent props are textured I keep keep adding more in. Also continuing to refine the textures across the piece as a whole. The lighting is continually getting refined and adjusted too.


Any final accent props are added in now. I usually make these tertiary details like rubble, better grass, and*smaller vines on the walls.


Now the tertiary details for the top part of the walls and additional accent color is added with the ivy plants.


The only things left to do is a few lighting tweaks, texture variation on things, and a small reference scale prop. It's a good idea to have something in the scene that people can relate to so they get a sense of scale. In this scene a golden helmet is being used. Modern day scenes have things inherently added like doors, doorhandles, lights, trash cans, cars, etc. An ancient temple scene will need something added in. Such as a helmet, spear, arrows, shield, etc. When those things are added we end up at our final scene.


Links pertaining to this project:

http://www.polycount.com/forum/showthread.php?t=69345 - Adam's great walk-through.

http://www.vimeo.com/album/227064 - Jason's Demon's Throne postmortem

http://www.youtube.com/user/rooz3d#p/u - The method of majority of the texturing.

http://udk.com/ - The awesomely free engine to pimp off my stuff.

http://www.3dmotive.com/product-udk-mesh-pain - Vertex blending shaders tutorial series.


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