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Gears of War 3 - Environment Art

polycounter lvl 16
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Kevin Johnstone polycounter lvl 16
Hey Folks,

So since Jayhawk went and posted, I guess I can now too. I was waiting a while for people to get the chance to play Gears3 and see the stuff ingame first before I spoiled any surprises by showing renders here.

Anyway, first load of images here are from the Char set. After crunch on Gears2 ended ( for me ) I moved on to Gears3 and started on these with the intention of trying to just stick to the style of the folks who pioneered Gears environment art style. People like Danny Rodriguez, Josh Jay, Kevin Lanning, Lee Perry and Chris Perna.

I put together a survey and passed it around all the level designers, scripters and meshers. Just to ask them, what I did right, what I did wrong, what they wanted to see more of and what they wanted less off. The feedback I got from that was that modularity like the Hospital set I'd made allowed them to quickly shell out levels easily and reliably and they liked that they could slap any texture on them.

I had made too many designs with uncapped ends though, I had thought I was saving polys but due to the stagger and sprawled nature of how assets are used in Gears, they ended up having to use an additional mesh to cover those holes :(

They also wanted to see a real design on the capped ends of objects so they could use them safely however they wanted. So I took that on board and dived in. My own take away was that I couldn't ever trust in how the assets might be scaled ( a lesson I guess I already knew, its the nature of things ) so I set out to push the texture resolution higher. I was also fearful of textures being turned down in resolution so that motivated me to push more resolution also.

And I anticipated that with lightmass soon to be integrated and with it, the return of drop shadows , I should make more negative cuts and deep negative extrudes so each piece would self shadow nicely.

I'm showing a few lows this time also as people here moaned a bit about that. I included some tri numbers on some in case that was the reason people wanted to see the lows, to check up on me and see how greedy I am with the polys :)
I'm pretty disciplined with that stuff, it was another less learned from Gears2. All the lowpoly shots are from ingame in the generic browser with the base RTT maps I rendered out of max before the texture artist came in and hit on them. So they are not an exact representation of how they look ingame, but they are pretty close.








You can see I took that big blast damage circle out of the normals by the time I made the lowpoly and realized I'd gotten too carried away and had made things repeat in too obvious a way.





  • Kevin Johnstone
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    Kevin Johnstone polycounter lvl 16










    Below are a couple shots of how these pieces were used in MP_Overpass


  • Kevin Johnstone
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    Kevin Johnstone polycounter lvl 16
    Below are some work in progress shots I took while I was making this stuff that might help show the kind of steps ( and mistakes ) I made while trying to work out a design. I will try to find the brilliant concept Shane Pierce did online somewhere so you can see what I was working off ( he never posts here... though he should!).

















    More to come another night
  • Oniram
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    Oniram polycounter lvl 14
    I WAS WAITING FOR THIS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! so amazing! thanks for sharing kevin. im playing gears 3 right now. :D im gonna try and spot some of this stuff
  • jimmypopali
    FANTASTIC work like always!
  • ae.
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    ae. polycounter lvl 12
  • Zipfinator
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    Zipfinator polycounter lvl 9
    Amazing work Kevin. Your ZBrush work has always been some of my favorite since I saw your Gears 2 post a while ago. Do you use a lot of alphas to add in details like scratches or is it all mostly hand sculpted? Also I'd love to know what some of your favorite brushes are.
  • phillip.bailey
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    phillip.bailey polycounter lvl 9
    I always get excited when you post. Thanks for making my day! Great work!
  • lincolnhughes
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    lincolnhughes polycounter lvl 10
  • Alex3d
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    Alex3d polycounter lvl 9
    This stuff is really inspirational! Really helps me with my projects :) How long does it take you to sculpt pieces like these?
  • KyleJensen
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    KyleJensen polycounter lvl 12
    I love these high poly sculpts! :O
  • ScudzAlmighty
    [I've spotted some of it... and then got promptly killed for not paying attention to the "game"
  • Lonewolf
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    Lonewolf polycounter lvl 13
    my fingers are blue from all the right click save as today.
  • cholden
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    cholden polycounter lvl 13
    I was just saying last night how much I love Kevin's art dumps. This thread will be nice!
  • jayoplus
    Lonewolf wrote: »
    my fingers are blue from all the right click save as today.


    Excellent work. I actually liked the part about surveying the level designers about how the models are getting used.
    Excellent work sir!
  • Trevion3D
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    Trevion3D polycounter lvl 9
    This is Epic! (Pun intended)
  • salman_fas
    sweet work! Waiting to see more
  • Darkrusader
    Epic post indeed! Great modeling Kevin! Thats some of the most hardcore filigree Ive seen in a game! Thanks for your tips on lessons learned from your level design survey. You bring up some great points on making this stuff super versatile for modular reuse. Congrats on Gears 3!!
  • MrTwoVideoCards
    Yeah this stuff is amazing. I'd love to see some other shots of the other MP levels if that's okay. Though overpass is my favorite. Really cool how you guys made the level feel like it's sinking, even though it's the geometry around it raising!
  • beancube
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    beancube polycounter lvl 12
    awesome kev, still cant believe the effort you guys put into the assets! amazing.
  • Thor Sowards
    Very nice art dump! I haven't be able to play Gears 3 yet, but its definitively on my to get list.

    These pieces have an Art Deco feel to them, which you pulled off extremely well. I'm not too much of a fan of the destruction on the pieces but with a post-apocalyptic setting in the Gears universe I'm guessing its called for. How were you able decide how much damage to put on the pieces and when was too much?

    Also were you able to work on any of the vegetation at all? If you did, did you try to apply the lego like modularity to them as you did with building pieces or was this a completely different work flow?
  • Lee3dee
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    Lee3dee polycounter lvl 12
    Kevin: More stuff for me to drool over :P Thanks for sharing.
  • Gannon
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    Gannon greentooth
    So many kick ass art dumps, mind sharing texture sheets on some of the larger pieces?
  • EmAr
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    EmAr polycounter lvl 11
    Raising the bar again :) Thanks for sharing these!
  • d1ver
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    d1ver polycounter lvl 13
    I didn't even look at the pictures yet, just rushed here to type "OOOOOOOOOHHHHHYEAH!!!"
    Thanks, Kev!
    now let the good times roll :)
  • Kurry
    Stunning work like always. Thanks a lot for posting the WIP shots too. They are very insightful.

    One question I couldn't really make up from the WIP shots is how you tackle the large ornaments like the lions head. Do you bring these in as separate sub tool or do you work with one big mesh and just go with it ? would love to hear how your work flow with these things is.

    Once again, awesome work and fantastic game :)
  • Donavonyoung
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    Donavonyoung polycounter lvl 6
    Spectacular work here. Love the attention to detail across your work. It has just the right amount so that it feels believeable without being too noisy. Just went into my inspiration folder. Really great job.
  • Christian Hjerpe
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    Christian Hjerpe polycounter lvl 11
    Massive art dump! Thanks a lot for sharing and awesome stuff as always Kevin!
  • IxenonI
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    IxenonI interpolator
    Thanks for sharing, these are great!
  • GoSsS
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    GoSsS polycounter lvl 14
    Thansk alot for sharing this !
    Awesome work !
  • kn0r
    Amazing work, as always.
    Straight into my inspiration folder.
  • Jeff Parrott
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    Jeff Parrott polycounter lvl 17
    I got excited when I saw Hawkprey's art stuff. So glad this was coming too. Awesome work as always. You really have a nice balance of details on the meshes.
  • Ruz
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    Ruz ngon master
    great stuff as usual. nice one
  • Logan5
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    Logan5 polycounter lvl 9
    Great work Kevin such inspirational stuff!
  • cdevens
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    cdevens polycounter lvl 7
    Wow Kevin! As always, amazing work!
  • Skillmister
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    Skillmister polycounter lvl 11
    Lonewolf wrote: »
    my fingers are blue from all the right click save as today.

    haha this. saved so much over the past couple of days.

    fantastic work kevin
  • dtschultz
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    dtschultz polycounter lvl 12
    Wow. Amazing as always. Thanks for posting up some of the lows and WIPs. It's cool to get an idea of how you are doing some of this. One question (well, I have many, but I'll limit myself to one): How are you rendering this stuff out? Take the church for example: do you have all of those decimated pieces in one Max file? Thanks!
  • [HP]
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    [HP] polycounter lvl 13
    Very good, I wouldn't expect anything else from you Kevin! :)
  • LRoy
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    LRoy polycounter lvl 10
    Can you explain a bit about your damaging process? It looks great!
  • Alberto Rdrgz
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    Alberto Rdrgz polycounter lvl 9
    Great stuff. period.
  • brandoom
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    brandoom polycounter lvl 11
    These are ridiculous!

    In a good way obviously :P

    How long does it take you to make some of these?
  • tinokun
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    tinokun polycounter lvl 11
    AMAZING!!! Truly inspiring work. Thank you for sharing! :)
  • yodude87
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    yodude87 polycounter lvl 5
    i have been waiting for this since i first played gears 3. oh my god.

    kevin, thanks for sharing, this is so fucking amazing.
  • Rhoutermans
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    Rhoutermans polycounter lvl 11
  • cox
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    cox polycounter lvl 10
    Thanks for the WIP shots, it helps a lot =)
  • metalliandy
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    metalliandy greentooth
    Thanks for the post Kevin! Awesome work, as always!

    In this image, what are you using the mask for?
    Are you just painting the mask and inverting it so that the sculpted damage is restricted to that area, or is it some other technique like offsetting the mesh inwards to get a final depth before sculpting?

    Thanks again!
  • toxic_h2o
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    toxic_h2o polycounter lvl 8
    You are a boss, so inspirational. :D
  • JasonLavoie
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    JasonLavoie polycounter lvl 12
    I have to say Kevin, I come to your threads for the sexy art, but I stay for your amazing advice, such as these lovely tidbits:
    I put together a survey and passed it around all the level designers, scripters and meshers. Just to ask them, what I did right, what I did wrong, what they wanted to see more of and what they wanted less off.
    I had made too many designs with uncapped ends though, I had thought I was saving polys but due to the stagger and sprawled nature of how assets are used in Gears, they ended up having to use an additional mesh to cover those holes
    They also wanted to see a real design on the capped ends of objects so they could use them safely however they wanted.

    There comes a point when art is nice to look at, but it's the feedback / workflow that you get back from doing this that I find can really help push you forward to the next level.

    Thanks again for posting, you rawk everyone's world good sir :)
  • Kevin Johnstone
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    Kevin Johnstone polycounter lvl 16
    Thanks for the comments folks.

    Zipfinator : For metal I just do it by hand. I start with the clay tool and rough things up a little, enough to just give things a bit of a warble. Then I do some subtle damage with the clay tool, maybe mask some more areas I want to pop out an additional panel of metal from and deform it with a Z axis inflat.

    I generally go back of things with the standard brush and lightly pop out the edges of the panels and bevels and punch in some of those damage holes I began with the clay tool.

    Then I use a combination of clay and standard brush to 'trail' scratches leading outward from where I decided the blast damage angle came from. I use the flatten tools to push bolder plain angles when things get too noisy or messy as I find the limits of my edge flow making some detail to pixel noised.

    Alex3d: I'd say its generally a 3-4 day turn around on most pieces, but others can take 7-8 days. I'm slower than I was on Gears2 where I had to be super fast. I set out to make less mistakes this time around and build stuff right the first time. The Char set never needed optimized and in many cases due to how I laid out the texture to get the maximum resolution the LD's were able to turn them down to 512's and have them still look good.

    Thor Sword: It was all down to me and the cues I took from the concepts. The char set was meant to be almost completly destroyed, uglier and more ruined than most of our other assets. I haven't really gone as far as this before but it worked out well enough. The concrete railing type piece for instance got used everywhere, especially the steps I made out of ( I'd have to show the lowpolys for that later ) which ended up in a lot of levels, sometimes with other textures applied to them because there was a nice even mix of broken 3 pieces to cast shadows.

    I haven't actually done any vegetation with UE3, I'm always on infrastructure because it has become my strength and people feel they can rely on me for that more than the prop level stuff. I'd often like to the do the prop stuff, its much easier to focus on a small self contained asset that serves only one purpose but we all do what we are good at and it works out better that way probably. Some people here are very strong with prop and vegetation stuff. Kendall Tucker and Joshy Jay in particular have an incredibly preceise eye for those pieces and I think I'm pretty weak there through lack of practise.

    Gannon : I'm not allowed to show texture sheets. Assets like that are generally something we're not able to show because people don't have access to those under the hood type pieces. When I showed stuff like that in my UT3 posts it was because anyone could see that stuff already in the UT3 editor, it was technically already 'released'.

    Kurry : I build all the pieces individually and then export the group together to Zbrush so that each piece that was a seperate model has its own polygroup that allows me to choose which to group into subtools for easier management of polycounts. I don't like to have one subtool that goes over 2 million polys though I sometimes push as far as 4 if I really have to.

    dtshultz: Yup and because they are in many more small pieces that it appears it is something max can manage well enough as long as I make hide everything and tell max to render whats not seen. Simply Mental Ray renders with standard materials and 3 or 4 lights are all I use so it renders pretty quickly, generally no more than 10 mins at most.

    LRoy: I think one of my answers above covers my damage technique for metal, I mostly just noodle away and build up my pounding with clay and standard / flatten brushes or certainly I did when I was doing this stuff.

    Metalliandy: I inverted the mask and inflated negatively on with Z alone. With concrete pieces like this that have clear panel like sections making up the whole I tend to boldly 'rim' all around within those panels as a first step, it gives me a good clear benchmark and encourages me to be more subtle with the rest.
    I tend near the end to apply some conrete alpha's and then tighten / deepen some of the cracks with the standard brush
  • metalliandy
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    metalliandy greentooth
    Awesome! Thanks for the info :)
  • slipsius
    Amazing art, as always, Kevin. Seems like only yesterday you were posting the gears 2 stuff.

    Thanks for sharing :)

    You should definitely do a small tutorial for people.
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