Chew Magna Fortress, UDK

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Jessica Dinh polycounter lvl 7
Hey guys! I'm building an environment based off a scene from one of my favorite books, First King of Shannara by Terry Brooks. Basically, the characters are searching for a powerful relic called the Black Elfstone in an ancient fortress called the Chew Magna, hidden in a mountainous region. (Currently I am focusing on the exterior of this environment piece, but later I would like to get to some interior work and a specific courtyard scene I like). Here are the exact excerpts in case anyone is interested:
“A massive fortress stood before them, its stone blocks so ancient the edges were worn smooth and its surface so cracked it seemed as if spiderwebs had covered it over. It was a wondrous construction, a balancing of towers atop battlements, an interlinking of parapets that cantilevered forward and back at every turn, and a spiraling of catwalks that suggested the intricacy of tapestry threads woven on a loom. The castle rose high and then higher, until its farthest reaches were barely discernable. Mountains ringed the castle, opening to the sky through the ceiling of clouds and mist. Trees and scrub grew thick along the rock walls at higher elevations, branches and vines drooping inward toward the castle spires, letting daylight slip through in a ragged seam. It was from here that the light took its odd cast, spilling down through the filter of the leafy canopy and swirling haze to coat the fortress stone in its watery illumination.”

“Inch by inch, the mountains were reclaiming the ground on which the fortress had been built. One day they would close about it for good.”

“He glanced up again at the trees and scrub and vines growing high above them on the cliffs, and realized that the mist was almost a rain. He could feel the damp on his face. He looked at the fortress doors and windows, black holes in the gray haze. Iron hinges and locks hung empty and useless; the wood had rotted away at every turn. Moisture worked at the stone and mortar as well, wearing it down, eroding it. Tay walked to the wall of the nearest tower and rubbed his hand across the stone. The surface crumbled like sand under his fingers. This ancient keep, this Chew Magna, had the unpleasant feel of a place that would collapse under a strong wind.” (196)

Here is some of my reference and inspiration. I was specifically looking for examples of grand scale and the effects of erosion and age:




For textures, my goal is to push the level of detail and realism in my painting - my work is typically somewhat cartoony and simple and I would like to see if I can achieve something a little more involved/intricate this time. Here is a sort of guide I am going by, some textures I quite admire (cholden, lincolnhughes, romy, sayonara):


Using the written descriptions from the book, I painted a concept:


And now I am currently doing some basic blockout in max, making sure the fortress is structurally sound from all angles (currently I have some shapes right from the front):


This week I plan to complete the blockout. As well as develop some spreadsheets for the asset list I have assembled below (certainly subject to change):

Assets and Textures:
• 2 custom cliffs (or sculpted landscape??)
• 2 boulders
• 2 rocks
• vine/moss alpha cards (4 variations: brown moss, green moss, and 2 types of hanging jungle vine)
• 3 plants (2 green plants and 1 with red flowers)
• grass (long and short)
• 1 bush/scrub
• 2 trees
• the castle modular set
• tileables: (paint all at 512)
1. stone brick wall
2. stone brick wall ver 2
3. damaged stone brick wall
4. damaged stone brick wall ver 2
5. crack decal
6. decorative stone trim (for main gate and other areas) [512 x 128]
7. stone steps [512 x 128]
8. metal bar for main gates [512 x 128]
9. broken rock cutaway [512 x 128]
10. unique 1024 with 3 different stone tablets, smooth stone corbel caps, 2 different diamond windows and 1 rectangular window, support beam texture
1. cobblestone
2. smooth stone
3. grass
4. grass with roots
5. dirt
6. cliff
7. broken cliff
8. moss
9. unique 1024 for 2 boulders, 2 rocks, 3 plants, 1 bush, grass, and vine alphas
10. unique 1024 for 2 trees

Total: 16 textures

Some other small goals I have for this project:

1. What are decals?
2. How to texture blend in UDK
3. How to use vertex color in UDK, on models and on the Landscape
4. How to height-map blend in UDK

Currently I am debating whether to make the cliffs in this environment from custom meshes built in max (by extruding/building from a pre-painted texture plane, a horizontally tiling cliff face), or from sculpting in the UDK Landscape editor, where I imagine it might be easier to paint on some moss later (unless I figure out texture blending for custom meshes...). I'll be doing some tests tonight. Thoughts?

This first post is text-heavy - but more images to come, shortly! Critique and comments welcome, and thanks in advance:]



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