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Dark Corners [UE4]

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frmdbl polycounter
Hello Polycounters, 

I decided to make me a small dark themed sci-fi environment.

I want it to remain rather dark and make lighting the hero, 
also I'll try to use tiling textures (trims, panels etc.) where I can get away with it, 
rather that bake all of the assets.

Any critique or suggestion is welcome.

Here's the latest version.


  • frmdbl
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    frmdbl polycounter
    Cleaned up a couple of things and added some detail.
  • Vir_Norin
    Looks really nice! Reminds me location from Doom 3
  • s1dK
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    s1dK interpolator
    Looks really nice mate, maybe add some props in there to fill a bit the env.
  • Colormate
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    Colormate polycounter lvl 3
    What materials/textures did you use? (Of course you probably tweaked them, but did you create/downloaded materials or used the ones on the engine?) Just curious... Looks really cool!
  • Kazperstan
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    Kazperstan greentooth
    Looking nice! I think your lighting focal points are fighting each other a bit, although you want a dark scene the blacks are a little too black and your bright points are all the same brightness.
    I made a Gif that hopefully explains a bit better:

  • Nicorepe
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    Nicorepe polycounter lvl 4
    Looks preety cool!. Most of textures are tileable am I correct?
  • pixelpatron
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    pixelpatron interpolator
    Looking good, but I feel like your lighting could make this stronger. I feel like your giving everything the same importance at the moment. You spent the time to model this stuff, and you want to show it off.....yet I don't have a place for my eye to rest, everything is given the same value. Similar to what KAZPERSTAN was sayin'. I'd play with adding a different color light for you focal point, and drop back the rest. If that means dropping your global lighting down (you want your global/ambient to be your darkest dark, meaning what would you see if no other lights are turned on.) and all our other lights from a 10 to a 6, and your focal light to a 8 or a 9 (on a 10 point scale). 
  • Jack M.
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    Jack M. interpolator
    Really cool scene! Are those some smoothing group errors on that pipe in the bottom mid right?
  • marcoluna
  • OBlastradiusO
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    OBlastradiusO polycounter lvl 11
    Nice and badass

  • frmdbl
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    frmdbl polycounter
    Sorry for a late reply guys, but I wanted to post the replies along with an update.

    Detail Lighting

    I will try to figure out something that works better in terms of lighting, and I understand if you think the scene is a bit too busy, but I have other shots planned so I need the detail for some closer shots.

    All in all still a long way till I can call it finished.

    @Vir_Norin  Thanks! That's a rather honoring comparison.

    @S1DK Yes, I think I will add some control panels or crates.

    @COLORMATE I just made a random black material which is used most of the scene for now, plus some default metals and panel materials  I baked.

    @KAZPERSTAN Thanks for taking the time to make the gif. I'll take that into account,  when I focus on the lighting some more.The highlight isn't there mostly in the update and I made a sort of a surveillance gizmo at the top to serve as a focal point possibly.

    @NICOREPE Quite right, for now there are mostly tileable materials used.

    @PIXELPATRON I hear you. I'm not sure about dropping the global light down, but I will try to define a focal point with lighting.
    The lighting in by no means final and I might play with different setups.
    @JACK M.  Thanks, yes that connector/clamp thing was shaded flat.

    @MARCOLUNA Thanks!

  • Nicorepe
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    Nicorepe polycounter lvl 4
    Preety cool! Will sub and see how it evolves!
  • frmdbl
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    frmdbl polycounter
    Here's another update.

    I didn't have too much time to work on this, but what I did have I spent mostly experimenting lighting.
    I tried to make it more consistent, but I can't seem to get enough control
    the way reflection probes work and I'm a bit tired with it.

    I modeled low poly models and made some basic materials with ddo. 

  • Kitty|Owl
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    Kitty|Owl polycounter lvl 3
    some nice work, I like where it is going.

    in terms of critique, I have a few suggestions that might help. starting with lighting,
    1. you have no visible light fixtures, which makes it difficult to know the source of the light ( it generally seems like omni's everywhere), leading to no directionality in the scene making it hard to read.
    in terms of this I would remove (or just turn off the layer) the lighting in the scene and start working on pulling out your focal points (so where do you want someone to look if they glance at the image),
    then work on the functional aspect to the lighting (so if this were a real place where would the focus be with the lighting from a design perspective?),
    then add in detail lighting (so this would be areas where lighting isn't important from a focal or design/functionality perspective, usually non detracting (smaller/dimmer))

    2. from a framing point of view, personally it might be worth considering the main view being taken from an eye-level/ walkway to help push the sense of scale. I personally find this grounds the scene better with the viewer than floating camera views.

    3. avoid omni lights. unless a light fixture calls for one generally you will have directional lighting, as a rule aside from those cases, it is better to avoid adding in omni/fills until the very end and only at the very end if you need them. 

    4. exposure:
    a) check your histogram and make sure you arent crushing or clipping.
    b) get to grips with the Ansel Adams Zone System: http://photography.tutsplus.com/tutorials/understanding-using-ansel-adams-zone-system--photo-5607
    despite the fact you do not have a light meter (generally) in a game engine, you can still use this system assuming you have a photo-program (photoshop,gimp,etc).
    c)Typically ignore your exposure until the end, rely on the intensity settings of the lighting (basically trust the numbers until you have the basic lighting setup). use consistent values so when you do your tone-mapping/exposure you know that there wont be any light elements that are over-exposed or under-exposed seperate from the rest.
    NOTE: you may want to just neutralize all the exposure settings at the beginning, definitely turn off eye adaptation/auto-exposure adjustment.

    lighting values set-up is easier if you use reference to real values (move the decimal place to the left until you have a range that is manageable, easiest way to set this up is to add in a sun, set a value for it that 'works', then use that as the base for the rest of the light intensities in the scene (so the sun is typically between 32,000 and 100,000 lux (lumens(lm) per square meter, see explanation why we use this below post*). which means you take the value you use for the sunlight and divide by the easiest which is 100,000 to find 1 lumen equivalent in your scene. then for a 240lm light you mult that value by 240 and so on. hopefully that makes sense.) 

    d) expose/tone-map with no saturation (so turn saturation to 0 whilst exposing), this will make it easier to adjust.

    lumens = perceived emitted light (so how 'bright' is the source)
    Lux = typically received/incident light at a point in distanced from source (usually in m^2).
    basically for the sun intensity we use the lux value as a base (lm/m^2) since we aren't creating a light source the size and distance the sun is IRL, this is also why sun intensity settings are usually arbitrary/different from light entities in engines. however some engines treat it as a lux value per meter or a division of that.

    in UE4 the unit for brightness on point and spotlights is = lm's (so 1000 = 1000lm's). you can use this to figure out the correct brightness value for the sunlight units.
    a spotlight set to 35,000- 100,000 lm's (depending how bright you want the day to be) in the engine (in shadow that has no other light! 1m above the ground. sometimes it can be easier to create a square plane in shadow 1m^2 and place the light above that).
    balance the sunlight to match the brightness (adjust the exposure down if over exposed until you can tell the difference between going too bright or too dark in the sunlight vs the point light)

    I think I have rambled a lot, so I'll stop hahaha

    EDIT; some errors, fixed
  • skyline5gtr
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    skyline5gtr polycounter lvl 5
    Some awesome knowledge there Kitty
  • marks
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    marks greentooth
    I've gotta chip in here - all the modelling work looks pretty solid aswell as the overall environment design,  but your lighting and materials are pretty weak and are letting the whole scene down.

    Everything is the same colour, the same shade of grey metal. Get more variation in there. Some metals are darker than others, some are more/less glossy than others. Not everything is a metal, these kinds of environments typically have a lot of paint too -> paint comes in different colours and shades, get some subtle variation in there from that.

    I did a quick paintover of one of your images focusing mostly on lighting, hope you don't mind. Ignoring the area on the top left which has super bland materials, this can look really cool just by making lighting changes !! You need more directionality in your lighting, and also to not light everything equally. Make sure you use lighting to pick out areas of interest, and let the rest blend into the background as much as possible.

  • CreativeHD
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    CreativeHD polycounter lvl 6
    Wow really interesting to see how this evolves!
  • frmdbl
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    frmdbl polycounter

    That's a lot of information:)
    The objects in the upper left are meant to be light fixtures, I think they read better as such with more bloom, but I don't want to
    use a lot of bloom, precisely not to put to much focus on them.

    I did study the article on Zone System and watched some youtube videos.
    Can't quite translate it to the UE4's exposure system, but I'll give it more time.

    In terms of the crush shadows/highlights settings in the post-process volume I did play with them and 
    the default ones work the best for me.

    There's is quite a bit of variation in terms of color in the materials or value rather
    since they're not very saturated.

    In terms of lighting I certainly don't want to put more focus on one side of the corridor, unless I misunderstood your paintover.
    It works quite well for this shot, but I don't think it works for the whole of the environment.

    I've changed the lighting quite a bit this time around though. 

    Aw, pressure!:)
    To be honest I wanted to make it a rather quick environment, but I guess now I will work on it till it's presentable.

    Here are some new images. Nevermind the valve, that will be fixed.

  • FreneticPonies
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    FreneticPonies polycounter lvl 3
    Love the flags, they give a, relateable touch to something that otherwise looks so purely functional it could be entirely alien without the viewer being any the wiser.
  • 0xffff
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    0xffff polycounter lvl 3
    Big improvement but I gotta agree with marks, there is still a *lot* of flat greys in your final images.
  • frmdbl
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    frmdbl polycounter
    I think I'm gonna pass on this one, contrary to what I said before:)

    I'll work on a smaller, but more polished environment for my portfolio.

    In terms of there being mostly grays, the original idea was pretty much to make a mostly black environment with a dramatic light, rather than an ambient light such as it is now.
    Also It's really view dependent.

    Here are some other shots though.

  • FreneticPonies
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    FreneticPonies polycounter lvl 3
    Those pipes with condensation look INSANELY good. It looks like a photo. If you're somehow not going to use this I'd at least re-use that asset, cause, wow.
  • frmdbl
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    frmdbl polycounter
    Oh, thanks!
    They're a simple metal material with some wetness texture overlaid,
    also vertex painted water drops.
    (all mostly in the roughness channel)
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