[UE4] Underground Sewer Haven

polycounter lvl 5
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The Rizzler polycounter lvl 5
Latest update;



-Work in progress-

Hey guys, I’m gearing up to produce my first environment from concept. I’ve chosen this ‘underground sewer haven’ concept by Jim Martin (I can’t find a bigger version so I had to scale it up. Should be fine.) I think it was done for an Insomniac game, Resistance 2 maybe?

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I really like the characteristic lighting and the ‘lived in’ and 'makeshift home' feeling, but the sheer amount of unique assets is no doubt daunting. I might re-use/re-colour some assets to fill in the background detail near the door to reduce the workload. Still, no challenge, no learning!

What I want to practice with this piece:

• Getting familiar with UE4
• Getting comfortable creating lots of varied assets
• Increasing my asset production speed/formulating a workflow
• Practicing lighting techniques
• Practice some Zbrush sculpting for select assets (and maybe some quick marvelous designer for pillows/curtains/blankets etc.)
• Practice either Ddo or Substance

There’s quite a bit to do here, I’m planning to finish in 1-2 months. If you think I’m biting off more than I can chew doing this as my first environment then let me know, otherwise ONWARDS, time for the blockout! (after I mark the ref and collect additional ref and all that preparatory stuff etc etc)

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  • The Rizzler
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    The Rizzler polycounter lvl 5
    Here's the current state of things;

    b8f9ececd53d75c6367955003a6a9f79.png

    I've gotten to grips with UE4's blockout tools and written up an asset list, and i'll likely get started on the first objects or on the walls once I'm fully content with the blockout.

    A 1:1 representation of the concept isn't going to be the aim but i'd like to be close (and capture the atmosphere). I can't quite understand the vents at the back of the room - in the concept they're much bigger but i'd have to make them massive in the environment to match the scale (all four are the same size). Some other things seem off - the metal bed in the middle of the room looks really small and low compared to the scale figure. Maybe it's a bed for children though.

    I've turned cast shadows off on the vents so that a solid light beam comes through, but obviously it's not similar to the lighting conditions in the concept yet. What techniques could I use to 'spread' and 'pool' the light? (Would more diffused light suggest a closer light source than the sun?) The ceiling is also looking a little too bright - my light source is at 1.0 intensity and 4.5 indirect lighting intensity.
  • The Rizzler
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    The Rizzler polycounter lvl 5
    Replaced my single light source with four spotlights at 10,000 lumens

    54b13d2bbffcf294af6479619cdc7883.png

    Means I can cheekily adjust each individual square of light on the ground. I'll probably move onto starting one of the props next
  • The Rizzler
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    The Rizzler polycounter lvl 5
    Woops, bit of a gap there (some freelance work came up soon after I started the thread). Here's where the room is at by now, from work done in the last month or two;

    S2B70ROjpg

    In the meantime I've learnt Substance Painter (currently used for the striped curtain and the bed to the left). I've made peace with the fact some aspects of the concept won't line up properly with my 3D interpretation, e.g. the chair in the bottom right, which is proportionally correct but a bit skewed in the concept, or the uniform thickness of the pipe that runs along the ceiling looking different as well. I might warp my models a little to conform to the concept, but some things will stay as they are

    The lighting needs work, I feel like my assets are being obscured a little and a lot of the shadows on the props look muddy. The left wall isn't nearly bright enough and the ceiling needs to be darker - I've played with diffuse boost and indirect lighting intensity but can't seem to achieve a similar look. I've thrown a few point lights around to try and get the highlights/brightness on some of the props as in the concept, not sure if this is best practice. Any advice appreciated

    I've added a rudimentary dusty animated god ray coming in from the closest skylight, need to make it more visible near the bottom and fade as it reaches the top. Will also add a sort of dust mote type particle effect to them and/or the room in general. I think I need to tackle the concrete walls, pillars and floor soon (currently using starter materials on them), as it will probably have a large effect on the overall look of the room. The smallest chair to the left of the blue wooden chest is a current WIP which is why there's a few lightmap errors

    Some pictures of individual props to follow
  • The Rizzler
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    The Rizzler polycounter lvl 5
    (click for full res)

    Chair, 1,852 tris

    56DUyTG.png

    Lantern, 2,536 tris

    v6e5XJ6.png

    Chest, 3,889 tris

    7hstlMe.jpg

    The plan is to select some of the props and add more detail or spend more time on them than others, to get both the quantity of assets I need to complete the room and the quality of certain props that I'll be able to highlight.
  • clinington
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    clinington polycounter lvl 6
    Those are some great looking props there! I feel like the chair should have some more wear and tear though? Dirt/dust/scratches etc like you have on the chest :D
  • The Rizzler
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    The Rizzler polycounter lvl 5
    Thanks! It's motivating to finally get feedback, should have updated earlier
    I used Painter with the lantern and the chest, and Photoshop with the chair. Probably needs a little more loving with sculpting as well, as the chest was the first time I've used Zbrush in this project. I'll definitely do another pass on it at some point

    The lantern will be remodeled to have a wick holder as opposed to a candle, as someone pointed out to me that this kind of old style lantern would have a holder instead
  • The Rizzler
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    The Rizzler polycounter lvl 5
    Alright, so it's been a while. Worked on the scene on and off the last few months, but I've got to grips with UE4 and Substance Painter and sped up a lot by now. I did some modding for Fallout 4 as well. Here's what the scene looks like today; 



    I went to EGX last week and talked to a few triple A industry artists and the general consensus was that my prop/texture work was fine, but the lighting and scene composition let me down. I hope to quickly implement the feedback they gave me so I can underline this project, move on and work on my overall environment/organic skills. Here's the gist of that feedback;

    • More chaos, more evidence of human interaction with the environment (everything is too straight). The checkboard is a good example of the remnants of human interaction - the discarded checker pieces are placed differently which suggests a different mentality of the players. 
    • Concrete blocks at the back of the room are not regulation size (needs to be possible to be carried by people) (this is following the concept too closely)
    • Two Pillars in the middle of the room - integrate into scene better, they look too separate (not sure how to do this as they are static meshes? Lighting probably making them look like a different material)
    • The structure of the scene doesn't make sense - pipe on the left doesn't go anywhere, roof too thin to support weight (concrete - good compressive strength, but poor tensile strength) Again this is following the concept too closely, or rather not looking 'outside' of the concept to see if the scene makes sense in context.
    • Flat/inconsistent lighting - e.g. the teapot in foreground - no shadow to ground it (this is because I put a light nearby to get the highlight on the blue chest underneath it). The concrete is boring. I could add a lot more decals, but it's essentially a slightly modified UE4 engine supplied concrete. The large pipe is too dark. Overall this might be the biggest point, I don't have a lot of lighting experience. 
    • More prop consistency - some props are dirty and wrecked, while others are too spotless. This is probably a symptom of my skills increasing between the oldest prop and the latest. 
    • Camera fov is squashing the dart board - I'm using an fov of 80 and clearly there are some issues with the effect this has on proportions of the scene. Is there any way around this? 
    • Scene doesn't feel immediately 'sewer-like' or 'homely' judging by people's first reactions. Puddles? Warmer lighting? More evidence of people living here? 

    Any and all feedback appreciated. I'll dump some prop art in the thread once I've applied the feedback I got to those too. 
  • Poseidon8734
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    Poseidon8734 polycounter lvl 4
    Very nice overall. One thing I did notice is that the scene looks a little too illuminated. I might try to bring that down a little bit in all the areas not getting hit from the top light.
  • The Rizzler
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    The Rizzler polycounter lvl 5
    Thanks! Too illuminated, really? I know the ceiling is too bright, and that's due to the light bouncing off the floor and illuminating upwards rather than onto the side wall as I'd want it to. I get what you mean, but I think if I make any of the shadows darker then you won't be able to see any of my props at all. The concept has a dark ceiling but is otherwise quite bright - maybe I could just cheat and apply a dark material to the ceiling?

    I just finished retexturing the Heavy chest to the left in the scene in response to feedback. I've made the wood less glossy and added a subtle dust layer to the top. 

  • The Rizzler
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    The Rizzler polycounter lvl 5
    Retextured the dart board, now a lot more dirty. Breakdowns on my artstation.


  • The Rizzler
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    The Rizzler polycounter lvl 5
    Going for a warmer look with the lighting. Might use a LUT to lower the saturation though, looks a bit too inviting. Darkened the ceiling a huge amount but had to remove the decals as they were lighter than the material and looked weird. Even then the ceiling isn't dark enough for my liking. Thinking about just making the ceiling, floor and pillars one big mesh and sculpting it all to get interesting edges
    Could really do with lighting feedback/guidance more than anything right now, as always staring at something for too long warps your interpretation of it. 


  • The Rizzler
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    The Rizzler polycounter lvl 5
    Finished sculpting the pillars/ceiling/floor, bit further to go with the texturing. The alcoves on the left are a little too dark I think, So I'll have to play with the bounce lighting. The teapot is looking worse for some reason. 


  • Acrlixe
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    Acrlixe vertex
    Looking good!, some really nice texture work here. Have you tried adding blue to your ceiling either through lighting, post or just textures. I think that is one of the major differences between yours and the concept. it impacts the atmosphere of the piece by a lot IMO.
  • The Rizzler
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    The Rizzler polycounter lvl 5
    Thank you! Yeah out of everything in this project, the lighting is what I'm having the most trouble with. The concept's lighting is a bit weird, weak light coming in from above yet even lighting everywhere, even on the right side of the room. I have to exercise some artistic liberty I suppose.

    The problem is, as I pump up the four lights coming in to the vents in order to illuminate up the floor and walls, the light bounces up to the ceiling. It's a shame UE4 doesn't have 'shadow helpers' or anything to eliminate that light, I've also tried making the ceiling darker but it ends up looking unnatural. My next thought is to mess with the indirect lighting intensity (in the post processing volume), exposure and a LUT to try and get the low light, low exposure, high bounce conditions in the concept. Thanks for the feedback. 
  • The Rizzler
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    The Rizzler polycounter lvl 5
    Added a few details here and there to make the scene make more sense. Trying to use a point light to brighten up the green bed/alcoves to the right of the grandfather clock a bit.



    Think I'll work on polishing the props before calling this done. I could polish it and add more details forever, but I think it's just a time sink and I'm burnt out looking at it at this point. Might do a quick post mortem before I move on. 
  • skydrow
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    skydrow polycounter lvl 3
    Good job! As a suggestion, seeing the original concept, I would say adding more dirt and moss on the primary surfaces. I think that for being a sewer it looks too clean.
  • Bruno Afonseca
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    Bruno Afonseca Polycount Sponsor
    Looking good! I just think it looks too dry to be a sewer. You'd probably have water dripping down from those ceiling drains, moisture stains, leaking pipes etc.
  • The Rizzler
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    The Rizzler polycounter lvl 5
    Front page, hell yeah! 
    Thanks for the feedback guys, I'll try and add some wet drips/puddles/stains. Some of the decals in the scene are already reflective - it's just that the lighting conditions don't pick up the highlight from the camera's viewpoint. I'll see what I can do to alleviate this, might involve some extra point lights. 

     
  • Bruno Afonseca
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    Bruno Afonseca Polycount Sponsor
    Porous surfaces usually soak up a bit of water and that darkens the albedo quite a bit:

  • The Rizzler
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    The Rizzler polycounter lvl 5
    You're right. I've made some changes to the decals/lighting;



    Hopefully it gives off more of a moist/dank sewer vibe. The fine folks on the Polycount discord let me know about ambient cubemaps, so I can ensure my shadows aren't quite as dark and don't have to push the bounce lighting as much, though I am using a very subtle intensity value (i.e. around 0.008). 
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