[UE4] Medieval Scandinavian Village

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kimmokaunela ngon master
Project that I started long time ago. I live in Finland and saw this kind of historical village during my summer trip in Jyväskylä few years back. After starting to play Witcher 3 I decided to start working with this project again. Really loving how that game looks and feels and the nature really looks like in Finland. I also been wanting to test some photogrammetry stuff so this project will be awesome place to test that too.

I also want to learn more about Unreal Engine and after few VR projects I want to make something with dynamic lighting and heavy shaders :) It´s relaxing to make this kind of stuff.

So far my tools are 3DS Max for modeling, ZBrush for detail stuff, Substance Designer for baking and 99% texturing, SpeedTree for tree generating and photogrammetry for tree textures and stuff. Engine is UE4 4.15.1 with everything on :)

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Start of the project:

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  • Elithenia
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    Elithenia polycounter
    I really enjoy this!  Reminds me of home! 
    However I would probably make the road/sand a little less saturated.
  • Di$array
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    Di$array polycounter lvl 5
    Hey kimmokaunela, fantastic work. I think some grass would break up the green quite a bit and maybe have a better defined path through the village. With mud and horse hoove prints through the use of vertex painting. You could even have wooden slats imbeded into the ground as a makeshift path out of the mud, etc.

    Looking forward to your next update.
  • JLHGameArt
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    JLHGameArt greentooth
    Great scene!
    The whole scene could do with some de-saturation I think. Or maybe your directional light is too saturated.
    Everything feels very round, nothing wrong with that, but it would be very cool to have some sharper grey rocks jutting out of the landscape in place. It would make an interesting contrast with all the green you have.
    Something these coming out of the landscape in places would look great here in contrast with how smooth the rest of the scene is.


  • Filip5
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    Filip5 polycounter lvl 4
    Could you post few pictures with wireframe on ? I am really curious about LOD, as those houses look great.
  • djackson362
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    djackson362 triangle
    Simply amazing scene.  Thanks for posting.
  • FreneticPonies
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    FreneticPonies polycounter lvl 3
    I feel like the heightfields are a little overdone there, like everything is sticking out at you. I'd also say the sunlight is too yellow, for an earthlike sun, sunlight appears pretty much white around midday, which is when this time of day seems to be. Here's a tweaked color correction as an example:

  • kimmokaunela
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    kimmokaunela ngon master
    @Elithenia Thanks! Yep, I need to tweak those base texture saturations. Went too far with those :)

    @Di$array Thanks! I will add grass there. My plan is to have a bunch of different types of grass and hay there. Those horse hoove prints would be a great detail to add there! Thanks!

    @JLHGameArt Thanks! Yeah, I think my directional light is too yellow so it tint everything. Need to tweak that next. I will definitely make those rocks there. Maybe test some photogrammetry stuff for those.

    @Filip5 Here are some wireframe shots. It´s around 17k tris and I use UE4 generated LODs. 


    @djackson362 Thanks!

    @FreneticPonies I will need to tweak those heights on that landscape shader. I´m not really happy with all of those ground textures so I need to spend more time with Substance Designer. Thanks for that image and that is my next thing to fix!
  • kimmokaunela
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    kimmokaunela ngon master
    Small update. I´ve been tweaking my old tree models where I modeled all of the needles and stuff and now used those with SpeedTree. I´m not fully happy how they look but works as a placeholder trees for now. I also tweaked lighting and colors, textures, landscape tesselation factors etc..






  • wester
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    wester polycounter lvl 11
    This is starting to feel really nice!  
  • FreneticPonies
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    FreneticPonies polycounter lvl 3
    Much better, keep going!
  • Elithenia
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    Elithenia polycounter
    Looking much better  :)
  • Xelar
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    Xelar polycounter lvl 2
    Great scene! I really dig the lighting, grass and trees.
    There are some things you could improve on, though. The mountains in the back look quite uniform using just one material that has obvious tiling. You can use distance nodes in the material editor to tile less the further an object is away.
    You can take a look at the landscape material from the UE4 Kite demo to see how it's done.
    Another thing I would change is the way the grass, stone and mud blends together. Right now it's very smooth, which looks a bit artificial.
    There should be a more textured transition that really shows off the heightmap. Hope that helps :)
  • Xendance
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    Xendance polycounter lvl 7
    Are you aiming for some certain time period with the houses? Here's a video about traditional finnish log houses (not scandinavian but pretty close) but the house in it seems pretty modern compared to what you're doing: 
  • Martoon
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    Martoon polycounter lvl 2
    I agree with your sentiment that sometimes working with dynamic and heavy shaders can be relaxing XD.
    You said you're not quite happy with the trees, make more gaps in your leaf cards for light to pass through, by either adjusting the texture or your leaf size/amount you propagate.
    I made a quick paintover to show the result.
    Really nice progress keep going :)

  • Martoon
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    Martoon polycounter lvl 2
    Really like the Fuzziness you have going on with the grass material btw :)!
  • kimmokaunela
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    kimmokaunela ngon master
    @wester Thanks!
    @FreneticPonies Thanks, will do :)
    @Elithenia Thanks :)
    @Xelar Thanks. I painted the whole landscape with grass layer for now. I´m planning to add rock layer there and generate good masks from World Machine to blend those layers. I need to check that tiling trick, thanks for pointing that out! There are a lot of stuff I need to add to that material and then fix blending and stuff.
    @Xendance I don´t really try to aim for a specific time period, more or less medieval style. I really liked Witcher style and I guess I want to mix that with something like this.

    That is very interesting video and shows how much time and effort it takes to build those :) I got some ideas from that to test with. Thanks!

    @Martoon Thanks, that´s a good point. I need to play more with those leafs and another nice things is that it will also decrease overdraw :)
  • CybranM
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    CybranM greentooth
    Its looking great, I'm looking forward to seeing the finished project :smiley:
  • kimmokaunela
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    kimmokaunela ngon master
    Small update! I´ve been focusing more to small foliage assets like grass, hay etc.. I found some old hi-poly models that I made for my first UE4 scene that I now enhanced a bit and made some new ones. I also made a very messy Substance Designer graph that gives me pretty good results when I bake maps from those hi-poly models. I´m planning to make a lot of different looking foliage and maybe try to make some sort of system that is smart enough to scatter things naturally. I´m not really happy how the landscape layer blend thing scatter grass.









    I exported some grass sets to UE4 but this is just a fast test.

    I also started to list down all of the props that I want to make for this project. Also I made another Substance Designer graph that gives me nice old wood and forged iron look and blend moss on top of them. I can now make patterns in Photoshop and then the graph will make them look old and damaged. Here is a shield that I´m planning to add hanging on the walls and make few different variations.


  • kimmokaunela
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    kimmokaunela ngon master
    Since everything is using dynamic lighting I had to test things with fire :) This little test gave me some ideas what lightsources I want to add there and maybe have two different lighting themes.




  • FreneticPonies
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    FreneticPonies polycounter lvl 3
    Oh wow, starting to look great!
  • snake85027
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    snake85027 polycounter lvl 13
    looks awesome, love the hills
  • kimmokaunela
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    kimmokaunela ngon master
    @FreneticPonies Thanks! Yeah, it´s getting there :)

    @snake85027 Thank you!

    I´ve been working with this scene day and night now. I redo all of the trees and shaders. Tweaked lighting, better grass scattering settings, whole new WorldMachine terrain, etc... I really would like to make a small game out of this. Need to optimize things a bit more for that tho :)





  • FreneticPonies
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    FreneticPonies polycounter lvl 3
    Aaaaand looks fantastic. I'd considered criticizing the lighting a bit but there's only so much you can do with UE4 in realtime right now. Maybe try playing around with a bit of the new volumetric fog effect (4.16) to see if you can get some subtle lightshaft effects.
  • kimmokaunela
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    kimmokaunela ngon master
    @FreneticPonies I´m going to tweak lighting. Right now the shadows are too strong so I need to balance that with skylight. I´m going to test that 4.16 prev. I hope its stable :)
  • fearian
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    fearian Polycount Sponsor
    I saw these on twitter - so moody and beautiful! The fire seems like it's affecting the fog too much? but It looks so good!

    Did you settle on any specific settings for these shots? ie. different from night to day?
  • Zi0
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    Zi0 greentooth
    This looks really good, outstanding work!
  • Jim_Watson
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    Jim_Watson polycounter lvl 5
    Amazing work! The new sublevel is a cool new look at your scene as well. 
  • yabestpal
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    yabestpal polycounter lvl 2
    Looks incredible so far!
     My only criticism is the night scene looks a little too saturated when compared to the day scene and as @fearian said the fire looks a little glowy as well in that scene.
  • kingfeargod
    really nice.. beautiful :) .....how did you guys become as good as this... struggling  :(
  • namiru22
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    namiru22 null
    This really has a Witcher feel and I love it! Seems that you worked out the lighting too. I'm very interested in UE4 and I was wondering how long did it take you to make the village? 
  • kimmokaunela
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    kimmokaunela ngon master
    @fearian Thanks! Yeah, now there is a setting for every light how much does it affect to the volumetric fog so I put it too hi :) Night and day both has their own fog, skylight and post process volumes that I turn on/off with sublevels. Night has much stronger volumetric fog intesity and directional light is rotated and its intensity is pretty low.
    @Zi0 Thanks!
    @Jim_Watson Thanks! I would like to create dynamic night/day cycle but for now this sublevel system works pretty well.
    @yabestpal Thanks! Yes I need to dial that down. 
    @kingfeargod Thanks! :)
    @namiru22 Thanks! I love Witcher in so many ways :) It´s hard to say how much time I have put to this but for the last two month I have done most of the UE4 stuff.

  • Di$array
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    Di$array polycounter lvl 5
    Really enjoying the progress on this piece. The inclusion of banners or some festival ribbons or bunting may introduction some colour too.
  • AXEL
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    AXEL polycounter lvl 3
    Kimmo you da man everything you touch turns into gold :)
    Awesome piece and it shows your unique style.
    One more thing - you need to start making tutorials
    Oh and stay awesome ;)
  • DonSmith
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    DonSmith polycounter lvl 2
    Looks great.  The daytime shots are really nice.  Fire placement is a bit precarious and detracts from the scene composition.  The huts and foliage are all really nice.  Only thing with foliage I'd do differently is to make it less clumpy.  There's always a concern for overdraw/perf with foliage grass, but I think you can do more shorter grasses and be fine (especially if you cut out the poly around the alpha).
  • kimmokaunela
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    kimmokaunela ngon master
    Di$array Thanks! Those banners would be a nice touch. I put it to my todo list.
    @AXEL Thanks for the kind words! It would be fun to start making tutorials but it takes a lot of time. Maybe some sort of live streaming so people can see how I make mistakes :)
    @DonSmith Thanks! Yeah, there are a lot of random stuff that I just throw there for testing. I need to start building things better and find the right feel. I´m going to make that grass shorter. 

    I started to optimize stuff a bit and now I get around 30-50fps with my old 7990. I´m trying to aim for the "cinematic" 24fps :) Also added procedural foliage simulation. Its funny to think that how much procedural tools can help. First terrain with WorldMachine with procedural noises and erosion. Then all of the landscape textures with Substance Designer and again procedural. Then some SpeedTree models with procedural generations. Then all of the foliages are procedurally scattered. I spent an hour to just running there and finding interesting areas that I didn´t even know existed :) This really makes me wanna start to learn Houdini.

    Here are some of the areas that I came across during my trip and took some shots:




  • FreneticPonies
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    FreneticPonies polycounter lvl 3
    Hey if you're interested in Houdini scripting/random generation there's a pretty nice presentation on Ghost Recon Wildlands here: http://www.gdcvault.com/play/1024708/-Ghost-Recon-Wildlands-Terrain
  • Sebvhe
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    Sebvhe greentooth
    Absolutely stunning!

    At the moment I'd say everything looks a bit too "clean" but I assume that's because most of the fine detail is on your to do list :wink:
    The only thing I find a bit unfitting, although it's more of a personal choice is your tonemapping/LUT. It looks very reddish to me, which doesn't really match the idea I make of a Scandinavian scene. People would expect it to feel "colder", unless you go for one of the few very beautiful summer days that is. But when I look at it I feel like your village is going through a very unusual heatwave. Please don't bring climate change into your personal work :smiley:
  • markus_benovsky
    Wow, man, it look awesome!

    I like the way tou light the scene, and models for houses and threes, they look whery nice.

    But there is something incomplete with vegetation. I think you lack of bushes, colorful flowers, stones or something like that.
  • kimmokaunela
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    kimmokaunela ngon master
    @Sebvhe Thanks! You are right about those things. I´m going to tweak more shaders and light colors. I guess I wanted to add warm colors after cold winter :) Climate change is just a made up thing right :)

    @markus_benovsky Thanks! I´m working with stones and rocks. I created better workflow for making those and a master material. I also have a lot more foliage stuff I need to do. So much stuff :)
  • frmdbl
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    frmdbl interpolator
    Very cool lighting. I definitely get an Uncharted vibe on the first 2 screenshots.

    Could you say a bit more on which values you tweaked exactly?
    Have you just increased the reflection captures' and global illumination intensities, changed the tint or something
    more sophisticated?
    Same for DFAO.
  • kimmokaunela
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    kimmokaunela ngon master
    @frmdbl Thanks! I changed DFAO mode to multiply so I get much darker areas. I also tried to balance with skylight intensity. Its hard to get realistic results without any GI. Ambient lighting is ether too bright or too dark. This problem really makes it hard to light exterior and interior areas but now I think I found a good balance. I also wanted to increase reflection capture intensity so objects reflect more and looks better when things are darker. Helps to bring out some surface details. I also tweaked global illumination setting color in post process volume. I don´t do that much color grading, just slight tweaks to global and shadow values and very small changes to tonemapper slope and toe values. There are so many setting so its just a lot of testing. I still need to tweak lighting as I go.
  • JLHGameArt
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    JLHGameArt greentooth
    Not much to say other than this looks beautiful. Something I can aspire to.
  • Sunray
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    Sunray polycounter lvl 3
    Stunning man love the way how the village blends in with nature.
  • hmm_rock
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    hmm_rock polycounter lvl 6
    This is looking insanely lovely. Following it has been great. I really like how you've showcased your foliage and the breakdown. When modeling do you just use a lot of FFD movement to get the waviness and organic shapes? How do you approach texturing? Altogether, stunning work :)
  • Elithenia
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    Elithenia polycounter
    I absolutely love the foliage :) 
  • macoll
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    macoll polycounter lvl 9
    Thanks for sharing yours tips.
    The scene looks so solid that it is hard to criticize.
    Oh i found ! The tree on the left has no leaves, i don't understand why, all the others have ;)

  • kimmokaunela
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    kimmokaunela ngon master
    JLHGameArt Thanks!

    @Sunray Thanks! I´m planning to try to bring more of that effect there.

    @hmm_rock Thanks! I use a lot of FFD, bend and twist modifiers. My stack is usually full of those :) For texturing and baking I use Substance Designer. I have a very messy graph that uses id map to mask different foliage.  Then it will also create SSS mask that I can use in Unreal. Here is a shot of that graph that I really need to clean to sub graphs at some point.


    @Elithenia Thanks! Here are few hi poly shots of those foliages. It was fun to model those pines needle after needle :)





    @macoll No problem :) I have a set of trees that don´t have any leaves. They are dead trees or at least I was aiming for those :)

    I also decided to give LPV a try. I think it does a lot to the overall lighting. Now the difference between directional and ambient light is much smoother. I also noticed some issues with LPV but those are just a limitations that I can´t do anything about. I´m going to left lighting as it for now. I guess this is as good as I can get it with dynamic lighting.

    I also made a somehow modular rock wall and a Substance Designer graph that gives me mossy rock textures based on hi-poly sculpts. I´m going to have fun with this in the future :) Its fun to make stuff with SD when you have made a huge library of different materials.


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