[WIP] Water Mill Environment

Rhoutermans
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Rhoutermans polycounter lvl 8
Hi all! Been working on something new, I'm about halfway done, so now is the perfect chance for some feedback. Everything from lighting to composition and sculpting is still W.I.P. so go nuts :) 

Most of these trees are from the UE4 Kite Demo, working in Speedtree to replace them atm. The background will be filled in as well this week.

Using UE4, Speedtree, Zbrush, Maya, Substance Painter and Megascans/ Quixel Mixer.

Final Result:



Work in progress below:



It's based on a painting from Francois Boucher, I don't plan on replicating it perfectly, but I really like the composition and feel. Here it is:


I started out with one big ref board, here's a small portion of it (using Pureref) : 


Next up, blockout...


A first indication using models found online (Free packs and the UE4 Kite Demo):


Couldn't wait working on the centerpiece:



Thanks for taking a look!

Edit: Updating current to do list on first post:

- Add particle FX (water running down the water wheel, splash fx where the water runs down the slope, leafs, etc). / Planes also an option.

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  • Forest_Cat
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    Forest_Cat triangle
    Great job! 
    Can you tell me more about how the building was created?
  • Rhoutermans
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    Rhoutermans polycounter lvl 8
    Great job! 
    Can you tell me more about how the building was created?
    Hey thanks, the walls of the building were sculpted in Zbrush and baked down to normal maps, then multiplied with materials from Megascans and quixel Mixer, so I'd keep the custom sculpted detail which I wanted, combined with the tile-able materials. The planks are all modular, same concept; sculpted in zbrush, Megascans material. The roof is a bit more interesting I think;


    Grabbed a simple hay atlas from Megascans (at the bottom of the below image) and used a Tile Sampler Color node in Substance Designer to make it tile all nicely:

    This is the rest of the Graph, basically masking each straw out one by one and using them as inputs for the Tile Sampler Color node:


    Been trying to combine megascans a lot more with stuff like Substance Designer, Quixel Mixer and Speedtree which is pretty fun to do:


    Working on the lighting as well and added the first custom tree in there on the left, now to replace the rest of 'em!


  • Rhoutermans
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    Rhoutermans polycounter lvl 8
    Your composition in the scene is nice, you're starting to hit the familiar notes of your reference which is great! Your materials look like the source they are meant to be which is fantastic, so many people struggle with that, you're killing it. Stone looks like stone, wood like wood, plaster like plaster. That goes a long way, nice work.

    Crits:
    Know your construction methods of that time time and the place.

    A little research will give you a wealth of knowledge about how to make the content and help you fill in all of those little details that aren't present in things like paintings. I'll share a bit of what I know about this time period and what I managed to dig up by doing some quick google'ing.

    You have a mix of several different types of materials that don't really fit the time period of your reference or the methods shown in your mood boards. You've got concrete, large quarry cut stones, bricks, wattle and daub. All of those are common techniques but not in the way you're using them.

    Your walls look like they are made of stacked bricks covered in plaster or "daub".
    1) The daub protrudes past the timbers which was very uncommon. Timbers pressed into brick and plaster? How does this work?
    2) Bricks on a timber frame? This would be way too heavy for timbers suspended over a stream. That technique is something they would have used for the foundation, but they would have not used it on the upper half. They would have used "wattle and daub" which is much lighter and does the job just as well. 

    Lets back up for a second and focus on the research aspect of this because I think that is where things went askew. You did great digging up images but we need more info than what images can provide. We need to know when and where this was.

    Reverse image search tells us that the painting is "Mill at Charenton" by François Boucher (France) it was painted in 1758. We have our time and location, sweet! Now lets see what construction methods where in use at that time. 

    Scratch concrete off the list it was a dead method from 500 to 1824. This is important for every environment artist working on anything made before 1830, to know. That little nugget will clue you into a a lot of  A few buildings here and there used it but it wasn't so common or as strong that a french mill would have used it in the 1700's, they used something else.

    Large queried and cut stones have been used in quite a few buildings, usually bridges or in buildings that required precision arches. Large cut stones where very impractical for small scale buildings in rural areas like this. Usually they where used in large metropolitan areas or by people with a lot of money (governments and churches) and only if they had easy access to a quarry. transportation costs for large stones was insane unless they could come up with some inventive way to transport them, unlikely in this case. 

    They where much more likely to use smaller easier to transport bricks and smaller cut stones. We don't see those types of lines in your work and it's not easily readable in the painting but that was a level of detail the painter choose to omit, you don't have that luxury, but it will inform you as to how much of an impact it needs to have on the scene. They are details you see up close, but start to muddy and blend together, if you step back.

    Since we see timbers and plaster we can assume it's wattle and daub. Some research into that shows us how it's made, wood strung between timbers, covered in a mixture of things (mud, clay, straw ect...).

    So yea, you carry on like that for a few hours and it makes most of the decisions for you. When you hit a detail you aren't sure about you dig up some info and it gets settled. Of course you can always claim artistic license or alternate reality but really those are just lazy crutches people lean on when they get caught.

    TLDR: Cool stuff! Great composition! Good materials. Its getting closer to the original painting, don't forget to do your research!





    Hi Mark, I know exactly what you mean about the construction from that time period, I was struggling to find the correct reference but the 'wattle and daub' is exactly what I needed, so I'll make a new material for that replacing the bricks which doesn't really make sense and fix the wood beams sticking outward a bit from the wall.

    I've tried looking for the correct foliage that would grow in that region for example. But I just ended up with something I thought would look cool and somewhat resembled the painting..
     

    Researching the construction method for that time period is something I'll have to keep in mind more, cheers! For example, I really liked this method for wooden construction, no metal nails available (However if this is actually the correct reference, I'll have to google.)


    I probably wanted to get started with the blockout and art phases a bit too quickly.
    Thanks for the feedback!
  • Inno
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    Inno null
    Hello there! Nice progress so far, will definitely keep track with this thread!
    SInce the reference painting is pretty detailed I'm excited for your result :)
  • Rhoutermans
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    Rhoutermans polycounter lvl 8
    Inno said:
    Hello there! Nice progress so far, will definitely keep track with this thread!
    SInce the reference painting is pretty detailed I'm excited for your result :)
    Thanks! 

    Been slacking lately, so time to pick this up again. Here's a little update from this weekend:
    - Made a new water material.
    - Lighting / fog and post processing updated.
    - Placed in the stairs on the right.
    - Some composition changes like the rotation of the house, background hill and position of the stairs, etc.



    Thanks for taking a look, feedback welcome!
  • Rhoutermans
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    Rhoutermans polycounter lvl 8
    To do listing getting slightly shorter...Still much to do :



    Made a barrel...gonna make some variations (with rope, open, missing a plank etc)


    Feedback welcome!
  • Rhoutermans
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    Rhoutermans polycounter lvl 8
  • Noren
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    Noren polycounter lvl 14
    Very nice project, looking forward to the finished piece!

    Great points from Mark, though I'd add that daub protruding beyond the beams isn't that uncommon depending on location. You'll see plenty of that in Alsace for example. 
    Also this is pretty much a fantasy painting, imo, despite the name. Larger than life and romanticized at the very least. It's definitely a good idea to do some research, but I don't think a building like that ever existed in that exact form. E. g why would they build that high when the waterwheel is cleared at at half the height? The water level on the other side doesn't seem that much higher (though that's something you could look into for your version, letting the water fall from the top on the wheel).
    Might be protection against water spray, but looking at the haphazard support of the protruding part, I'd say it's an invention to make it whimsical and interesting. (Edit: Might be they could lift the wheel out of the water? Then the additional space would make sense, although it doesn't seem terribly practical. Edit2: There are pictures of the Mill of Andé  where the wheel seems indeed to be lifted, so my bad.)
    Can't judge from the rendering, but maybe your wheel needs to be raised a bit to function properly.

    What I'd personally would do is try to copy the style of the foliage of the painting more closely, even if that would mean a more manual approach, but that's very much a stylistic decision.

    Make sure to add plenty of haze over the water to separate the foreground.


    Edit: Was interested in the topic and tried to find some mills still standing today. Didn't check when they were constructed, but here are somewhat similar constructions, albeit on bigger rivers and, where the wheel is still present, a much bigger wheel. 
    Mill of Andé,  Mill at the Seine at Vernon
    Not that it's terribly helpful for your current piece, but I thought it was interesting and it might serve as additional reference.
  • 3DKlassen
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    3DKlassen triangle
    You nailed it, everything looks great IMO
  • Lokthar
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    Lokthar polycounter lvl 3
    Great job! 
    Can you tell me more about how the building was created?
    Hey thanks, the walls of the building were sculpted in Zbrush and baked down to normal maps, then multiplied with materials from Megascans and quixel Mixer, so I'd keep the custom sculpted detail which I wanted, combined with the tile-able materials. The planks are all modular, same concept; sculpted in zbrush, Megascans material. The roof is a bit more interesting I think;

    @Rhoutermans Came late to the party, Noob question: when you talk about multiplied with material from megascans, What do you mean? How you can combine it with tile-able materials? you talking about just color and roughness map and you keep the normal of your sculpted in zbrush?

  • Rhoutermans
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    Rhoutermans polycounter lvl 8
    @Noren ;
    Thanks for the feedback, great stuff! The Mill of Andé looks great and I'm saving that as reference as well, I still need to build the back of the scene so I might take a thing or two from that location. There's actually two wheels, you just can't see the one in the back atm, so I might put the back one up a bit higher, along with a higher water level.

    @3DKlassen
    Cheers!

    @Lokthar
    Lokthar said:
    Great job! 
    Can you tell me more about how the building was created?
    Hey thanks, the walls of the building were sculpted in Zbrush and baked down to normal maps, then multiplied with materials from Megascans and quixel Mixer, so I'd keep the custom sculpted detail which I wanted, combined with the tile-able materials. The planks are all modular, same concept; sculpted in zbrush, Megascans material. The roof is a bit more interesting I think;

    @Rhoutermans Came late to the party, Noob question: when you talk about multiplied with material from megascans, What do you mean? How you can combine it with tile-able materials? you talking about just color and roughness map and you keep the normal of your sculpted in zbrush?



    Ahh that part I could have explained better. Basically I use something I call a Broad Normal and Surface Detail Normal maps.
    So I sculpt a mesh in zbrush (The Broad Normal map) and use that on UV0. Then I have the tiling Surface Detail that I use on UV1, These surface detail textures are assigned by a blend map (basically a RGBA texture). For example I can use the Red channel for a Stone material, the Green for Moss and the Blue for Sand, etc. In this case these RGB slots all have their own textures for Albedo, Roughness, AO and Normal textures.

    Check out this workflow if ur interested:
    https://docs.unrealengine.com/en-us/Engine/Rendering/Materials/HowTo/Masking

    So I use the workflow above + I take advantage of the fact that you can assign different UV channels to textures in the material editor, in this case the normal maps. So I'm adding the zbrush sculpted detail in a normal map (UV 0) + the tiling normal map (UV 1). This gives the control of custom details from zbrush + the ease of using tiling textures for the rest of the detail, this combination gives higher resolution assets without sacrificing custom detail and the RGB masking breaks up the tiling surfaces.

    I hope I wrote it down clear enough, rereading this post it seems a bit chaotic so I'll  probably do a better breakdown with screenshots in the future.

  • Lokthar
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    Lokthar polycounter lvl 3
    @Rhoutermans
    I think I got it...but how would you set up the material in UE4? 
    I saw on the link they talked about texture mask, but i cant understand the connection with Broad Normal techniques you talk about...is it as the same as creating a shader that use a surface detail normals map?
    Would love to see a breakdown :)
    Thanks for your answer!
  • Rhoutermans
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    Rhoutermans polycounter lvl 8
    Lokthar said:
    @Rhoutermans
    I think I got it...but how would you set up the material in UE4? 
    I saw on the link they talked about texture mask, but i cant understand the connection with Broad Normal techniques you talk about...is it as the same as creating a shader that use a surface detail normals map?
    Would love to see a breakdown :)
    Thanks for your answer!
    Sort of, yes! But instead of just a tileable detail normal you can do that for the whole surface (albedo, roughness, normal). I'll show this on a simple prop soon™. :)  (god I suck at explaining stuff lol)
  • Lokthar
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    Lokthar polycounter lvl 3
    @Rhoutermans
    No worries, Im sure with some images everything will be clear, I think I got it, but ill wait for your breakdown! 
    Thanks for putting effort explain! :)
  • Rhoutermans
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    Rhoutermans polycounter lvl 8
    Reworking the trees! The ones I removed were from the kite demo and I really wanted to improve with Speedtree so everything should be my own stuff from here on out:

  • Rhoutermans
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    Rhoutermans polycounter lvl 8
    I'm just gonna keep posting screenshots so I have a WIP backlog here, cheers! :)  Small update today, just painting in more trees and placement tweaks!
  • Rhoutermans
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    Rhoutermans polycounter lvl 8
    Updates etc, working on the to-do list!


  • Rhoutermans
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    Rhoutermans polycounter lvl 8
    Replaced the boat, adding extra ground setdressing, more foliage tweaks...


  • Carabiner
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    Carabiner polycounter lvl 5
    This is looking beautiful! Keep it up, you're almost to the end :) 
  • Rhoutermans
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    Rhoutermans polycounter lvl 8
    Carabiner said:
    This is looking beautiful! Keep it up, you're almost to the end :) 
    Hey thanks :) 

    Getting closer! Just lighting and adding the water FX left:


  • Rhoutermans
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    Rhoutermans polycounter lvl 8
    Close to calling this done!
    Thanks to everyone who gave me feedback & pushed me further with this :) 


  • Invidelis
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    Invidelis polycounter lvl 2
    Awesome! Watched you livestream at the time. Good job
  • Rhoutermans
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    Rhoutermans polycounter lvl 8
    Invidelis said:
    Awesome! Watched you livestream at the time. Good job
    Thanks! Been a while since I've done that haha

    Uploaded the project to artstation; https://www.artstation.com/artwork/L2EoBK

    Also finished up the scene to support multiple cameras:





    Thanks to everyone giving me feedback on this one! Have a great weekend!
  • Sage
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    Sage polycounter lvl 14
    It's really awesome. 
  • cfree
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    cfree polycounter lvl 4
    It is beyond awesome!!!
    I really hope you can answer some simple questions :smile:

    1) Please, can you share a picture of your centerpiece building wireframe (Hi and Low poly)?
    I would love to see how you approach the details in the model, specially on the roof.

    2) did you use the UE4 landscape or a custom mesh for the ground?

    3) Texture resolution in your UE4 project is 2k?

    Thanks a lot!
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