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[WIP] (Unreal 4) Trim Texture practice. Need critiques to finish.

Since the summer I have been practicing trim texture techniques. I drew from The Ultimate Trim Technique and Polygon Academy's Trim Texture videos. More recently I decided to make a small environment to practice.

I created a trim sheet using Max and Zbrush as prescribed in Tim's videos. I generated other maps from Substance Designer and channel packed my roughness, metallic, and AO. Nothing special, pretty generic. I then started making modular pieces from it in Maya and importing them into Unreal. I also created a mud material and a moss material in Designer to use for vertex blending, which would hopefully add variety and interest to generic modular pieces. I used a terrain with a second mud texture on it to add some thicker mud around.

Texture attempt #1:

This mud was created by removing the water puddles from the texture above, and raising the low spots a bit. Then changing the color a little. This was to be used for vertex blending where as the above was used on the terrain.

Environment attempt #1:

I had a few problems with this result.
1) It was too generic. I want to practice pushing trim sheets to their breaking point. I also want to create something that stands out from common generic ancient ruins type stuff. If the quality was higher, I would let the uninspired design slide. But I can't see this stuff being in God of War 4 or 5.
2) I needed more support geometry for the vertex blending. And I was using just color blending, not height blending. This didn't look very convincing as mud build up in this damp environment. The lighting was seriously lacking as well.
3) I wanted to make a pillar just to make a pillar, it wasn't really needed. The environment was cramped enough and the pillars just made it more claustrophobic. So I needed to make the area larger.

I then started re-doing my modular pieces, trying to push the form a bit more. I stuck with an iterative process throughout. I wasn't working from concept art of any kind (which is a mistake I keep making). I was worried about losing focus so I tried to unify the design by picking out a certain motif and just repeating it over and over. I also didn't create any modular pieces unless I needed them. Where as before I was just making stuff and trying to find a place for it in the environment.

I still wasn't super happy with this. I had pushed it a little but was still sticking to very blocky and simple shapes. The old pillars and new fountain weren't jiving. So I went back to it.

I was struggling to nail down the lighting so I added some volumetric fog to carry the light into darker areas.

At this point I needed a serious lighting overhall. I just couldn't get point lights and a rect light to work properly. The more lights I added, I started getting the dreaded red X. I switched everything over to emissive lighting. This not only gave me a more even lighting, it really brought out the effects of the volumetric fog. May be too foggy though.

You may notice the grunge applied to each object. I was looking at my original texture and felt I could improve. So I re-did the sculpt for the normal to have a little more edge wear. I also noticed that in the old textures, stretching was a little apparent for my tastes. Stretching is something can fix with geometry, but I tackled it from a material standpoint.

I used a clean base normal for the trim. I created a base diffuse texture (grayscale) as well. This way I can customize the colors of the stone and metal in Unreal. I created a tiling normal for the stone details (pits, cracks, rough surface, etc) and then used triplanar mapping for that. I also created a triplanar color grunge for the color/diffuse. That grunge is also tied to object space coordinates so it's always on the bottom (below the pivot of the mesh). I created triplanar roughness maps for the metal and stone, then blended them with a lerp mask. Metallic is just a normal metallic map. This created a lot of shader instructions though, so probably not something that could go in an actual game.

The complex material has it's problems as well, but I think it's a bit better. I'm finding it's very time consuming to add variety to the UVs of just the trim texture. Though it's perfectly possible to knock out some of the repetition of the "all in one" trim sheet. Though if you could afford to spend the memory on a complex material, you could add more variety to the trim sheet. So it's a trade off.

Anyways, thanks for looking. Any critiques will be super helpful. I'm eager to wrap this up and throw it in the portfolio.


  • icegodofhungary
    I suppose I'm at a stopping point now. I would like the make the fountain's water more realistic, but I don't know how to use particles yet.

  • CybranM
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    CybranM greentooth
    Looks good though I wish the last image was higher res.
    The floor feels a bit busy and the tiling might be a bit too apparent but other than that its great
    Trim sheets are something I'm going to have to get into at some point, this gave me some inspiration! :smiley: 
  • icegodofhungary
    Thank you for your reply. I think you're right about the floor. I think it's the larger modular floor piece. I will fix it.

    Is there a resolution limit on polycount? I thought I read somewhere that you're not supposed to upload anything larger than 1000x on one side. If not I would have posted the full res images. Here are larger versions of the color variations.

  • Necrodark
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    Necrodark triangle
    I think a small change that could make a huge difference would be to add some more breakup to the trim, especially on the bevels.
    The lighting looks great so far, however compositionally the floor feels a bit too noisy for my taste (areas of rest and all that jazz)
    Apart from that i love the mix of the ancient and metallic elements, its got a very stargate feel. Keep it up dude!  ;)
  • icegodofhungary
    Thank you so much. I am working on updates now!
  • CybranM
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    CybranM greentooth
    I've uploaded tons of 1920x1080p images without any issues so I dont know about a 1000px limit. In any case you could upload to something like imgur and link it.
  • Dave Dind
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    Dave Dind polycounter lvl 9
    I totally second @Necrodark's comment on the Stargate feel! This looks great overall and I appreciate you taking the time to document your process up to now so thoroughly!

    I see what the other's are saying about the floor being busy, but that's a pretty quick fix by simply swapping out a couple of the floor sections with a less visually complex piece. However, you could also potentially incorporate the design complexity as a gameplay aspect; you might have spikes or traps of some sort being activated as a player walks certain parts of the floor. Or the complexity of the floor pieces could be part of a puzzle I.E. step on certain parts in a specific pattern to activate the fountain, or open the door, etc.

    Again, really great job on this so far and I'm excited to see what your updates will be!
  • icegodofhungary
    Today I learned how to do particles. Now I have a little bit better water and dust motes. I also changed the floor a bit to have fewer large details and have a little less variation in surfaces. I can knock it down some more so please let me know. Also, imgur links to 2k screenshots!

  • Anura_Interceptor
    Is there a resolution limit on polycount? I thought I read somewhere that you're not supposed to upload anything larger than 1000x on one side. 
    The general rules say to make your images reasonably compressed jpegs I believe, but only the sketchbook rules say to downsize to 1600 first. That's because sketchbooks can get huge over the years and they're mostly image posts from the OP, would take forever for people to load them if not for the size limit.
  • icegodofhungary
    • Realized my single reflection capture wasn't enough. I was having incorrect shading and reflections before, now that's fixed.
    • Re-scuplted my normal map and made a new texture using a standard PBR maps rather than using any triplanar.
    • Had to adjust UVs for new normal map as it had a much more narrow bevel. Went ahead and tried to minimize any stretching and added variations
    • Re-did the fountain's water so it's more detailed. Combines mesh and particles now rather than only one of either. 
    • While I was UVing I fixed up the light maps to have fewer seams that broke my bevel illusion.
    • Changed the lighting a bit. Fixed some lighting issues from bad mesh design on the light crystal things.
    • Started making some very quick props (pottery, chests) using trim texture. Trying to make the room feel less empty and more functional
    • Added sound for the fountain, maybe will upload video in future.  I'm not trying to get too far into sound design atm.
    • to-do: will probably try out height lerp and vertex painting again just to add a tiny bit of variation and wrap this up so I can move onto other projects.

    Old texture:

    Newest one:

  • icegodofhungary
    I tried out some height lerp vertex stuff with moss and a little color. Don't really like the results. The way I textured everything doesn't really support it properly. If I were using tiling stone textures or some kind of terrain stuff, it would be a lot better. Oh well at least I know how to set it up now.

    I also changed the sconces because I realized they were blocking a lot of light and casting too much shadow. I created some little pottery props. Will probably wrap it up by tomorrow evening and update my art station project.

  • icegodofhungary
    I added some decals for water stains and grime. I went back and re-did the vertex coloring. I used it to add variety to the pottery and change the color of the stone for the chests. I finished the chests and pottery. Changed the lighting a bit more.

    Detail lighting:

  • DeathstrokeFTW
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    DeathstrokeFTW polycounter lvl 4
    Woah thats a lot of detail but I'm completely lost where the main focus is on the environment though.
  • icegodofhungary
    Do you mean that it's too busy and there's no strong focal point? Thanks for your reply.
  • Ashervisalis
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    Ashervisalis polycount lvl 666
    I think if you kept the detail but used lighting to help point towards a focal point, that might help.
  • icegodofhungary
    I'll play with some lighting variations. I think a huge problem with this is that I wasn't working from a plan or anything and just trying to improvise a coherent scene. I don't think I set myself up for a strong composition or focused environment. Thanks for replying.
  • ksjethwa
    The environments nicely laid down. The only thing I can say to improve these environment is to add some decals to break the feeling of repetitiveness. 
  • icegodofhungary
    I removed some lights. I originally let the corners be dark but it was too dark and the scene felt a lot smaller. So I added some dimmer lights with a different color at the corners of the room to provide a little light, but hopefully not bright enough to compete with the main light coming from the ceiling. The color may not be right, I was just trying to add some contrast.

    I also re-did the vertex painting to include some texture variation rather than just color. So hopefully that adds some break up of repetition. I also re-did the decals to be a little darker and more apparent.

    Unlit to see the vertex colors and decals better:

    Thank you all for replying and critiquing.

  • garcellano
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    garcellano greentooth
    Nice approach and progress. I like the patterns. The only thing that catches my eye at the moment are just those dripping decals by the hallway walls (or walls). They might look too stretched out? or dripping too far down? but that could just be me. Maybe shorten them or switch it with a different decal? 
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