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(FINISHED) The Suburbs - Environment

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tomturner triangle
Finally finished this scene! Thanks so much for all the helpful tips and critique! :D 

https://www.artstation.com/artwork/d8KEde

Had a little one week break after my last project but I'm ready to start another one now. Found this awesome concept on Artstation to work from.
 
So started with a super basic blockout in Unreal using primitive shapes to get scale and composition matching with the concept (which I seem to have lost the image for). After that, I Made a basic modular kit for the house, again using really simple shapes and making sure it was similar scale to the simple cube I used in the primitive blockout.

I'm also keeping on top of the lighting from the start, so have added in the basic skylight and directional light, as well as sorting out the lightmaps for the modular kit.

Then I modelled the addition parts of the house, including windows, doors and corner trims.

Next I'll add an opacity map for the fencing around the house before cleaning up a couple of lightmaps and moving on to the trees. 

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  • tomturner
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    tomturner triangle
    For the fence around the house, I made this chainlink fence material in Substance Designer, 

    I also made 3 variations of trees using TreeIt. I was very happy with how easy it was to use, as this was my first time doing so. This is one of the trees.

    and here's the chanlink fence material in engine.

    I then modelled and unwrapped a dumpster, as well as the telephone poles.

    This leaves my scene looking like this:

    I'm really happy with how it's going so far! I'm looking forward to tinkering with lighting a little bit more to closer match the concept. 
    Next, I'm going to be adding grass before then moving on to some base textures.
  • tomturner
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    tomturner triangle
    Carrying on from where I left off, I added thatched grass to the scene, emulating the concept as closely as possible


    I then started working on some of the main materials, starting with the house.


    I also worked on the corrugated metal material for the roof, and then altered the lighting so it was more overcast.

    I then added my leaf material. It took a bit of time to get the subsurface right, as they were far too saturated at the start
    Leaf material (I edited it too look more orange)


    before


    after


    a closer look at the subsurface scattering

    Any critiques appreciated :)
  • stefanWilliams_C
    'Looks awesome so far! The house and dumpster are looking brilliant. 
    Only thing that sticks out to me are the leaves. Your reference seems to show trees with way denser leaves and branches. One way around this might be to create larger alphas with smaller branches, scattered with leaves rather than the leaf alphas going straight onto every 3D branch. Hope that makes sense! 
    Treeit is a great piece of software too btw :)
  • tomturner
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    tomturner triangle
    'Looks awesome so far! The house and dumpster are looking brilliant. 
    Only thing that sticks out to me are the leaves. Your reference seems to show trees with way denser leaves and branches. One way around this might be to create larger alphas with smaller branches, scattered with leaves rather than the leaf alphas going straight onto every 3D branch. Hope that makes sense! 
    Treeit is a great piece of software too btw :)
    Thanks for the crit Stefan! Much appreciated 😁
    you’re absolutely right regarding the branches, there’s far too much empty space behind the trees so will have to revisit them to make them more dense!
  • NikDemidko
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    NikDemidko polycounter lvl 2
    You're doing really well so far! Great job matching the concept.
    I have some doubts about the material you used on the walls. First of all, I think it should be more tiled, so planks are more narrow. I counted number of planks from the floor to the first floor roof and there is 16 on the reference image and just 12 in your scene.
    Plus, it looks like it's not just straight planks, but each of them has some angle. Like on these pictures:

    You can just drop the linear gradient in your height/normal map on each plank in Substance Designer to get this little slope. It may look closer to the reference.

    Keep up the good work :)

  • tomturner
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    tomturner triangle
    You're doing really well so far! Great job matching the concept.
    I have some doubts about the material you used on the walls. First of all, I think it should be more tiled, so planks are more narrow. I counted number of planks from the floor to the first floor roof and there is 16 on the reference image and just 12 in your scene.
    Plus, it looks like it's not just straight planks, but each of them has some angle. Like on these pictures:

    You can just drop the linear gradient in your height/normal map on each plank in Substance Designer to get this little slope. It may look closer to the reference.

    Keep up the good work :)

    Hey! Thanks for the critique! 
    Yeah I'll tile them a tad more, I hadn't noticed that so thank you. As for the shape, I'm probably going to just model that angle in later on, as it's for a portfolio piece =) 
  • tomturner
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    tomturner triangle
    Since my last update, I've mainly been adding some materials and working on the lighting. I textured the door, and made a frosted glass material for the door windows.


    I've done the same for the windows, but using a regular window pane for those.
    bigger window

    I think the dust is a bit overkill on this so I'm going to change that.
    smaller window

    And in addition to that I did quite a bit of work to the lighting, including adding some internal lights.


  • JamesBrisnehan
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    JamesBrisnehan polycounter
    You could try modeling in the angles into the planks for the sake of the close-ups. I don't think it would make the tri-count that high, and you can make some quick and easy LODs in Unreal if you need to.
  • tomturner
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    tomturner triangle
    You could try modeling in the angles into the planks for the sake of the close-ups. I don't think it would make the tri-count that high, and you can make some quick and easy LODs in Unreal if you need to.
    Hey, thanks for the advice! I've done that now and its looking much better! :) 
  • tomturner
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    tomturner triangle
    Unfortunately I was without my PC for the entirety of last week, so wasn't able to work on the scene. We're back at it this week!
    So first of all I modelled in the angle of the wooden planks on the house, as mentioned previously in the thread.
    This was the look I was going for, as mentioned by @NikDemidko

    Yesterday I also made a first pass for the road texture. Most details are going to be added using decals, and I'll also be vertex painting another road material where the road is most worn out by the wheels of vehicles.

    Additionally, I also textured the bin. There will be 2 different textures as there are two bins


    After some lighting work after these additions, it leaves the scene looking like this so far.
    All the critique so far is very much appreciated :smiley: keep em coming.
  • tomturner
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    tomturner triangle
    Textured the telephone pole. Will probably make some additional changes to this later on, as it's one of the few areas where the roughness values pop from the main camera angle 

    (Would is going in the wrong direction on the top of this image, but it's been fixed now)

    Also completely redid the trees, making them more dense, as well as the rest of the foliage.

    Here, there are some clear issues with both the trees and the grass. For the grass I adjusted the vertex normals so they were facing up, for balanced normals of both sides of my foliage cards. The trees were just a matter of tweaking parts of the material. The guys in the Slack chat were super helpful with this, for more realistic values. 
    With those fixed, it left the scene looking like this.

    Next I wanted to add more general wear/damage to the building, so I improved the material for it, and will definitely be adding plenty of decals/vertex painting later on.
    The rest of the time was simply spent optimising the scene. I removed the 'low poly' grass (apart from at the front), as too many of them definitely wasn't low poly. I also changed the size of the landscape as that was contributing a hefty number of tri's. the trees were also optimised. Thankfully, this did not affect the aesthetic of the scene a significant amount.

    This is how the scene is looking so far! 

    Any critique appreciated :) 
  • Lewis_kennedy
    you should probably start adding the second house on the right soon like in the concept art I think there's one behind the house as well, it'll make the house seem less isolated, it's coming along well, but at the moment it seems like just a single house next to the middle of some random road, adding in the surrounding ones will better contextualize it, just reuse some of the current houses assets for it for convenience, also since so little of it is in frame, 
  • teodar23
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    teodar23 interpolator
    Adding to what Lewis said, some background props wouldnt hurt. Maybe an antenna or a silo or a water tower somewhere in the back.
  • tomturner
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    tomturner triangle
    you should probably start adding the second house on the right soon like in the concept art I think there's one behind the house as well, it'll make the house seem less isolated, it's coming along well, but at the moment it seems like just a single house next to the middle of some random road, adding in the surrounding ones will better contextualize it, just reuse some of the current houses assets for it for convenience, also since so little of it is in frame, 
    teodar23 said:
    Adding to what Lewis said, some background props wouldnt hurt. Maybe an antenna or a silo or a water tower somewhere in the back.
    Thank you guys, I'll work on those contextual props! Think I'll go with a water tower, thanks for the idea!
  • tomturner
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    tomturner triangle
    Added a few background props/structures, as suggested above. I've also began to add some material blending to add some damage to the house. 

  • tomturner
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    tomturner triangle
    So I haven't been keeping up with taking pictures of every single change I've made so here're some changes I remember - 

    - did a lot of work on the road, making changes to the base material and also adding decals/some stones
    - added geometry to the roof in the form of corrugated metal sheeting. I also produced a rust material and vertex blended that onto the roof 
    - Changed the grass texture and density 
    -change the leaf texture 
    - did some work to the worn wooden plank material (more work to come on that)
    - removed the water tower. I felt it was too distracting as the main focus is the house. I don't mind having some negative space there 
    - added fairy lights
    - made a mailbox

    Thats what I can remember of the top of my head/the major changes, although I'm sure I've done some other bits here are there, such as tweaked the lighting 

    Heres a picture of the mailbox and an up to date image of the scene 


    as always any advice/critiques are appreciated :D 


  • JamesBrisnehan
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    JamesBrisnehan polycounter
    Yah, its really coming along.
    I think the lighting could still be improved. The sky texture and the lighting you have now seem a little miss-matched. You've got a directional light but also a fully overcast sky. I think the lighting and sky combo in the original concept looked fantastic, with the dark thick clouds on one side of the horizon and vibrant and sunny on the other. That contrast adds some interesting gradients to the sky and to the environment in the concept.

    I think A sky texture like one of these could look good in your scene, especially if you color-grade them a little to match the concept better. You could try a few different skies if you want, and do some quick preview light builds to see if one really fits.
    https://hdri-skies.com/shop/hdri-sky-174/
    https://hdri-skies.com/shop/hdri-sky-206/
    https://hdri-skies.com/shop/hdri-sky-128/

    Also, I think the grass cards could be spread out a bit more so they don't look so bunched up at the bottom. Some smaller/more sparse grass clusters could help with blending between the plain dirt and the thick/tall grass as well.
  • Ashervisalis
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    Ashervisalis high dynamic range
    One of the things standing out to me is this branch here. I think you should curve it a little because it just sticks out and is a little too straight. Looking good! I think the grass is looking great! I would throw in some smaller grass meshes around the base of the ones you have atm.

  • teodar23
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    teodar23 interpolator
    Its coming along nicely, but as mentioned maybe use a better sky with more interesting clouds. And that strip of pebbles in front of the house is too uniform, add some variation like small patches of grass or fallen leaves.
  • tomturner
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    tomturner triangle
    Yah, its really coming along.
    I think the lighting could still be improved. The sky texture and the lighting you have now seem a little miss-matched. You've got a directional light but also a fully overcast sky. I think the lighting and sky combo in the original concept looked fantastic, with the dark thick clouds on one side of the horizon and vibrant and sunny on the other. That contrast adds some interesting gradients to the sky and to the environment in the concept.

    I think A sky texture like one of these could look good in your scene, especially if you color-grade them a little to match the concept better. You could try a few different skies if you want, and do some quick preview light builds to see if one really fits.
    https://hdri-skies.com/shop/hdri-sky-174/
    https://hdri-skies.com/shop/hdri-sky-206/
    https://hdri-skies.com/shop/hdri-sky-128/

    Also, I think the grass cards could be spread out a bit more so they don't look so bunched up at the bottom. Some smaller/more sparse grass clusters could help with blending between the plain dirt and the thick/tall grass as well.
    Thanks for these! Went for that first one and it's looking much better :)

    One of the things standing out to me is this branch here. I think you should curve it a little because it just sticks out and is a little too straight. Looking good! I think the grass is looking great! I would throw in some smaller grass meshes around the base of the ones you have atm.


    gonna be redoing the trees completely tomorrow and wont be conservative with the polycounts as i was last time! Will probs be in the next post :) 

    Hey!
    Made a few more props and improved a few things since my last post!
    Added a dog kennel for the backyard. probably won't be getting close ups so nothing special! 
    made a couple of these trash bags for next to the bin and 1 or 2 scattered about elsewhere 

    This is one of the close up shots that i'll be working on some more. Will have some rubbish scattared on the floor, and perhaps one of the bags will be ripped open or something.


    Made a 'no tresspassing' sign for the fence at the front of the house, some potential for a close up shot there too.
    Also worked on a close up shot for the mailbox i made previously. Still need to edit the texture on this slightly to read better in the scene. Also, those windows in the back aren't affect by depth of field, if anyone knows a fix for that that'd be great! :) 



    What also had been bugging me for a while was the wooden planks material on the house, and the vertex painted damage. Didn't like it at all so started the base material from scratch, as well as the underlying exposed wood. I really focused on getting it to look like my main references in terms of how consistent the damage is and the areas where not as much damage occurs (current result at the bottom)



    and here's the setup for that blend


    and this traffic cone :D I didn't end up using as many as I originally planned as they were too distracting!


    On top of those changes, I made a number of lighting changes. These maybe deviated from the concept slightly, but they made more sense in the context of the scene. this included uses a hdri that James linked above :D 
    added some fog to kind of mask the background slightly, as I won't be adding tonnes more detail back there.
    played with CSM for the foliage and other bits
    and a bunch of other stuff that I cant really remember :(

    before


    after


    Next I want to:

    -remake the trees
    -fill up the space between the road and the house
    -interior lights 


    thanks for all the comments/tips/critiques so far, all really appreciated! Any suggestions for what else I could add for some interest/storytelling, and also the lighting would be awesome :) 
  • LokiDokie
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    LokiDokie polycounter lvl 4
    This is looking good :) i think the bins and the bin bags and the traffic cone are looking alittle clean compared to the other objects but maybe there newer. If you wanted to add more things you could add missing or faded posters to the poles?
  • teodar23
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    teodar23 interpolator
    I feel like the angle of the sun in your scene doesnt match the hdri, but its hard to tell. I might be wrong but even if i am not its a minor thing.
    Also, the whole scene is a bit too dark but that might change after the bake.
  • wirrexx
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    wirrexx interpolator
    Hey, If you compare your current scene to your concept. you'll notice that your scene is way darker. The skylight could be bumped up more? And also your dumpster could be a little bit more shiney? =) Maybe also look at your scene unlit and see if the textures are to dark.

    The things i notice, side of the house, under the roof, the Pole are to dark. Your sky is purple and the concept is blue =). Also the shadows from skylight are greener on the concept. The dumpsters have more shine to them, making them reflect little more light. You also wrote those things down, otherwise i think you are getting there!! Did a black Colour layer ontop of yours. =) Cant wait too see it finished! 
  • tomturner
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    tomturner triangle
    wirrexx said:
    Hey, If you compare your current scene to your concept. you'll notice that your scene is way darker. The skylight could be bumped up more? And also your dumpster could be a little bit more shiney? =) Maybe also look at your scene unlit and see if the textures are to dark.

    The things i notice, side of the house, under the roof, the Pole are to dark. Your sky is purple and the concept is blue =). Also the shadows from skylight are greener on the concept. The dumpsters have more shine to them, making them reflect little more light. You also wrote those things down, otherwise i think you are getting there!! Did a black Colour layer ontop of yours. =) Cant wait too see it finished! 
    Thanks a lot! :D currently working on refining the albedo and specular values so they're more accurate. Will also boost the GI a touch to cover those darker areas. Thanks so much for the feedback!

  • BootScoot
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    BootScoot polycounter lvl 7
    Hey, nice work! In regard to your scene I think your albedo values look OK - they're in the ball park. My guess is that you need to increase the directional lighting intensity (or more generally the intensity of your lighting). Also try playing a bit with UE4's auto exposure: It can have a pretty dramatic effect on the overall lighting. After that UE4s colour grading/post processing can be used to nudge the colour values of your scene in the direction of the concept art. Hope my 5c helps!
  • tomturner
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    tomturner triangle
    BootScoot said:
    Hey, nice work! In regard to your scene I think your albedo values look OK - they're in the ball park. My guess is that you need to increase the directional lighting intensity (or more generally the intensity of your lighting). Also try playing a bit with UE4's auto exposure: It can have a pretty dramatic effect on the overall lighting. After that UE4s colour grading/post processing can be used to nudge the colour values of your scene in the direction of the concept art. Hope my 5c helps!
    Thanks man, very helpful! Some of the darker shadows were caused by slightly low albedo values so I just lifted those a touch, such as the bins. But yeah other than that they're fine :) Looking forward to doing some colour grading to fix i up a bit :D 
  • tysiu
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    tysiu keyframe
    Fantastic work!
  • wirrexx
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    wirrexx interpolator
    That turned out really nice!
  • tomturner
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    tomturner triangle
    tysiu said:
    Fantastic work!
    Thanks Tysiu :)

    wirrexx said:
    That turned out really nice!
    Thanks! And thank you for your helpful critique :D
  • Ashervisalis
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    Ashervisalis high dynamic range
    Heck yah, great job man!
  • tomturner
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    tomturner triangle
    Heck yah, great job man!
    thanks man, thanks so much for all your help :D
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