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[FINISHED] Viking Mountain Pass Environment

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THIS PROJECT IS NOW FINISHED
Check out the artstation post here: https://www.artstation.com/artwork/Kr3zb4
Feel free to look through this thread to get an idea of what my thought process was in regards to design decisions etc.

Hey!
This environment is a new project I'm working on that is set in a dark fantasy world based on Vikings and old Norse mythology inspired mostly by God of War (2018) and Hellblade. To begin with, I gathered together as many images I could that I thought looked cool and created a few moodboards. I then selected three images I liked the most as main references, which I have posted below. I really wanted to make an environment that was tighter in scope, allowing me to focus on really high quality assets and a highly modular set-up whilst also working on a world-space that interests me hugely! Thus, the primary focal point here will be the mountain pass entrance alongside the guardian models. 


^I liked the composition on this one, so block out lies on this composition as a base.

Next I started to block out the scene and look at which pieces I would be needing in terms of modular assets. 
At this point I set up a trello board to manage how many of each asset I will need in the scene. Since most of it is rock types, trees, foliage and various landscape shaders, the tiling materials are of highest priority at the moment. 


I then started playing around with materials in Substance Designer, creating some tileable cliff and wood materials. 
Using block out geometry as scale guidance, I started creating geometry using the materials I'd created. 
I also started working on the door asset, which is done in Painter for now. I will likely change various elements of the sculpt but I wanted to get a hero asset in as soon as possible before replacing more of the modular assets.


This is where I am at the moment in UE4. Thanks for reading and any feedback is welcomed! 

Replies

  • ThisisVictoriaZ
    Hi, I think you've got a great start! The only thing I would say to watch out for at this point, from what I can see, the rocks above the door in your scene have a bunch horizontal striations whereas the rocks from the game have big blocky shapes. 
  • stefanWilliams_C
    Thanks for the feedback @ThisisVictoriaZ ! I actually sculpted the cliff rocks that way to kinda direct towards the door. Looking at my main ref again though, it seems all the rock assets are, indeed, blocky but it's the way they're positioned that gives off a slight directional feel. 
  • stefanWilliams_C
    Hey again! I wanted to post some more progress on this environment project. 
    Managed to work on some more materials in Designer to improve on the old pine bark material. Also made a birch material to add a little variance in the trees. Working with the references I gathered from God of War, I really liked the mix of birch and pine. In the context of my environment I think it works nicely to block out the path towards the door and emphasises some more of the shape language. 

    This was my first go at making a grass alpha in designer, so it will probably be improved later on. My plan is to map 2-3 of these onto a 2k atlas. 

    Some people that I showed the environment to asked what the runes meant, which was when I realised that I hadn't put any thought into that. Just thought they looked cool, so I decided to go back to the door sculpt and use runes that meant something in the name of story-telling as well as some more cracks and surface destruction. 



    That's where I am at the moment. I still want to get more foliage in here and start working on the guardians as well as some waypoints. Thanks for reading, feedback is welcomed :)
  • Ashervisalis
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    Ashervisalis insane polycounter
    Hey, your tileable rock textures look a lot like clay, I feel they should be redone. Also, in God of War, they used floating geo on trees for moss and bark and stuff, to give it more depth. I'd suggest watching this YouTube video below; it's got the environment artist lead from God of War talking about how they did everything in their environment.



    I'm looking forward to your end result! I started a God of War project and never finished it!
  • stefanWilliams_C
    Thanks for great feedback @Ashervisalis
  • stefanWilliams_C
    I've been working a little more on this here project of mine recently :)
    Mainly rethought the lighting since the overcast lighting I initially wanted didn't work as well as I thought it would. Instead I've tried to lead the eye more using two directionals; one high intensity directed towards the gate and guardians and one low intensity pointed a little lower. The second dir light is functioning as a sky light at the moment. 
    Still working on more foliage variation but I have managed to implement denser grass clumps and various moss clumps. I've also reworked the pine bark material yet again, this time I revisited the God of War trees and took direct reference from those. With the previously created bark materials, I put to use as vertex paints.  

    ^Here you see my approach to the lighting. I also wanted the atmospheric fog to have a cold tint (visible on lit screenshot)

    This tree stump is a decimation of the high poly, using its own uv sheet. The final version will use the bark materials I've already made. 


    God of War's colour scheme is my main inspiration for the fog/sunlight at the moment. 
    Thanks for reading :) Would appreciate feedback
  • Ashervisalis
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    Ashervisalis insane polycounter
    Hey again. I think you should add a BnW Spots or Dirt noise node to your moss normal, to give it that super bumpy look that moss has.
  • stefanWilliams_C
    Okay, I see what you mean. Thanks for the feedback @Ashervisalis !
  • Fabi_G
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    Fabi_G polycounter lvl 3
    hi! Cool project!

    At some point I would break up the ground leading towards the entrance. This would increase sense of depth and give more detail where the player is supposed to go.

    With the light, I think it seems only show only on the right being blocked by a big formation on the left - this could be more dramatic :D  Some breakthroughs in that formation could make for some interesting light patches. Maybe you could try something cast shadow on the entry?

    Attempt to illustrate:


    Keep it up!
  • stefanWilliams_C
    Ah, I really like this idea @Fabi_G ! Thank you for taking the time to illustrate what you mean, that helps a lot when digesting feedback :D
  • MisterWolfen
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    MisterWolfen polycounter lvl 4
    @stefanWilliams_C Well done on translating the concept to 3D so strongly. I noticed in the concept there are a few things you're missing like floor fog, and a bit of snow layered on the closer objects and foliage, i really do appreciate the effort you put into the rune doorway though, so well crafted, and pops so nice against the natural environment. Also that bark smart material is O.O awesome

    BTW, i'd be interested in an actual walkthrough in Unreal video ;)
  • stefanWilliams_C
    Thank you for the kind words @MisterWolfen . I'm trying not to follow the concept completely exact but I understand where you're coming from. 
    I will likely include an Unreal Engine walkthrough video in the final Artstation post but I would be happy to post it here too, if I remember!
  • MisterWolfen
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    MisterWolfen polycounter lvl 4
    @stefanWilliams_C awesome, can't wait 😊😊
  • stefanWilliams_C
    Hello again!
    The most recent feedback has been really great and motivating, so I am posting my most recent progress!
    I finished the Guardian model and decided to use some candle lights to make them pop more. On the topic of lighting, I have also worked a little more on the path lighting, getting some shadows in through various spot lights and adjusting the directionals. 

    ^lighting only screenshot. Illustrates how I'm splitting the path up


    There still remain a few assets I want to make, mainly foliage to populate the ridges in the foreground and perhaps overgrowing the door. 
    Thanks for reading! 
  • stefanWilliams_C
    Got some time to work more on this project recently :)
    I've made some changes to the overall environment design. Namely, the usage of snow. My main references use a lot of snow and it seems to help with creating more dramatic lighting rather than the muddy mix of warmer colours. This is also something the fog achieves, as I can make the contrast between warm natural light and cooler shadows more visible. 
    In terms of assets, I have made some changes to the moss texture, made a few foliage variations and added stairs/rock formations for the lead up to the door. 




    I'm starting to feel the environment coming together as I wanted to, so now will likely be post-processing changes and material reviews.
    Thanks for reading, feedback is welcomed! :D
  • wirrexx
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    wirrexx interpolator
    I feel that the tree roots to the left are very noisy atm. Maybe add a Road sign there instead. A Road sign with a flag that is torn.. or maybe it's bloody, some kind of story. Also, the fog should start a Lil bit further away from the camera.

    Here's a old thread by @Shirk https://polycount.com/discussion/185368/ue4-spooky-forest-church  and you can see how the fog starts about 60 % into the screen.

  • stefanWilliams_C
    A viking road sign sounds interesting haha
    I see what you mean though. I've been experimenting with various waypoints and structures to give scale reference. The fog being further away makes sense, thanks for the feedback @wirrexx !
  • wirrexx
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    wirrexx interpolator
    A viking road sign sounds interesting haha
    I see what you mean though. I've been experimenting with various waypoints and structures to give scale reference. The fog being further away makes sense, thanks for the feedback @wirrexx !

    The road sign, can also help in sense of scale, usually they are a bit higher then a normal character or at the same length =). So go for it
  • stefanWilliams_C
    Worked some more on this environment over the past few days :) 
    Produced a flag for a little more sense of scale in the foreground as well as a rope mesh that indicates some sort of ancient human presence using the trees to their benefit. 

    I have also added a snow particle system based off the subtlety in my original main reference image from GoW. 

  • Ashervisalis
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    Ashervisalis insane polycounter
    I think if the flag was weighted and not as horizontal, it would look more in place. Right now the wind for the flag looks pretty strong, but the fog and foliage are telling me otherwise. Plus, looks like we're in a canyon of a sort, and I cant see how wind would flow from the left of the flag. Maybe drop the opacity of the ground fog a bit? I'd also suggest creating a separate mesh asset of mushrooms or moss or bark which you can use to break up the super flat/straight edge of the trees.

    Looking awesome though.
  • Eric Chadwick
    This is coming along really well. One thing that distracts me is the dark stump on the rock at left. It causes a strong silhouette that pulls my eye there. It also looks a little like Darth Vader's head. If you brighten it up a bit so it matches the rock it's on, it would draw less attention.
  • teodar23
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    teodar23 greentooth
    I thought that was a statue, Eric. Damn you, small resolution phone!

    The sand or gravel on the ground near the camera is very noisy, unrealistic. There is a second light that lights some assets especially on the left side but we cant see that light so a bit confusing.
    The rocks in the distance dont have proper shadows, try enabling far shadows.
    The fog is a bit too strong and too uniform, looks game-y. Should be more on the ground for atmosphere.
  • wirrexx
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    wirrexx interpolator
    Agree With Eric on this, and also wrote it somewhere above that the roots are very nooisy =) I am no concept artist or 2D artist, but something like this, With a sign more "Handmade". And also, make your sign rotated more toward the gate then my shitty attempt!

  • stefanWilliams_C
    Alot of juicy feedback here to chew on, so I'll keep my responses in one reply :)
    - I removed a few of the root mesh instances a while back to have some more chaotic shapes in the foreground. I also experimented with the road sign, like you suggested, but couldn't get it to work. I will explore this area of the piece more now though, thanks @wirrexx !
    - Glad someone pointed this out before I post it to artstation @Eric Chadwick ! I'm making a few modular variants of these stumps. Not very happy with the top end of the silouhette either. As you say, it sways too far in the direction of the dark side of the force...
    - Thanks for this detailed feedback @teodar23 . I'll work on fixing those issues. I don't understand what you mean by the rocks not having proper shadows? Perhaps this will become apparent when I look into far shadows but I didn't notice anything to be off in this section of the environment.
  • teodar23
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    teodar23 greentooth
    Oh i see whats happening. There is a lot of surface variation in those rocks' normal texture. So i expected some of those surfaces to cast shadows... silly me :). Maybe use some strong AO to mitigate that.
  • Ashervisalis
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    Ashervisalis insane polycounter
    Coming along super nicely!!!
  • stefanWilliams_C
    Worked on the points provided for my last post over the weekend. Thanks to everyone posting feedback, it's pushing my environment to be better all the time :)
    I'm thinking I might make some more cliff rock assets for the background. This time more blocky in nature, revisiting the shapes and silhouettes from God of War. 

    ^My viking road sign interpretation. For the final post and sketchfab upload I will refine this more, since there are artifacts due to bad baking on closer inspection. Either way, I think it's pretty cute. 

  • Ashervisalis
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    Ashervisalis insane polycounter
    You could add a weak light to give the sign a bit more dominance in the scene. Just to make it a slight bit brighter. I would suggest brightening up the shadowy area a bit and darkening the background a bit.
  • stefanWilliams_C
    Thanks @Ashervisalis ! I will be looking into the lighting again next
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