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(Finished) Alley [Unreal Engine]

Hello Guys! :)
I started a new project for my portfolio and decided to post my work in progress here to get feedback and tips and push myself more.
On Pinterest, I found this picture of an alley that inspired me. This is also a great opportunity to work more on foliage since I tend to model only indoor environments and challenge myself more.

I started to look at the picture more closely in Photoshop to look at different elements and opportunities to use trim sheets and tileable textures.

After that, I started to block out the scene in Unreal using the Geometry tool. Since you can't see the end of the alley I decided to put a gate there because I wanted the environment to be closed. 

(Sorry for the bright light in this picture) I already had some pipes for the scene I did for another project. (No reflection sphere in the scene yet)
I started to model the different assets in 3ds max and adjusting the light a little bit. 

I imported all of the assets and started with one of the main assets in my scene which is a dumpster. 

This is the final dumpster with textures rendered in Marmoset Toolbag. 
After that, I started to do a high poly version of the palette in Zbrush working on the wood and baking it onto the low poly version in Substance Painter. I did all of my textures in Substance Painter and plan to do some materials in Substance Designer.

This is how my scene looks at the moment. 

There is still so much to do and I think I need more elements to tell a story with this piece. Also, I used an opacity map for the bulb of the streetlantern but I struggle with the settings to get the same look as in Substance Painter. Either the whole lantern becomes transparent or I have no transparency at all. Maybe I will detach the bulb and create a glass material in Unreal but if someone has an idea on how to fix this it would help me a lot :)


  • Alex_J
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    Alex_J high dynamic range
    good work so far.

    about the issue with opacity from painter, it is a little hard to explain but it's a common problem. IIRC you need to add a fill layer to the bottom of your layer stack in painter and set it to no opacity (in other words, completely opaque). I think when you export then it should work as expected. I don't think thats intended feature, but an actual bug.

    Otherwise show your texture maps here and maybe somebody can spot an issue.

  • Mirikiri
    Thanks for the advice. I'll try it out and hopefully, it will work! :)
  • Ashervisalis
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    Ashervisalis high dynamic range
    In Substance Painter, go to the Viewer Settings tab, and under shader, change it to "PBR Metal Rough with Alpha Blending". This will allow you to adjust the opacity so its not just on or off.

    This will look cool.  If you're looking for a cool way to do ivy, check out http://ivy-generator.com/. It's not very good for games, but might let you get some cool map bakes for some low poly geo.
  • Mirikiri
    The ivy generator is so much fun! Thanks for giving me the tip. I already started building ivy with some scanned leaves from textures.com and some tutorials since this is the first time creating plants for me. (I prefer indoor scenes but it's time to go out of my comfort zone)
  • Mirikiri
    I created the materials for the walls in Substance Designer using an instance with a different color for the right side. The light in the Unreal scene is still temporary. 

    I used Vertex Color for the first time on the dark walls using an albedo map with dirt I also created in Substance Designer. (Still need to do the same for the white/light grey walls)

    Still need to fix the glass on the lantern but I will do this next. 
    I started to place ivy that I created in 3ds max with a scan from textures.com on the walls.

    (Unlit mode since the light is too dark right now)
    I'm happy with my progress and motivated to continue. Thanks again for the feedback and tips! :)
  • Mirikiri
    Next small update :D (it got pretty warm the last few days and my fan tries to keep me alive)

    I finished more textures and also changed the bricks a little bit. Furthermore, I added some decals with more dirt and graffiti for the walls (might add more). I decided to put some boxes next to the dumpster and put flowers into the flowerpot. My walls have roofs now but the textures are still missing. I am currently working on a tree to put outside of the fence and plan to continue on the missing textures. I am still not sure about how to do the lighting so I probably will experiment a little bit.
    Hope you are all well! 

  • Mirikiri
    Worked on the scene a lot today and learned new stuff so I'm happy to share my progress again :)

    I modeled and textured a tree for the first time (really happy with the result thanks to this tree tutorial: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7L8TJ08vslc ) and did the floor material in Substance Designer. I struggled a lot with the export of the height map from Designer to Unreal but after a few tutorials about Parallax Occlusion, I think I got it and updated my brick material, too.
    The next goal is to do the roof and create a roof tile material (also new for me). Maybe redo the glass on the windows since I don't want them to be see-through but they still look weird. I will look at some games to see how they did the material (tips are appreciated). 
    Hope you all have a nice day! :)

  • Mirikiri
    UPDATE! :) I thought more about the mood of my scene and wanted to go a little different than the original inspiration picture, so I changed the daylight to nighttime. Since my scene was empty and not telling anything I looked up some level artist on Artstation to get a better feeling of composition and details. Now I am adding many smaller probs like tins, bottles, paper, and so on to fill my scene. I am going for a darker and dirtier alley.
    I created a blueprint to make the streetlight flicker and added more pipes on the walls as well as decals. There are even more probs in mind but since my scene changed a lot I wanted to share it here. :)

    To be honest there were a few moments when I thought about discontinuing the scene even tho I have already learned a lot during this personal project but I wasn't very happy with the overall scene and had the feeling it wasn't good enough. But I pulled myself together, talked to a few people, and now I am trying to change the scene until I am happy.

  • Ashervisalis
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    Ashervisalis high dynamic range
    Every single project goes through that stage of wanting to quit and move onto the next one! If it helps, I'm checking out every update you post, and looking forward to the end. Your ivy needs a lot of work btw. The photo has billowing bunches of ivy, plus ivy twigs with no leaves, and I think you should be aiming to get that form.
  • Mirikiri
    Thanks for the advice I will fix them and thanks for following my process! :)
  • Mirikiri
    So, this is my final update. Even though there are probably more things I could improve I am happy with my learning progress and the overall scene. I have learned a lot during this personal project and I did many things for the first time for example modeling a tree or creating rooftiles in Substance Designer. 
    In terms of Substance Designer and level design I have learned new skills.

    I am proud of myself and already looking forward to my next project to get better and better :)
    Thanks to everyone who looked into my progress and helped me!

    Small scene I created in Marmoset Toolbag using some of the assets from the project.

    I modeled everything in 3ds max. All assets are modeled by myself. 
    The textures were done in Substance Designer and Substance Painter. (Textures for the plants, paper, tape, most of the stickers and graffiti are from Quixel/Textures.com)

    Thanks again for reading and have a great day! :)
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