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How should I make this planet landscape environment (UE4)?

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Oblivion2500 polycounter lvl 6
I'm making a planetary landscape environment that is very spacey sci-fi. The landscape is similar to the moon but different. There will be tall thin mountains and craters. There will also be planets and rings, etc. How should I make the landscape? Should it be a combination of UE4.26 landscape and meshes with a material blend? What about a crack across the landscape? Here's some example of art I found on google images of what I'm trying to make.

EDIT:
The software I have is Blender, Quixel Suite/Mixer, Photoshop, xNormal, and Unreal Engine. I do also have a 20 days left trial of Maya, Substance 3D suite, and ZBrush. So I would like to take advantage of this month with those trials to make some kickass space environment. 


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  • Eric Chadwick
  • sprunghunt
  • sprunghunt
  • Oblivion2500
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    Oblivion2500 polycounter lvl 6
    Thank you guys for the tips. Here's what I got so far. I did a ton of sculpting in ZBrush and Blender. In UE4, I got a large landscape with three large craters and a basic detailed layout. It's my intention to use a landscape material with blend with landscape meshes that I sculpted in Zbrush/Blender. 

    Here's my Blender Scene of all my High-Poly Sculpts that I did in ZBrush and Blender. These will be placed around the landscape with blend material. This is inspired by Quixel Landscape Project (https://youtu.be/0iQJkSpOoOQ ).

    My question is how should I start with creating the low-poly model? I figure I will use ZBrush retopology tools which work really well for organic objects like stone/rocks. I have UV ToolKit and RetopoFlow 3 addons for Blender 2.8+. The copy of ZBrush I have is just a trial which is good till the first week of May. My biggest issue right now is two things:
    1. The 5 distance large mountains you see in the photo, will be placed far away and there will be a fog plane and lighting making them look like they're far away. They are each 662,000 polygons each with a top-down UV projection UV layout. Is 662,000 okay? I also created low-poly models from Zbrush which are about 100K each but they don't look quite as detailed.
    2. If I do have to create low-poly of the large mountains. Should the UV map be in pieces for the best detail without warping? How would I get started texturing this to look realistic? I only have Photoshop, Blender, and Quxiel Suite / Mixer. I do have a trial of Zbrush, Maya, Substance Designer/Painter/Alchemist which is all good till the first week of May. 

    The material is to be similar to what you see on Mars or on the moon. Just a bit bluish instead. Like a dead planet or unique planet, I suppose? A moon that has water (which would explain the fog but black sky). 

    I could use any tips and advice. Thanks very much!
  • Eric Chadwick
    I would suggest learning the landscape system in Unreal, and using it for the bulk of the terrain. You can then spice it up with detail meshes.

    The craters for example can be heightmaps imported into the terrain, then embellished with detail rocks and/or cliffs.
  • Oblivion2500
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    Oblivion2500 polycounter lvl 6
    I would suggest learning the landscape system in Unreal, and using it for the bulk of the terrain. You can then spice it up with detail meshes.

    The craters for example can be heightmaps imported into the terrain, then embellished with detail rocks and/or cliffs.
    That's exactly what I'm doing. I'm having more trouble with texturing the detail meshes.
  • icegodofhungary
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    icegodofhungary interpolator
    Your distant mountains should just be made using the landscape tool. Since they're far away and viewed through a fog plane, there's no reason to have super detailed meshes. And they're so big that doing a unique unwrap for them means density issues anyways. Make several tiling textures and blend them using height data to get something more natural looking. Something like this but with a little more finesse:


    For your smaller (compared to the mountains) objects like cliff faces and big boulders, you can do unique unwraps. But the trick here would be to only bake normal/ao information from the sculpt. Then you create a tiling surface material of the actual rock surface which has its own channels for normal, ao, height, color ,etc. You use the rock surface material on the rock but blend your sculpted normal information with the surface material's normals. You do by using a component mask in unreal on both normal channels. Take the R, G components of both, add them together, then use a vector append node (append a constant 1)  to put back the blue channel. Now you have the best of both worlds, a tiling texture that captures the medium/small details and your sculpting data that captures some unique details. You can even use a simple triplanar shader for your rock surface material to remove any seams. I think Obscura has a good simple triplanar floating around here somewhere. Google should bring you to it.

    You can use decimation to get lowpoly meshes for your boulders and cliffs. It's just not a one-button operation. You have to export your finished sculpted high-poly mesh first. You then use your zbrush tools to clean up the mesh and try out different decimations until you get something clean enough. You can also clean it up a little more in your modeling package. Then unwrap and do your bakes. Here's a good example of someone cleaning up a highpoly sculpt for decimation:



    Then for your smaller rocks and stuff, it's just the normal thing of building a midpoly > highpoly sculpt > lowpoly > bake/paint. Here too you can do the texture blending trick to get a super consistent feel to your environment rather than creating several new materials. Or you can do completely unique textures as well. It's up to you and how much time you want to spend on it.



  • Oblivion2500
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    Oblivion2500 polycounter lvl 6
    Your distant mountains should just be made using the landscape tool. Since they're far away and viewed through a fog plane, there's no reason to have super detailed meshes. And they're so big that doing a unique unwrap for them means density issues anyways. Make several tiling textures and blend them using height data to get something more natural looking. Something like this but with a little more finesse:
    Yeah, I guess you guys are right. I'm looking into advanced tutorials on making auto-landscape materials with height and blend along with displacement/tessellation when up close. 
    For your smaller (compared to the mountains) objects like cliff faces and big boulders, you can do unique unwraps. But the trick here would be to only bake normal/ao information from the sculpt. Then you create a tiling surface material of the actual rock surface which has its own channels for normal, ao, height, color ,etc. You use the rock surface material on the rock but blend your sculpted normal information with the surface material's normals. You do by using a component mask in unreal on both normal channels. Take the R, G components of both, add them together, then use a vector append node (append a constant 1)  to put back the blue channel. Now you have the best of both worlds, a tiling texture that captures the medium/small details and your sculpting data that captures some unique details. You can even use a simple triplanar shader for your rock surface material to remove any seams. I think Obscura has a good simple triplanar floating around here somewhere. Google should bring you to it.

    You can use decimation to get lowpoly meshes for your boulders and cliffs. It's just not a one-button operation. You have to export your finished sculpted high-poly mesh first. You then use your zbrush tools to clean up the mesh and try out different decimations until you get something clean enough. You can also clean it up a little more in your modeling package. Then unwrap and do your bakes. Here's a good example of someone cleaning up a highpoly sculpt for decimation:

    Then for your smaller rocks and stuff, it's just the normal thing of building a midpoly > highpoly sculpt > lowpoly > bake/paint. Here too you can do the texture blending trick to get a super consistent feel to your environment rather than creating several new materials. Or you can do completely unique textures as well. It's up to you and how much time you want to spend on it.

    Yup. Done tons of RGB components. But a good tip on the detail mixing with medium/small details. What about the DetailTexturing node in UE4 is that useful for the boulders and any rock objects when up close? I have never used that node in UE4. I'm trying to go for a cinematic quality similar to the youtube video I shared by Quixel landscape. 
  • Oblivion2500
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    Oblivion2500 polycounter lvl 6
    This is what I got so far. I created a new landscape using landmass in UE4.26 with a landscape auto material created from textures in quixel mixer. I'm in the process of baking and creating detailed meshes that will blend with the landscape such as tiny mountains or very odd-shaped mountains including rocks. I will also be adding a space cube/sphere for the sky and adding planets. Any advice on making planet textures?
    Here's my concept art that I wanted to create in UE4:

    Here's what I got so far in UE4:

    WIP High-Poly Sculpt for Land Detail Meshes:

  • Eric Chadwick
    Neat. What does the orange/yellow leaning-pyramid shape represent? It creates an uncomfortable compositional tangent with the far planet... I would suggest removing the pyramid (it's confusing) or else overlap it or separate it.
  • Eric Chadwick
    For planet textures, I have a making-of video of sorts here, might give you some ideas. I used a series of procedural textures to make these. Substance Designer would do well for this.
    http://ericchadwick.com/img/robot_rising.html#cubemapbackdrop

    There are also free scans of real planets & moons from NASA, in equirectangular format (cylindrical projection), might be worth a shot if you're pressed for time.
  • Oblivion2500
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    Oblivion2500 polycounter lvl 6
    Neat. What does the orange/yellow leaning-pyramid shape represent? It creates an uncomfortable compositional tangent with the far planet... I would suggest removing the pyramid (it's confusing) or else overlap it or separate it.
    The orange/yellow is a prism light beam blasting from the moon to outer space. I'm not the best concept artist but that's one of the more important parts of the scene. It's inspired by a painting my late father did which was a black space background, a moon, and that yellow/red beam blasting out of it. There will be a blurring at the edge of both sides to make it look more nebula-like. 
    For planet textures, I have a making-of video of sorts here, might give you some ideas. I used a series of procedural textures to make these. Substance Designer would do well for this.
    http://ericchadwick.com/img/robot_rising.html#cubemapbackdrop

    There are also free scans of real planets & moons from NASA, in equirectangular format (cylindrical projection), might be worth a shot if you're pressed for time.
    I'm haven't used substance designer for a while. I just go the trial of the new one. What tutorial do you suggest doing for the planet shaders? I'm pressed for time to get my portfolio done but I have enough time to create my own planet textures. I'm basically trying to make a moon planet, a red Saturn-like planet (plus the ring for it), and another purple or reddish planet like mars. 
  • Eric Chadwick
    I didn't use a tutorial to make mine. I just looked at NASA photos of real planets and moons, then made textures & lighting to match. If you play the video, it shows the individual layers I used. You don't need SD to make textures, any decent procedural generator would do.
  • Oblivion2500
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    Oblivion2500 polycounter lvl 6
    I didn't use a tutorial to make mine. I just looked at NASA photos of real planets and moons, then made textures & lighting to match. If you play the video, it shows the individual layers I used. You don't need SD to make textures, any decent procedural generator would do.
    What would you recommend? I just tried playing around Substance Designer for making planets and man, I do not know how to use Substance Designer at all. I should learn some tutorials and take advantage of the trial. However, I do know how to use 3dsmax, maya, blender, adobe cc,  substance painter/alchemist, and quixel suite/mixer. 
    P.S. Is that bad that I do not know substance designer that well? Will that hurt me on finding a job in the gaming industry (entry level)?

    Here's my progress so far. I'm working on the planets and lighting. The landscape is mostly done. Performance is not great due to my aging pc and graphics card. I tried this on one of my friend's pc and it ran 60fps 2K no problem. It's 20 fps 1080p on my pc. :-1:


    I have looked everywhere online for tutorials and tips on making planet textures and I can't find any decent ones. A lot of them keep pointing me back to NASA textures. I'm looking to make my own procedural moon, gas planet, and mars-like planet. 
  • Eric Chadwick
    Substance Designer is widely used in the game industry, so it's a valuable skill to have. Adobe has great learning resources on their site, that's the first place to look for tutorials about how to use the program effectively. I don't think you'll find specific tutorials about how to make a planet texture... you'll just have to think it through. Gather reference photos of planet looks you like, then break them down into constituent elements and recreate them step by step. My video shows the steps I used, might help you in breaking other things down. 
  • Oblivion2500
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    Oblivion2500 polycounter lvl 6
    Substance Designer is widely used in the game industry, so it's a valuable skill to have. Adobe has great learning resources on their site, that's the first place to look for tutorials about how to use the program effectively. I don't think you'll find specific tutorials about how to make a planet texture... you'll just have to think it through. Gather reference photos of planet looks you like, then break them down into constituent elements and recreate them step by step. My video shows the steps I used, might help you in breaking other things down. 
    Alright, yeah I should relearn substance designer quickly with the adobe tutorials. I'm sure it will all come back to me quickly. The planets I'm making are going to be simpler than the one you made in the video (helpful video for the breakdown though). Thanks for sharing. Gas-like planets and moon/mars planets should be easier. I will update once I figure out SD and make some progress on the planets. 
  • Oblivion2500
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    Oblivion2500 polycounter lvl 6

    Here's my work in progress. Don't mind the weird warping that's happening. It's just the camera angle FOV. I will fix that. I've been trying to make a planet texture in substance designer trial. I'm focusing on the texture itself. Not the material or lighting so much. How else can I improve on the lighting or landscape texture? Maybe I should download some quixel megascan meshes and replace the material (to take creative ownership and cite the source)? The overall planet type I want to make the landscape is to be moon-like but not 100% dead, there's still fog, clouds, etc. Very alien-like but unique. 
  • Eric Chadwick
    To emulate realism, look at real locations on Earth. Plenty of bizarre otherworldly locations here to reference. Examine the photos carefully, for repetitive texture ideas, and where you could blend them together.
  • Oblivion2500
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    Oblivion2500 polycounter lvl 6
    Alright, so far I did a big update on this project. Major optimization is done. Got rid of displacement maps and optimize materials. It doesn't look any different and I'm getting 60 fps 1080p. I also added the fire sun prism that shoots out of the moon planet. I'm still figuring out the planet material in substance. I have come across some free planet generators substance SBS for planet generation but they were made for an older version of Substance Designer, so I will have to play around with it. If that doesn't work out for me which making planets have turned out to be a very difficult material to create. I have come across Planet Creator 1 V2 and Planet Creator 2 V2 Blueprints in UE4 marketplace (https://www.unrealengine.com/marketplace/en-US/profile/Makemake?count=20&sortBy=effectiveDate&sortDir=DESC&start=0 ) which allows you to create your own hyperrealistic planet (the addon is about $60 together). Would I be allowed to use these in this project? Again, this is for my portfolio and I"m hoping to get a full-time entry environment art job in the gaming industry with this included in my portfolio site. Will I have to credit the creator of the addon? Is it okay? Will that scare away employers? 

    As for everything else, I have tweaked the lighting and added post-processing. I also want to add golden glowing space hawks flying by in the sky (just a few). Like this hawk that I created (it emits glowing gold polygons from its wings as it flies, it has a flying soaring animation).

    How are the lighting and overall scene? Is it good so far? I also borrow three Megascan 3D assets from Quixel Bridge and applied my own material created in Quixel Mixer 2021 to them to make them my own. I have to credit the assets and mention that I borrow three rocks assets from Quixel Megascan in the description and prop images, correct? Again, is this okay or will that scare away employers?

    How can I improve the sun prism? Should it be more transparent? Should the landscape be less blue? I'm really trying to go for a bizarre and alien-like moon planet that is not quite dead but alive enough to have volumetric fog and clouds. I also added fog cards to add more detail in the sky. I'm open to any feedback.  

    Here are some screenshots of what I got so far...


  • gnoop
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    gnoop interpolator
    Why not just search for solar system planetary textures  in public domain .   I don't have links  but I recall I saw a few sites.        Anyway the gas giants with rings are easiest to make in SD since they are basically stripes  with some wood style  warping like Jupiter and could be projected just spherically.

  • Oblivion2500
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    Oblivion2500 polycounter lvl 6
    gnoop said:
    Why not just search for solar system planetary textures  in public domain .   I don't have links  but I recall I saw a few sites.        Anyway the gas giants with rings are easiest to make in SD since they are basically stripes  with some wood style  warping like Jupiter and could be projected just spherically.

    I really want my own planetary textures. The only ones that I could find that were free and public domain is from NASA but I don't want planets from our own solar system. I want completely sci-fi out of this world's planets. 

    I will try playing around in SD in making the gas planet and moon but if it turns out to be too difficult. I will get the UE4 Planet Creator Blueprint from UE4 Marketplace and just cite the source and credit the author of the blueprint asset. I will update later today on my progress with SD making planets first and see what you guys think?

    Also, what do you think of the landscape? How does it look to you? Is it too blue or is it good? 
  • Oblivion2500
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    Oblivion2500 polycounter lvl 6
    Alright, so I have been unable to create anything decent inside of Substance Designer or Photoshop for planets. So I ended up purchasing Makemake UE4 Planet Creator 1 V2 and Planet Creator 2 V2 Blueprint Assets on UE4 Marketplace for $60. It was totally worth it. It allows me to create my own planets procedurally inside of UE4 with amazing hyperrealistic quality. I also learned a lot from how the blueprint, textures, materials, and meshes were made and put together by checking around the blueprints and texture files. Really clever and creative way of creating planets for UE4. The author of the blueprint has my thanks for this. He also makes other awesome UE4 assets that are related to space/galaxy stuff such as sun creator, wormhole, cube maps, nebulas, etc. I will be giving him credit for helping in this project on my portfolio page.

    Here are some screenshots of what I have so far, it's almost done. I also greatly improved the lighting and adjusted the colors and post-process. I also improved the prism effect as well. How would I create flying ships that leave a trail that is passing by in a far distance? Similar to the orange screenshot at the very beginning of this forum thread I showed. 

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