FMP - Final Weeks

General / 29 May 2020

This is the last post about my FMP and it talks about the last few weeks of it.

I wanted to add some period magazines and comic books to the newsstand, to add some interest to the ground part of the level and do a bit of story telling. I used original magazines from the 1950s (and oh my god, how hard it was to find covers without racist/sexist stuff on them). I edited them on Substance Painter to add some detailing, and a lot of them needed editing in Photoshop to take away excessive wear and tear (they're new in the scene).



These covers were taken from the following websites: Captain America  cover 1,  Captain America cover 2, Photoplay Magazine, Do It Yourself Magazine, Life Magazine cover 1, Life Magazine cover 2, Science and Mechanics, Hue Magazine, Vogue Magazine, The American Magazine, Harper's Bazaar Magazine, Better Living Magazine, Super Man, Batman, Marvel Tales, The Flash, Tales From The Crypt Terror, Outer Space, Donald Duck and Car Craft.

The newspaper cover used was this one. 

I also wanted to scatter newspapers on the ground, to create some city dirt but also to serve as an object you can pick up and read about the explosion of the Hindenburg (again, to add some storytelling to the scene. On one side, you have zeppelins on the sky and newspapers telling about the explosion of one, on the other you have music concerts and flyers). The image for the advertising was taken from here. Sophie made the pick up blueprint.

To make the newspaper look wet, I added a couple of layers of different newspapers pages on top of the main layer, made them a multiply layer, and blurred them. 


Using dynamic lighting meant we could not bake the emissive materials as lighting. This was a huge problem, because the scene is full of emissive materials, neon signs, store signs, lamps on the bridge, etc. To get around it, I made two shaders, one being a simple additive material, and the other being an additive billboard material (following this tutorial for the billboard).

The billboard material was used in the distance, and they were made out of images of neon signs I found online and then heavily edited so they were mainly black where they were not emissive.


Having these emissive billboard cards in the distance hugely helped with having enough noise and lights (that were actually not lights :) ). It allowed me to delete a lot of actual lights I had been using.


One thing that was really sticking out for me was the lights on the bridge, which didn't look connected with the environment. For that, I made a copy of the bridge and took it away from the scene. I then added point lights on all light bulbs locations, then deleted the light bulbs. Then I rendered that:


Fom that I made a 1024x32 texture from the lit strip, and applied that to the bridge as the simple additive material:




We had another feedback session with our tutors Teo Kuzmanova and Mitch Small, and they said the scene really needed some vehicles. We had not planned to make vehicles as they take a long time to be made right, and none of us are vehicle artists, but we finally decided to make some. Sophie made the train, and I made a car and a tram trying to not obsess too much about them not being perfect. I made a highpoly and baked the car, and also textured it, but decided to make the tram midpoly and used tiling textures to save time. The car was modelled after a Ford 1949 Coupe.






We decided to make some cable mesh splines to make the city look a bit more believable and to add some muted city noise to the scene. It also made the electric trams in the scene make sense and added some diagonals to the composition. We also made tracks for the trams using splines (Sophie made the spline blueprint and I modelled the tracks and positioned both tracks and cables).



Next we spent some time preparing LODs for the scene, but when set up for the buildings, it made the FPS drop (still unsure why!). So we deleted the LODs from the modular kit and kept them for other things like the cars and trams.

We also spent some time here optimising anything that needed to be optimised, checking which textures could be smaller or deleted, deleting old assets, deleting lights that didn't seem to be doing much, etc. The lowest my FPS got to was 50 FPS, but in most parts of the scene it is well higher than that (I wonder what it could have been if we were able to use baked lighting).


Next I made and applied some decals. Here are some of them (manhole cover is shiny because of the rain):


As well as normal decals, I used mesh decals to add dirt between meshes that intersected so they didn't look so "gamey".



The posters allowed me to add narrative, and also dream about concerts I wish I could have been to. The posters were taken from here and here.


I also added player collision boxes to keep the player in our main area. The biggest goal of this project was recreating the concept we were following, so we did not want people to venture too far from it.


Another thing we decided to add were the zeppelins from the original concept. I modelled them quite quickly and did not detail them much since they would be so far away. They were textured entirely with tiling textures too, to save time (and textures). Between the distance and the fog, you really can't tell.


In time: the HDRs we used for the scene were taken from HDRI Haven and No Emotions HDRs.


The last thing left for us to do was a video flythrough and a gameplay video of the scene. I reused this tutorial to remember how to render sequences in UE4. I captured the sequences and Sophie edited the videos. We used music from this website.


This was our final screenshot:


FMP - Week 17

General / 04 May 2020

This week we started by sorting the ground floor windows a little bit. Sophie added a switch for the Parallax material to choose if the user wants blinds or not (as we would not have blinds on the ground floor). I then added this material to all the ground floor, and decided some more buildings needed interiors as they were too close to the player for the simple parallax cube (we will probably not have time to make better parallax interiors, unfortunately! It is the final month and some other things feel more pressing, like populating the ground floor and getting more lights on the horizon line). I also made clocks for the middle building, the train tunnel and the tall building behind the main building.


Unfortunately since my computer is not able to build lighting, we had to opt for dynamic lighting instead. That means I'm finding it very hard to get nice AO in the scene. I played a little with the Post Process Ambient Occlusion and saw a small difference, but nothing like  I would have gotten with baked lighting. 


I decided to bake an AO map for the train tunnel, which was multiplied by the tiling texture's AO with a texture coordinate of 1.

This made the details of the mesh pop, and also act like cavity dirt.


It was time for some proper light bulbs on the bridge, which I have modelled and textured. At the moment they look a bit sad because we need to find a way of making the emissive materials seem to emit light without baking the lighting. I will be experimenting with that shortly. At the moment they have a material with a random emissive.


It took me a while to find the ad from the train bridge. I could not read it or figure out what they were about, as I did not know the brand advertised. Sophie recognised the pasta brand Buitoni, and this made my search easier, as googling "Buitoni New York" brought me a very similar ad, taken from this website.

 I have edited the original image in Substance Painter and made it a decal:


I made a material variation for the limestone with lines, and another one with bricks, to add more variation between buildings.





I also finally textured the bollards, the large street lights and the traffic lights.


And I made the theatre lettering. Duke Ellington and Miles Davis are artists I wish I could have seen, and the inspiration came from old theatre signs. The Geoffrey Holder Dancers was taken from a theatre sign from the Apollo theatre in which Duke Ellington also appeared. Hopefully some jazz fans out there will pick up on the Duke and Miles references :) 


Thursday last week we had an environment critique session between the students via Microsft Teams. Unfortunately not that many people turned up as it was only me, Sophie Pette, Gaia Friedman and Sam Wallsworth, but it was a quality session with lots of very useful critique from everyone. Gaia and Sam said the main building (the one with the statue - it was lacking contrast and depth, so I applied a darker version of the material under and above the windows to fake depth). They also suggested making the window frames thicker, adding some lights at some buildings to create a separation and more contrast between buildings and adding more material variations. I acted on all of this feedback, and it made a big difference on the scene. So thanks Gaia and Sam!

The changes are sutil but to me they made a difference, especially in the central building.


The next things I will be looking into are: making the impostor for the distant buildings, figuring out the light emission for the emissives, look into fog cards for the horizon line and/or adding more lights, ads, neon signs, etc, finish texturing the props that have not yet been textured, finishing the zeppelins and figuring out how to fill the ground level around the player. Sophie is finalising the volumetric clouds, so I still don't have them on my screen shots. I have seen them though, and they are looking great. They add a lot of depth to the sky, creating a better separation between the more distant buildings :)

FMP - Weeks 15 and 16

General / 24 April 2020

These past two weeks I spent most of the time making Neon signs, ads, store signs, theatre and hotel signs, etc. Although I feel I still have not finished with the neons and signs, they greatly add to the scene. Also Sophie made a puddle material for the road, and the water reflections really help bringing the scene to life. 

At the beginning of week 15, Sophie was not sure if she would crack the volumetric clouds (although I was positive she would :) ), so I made a place holder fake clouds dome to get the sky a bit more interesting. This is just a half sphere with an unlit material on it.

(above: the material was made more opaque for demonstration purposes)


I also played around with a post process material to make the scene a little grainy. I did not want to use the "grain" from the post process volume because it moves, and we already have enough anti aliasing problems as it is. I did not go very far with it, and we will return to it later (either me or Sophie, or both).


For the signs I made around 29 alpha maps with carefully chosen fonts from the websites 1001fonts and DaFont, 1001fonts being my favourite because you can combine categories to find what you would like (eg: retro, cursive, 1950s). I tried matching real signs and ads from the 20s to the 50s, but also changed them if I felt like it. I also picked the name Odeon for the big theatre, as there is a jazz and blues bar in my home town called Odeon and I am very fond of it.

Alpha maps for Substance Painter


I have used quite a lot of reference for this:


For the store front signs, I had the plan of making neon tubing in geometry in front of the title, and I have done so for the bakery. But then I noticed that most of them would be far away and the neon tube lost definition completely, making them illegible. I chose to not make the neon tubing for the other signs, but also found out that I could: a) reuse the same neon tubing everywhere in the distance, and; b) use very little geometry (the tubing is 4 sided and this is only noticeable when getting very close to it, which we will not allow the player to do).

(The theatre sign still needs the lettering for the attractions, it will be made soon.)



I used colour multipliers in our materials to change the colour of the signs in the distance and add some variation.

Basically all of our neon signs are one of these two (Bakery or Odeon Theater), since they are not distinguishable from afar. The crazy juxtaposition above looks pretty believable and similar to the concept, from the area where the player is. The store signs are all the same geometry with the same material (with a UV offset), and so are the rectangular ads. These are their UV (screenshots from Substance Painter):



Another thing I worked on was the "Bond" sign at the front of the concept. I was able to find the actual store that existed around the 50's, 60's and 70's in Times Square.


This is how it is looking like (in the concept the sign has lights around it, and the emissives are less strong than the ones in the distance. The BOND lettering is orangey rather than red):


This is what the scene is looking like at the moment:


Our next steps would be making a better map for the puddles (and/or playing more with the shader Sophie made), making a parallax material for the ground floor windows (the emissive is temporary), making impostors for the faraway cube buildings, making a trim for the end of the floors of the middle building, adding more neon signs and colourful lights to the distance, creating a painted wood material for the windows frames,  texturing the newsstand, lamp posts, street lights, the chairs and tables, further push the lighting, and maybe attempting to model the train and/or tram. I would also like to make some dirt decals, and model some rubbish to scatter around. Things that are on the list, but lower in urgency: creating a variation for the pavement material and making a stripey version of the limestone material for the front building. Critique is welcome as always, please let me know if something is not listed but you think would add to the scene :) 

FMP - Weeks 13 and 14

General / 15 April 2020

After losing the ability of working in computer labs at university, Sophie and I had to find a way of working on the same file from different countries, on our own computers. At uni we had been using PerForce, but from home it seemed a bit complicated and we opted for using GitHub. It took us a while to set it up and to get used to it, and we lost a lot of work initially.  This has set us back quite a bit, but we are now better acquainted with it.

I have been playing around with the great shaders that Sophie has made, and made small changes to some of them when I needed to. I made a splat map (and will probably do another one), with different masks in the red, green, blue and alpha channels, to be used with some of the shadersfunctionalities:

Splat map


Breakdown by channel


Here are some examples of materials:

Red Brick material

Limestone Material


This greatly helped not only to break the tiling but also to give the materials a little city grunge.


I have also modelled some more props. The city needed traffic lights and large lamp posts. These still need to be proper textured, as right now they have place holder tiling materials applied to them:




Next I wanted to get some road lines, arrows and crossings to the road. I made two sets of textures for this, and applied them as a mesh decal on the roads.






Next I changed the road material a little bit. Up until now it had a simple material with 1 texture set on it:


I then used the splat map function to add another set of textures to it, and I also added a macro roughness texture:

Although all of this will change again once we get our puddles in :)


Another material I made was a very quick one of blinds for the windows. I tried to not spend that much time with this, because they will be high up and details would be lost anyway:


Sophie used this to make a parallax material with blinds that open and close, inspired by the parallax in the latest Spider Man game.


For the buildings that are the closest to the player, I have made some very quick interior pieces. Our idea is that the glass will be dirty and steamy, and later with rain on it, so the player would not be able to see the inside of buildings in detail.

Here are some examples (please note the glass shaders are still under construction):


  

  


I tried baking the lighting several times, but I don't believe my computer is good enough to do it. It keeps crashing. It was successful only once, in preview, and with lightmap resolutions that were just too low. So it was completely full of artifacts.


For this reason we have decided to change to dynamic lighting, which I don't know much about. My tutor Kat recommended this Twitter thread and this GDC video to watch. I am also watching videos by 51Daedalus and his Lighting Academy.  I have set up for dynamic lighting and started working on the lighting.

There is still a long way to go but this is how the scene is looking like at the moment:

All ground floor emissives on windows are temporary, as a parallax shader will be made for them in the future.


I also finally changed the sky, and set up a material for the skysphere following this tutorial. However I changed it slightly, as only having a multiplied colour (tint) did not give me the effect I wanted. So I added a blend overlay with an option for colour too.


Also Sophie made our Atlas sculpture since she enjoys making characters :)

FMP - Week 11 and 12

General / 27 March 2020

As the Corona virus situation escalated, I decided to stay at home one week before the lock down. My partner has asthma and I was very anxious about him getting ill. At home my set up was far from ideal. My graphics card was broken and I simply could not use Unreal Engine. My laptop could run it very slowly (it took a full hour to compile shaders alone). I did what I could during the past two weeks. There was a lot of disruption. I was also talking to work about my start date, trying to start working before a full lock down, but alas I was too late. Since I will not start work anytime soon, I took the money I was saving to put down a deposit on a car, plus some my partner kindly offered me, and bought a new graphics card yesterday. I am not very computer savvy to say the least, so I wasted a good half day trying to sort my graphics card (I wish I had asked Craig, our course's IT guy, for help sooner. His advice helped me sort it in a fraction of the time). Now my computer feels much more capable of dealing with my FMP, but I already spent 2 weeks working in the previous condition, and work became very slow.


I modelled a few props to fill the environment. I started out with bollards:

I thought it would be nice to keep them in the Art Deco style, but I did not particularly like any I could find, so I made my own (inspired by the one on the right of the moodboard).

They are not yet textured, having a place holder tiling texture on at the moment. I certainly want to add some grime to the corners of the mesh, and some general grime.


Next I made a bin, and I found a real life one I was happy with:



Modelling after my previously modelled underpass, I fashioned a newsstand. This saved time with modelling and texturing, and made things match.

I am using the same meshes but applying different magazine covers to them.


I still had to model the curved bridge at the top of the concept:

So as to not waste more time, I used the same mesh as the train bridge. I gave it a bit more geometry and then used the FFD modifier to curve it.


Another thing I thought could give life to the scene was having theatre and hotel signs. In the 50's, time in which Dieselpunk is inspired, neon signs were extremely popular, and I thought these signs would add to the feeling of the city being alive.


For the theatre sign I made a base material. I am still deciding if I will bring that into Substance Painter and texture it more uniquely or if I will use the tiling texture on UE4 and add the text as planes with transparency. This will be an emissive material.


Another material I made for the scene is brass, as lots of Art Deco details are made from brass.



I started a trim sheet with lights for the theatre and some other bits and bobs, but it is not ready yet.


The buildings still don't have materials because Sophie is working on the shaders. She also had a busy week with her own private problems related to the current situation so I don't expect to have the shaders soon. Also, on our last day in labs we did not know if we would have access to Houdini out of uni, so I hurriedly turned all the buildings into blueprints. I forgot I needed to change something whilst turning them into blueprints and there are lots of things to fix with the modular kit instances that I do not quite remember how to, so I need to have a Discord meeting with Sophie at some point when she is settled back home in order to sort it. I'm sure the scene will transform quite a bit once the correct materials are assigned. At the moment I am using my old master material for the props and pavement, which does not contain a lot of the features we want for the buildings. I will probably start the lighting this week. This is what the scene looks like now:


I did the most I could these past 2 weeks, but I appreciate it is not a lot. Hopefully I will be able to speed up again now that I have a functioning graphics card. Working from home has definitely been an adjustment, as it is easier to get distracted doing other stuff (went to the kitchen to make coffee and ended up cleaning everything, for instance). I have been trying to keep a routine, waking up at the same time I did to go to uni, and sticking to a 9 to 5 schedule with a 1h lunch break. I have been improving at not getting distracted but I am still adjusting.


FMP - Weeks 8, 9 and 10

General / 13 March 2020

When I last spoke about the underpass, I had modelled it but it still did not have any textures.  This is what it looks like in the engine at the moment (it is still missing a glass material).


I will certainly use some decals later to make it look less repetitive, dirtier, and to add some rusted metal streaks.

I have decided to keep most parts of it mid poly and to use a tiling material with vertex painting for variation. These are the 2 variations of the painted metal material I made for it:



I made an extra normal and AO maps for the roof texture:


For the detailed decorations, I decided to bake the details into a normal map. They have a separate material ID with the tiling material + baked normal and AO:


While I was still working on the underpass, the building generator was finalised! I promptly jumped into making the buildings for the scene as I was excited to see it populated. Sophie gave me instructions on how to use the tool and I spent a few days placing the buildings and deciding between the modular pieces. At this point I made the scene brighter again, because I needed to be able to see how it would look like. I will be starting on the lighting on week 13. Here are some of the buildings at the moment:


After adding the buildings we realised our camera placement for the main shot was too far back. We moved the camera and some of the buildings to make the scene tighter. I also changed the elevated train track at this point to resemble the concept more closely.


Now that I had the buildings and decided their exact placing, I could start on the pavement. I decided to make it mainly modular, except for the areas that were more uniquely shaped. I made a render of the scene from the top and realised the layout we had chosen was a bit strange and the roads that would result from it did not make sense. We were lacking a flow of traffic. This is what I had at first:


So Sophie made a paint over of how the road could be:

Now we had decided the main road would be diagonal, and the other roads were either joining it or coming out of it. It made more sense, but it meant we would have to change the concept a little bit. It also meant I had to change the elevated train tracks again, otherwise they would have pillars in the middle of the road, and I slightly changed some buildings.

I also planned the non modular pieces to be the following:


One of the challenges with this is that we had chosen to use large pavement slabs. That meant that if we tried to make the pavement with splines, the texture would deform and look strange. This could have worked if we were using small pavement slabs as deformation would not be as obvious, but with large slabs it would definitely look strange. I did some research on how pavement slabs are dealt with in corners  in real life.

I observed that usually the pattern is simply broken where needed, on continued regardless of the curve. If we only had 90 degrees corners, I could just continue the pattern without worries as it would match both ends to the modular straight pavement. However, we have many 45 degree corners and a couple of 24 degrees corners, so we needed to break the pattern where need. I did not want it to look accidental, or badly unwrapped, so I decided to add a trim to the interruption. As we chose the Art Deco style for our main style, I thought brass trims would suit it quite well and break a little bit of the grey concrete look. This also facilitated some other transitions. This was the inspiration for it:


I spent quite a long time unwrapping and making sure all the pieces met properly. This is what they look like:


 

 


I have also started making street lamps, again inspired by the Art Deco style.


It is still not completed but this is what I have at the moment:


This is what the scene is currently looking like:


  

FMP - Week 6 and 7

General / 27 February 2020

These past weeks I have spent a considerable amount of time fixing some things with the modular kit. Since both Sophie and I are learning as we go, some things are hard to predict, hence having to fix them often. I had quite a few issues with the vertex normals, and I added some more loops for vertex painting to the pieces... Only to find out we will not be able to use vertex painting with the building generator. According to Sophie, the technical artist, this is the reason why:

"Instanced Meshes each have their own transformation information (scale, rotation, location), but share information like materials, vertex paint data, etc. We could vertex paint them in 3Ds Max, but then they would share the vertex paint data as well"

We both did not realise this before, and this unfortunately wasted a lot of time and removal of the extra loops will happen at a later time. Instead of vertex painting, we will use splat maps and macro textures to create variaty, as well as several different decals.


I have also started making the first level of LOD for the pieces, and Sophie and I are still deciding how to make the next level of LODs.


After some discussion on how closely are we following the original concept, we have decided that the neoclassical building right at the front of the concept required its own set of modular pieces (that can be repeated elsewhere too).



I was able to locate the real building used for this concept and got better reference for it:



To facilitate our lives and move on, we changed the rounded window slightly. This was a lengthy discussion as we did not want to use a texture map with normals for the modular pieces as the buildings will already be heavy on the FPS. For this reason (and the fact we are using world positioned textures) we decided against having the brick pattern change shape around the windows, and made the frame chunkier and extruded.




In order to fill the ground with information (as we are not modelling the people and cars in the scene), I have been looking for props that could take space. This research took a bit of time. One of the ideas was to make a newsstand, and I accidently stumbled upon this beautiful subway entrance:


I fell in love with it and since we already have elevated tracks, I thought this could simply be an underpass. Modelling, unwrapping and fixing vertex normals, as well as deciding to bake some details in, took a few days. I will be also using trim sheets for this, and tiling textures for the main body.






  


This was divided into 6 different meshes to facilitate the light baking, using several smaller maps instead of having to use a really big unique one.


I made the scene darker but I still have not started the proper lighting of it. I added some emissive obloids to the train tracks to get a feel for them, but these will certainly be altered in the future. After we include the actual buildings to the scene and decided which windows are lit, I will start actually making the lighting for it.



  

FMP - Week 4 and 5

General / 07 February 2020

I spent a couple of days trying to figure out the elevated train tracks in the scene. I made half the bridge so I can just mirror it and propagate it, to save on the tri count. For this bridge I read a technical document on steel structures, which gave me the right key words to find more technical drawings of how steel bits are joined to each other.

Technical drawings reference


I also used pictures of the elevated train tracks in Chicago and the old New York ones for real life reference.

Chicago and New York elevated train tracks


Since the bridge is elevated and away from the camera, I decided not to chamfer it. The bolts will be baked into the texture of the joinery, while the rest of the bridge will be textured with a tiling texture (we will use macro noise and decals to make it less repetitive).

Train tracks in UE4

Train track parts in 3Ds Max

Train track in 3Ds Max

Train track in 3Ds Max


The other element modelled this week was the skybridge. I was able to find pictures of the original skybridge in the concept. Modelling it did not take long as I divided it into modular pieces and just repeated the same geometry across. Again, as they are really far away from the viewer, I did not chamfer the edges and they will be textured with tiling textures.

Skybridge references

Skybridge in UE4

Skybridge in 3Ds Max
  

The last thing I modelled was a tunnel and gate for the train to enter the building. It is really hard to see what is going on with that in the original concept, so I found an Art Deco archway to base my gate on.


Archway reference


I simplified it a bit so it is readable from afar, where the player will be. I kept the stripey details, but made them chunkier.

Archway in UE4


Archway in 3Ds Max


During these past two weeks, I also made some of the tiling materials for the walls. These were made completely with Substance Designer. To choose which materials I would make, I got many pictures of older New York buildings, and had a stroll on Google Street view. I noticed most of the older buildings facades were made of limestone, but also red brick and cream brick. Our main building (the one with the Atlas on top) has a limestone facade on the ground floor, and cream bricks on the rest. I kept the materials pretty clean so they will not be very obviously tiling, and intend on adding variation with decals.

Limestone references

Buildings with limestone facades


I already made two versions of limestone in order to vertex paint it, and a brick mask that will be used on top of the original material

Limestone material 1

Limestone material 2

Limestone material with brick normals, AO and height


Cream bricks reference

Cream bricks material


Red brick references

 Red brick material


One thing I noticed on the reference images is that New York has a very boring and ugly pavement, made of very large concrete slabs. But we are not necessarily making New York, just getting inspired by it. So we decided it would be nice to add some jazz to it. We are going to have part of the pavement being plain slabs, and a part of it having a subtle Art Deco pattern.

Pavement references
  

Plain Pavement Material

Art Deco pavement material


Pavement in UE4


The building generator Sophie is making is getting really nice! I cannot wait to use it and fill the scene with buildings, but it still not ready. So the scene still looks like an early blockout. This is how it is at at the moment:


Final Major Project - Week 2 and 3

Work In Progress / 27 January 2020

I'm writing the post for week 2 and 3 together because we spent some time this week fixing our portfolios, writing CVS and cover letters, applying for jobs and having an interview. The project is a little late but I think we can recover.

I finished modelling the base modular kit for the buildings. This is sufficient for Sophie to continue testing the building generator she is creating. This kit is still missing balcony pieces and maybe a roof variation piece (still have not decided). This is what the kit is looking like right now:

Modular kit


Modular kit detail 1


Modular kit detail 2


We decided to have 90° and 45° angles for the corners of the buildings, as there is probably not going to be enough time for Sophie to work out another way of doing it (she has quite a lot on her list). Modelling the 45° angles was very tricky, especially for more complicated pieces like the roof separation. It may seem like using symmetry instantly solves all problems, but it does not. To know where to place the symmetry mirror, and make sure the pivot is in the right place (so the generator can place it correctly and aligned with other pieces), I had to use a whole bunch of maths I had not touched since middle school (and I am a mature student, so that was something like 13 years ago). Fortunately, there is a triangle calculator that was very helpful, suggested by Sophie. I will not bore you with the details of how the 45° pieces came to be, but they took a long time to get sorted.

On top of that, we also had to change the pivot points of all the pieces once, and rename all of them a couple of times, but I think now we're on track.

Every little variation created to, well, add variation to the scene, was a new can of worms to solve. This has also delayed the creating of the kit quite a bit. I am constantly bringing the pieces into Unreal Engine to test them, and that is when I catch most problems. For instance, the Ground Floor pieces are taller than the mid building pieces. So corner pieces and pillars had to be made especially for the ground floor. One of the ground floor varieties include a "skirting board" (not really, it's more of a concrete detailing, anyway). This meant I had to now make pillars and corner pieces for that variation (a plain 90° corner piece, a decorated 90° corner piece, a plain 45° corner piece, a decorated 45° corner piece, a plain pillar, a decorated pillar, and a plain wall. For this reason we will probably not add any more variation to the geometry, and try to differentiate the buildings with materials, pillar placing, and decorated pieces.


Pieces and corners that were too short for the ground floor


Pieces without skirting not matching


I got a bit bored from modelling and decided to start with the materials for the scene. The first one I chose was asphalt. Here are my references (however I also looked out the window at the road by the university building):

Asphalt reference


We decided to make 3 asphalt variations, and later on we will use a splat map to distribute it around the floor plane. This shader might become more complicated later on, as we intend on adding puddles of water to it. I made the materials quite pristine, without cracks, as to not tile too much. I will add cracks as decals later on. We will also have a macro roughness on top of the smaller tiling roughness, to add more roughness variation.  I used a tutorial as a base for the material, but I have changed it quite a bit, eliminating the cracks and stains from the original to avoid tiling issues.


Graph with all 3 variations


Variation 1

Variation 2

Variation 3


On week 3 I also spent a long time researching existing buildings in New York and the material on the facades. I went into Google Street view for screenshots, and also read many articles about famous New York buildings. After that I plan on making the following materials for building facades: red brick, cream brick, plain limestone, limestone bricks, limestone squares and limestone stripes (the plain limestone will be the base for all other limestone materials, how these are going to be constructed is still uncertain as we have a few options to consider).


Final Major Project - Week 1

General / 13 January 2020

Week one started with the hand in of the previous project, plus a couple os days preparing CV, portfolio and applying to some jobs, so it was not particularly productive towards the FMP. We ended up only working 2.5 days on it. This is the chosen concept art we'll base the project on, made by Eddie Mendoza:



I am making my FMP with technical artist Sophie Pette, and because it is a group project we started by organising a Trello board with a break down of tasks so we know we are on the same page.


Next we gathered references. We can see the concept was heavily inspired by New Work buildings so we gathered both current photos of buildings and 1950's images of the city:



  


We also looked into the Chicago train tracks for inspiration and reference:



We have also set up PerForce so we can both work on the project at the same time.


I have started the blockout but it is not ready yet. I needed a break from it and went to do some of the modular pieces.


We are not actually modelling the cars, however I am using them for reference on the scale of the city. It is particularly challenging to understand the scale without windows, doors, people, etc. So I will use some of the modular pieces I am making to keep blocking out.


One of the challenges we know we will bump into is the fact that the original concept looks like a busy city, with all its people and vehicles. We don't have a character or vehicle artist, nor do we have time to model those things, so the city will be empty. We decided to embrace that and we are working on a narrative that will explain why the city doesn't have anyone in it. More details to come later.