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 :)