Week 4 and 5

General / 07 février 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 1

General / 13 janvier 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.

Garage - Week 5

General / 06 janvier 2020

In week 5 I finished some small props and textured the oil drum and tires, as well as finishing baking and adding texture to the tool box. This was done in Substance Painter and Photoshop for the labels. I tried to loosely recreate some vintage labels I found online with free fonts downloaded from DaFont and 1001Fonts.

I used some posters and metal signs found on the internet to give the place a little life. All of them were brought into Substance Painter where they were altered to give them ageing marks, and roughness and metal information. 

The poster about safe winter driving was taken from this website, and the Goodyear metal sign was taken from this website.

The Goodyear sign in this picture was taken from this website. The pin up was taken from this website

To give the place some atmosphere, I have made god rays with the same technique used in the Captain's Cabin, but I made a new texture for it with animated "smoke" and particles. On top of that I added some particle effects that were made mashing together these 2 tutorials:



The scene was still lacking the sci fi element the brief demanded. I made a sci fi wheel with glowing emissives and cables and placed them on the workbench. For the glowing emissive and light, I made a blueprint and followed and altered the following tutorials:




This is what my own light function and pulsing emissive material look like:

Light function

Pulsing emissive material

The sci fi wheels where based on this concept by Jomar Machado (but I changed it a bit):

This is the final outcome:

For the cables I used splines utilising the same method I did for the fairy lights on my previous project, and just changed the colour within Unreal Engine by multiplying a colour by the albedo. The cables helped to fill the scene and make the sci fi wheels look more sci fi.

I have also added some decals to make the scene dirtier:

The stain decals were made in Substance Painter with a range of the software's own brushes and alphas. The tire marks were initially made in 3Ds Max with the geometry I used to make the highpoly tires. I copied it over many times, then used the bend  modifier to make it less straight. I then proceeded to bake maps within 3Ds Max, and used them in Substance Painter to finalise the decal.

I also wanted to make a video to present my environment, and followed this great tutorial in order to do so:


I made the video into a gif using EZGif.com 

The final main render:

  And gifs of the process:


Garage - Week 3

General / 03 décembre 2019

Modelling and baking the hero asset took 4 days as it was much more complicated than I expected. It is finally done and I am currently texturing it.

Since this project doesn't have a texture budget, I decided to bake most props from highpoly models to showcase my baking abilities. Unfortunately this greatly increased my modelling and texturing time, which means I still do not have many props done. Also garages are messy and require a lot of meshes to look full, especially because this particular one has to be big to accommodate a Cadillac (a car which is 5m long!). These are some of the props I have been working on:

I took a break from modelling to make some materials. I started with the corrugated metal for the ceiling:

(Reference )

The next one was a plastered but not finished wall:


Lastly I made some raw wood for the beams:


Today I started working a little bit on the lighting for the scene. This is the reference I could gather for it:

At the moment it looks like this (but it is not finished by any means):

I would like to make the shadows on the opposite wall to look softer and less defined. This is still very much under construction. Bringing the light angle on the directional light up smooths the outside of the shadow, but not the individual "blades". I'll be experimenting with that this week.

Conservatory - Week 3, Day 5

General / 08 novembre 2019

Today I put together my terracotta trim sheet and applied it to my plant pots.


I just took the materials I had made the day before and blended them using masks:


In Unreal Engine I set a blueprint for the UV offset to be random within the 4 terracotta version when the plant pot is moved. I also added a scalar parameter multiplied by the albedo to have a variation on how dark the material is, so I could have more variety even though I only have 4 versions of the material. The UV Offset variable is an array with the numbers 0, 0.25, 0.5 and 0.75 (locations on the UV map where each material starts). It goes through a "Get copy" node with the "Random Integer in Range" having a minimum of 0 and maximum of 3 index (the 4 variables from the UV Offset array). This blueprint was partly a continuation of the one I made for the book cover colour variation in the previous project, plus some help from my colleague and tech artist Sophie Pette.


I also finished making the duvet. I used Marvelous Designer to create the high poly mesh (following this tutorial):

I then brought it into Zbrush and used ZRemesher to get a more sensible topology I could work on. I further cleaned the topology in 3Ds Max, bringing  and brought it into Marmoset to bake it. This is how it looks like in Engine:

The material on the duvet is a tiling fabric, and the Baked map is blended with the tiling normal with different UV coordinates:

Conservatory - Week 2, Day 2 - Materials

General / 29 octobre 2019

I spent the rest of the week and yesterday still modelling and finishing my modular kit.

Today I made some materials, the first being a terracotta floor tile:

For this material I wanted to experiment with the nodes Flood Fill, Flood Fill to Random and Flood Fill Mapper. I could have made the herringbone pattern by using shapes and combining them but the Weave Generator already had the pattern ready. What it did not have, however, was the ability to give the "tiles" luminance variation and more random masks (it has masks for horizontal and vertical tiles. By using the Flood Fill nodes, I was able to add height and colour variation.

With the masks from the Weave Generator I was able to add some directional "damage" that terracotta tiles often have.

I also made a brick material today:

Here is some of the reference for it the materials:

The room is currently looking like this. The HDR being used at the moment is from HDRI Haven. It might change later.

I currently have the tiles on the floor set to World Position but I might change that in order to vertex paint in a less costly way. For now I just wanted to see what the texture looked like.

Tomorrow I will start modelling plants, which should populate the room a bit more and make it look less empty. I have other things needing modelling like a duvet, books, and other bits and bobs.

Captain's Cabin - Week 3

General / 17 octobre 2019

I decided to add some water to my level as the HDR water didn't look very good. The water I made was created with the help of my colleague Sophie Pette, a.k.a. the Water Master.

I have also decided to give the windows some dirt and grime, and some undulation as glass in the 18th/19th century was not very plane. I follow this tutorial to make a master glass material. I added many other things to it:

I wanted the windows to look more realistic so I modelled the groove where the glass planes would fit in the frame. I gave the window glass some depth and gave it a green/grey material to imitate glass thickness from the side.

I made wood variations for vertex painting and added a little more geometry on the floor. I vertex painted the parts of the floor that would be stepped on more often. The first picture is before vertex painting:

After vertex painting:

I didn't want to bake the chair and bookcase but I wanted pretty  decorations on them. I decided to make decals in order to apply them. I used some height maps I found online to make decorations, then brought them into substance painter and added details to it such as a wood material, wear marks and roughness variation. These are the originals:

These were from this website.

I am very pleased with how they look on the furniture:

The rug texture was taken from Wikipedia. It is a historical Persian rug.

Captain's Cabin - week 2

General / 11 octobre 2019

During week 2 I finished modelling and started making materials and texturing. I spent a while following this wood material tutorial by Jaako Saari, and adding some of my own touches to it.



I also made several other materials, some to be used as they are and others to import into Substance Painter to make textures. These included a metal base (to be multiplied with colours to make other metals):


A leather material:




A book pages material:


A chain material:

And a fabric material. For this one I used an image of a baroque pattern for time saving:



(This is the image I used, I did not make this. It was taken from the website Free Design File).

I also followed a tutorial by Mike Pickton (I don't think it is available online)  to make a material and blue print in Unreal Engine to randomise the colour of the books in the scene when I moved them. I textured the book in grey scale to add a colour overlay. I also added a mask so it would not affect the golden filigree:




The scene is currently looking like this:






The lighting is the next thing I will tackle (as well as finishing the texture for the globe). At the moment the light is not baked. I don't have any shadows yet so things appear to be disconnected.

To do list for week 3:

- Parallax occlusion for the floor planks

- Take a picture of a real rug and feather for texturing

- Trim Sheet

- Globe textures

- Lighting

- Letter texture (I will make it by hand with a calligraphy pen)

Stretch goals:

- Making a simple water texture and mountains in the horizon 

Captain's cabin - Week 1

General / 04 octobre 2019

I wanted to finish modelling by the end of the first week but unfortunately I still have some models to finish. I made a couple of textures too. Here is how things are looking like right now:

On Monday I will start making a wood material and hopefully finish modelling everything. I will spend week 2 probably texturing and making materials.

Starting 3rd year

General / 01 octobre 2019

I am going to be doing only environment briefs for the professional brief part of the year. I decided to start with the pirate ship, as it looks like a contained, small environment. I want to focus on small and well made environments for the first half of the year. While I looked for reference, I entertained the idea of making a pirate's tavern inside a ship; however that would mean I would have to spend time concepting. As the project is only 2,5 weeks long, I decided against it and went with the more common Captain's Cabin. For that I was able to find a concept I like and am basing my environment on (loosely), the concept is by Sergio Fernandez. It is a stylised concept but I wanted to make a realistic version of it:

Here is my PureRef:

I tend to start off with more general references, and as I get more into the details of the scene I look for more specific and detailed reference. I find it important for my process to start modelling the overall environment as soon as possible, because it makes me feel like things are getting done.

I like creating environments around a character's story, to add little pieces of narrative to it. The character for this room is a woman who left her fiancee, not because she did not love him, but because the sea was calling her. She misses him and fights feelings of guilt for leaving him, but she knew she needed a life of adventure and not that of a married woman. I intend on having and unsent letter on the desk addressing her ex-fiancee, maybe a locket with their names and a heart on it. As a counter balance, a pistol and gold coins will also populate the desk.

Right now most of my environment is a blockout, but the walls, windows, pillars, beams, ceiling and floors are almost done:

I have not started working on the lighting properly yet. I found an HDR that might change later, from the website HDRI Haven, and positioned the directional light to align with the sun. Other than changing the directional light's temperature, I have done nothing else at this point. Right now I just wanted to see if the room looked about the right size and if the light coming from the windows looked like it could work. Next I might start on a tiling wood material. Most things in this environment are made of wood and that will give me a jump start on mood, colours, contrast and lighting.