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.

Garage - Week 5

General / 06 January 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 

The final main render:

  And gifs of the process:


Garage - Week 4

Work In Progress / 10 December 2019

I made more materials for the garage, starting with metal:

Metal material

Next I made cast iron:

Cast Iron material 


And for the floor, I made 2 variations of concrete (to vertex paint), damaged and undamaged:

Damaged Concrete material

Undamaged Concrete Material


For the formative hand in last week, since I was very late with everything, I just applied a world aligned material to most things that had not been textured yet. This week I will be baking and texturing any remaining props.

The scene was still looking very empty (it was also missing a car, but that was a problem for later). I asked my peers for advice and my colleague Ashley Brocklebank, who is a concept artist, was extremely helpful. He suggested getting some mid size props to fill the space, which resulted in modelling oil drums and tires, then scattering them around the scene. They really helped to fill the environment:

Environment as it was at the time of formative the hand in

I finally finished texturing the hero prop, which felt like a brief of its own. I used this prop to learn more about texturing in Substance Painter. I had not used smart masks before, and had a shallow understanding of generators and using the baked masks in fill layers to get different effects. For this prop I used a little bit of everything and made sure to avoid destructive workflows as much as possible. To match it to the original piece, I had to make all logos and written and drawn bits on Photoshop (except for the bottom one in the body, I was able to find a great image of it online which only needed some warping to work. I also changed it in Substance Painter by adding grime and dust). The prop is missing some buttons and wheels, because I will use the same meshes across it to save on texture space.

Final texture in Substance Painter

Final texture in Substance Painter

Final texture in Substance Painter

Final texture in Substance Painter

Final texture in Substance Painter

This is what it looks like in Unreal Engine for now. I definitely need to improve the lighting to show it off better:

The prop in Unreal Engine

The prop in Unreal Engine

The prop in Unreal Engine

This week I finally sort of finished the car, enough to throw a blanked on top of it. The base cloth was made in Marvelous Designer, then brought into Zbrush to add some more detailing, like random smaller creases. For this I used the free Poliigon fabric brushes, which saved me a lot of time. I then baked the fabric with Marmoset and brought it into the scene. It still needs to be properly textured, and is currently on the list with all the other things that need texturing.

Fabric in Marvelous Designer

Fabric in Marvelous Designer

Fabric in Zbrush

Fabric in Zbrush

For now, this is how the fabric looks like in Unreal Engine (it is still awaiting textures other than the normal map):

Unfinished fabric in Unreal Engine

Unfinished fabric in Unreal Engine

Unfinished fabric in Unreal Engine

Garage - Week 3

General / 03 December 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.

1950's Garage - Week 1

Work In Progress / 25 November 2019

This week I started the last 3 weeks project before FMP. The brief is 1950's Americana, and I decided to make a garage with a Cadillac inside.

This is my initial moodboard:

This week I have been modelling the building and started modelling the props. Today I had a try at modelling the car which is extremely challenging for me, as the car I chose is fairly complex and strip modelling is definitely not my forte. If it turns out I can't make the car well enough, I plan to have a fabric on top of it, as a car that is being worked on in the garage.

To make it look like a 1950's garage, I want to have some period props such as a fridge, posters with 1950's advertising and this really cool engine tester:

For the mood, I want to play with lighting coming through blinds at the end of the day. I want the scene to be a little moody, so I am also intending on adding a lamp on the workshop table.

As I'm not a vehicle artist and having such short time for this project, I'm planning on making a rough Cadillac shape and then cover it with a canvas fabric, like a car that is being worked on. I'm aware I probably won't be able to finish the car in a good standard. I think the canvas fabric will also add narrative; working on this car is a half abandoned project and the garage is not frequently used. I want to make a Cadillac 1959 Eldorado Biarritz. This is my reference:

I was lucky to find orthographic views for it, and a 3D model with wireframe. I also asked my colleague and vehicle artist Max Ramsey for advice on how to approach it.

By the end of the first week I still don't have much on my scene. The car is only half started because I decided to prioritise other props I know I can deliver to a higher standard. The car will be more of a stretch goal. This is what I have at the moment:

Conservatory - Wrapping up

Making Of / 18 November 2019

I finished the conservatory last Friday with some new additions.

I wanted to make the place cosier, so I added a cushion on the chair which is actually just the same as the pillow but with a different colour multiplied into the albedo, and I made a rug too. 

Nothing new to the pipeline here, I just made it similarly to the duvet using Marvelous Designer. I also made a tiling material for it and used a baked normal with Angle Corrected Blended Normals in UE4:

I finally got to make my ivy which I thought I would have no time for and I'm really pleased I could. I made ivy branches in a way that could be used to make a plant in a plant pot, but also used outside as a whole plant climbing and coming down the roof.

The ivy branch was made using the classic 3Ds Max approach, out of a spline. I then used the Animation / Position Controller / Path Constraint to attach the leaves into the same spline, speeding up the process of placing, rotating and scaling them. This was taught to me by my supervisor at my placement year, Max.

Here's some fun gifs showing how the environment progressed:


Some disclaimers:

The images from the posters were not made originally by me, although they have been edited in Substance Painter. These two images came from the NASA website:

This image was taken from this website and turned into a blueprint by me on Photoshop, then further edited in Substance Painter:

  For the books I also used some images from other sources. This image was from this website.

And this one was from this website.

This Stephen Hawking book cover was taken from Amazon.

Another disclaimer: All light maps and collisions were made by me. I did not use any automated Unreal Engine procedure for this.

Conservatory - Week 4, Day 1

Work In Progress / 11 November 2019

I started this week by making fairy lights for the scene. I wanted to make the scene warmer and cosier and thought fairy lights would do the trick :) This is the reference for them:

For the cable I made a simple mesh that uses a small normal map for the twisting, and used a spline to add it to the scene. The mesh itself is only 2cm in height and has 72 tris. I followed this tutorial to make the spline mesh. This is what the blue print looks like:

And these are the fairy lights in the scene:

For the fairy lights glass I followed this tutorial that my friend Josiah suggested. The inside is made of 2 planes with a masked emissive texture.

I also made a couple of materials and textures today. The first one was a cardboard material:

This is the reference I used:

I used this cardboard to texture this box, and made the sides different because of the way I placed them in the scene. Since the viewer will never see the boxes from more than 2 sides, I could use the same prop from different angles in order to create the impression that I have more than 1 prop:

The second material was Soil:

  This is what the scene is currently looking like:


There are some light artifacts that disappear once I bake the lighting in production rather than preview, but since I have been adding new items I have not built the light in production for a little while.

Conservatory - Week 3, Day 5

General / 08 November 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 3, Day 4

Work In Progress / 07 November 2019

This week I have been working on some extra materials and meshes. Following my new blockout, I made a chest of drawers and a cabinet with shelves. This was my reference, I couldn't find anything exactly like I wanted for the cabinet but I used these measurements as a base:

The first material I made this week was wood, which I decided would be pine.

This is my reference:

And this is my material in its varnished form and painted form, plus a variation for vertex painting.

I used the painted wood material on the cabinet and chest of drawers, and vertex painted between them. I am planing on making some edge decals for them too, to have more controlled wear and tear. I have not tried edge decals yet so that will be something new to learn with this project:

Last week everything was too saturated and red and I was not liking it. That lead to the decision of making some of the walls white plaster instead of brick. I still kept half of the back wall as brick. Talking to my peers it was pointed out that the brick wall was distracting the eye from some nice details like the garden chair, providing a background that was too noisy. I still wanted some interest on the wall, so I made a textured plaster based on this reference:

I made the decision of keeping this material very simple, as I did not intend on making a variation of it for vertex painting and I did not want to have tiling problems. I might add some humidity decals to it later on.

Another material I made was a simple fabric material in a neutral colour so I could play around with colour multipliers within Unreal Engine, to better assess which colour would look better. I also kept this one very simple, as I intend on using it as a tiling material on the duvet, pillow and mattress sheets, but I also want to use a baked normal on these assets.

The final materials I made this week were terracotta variations. I want to make a trim sheet of terracottas and have my plant pots changing between them randomly when placed in the scene. This is my reference:

And these are the materials:

The last subject for now was lighting. I really needed to bake it to see how the environment could look like. I want an overcast day, perfect to stay home reading a book and drinking some hot beverage. For this reason I am not using a Directional Light, and instead I am relying on my Skylight as the main light source of my scene. The HDR used on the sky and on the Skylight is this one from HDRI Haven. Another issue I encountered was having seams in the light bake where my modular pieces met. To solve this I changed the Lightmass settings a little bit:

I know lots of people associate overcast days with sad days, but I wanted to make it a little magical. I wanted to test and see how fairy lights would look like in the scene, baking the light from the emissive texture. I just scattered some spheres around for testing, and I think I will go ahead with the fairy lights but I am still to model them. This is what the scene looks like today:

The light is still baked on preview as I am adding more things to the scene. I tested baking it on production to see if the artefacts in the bake would disappear and they have :) but forgot to take screenshots :( The duvet on the bed is still under construction, I will post updates about it soon.

Conservatory - Week 2, Day 5

Work In Progress / 03 November 2019

Yesterday I spent quite a lot of time making an ivy leaf material with  some shape and colour variations. 

I made the shape of the ivy by combining shape nodes and passing it through slope blur, then using Histogram Scan to get crisp edges. 

I then used lines and bevel, then mirror and warp nodes to create a wavy effect that was blended on the leaf shape. I also used cells to add small bumps to the leaf.

I used bevelled  cells again to get the big shapes for the leaf.

I used my own photos as reference:

The fern leaf material needed some tweaking as it looked too clean. I used the smooth curvature node (with some level passes) to make parts of the leaf older and yellow, and added some yellow spots (I have this plant at home and it often gets these spots if not watered enough).

I also made the fern plant and the Chinese evergreen plants with the leaf material from the day before. Here is how the look like in Engine:

Today I decided  to go back to my floor tiles material as I did not think the colours reflected my reference pictures. I also made it a little more distressed looking by using a mixture of sharp and soft noises, using Fill to Random as a mask to distribute them and warping them with Fill to Texture.

I also applied parallax occlusion on them, but kept it sutil. I used Unreal Engine's documentation as a guide to implement the parallax into my master material, that now has a POM Switch.

Here is a comparison of what it looked like before and after the tweaking:

I also felt like the room didn't look cosy enough, as there was too much space unfilled. I decided to block out some more furniture and mess in it with simple blocks in Unreal Engine. I think the extra mess will really add more to the feeling that someone is living in this conservatory.