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.

Conservatory - Week 2, Day 3 - Leaf Materials

Work In Progress / 30 October 2019

Today I have been making a leaf material that I hope will be easy to change into other types of plants. I was looking into this tutorial for it, but I changed it quite considerably. I made 2 main colour variations, and further variations for different leaves on the same plant. I re used part of the graph for a different type of leaf. In the future I might turn this into a leaf generator.

Chinese Evergreen

Chinese Evergreen

Chinese Evergreen

Chinese Evergreen

Bird's Nest Fern

Bird's Nest Fern

The graph looks like this so far:

Here is some of the reference I used. Some of these pictures are my own:

I still have some more leaf types to make. I want to make an ivy, a rubber plant (I might use pictures I took of my own plant to make the textures for this one) and some other type of fern like Eagle Fern or Lady fern.

Conservatory - Week 2, Day 2 - Materials

General / 29 October 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.

Conservatory - Week 1, Day 3

Work In Progress / 23 October 2019

I wasted one day changing my mind about what I wanted to do for this project, but today I went back to the original idea. As this environment is full of windows and windows use a lot of tris, I decided to make a modular kit for it:

  This is how it is looking in Unreal Engine at the moment:

Tomorrow I will start modelling the individual props.

Conservatory - Week 1, Day 1

Work In Progress / 21 October 2019

For the next project brief for university I have chosen the "Behind the Door" brief. It is about a sci fi door and what you would find behind it. I decided my door is a time machine door.

The story behind it that of the scientist that created it. They created the time machine in a world that has been almost wiped off by some sort of apocalypse. The scientist uses this machine to go to their favourite place pre apocalypse, when they used to live in a conservatory/potting shed surrounded by plants. At the time the scientist was a student, still learning the things that would bring them to create a time machine in the future.

This is my main moodboard (which will grow soon with smaller props and details):

I made a rough plan for the room:

 Following this morning's lesson on organisation and using Trello, I thought I would give it a try:


I am enjoying using Trello very much, I used to make Excel files for my projects but this seems much easier to use :)

I am also considering the possibility of making my environment modular, just because I would like to experiment with modular kits.

Captain's Cabin - Week 3

General / 17 October 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.