Saturday, 19 December 2015

Through The Gate 4 - All the FX

This will be my last post concerning the style matrix projects. Mainly this week consisted of tidying up my projects and taking better images for presentation so for that reason I won't really go into detail too much, instead heres a load of screenshots for your viewing pleasure:

 The main thing I added since last week is the beam effect which uses world position offset in the material to create distortion, I had help from Mike Pickton setting this up and it uses world position so I dont get any repeating along the length of the spline (except in the distance where the spline comes back on itself but it's too far away from the platform to notice).






 Above you can see I added a bit more to the entrance tunnel, this still could do with a little work for my portfolio, adding some more layers of machinery and structure.

 And finally an asset breakdown, with everything I have created so far. You can see the amount of things I have modelled are quite limited but it does the job to create an environment like this. Most other pieces now that could be made include props and rubbish.


Below is a breakdown of potential fixes and changes I can make to the environment including everything I have talked about so far, compiling a list like this helps me prioritize what is actually important for getting the end result I would like.

 As you can see there is a lot I would like to work on! I'll start updating as soon as I continue work on it, but at the moment doing work is a bit hard due to my computer issues. My whole power supply has packed up and has potentially taken the motherboard with it so I need to get that fixed as a priority seeing as I will need it for FMP as well. 

Until next time, oh and happy new year!

Saturday, 12 December 2015

Through The Gate 3 - Decals Everywhere!

This was my last proper week on the project for the uni deadline and I had a mountain to do. Even though it seems like I have accomplished a lot in the last couple of weeks the scene could do with a lot of tweaking. I have decided to spend my time focusing on the super important aspects of the environment, with anything else that might take up too much time or otherwise not changing the scene much saved until after the deadline when I will continue pushing for a portfolio piece.

One area that needed to get pushed more in the last week was the signage. The platform needs more guides as to where people go and I actually needed to place in the advertisements. So I got to work on creating a decal sheet for pasting across the environment, I used a special material that allowed me to crop the decal to the part where I need it, allowing me to place more than one decal onto one texture sheet.

The following are final screens for hand-in although there will be newer screens next week of the updated environment for polish week. As you can see underneath I have added in arrows, service numbers, grafiti and included the signs which scroll sideways. I have also used decals to break up the ground in some places and create some darker patches.

I have worked on the background scenery a bit more, I replaced the flipped landscape which was acting as the ceiling of the cave with more giant rocks as it was lighting differently to everything else. Some other little touches include adding movement to the ring stabilizers and adding more depth using the fog sheets.



I also textured all of the objects in substance painter including the bins, fences and turnstiles. More detailed work can be done on these later but for now I needed them basically textured just for the hand-in.

Project conclusion (Of sorts)
This project has been a unique challenge for me as I have never created something on my own this large but strangely at the same time I think it could be much larger and much more interesting just because of how I have setup the assets in a modular fashion. I see a lot of potential for pushing this environment even more during polish week and beyond.

First criticism first: The scene needs more assets to break up the modularity, as currently it is very apparent that everything is lining up to a grid. Clutter is something that will instantly make this scene feel 'lived in' which is very important in grounding it in reality. This could include more signs, safety equipment, trash, leaflet/magazine rack and maps.

For further stretch goals I have got a lot of suggestions plus I have a few ideas of my own for what I would like to do. My first thing which I didn't have enough time for is adding a little bit of greenery to the scene; it could be hanging greenery that clings to the bottom of the platform and the ceiling of the cave. I feel this would help liven up the scene a bit more and it will help take the edge off some of the architecture.

Another thing that could help is more movement in the scene. This could mean the door animating, more movement in the light beam or adding animated sprites in the background of flapping birds. This is more for selling this world and making it more believable, it will be extremely beneficial for a flythrough of the level and this could even include adding some ambient sound.

Next week my plan is to complete tiny fixes and quick alterations for hand-in and then after I will compile a list of the the things I want to change or add to the portfolio version. There is so much I want to do with this project that I can't decide where to go, so hopefully limiting down the options will work in my favour.

Saturday, 5 December 2015

Through The Gate 2 - Adding a splash of colour

I have made some huge progress so far on this environment. After plotting out the basic shape of the level I could start working on populating the scene with assets. Important parts of the scene to consider at the moment include all the high poly assets as well as adding more colour to the scene. 

First things first I began to collect more imagery of train platforms and the kind of props I might find there. The main thing I gathered from the images is that a lot of the train platforms include a lot of signs and adverts, they also have a very specific way they are built in order to make it more accessible for people to use them.


I started work on the door used for the maintenance tunnel, creating the high poly model then texturing in substance painter.

Also I used this opportunity to create a small area on the other side of the door, the maintenance tunnel itself, that could be used for cinematic purposes later on. This didn't take long to do as I simply used modular pieces I already created.

 I remodelled benchs and signs that fit the scale of the level more as well as changing the position and shape of the skylights, this layout I feel looks a bit more natural. Signs are also an important part of selling the platform, so I added in some basic scrolling signs that I would replace with my own graphics later on. 


 The next big object I needed to focus on were the rings supporting the lightrail. To create these I modelled a straight section of the ring and a high poly model to go with it, then used bend modifier on the piece after to create the entire loop of the ring to save on texture space and make the model more efficient, I also used the same technique on the circular section surrounding the door although using the trim texture. I love this way of working as it really helps me to get the most out of my texture resources, working in a modular fashion also allows me to be quite experimental with how I used my texture sheets aswell and I can use them in my environment in different ways.

I added the rings into the scene and fixed the colour of the lightrail which I think fits the scene better in it's new colour. I went around the scene improving a lot of the lighting and atmosphere. I actually imported some of the example effects supplied by epic games into this environment, you can see that I have made extensive use of the fog sheets and godrays.



 Next week I'll be finishing up and presenting the scene, I'm looking forward to sharing it with you. :)


Saturday, 28 November 2015

Through The Gate - A World Below!

I've been waiting to go back and do something from my own fictional universe for a while!. The last time I tried to make anything based from it was in college where I knew almost next to nothing about 3d but now seemed like a great opportunity to work from some of my old sketches and ideas and make them into something interesting for this project.

The goal for this project is to create a sci-fi environment on the otherside of this door shape we have been provided, we can do whatever we want as long as the door is included and the environment includes some sort of procedural texturing and high poly baking. 

The high poly requirement is why I decided to do the weapons project first as a test, with the stylized shop front acting as a way to brush up on more traditional 3d techniques and planning. My aims for this project include creating a modular building structure I can reuse and apply for FMP as well as focusing on creating some really cool effects and other things in engine. The overall goal is mostly making an environment which feels like it has a life of its own rather than just focusing on asset building, so a priority is to get stuff into engine as soon as possible.

(I will come back in and edit the moodboard in here as the library doesn't have photoshop and all my moodboards are saved as PSDs.)

My first day was mainly dealing with how I would create this environment and what design cues it would take, my main point of reference for this project was architecture. Stas advised me to take a trip to the library and get some books on neo-brutalism and apply some of the forms and structures to creating pieces for my own environment. 

First I blocked out a simple plan of an environment made out of a number of smaller pieces. I liked this design at first but later fell out of favour with it due to it's lack of purpose and by how large it was. I had a brainwave wednesday night and went back to one of my old ideas about a skyrail: A transport system that can take people to platforms at crazy heights in this giant cave world. I made a real quick guide sketch of the idea and began to create some modular pieces to test a layout. I felt a lot more excited about this idea, as it gives the whole area a sense of purpose which is crucial for a more outlandish environment like this, it helps keep it grounded in reality.


 Reworked level plan - The basis of the train platform, this first iteration was a little too small for the train platform to work so I extended it out.


 I also looked at a lot of reference for brutalist train platforms and began to apply those forms to what I model, some things I twisted a bit. This shelter here was taken from a photograph but I moved the support and angled it slightly to give it a bit more of a interesting design.

 The screenshot below shows two new features I added. The glass holes in the floor help bring more light into the platform as the light is coming from the fake sun below in this environment, Casto suggested that it looked a bit odd and maybe it could serve a dual purpose like as a floor based display unit for train information or something else that could help it fit more nicely into the environment.

The rings around the platform I intended to be stabilizer/guiding rings for the lightrail, more of these can be seen floating in the distance controlling the direction of the rail. Other uses of these rings were suggested to me though, Craig suggested that I make them more mechanical and maybe include more moving pieces to suggest that they are really heavy pieces of machinery, he told me to look at russian shipyards and heavy industry to look at all the metal constructions they used. I added in some support structures based from them.

 The next bit really helps to sell the light rail: The rail itself! I created a splinemesh component inside UE4 and applied an emissive cyclinder to it, this means I can adjust the position and curve of the rail inside UE4 and add more points into the distance for when I get to fleshing out the view later on. Another thing I plan to add is some kind of pulsating or flicker to the rail, to give it some life.


 I spent a while trying to get the large cave rocks sculpted and looking right in engine but they still aren't where I want them, they need a more complex material and a better diffuse/roughness to bring out the detail. I had three types of rock I wanted to do for the environment but I'm going to see now what texture space I will have after I do the highpoly sections. That is what I'm going to be focusing on next along with getting all the little environment props modelled.

 Current Feedback and goals

-Add more colour to environment pieces
- Swap rock diffuse for darker one, add roughness map
-Fix bounce lighting issues, try a production build on a separate computer
-Create all environment props and begin highpoly modelling

Next time I will have some environment assets to show, as well as showing some of the planning of the structural pieces. :)

Saturday, 21 November 2015

Shop Front 3 - Chad's Bar and Grill

I'm just going to start with a warning that this is going to be a massive art/screenshot dump again. I hope it's not a problem, I doubt you would want endless paragraphs of writing anyway over just showing you loads of process pictures, but I'll help out when I can though. 

I started texturing by getting what I thought might be the most labour-intensive part out of the way first: the planks. Because there were alot of them I thought that doing them first would help the model look a lot more closer to completion.



 The hardest part I think was making the texture on the metal parts of the model, it had to be a good balance between PBR metal and handpainted details, at first it was pointed out the metal was too shiny so I dialled it back a little bit. I also added some panel lines as I thought it made the metal look a bit more interesting compared to just a plain dirty surface. 

Emissives were also added to the scene, and I worked on the lighting a little bit (one of my favourite areas) I tried to balance out the lighting and the background colours aswell as adjusting the exposure.

Texture Techniques

I did try out some different techniques for the handpainted textures, I tried a mix of things to help me speed up the process. The biggest one was the use of the mixer brush to create edge highlights on the metal parts and to mix up background values for objects.

For the edge highlights I had my UVW lines at the top of my layer stack in photoshop, I set this to screen layer mode so I just had the white lines. If I wanted a colour I would add a fill layer set to overlay ontop of the lines with a clipping mask.

I would have a layer underneath somewhere that I would use for painting using the mixer brush. I made sure the mixer brush settings were set to 'Sample All Layers'.

With the UV lines still visible and your paint layer selected start to trace over the lines where you need edge highlights, with a little bit of trial and error you will see that you can use this to create painterly lines really quickly on your model exactly where you need them. To tidy them up just switch your UV lines to invisible and carry on smudging where you can see pixelization. 

In the sheet below you can see an example of where this technique has been used on the edges of metal objects:


Final Screens

Here are my final screenshots at the end of texturing and after I have replaced the other parts of the mesh. 




 I'm surprised with how the end result of this project would turn out, It wasn't coming together in my head until the texturing stage, which would pretty much make or break this piece. The metal was hard to  pull off but as you can see in the screenshot above it reacts well to the environment but isn't too overpowering.

For things I would improve, I think I would like to add more clutter to the interior. My tricount was almost maxed out on this project and I didn't have a lot of texture space left but If I were to do somethings differently like texture the letters on the sign rather than model I could save on tris and texture space allowing for other things. Some posters and hanging receipts in the interior could help come character and interest to the walls.

Another thing I would do is add more definition of details to the RV on the top, the texture looks a bit too simple to me and lacks edge details like the bottom food truck, just a few things like some lines and areas of implied lighting could help make the texture pop more.

Next Project

My next project is something I have had stewing in my head for a while but I've been waiting for an opportunity to do it, it's a location from my own fictional universe. The basic premise is a hollow-earth kind of environment where it's effectively a massive cave that houses a fake sun, with the environment being one of the structures that suspend from the cave ceiling.

I'm going to be doing this for the Sci-Fi through-the-gate project so I'm really excited about it, more details next time. :)