As usual I ended up not having enough time to create what I had originally envisioned… I didn’t realise how heavy work with my Humain project would be and I ended up spending quite a lot of time on it but none the less I have taken what I have learnt and wrote about it in the last few posts where I went on about doing a palace interior and decided to chop it down and just do a little outdoor cave-market type scene. With the palace idea, I tried bringing it into a matte painting context instead and worked for a bit with Beata on it, but it didn’t get too far so I tried to finish off something in relation to what we had worked on. (shown in another post)
I went for a scene where I could bring in some of the simple assets I had modelled for the palace, this ended up being a tiny little market which was set up beside a large cave. I was hoping to have some sparkling jewels sticking out from the cave and also a dug up robot coming from it’s rocks. The scene looks cool in my mind but whether or not I will get the textures looking correct when rendered is another story. Below are some really quick sketches, getting some ideas down on paper.
INSERT SCANS OF MY SKETCHBOOK SKETCHES
I was inspired and continue to be inspired by my favourite ps1 game, Wildarms. In ways what I am creating is going off the nostalgia I get from it’s soundtrack. There are also some robots that had been buried deep in the ground which was a part of the story. So I took some inspiration from this and tried keeping everything looking quite rustic and simple.
I kept this scene low poly in order to speed up the process/UV mapping etc. I modelled out a cave in zbrush and then used the decimate tool to bring the poly count down. I am pleased with the overall shape.
I then took the cave into substance painter to give my first go at using the programme. I have to say, it’s just amazing, I’m in love haha. I did watch a short tutorial that went through how the layers, masks and smart materials worked and then went ahead and quickly textured the cave.
I modelled a very basic crystal rock type shape to insert into the rocks and textured it by following a tutorial. I love how it turned out but I am worried about getting it to render similar to how it is looking in substance.
I modelled a very basic robot to fit into the side of the cave. Below is a wireframe shot of him.
Below is the substance painter version, I feel I maybe went a bit over-board with the textures but I’m hoping the lighting I will use in the scene will fix this problem as I don’t have much time to fix the textures and I need to move on to texturing other assets.
I thought I would model some ground in case I wanted to do a 360 turnabout of the cave area. I have painted it quite simply in substance painter and tried adding a few simple textures, but not sure if it works that well. I am hoping if I set up good lighting that it’s flaws will not show up as much.
I have continued to texture some simple objects to help fill out the bottom area around the cave. I have also added in a stormy sky in unity to give it some mood. I plan to have this scene lit as if twilight or a little earlier.
Here is my next progress shot.
I’ve added some unity foliage to fill out the scene a little…
I had this tutorial on hand for learning how to light in Unity but I ran out of time in the end to properly light my scene correctly.
Overall I am happy enough with the look of the finished model and how it is is assembled although I haven’t got the lighting spot on at the moment, I am definitely going to have to go back and get some proper lighting in there. The lights are all too over-exposed and not as natural as I had hoped but I just need a little more time to make it work.
I modelled everything in the scene bar the foliage which was taken from the unity environment package. I took a little video of me turning around the model. I hope to render out the scene and take the passes into after effects for some fixes and maybe some VFX effects to make it look more magical.
I can’t wait to start looking more into this side of modelling and texturing. There are so many ways of doing the same thing I am hoping that this research will help guide me into one clear path to take each time. Other than hand painting textures there is the opposite end of the spectrum.. PBR textures. These kinds of textures are used in AAA games and can look very realistic if done well.
I came across this video which I watched and took down some notes from… in case I forget the process. I love how you can bring in photographs to help with texturing.
For PBR texturing it is best to render them in a game engine such as Unity or Unreal Engine. I haven’t used either of these programmes yet but I have downloaded Unity. Alec has showed me how to plug in the important maps when rendering PBR game textures… these include the albido (diffuse), the metallic and the normal map. Once you’re object is imported into the unity scene you can then create a folder for the textures and then drag each into its corresponding slot.
Update 9th April
An artist from Enter Yes, James Dalton, gave a class on the basics of setting up a scene in Unity. We only got as far as preparing models in Maya and importing them into Unity, then setting up folders whilst importing and adding the textures onto the models. Although we didn’t get through an awful lot it was very helpful and I am looking forward to maybe sometime building my own scene inside the programme. I would also like to try rendering some shots to see how they would compare to Maya.
In class I built up sort of a high palace looking room and though I would include it here. Unity is awesome but my Mac couldn’t handle the pressure and decided to prevent it from running any longer.
Example of PBR texture maps below. Although gloss is not needed there are a few more other maps which can be plugged in. 🙂
I came across a great article that explains PBR texturing in unity at a beginner level. It goes into good details explaining the use of each map. Article found here.
From here I am going to bring in some models to substance and try the PBR workflow and then bring these into unity and try lighting a scene.
I have started to model some simple objects to try hand paint their textures. The sign below is my first asset and I think it turned out average. I planned to make it cartoony so that has come across quite well. I feel the colours are off and not very pleasing but it’s something I need to work on. This object contains a basic normal, displacement and diffuse map. If I were to make it pop more I could try paint in more texture details such as the cracks in the wood. Programmes used; Zbrush, Maya and Photoshop.
Displacement, Diffuse, Normal maps
I feel it would be interesting if I also did a version of this sign using substance painter/designer or even PBR textures to see the difference in the look and feel I could achieve. I might also create some more maps for the sign such as ambient occlusion, roughness and metallic then merge them together into one map in Photoshop.
Substance painter is just not working on my Mac so I will try download the trial version to see if it works better.
I came across this article which is actually amazing going through the workflow of texturing a video game character from zbrush to substance painter. if I ever get a better machine I will be getting substance painter and designer right away. I’m sure I can take some tips from this article regardless of it being based on substance… sometimes you just need a step by step guide! Please fins link here.
I have read quite a few articles which go into modelling game ready characters but all seem to have different approaches and I haven’t really come across one yet that describes the process simply.
Articles from The Rookies found here. This article went into some detail on game character creation, I am still a little confused as to how low poly you have to make the model after the high res has been sculpted.
I do know that you need to have a low poly version of your character modelled out that you use to bake the high resolution normal and displacement maps to. These videos gave a main overview of how to save maps out from Zbrush, simple enough but I’m sure getting them to bake onto the actual low poly model will be a problem on it’s own.
So I came across this tutorial which has got me all interested in wanting to create a tiled mosaic that could fit into the palace environment I am thinking of creating. It goes through the process of how to create a tillable texture consisting of tiles….basically, but I love the idea of creating my own image for the mosaic in photoshop to use for the pattern. From here I have looked into tiles and came across an amazing artist called John Moyr… dot dot dot
I found his work in an article by someone who goes by the name ‘the gentle author’ and I was hooked. I think the reason I got so involved was reading of the authors reasons for going out and trying to find the entire collection of smith’s beautiful tiles so that he could build them around his fireplace. Really beautiful designs that have a somewhat comedic yet authentic feel to them. I also love the narratives he portrays, some being based around the stories of the Bible whilst others depict scenes from Shakespeare writing. (Find the article with the tiles posted here.)
I am going to follow the tutorial I have found that goes into the details of how to create these tiles and also design a pattern/image which could be used maybe on the walls of a certain palace room or the floor. I will post some design ideas and the process if I get to that point, in another blog post.
The rookies have great tutorial content, I came across this tutorial which explains how to create a stone wall texture. Although I may not be creating a stone wall texture it is good to get familiar with the workflow as I haven’t a clue at this point. (tutorial here)
The video below really helped me understand baking a normal map into a texture map! it all makes more sense now. It basically shows you how to simply bake the normal map to texture in order to create texture quality without hindering the performance (within a game engine)…love it.
I love the work of Jason Godbey! The feel of his 3D environments is breathtaking and oozes authenticity. Godbey typically works on AAA titles as a lighting and environment artist. What a job! Some of his work is shown below.
Image Courtesy – Jason Godbey
Artstation have published an online guide titles ‘Everything You Need to Know to Become a Game Environment Artist’.
Environment game artist Robert Hodri explains the in’s and outs of becoming a game artist and what it is they are looking for in portfolios etc. The following is from the article which I thought I needed to save in this post for future reading;
“An important step in getting a job in this industry is an online portfolio, showcasing your art and focus on a style. Making environments can take a lot of time. At the beginning of your career, you normally won’t be working on a whole level or environment where you have to do everything on your own. At least that’s how it is when you’re working on bigger AAA games. Usually you’re assigned to work on smaller props. That’s why I think it’s important to have at least a couple of high quality props and textures in your portfolio. That can be anything from crates, rocks to weapons and vehicles. Just show that you can create good game art and are familiar with the whole process. Making high poly meshes and baking them down on a low poly is something that every 3D artist needs to know and your portfolio should show that.”
From an art content perspective, your portfolio should show that you’re able to do all tasks that are required to work on a game environment: modeling, texturing, composition, level beautification colors, lighting. Those are the main things you’ll be responsible for as an environment artist. Concept art that show your drawing skills are a plus but not necessarily needed.
If you’re aiming for an environment art position only, you don’t need to have characters, animations or VFX stuff in your portfolio. It’s a plus but as a beginner you want to focus your portfolio because mastering a discipline can take years and your art samples should have a consistent quality. You don’t want to have a portfolio with amazing environment scenes and props but bad character animations next to it.
You also need to know where you want to work and land your first job and your portfolio should represent that. It’s not wrong to have a wide range of different styles because it shows you’re flexible and can adapt to different art styles easily. However, a studio normally looks to fill in the open positions with people that have the same art style as the project they work on so you need to show that you can replicate their style.
Competition is hard and you have to stick out from the mass of artists trying to get their first job. Creativity and unique art samples help you do that. Metal barrels, wooden crates, concrete or brick textures are not exactly assets that will blow anybody away anymore. Try to come up with something refreshing and unique when building props or an environment. Let’s say you want to do a chair prop. Instead of making a simple wooden one with easy shapes, try to do something more complicated like a baroque chair that has a lot of details and ornaments. Of course, those props take way longer to finish but it’s better to have three amazing assets in your portfolio than nine mediocre ones.
A great portfolio where your art is easy accessible is important. When you don’t have any industry experience, I’d say your resume isn’t that decisive to get you the first job. Just keep it simple and when possible under one page. Show finished work and try to avoid having too many work in progress pieces in your portfolio. A portfolio that only consists of unfinished pieces makes it look like you won’t be able to finish any given tasks on time.
In my opinion, demo reels are not needed for environment artists. They take a long time to do and are outdated very fast. Screenshots of your props and environments from different angles are all you need. Spend some time on how you present your art and do some beauty shots. Sometimes even the most generic prop can look amazing with a great presentation. It’s hard to impress anyone with a viewport screengrab of your asset with flat lighting in it. Spend some time on nice lighting and rendering setups, tweak your materials and maybe add some subtle post-processing effects to give it a final touch. But don’t overdo it! You still want to be able to see the art.
It’s also great to have breakdowns of your high poly, low poly and final meshes, modular kit pieces, wireframes and texture flats. Whatever you can add to showcase your workflow and how you achieved the final prop or environment.” – Artstation.com
Clinton Crumpler has an amazing website showcasing his environmental artwork, PBR textures and effects. Crumpler has his PBR textures on display which I think is a great idea. I took a quick screenshot of them.
Image Courtesy – Clinton Crumpler (Link to site here)
Crumpler renders most of his scenes for his portfolio in Unreal. I love how he presents his work as it looks very professional and clean. Looking at his work ha inspired me to try and settle on one thing at a time and create some interesting props and do them well instead of leaving them to the side. I have put some of hie environment assets he has made for Gears of War 4 below in a slideshow. So pretty! Crumpler also has his CV uploaded to his site so that is also another great reference point to refer back to when/if I get around to writing one up.
Ok I am so excited to start modelling some props. If I am going to do a palace scene/ indoor outdoor or model some props for it I wanted to have a look into some artists responsible for the prop designs in Assassins Creed Origins. That game is simply breathtaking. I found an environment/prop artist named Valentin Oana and have posted his work below in a slideshow. I especially love the statues he has created for the game, just amazing. When looking at his art station it seems that he uses mainly Zbrush, 3DsMax and Substance Designer.
Image Courtesy – Valentin Oana
Jasongodbey.com. (2018). The Art of Jason Godbey | Game Developer | Digital 3D Environment | Lighting | Visualization Artist – Digital 3d Art, Indie Games. [online] Available at: http://www.jasongodbey.com/#about-me [Accessed 19 Feb. 2018].
Mon, S. and Mon, S. (2018). Everything You Need to Know to Become a Game Environment Artist. [online] ArtStation Magazine. Available at: https://magazine.artstation.com/2017/03/game-environment-artist/ [Accessed 20 Feb. 2018].
Modelling 3D Environments and Assets for Games
After doing some research into hand-painted textures I have decided that I should probably focus on creating models that can be used in games (and are game-ready). My skill set at the moment seems to be pointing in that direction although I am not sure.
Image Courtesy – Clover Lawn
So in this blog I am going to include some research on creating environments and assets for use in games. I will also have a look into different work pipelines and which would suit me best when creating an environment with possible character etc.
Mikes Hermes always has a good tutorial on what you need! He has recently uploaded a new video to his youtube channel where he goes through the process of creating assets for a game. The programs he uses include Maya, Zbrush and Substance Painter. Hermes explains that the best workflow is to start your low poly model in Maya, from there you can take it into Zbrush and create you’re UV’s whilst also creating a high poly version. Then it should be ready to bring into substance to bad the high poly textures onto the low poly model. This was explained in a very clear way which made me very happy haha.
Another great article Alec had shared with us went into great depths on creating a 3D environment. Tomer Meltser went through his very long and complex workflow for creating his amazing environment based off Chong FeiGiap’s concepts. I first came across FeiGiaps work in one of Imagine Fx’s issues. Feigiap’s colour choices are just amazing and I have completely fallen in love with his work… theres something about his style which reminds me of Hayao Miyazaki’s work. Meltser’s article can be found here.
Tomer Meltser’s showreel shown below…so pretty!!!
Some of Chong FeiGiap’s concepts below which Meltser has based his 3D work off. I am just in love with his work and colours.
Modular Environment Modelling
I have been doing a bit of research into different workflows that artists are using to create their amazing environments. What seems to be one of the most important steps in creating environment with efficiency is the use of modular modelling. Modular modelling focuses on creating different assets that can be placed together to build you’re environment quickly and with more ease. more info here
Tomer Meltser (mentioned above) uses this technique throughout his environment modelling. You can see in the images below that he models out various wall panels, windows, plants etc… Basically modelling assets which he can use over and over again, maybe also being able to switch their textures easily? Meltser mentions that “many of the assets were developed with the help of tileable materials, allowing to save time where appropriate.” This is something I need to look into in order to understand how this process and the results can be achieved. Find his work here.
The poly count website has plenty of articles that explain modular building, I read through quite a few of them and have picked up a couple of things. I feel I will need to find some videos on the topic to watch others going through the process also to make sure I understand fully. Link to poly count articles here.
Tomer Meltser’s Artstation : https://www.artstation.com/artwork/kWOEd
Chong FeiGiap’s Deviantart : https://feigiap.deviantart.com/gallery/
Articles on Modular building : http://wiki.polycount.com/wiki/Modular_environments