TEG Projects #1 : Grapp Darnini 3D Environment

Walkthrough the process of creating a 3D game environment for Unreal Engine 4 in two weeks.

You can watch recorded live-streams of the environment being made at TEG Live

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Fantasy lantern prop WIP

Recently felt inspired to do some sort of fantasy/scifi styled environment with moody lighting so the last day or two have been coming up with this lantern concept. Its taken inspiration from things like wooden African masks, Aztec architecture as well as eastern Buddhist culture. The polished golden copper type surface seen in a number of Buddhist statues have a historical yet in some way even futuristic appeal. Its no surprise its  a favourite material for Steampunk and other technology focused genera as well. As for masks, well they are just cool.

A design I have remembered since I was a kid were mask cameras from the PC game Thief II The Metal Age.

Thief-2

Ya ok, it pretty old and doesn’t look very nice by today’s standards but its a interesting concept. There were even solid copper versions that were mounted on the walls to alert the guards. With these things as a starting bases for ideas I think it will result in some pretty neat stuff.

This week I will be going through a Gnomon Workshop done by Nate Stephens that is focused on environment sculpting. Really looking forward to it. Usually there isn’t much that’s new however the way I see it a small investment even for just a single useful tip can save an incredible amount of time and cause an overall improvement in quality for years to come.

Cycles engine still not ready.

Yesterday I got sidetracked while blocking some environments by Cycles volumetric light scatter material. It was just last month that a new workstation came in allowing for 12 render threads so I wanted to test the material for practicality in rendering a video. Short answer… nope. Reading through the render engines documentation and spending nearly a whole day changing settings and preview rendering resulted disappointing. It seems even in the latest version noise is still far too big of a problem. Setting volumetric to 8192 samples with various speed enhancements with light paths, branched tracing and algorithm types still gave mediocre results that took all night to render. And we are talking a Linux machine built for rendering.

Thinking about this problem we should wonder why this information cant be baked into a voxel grid. It makes me wish I was more knowledgeable on light physics, there must be some way that could work.

Apart from that I also came on this recently. Have never been a fan of Cycles rough glossy shader but never knew it was this bad. Discovering that Blenders “Linear” shading isn’t really linear at all will definitely change the way I handle shading network from now on. According to the article putting your gloss info through a math node set to “Power” with a value of 2.2 helps this problem somewhat.

Blender Meetup Vancouver

For the first time in two years there is finally a Blender Meetup in Vancouver that actually meets up! I had the opportunity to meet a couple of industry artists as well as hobbyists at the groups first ever event. You might recognize a few of them, the organizer Mike Pan created the splash image for Blender 2.72b start up screen, there was also Eoin Duffy an academy award winner for the short film ‘The Missing Scarf‘, and a software developer from Nerd Corps came.

Despite the impressiveness of an academy award I though the most interesting highlight was a hobbyist named Julio. He said he was a chef  that quit his job to learn 3D graphics full-time so he could get a job as an artist at a studio. Really look forward as to what becomes of him, he showed us his first ever environment scene and I have to say it was way better than most people’s first.

You can check out the group and even join if you’re in the area here. I love to meet and we had some great discussions.

Painted sculptures

Last week was getting hands dirty finishing off sculptures and painting on textures that have laid around for a few months. It was also the first time in a while painting textures as well as the first time painting concrete. The rock for the terrain was a significant improvement over past work as well. There is so much to improved but  schedules must be met.

I have found schedules work well for getting work done. For these images I take a blocked in scene and for one day I sculpt, retopologize and unwrap the surface. The second day is making some fine edits and painting a texture. Right now painting takes about 4-5 hours per object using either Photoshop or Mudbox. These were all Photoshop but next week there will be some rock sculptures painted with Mudbox.

Something to work on in the future is to speed up the process using different brushes.

-The Environment Guy