Dannie Carlone shared his experience of creating materials for Shadow of The Tomb Raider and thoughts on material production for games.
Shadow of The Tomb Raider Materials
While working on the materials for Shadow of The Tomb Raider, I started out in ZBrush for my pattern and began modeling in there. It worked well for me since I have a large library of subtools and brushes at this point, and I can pick and choose which one I want to use to get me started. Everything I have in my library is a starting off point. We also take sculpting rocks to heart at Crystal so I definitely prefer to sculpt them out. I then use Substance for everything else such as scattering small items.
Utilizing Brushed in Material Production
As I have mentioned before, every brush I have is just a starting point. They are by no means a finished product, and I use them as tools to make the next sculpt more efficient. The combination of ZBrush and Substance makes things flow very easily on a material creation side. I will use one of my brush height maps and warp and edit it in Substance stacked with the endless number of parameters to create materials from. As any developer knows, time isn’t always on your side and everyone works completely different. Use the tool that helps you make quality work in the time you have.
Thoughts on SD
Substance Designer has had a ton of great updates such as the curve node and the water puddle node. I feel like now we are getting to a point where we can make really great materials quicker than ever before. One thing that really excites me on the environment/ world building side is that it’s possible to make very high-quality LODs that are cheap but look great. Things like building facade prefabs being made in Substance Designer can now be easily turned in a Vista object or a distance LOD.
Materials for Games: Important Things to Remember
- Variety is great, but too much can be impractical from the developer side. At the end of the day, we have to make sure we keep within budget and that our texel density is correct.
- Composition and color are a huge part of making any terrain or asset sing. Balancing what is dominant in your material and what is secondary is a key attitude I have towards making any terrain recipe. General to specific is the age-old saying and it will never fail you.
- Getting the tone and theme of your biome across while staying in budget is part of the challenge of making terrains for games.
Dannie Carlone, Senior Environment Artist at Crystal Dynamics
Interview conducted by Kirill Tokarev