Thank you for sharing your work process!!
I really like how you've articulated your entire process. This was a very enriching read. A Well deserved feature!
Great article! Thanks for the awesome read.
Guillaume Deschamps-Michel gave a small talk about his Red Dead Redemption 2 Fan Art made with UE4, Megascans, and Photoshop.
Hi, I am Guillaume Deschamps-Michel and I come from France. I am currently working at Ubisoft Barcelona as a lighting artist on Assassin’s Creed 3 Remastered. I am also a lighting teacher at New3dge art school in Paris for the game art section. Before living in Spain I worked in Paris on projects like V-Rally4 or Tourist Trophee for Kylotonn Games. I also spent some years working for architecture visualization with Unreal 4. I remember that I always wanted to work on video games or CGI when I was a kid, and I decided to focus on game art after high school in Objectif 3D, a game art school in Montpellier in the south of France.
For this project, I wanted to recreate the feeling of wild open area that you can find in Red Dead Redemption 2, the feeling of a real consistent world. I also wanted to get as close as possible to the lighting of the game and have something consistent. I like the shots from the game in the open plains area there is this feeling of peaceful nature. This is what I wanted to recreate here.
For the landscape, I wanted a plain-like landscape. I did the landscape directly in Unreal with the landscape editor. The goal was to have something smooth but with some diversity to make the scene interesting. After getting the landscape done I created the material for it with Megascans materials to define different areas (grass, wet grass and water).
Almost every asset comes frome the Megascan library, except for some specific props. I like the Megascans assets because you can have biomes that match together really well without having tones of parameters to change. Megascans helped me to get a ready-to-use biome quickly. The advantage for me in Unreal is that I can iterate on the vegetation really quickly, I did some test with the vegetation tool and find the best balance. Also, the bridge between Megascans and Unreal is a really good tool that allowed me to be faster.
For the lighting, I really wanted something that would look realistic. For an open area like this one, I only used a sun light and a sky light set to movable. A big part of it is that I am using a specific blueprint asset that is called Ultra Dynamic Sky. This is a really good asset that you can find on the Unreal Marketplace. This plugin allowed me to link the sun light, sky light, and the fog to my skydome to have something unified. You have a lot of control over the whole lighting with this blueprint. So I did the sky, controlled the clouds with this asset and managed to find a nice spot for the sun. The struggle I had here was to find the right place for the sun. I did several test until I found the right spot.
Then, to mimic the RDR2 lighting I played a lot with the post-process and the color grading trying to find the right colors and saturation. For the color grading, I used Photoshop and a LUT texture. I like doing this in Photoshop because you have a lot of options to create your final image.
For the night shot, I also used the Ultra Dynamic Sky to set the time of day. Then I created the second light source and used it as the moon light. I decided to go for a quite clear night with a full moon. I found that the shot was okay but it missed something, so I decided to add some life to the picture and came up with a campfire and a lantern on the lake bridge. I wanted to tell a little story, as if someone’s camp was actually there. I also really like to play with colors. The blue color of the night and the warm color of the campfire fit well together when I imagine the scene.
Like for the daylighting, I only used a Sunlight (moon, see the settings above) and a Skylight. The only difference here is that I used two lights for the campfire, one close to the fire and one bigger but softer to create the bounce of the fire light. I also used a reflection capture to have the full reflection of everything and rise up the overall intensity to avoid too dark night ambiance. In the end, I applied a new post-process only for the night time with a specific color grading for it.
Guillaume Deschamps-Michel, Lighting Artist at Ubisoft Barcelona
Interview conducted by Kirill Tokarev
If you can think it, you can make it with Photoshop CC, the world’s best imaging and graphic design software. Create and enhance photographs, illustrations, and 3D artwork. Design websites and mobile apps. Edit videos, simulate real-life paintings, and more. It’s everything you need to make any idea real.
Art by Gediminas Pranckevičius