Alireza Khajehali: Sense of Scale

Alireza Khajehali: Sense of Scale

One of the biggest issues is always having no correct sense of scale. How do you deal with that?

How do you work with the scale? Using the mannequin mesh is not that helpful, so what are the tricks?  Alireza Khajehali discussed this problem and shared a function that might help you.  

I was working on a very small thing, mainly for learning purpose.

Usually when working on a landscape the one big issue is having no correct sense of scale. When you’re doing level design it’s sometimes very hard to know how everything feels from a player perspective, how big is this rock? how long is that path? how high is that hill? how large is that field? These are all sort of questions that I’m always dealing with.

When doing level design, what I’ve been always doing was to place the mannequin mesh here and there, look at it to get a sense of how big everything is. But that’s actually not very helpful. The moment the mannequin isn’t placed right next to what you’re looking at, you lose the sense of scale. And on top of that, I got tired of placing mannequins here and there all the time.

For instance look at the scene below, the rocks look nice, but there’s no way you’d know how big they are. And knowing the scales is actually more important than making it look good.

So what I came up with was to create a very small and simple grid function that tiles a grid on the landscape in world space, the easy way.

Here’s the function:

And here’s how it’s setup in the landscape material. It get’s all the inputs, with a BreakMaterialAttributes all outputs are broken and fed into the final input pins. Nothing complex.

A few parameters are exposed to material instance.

  • Opacity: Controls the grid opacity.
  • Specular: Preferably set to 0.
  • Roughness: Preferably set to 1.
  • Size: How much the grid is tiled.

I’m using a size of 1200 as you see. I know that makes the red squares as big to fit three sleeping dudes. (Outlined by blue).

And just knowing each red square can fit 3 sleeping dudes, I’m now instantly able to have a correct sense of scale everywhere without needing to place a mannequin or anything else, simply by changing the Grid – Opacity from 0 to 1.

Check out the squares I’ve outlined with green, now you know precisely how big the rocks are.

 

If you find this useful, you can download the function from here and put it in your content folder.

Alireza Khajehali, Environment Artist

The guide was originally published on Polycount.

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