Assembling Nature Scenes with UE4 and Megascans
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Are you planning on releasing the UE4 project to the public? Or only builds? I'd love to play around with it in the editor if possible!

by mr. Awesome
3 hours ago

Fucking AWESOME!

Please make the second floor..!! and if you've done it please tell me where can I find it...??!

Assembling Nature Scenes with UE4 and Megascans
22 May, 2017
Interview
Tobias Folprecht gave some useful tips and tricks on the production of beautiful nature scenes. 

Introduction

Hey 80.lv! I’m Tobias Folprecht, I’m 35 years old, and I currently live in Munich, Germany. Originally, I worked in the film industry but eventually made the transition to the video game industry in 2005. Since then, I’ve worked on many exciting projects over my career as a 3D artist!

The interactivity of video games and the act of creating new worlds in 3D have always captivated me. Currently, I work as a VR specialist, which allows me to explore a brand new technology that opens up players to immersive and exciting 3D worlds.

Vegetation

Trees and vegetation are the quintessence of relaxation for me. Capturing the beauty and believability of these objects was difficult but well worth the challenge. The trees are modeled and I utilized two to three varieties in the scene thanks to Megascans, a very helpful resource for 3D artists.

The grass in my “Into the Woods” scene was also created with the help of scanned assets, leading me to think of this project as one big puzzle with my end goal being a cohesive and natural picture. I didn’t spend a ton of time on the practicality of the assets, which gave me more time towards the end of my project to establish the mood through lights, details, and shadows.

For the composition, I chose to depict a small lake in a forest. It’s always quite interesting working with water because it provides me the opportunity to work with reflections and caustics. I also implemented a useful shader that I modified a bit for the scene.

Within the forest, many of the trees were positioned with UE4’s paint tools. In addition, I placed some trees by hand as I wanted this small, wooded area to feel organic.

The Megascans assets I used were mostly unique, making it difficult to use the assets more than once throughout the composition. Consequently, before I tested the UE4’s random scatter tool, I put all of the assets into Maya to group them together and rotate them, which helped to create more aesthetically diverse groups of assets.

Composition

With the environment around the lake, I aimed to create a beautiful transition between the two fundamental elements at play in this scene: water and earth.

For the water, I used a simple reflection capture in Unreal and a normal map for the waves. For the bottom of the lake, I opted for a shader that represents the caustics as to depict the lake’s approximate depth.

All of the rocks are made from Megascans assets and some textures have been adapted with the help of shaders and diffuse textures. I also paid close attention to the few assets around the lake, the roots and broken trees, to ensure a seamless flow between lake and forest.


Quixel Megascans was my tool of choice here because one can build an environment in a fairly short period of time with this instrument. This allows the 3D artist (me) to focus more on the composition of a scene, which is instrumental to the player and his or her gameplay.

The challenge with this project was certainly to blur the gap between 3D-modeled assets and scanned assets all the while creating a cohesive and organic environment. The work was quite flexible since all of the finished, scanned assets were changed at the end when I had to resample them (along with the textures of the diffuse channel), which shows the environment in a whole new light!

Post-production

First of all, I’ve been very busy with tutorials here on this site, where I had partial insight into exactly how the postscreen or sky light would be adjusted. For that, I had a very simple light setup built, which includes a sky light and a few other lights..

For this project, I found inspiration in the environments of other games, like The Last of Us. Not only is that a excellent game with beautiful and realistic environments but it also is a game that convincingly blends the film and video game industries together through astonishing cinematics and an immersive, interactive world.

Thanks for taking the time to read about my work, 80.lv! Hopefully, this was an insightful read that will help you with your own creative process and motivate you to start (or finish!) your next project.

Tobias Folprecht, Digital 3D Artist

Interview conducted by Artyom Sergeev

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