Building Dark Souls Style Dungeon in UE4
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Building Dark Souls Style Dungeon in UE4
6 February, 2017
Environment artist Simon Barle has published a post on building his dungeon in UE4. 4 days of work in total resulted in an atmospheric spooky tomb with some nice materials and the mood of Dark Souls.

Lighting & Shading

Here are a few different render modes for the scene showing the lighting, base color and roughness. I also made a quick specular map from the roughness maps in my shader that lowers the specular values in the cracks and divets of the material so it removes unwanted glossiness in those areas. It’s just simply an inverted roughness map that gets put through a power node to create a contrast-y texture map where the lower parts are dark, this is then piped through a “min” Node that ensure no values go over the 0.5 limit – see material screenshots further down.

The scene is using baked lighting.

Some assets in the scene are using subsurface, like the candle and the skulls for example.

Here are some material examples from the scene, the base tiling material that is used for all tiling surfaces, I also have a version where I’m using vertex painting to be able to add dirt and salt streaks to my surfaces, it’s just a simple lerp between 2 different textures with the vertex color as the alpha.

I chose to make use of 2 channel normal maps for my assets, to make this work you have to but your normal map to compression setting BC7 and make it linear as well. then the normal map needs to be converted to the correct space again which is easily done by multiplying it by 2 and then add -1, then in the end add back the blue channel by using a derive normalZ. Its usually a good idea to normalize the normal map after these kind of procedures. This can however produce black artifacts if the normal map is way too strong to I also added a control vec3 for that so I could manipulate the channels if any artifacts would occur.

I chose to pack my texture as follows:

  • Tiling textures – Color and displacement in Alpha, normal map is Red and Green channel, roughness in Blue and AO in the alpha
  • Subsurface textures – Color and roughness in the Alpha, normal map is R & G then displacement in the Blue and SSS map in the Alpha
  • Standard textures without displacement – Color and roughness in Alpha, normal map is R & G then specular in Blue and metallic in Alpha with the possibility to turn off the metallic option.

These are all the master materials which I created instances of.

Here is a progress with the different states of the scene before reaching final.

Level construction kit

Here are some of the assets used in the scene.

I chose to make use of displacement for this scene on my tiling materials so the geometry is very simple but pre-tessellated a bit so its easier to get good results in UE4

I re-used some simpler props from my previous Hunters Dream scene as well as the styles fit together, it saved me some time so I didn’t have to “re-invent” the wheel again just because. The grave stones and the metal stakes for example are re-used but tweaked a bit. 

That scene can be found here if anyone is interested:

The basic construction kit:


Some assets went through a sculpt pass which was super simple and mostly focusing on large forms then the rest was added inside Substance Painter.

Substance Designer materials

I created all my tileables within Substance Designer and did all the channel packing as well before exporting.

Here are the main 2 materials used:

Simon Barle, Environment Artist

The breakdown was originally published on Polycount. 

Source: Simon Barle

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