Building Dioramas with UE4 and Substance

Brian van der Vegt talked about his beautiful diorama created with the help of UE4, Substance and 3ds Max.

Brian van der Vegt talked about his beautiful diorama created with the help of UE4, Substance and 3ds Max.


My name is Brian van der Vegt, I am 19 years old and I live in the Netherlands. I follow the study Game Artist at the Deltion College in Zwolle. My previous projects where all kinds of textures, especially stylized textures because I simply love stylized art.

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Diorama project

I started this project around 7 weeks ago, I wanted to have some 3D art on my portfolio to make it stronger and more varied then only textures/substances which I had before, and also wanted to experiment with UE4. So I decided to make a little diorama. I wanted to make something unique and never done before. Something which stands out from the crowd. I wanted to make it cute and adorable, so my main source of inspiration comes from the Animal Crossing games. So I decided to not work from a concept but simply let my mind to do the work. I did gather a few references, but nothing more than that.


The book are two meshes, a base and a top layer which contains a lot of geometry for vertex painting. I used the Book Rigger Script to generate the pages, and modeled further with to make the cover and the separate pages. I used FFD modifier in 3DS max to shape the book. I textured it in Substance Painter.


I used Substance Painter and Designer a lot for this project, same goes for the FFD modifier in 3DS max. I modeled everything in 3DS max and drew the foliage in Photoshop. Made a special Layer style to keep the style consistent. I made a few smart materials and to keep the colours of the wood and stone consistent. l wanted that painterly look so I used a couple of smart masks to get that look as a base for my little houses but mostly it is all painted by hand.


This was the most fun part because I want to give every house his own look and feel, I used the smart materials I made as a base and drew everything else, like all the swirls in the wood and damages are painted by hand. I made a few really simple shaders for the foliage and the waterfall.

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For the pages I drew an alpha in Photoshop and used it in Substance painter. Then I did some more painting on the book to make it more old and worn. For the pattern I mainly looked at the old Gothic books to look at their pattern. And drew that around the edges of the pages.

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I started with the book, then I modeled the houses and give them their place in to the diorama. Next step was to paint the grass and path texture. After that I had to make the foliage and rocks to fill up the emptiness and make it feel more alive and give the waterfall some more love. The lighting was the hard part because I was not familiar with UE4 at all at the start of this project. And I had to do lighting which was huge challenge for me. So I started to experiment a lot. First I went for a sunset lighting but that wasn’t really nice because the colour went really flat, so I went for an afternoon sunny lighting with a baby blue background colour and it looked way better in my opinion.

I would like to thank you for reading this article and I would like to thank 80lv for taking the time to interview me.

Brian van der Vegt, Texture Artist

Interview conducted by Kirill Tokarev

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Comments 1

  • Sandra

    This is not Diorama. Diorama means something else.



    ·6 years ago·

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