this is an Excellent article, the way its set out with the vids and pics. very technical but not rambley. I learnt alot out of it.
Bob would have been proud
Congratulations Lukas:) Amazing piece of 3D parametric shader:) thank You for sharing Your knowledge:)
Denis Rutkovsky did a breakdown of the amazing 3D environment he actually made available at Unreal Engine Marketplace.
Hi, I’m Denis Rutkovsky. I do digital art and co-own a company called Artcore Studios – the place we provide art production for games. My new environment is Medieval Fantasy Village Kit. Its Architectural and props pieces to create organic and believable video game environments. This pack contains 130 static meshes and demonstration level of a medieval village to showcase what can be achieved with that content. Another part of the pack is castle related assets – the number of meshes to build base castle architecture elements.
Production of modular pieces
There are a lot of modular pieces especially the ones related to building parts such as roofs, house walls, stone walls etc. But I would say environment, in general, has more organic structure. I mean there are many pieces like rocks, grass, architectural elements that I used without straight snap\scale guidance and made them with the idea of flexibility so its possible to create better visual variety. Considering functionality – village asset is fully functional, you can explore and build gameplay around them, while mountain landscape is made rather for visual impact and could be better used for background purposes.
Making believable materials
In materials, I used a lot of vertex color blending. It helped to avoid artificial tiling effects and repetition on large areas like walls, castle modules, and others. I’ve created most of the materials with Zbrush and Substance Painter. In Zbrush, I’ve created a good selection of custom alphas and brushes (like stones, concretes, cracks) and it helped to boost realism and helped to make textures much faster. For some pieces like wood planks, I used a classic texturing approach with old good Photoshop as I struggled to make real wood in Substance.
As I mentioned already there are a bunch of materials with vertex blending support. With vertex painting its possible to achieve good results on surfaces of large-scale and avoid visible tiling. Also, there are materials with color masks (like house wall plaster, wood paint) and it’s very easy to make different colored materials using material instances.
For this level, I’ve built asset library first – not a particular specific mesh but a more generic asset which could be used in different cases. There are few assets created with a unique shape for some specific areas but for the most part, it’s designed to make custom different layouts and level designs.
All these pieces were added in the very end. The process of adding details could be endless and I see there are still few things I could add. But I tried to keep a balance of good visuals without spending a year of work in one environment.
There is a lot of shader blending here. It’s a key to have good blends of materials, especially in fantasy environments. So I’ve spent some time on surfaces that blend with each other well like plaster and stones, ground tiles and mud. While using blending materials for most areas I’ve also used decal materials for puddles, leaking, and dirt.
Optimizing assets for the game usage
I didn’t make assets heavy in terms of polygons in the first place. Keeping the balance between smooth silhouette and not getting too crazy with polycount. Also, there are LODs for assets where it needed. Most of the textures are 4k and memory wise it should be good by modern standards and if needed it’s easy to reduce size in Unreal anyways.
You can buy this pack at UE Marketplace.
Interview conducted by Kirill Tokarev.