So proud of you Alina!!!!!!
want to meet me i will be there...
Mateusz Kozłowski created an interior of the 80s-90s room that perfectly tells a story about a boy who had big dreams and once left the house to make them come true. The artist shared how he created this environment in Modo, Substance Painter and UE4 within CGMA course UE4 Modular Environments.
My name is Mateusz Kozłowski and I am an environment artist currently working at Immersion in Warsaw Poland. The first time I had contact with 3D was in high school with 3ds Max. After 2 years of graduation from my school, I started learning new stuff at home to get better in 3D. Following that decision, I got my first job, and I’m in this industry for about 4 years.
Though work keeps me busy most of the time, I really love to learn new things. This led me to enroll in the CGMA class UE4 Modular Environments with Clinton Crumpler. I’m glad to share a little bit of what I made in this course.
The main key that I wanted to learn was modularity. I’ve never worked with modular pieces, grid system, texture trims, so these were the main things that I decided to learn.
Start of the Scene & References
In the first week of the class, I had to define the theme of my future scene. Clinton told us to not make a large scene and rather focus on something relatively small. I obeyed him and decided to make a tenement house with an attic interior based on years 1985-95. I started to gather references on my Pureref board. Using Pureref is super easy, you have access to all reference that you gather plus adding comments is also a nice thing to have.
Once I had enough references, I started working on the blockout mesh in Modo. Blockout stage is very important in the environment production and has a couple of purposes. General view of the form and scale is one thing. The second one is connected with changing things because it’s much easier to alter something when we have rough shapes, so it’s better to implement major alterations of your scene at the beginning.
First thing in making modular environemnts is to make modular meshes. Here are the modular floors and walls I made. Everything is based on the grid so they will snap one to another in the engine.
Blockout mesh in Modo:
When I was happy with the initial effect I started to add more and more elements:
I imported my blockout to Unreal Engine 4 to see how it looks. In Affinity Photo, I painted things that are modular in green. Red color means normal assets and the yellow color is hero assets that will tell the story of this environment.
Further Modeling & Texturing
After I was satisfied with the blockout I began modeling high poly and baking them into low poly after unwraping UVs. For the modular meshes, I tried to use texture trim to avoid a great number of unique textures. Here is a simple example, I decided to add a rough comment for myself to not get lost in what is what.
For most of the textures, I used Substance Painter. Tile textures are made from photos and Substance Share content. As for Substance Designer, it is a great tool to make tiling textures, and it’s a thing that I need to learn. There are people like Daniel Thiger, Enrico Tammekand, Javier Perez and other who make outstanding stuff in it. But my prime goal is quality of the overall look of the whole scene.
Setting up the lights was not an easy task. Two times I had to throw out my settings and start again because I was not happy with them. I was able to achieve nice looking shadows by increasing Source Radius in Point Lights. It’s also a good idea to increase lightmap resolution. In general, lightmap density should be “green”, and sometimes if it’s necessary to achieve the desired look it can be increased. For modular meshes, the cost of the lightmap is really low, so it doesn’t hurt to set up lightmap resolution for 256 or even 512 for specific meshes.
I made two Master Materials, one for assets and one for tiling meshes. From them I made material instances. Master materials are great, they give extra flexibility on instances, so I definitely recommend to use them. Here is a quick example of the tiling material. Static switch parameter is also a nice thing to have in it.
I know that I could improve the scene in a few ways, especially in terms of lighting which is the key. I still need to learn more about it and practice. Decent lighting can help the project look much better.
The biggest challenge of the scene was the number of props. I know that in my next production I’m going to refine fewer elements. Making 174 meshes for a modular environment is quite too much, and it’s hard to control the quality of every asset when there are so many of them. That’s why I’d advise to make fewer assets but polish them better.