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Designing and Animating a Stylized Scene

Rémy Lauret talked about creating the Tiny House scene, shared the workflow in ZBrush, Maya, Substance, and Unreal, and talked about the lighting setup.

Introduction

Hi! My name is Rémy Lauret, I am 22 years old. I am based in Paris and I just graduated high school in ECV Paris in Game Arts. I love creating stylized works and during my free time, I make stylized environments. This time it was the tiny house, based on a wonderful concept by Nara.

Modeling

During my modeling process, I used Maya to do the blocking of my scene.

ZBrush is used for the details. I usually go back and forth in and out of Unreal to check if all is good

In ZBrush, when I sculpt wood and stones, I usually use the Trim Dynamic, Orb Cracks2, and OrbFlatten Edge brushes.

Small Objects and Assets

As for the small objects, I used the same method and the same material but with different values.

In this scene, I used a character I designed during my free time, it's also a classic method with the ZBrush, Maya, and Substance Painter

Texturing

During my texturing process, I used Substance Painter, it’s kind of a classic workflow. I applied a material I created that I called Stylized Material.

I applied it and tweaked some values to do all my props. As for the color palette, I wanted to do something autumn-style, with some contrast in the scene with green areas. For the roof, I did a non-tillable texture because in this project I wanted to work more in ZBrush to practice, but if I wanted to do tillable texture and optimize my workflow I would have done it in Substance Designer.
 
This part it's not the hardest one though, the most complex part is to make the scene come to life in Unreal Engine.

Setting Up the Scene

Firstly, I placed all my props in UE4. After that, I set up the grass and the tree. I used the Stylized Forest Pack for the material and applied my texture of leaves and wood in Photoshop.

As for the water, I used this tutorial by Rimaye. It’s a complex texture, so if u are interested, go ahead and check the tutorial, it's very well explained.

To set up the leaves, I used Niagara System and drew a flower texture. As for the smoke, I used Rimaye's tutorial again. The tutorial is all about creating an explosion, but I tweaked it a little to make a smoke effect.

The wind is made with a particle system, it’s a classic gradient texture, stretched to follow an animated point.

Lighting 

To set up the lighting, I used some Emissive I did in Substance Painter and added a Directional Light. I added some point lights to make it look better in the widows and a light behind the object for the Rim Light.

I also added a light that only affected the character, so that he pops out. To do so, I used a Directional Light with a different channel and I applied the same channel to the character.

For post-process, I tweaked the color grading and used the Blend Weight.

Conclusion

The hardest part, and the most time-consuming one, was adding all the small details and FX to make the scene look alive to Unreal. And the process never stops because new ideas constantly come to your head and you want to keep adding more and more details.

I love to design stylized scenes, for me it's a very good way to be creative. If you want to create stylized scenes, I think it's very important to take your time, in the beginning, to find good-quality references. And to have fun in the process!

Rémy Lauret, 3D Artist Assistant ar Ubisoft Paris Mobile

Interview conducted by Theodore Nikitin

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