Gwan-seon Oh shared how he created an interior 3D design of Nathan Drake’s house from Uncharted 4 with the help of ZBrush, 3ds Max, and other tools.
Hello! My name is Gwan-seon Oh, and I’m from South Korea. I am currently studying at Chungkang College of Cultural Industries, Scool of Game program. Last year I worked with my team on the action game Hilda – the Guardians of Forest, the project can be found on my ArtStation page.
Before encountering the 3D tools, I first worked with a game engine and created a game environment scene without knowing the process of 3D modeling. I became interested in lighting and post-processing and decided to become a lighting artist. But lighting artists are not in-demand in Korea yet, so I hesitated. At that time, I accidentally discovered a lecture read by Ho-sung Lee, a senior lighting artist. After listening to his personal advice, I made a decision to study 3D environment modeling and soon became interested in many aspects of it besides lighting. At the moment my 3D modeling experience is about 10 months. I would like to continue studying, improve my portfolio and find a dream job after all.
Before I used other artists’ assets to create environment scenes, but this time I wanted to make an environment scene completely on my own. I lacked knowledge of working with a lot of tools such as 3ds Max, ZBrush, Substance Painter, Marvelous Designer, Unreal Engine, so I studied them by watching YouTube tutorials and consulting friends.
As for the concept, I have not played Uncharted 4 yet, but after thinking a little, I decided to create Nathan Drake’s house. I have collected images of the environment scene from several and plunged into work.
In the beginning, there was no accurate planning, and the scene below was started at a venture. The proportions of many props have been modified in 3ds Max in the process.
After making walls, a roof, and windows I began to grasp the overall structure and the mood of the scene. I finished each object one by one, and the interior of the room appeared as a result.
Most assets are based on low/middle poly meshes. As for high-poly models, I dealt with them using a hard-surface modeling approach dividing smoothing groups and then baked the normal maps. While baking AO maps in Substance Painter, I noticed that the edges of the objects caused map curving, so I couldn’t avoid hard-surface modeling. There are some props made with ZBrush sculpting, and some made using Marvelous Designer. Please note that when baking a normal map, it is necessary to break the boundary UV of all the polygons that divide the smoothing group. Otherwise, you will see problems with edge popping out.
The workflow behind the whole object: modeling -> hard surface or Sculpting ->UV unwraps-> normal baking -> PBR mapping via Substance Painter.
All cloth material objects were created in Marvelous Designer: cotton, a sofa, and a pillow.
I made several objects that interact with each other. The number of polygons was reduced by using ZRemesher in ZBrush. After that, some polygons were further reduced and corrected.
Walls and floors are separated by plank material. I took the wood of Drake’s house as a reference. I modified the wood materials found at Substance Share and used them for various objects.
While making the walls, floors, and ceiling in 3ds Max, I added a uniform edge to the plane with connect function to model the surface. That was after baking the normal map.
In the Substance Painter, I modified the texture using the Smart Mask function and layered wood material.
I created and used the above textures as tiling.
Lighting is one of my favorite tasks! I was initially ignorant about the rendering capabilities of Unreal Engine, but I followed the Unreal Engine documentation and guides for baking the lightmaps and applied several techniques to my environment. First, it was completely dark, without any light, but then I set up a directional light, an angle, configured the lightmass volume and dealt with the lighting.
The important point here is the lightmap. You have to unwrap the lightmap to get the right results. You can use the Unreal Engine documentation to learn how to unwrap the lightmap or use the automatic lightmap generation feature in Unreal Engine. I am still very inexperienced when it comes to lighting, so that was a difficult part for me. I one by one experimented with the post-process volume, adjusted various rendering features, put the reflection capture, set up the fog. What is more, I applied a subsurface-scattering (SSS) material to the cotton and used a movable spotlight here turning off the shadow creation option.
I also apply the same method for night scenes, and if it is necessary to make a difference, I use volumetric lighting. This is simple, but it leads to a huge change when setting up visuals.
Movable Light Trick: I intentionally dropped the resolution of shadows created by spotlights to make the shadows’ borders look faded.
The problems that came up when working with this environment were that the carpet’s parallax occlusion mapping did not work properly, so I made a normal map. Setting up the glass material and doing the alpha work in Substance can also be challenging.
Since most of the work was new to me, it took about two months and a half to complete the project. During this work, I’ve greatly improved my modeling, mapping and lighting skills. Yet now I see that there’s still a lot to be improved. It was an honor to share my work experience. Thank you for reading my interview!