Forest Lighting: Tips and Tricks

Forest Lighting: Tips and Tricks

3d artist Ted Mebratu showed some techniques he uses to build impressive lighting in Cryengine.

3d artist Ted Mebratu showed some techniques he uses to build impressive lighting in Cryengine.


Hi! My name is Ted Mebratu. I’m 19 years old and  I’m a freelance 3D artist based in Maryland, United states. I’m originally from Addis Ababa, Ethiopia and moved to the states a while ago to pursue a career in computer graphics. I got into 3D after I started playing around with the far cry 3 map maker for multiplayer a couple of years back and that evolved into me learning more about Unreal Engine, Cryengine, 3ds Max and all the other tools and how I could utilize them to create photorealistic virtual environments.

Forest in Cryengine

I wanted to make a very dense forest and see if I could achieve realistic lighting only using Сryengine’s powerful GI system. I looked up many reference photos of forests before I started, I was also importing most of my Megascans assets into Cryengine at that time and wanted to make an environment that could showcase them in a realistic way.

Setting up the landscape was pretty simple, since almost none of the terrain wouldn’t  be visible from the camera’s perspective I didn’t have to worry much about texture variations, decals etc…so I created a simple flat terrain and did some light sculpting to get some nice height variations.

Since the goal was to create a dense forest and I didn’t have to worry much about optimization I went all out on the trees and placed as many as I could, I used CryEngine’s procedural vegetation system to populate the trees and erased some of the trees that obstructed the camera’s view.

The bark textures are one of a few I had worked on in earlier projects, I used a tileable bark texture and generated the different outputs in Substance B2M.

I only used one bush asset for the whole thing, I hand placed it over and around all the tree and rock assets I had in the scene to make it seem like the bushes grew all around them, since I wanted to make it seem dense I placed smaller bushes around the big ones and repeated this process all over.

For the lighting, I wanted to use the sunlight only with no additional ambient stuff. I captured environment probes after I set up the sunlight for reflections and tweaked the Global Illumination. Cryengine has an amazing voxel-based GI system called Sparse Voxel Octree Global Illumination. It’s probably my favorite feature of the engine and one of the main reasons I use it more than any other engine. Achieving fairly realistic results is really easy if you know the right options to tweak and there is absolutely no waiting time whatsoever. So,to get my lighting result I turned the injection multiplier way up to increase the intensity of the bounce light, that way you can see the sun color bounce on all  the trunks of the trees and rocks..after that I increased the sky color multiplier to get some more ambient skylight and finally I added volumetric fog shadows for the sun.

For the camera what I usually like to do is lower the field of view to something like 35 and take closeup screenshots with the depth of field, all the shots were captured with a 35 FOV, I also increased the shadow resolution and used the new Temporal Supersampling Antialiasing mode introduced in CryEngine 5.4. 

Finally, I used a custom LUT I made in photoshop to give the scene a “warm” look, I also added bloom and saturation for the final output.

Ted Mebratu, 3d Artist

Interview conducted by Kirill Tokarev

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Comments 1

  • Samuel Degemu

    The work you did on the depth of field is very impressive. I'll look into CryEngine


    Samuel Degemu

    ·4 years ago·

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