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Alexander Samuelsson discussed the way he picked up the perfect materials for his amazing Unreal Engine 4 interior.
Could you please introduce yourself and tell us a little about Hall of Light? What concepts and ideas were you experimenting with in this scene?
My name is Alexander Samuelsson, and I study Game Art at The Game Assembly.
I began this project through exploring my interest in the material qualities of marble. Experimenting with modular architectural parts, various material types, and more advanced lighting led me to create a warm scene lit by daylight.
I approached this environment with a focus on creating tileable materials in Substance Designer. With this in mind, I devoted more time to the materials than to the geometry of the scene. As a result, the modular parts are fairly blocky, and I used masks inside Unreal’s Material Editor to separate all the tileable materials.
When visualizing my concept and analyzing the Hall of Mirrors from the Palace of Versailles, I noticed an overlapping theme: repeated shapes. Thus, I instilled symmetry throughout the scene by repeating shapes on both sides of the hall. I also placed mirrors, carpets, and chandeliers within Hall of Light to heighten the symmetrical aspects of the scene.
This project heavily relied on the materials working together on account of their saturated and noisy natures. Throwing the materials into Unreal and trying to balance them was a major challenge. I used material instances to tile the materials differently so they don’t repeat in an obvious manner.
When I think of materials, a few things pop into my mind. I think to myself: how much volume will each material fill, and how can I keep the ratios between those materials interesting? Large areas have less noise, middle-sized areas have medium noise, and small areas have the most noise. I then try to disrupt these noise levels across several areas. Also, I pay close attention to the internal composition of the material as it should exhibit some exciting ratios as well.
To make the curtains, I blocked out the curtains’ size and shape in Maya and then sculpted and refined the curtains’ look using ZRemesher in ZBrush — I used the carpet material on the curtains as well. They’re static but it would be cool to make them dynamic in the future!
I blocked out the lighting early on in the development of this scene to narrow down which shapes I wanted to work with throughout the rest of the project. Then I played around with the light’s angles and intensity to find the perfect balance for my warmly lit piece. I really enjoy working with albedo and roughness so I made a special effort to develop interest along these lines with my lighting. I also love the lighting that Koola achieves in Unreal, so I tried to emulate some of his work by examining scenes he has shared in the past.
This project started off as a five week scene and now I have put in one more week.
I’ve been lucky to receive some awesome feedback that helped me to greatly improve over the course of this project. I want to thank Jeremy Estrellado and his inspiring YouTube channel as well as all the amazing people from The Game Assembly and Polycount — they all have been really honest and productive with their feedback. Overall, this was a very fun scene to create, but I’m eagerly looking towards the future.
I’m excited to get an internship and start working on larger games. If you’d like, please check out some of my other work in the Game Art 2015 section of The Game Assembly’s website starting April 20th. That’s when students’ portfolios launch and within a week (April 26th to be precise), we’ll start hunting for internships.