3d artist Jhosep Chevarria did a brave experiment. He created a beautiful Madagascar environment, being inspired by the open world scene in Uncharted 4. The whole scene was created in UE4 with the help of modern 3d tools. Great looking environment was created in a matter of days.
My name is Jhosep Chevarria, I am 21 years old and I live in Arequipa, Perú.
I studied computer science at San Pablo Catholic University, but I quit due to my first jobs as environment artist and decided to study at Hipolito Unanue Institute. In that period of time (3 years) I educated myself with tutorials, documentation and dev blogs related to environment art and game design
In 2013 I founded Chevarria Arts, where a little group of artist works together on the project “AQP, The White City“. I’m working as freelancer on various projects as an environment artist and level designer, my clients are happy with my work. I’d love to join big AAA teams and do my best.
The idea to create an inspired Madagascar scene comes with the question, “How would it look in Unreal Engine 4?” and the suggestions to do a scene “choose the scene guys, I’m ready for a challenge”. It started as a tutorial for the new guys joining my team last Saturday. It was kind of private session of speed level design using AQP City’s assets and the Open World Demo Collection, my way to say “Hi, welcome to the team”.
Uncharted 4 is a piece of art in all senses and I loved many things as the great scene of Madagascar, beautiful colors, powerful vegetation and awesome terrain.
The main thing I wanted to do was recreate the scene in Unreal Engine 4 quickly as possible (preferably in less than 10 hours) before the weekend without losing quality and try some concepts learned (Merge actors, Automatic optimization and Material instances).
Made with a laptop (Alienware 17 R3, 8GB Ram, GTX 970M), the main protagonist of the scene is the lighting, I’m using less than 20 assets from my gallery and the Open World Demo Collection (It let me do the scene in hours and not in days), I wanted to keep it very simple, work only with 3Ds Max (create variations of the rocks) and Unreal Engine 4, is a sort of challenge for me.
Unreal engine 4 is a powerful tool full of possibilities and resources with which it is possible to reach the same quality of Uncharted 4 and other AAA titles without restrictions. I’ve taken care of the details to keep quality and bring it closer to the graphics of Uncharted (and make modifications to my taste) in an easy way.
First I had to see the possibilities doing it from my laptop, what software I have and when I’ll finish it.
Keeping a limit of assets, I can change the style on the scene within a couple of minutes from the Madagascar scene to a natural meadow. My goal was not to make something complicated, because It would take a lot of hours, even days. The beauty is in simplicity.
I have custom templates with my settings (Post process, LPV settings, Lighting) that helps greatly with the feel of the scene
I tried to do some easy to learn for the new guys, nothing complicated.
Custom template (Custom setting).
(Some of the assets used in scene)
To cut the development time I’ve modified four cliffs, the most closer models to the Uncharted Art (free cliffs from the Open world demo collection/ AQP City assets) and created different variations inside the editor with the merge tool, nothing from other world.
Mountains (merged assets)
I’ve modeled a quick mountain in 3ds Max and merged with a LOD mountain from the Kite Demo
Its is a master material that has variations thanks to instance materials for rocks and mountains (Photoscan Master Material from the Open World Demo Collection + tweaks) I got nice variations quickly, the trick comes directly from the textures.
(From dirt to grass with couple of clicks)
I’m using Speedtree assets from AQP City (my main Project) and the ScotsPine from the Open World Demo Collection, the scene has only 3 trees varying in size, color and branches. This time I loved the grass, I’m using 4 types of grass distributed throughout all the map with the foliage tool.
One of the main things on this scene is the lighting, I’m using other alternatives to have Skylight (for caves and Day/Night systems).
LPV (Light Propagation Volume) works perfect for natural environments with the right settings, major part of the feeling of the environment comes with GI and I’m happy with the results.
I’m obsessed with GI, I can’t work without that element, LPV, AHR and for High end GPUs, VXGI
Cutting the Production Time
For me the most important part is the lighting, the GI and the atmospheric effects. I’ve reused assets, materials and textures making them different. Unreal Engine 4 let me change values in textures and materials without going to Photoshop if I’m talking about do something really faster (Speed Level Design), the material instances are here to save your precious time.
Knowing what are you doing and where you go is very important. As I told to the new developers of my game AQP City, never distract, if you do something wrong and don’t notice it, you can fix it later and do it better.
The game art is like a Rubik Cube, you will find a way to do it right and faster and put the pieces in the right place, always practicing.
I’m happy you like it, this is a kind of Speed level design.