logo80lv
Articlesclick_arrow
Professional Services
Research
Talentsclick_arrow
Events
Workshops
Aboutclick_arrow
Order outsourcing
Advertiseplayer
profile_loginLogIn

Learn How To Create a Victorian Era Environment in Unreal Engine

Alexey Kovalsky shared a step-by-step breakdown explaining how a Victorian-era London was recreated in 3D, showing how the fSpy tool was used during the modeling stage, and discussing the lighting setup in Unreal Engine 5.

Introduction

My name is Alexey Kovalsky, and I am currently a 3D Generalist at SCOREWARRIOR LTD. Lately, I have been involved in creating creative CG videos for advertising our gaming projects. 

My journey into the world of 3D art began many years ago when I was still in school and became fascinated with computer games. Games for me were not just entertainment, but entire worlds full of stories, adventures, and, of course, incredible graphics. The desire to create such captivating and beautiful worlds led me to study 3D modeling.

My first steps were modest: I started with simple online 3D modeling tutorials, learning the basics in 3ds Max and Maya. Soon, I realized that I wanted to specialize in creating 3D environments, as it allowed me not just to create objects, but entire worlds.

About the Victorian Night Project

As a reference, I chose the work of the artist 夜猫子进宅.

This work resonated with me deeply, and I was eager to bring it to life as a 3D location. The project's goal became not just a recreation but an interpretation of Victorian aesthetics, color palettes, and light play, with special attention to details while leaving room for personal creative input. 

For me, it was crucial to preserve the mood and atmosphere of the original, enhancing it without changing its essence. I aimed to create a scene that would not only visually convey this era but also immerse the viewer in a nocturnal cityscape filled with mystery and history.

The project's concept was based on creating a realistic, yet stylized image of a Victorian street at night, illuminated by lamps, with intricately detailed building facades and architectural elements of the time. I strived to achieve a sense of immersion where every scene element – from the cobblestone to the sky – contributed to creating a special atmosphere.

Working with references played a key role in the development of the project. I spent countless hours studying photographs, illustrations, and maps of Victorian London, as well as artworks from that time.

This research helped me not only accurately recreate architectural details but also understand the lighting, color palette, and overall atmosphere of the era. Special attention was given to textures and materials to achieve a realistic appearance of walls, roads, and other elements of the street landscape.

Blockout

Planning the initial composition for the Victorian Night Project was a crucial stage that defined the entire subsequent work process. I began by creating a mood board, gathering images, illustrations, and photographs that reflected the atmosphere and architectural elements of the Victorian era. 

This mood board helped me visualize the overall atmosphere and color scheme of the project, as well as identify key composition elements such as streets, buildings, lanterns, and other details of the urban landscape.

For the initial blockout, I used simple geometric shapes in Blender to quickly sketch out the composition and placement of the main scene elements. This stage aimed to define the scale, perspective, and basic arrangement of objects such as buildings, roads, and squares. 

An important aspect was creating a compelling visual flow that would guide the viewer's gaze through the entire scene, highlighting key elements and creating depth of space.

After setting up the initial blockout, I began adding more details, incorporating an increasing number of objects. Each phase of the project required revisiting the original composition plan and adjusting it to accommodate new details and elements.

This approach allowed me to systematically and sequentially develop the project while maintaining the unity of the compositional concept and the overall atmosphere of the Victorian Night.

The Modeling Workflow

fSpy is a tool for creating and subsequently transferring a 3D camera to 3D software while preserving perspective, which is especially useful when working on realistic scenes. By importing a reference image into fSpy, I could match perspective lines and scale, ensuring a high degree of accuracy in modeling.

Of course, the match in perspective won't be perfect, as an artist's concept is not an engineer's blueprint. Some manual adjustments are necessary. But still, fSpy does 80% of the work with a press of a button.

Tools and Techniques

  • Blender was used for the primary modeling thanks to its powerful tools and flexibility.
  • ZBrush was applied for creating high-polygon models and detailing.
  • Substance 3D Painter and Substance 3D Designer were used for texturing, allowing the creation of realistic materials and textures.

To save time, I utilized procedural texture creation and elements, as well as libraries of ready-made assets for decals, to focus on the key elements of the scene.

After transferring the blockout to Unreal Engine, all objects in the scene were divided into modular and unique. This was done to save time, as many elements of the buildings are repeated, and it is sufficient to make several modules to assemble a whole building.

To maintain the correct texture density on modular objects, UV coordinates for these objects are created for TRIM textures.

For creating unique objects, a traditional approach was employed, which included developing a low poly model, subsequently creating a high poly version, and finishing with the baking of Normal Maps. The low poly was done in Blender, the high poly in ZBrush, and the baking of the Normal Maps in Substance 3D Painter.

Regarding UV packing, for those working in Blender, I highly recommend the UV PACKMASTER add-on. I used to always use Maya for this, but now it's not necessary at all.

To find the original posters used in the reference, I resorted to using ChatGPT to decipher the inscription and further searching for the image on Google.

Initially, I prepared several basic materials that were used throughout the scene, such as brick, wood, and cobblestone.

For this, I used Substance 3D Painter and Substance 3D Designer. These tools allow for the creation of highly detailed, procedural textures that can be easily adapted and scaled for different objects.

In Unreal Engine, materials based on vertex paint were created, in which I could blend multiple surfaces.

To save time, for frequently repeating objects (such as pipes), a universal smart material for old metal was created in Substance 3D Painter.

Unique objects were textured using the classic method in Substance 3D Painter, based on the reference.

Lighting and Rendering

The choice of Unreal Engine 5 was motivated by several factors, including its advanced capabilities in lighting, rendering, and real-time realism.

  • Lumen: The real-time lighting system in UE5 enabled the creation of dynamic global illumination and realistic reflections without the need for lengthy computations.
  • Ease of Use: Unreal Engine 5 features an intuitive interface and powerful tools that make the development process understandable and enjoyable.

Creating Mood and Atmosphere

  • Lighting: I utilized a combination of static and dynamic lighting to create the soft, warm glow of street lamps, which contrasted with the cold night sky. This highlighted textures and gave the scene a mysterious atmosphere.
  • Fog and Humidity: Adding layers of fog and moisture effects helped create the sensation of a cold, damp night. Using Volumetric Fog in UE5 allowed me to achieve realistic light scattering and scene depth.

The parameter Volumetric Scattering Intensity in light sources interacts with Volumetric Fog by determining the strength of the light as it scatters through the fog. This effect creates a more immersive and dynamic atmosphere by enhancing the visibility of light beams as they penetrate the fog. 

Adjusting the Volumetric Scattering Intensity allows for fine-tuning how pronounced these beams of light appear, making it possible to simulate various environmental conditions, from a subtle, misty evening to a dense, foggy night. 

This feature is particularly useful in Unreal Engine 5 for adding depth and realism to scenes, contributing significantly to the mood and atmosphere by mimicking the way light behaves in real-world foggy conditions.

Render Queue settings in Unreal Engine:

After rendering the final sequence, I compiled all the shots in DaVinci Resolve. Cryptomatte pass allows for easy color correction of any objects in the scene during post-production. Some effects were also added, such as chromatic aberration on highlights, a vignette, and a bit of film grain.

Before and after color correction:

Summary

The main difficulty in production was finding a balance between detail and staying true to the reference. Finding a balance where the scene looked good while still retaining the idea of the reference required a lot of experimentation, effort, and time. 

The most important advice I can offer to both myself and fellow artists is to strive for continuous learning, experimentation, and openness to new ideas. 

Alexey Kovalsky, 3D Generalist

Interview conducted by Theodore McKenzie

Join discussion

Comments 1

  • Anonymous user

    Super artist. Awesome work!
    I love you, man!
    P.S. 3dMax're at the bottom!

    0

    Anonymous user

    ·2 months ago·

You might also like

We need your consent

We use cookies on this website to make your browsing experience better. By using the site you agree to our use of cookies.Learn more