Lights and Color in Cyberpunk Environments
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Lights and Color in Cyberpunk Environments
15 June, 2017
Interview

Michał Baca talked about the production of his amazing cyberpunk environment. Deep dive into the lighting, color, geometry and city building.

Introduction

Hi, I’m Michał Baca, and I’m an environment artist from Poland, where I’m currently in my first year, studying Visual Art at The University of Computer Sciences and Skills. I don’t have any professional experience yet, I’m working on my portfolio projects all time to get that job in the industry in future.

Pre-production 

So, after I decided that my next project will be in cyberpunk theme, I started to collect photos and concepts from various artist to get inspired. Because concept art isn’t my strong side, I made simple photobashing in Photoshop to plan my scene. Next step was level blockout in unreal engine, where I planned verticality, basic lights and level structure. To get inspired about some of architecture elements I just enter street view in Google maps and walking through the streets of New York and other cities.

Structure 

Scene was built mainly with modular assets, everything was planned in 3ds Max to work perfectly together. Modular environments are great thing, because I can use already created elements to create new pieces.

Detailing

Set dressing of that scene was created using modular pieces, some of them designed by me and some inspired from collected concepts and photos. Workflow was typical: modeling in 3ds max and ZBrush then baking normal maps and materials in Substance Painter. Finally everything combined in Unreal Engine. For pipes and wires I was using blueprint spline mesh components, best technique for things like that. There are also decals for graffiti and micro details.

Materials

All materials was made in Substance Painter like I said earlier. In unreal engine material editor I’m using detail texturing technique to get realistic details. For roughness maps and nice reflections I added second texture to get effect of wet surfaces.

Sidewalk material was made with photo scanned texture from textures.com, I used mesh paint tool to blend it with puddles and also used Parallax Occlusion Mapping to get realistic effect.

Neon

For the neons I used simple trick, I created blueprint with neon-shaped cylinder mesh with emissive material and point light with specific source radius and source length settings to simulate neon light.

For neon billboards I created translucent material with emissive and panner parameter to animate emissive map, everything was build with fill lights to simulate realistic lighting and create specific atmosphere.

Lighting

Building the lights in scene was most difficult and most important part because I decided to make dynamic lighting, so there is many fill lights to simulate GI. For detail shadowing, I used Distance Field Ambient Occlusion and Ray Traced Distance Field Soft Shadows in some places.

Using UE4

May 24th, unreal engine 4.16 version was released with awesome volumetric fog feature, but it was too late to switch engine version for my project. So by simple trick I decided to create volumetric fog effect with translucent material and cone-shaped mesh.

I’m learning something new all time and during the creation process of this scene I learned a lot, I’m polishing my skills all time to be a better artist and get job in game dev industry.

Michal Baca, Student, 3D Environment Artist

Interview conducted by Kirill Tokarev

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3 Comments on "Lights and Color in Cyberpunk Environments"

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Peter Mayer
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Peter Mayer

Hey great work. You should get in touch with the CD Projekt Red team, theyre working on Cyperpunk 2077. Im sure they have hirings. Good friend of mine works there, hes Hungarian and worked on The Witcher previously. Heres a link, they have environment artist position open in Krakow. http://en.cdprojektred.com/jobs/

Terence Daniels
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Terence Daniels

Hey Michal, this work is magnificient. You seem to have worked the process out thouroughly. I’m also an indie hoping to get backed. Perhaps we can work on games in the future even though I am in Unity. 🙂 http://www.wholebitmedia.com

Debranjan Dutta
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Debranjan Dutta

Brilliant work young man, your future in 3D and Unreal is as bright as the neons in your work. Keep it up!

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