Making the Dead Space-Inspired UE-Powered Sci-Fi Corridor

An Environment Artist Martin Calujek has shared a breakdown of the Modular Sci-Fi Corridor project and thoroughly explained how to learn and develop skills if you are a beginner in art and design.


My name is Martin Calujek, I’m 22 years old and I’m currently studying at Pôle3D, a video game school in France. This is my last year in this school and I wish to be an Environment Artist in the video game industry. I've been playing video games since I was a kid, it's my passion, and I'd always known I wanted to work in this field.

At first, I wanted to be a game designer but while I was experimenting with 3D, Unity, Unreal Engine I discovered a passion for creating weapons, props, and environments. I constantly try to develop my skills and work on solo projects to learn new workflows and techniques in environment creation.

Goals and Inspiration

During the summer I had some free time and decided to start a project to practice in environment building and experiment with the Trim Sheet workflow for the first time. I wanted to extend my portfolio with a big project.

My goal was to create a sci-fi environment. I have always been fascinated by this kind of environment due to its complexity and its amount of detail. It was a great challenge for me and an excellent opportunity to learn how to create a sci-fi environment for video games in an optimized way.

I was inspired by the release of the first images of the Dead Space remake and I realized that I wanted to be able to do something similar.

At the same time, I discovered Sergey Tyapkin’s videos. His work inspired me a lot and really got me interested in working on a sci-fi environment project.


In the beginning, I wanted to copy an existing concept art or an environment that already exists in the game, but, eventually, I decided to create something of my own. That brings an extra challenge because it adds the whole conceptual part to the environment creation. 

First of all, I did some research on sci-fi corridors to find inspiration and to have a better idea of how tunnels are structured. In PureRef, I sorted the references into 4 groups:

  • Sci-fi corridors: for the corridor’s global shape.
  • Sci-fi panels: for the details on the walls.
  • Details: to create my Trim sheet.
  • Lighting: for the global lighting and mood of the scene.


Then I did a quick blockout in Blender to determine the overall shape of the tunnel. Once I got satisfied with that, I broke it down into modules. I used one color for one unique mesh.

I took the Unreal default character to make sure the tunnel had a correct and realistic scale.

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Trim Sheets

The most important part of the project is the Trim Sheet creation which is used to create details around all the objects of the scene.

With the help of my references, I chose elements that I wanted to see in my environment, modeled, and organized them into a square in Blender. To reduce the amount of work, I also took some of them from KitBash I found on the internet.

After that, I baked it with GrabDoc – a really useful free add-on for Blender – to bake details on a plane.

I exported 4 Maps: Normal, MatID, Alpha, and Height, then imported them into Substance 3D Designer to do the texturing.

Before starting texturing, I readjusted the Height Map to fill holes in order to have a clear height and generate a correct ambient occlusion. This was done by copying the height blend and the correct grey value with the Alpha as a mask. I also added the grid part in Substance 3D Designer.

I prefer to generate such ambient occlusion in SD to avoid some defaults that I would have had if I had directly baked it.

For the texturing, I worked on the worn-out and dirty aspect. I created two masks, and then, I used them for creating my material in Unreal Engine, one for the damaged metallic edges like if the painting was gone and one for the grubby cavities. Then I packed those masks into one texture with the AO.

I also packed my other Maps together: MatID, Height, and Alpha. (I wanted to use the Height for the parallax occlusion but ended up not doing it.)

Assets Creation

To create objects, I used Face Weighted Normals to have a bevel effect on the edges to create nice reflections and get a more realistic rendering. The bevel modifier in Blender is perfect for that, and UVs are correctly adapted while making it a non-destructive working method.

This method is crucial when you don’t use the classic workflow low poly, high poly, or bake. 

In the examples below, you can see how I place my decals and how I use my Trim Sheet details.


I used two UV channels to texture my objects. The first one is for Trim Sheet details, and the second one is for the principle painted metal texture. This allows me to blend the details and the background of the object texture to get a seamless and uniform result.

The painted metal texture was taken from Megascans.

When you use two UVs channels, make sure to always put the normal information into the first UV channel, because Unreal Engine doesn’t automatically convert the second channel normals to the world space, otherwise, you’ll have to use a specific node called “DeriveTangentBasis”. More information about that you can find here.


For the cables, I created a blueprint with a spline function to deform the mesh along a curve. You can find the video tutorial here

Assets Variations

In order to add a variety into the scene, I created some asset variations, and with this workflow, the process becomes quick and simple: you just have to duplicate the original mesh, change it, and add new decals.


I wasn't inclined to make a too clean and slick environment, so I had to use a few little tricks to make my material in Unreal.

First, I wanted a wear effect on my objects, so I used this set of nodes to get a mask and then edited the appearance of the edges. Face weighted normals are important to do that.

I used the PrecomputedAOMask node that is based on the Light Map data to make the corners dirty to link the elements together, which gives a more realistic rendering.

Then, I added some dust on top of the objects.

The material was made only by masks, this way it gets fully procedural and very customizable. You can change the color, roughness, and metalness as you want and then create lots of different materials with a single master material.

You can see all of my modular pieces, shaded with an instance of the same master material below.

Lighting and Rendering

To get as close as possible to my reference image, I gave a very dark and disturbing aspect to the scene with the same colorimetry.

As in the Dead Space remake, I placed a bright area in the center of the screen, so that it would be eye-catching and would make you want to go there.

The main light source comes from the top neons that project a greenish light to create a gloomy atmosphere. I used a Rectangle Light and flickered it with a blueprint function. I also put some particle effects like smoke, fire, sparks, and dust in the air to bring movement and life to the environment so that it doesn't appear too static.

I used Height Fog to give depth and a hazy atmosphere to the corridor. All those little details were put together to contribute to the general spooky ambiance of the scene like in Dead Space.


Post-process effects are pretty basic: I put some bloom, a bit of grain, ambient occlusion, screen-space reflection, and a color grading to give a slight bluish aspect to the shadows. I prefer not to use the post-processing effects too much to keep a certain realism.

After that, I added post-process sharpening material to increase visibility and get a less blurry rendering. More information about this material you can find here and in the pictures by Bart-W. van Lith.

The Workflow

This workflow has many advantages like fast assets production without bakes and texturing in Substance 3D Painter for each asset. You just need to have a Trim Sheet and the procedural material in Unreal Engine. Assets are also easy to change and customize, you just have to add new decals, move vertices. The other advantage is the small number of textures because all the assets use the same Trim Sheet textures and master material.

This method also has a few inconveniences like a bigger asset poly count due to the bevels on the edges and more draw calls because some elements may have multiple materials.


The entire project was a challenge because it had been new for me. However, it was really exciting. I would say the most time-consuming part was the Trim Sheet modeling and building the material in UE4.

I assume the most difficult part was the beginning when I was looking for references and did not yet have a clear idea of what I was going to do. It’s hard to plan an environment like this, but when I had my concepts and inspirations, it got much easier to continue.

I also did a lot of research on the internet when I was struggling and couldn't move forward. It takes a lot of time and could be demotivating, but it's a huge contribution to your knowledge.

Due to my lack of experience, this project took me about a whole month of work, which is a bit long. However, I learned a lot and this will allow me to be faster next time and will save me from making the same mistakes again.


It's hard for me to give advice to beginners because I still consider myself as one. For me, the greatest help was Sergey’s Tyapkin videos and his 80 Level article. His work has taught me a lot.

I'm still learning and researching new information, and if I had to give advice to someone who reads this, I would also recommend being constantly informed, watching videos, tutorials, reading 80 Level articles. Sometimes, a simple tutorial can give the motivation to start and complete a project.

Martin Calujek, Environment Artist

Interview conducted by Theodore Nikitin

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