Ryan Benno’s Mentorship: Student Experience
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Ryan Benno's Mentorship: Student Experience
7 December, 2018
Environment Art
Environment Design
Interview

Mauriccio Torres has been recently tutored by Ryan Benno, Senior Environment Artist at Insomniac Games, and kindly shared some details about the mentorship, lessons gained and the project he worked on including Ultimate Trim technique that was of great help.

Project Goals

For this project, I wanted to create a small environment that could use some architectural elements. I’m a big fan of Final Fantasy, so I’m always aiming to get realistic elements mixed with some fantasy in it.

Workflow & Mentorship Details

Like most of the students, I used the Ultimate Trim technique in my workflow (check Morten Olsen‘s great presentation if you don’t know anything about it). At first, it took me some time to get used to it but I can definitely see the benefits in the long term. I’m not an expert using this technique yet but the fact that I don’t need to model any high poly model for most of my objects is a deal breaker for me. For this scene, I didn’t sculpt any model except for the organic assets like rocks.

Since I wanted to have some freedom I didn’t choose a concept and decided to discover little by little what I wanted to create. At first, it feels like it is going nowhere but the good thing is that I had Ryan mentoring me and giving me advice.

Here is a gif that shows how the environment evolved over the time I had my mentorship with Ryan:

It’s great to have a mentor because a single piece of advice from him can save you several hours of work. I’ve had a few mentors in my life and from experience, I can say it is the fastest way to succeed because they pull you to where they are. You also get what you put in, and if you put a lot of effort they can help you more than you expect. Likewise, if you don’t put any effort your mentor can’t help you that much.

With this project, I learned to apply environment art principles to solve problems. Some of them are:

  • Use of verticality in your scene
  • Have a limited color palette
  • Have the bigger picture of the scene and don’t focus on little things
  • Start adding some surface noise once your main elements are in place

I haven’t finished the scene yet, and if you take a close look into it, everything is very rough and sketchy. Some parts are more detailed than others but it is just a matter of time that everything is detailed. The good thing about this workflow is that you can create an environment really fast once you know how to solve those problems.

As for how the meshes were created, like I said before, I didn’t do any sculpt or baked any maps since I used the Ultimate Trim technique. My architectural elements are divided into 2 elements: main shapes and surface noise.

I used Material Layers to texture the assets to blend 2 different textures and use the Trim normals I created.

This is how my master material looks like:

I can easily apply this to any mesh I create and populate the scene really fast.

For the Surface Noise element, I used a trim texture and extracted some masks generated in Quixel Suite with a smart material to have some color variation.

I quickly created a Trim texture using Jonas Ronnegard’s Ornament package. It is a huge time saver. At first, I wanted to put it as a placeholder since I wanted to create my own but they worked in the scene really well.

That is how I created all my architectural elements, from stairs to big columns and arches. It is really fast! I really can’t go back to my old workflow since the Ultimate Trim is a huge time saver. There is also a great plugin created by Justen Lazzaro that allows you to quickly UV your assets in Blender.

Feedback

I loved my time spent with Ryan creating this scene and I can’t wait to enroll again. It is a great experience and I highly recommend anyone to enroll if you are serious about what you do. Like I said, having a mentor is the best way to get better. I never imagined myself creating this type of scene in that short period of time. Of course, there is still a lot to work on but it is just a matter of time and continued practice.

If there is any piece of advice I can give to future students is that the best thing you can do is to learn to listen. Listen to what your mentor says and apply it even if you are skeptical about it. And you will see the results.

Landscape Auto Material by VEA Games is a flexible auto-painting material for Unreal Engine 4 Landscape component. When you are drawing the topology of your landscape, proper material layers are drawn automatically!

Check the full feature list

Contact VEA Games

Mauriccio Torres, 3D Environment Artist

 

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Fucking love it. Keep up the good work. 🙂

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