Jean-Loup shared some details on the production process behind environments of The Council by Big Bad Wolf Studio.
My name is Jean-Loup I am 28 years old. Fascinated by video games since my youngest age, I studied in Lyon (a Bachelor’s degree of CG artist in Bellecour school) where I was able to work on “Tide”. I completed my internship with Sylvain Sarailh (a concept artist), and then I had the opportunity to join Big Bad Wolf Studio in Bordeaux to work on “The Council” as an environment artist with Salome Strappazzon (Lead artist on Child of Light, Far Cry 3, etc.), Pedro Fernandez and Thomas Veauclin (DA).
The events in “The Council” take place around the 19th century in a manor lost on an island far off the English coast. The purpose was to keep a style that corresponds to the period, while bringing in some modern touches, especially in the set dressing. It was also necessary to keep the possibility of having a big variation for the rooms. Most of the rooms are around the main corridor which possesses two very different atmospheres (bright/dark). In each of these rooms, we wanted to choose dominant colors, so we can distinguish.
In the beginning, we used a grey level for every room, to keep a coherence with the architectural plan of the manor, especially when the player opens the map. For the concepts, we followed a precise DA which respects the period, with very rich environments, inspired by the Rococo period to give a feeling of power, strength, and domination. When it came to the chamber, we brought personal touches into the environment that gave some details on the resident’s personality. (We used a lot of paintings and wall tapestries).
For the meshes, we tried to use the smartest way possible, as we worked as a little environment artist team. The goal was to reuse props as much as possible and to adapt or combine them to have the maximum variety.
For the walls, most of the time we worked using kits with several wall parts of different sizes, then combined to have modular rooms.
Similarly, concerning textures, we gathered the maximum elements that could “tile” on the same texture to easily change it and add variety. We used a pixel ratio of 1 meter for 1024 pixels.
We didn’t use a lot of decals, only a few for the stains/scratches, floors and walls… We also used reusable normal detail textures, in addition to the basic normal maps, to get them to be as realistic as possible.
For “The Council”, we have created two different lighting (day/night) scenarios on two different layers, each of them is built on the same base, a sky dome and a directional light to represent the external light source (Moon or Sun) that will cast the main shadow. Then, with the candlesticks and lantern props, we worked on the rest of the lighting with an Omni light (only some of them could cast shadows).
Environments play a very important role in the design of a video game. We always need to think about the optimization of the work to be done, whether it’s about meshes, UV’s, materials, etc. The biggest difficulty is to generate high-quality content, while being as economical as possible.