Preparing Natural Scenes for VR
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Preparing Natural Scenes for VR
31 March, 2017
Jhosep Chevarria Capacoila discussed the way he created a lush natural scene with a few handy tricks. 


Everything started when I saw a lot of paintings with spring themes, I felt inspired and decided to create a scene about a peaceful garden.

Main goals:

  • Build a colorful scene with a spring theme
  • Full of flowers and life
  • Maintain the performance, it could be converted for VR


I’ve divided the scene in 3 parts, the water/terrain, the flowers/bushes and the trees/Sky, each part with animals (fishes – butterflies – birds) and particles.

The plan was to add balanced details to each part without break the composition, take care of the lighting and manage the colors from the flowers to match the scene.

The first part that was built was the Part 1 where I took care of the look of the water and the little details like the fishes and particles.

With the second part, I’ve added more details to the water like aquatic plants. The bushes were mixed with the flowers (like a painting), a lot of foliage is placed here.

With the part 3 I had to select trees according to the scene, change the textures for some trees because I wanted a colorful scene, work in the background of the scene adding low poly trees and adding a skydome with nice clouds (the sky comes as cubemap and texture, I’ll explain how it helps to the lighting below)


Every part of the scene has a different type of tree, placed by hand to have pleasant tones of green. Some textures were edited only for the light this scene.

The different species of trees on the scene do the trick of variety in the scene.

I prefer model the trees in Speedtree and edit them in 3DS Max (from 1 tree I get 5 trees), other models come from the UE4 marketplace/Forums for his high quality. As told before I have a huge gallery of trees ready to be used in my scenes to speed up the development and take care mainly on the lighting and the overall look of the scene.


I’ve placed the flowers by hand to have a more personalized look of the scene, all of these are 2d images in cards. The trick is in the colors and size of the flowers.

The flowers are an important part of the scene so I had to choose carefully what colors goes to the scene. Red, pink, white, orange and yellow were the chosen colors for the flowers and roses


The water is a modified version from the water example from Unreal Engine 4, it has different colorful fishes (skeletal meshes) caustics and particles

I can play with the transparency of the water to add ground plants (doing the job of aquatic plants) and get the expected results.

The fishes add a special feeling to the water and the overall scene, helps to make the illusion of life.


The main idea of the scene was to have a bright and colorful scene so I decided to search a GI solution for the scene. I used LPV (light propagation volumen) for his performance and color bleeding.

Here we have two examples of how the LPV and his color bleeding works in the look and feeling of the scene:

The scene has post-process settings, it help reach the goals for the scene. I’m using the same cubemap and skylight for the shadows and dark parts of the scene, custom LUTs are used to tweak the contrast and saturation.

The following screenshots show the importance of post-process setup in the scene:

The garden was planned to be a very colorful theme like the paintings in 2d with spring lighting. Is clear to see the differences between my custom settings and the default settings from Unreal Engine, is question to have in mind what the artist want for his scene.

From my experience I know that each artist has aa own technique for his lighting, a lot of my scenes has this type of colorful light and I’m happy with the results.

Jhosep Chevarria Capacoila, Level Designer / Environment Artist

Interview conducted by Kirill Tokarev

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WarothAhmed Abdulkader Recent comment authors

How did you get light propagation volumes to work in VR? Unreal seems to have glitches with that, at least in my projects…

Ahmed Abdulkader
Ahmed Abdulkader

Thank you for this, very interesting to know what goes through peoples minds when they working on scenes like these because everyone has different thought process. Well done, great work. One question though, did you create all the vegetation yourself or did you use some pre-made vegetation?