@Tristan: I studied computergrafics for 5 years. I'm making 3D art now since about half a year fulltime, but I had some experience before that. Its hard to focus on one thing, it took me half a year to understand most of the vegetation creation pipelines. For speeding up your workflow maybe spend a bit time with the megascans library. Making 3D vegetation starts from going outside for photoscanns to profiling your assets. Start with one thing and master this. @Maxime: The difference between my technique and Z-passing on distant objects is quiet the same. (- the higher vertex count) I would start using this at about 10-15m+. In this inner radius you are using (mostly high) cascaded shadows, the less the shader complexety in this areas, the less the shader instructions. When I started this project, the polycount was a bit to high. Now I found the best balance between a "lowpoly" mesh and the less possible overdraw. The conclusion of this technique is easily using a slightly higher vertex count on the mesh for reducing the quad overdraw and shader complexity. In matters visual quality a "high poly" plant will allways look better than a blade of grass on a plane.
Is this not like gear VR or anything else
3D artist HoOman gave a little talk on the way he created Katy, a character prototype for an UE4 project.
Hi, my name is HoOman. I’m from Tehran, Iran. Currently, I’m working as a freelancer and I have made 3D character/creature/assets for several games and cinematic trailers. Also, I’ve worked on over 30 professional projects and the last one released is Elder scroll online trailer: Summerset. I was responsible for 3D modeling.
My entry into this industry happened back in 2009 when I saw The Shrek Movie. I started searching on the internet and found different 3D software solutions… and my new world.
It was a bit hard to decide if wanted to join the industry at that time since in my location this kind of job was very new and had a vague future, but I’ve really enjoyed this job so far.
Katy, UE Project
The Katy is a small project which started around 2-3 years ago for a client. I made the main character as the quality benchmark for the project in terms of the characters part. Our main goal was using the edge technology for the whole game but with this point of making everything fast. Since Katy was in a state of R&D on the main character, we handled it a little more delicately and got the result that we wanted. I hope to get to see the final project soon.
I used a female base mesh which we prepare for all the characters in the pipeline but all the other parts have been made from scratch based on the concept that I had designed for Katy.
I usually sculpt with the default brushes in ZBrush and sometimes use my own brushes which usually contain some alphas that I made.
The realistic look of the face, hair, and the cloth was very important to us. For the face, I studied realistic character stuff in the latest Docs in UE4. It is awesome. The cloth was simulated with the Marvelous Designer.
Working on Cloth
I modeled a basic cloth in ZBrush, imported it in MD, simulated the clothes properly and then took them back to ZBrush again to work on the wrinkles and details. The one thing I exaggerated was the wrinkles on the arm because it was more beautiful in my point of view. For the boots, I used the same pipeline.
For the skin production, nowadays a lot of artists use Texturing.XYZ maps and those are amazing. I think with these maps an artist has no difficulties really and every day I see a lot of 3D portraits created with these materials.
In UE4 there is also a skin material preset for human skin which contains everything you need or you can think of because the material is created for the real-time purpose and it is very optimized.
As I’ve mentioned it before, materials in UE4 have everything needed. I used this DOC for the face, hair and eyes production in UE4. I only made a texture for the iris and replaced it with the original texture on the default eye material. Then played with the parameters that the guys from the Epic Games team provided. Just play with them!
For texturing, I have used Substance Painter.
One of the important things in this part was the pattern of the leather. I have my own alpha for the detail on leather, it helps to get more ‘leather-feel’. After adding the details (leather pattern) on the material, it looked amazing.
A 3D artist must be prepared for any probable materials in the project, so he needs to do a lot of R&D, make the alphas, etc. The closer you get to the real references, the more realistic your work will be presented. And this skill comes with practice – just do the same process repeatedly and keep learning.
Here are some useful videos for texturing leather:
This article on exporting your texture from Substance to UE4 will also be helpful.
Optimization & Baking
There are a lot of ways for optimization, but my way is retopologizing all the objects by hand. For baking, I previously used xNormal and Maya but this time I have used Substance Painter. Usually, I do baking and texturing in high resolution and then export it in any resolution I want. The results are better this way.
When your team decides to rig and simulate your character, the problems may arise. During this stage you need to go through a lot of ping-pong passing between the team, for example, clipping, topo cleaning, bending issues, belendshapes errors, etc. So it is good if you can detect the difficulties in the early stage of the modeling and fix them beforehand. If you know that your character will be tested, keep an eye on these things.