Quick Environments Sketches for Games

Hamza Aatmi did an overview of the techniques and tools he used to build this simple but really nice-looking architectural piece.

Hamza Aatmi did an overview of the techniques and tools he used to build this simple but really nice-looking architectural piece. 


My name is Hamza and I’m a Freelance 3D environment and real-time architectural visualization artist currently living in Morocco, I previously worked at Ubisoft, Elemental labs, Streamline and many other indie video game studios and digital firms.

The Scene

I’ve always been fascinated by the monuments and archaeological sites of Italy, so I started looking for references mostly from the Renaissance art and the architectural etching artists like Piranesi, Luigi Rossini and many others, after a deep dive I found the calicidca etching by Luigi Rossini I was captivated by the modularity, simplicity and the camera shot, however the main purpose for creating this scene was to experiment and learn new things as well as improving my workflow.

Architectural elements 


The blockout was a quick process as the concept provide a clear idea about the architectural elements that need to be created. beside that, most of the assets are modular so it was easy to block the entire scene in a short amount of time.

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While sculpting a modular asset it is best to avoid crazy details easily distinguishable details on a modular asset will certainly cause a repetitive and boring aspect in the scene although, the challenge was to sculpt something with a convincing and reasonable amount of details while keeping in mind the modularity of the assets. 

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My texturing workflow in Substance Painter mostly consist of using fill layers and masking with generators allowing for more flexibility in changing or adding details. However, gathering additional texture references and adding imperfections like aging, dirt and weather effects in the most accurate way possible is the best way to improve the texture quality.

The scene is composed of 7 modular assets and 9 unique ones plus 2 foliage variations, every element is textured separately, I used 2K maps for most of the modular parts and 512 for the small and the far assets including some decals from textures.com that I used to break the repetitive aspect of the textures on the modular assets.

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It is important that the lighting setup contributes to the detailing of the assets presented in the scene and it may give a quality rise to the overall look of the texturing details,  the scene is entirely lit with a directional light a skylight and an atmospheric fog. A post-processing volume is a useful tool when it comes to adjusting the right mood of the scene by experimenting with the color grading, bloom and depth of field.

Do you think these things would work in-game?

Definitely yes, maintaining an optimal performance while creating this scene has been one of my main goals by using as few 2k maps as possible. A reasonable lightmap resolution as well as using just a simple directional light, a sky light, and the atmospheric fog. 

In my opinion, the time and effort the artistry and an efficient pipeline are the key factors for raising the quality of the work even with an optimal performance.

Hamza Aatmi, Environment Artist

Interview conducted by Kirill Tokarev.

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