3d environment artist Rahul Singh talked about the way he’s been building his amazing Throne Room environment. It’s a great look into
Hello, I am Rahul Singh from India. I have been working in the Games Industry for the last 4.5 years. After completing my graduation in my hometown Gorakhpur, I moved to Delhi and started my career as a 3d modeler. I am currently working at Dhruva Interactive in Bangalore; for the last 2.5 years.
I have worked in multiple roles over the years, including character artist in many projects. But doing environment art is what satisfies and inspires me most.
Working on the Throne Room Challenge
When I saw the throne room challenge, I was very excited to participate. I like to work on personal projects to push myself as an artist and learn new things and this was a good excuse.
I knew I wanted to do something with a Roman theme as I am very inspired by Roman architecture. I wanted to make something that could show the grandeur of roman architecture using the elements like Arches, Column, and Pillars etc.
But before jumping right in, I looked around to draw inspiration from the internet, architecture and photography books. I also looked at concept arts by other artists to get inspired and also as a reference for lighting, color and composition.
- 3ds max
- Marvelous Designer
- Unreal Engine 4
I spent most of the time in my preplanning trying to visualize the scene in my mind.
It’s also very important to stay organized when you are starting a big project. You need to create a project folder, organizing your reference (image, video, and books) and keeping everything you need in one place.
I usually sketch for capturing my thoughts on paper and exploring more ideas. What ever thoughts come to my mind I draw them on paper, it helps me to analyze the environment and also record the idea so I don’t forget.
For the room scene I did a quick sketch from the top down view:
Lists of assets
According to the Sketch and Visual planning done so far, I list out the number of Assets that I would need to create for this scene and roughly come up with number of texture pages that I would need.
I wanted a rich marble and gold feel to the Throne Room for it to feel grand as seen in the reference image’s I had collected. I also decided to keep destruction and dirt at a minimum as I wanted the scene without any battle damage, etc.
Its very important to preplan your scene lighting. To define what mood of your environment wants to convey. Is it day time or night? What are the main light sources of your environment? What are the secondary light of your environment?
For lighting I plan to used complementary colors. So in my scene primary color is warm and secondary color is cool.
As you start blocking the scene, it’s very important that you setup the scene in 3ds Max or any 3d software properly, according to your game engine units. You need to build your scene to correct scale and proportion.
To do this you can import a character scale reference with the same dimensions as a player model in the game engine; this will help you to avoid any major problems with proportions. If you don’t have a scale reference, then you don’t know how big or small your geometry has to be.
After my scene setup is done, I move on to the modeling stage.
I approach modeling as a step by step process. Blocking first and then adding mid-level details followed by small features.
I have a certain freedom with my models as they are not going to be animated or deformed. So I don’t have to worry about having tri’s and loops.
My first idea is to try and make a clean looking low poly asset, so my modeling is entirely focused on forms and silhouettes as they play a big role when working with low poly assets.
After block stage is done, I made the meshes mid detailed, so that I can use them for both Highpoly and Lowpoly. In some cases I needed to retopologize especially in organic shapes, for example the Column pillar Design, Statue’s etc.
UVW and Baking
After the modeling part is done, starting with unwrapping according to the 512 texture per meter, I also needed to create 2nd channel UV’s for baked lighting in Unreal.
For baking normals, I prefer to use XNormal because it creates a 16 bit tiff so you can reduce artifacts on the normal maps.
To save time I created tileable instance materials for the entire assets
For texturing, I use Photoshop. In this scene I use PBR shaders (roughness and metalness). Before I start texturing, I think about where should the dirt and wear collect? One thing is very important when you use PBR shaders you don’t have any shadow information in you color map.
Example Arch Pillar:
There were not too many complications in any of the sculptures but the most interesting and time taking sculpture was the soldier’s.
To show the loyalty and respect to the king I posed it with a bowed head position. I used Zbrush for sculpting generic wear and tear detail and then also for posing. After that I used Topogun for retopology. Since the character is very big I used three texture pages.
As I’ve previous mentioned I’ve used complementary colors for light, in my room scene I used primary warm light and secondary cool light.
In interior scene, main light sources are the fire pits and lamps and for the secondary light I used a directional light, which is coming in from the window.
To make it more interesting I used dust particles and fire particles to give it more realism.
I also used a post process volume in Unreal to enhance the color values and make it more interesting.
A balanced (symmetrical) composition feels right. It feels stable, decorative and aesthetically pleasing. This type of image has great appeal as it makes for “good” shape relationships.
An unbalanced composition can lead to tension. When a design is unbalanced, individual elements dominate the whole and the composition becomes less than the sum of its parts. In some projects, unbalanced might be right for the message you’re trying to communicate.
As it’s described in the below scene it’s symmetrical and the pillar, arch and character etc. are repeatable its guiding your attention on the throne and the floor are like guiding line its lead your attention on Throne.