Hi Elliott, This is a great breakdown and very generous in sharing your process and insights, you came a long way from the vending machine days!
Are you planning on releasing the UE4 project to the public? Or only builds? I'd love to play around with it in the editor if possible!
Dmitry Masalcev and Alexander Goryachev started as mod developers and now they create their own scenes using Unreal Engine 4. We talked to them about the process of developing their kitchen, creating materials and lighting.
There are only two of us and we are making horror games. It all evolved from creating mods into professional game development. Now we make money on different mobile projects, although we keep making horrors for ourselves. Maybe someone knows about Alchemilla, our first try. You can download and play it for free.
Scene is created for future co-op horror, although you won’t find any horror or surrealism elements in these screenshots. Moreover, we changed some materials to get rid of such elements. We also decided to sell content we are creating for the game to step from mobile projects and get more time for developing own projects. That’s how we made our «bright» kitchen, which won’t scare potential buyer. Meantime our own kitchen will be more like something from David Lynch’s Eraserhead.
I’ve seen this scene in my dream; some scenes were also created for Alchemilla. Process is quite simple, I create models, while my colleague is making textures, then we mix everything in Unreal Editor. It’s difficult working without artists because sometimes it leads us to disagreement on different elements, essential for atmosphere. Finally, when all elements are ready, we come to mutual understanding.
Collecting references is the first step; as a result we made a collection of different photos of each object and material. These were divided into different groups by types of materials (textile, wood, plastic, etc.), which then led us to creating atlases. Using 3ds Max or Zbrush for each model we made high-poly analogs to create normals, and then materials for each models were drawn with Substance Painter. Finally, and that’s the fastest step, we had to mix everything using Unreal Editor.
How did we create materials? We literally walked around in our flat holding spoon to see reflections under different light. The key to success is a high skill of using Substance Painter, and of texturing by my workmate.
All elements were drawn manually using Substance Painter. Water drops and other details were created with roughness map. If you take some place on your table, make it less rough and emphasize it using normal map, you will get a water drop.
Creating the Lighting
Actually we weren’t able to solve all the problems with lighting. In this scene we have two outside lights and one fake internal point of light. We decided to leave it as it is to save more time for creating horror scene, where right contrast and literate shadows, dynamic by the way, are much more important.
It is hard to say how much time we spent creating the scene, as we started in august and finished it just recently. Considering it wasn’t a full time job, we were making it in the evenings, only for an hour or so. Sometimes one of us could be busy for a week because of other important stuff.