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!
Iván Batalla, a young 3D Artist from northern Spain, is the latest guest of Sketchfab Art Spotlight. The artist discovered Blender around a year ago, and since then he has already created amazing artworks. He discussed his latest model — the Gateway Galaxy from Nintendo’s game “Super Mario Galaxy”.
One of the latest topics of the WeeklyCGChallenge, which was “Tiny Worlds”, inspired the artist to create this work. Mario Galaxy came to his mind, and after looking for some references, he opened Blender and started working on it.
The most useful tool while modeling the planets was the LoopTools addon. For example, the holes of the hollow planet were made deleting random faces and using that addon to smooth the edges. The green ovals of the Egg Planet and the stones from the Initial world were made in the same way, smoothing the original geometry with LoopTools to make circular shapes directly on the surface. I also beveled some of the edges between grass and stone and scaled them a little bit to the inside to add some depth.
The main planet had more details on it than the others, so it was the longest one. The bridge was made with just one unit repeated with an array modifier and rounded with a curve modifier and a bezier curve. I used metaballs and a remesh modifier to make the tree, and they were new tools that I had never used before.
The artist also discussed the texturing part. He states it was the easiest part. He created multiple materials for each planet, and added them to the proper faces. Then he did a temporary UV unwrap, added one texture per material, and fixed the UV lands to match texture’s size with the object’s scale without worrying about overlapping them and other issues.
Iván continued making a new and proper UV unwrap for each object, and baked Diffuse and AO maps for every planet with Blender Internal. All the assets are said to be baked into a single texture using the TextureAtlas addon.
Most of the textures were downloaded from textures.com and overlaid with procedural textures using GIMP to recreate a bit better the game’s look.
The flowers and box’s textures had their own way of creation. I created 3D models for them on Blender and rendered the viewport in GLSL texture mode (it’s faster than Cycles or the Internal, and also allows me to change lightning, specularity…) with an Orthographic Camera at the top. Last, I modified the textures using the node editor.
You can find the full article here