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Creative Bloq has recently published a beginner’s guide to working in Unreal Engine 4. We all know that the Epic’s engine is capable of generating mind-blowing results, but mastering its techniques is not an easy task. has prepared a list of 25 tips that will help you set up your first high-quality scene.
Here are 5 tricks from the article to get you interested:
Detail diffuse and normal overlays
Because you can customise texture UV tiling rates you can increase the details of a material by blending in a secondary set of textures, usually diffuse or normal maps, then tiling them at a higher frequency on top of base textures. Diffuse detail can be applied with various techniques, such as the Overlay Blend Function, while detailed normal maps can be applied by adding the red and green channels to the base as normal.
Texture blending in materials
Want to combine textures in the material editor but only familiar with Photoshop’s blend modes? Epic has it covered. Along with many useful material functions, they included the majority of blend modes that all Photoshop users are familiar with. From Overlay to Linear Dodge, they can be found in the Palette window inside the Material Editor. They can be particularly great for adding detail and variation to your materials.
Knowing your light types
Unreal offers four different types of lights to use in the environment: Directional, Point, Spot, and Sky light. Directional lights are great for outdoor areas or any kind of extreme singular light source. Point lights are omni-directional and Spot lights are similar but have their limits defined by a cone. Sky lights can be used to add ambient light to your environment by capturing distant parts of your map. They also support custom Cubemaps.
Adding environment fog to your scene
While close up fog can always be created with particle effects, Unreal 4 offers two other ways to add fog to your scene. AtmosphericFog reacts to directional lighting angles and intensity to create fog based on actual scattering of light in the atmosphere. Exponential HeightFog gives a bit more colour control and allows you to add a simpler fog effect that becomes less dense in higher parts of the map and denser in lower parts.
Creating clever light shafts
Light Shafts or ‘god rays’ can be a powerful visual tool and are created by particles in the air being lit by specific light sources. In Unreal 4 they can be created in a few ways. The most common way is by enabling them from the properties of a Directional light. They can also be made using geometry and clever materials. Epic’s blueprint example project contains a good example of how someone could go about doing this.
Make sure to check out the full guide here.